I don’t cycle enough these days. I realised this as, two days ago, I was cycling north out of Witney on one of the back roads and chanced upon two or three dozen wild deer, all clustering around a disused feeding trough in the distant middle of a field. Two or three of them stared fixedly at me; the others kept on feeding, or probably drinking. It’s very many brief moments like that, strung together like little charms on a chain, that make cycling so attractive to me.
In fact, I’m beginning to think cycling is my easiest route into what everyone’s talking about these days: mindfulness; that relaxed, loosened-up living in the moment that’s meant to disentangle your thoughts. I’m no MTB fan, but even if you don’t like the journey, you can sense the joy-in-the-present that permeates this rider’s voice as he bounds down the track:
I’m no MTB fan, and my cycling is no MTB cycling. Yet when I’m involved in it, and putting some effort in, and coping with Oxfordshire’s many potholes, then I find myself drawn to the present on a frequent if irregular basis. And as the bumps and bends loosen me up, physically and mentally, I find I’m able to drift back and forth through that present: thinking about what I’ve been up to; plotting a line around that corner; planning what I need to do when I get back home; looking out for deer (or buzzards, or kites).
I wrote a fraction of a chapter, of my thesis, while riding the bicycle I had at the time. I wouldn’t say it was an amazing chapter, or an amazing thesis, but there it is: embedded into an entire thesis dedicated to control and stabilization, that one nugget, shaken out of me by my cycling.