finding flow


a little story

60 miles into a 100 mile cycle event, I caught site of him again. He was on a steel framed bike, heavy by contrast to the ultra light carbon bikes he was keeping pace with. But what shone from his body wasn’t simply his mastery of the bike under him and the gears on it that you could count with one hand (compared to the 15 or so gears on the carbon bikes). It wasn’t even his sandaled feet and lack of a helmet. It was his energy, his smile, his pure enjoyment of being out of a bike, being free, sharing the experience and … the glide. Yes, a glide: a grace and rhythm that seemed effortless, that looked as if it could go on forever.

This reminded me of tales I had read about of endurance runners winning ultra marathons (of 50+ miles) not because of their equipment, but more precisely because of their technique, their finesse … and above all, their energy evident in the smiles on their faces and their bodies. Yes, their bodies exuded something mysterious, something magical. Was it confidence? Was it experience? Or was it simply surrender … to something greater: what was this?

This greatness, this grace in motion, this glide reveals something unique that flows through us. It’s life, it’s vitality, it’s health, it’s an elusive treasure. Sometimes we have it. Then we lose it, or it is stolen, or we simply need to go on a quest to find it.

This summer i went on a quest to find health, vitality and this glide. Whilst facing and working to resolve my own health challenges, I decided to train to undertake endurance cycling events. Some of these events were back to back – like a 129km event in Yorkshire followed the next day by a 217km event. Another involved over 3,000m of climbing. The focus above all was to complete a massive 600km ride from South to North Wales (and back again!) in less that 40 hours total. More details about these rides can be found below:

Amesbury Amble Audax – 309km and 2600m of climbing – Sat 14th April

Tour de Yorkshire – 129 km and 2059m of climbing – Sun 6th May

Ride Called Quest – 217km and 1807m of climbing – Monday 7th May

Fred Whitton Challenge – 178km and 3,285m of climbing in the Lake District – Sun 13th May

Bryan Chapman Memorial – Welsh End to End – 600km and 7500m of climbing – Sat 19th May

Ditchling Devil – London to Brighton and back – 205km and 2400m climbing – Sun 3rd June

Vätternrundan – Lake Vattern in Sweden – 300km and 1945km of climbing – Fri 15th June

London 100 – 161km and 1330m climbing in Surrey – Sun 29th July

One important thing eludes me when i do exercise – grace, ease, flow … the glide. I’ve trained athletically for so many years, pushing both my body and mind to their limits. So this summer, and in particular, during the final 3 rides above, i also went on a quest to find the glide of a rider i saw in the story above.

And i’ll be sharing on this blog advice and insights i learn as i train. So pop back here for updates! And be a hero and make a donation too!

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