As you probably know from reading past blogs, long distance bike riding is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. My husband and I go on 50-mile trips every weekend. A few months ago, he purchased a new and improved bike. He felt that the difference in the ride was incredible.
Would anyone like to guess what I received for my birthday a few months ago? That’s right, a new and improved bike. He wanted me to be able to keep up with him on our long bike rides and felt that this bike would make all the difference. He also purchased a Garmin device that could constantly monitor my speed, heart rate, calorie burn and a multitude of other things. This monitor system is attached to my bike so I can view my progress at all times.
After the first trip on my bike, I commented to my husband that I didn’t feel like I usually do after a ride. He looked at me, confused. Usually after a ride, I feel accomplished and relaxed with my brain rested and rejuvenated. I just didn’t feel this way. I chalked it up to being hyper alert on my new bike. I decided I wasn’t totally comfortable yet and that I needed time.
By the second trip, I was definitely getting used to my bike and comfortable with the new gears. However, during and after the ride, I felt the same feelings as before. Where were my feelings of accomplishment and rejuvenation?
I decided that I needed to figure out what had changed in the experience. The ride had gone from pure enjoyment to something more akin to work. I thought back to the rides I took last year. Some of my best writing ideas came to me on my rides. The most ingenious ideas for my speaking presentations seemed to arrive out of thin air. I created fabulous plans for my business on my biking trips. There was something about the exercise, coupled with the natural landscape— it was the perfect recipe for problem solving and idea creation.
Instead of creating, my brain was constantly busy monitoring the Garmin. I was tracking my progress second by second— was I going too slow, was I going the right pace? I was obsessed with watching the change of speed and the slow creeping of the distance. I no longer noticed the trees and plants or the wildlife that I encountered along the trail. I spent the whole 4 hours staring at the ever-changing screen instead of taking in the sights and smells. This constant monitoring was destroying my experience. This constant monitoring made me stressed.
I had lost my favorite part of the whole experience— being mindful and present. I had lost the ability to just let go.
Technology certainly plays an important part in today’s society. I’d be lost without my computer, phone, iPad etc. However, sometimes it can hold us back from being at our best and living in the now. We need to make a point of disconnecting and being in the present.