Bike Therapy: Visualize Your Ride, Your Life

happy hipster
A cyclist enjoys a fall day in Washington, DC.

Can you write your way to the ride you want? To a certain extent, I think you can.

That’s Mary Gersemalina on Chasing Mailboxes, a great blog devoted to biking, run-commuting and coffeeneuring.

In her post, Mary talks about visualizing the ride that she wants. She doesn’t want it to be a story of failure, where she doesn’t measure up to faster riders. Instead:

I wanted my story to be about working through whatever unexpected challenges the ride offered.

Mary is shaping her narrative through positive visualization. Rather than dwelling on what could go wrong – a broken chain, a flat tire, a hot day – she focuses on the positive nature of the experience and her own strengths, imagining how she will tell this story when she’s done.

We are the stories that we tell ourselves. The mind is good at telling you what you can’t do. These stories limit our potential. While this negativity may have saved our ancestors from being eaten by lions, it’s not so useful today.

With her visualization exercise (imagining telling the story of this ride), Mary gets past her negative thoughts, recognizing that while there will be problems, she has the strength to overcome them.

In addition to being the queen of coffeeneuring (where you bike to different coffee shops), Mary also created the Errandonnee Winter Challenge, in which you pledge to conduct twelve errands by bike. The opportunity to be a part of this positive, group activity caused me to set aside my preconceived notions about winter cycling (it’s too cold, dark) and start using my bike for just about everything.

The experience of conducting ordinary activities by bike turned what was once a weekend activity into an everyday one. By completing twelve errands over twelve days by bike, I got to be a part of the errandonnee narrative. Rather than believing that winter was too cold for biking, I now have the errandonnee story: you can do anything by bike, any time of year.

Hey it's my #errandonnee patch! #bikedc
The coveted Errandonnee patch.

And I got a patch.  Never underestimate the power of tchotkes on human behavior.

Biking is therapy for many people. It’s a joyful exercise that combines the thrill of accomplishment (I biked all those miles) with the pleasure of seeing the changing landscape. We’re problem-solving primates who like to move – biking is ideal for that.

And scientific research has demonstrated that everyday cycling makes you happier.

Bikes are happiness engines that provide rich rewards for anyone who will ride them.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is the author of The Swamp, a funny new novel that mocks the city America has come to hate.

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