The Mountain Bike Life

The state of being completely consumed by a trail. Riding on the outside edge of your ability on a trail that is so almost-but-not-quite over your head. The intersection of ability and challenge. The trail becomes brighter and brighter in your mind until it is all that’s in there.

There is no room for more. All available afferent neurons are streaming their signals at the highest possible gain. You are receiving on all frequencies. All efferent neurons are screaming louder and faster trying to get ahead, to predict the future a tenth, a hundredth of a second in advance.

Dr. Beckloff, not thinking about anything

There is no room in your head for time. Your whole life may have passed you by in the moments spent in this state. The trail seems long and short at the same time. Speed, as a function of time and distance is not relevant. Fast and slow. The faster the slower. The interminable epochs spent laboring away to the top of this monstrous mother of a mountain are ancient history. They are a black hole of effort whose galactic supermass swallowed itself and winked out of existence.

This could either represent the decoupling of time and space from consciousness during a psychological flow state, or my time in college. Either fits.

Mortgages. Taxes. Family. Spouses. Kids. School. Work. Sex. Religion. Death. Life. They aren’t just forgotten, they no longer exist. As the rest of the world fades from consciousness the immediate bubble of awareness expands and becomes all there is.

You are the centered God of your own private universe. A singular entity. A unidimensional geometric point of intent. A dim vector of consciousness moving with “X” velocity toward a spiritual infinity.

And then it’s over. You have identity and location and kids and a job and everything again. You are at the bottom of the trail and you’re staring at your buddies looking back at you with the same stupid giddy looks on their faces. You grasp at what just happened like waking from a beautiful dream whose memory is fading before you can tell anyone. You’re laughing and making some ridiculous swooping hand gestures to try to explain to your pals but they already know.


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