Inspired Fitness: Finding God on a Bike

August 4, 2015

Do you ever have those moments where you’re just moving and it feels amazing? For me, there’s nothing better. These moments of clarity, energy and perfection sneak up on me when I’m not even looking for them. Two recent examples follow.

I was recently on a group ride with 13 other cyclists. We ended up riding about 105 miles that day. It was the last Saturday in July and it was quite hot. We were in MN so of course, it was humid. Some of the people were old friends I hadn’t seen for quite a while. My brother was there whom I train with several days a week most weeks. Others were friends I met for the first time that morning. We were a group of like-minded people sharing a love of cycling. We weren’t pushing a certain pace. If you were tired, you were welcome to tuck into the peloton (probably a stretch to call it a peloton but it sounds pretty awesome so I’m running with it). If you were wanting a bit more work, jump ahead and pull the group along. If you fell behind on a hill, no matter, we’ll wait for you at the top. Just a friendly ride. There were beautiful hills. Up and down along the river. There was plenty of sun. We also rode under canopied roads lovingly covered by gorgeous trees. I love those roads. At one point, I realized, “There is nowhere I’d rather be and nothing I’d rather be doing right now.”

Another example of what I have come to call Inspired Fitness was during a race I was competing in. A little background for non-cyclists. There are several types of bicycle races. This particular race was a “crit” which means I was racing around a circuit approximately a mile long. It was on a road, not a track, but the road was closed for the race so the cyclists are free to not worry about traffic. Having said that, crits are still regarded as one of the more dangerous cycling events because of the high speeds, treacherous cornering, and all out sprint efforts. For me, the danger is manageable and worth it for the fun. I love the strategy. I love intuition involved in making split-second decisions about when to make a move. Reading the field. The course. How I’m feeling on that particular day and lap. Even though I’ve participated in dozens or hundreds of races, I still get some nervous energy before the start of the race. This particular crit had 12 laps with every third lap requiring a maximal sprint effort as those with the best positioning on those laps get awarded points. It makes for a very concerted effort. Tons of strategy as well as fitness and bravery. Because of all that, it lends itself to pulling me out of my busy monkey mind and into my body. The beauty of this is I’m completely present in that moment. As I rounded that final corner, I was in perfect position behind two other riders who I was allowing to work against the wind to wear their legs down. My bike was under me, responding to my nervous system, not my thoughts. Because I’ve ridden so much, I don’t think about my bike, I become my bike. I saw my opening with 100 meters to go and I seized it. I pushed with everything I had through my quads, my fingers deftly shifting through the appropriate gears as my animal brain was automatically searching for the perfect balance between quick acceleration and top speed. As I blazed past the leaders into first place I felt a rush and I knew with every fiber of my being I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Not because I was surging into first place, but because there WAS nothing else. No worries. No concerns. No bills. No deadlines. No past. No future. Just breathing. Living. Being. My spirit perfectly expressing itself with no resistance.

I love this quote by Chardin. For me, it speaks to exactly why I seem to find God so easily on a bike. Certainly, God is everywhere. But for me, I find the bike to be an especially easy access point to that God consciousness. The joy and knowingness I’m in the right place and everything in fact is right comes from spirit. It comes from quieting that silly busy chatter your brain continually throws at you… all… day… long…

Because we are spiritual beings, we need to access that spirit to feel that joy and peace and love that is so amazing. And because we are having a human experience here on Earth some people choose to cast off all worldly desires, opting to sit under a tree and starve themselves away while they meditate. This is certainly one approach. And probably right for some people. For me though, I choose to celebrate life. This life. The human one we are living right now. So my meditation is exercise. It’s getting into my body so much that I lose my monkey mind and I find the present moment. As I learn to access this more and more easily I have been able to more often transfer this to the rest of my life. I think enlightenment or heaven would be living in this place 24/7. For now, I’m happy to pursue it. So I will continue to bike, and run, and climb, and play, and laugh, and do everything else I can in my body to help my spirit find expression.

5 Tips On Finding God On Your Bike
(or any other physical activity you choose)

Do What You Love

Cycling, Parkour, Martial Arts, Yoga, Running, Crossfit, Soccer. The options you can physically engage your body in are endless. With so many options, why not pick one you feel drawn to? Sure, you can practice loving whatever you’re doing, and that’s valuable too. But for this form of meditation, I recommend you pick something you’ve tried and enjoyed. Probably something you’re good at too. And something you can push yourself in. I’m not saying you can’t find God in cross-stitch. I’m saying that if you’re going for inspired fitness, you’re best served to pick something in which you can push yourself, thus getting into your body, and quieting the chatter in your mind.

Do It Often

If you read the above stories you’ll remember how I said my bike was a part of my body. The reason this is possible is because biked many many 1000’s of miles. I’m as familiar with my bike on the road as I am with my foot. So my older aspects of my brain, the parts that don’t think, they just “do”, these parts of my brain are able to access my bike without me thinking about it. This is a must for inspired fitness. Whether it’s a tennis racket, soccer ball, or just the feel of your legs on a run, you must gain extremely high levels of proficiency in your desired activity to easily access God-consciousness through it. If you only do it every Saturday, you’ll be left to fumble with yourself and your equipment and you’ll be sore through Tuesday.

Do It In Nature

It seems to me that God loves nature. Whenever I bike through the mountains, swim in a lake, or run through a forest, it seems she’s so often there whispering in my ear. If I jump on the “dreadmill” to slog out an obligatory workout, it usually seems like God has something better to do and I can’t find her. Oh, I’m sure she’s there mind you. I just have a much harder time finding her.

Do It With Someone You Love

There are so many reasons to workout with a loved one. Bonding, safety, accountability to name a few. The best person is someone that is usually someone of similar talent or skill. Someone you like. Someone you can talk with. And someone you can NOT talk with.

Do It With A Coach

“Are these junk miles?”
“Is HIIT better for me?”
“Mary says Crossfit is the best and Paul says it’s dangerous. Who’s right?”
“Ketogenic, Paleo, Vegan… What’s the best diet for my body and my health goals?”

Every competitive athlete will tell you having a coach is a must. This isn’t because they don’t know how to workout. It has more to do with getting out of your head and trusting someone else. Let go of the mind chatter. When your brain says “Why are you doing this?” You can say, “Shut up brain! Coach said do this, so I’m doing it.” A good coach will know you, mind and body, and design a program that will challenge you and satisfy you while achieving your goals. That’s true if your goal is first place, finishing your first 5k, or finding God on your bike.

What’s a time you can remember finding that God Conscious space?