There were bikes to be ridden, notes to be taken, people to network with, but Aaron and I had to stop for just a few minutes to soak in this view and crack a trail beer. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

You can think of living in the moment in two different ways. One is to take each singular moment that you have in this life and pack it as chock-full of activities and events as possible.

This is how our recent trip with Sacred Rides in BC was run. Our average day went something like this:

  • Up at 7 or 7:30 to pack gear.
  • Breakfast
  • Morning Ride
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Ride
  • Get home
  • Hike to lake
  • Cliff jumping and beers
  • Hike back from lake
  • Showers
  • Supper from 8:30-10:30p
  • Plop into bed so exhausted that you forget to pull the blanket on before falling asleep (true story)

Now this method of embracing the moment isn’t bad… for a time. Especially on a guided tour like those run by Sacred Rides, most people want to get as much out of that 7-day vacation as possible. I mean, who knows if we will return to Fernie, BC EVER AGAIN?!

Ryan K. gets inverted at Silver Springs Lake, BC

While this method isn’t bad, unfortunately it doesn’t provide space for contemplation or meditation—the time required to achieve a quiet and satisfied spirit. This is a theme that Seneca comes back to in his writings again and again. For instance, he says, “The only true serenity is the one which represents the free development of a sound mind.”

This leads to the second way to embrace the moment: consciously UN-schedule activities and events. Take things off your agenda.

If you see a blank spot on your calendar, don’t think that you automatically have to fill it. Take time to be alone with your thoughts, to simply exist.

I’m personally trying to bring this ethos of slowing down in life to my mountain bike rides as well. Now of course, one of my goals is to get faster on the bike… and while maybe I’m trying to get a bit faster on the climbs, I’m working to consciously slow down, stop, and spend at least 10-15 minutes on the mountain soaking in the view, treasuring the moment.

What will I gain if I blow by the vista and get back to the car faster? “Congratulations, you get to return to the bedlam of cars and traffic, the distraction of screens and texts, the responsibilities of chores and social engagements.”

Yay, I win! Or maybe not…

Adding more activities can distract you for a time. But learning to find a peace and quiet that is all your own renders the constant struggle of “more, faster, now” irrelevant.

# Comments

  • stumpyfsr

    Interesting. Whenever I start thinking like that I just grab a bike and try to go faster, further. Then, after ride, when body is tired, it’s much easier to absorb a moment, to listen to nature’s sounds and to appreciate great views around. Or take a day off and just do nothing.
    Maybe it’s just I don’t have as much riding experience as you do, Greg.
    Pictures are awesome. Looks like you had a week of a lifetime there in BC.

  • Greg Heil

    “Maybe it’s just I don’t have as much riding experience as you do, Greg.”

    Somehow, I doubt that 🙂 Also, rest days are perfect for just soaking in the moment!

  • hproctor

    I am probably one of the slowest riders on this site. I’m constantly stopping to dip my head, hands or feet in to a creek……. taking pictures, of the trail and nearby waterfalls or stopping to talk to folks on the trail. KOM??? haha….. I’m generally in the lower 25% of most sections.

  • mongwolf

    Yes, we can bring the same “rat race” mentality to our mountain biking that we may have in much of the rest of lives. Not good. Life is too short not to smell the roses along the way and crush a few downhills. =) And certainly part of that imo is taking the time to give a little consideration to other worthy things of life. I think your suggestion for taking a moment on a ride also applies to the rest of life, but no better place to do it than in the middle of nature and creation, especially if your little piece of nature includes places like the Sangres and the Collegiates. =) I have also found that getting older is kind of nice because — at least for me — I usually need less sleep each night than I used to and can wake up earlier in the morning. This provides the opportunity to start the day without all the hurry and stress, and it leaves some time for reflection before things get moving.

    • Greg Heil

      “I think your suggestion for taking a moment on a ride also applies to the rest of life”


      “I have also found that getting older is kind of nice because — at least for me — I usually need less sleep each night than I used to and can wake up earlier in the morning. ”

      Hopefully one of these years that will happen for me too! 😉

  • sick4surf516

    I’m speeding up my quest to slow down. I love stopping in a shady quiet spot to listen to the sounds of silence. I just did a solo tour of Colorado/Utah and then the northern Midwest. Riding solo but also carrying an ACR beacon just in case. I have hooked up with locals on group rides and that is always fun but there is no stopping to take pictures or smell the roses or listening to a babbling brook. Follow my adventures on Instagram @sick4surf

  • mongwolf

    You hit the nail on the head sick about the listening to the sounds of silence. TOTAL with you there.

  • baillie2

    Good thoughts.
    Speed certainly seems to dominate modern mountain biking……..including those rooster tails of dirt flying into the air in just about every MTB video.
    But I have never liked speed. Never raced. Never felt the need to Go Faster.
    In fact — I have made a riding style out of this. I try to go as slow as possible BUT without stalling out. Try to find the minimal flow that will get my bike and I along without unnecessary effort.
    Kind of cheating in a way……..substituting “Momentum” for speed. Stalling out can be fatal so you definitely need some “speed”…….but just enough to whisper you through the gnar.
    You still need to stop to admire the view, drink beer, get rid of the beer, or generally shoot the breeze……..but somehow it’s all less frantic. Fun…………

  • Coach2AP

    What I have found after re-discovering MTBing 15 years later is technology is killing the silence. I find more and more hikers, runners, and mountain bikers with their Bluetooth speakers on for everyone to hear. I wish people would just learn to enjoy the silence and listen to what nature has to offer and use the time on the trails as the time to unplug for an hour or two. I have always used my riding time to enjoy some quiet time with my thoughts. I can listen to music in the car or when I am cleaning my bike.

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