Bikepacking Diaries 005: Pavement State of Mind

“Pavement is a good place to get into a strong mental space,” Ian said. “I’ve worked through a lot of inner conflict on pavement.”

Yeah yeah yeah, Yogi Yoda bike shit, sure.

My reaction to the steady uphill, steep and grueling in the rising heat, exposed to passing cars, headwinds and the unforgiving sun was to go into total BEAST MODE.

There is a certain flow to pavement. When I was in the National Forest, there was an airiness to it. A sort of free will zig zagging meandering ride mentality with grassy meadows, lakes, and streams inviting you to get off your bike and take a break.

Pavement is more committal. It has a tone of being more serious, more threatening, higher stakes. There was not a large bike lane, but a decent shoulder. Roads are not inviting to stand on and wait around and scratch my butt. The point of pavement is to move forward fast. To keep up with the flow and allow myself to pass through.

I tapped into some pavement flow state of mind. My awareness was heightened to my own internal world of thought. I heard myself going through different mental levels that looked like this:

  1. Negative self talk: “I can’t do this,” or “Oh shit, there’s a hill.” Wishing there wasn’t a hill or simply, “I don’t want to do this. Why am I doing this?” This brain space is afraid of the hard because it doesn’t believe I’m capable of it.
  2. Listening to the negative self talk. Hearing myself rage, rant and roar. Listening and noticing how I feel when I hear it: my eyebrows knit together, my jaw clenches, my legs slow down, my back arches, my shoulders drop. I felt heavy listening. I began to listen with suspicion: maybe these thoughts are not mine, not true, not helpful, and not worth listening to.
  3. Silence. This is the brain space when thoughts are focused and present. There is not chatter or clutter. I’m pedaling, switching gears, feeling the sun on my back, hearing the wind whiz in my ears, and my chest is rising and falling with air. There is a meditative quality to this movement.
  4. Hearing the silence and realizing my negative thoughts are not present. Becoming aware of my peaceful self. Approaching a hill and realizing there are no thoughts associated with it. Passing a juniper and hearing no claims of love or indifference toward it. I am now watching myself glide through space in a trance of movement.
  5. Positive affirmations. Realizing I have a choice to fill the silence and choosing to motivate myself. Noticing when my pace has slowed, my breathing is labored and my thighs are burning. Telling myself, “You got this, you are kicking ass. One pedal at a time. Get up that hill, let’s go baby!”‘
  6. Listening to the affirmations and believing them. Feeling my body respond to my thoughts. Feeling my legs push harder, my inhales deepen and my eyes narrow. Feeling my heart lift to determination. Leaning into my strength and feeling dynamic, energetic, and a force of power.
  7. Silence. Silence returns. It settles. I am fully immersed and concentrated. My focus is fueled by a deep knowing that this is what I want to do and the way I want to do it. I feel a peaceful love for my realty of sun, bike, moving legs, pavement, red dirt and open sky.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Entering the pavement state of mind filled me confidence and love. Yogi Yoda bike shit, yeah!

Abundant gratitude…for my mind and healthy body, for the land of red and white rock, red dirt, and canyon country, for the ancestors who made this place home, who learned how to thrive in an extreme landscape, for the people who saw this land and thought it was worth protecting, for my bike and the people who assembled it, for time off and paper maps and the men who labored out here to put pavement on my path, for the twisted flaky juniper trunks, clean air, dry conditions and for Ian who’s passion for biking opened up a whole new way of seeing and moving through the world

Continue reading more Bikepacking Diaries…

  • I Quit My First Solo Bikepacking Trip
    Since the close of 2021 (The Year of The Bike!), I have been sitting next to the wood stove in my house, reading through all of my journals over the last year. Occasionally pausing to trudge through my yard, which is sparkling with a…
  • Bikepacking Diaries 009: You Can’t Trust Every Rainbow As A Good Sign
    Read Day One:(Bikepacking Diaireis 008) to catch up on our bicycle trip so far. After a sleepless night of cold rain, we woke up to loud wind rattling the tarp above us. It annoyed me to no end, all I wanted to do was…
  • Bikepacking Diaries 008: What’s The Point Of A One Nighter?
    “What’s the point of only going out for one night?” Ian grumbled as we sipped hot coffee from the comfort of our couch. “There might be lessons for us. Who knows!” I grinned, eager to get outside. “This could be the trip where I…
  • Bikepacking Diaries 007: Is That A Real Bike?
    The last thirteen miles of our trip were a gift from Bryce Canyon National Park. In the trees away from the road hid a beautifully paved two lane bike path. We exited the skinny shoulder of the road and left the passing cars behind….
  • Bikepacking Diaries 006: A Hump Day Breakdown
    “I hate pedaling on pavement,” I muttered, throwing my bike down and sitting in what little shade the bushes offered. Ensue rant: This is dangerous and stupid. American roads were made by bastards. Why is there no shoulder? Heaven forbid a bicycle lane be…

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