Finding Balance – The Zen of Bike Riding

Laurie riding by the LA River on bike path
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Adventure Question: What things lead to Zen moments in your life? Have you ever found strength and peace from a struggle? Whatever your answer, try to have a mini-adventure doing some of that and come back to tell the tale.

Past Adventure post: This was one of my favorite posts from my blog, and I still read it from time to time. Hope you like it too. 
Laurie rests overlooking bay at Marina Del Rey

Yesterday as I did my quick 8 miles through the streets and hills of my neighborhood, I had a chance to ponder – and it struck me, that bike riding is a lot like trying to keep to eating and fitness goals. Let me explain:

When bike riding, you try not to stop. You don’t want to put your foot down and stop the progress you are making. It takes more energy to get started up again, and to regain momentum if you stop. The more experienced you are, the easier to stay balanced at very slow or no speed.

So let us say that bike riding = sticking to eating and fitness goals, and roads and traffic = life.

When the lights are all green, traffic is very light, no cars parked on the side of the road – very easy to know just how much to pedal, and what gear to use to maintain momentum.

Level 1: Dedicated Bike path
I’d say that going on a very lightly used dedicated bike path would be like being on the biggest loser. You still have to pedal, but the obstacles like family food preparation, making time to exercise, going to weddings etc. are off the radar. This is where I first learned to bike – on bike paths without traffic. This is also how I got back on track too…not the biggest loser, but I made sure it was a good time without big events to deal with, cooked my own meals, and made my fitness number one for awhile.

Level 2: Bike Path with pedestrians
The pedestrians are like the office worker offering you home baked brownies out of the blue. Pedestrians often don’t watch out for you. Bike riders need to watch out for them – and yell “passing left” to notify them of your presence. This is like saying firmly to the office worker “no thanks” and moving right along with your work.

Level 3: Road with little traffic
Here comes the leap in bike riding. The road, even with light traffic, has stop signs, traffic lights, construction, drainage grates to look out for. This is where you learn to plot your own course as best as you can while obeying the rules of the road.
Bikes must stop at lights and stop signs (you CAN get a ticket if you don’t). Bikes ride with traffic, not against. When hills approach, you must learn to shift into a lower gear so pedaling is easier – you do this in advance NOT on the hill.
So diet wise, this is packing your own lunch, knowing about upcoming social events and bringing something you can eat, or planning those calories into that day. It’s knowing that you have eaten all you should, and stopping. If you see a light is red in the distance, you SLOW DOWN and try to time it so you don’t stop. So if you feel that cranky, bored, angry, tired, overeating feeling coming on- SLOW DOWN. Take a bath, journal the calories first etc. It is easier to keep going from a slow pace than a full stop.

Level 4: Anything can happen, full traffic.
Besides all of the above, you now have to ride with traffic as well. This is the same as all of the folks who have their agendas in your life. your fitness is NOT their priority. It has to be yours. You also have cars parked on the side that open their doors and might smack you off the bike, or pull out suddenly in front of you. These are the food pushers, friends, and loved ones who bring home pizza or suggest restaurants that don’t have great food choices for you.
Remember, stay balanced. This is where you keep an eagle eye for all escape routes. Pizza – remove sausage, one piece – full big salad only – have other restaurant in mind, or cliff bar to hold you over and just have coffee with the others. This takes all of your skill to maintain balance and momentum.

Level5: Crash or Stop.
Sometimes, you will crash. That’s why you have a helmet. (That would be Sparkfriends, your list of motivators to review etc.). Sometimes you need to stop to avoid a crash. This is like trying for maintenance on vacation, or logging anyway, binge or not.

Just remember, that no matter what the road holds, you can get back on the bike and improve!

Yesterday I did 8 quick miles on my bike with hills for a light workout. Last year, I couldn’t yet do 2 miles on the flat. Yesterday, food-wise, I had a crash. So here I am, logging and blogging using my SP helmet to help me get back in the road.

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Finding Balance – The Zen of Bike Riding

3 thoughts on “Finding Balance – The Zen of Bike Riding

    1. calensariel

      I don’t think it’s odd at all. Life is such a continuous flow in a circle that I feel like we come back around to the same places over and over again. Maybe that’s how we learn? That’s why I can read a note I may have scribbled in the margin of my Bible and later wonder how in the world I got THAT out of what I read. But another time, when my life is sort of stuck in an old pattern again, I’ll stumble on the same passage and think it still means so much to me.That’s why I like the song “Circle of Life” from The Lion King.

      I’m very interested in Celtic spirituality which is amazingly earth-centered. I loved the thing about the prayer rocks. Where did you learn about that?


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