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Riding for Flow in 2019

It’s easy to get lost in spec sheets, counting miles, or tracking lap times.  Fun, for sure, but not what really makes us tick.  The Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi spent his life understanding flow, how it’s achieved, and why it’s a necessary component of a fulfilling life.  Spend time studying his work, however, and you’ll realize that many live without experiencing it.  What is it and why is it so elusive?  You’re going to need some two wheel therapy to figure this out.

Mother Nature answered your call with crystal clear skies, fair temperatures, and a propensity to ad lib.  The effervescence of late spring transports your soul, each smell conjuring some long-forgotten familiarity.  Lush, vibrant forests give way to fields of floral-spotted wild grass in full bloom.  Meandering waterways abut rolling hills populated only by those sporting four legs or wings.  This rapid-fire immersion in nature’s innocence was enabled by shaking things up – a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance. The stage has been set.

An unfamiliar road opens up, and it’s yours.  Tempting as it is to turn it into your personal race track, you yield.  You’re not carving pristine tarmac.  The road has substance – character, gravitas, history.  Every bump, crack, and imperfection conveys a song.  As with the best performers, the road’s account is dynamic, adapting to the audience all the while retaining a personality.  Listen to the story.  Feel the song.

Shaking things up is good, but not when it comes to your equipment.  Ironically, these rides demand a splash of instinctive routine.  The well set up bike disappears under your control – perfect lever reach, a sorted suspension, intuitive braking, and the seat you forgot about.  Downshifts are coupled with the perfect metering of throttle.  The thrum of the engine is felt but never fatigues.  The exhaust announces your intentions but never incriminates.  The melding of rider and machine is symbiotic, culminating in a dance to the road’s song.  Dance.

Eventualities arrive and the song ends, the dance slows to a stop, and reality returns from the periphery.  These moments don’t arise often, and frankly, that’s by nature’s design.  Their spontaneity increases the allure of happenstance and rewards flexibility.  Moments of flow may be fleeting, but they bind us together like a cosmic superglue.  How will you find your flow this year? Leave a comment and share your flow.

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