Zen and the art of road cycling

Just breathe.  Full, fluid, strokes.  IF at .68 and falling: good.  Speed at 29.6 and climbing: good. Slight downhill, wind behind me: go go go.  47km in: still conserving. 5 minutes until fuel.  I had GU last time so just liquid fuel this time.  We’ll hit that at the top of the next hill.  Traps and shoulders down, stretch the neck.  Watch for obstacles.  The shoulder narrows up ahead…how far is that car behind me? At this speed that next left should be in about 15 minutes.  Watch for range road 215.  IF at .67 and holding: good.  Speed at 29.7 and holding.

I’ve been asked many times what I think about when I’m on my bike for the long rides.  And it’s a valid question.  Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a very exciting one.  In order to ride that long, there is a constant stream of measurement and reaction.  A constant fiddling with the power output, the gear ratios, the nutrition regime and reacting to weather.  Other than thinking this moment’s contribution to my overall race total, all I think about is what I’m doing right this second.  There is nothing quite so zen as the singular focus on the current instant that long-distance road cycling allows.

The meditative effect that a 150+ km bike can provide is nothing short of miraculous.  If you’re someone like me who’s brain is regularly going in about 12 different directions, at least one long, meditative stretch every week is essential to staying sane.  I’m a much nicer, more relaxed person when training for ironman (well, at least this time I am).  And I attribute all of that to the long rides.

Once ironman is done, though, I don’t tend to want to hop on the bike for a while.  Like, a couple of weeks, a while.  I know from past experience that this doesn’t do good things for my mental state.  Having come to realize how important that meditative phase is in my week, I think I’m going to have to find a way to keep it a part of my weekly regime, without or without my bike. Wish me luck.  Namaste.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

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