Bootleg Bikepacking Diary-Top 10 things I do to distract myself on a long bike ride
I am usually in a state of situational awareness, almost “trace like state of being” while riding my bike long distance, but sometimes I need distractions so I don’t fall asleep on boring stretches.
Here are my top 10
I think singing songs is what I primarily do when I’m on bike tours, even when I’m commuting. It tends to free up the mind and allows you to be expressive as you’re riding your bicycle. And it’s especially fun when you’re in remote places you can just sing to the top of your lungs and just let it rip. Some of my favorite artist and songs are Hang me Oh, Hang Me by Dave van Ronk, and some of his other songs, Bob Dylan, fare thee well, many songs from the Eagles, but a particular favorite is dueling daltons, Neil Young – old man, James Taylor, Imagine-John Lennon, Pink Floyd. So many more.
I love telling stories and creating them sometimes I’ll just do it based on a subject I see, maybe an animal on the side of the road, maybe a bird in flight may be a story I’ve been working on. And I always love starting off like this, “far away, long ago, there was a…“ I particularly like to anthropomorphize a story… As I’m a big proponent of nature and see everything is being alive, rather than inert because we’re all created all the same things in the universe. I know it’s deep, but that’s me.
Listen to something
I don’t listen to anything while I’m traveling. I go with my own internal dialogue. Also, especially if I’m in the wilderness areas I don’t want to be distracted and I want to give all my time to whatever nature I’m seeing and hearing and feeling and tasting and touching. But that being said, I know a lot of people who listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and music. And there have been instances where, like last year I was on a trip and I was somewhere on the transamerica trail just getting ready to come out of Illinois, and I camped in the middle of a thunderstorm at 11 o’clock at night by a river the Ohio river, put my tent up in a torrential downpour, completely soaked and woke up in the morning to find that there was a shelter only 50 yards away, but I couldn’t see it at night, and that morning I rode out of the wilderness area I was in, and there was a long climb, and I wanted to listen to Creedence Clearwater revival, “have you ever seen the rain…”
Workout mathematical problems
I’ve never been good at math. Probably because I’m just not that interested in it. I understand the basics of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division but you start going to algebra and sister. I’m running out the door. That being said, there are times when I’ve used up my brain cells in other categories that I want to sharpen my mind a little bit and distract myself and I will start doing math, but basic math.
Contemplating meaning of life
Now we’re talking. Philosophy, my favorite subject. As a philosopher, I'm constantly thinking about all things regarding philosophy: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. And lately I’ve been focused on natural philosophy, which is really about natural science, especially physical science, and also natural biological systems and how everything’s related. I could go on for days about this, and most likely will another time. Suggest Alan Watts if you want practical, life affirming, well thought out philosophical meditations. I think about Time…a lot.
Play a game
Games are always fun. I remember when I was a little boy we would drive from Kansas City Missouri and my parents station wagon with my sisters and we were play games along the road or sing songs…”found a peanut, found a peanut”… but I remember the games one of the favorite games was look for a certain kind of car or, an inanimate object, and that was always fun. On my bike trips, I do the same thing looking for something unique, counting something, doing word games in my mind, again, anything to distract myself from the effort.
Replay a movie, song, story, memory, and your minds eye
So there’s actually two parts here; one is simply reliving a movie or perhaps a story or a play or maybe a book read. But then one can also go into a deeper realm of the mind, and perhaps go into the past, and think about past experiences, and how they relate to one’s life now, and that’s where you start getting into more like the vision quest, and you start growing in philosophy and different things like that as well. The place one can go doing this though can be positive but also negative and scary as well.
Do yoga exercises while you’re riding- cat cow, breathe, seated twist, calf stretch, lions breath
I learned a long time ago as a yoga instructor, that Yoga is not meant for just sitting in a room on a mat, you can do yoga from almost anywhere, E.G.shower, work, the bathroom, in the kitchen, as well as from a top a bicycle, just a few modifications, kind of a hybrid form of chair yoga, per se, anything to loosen up the body and get oxygen flowing… At the very least focus on your breathing.
Listen to somebody else’s story
I mostly travel solo, but when I do have a traveling companion, I like hearing their stories, on one of my last trips on the great divide mountain bike route between Polebridge, Montana, and Eureka, Montana. I was regaled by a friend of mine who I was traveling with for a few days, Kyle T. Randall, who is now an artist out of Portland, Maine, shared stories of his experience playing Dungeons and Dragons, and I found it fascinating, and it made the time go by very quickly.
Well, thanks for reading my writing. Tell me some of the things that you do to distract yourself on a long bike ride or running errands or out for a few months?
Peace and love from the road Bill Poindexter