Thursday, September 10, 2020

The ocean, the road, and the trail

 The other day as I was slogging up one of the many hills around my house on my road bike I began pondering why I do this to myself.... I like road biking despite the monotony and the pain, but why?

My default thought pattern in these deep philosophical moments is to try to relate my question to kayaking.

I like road biking because it is like kayaking - long stretches of time time where your body is doing mostly monotonous motions without really thinking too much about it.

But that is not really true. There is plenty of thinking and presence that goes into kayaking. One must always be scanning the ocean, feeling the water move, and being ready for surprises.

For the most part road biking is pretty thoughtless. Sure you need to adjust for hills and watch out for pot holes. However, shifting becomes pretty automatic and the roads I ride are pretty good. It is really just time for zoning out while legs spin.

Then I thought kayaking was more like mountain biking. You are always reacting to the terrain; always thinking and adjusting.

But that is also not really true either. Kayaking is not quite as white knuckled as mountain biking. There is a lot more flow and space to breath.

As I crested the hill, my lungs heaving and my legs burning (I may not have shifted as smartly as I could have), I gave up trying to figure it all out.

Kayaking is the perfect combination of zen and adrenaline; you have space to breath and just feel the motion of the paddle through the water and the thrills of waves and constantly changing conditions.

Road biking gives me the zen without the adrenaline. It is all space to think and feel the burn of spinning the peddles.

Mountain biking gives me the rush and active body thinking. It is all about being aware, reacting, and feeling the bike move.

I'll take the kayak over the bikes every time, but options are always good - particularly since COVID has limited my access to the ocean but not the roads or the trails.