WLVT: A World With No Deadlines
In this moment, there is only me, my mountain bike, my fellow riders, and this trail through the woods. And maybe a few bugs. There are no deadlines, no cell phones, and no internet. Connected means fully present to this moment; it has nothing to do with social networks.
This moment doesn’t come instantly. We started our ride at Stratton Village, led by our guide Adam, by cycling across the grass to a paved trail paralleling the main access road to the village and mountain. We turned off the trail onto an old overgrown forest road then rode on an unpaved road through a neighborhood to a paved road to the Sun Bowl area. From there, we ventured into the woods for a short break at a picnic spot overlooking a stream.
When Adam said we’d be turning around, someone in the group asked, “Where does this go if we keep going?”
“Up,” answered Adam, “but less steeply than the road we’re planning to take.”
Our group decided to stay on this trail through the woods. Lingering to take photos, I started the climb at the back of the group. As we climbed through the forest on this sometimes bumpy Nordic trail, the ride took my entire focus. Without my realizing it was happening, the rest of the world, along with seemingly gallons of sweat, dropped away.
Now there is only me, my bike, my seven fellow riders, and this trail in my world. Sunlight filters through the trees. I take a swig of water from my bottle. I breathe deeply, my body needing every bit of oxygen I can give it to keep climbing. Some of the others stop to rest or walk. I pass them. I’m in a groove, locked in to the present. All there is in my world is this moment. Focusing on the trail leading me up and up and picking a line, I pass all the others who are still riding, one by one. I look around at the trees, which include silvery beeches whose star-shaped nuts attract black bears and other wildlife. I feel a bit of exhaustion from four days of an active, outdoorsy Wanderlust creeping into my entire body. I hit a rock at an awkward angle, don’t have the energy to muscle over it, and my bike simply stops. I’ve lost my meditative focus. But like after a sitting meditation, my mind remains clearer and more open to being present with whatever is.
We finish the climb then enjoy a muddy descent back to the Sun Bowl. We carry our bikes up a steep hill from the parking lot to another unpaved neighborhood road then retrace our wheeltracks back towards the village. When we get back to the paved trail, half the group goes straight back to the village. The other half of us go with Adam and hike a few minutes off our path to a stream, where we take off our shoes and dip our feet into the water. Getting my feet wet isn’t enough for me, though. I sit in the icy cold water in a small pool amidst the stones and have another moment of pure presence, my mind as clear as the stream. Though I’m not on my mountain bike at this moment, it has taken me here, both literally and figuratively, to this beautiful spot in the woods with everything I need at this moment and to this world with no deadlines.
~ Heather Andersen is the author of the award-winning memoir I Never Intended to Be Brave: A Woman’s Bicycle Journey Through Southern Africa. She’s bicycled on six continents and in all 50 U.S. states. A writer, bicycle tour leader, and certified yoga teacher, Heather believes in spending time outdoors every day, seizing the moment, and living a life of no regrets. For more info about Heather or her book, including a free sample chapter, see www.bicyclingheather.com. Follow Heather at www.facebook.com/INeverIntendedtobeBrave.