Monday, August 14, 2017

The Saugatuck

"The Saugatuck" is my weekly meditation.  The Saugatuck is the longest standing ride in my repertoire of bike routes.  I do it every week.  When I don't do it I feel empty, antsy and agitated (even if I've done a totally different ride).  I could liken it to an obsession.  But, very little else comes close to recapturing my mental clarity than this 20 mile loop.

Why you ask?  Or if you didn't ask..let me tell you why anyway!

I think we can all agree there are many forms of meditation.  All meditation is is the act of something that brings you great focus and peace, just done in repetition long enough that it becomes a natural  way to bring your mind into zen.

First of all, the drive.  There's nothing like leaving the noise and bustle of southern Connecticut and Fairfield county.  Winding your car up and up curvy roads, rolling hills and charming farms and then finishing with the narrow twists and turn that wind along the breathtaking Saugatuck reservoir.  I drive like I'm flying.  I'm flying fast and the stresses and worries are blown out the window along with the sound of my Pandora shuffle and my terrible singing to it.

Second of all, the spot.  If you've ridden long enough you know that the choice of where to ride is only as important as the choice of where to start and therefore to end (and celebrate) the ride.  Here, we can sit on the trunks of our cars and sip our post ride beer in peace while looking off towards the distant water through the trees.  And should the mood strike us, we can walk down the trail to the water and sit on the rocks until the full moon comes up and reflect its bright light down on the water.  Magnificent.

Third of all, the ride.  This ride is like a song.  It's a beautiful orchestration of uphills and downhills.  It's got a long steady climb to start..but not the kind that has you digging your heals down but rather the one where you can (with practice) find that perfect gear and pedal smooth and efficient up to the top and around the corner and still have energy for the 15 miles you haven't pedaled yet.  It winds through town and small bustles of life. It curves through residential streets and down a long section of horse pastures.  There's a section of short and sharp rollers where there's not a house in site for a couple miles.  Lastly, it returns to civilization and sends you sailing down a hill that is that perfect grade where you feel like you're flying but not quite so steep to where you're terrified.   Sometimes I feel like sticking my arms out but my mind is so absolutely focused on every dip and crack in the road that I have space to focus on doing very little else.

And that I think is the point after all.   Cycling takes so many senses.  You must be aware of your gear, keep an ear and eye for obstacles, manage each pedal stroke and position yourself just right.  When you find a route that you can do without even thinking about what turn to take or what road to follow then you can use every single one of your senses to do all of those things.  And on top of that you get beauty and a treasure of different terrain to train's something to truly be thankful for.

Here's to hoping you find your weekly meditation, whatever it might be.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


What inspires you?

I'm not sure we get asked this enough.  I think we get asked about goals and accomplishments and personal development..but really if we're to motivate ourselves towards any of these things we really have to ask ourselves...what inspires you?

Inspiration as defined by Google: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. 

That's a pretty un-inspiring definition..but I guess it very simply conveys the point.  For if we are "mentally stimulated" then we should be able to reach levels of high performance, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, right?

I think we live our lives mostly just wanting to support ourselves, our family and at the end of the day hopefully leave a lasting impression on those around us in life.  We're all just trying to be happy and healthy at the end of the day.  At least I know when I speak for myself this is generally true.  I live to work hard, eat well and go outside and play.  I work hard because it's what I was taught to do. I eat well because it makes me feel good and I go outside and play because it fulfills me.

But inspiration...that's different..that's what gets you going..that's what makes you work hard. That's what makes you focus..that's what ideally should fuel decisions and actions every day.

So what inspires me?

The truth of the matter is, I haven't thought about this much before.  But I think it could be: I'm inspired by the unknown.  Now this is also what terrifies me (and probably most people) but let me elaborate...  I'm inspired every day by knowing that there are challenges out there I haven't met, that there are people out there I haven't learned from yet, that there are opportunities to achieve accomplishments I didn't even think were possible and that impact more than just myself.  I love a challenge, because I am addicted to the drug of accomplishment.  I like bringing a smile to the faces of others who also cherish in this.  I like celebrating it with them.  I really like all of this.

The only question left now is...what challenges are worth accepting?

Thanks for indulging in some winter time dialogue in place of riding's to a speedy return of spring (despite what the groundhog says)