Unplugging and Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Staying connected through a number of platforms is common these days. We use Strava to squeeze out every last detail of our rides, post selfie pictures of our sweaty, smiling mugs during our epic feats of athleticism on Instagram, and showcase it all on Facebook so the world can rest in assurance that we are doing our best to stay fit. But it’s not just on the rides that we are tethered to the ether, it’s apparent in just about every minute of every day of our daily routines. We have the inability to turn off the phone, hide the screen, and look up to see the world around us.

Remember the days of our youth, when it was possible to grab your bike and ride from friend’s house to friend’s house, playing and living in the moment? There was freedom in the ability to just roam and enjoy the day. When it got dark, or you got hungry, you made your way back home. Your parents had to ask you what you did for the day. There was personal interaction. They couldn’t turn to a play by play detailed account of the last 8 hours, including how that Big Mac affected your digestive system. When is it too much? At what point do we cease to avoid living in the present world?

Enjoying the moment on the Green's Creek descent. Photo: jeff.
Enjoying the moment on the Green’s Creek descent. Photo: jeff.

There are many personal reasons for mountain biking. Some do it for fitness, stress relief, and various other health reasons. Some mountain bike to deal with the adrenaline addiction that comes with mimicking the greats like DH champion Aaron Gwin. Yet still others mountain bike as a way to commune with nature and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D–myself included. Yet all too often on the trails, I’m noticing more and more bikers whipping out their phones and electronic devices. Sure, it’s fun to record every last pebble I ride over with my GoPro, but I’m always left disappointed at how easy the trails look on video compared to the video in my head.

Even now, I’m typing up this rant instead of enjoying a sunny day on the saddle. While it’s great to be able to express thoughts, wonders, and events with the rest of the world, effectively at some point I need to unplug and take in the sights around me. Worry less about whether I regained Queen of the Mountain from “ThunderThigh57,” and enjoy more of the scenery. Heck, maybe even catch a glimpse of wildlife while out on the trail.

You never know what kind of wildlife you may encounter on the trail. Photo by: M. Eich
You never know what kind of wildlife you may encounter on the trail, like this Western Diamondback. Photo: Matt Eichenfield

For just one ride, leave Strava off, keep the phone in the pack for only emergencies, and commit the gorgeous views of mountains, trees, and wildlife to memory instead of converting it to 1’s and 0’s in the great ether.

Your turn: What are your thoughts on unplugging during rides?