Today I took myself out on a tracklocross ride in conditions everyone else was complaining about riding in. I had the time of my life, though. As a result, I found I just had a new lust for life. Don’t fear the conditions; embrace them; even though they weren’t perfect, I didn’t let that ruin my day. Today, I was just in the moment. I was mindful.
What is mindful tracklocross?
Many people talk about how riding fixed gear makes them feel more connected with their bikes. If we want to be mindful, we genuinely want to feel this connection. You want to feel aware of each pedal stroke, your breathing, and your emotions from the weather or your physical condition. You’ll be mindful of exactly how you hold your body, and you’ll know exactly where your front wheel is moving. Above all, keep yourself in the moment.
I have talked about this in more depth before, and you can read my “Tracklocross is Mindfulness” article by clicking on the link.
How to be mindful when riding tracklocross
I will keep these tips super simple, and hopefully, you’ll find them helpful for your life.
- Be ready to release yourself from your daily life. Think of your pressures as a jacket you want to take off.
- Listen to your body when riding. Listen to those niggles, pay attention to your riding position.
- Focus on your breathing. It is a great guide to the stress your body feels.
- Think about how what your body is saying relates to previous rides.
- Remember what you’re feeling and your conversation is yours and yours only, don’t try and be the tough guy to yourself.
- See Strava, your Garmin, your phone, fuck ’em. You don’t need them.
I like to grab my bike and go to get out. When you’re looking for riding kit, attaching your Garmin, filling water bottles, or making leaving the house a ritual, you are more than likely bringing yourself some anxiety. I try and limit this.
I also spend the first five minutes of a ride going around my block. Importantly, I use this time to focus on my breathing. Doing this helps to bring me to a neutral state. In addition, it helps to discard my life pressures and start concentrating on my breathing. I’d highly recommend giving it a shot.
7 tips for mindful tracklocross rides
- Leave your headphones behind. You’ll be wanting to engage all your senses; headphones and other technological devices stop this. Focus on you, not your music or stats. Listen to your body, especially your breathing. Engage with your environment, and you are out in nature for a reason.
- Try breathing exercises. Try the five-minute warm-up and focus on taking some deep breaths to help calm yourself down. Doing this will also help to focus you on the upcoming tracklocross ride.
- Start slow. You are not in a race; you are here for your mental health. If you start racing straight out of the house, you’ll find it hard to pay attention to your body and the sensations you’ll feel from riding. By starting slowly, you’ll find it easier to pay attention to your breathing and how your body is changing as the speed increases, or you come across hills. Remember and be aware of changes in your body, but do not focus on them.
- How is your day? As you’re going through how your body feels, let your emotions from your day wash over you. Acknowledge how you felt, and if you feel an inner monologue coming on, start to concentrate on your breathing and let the thoughts float away.
- Acknowledge pain. You are exercising, so you will feel discomfort or pain at some point. Think of why you feel the pain, and remember there is no shame in slowing down or having a break. Also, remember that some pain will be your body adapting to endurance; you don’t need to kill yourself though (metaphorically speaking), slow down and carry on.
- Think about your pedal stroke. If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts or pain and concentrating on your breathing isn’t working. Then try and focus on your pedalling. Firstly, how does your foot feel on the pedal? Does your ankle and knee feel good? Do you feel like you are making circles and not squares? Subsequently, you should find that your negative thoughts start to diminish.
- Reflection as a cool down. When you come to the end of your ride, and you are cooling down, reflect on the emotions that you experienced. Above all, focus on your breathing. Listen as it becomes fuller and deeper again. Similarly, feel your heart start to slow down and go back to a regular rythm. Once you have finished your cool down and gone through your feelings, feel grateful for your ride.