It’s Not Just a Ride

The combination of yoga and sport is endless. Yoga for golfers, yoga for runners, yoga for cyclists, yoga for... it’s endless! Some may view this as an exploitation of the history and sacredness of yoga. Others see the lines of yoga and life activities as not parallel or perpendicular but rather as one intricate matrix. Take for example this month’s Fix theme of biking. The experience of being on the bike is so much more than just a ride. It is a pastime that has the potential to expand and create both social change and personal growth. It can transmute for many into a way of being.

In the city of San Francisco, on the last Friday of every month, it rain or shine, bicyclists gather by the 1000s. When their numbers grow large enough for them to negotiate their right of way safely, they start to ride together. One by one all of the bicyclists pour out onto the streets and cycle, sometimes extending for over two kilometres as they ride.

According to writer Steven Snell this great collective under the auspicious of justice has been termed a “Critical Mass” bicycle ride. It’s been going on since 1992.

Snell goes on to say that the critical mass ride is democracy in action. Streets can be owned and operated publicly, but they are only public in the true sense if the public has equal access to them, without discrimination based on desired mode of transportation. The Critical Mass thesis states, “We are not blocking traffic, we are the traffic.”

This monthly gathering is not only changing the way individuals view public spaces but is influencing people’s perspectives on the environment, social change and world views. The gathering of cyclists together diminishes the feelings of isolation and alienation that the automobile can create. It’s promotion of exclusivity and togetherness creates a very peaceful united front.

Here at home, trail biking for many is their religion. It has ritual, community and a sense of feeling connected. For myself biking and yoga are perfectly complementary. My biking battered body loves the complement of a soothing yoga practice. Dharana is the sanskrit word for single-pointed focus or presence. On the bike this is required during technical moments or is naturally absorbed for the duration of the entire ride itself. The breath rhythm in yoga is the same as the pedal tempo when biking. The balance and gyro needed to stay on the bike when either maneuvering uphill around roots and ruts or descending downhill around bends and drops is the same fluidity and flow needed in a yoga practice. It is the experience of effortless effort or “in the zone” that most of us can relate to through sport yet can also arise through asanas on the mat. Gary Klein (founder of Klein bikes) says it best. “Biking is about rhythm and flow. It's the wind in your face and the challenge of hammering up a long hill. It's the reward at the top and the thrill of a high-speed descent. Biking lets you come alive in both body and spirit. After awhile the bike disappears beneath you and you feel as if you're suspended in midair.”

Those who are fortunate enough to find something in life that creates passion, a sense of feeling alive and a deep acceptance of self have tapped into the spirit realm. It’s not elusive, yet it can’t be seen. Call it energy, being or something higher than yourself – it’s an experience that needs to be felt rather than described. It’s in the moment and biking can take you there. Once again it’s not just a ride.

Whether you are two and learning the run bike, four and taking on the pedals, or any age at all spreading the feet wide whist screaming downhill, the bike is for everyone. It allows for freedom, exhilaration and the feeling that no matter what is going on in my day, at this moment, LIFE IS GOOOOD!