Craig Wisner

A Matter of Pace.

The cranks turn, over and over, and my mind wanders as I pick a line through ruts and rocks and drifts.

Picking a line.

Perhaps this is the crux of the issue, of why I am never quite certain that cycling or bikepacking is as therapeutic as walking. The background energy needed to operate a machine at speed seems to dictate a different sort of thought, a different mental pace.

Not better, not worse. Different.

On the climbs I am certainly drawn into a smaller sphere; attention is required to watch the line, getting lost in breath, watching sweat drip on the top tube. But it doesn’t seem to allow for watching the birds or scanning a treeline or wondering about cloud formations. Walking is slow enough that attention to foot placement requires less conscious attention. Walking thoughts are expansive, with space for the external world should you allow it to enter. The bike tends to draw me into an inward space, an experiential sphere existing in a small radius extending from my front wheel, all else a relative blur.

And then there is the descent, often with little time for thought at all; maintaining the line reigns supreme. To think is to hesitate, to hesitate is to find oneself laid out in the rocks. A flow takes hold, very akin to the experience of surfing a wave, an everflowing present uncoiling beneath the wheels. While there is something to be said for 8 miles of downhill and being home for coffee by 9AM, a side of me always feels that the speed has robbed me of playing witness to the gray fox hidden in the chaparral or the tanager perched in the crook of an oak’s arm.

That we evolved on foot no doubt plays a role in the syncing of pace and thought, the bike a technological and comparatively obnoxious intrusion.

This weekend I’ll be walking overnight. But don’t get me wrong; there is something to be said, time and time again, for being home for coffee beside my wife by 9AM. Sometimes we simply have to cheat to fit it all in.

2 responses

  1. Mike Moore

    Looks like a nice outing! Iā€™m pretty sure Iā€™d kill my self on the trip out šŸ™‚

    January 8, 2021 at 8:41 am

  2. Variety keeps life spicy! Between hiking, running, and biking, I notice so many different things because of the pace and how my attention is being tasked. A walks is great for discovering tiny things… fungi and myxomycetes, while running it’s more practical to appreciate the beauty of the land as a whole. Biking, especially downhill, my experience is sounds like your’s… what’s in front of the wheel, what root or rock can I catch some air from, what is going to potentially lead to horrible injury or my demise šŸ™‚ The intrinsic fun factor of biking is hard to ignore though. My son and I have a blast together. Keeping the routine from getting stale is the key! Happy new year, dood.

    January 8, 2021 at 10:15 am

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