Sunday, November 7, 2010

Near Field Effects

Growing up in rural Maryland the bicycle was my primary mode of transportation until I was fortunate enough to drive. Being anywhere from 2-15 miles from anywhere I wanted to be, this led to many, many miles on the road and the need to be home by dark. And I never wanted to be wherever I was.

In all of those hours I learned to appreciate the solitude and joy in cycling that I could never find in running. The rhythmic, hypnotic pedaling; the bearing down for a long uphill grind; the rewarding breeze of the downhill coast, and a thing I call Near Field Effects.

There is a place about 3 meters in front of my handlebars where the pavement's coarse aggregate is always discrete. Look closer, and the particles join the rush streaking under the wheel, no longer individual. Like the stars as Captain Kirk pushes the Enterprise to Warp Speed, or snowflakes on your windshield at night. When the going gets tough I zone on this spot. I am able to trick my mind that uphill is downhill. I stay down waiting for the breeze to come, and lose track of everything else.

There is another place, just past where the Near Field Effects are, that I prefer. Here I can observe the beauty in the world around me, and I can avoid small children and potholes. And I don't like looking back - that can be really bad for your health.

I spend less time focusing on the horizon - for the path is hidden and there is not enough detail - and the details I can see may well be different when I get there.

So as I move in this stream I find the best place to be is right on my seat, but to have my mind between the Near Field Effects and the horizon, in the present. Here I can gratefully observe the world around me, and think about all the mud that didn't get to sit up and look around.

1 comment:

  1. i am happy now that i can ride my bike again. i love this post when i go out riding i will think of these words.