Contemporary parenthood is taxing, demanding, work pulling us in all directions at any given moment.
The kids have constant day-to-day needs (preparing meals, logistics for school and activities, household chores) and their special, fleeting needs (social challenges, behavior corrections, etc) require timely response or the opportunity is missed.
Us parents heap plenty on our own plates as well– career challenges, maintaing a house & car, and the complicated grown-up issues stemming from relationships, planning for the future, maintaining physical & mental health, and maybe even some spirituality.
We deal with everything, we take care of it. We get it handled. But all too often, we approach our lives with a checklist in hand. Get in the car, rush here, rush there with a heavy foot, grimacing as the driver ahead is going so slow. “Why won’t he just use the turnout?!” I don’t really want to talk to anyone at the post office today. I wish my kid would just go to sleep. We have so much to plow through, and the damned phone just keeps buzzing & dinging away. We get ourselves pulled into social media for the quick moments of entertainment, or validation. We float around in the chaos. It is hard to slow down, and hard to find a path out of it.
These times on the bike help me find ground in the present.
I believe we help ourselves by finding ground frequently, and I’ll be working to put these into more frequent practice. There’s a factor of quality not quantity in parenting, or at least I like to think so because we have such limited time. Finishing a bike ride after having found grounded moments- often- help me carry on to the next moment of the day fully here, to give my best.
Long rides settle the stirring mind, probably for physiological reasons, and the constant visual footage of new terrain can pull us into the present: the different rocks we see, different plants growing at different elevations, the chill we feel as we come around to the north face of the mountain.
I feel grounded on long bikepacking trips; the time bookended by the 6-8 hours it takes to “get away,” and before we start smelling the barn on the way home. These times are the “slow release” of grounded experience.
Ride hard, and fast.
A quickie ride mid week, before or after work. An hour and a half, maybe. Crank up the control road. Feel the strain in the legs, the stretch of your muscles, the smell of your sweat. Hit that run down Hard Sun, or Lower Bathtub trail hard, and fast. Throw into the corners with all your might, then charge out of them hard on the pedals, out of the saddle. I believe the sheer intensity of a hard Enduro trail forces our minds to apply 100% to the moment. These hard trails tell us to “be here in the moment, or else.”
Follow the joy.
Do you feel like taking the shortcut on your ride today? Do it. Do you want to shuttle today, and hit the jump lines? Do it. Smile. Snap a pic of that awesome view. All of it is good.
Have a seat on Awesome Rock.
Listen to the sound of the cleats on your shoes click away on the granite as you take a seat, and feel the warmth of the rock beneath your butt. Watch the sunset. Take a breath, turn on your light, and ride back to the trailhead. When you get there, maybe turn off your light for a moment and let the darkness set in, let your eyes adjust. Look at the stars. Then head home and face your next task.
Feel your body.
Stretch. Roll your foot about, point your toes. Consciously lower your shoulders, release. Exhale.
Change the physical space.
Take a moment in the middle of the day to get on the bike and ride into down. Or just walk outside, even for just 5 minutes or so. Ride your bike to or from work. Wave to the neighbors.