I had a great ride yesterday, taking the long way home from our summer cottage in the southwestern archipelago.
Most riders probably know the meditative kind of flow state a great ride can bring about. The headspace where there are no thoughts, no internal dialogue, no cares or worries – only the line you’re describing on the twisting road with your bike’s tires.
I had that, for hours; I only surfacing for navigating villages and crossroads every once in a while.
In my experience I need a road and pace that demands my full concentration for at least ten minutes of riding to clear my mind. After that even a more relaxed pace or road will sustain the state.
The first few miles after leaving our summer cottage are naked bedrock, followed by a road of deep, loose gravel. Both surfaces a bit challenging to me on a 250 kg street bike. My mind was pretty much empty by the time the Metzelers first touched asphalt.
I find that I can ride a lot faster when I am zoned out. The corners just come, one after another and I throw the bike in and gently roll on more power from the turbine-smooth engine under me. Whenever I ride with my consciousness turned on, I worry about deer, about dirt on the road, about tar snakes and potholes. I come in too slow, I turn in too early and the lines get angular and untidy.
Yesterday, my lines were clean and neat and my pace spirited. I’m aware there were bright rainbows drawn against steel-grey storm clouds downwind from my course, but they hardly registered in my brain. There was only the constantly coursing trail of blacktop snaking its way through fields and forests.
Once I started reaching the more densely populated areas and the roads were no longer able to sustain my road zen, I was treated to beautiful summer night scenery. At around 10 PM, the sun was slowly setting, and my southeasterly course meant I was chasing my shadow, drawn sharp on the orange-painted scenery ahead of me. On cresting hills, my image was thrown giant-sized as amber blaze filled my mirrors, reminding me of the lyrics to the Rush song Ghost Rider, to which this blog also owes its name to:
Sunrise on the road behind
Sunset on the road ahead
There’s nothing to stop you now
Nothing can stop you now
Once the sun finally disappeared, a purple pastel glow filled the world and I found myself riding through banks of thick white mist, giving me shivers by their cold touch. I saw deer feeding in the meadows by the road, and was glad to be reaching the well-fenced highway for the final high-speed run into the metropolitan area. The ride had taken a little over four hours, but I felt like I had left the cottage weeks ago.
This is the kind of riding I live for.