What do I think about when I ride 8+ hours for 5 days.
This question is more than justified because from the outside riding for such a long time could appear boring.
And yes, not every minute is super exciting but it is definitely far from boring.
My most recent 1100km cycling adventure from Mallorca to Munich is a great example when time literally flies on the bike. For such a ride there are four reasons why it is exciting and not boring.
1. Discovery of new terrain
First, I discover new terrain. There is always something new to see, new to think about while my mind stays active trying not to get lost. It is exciting to navigate through new countries, over borders and crossing the Bodensee by lake. While I was riding the entire day, people around me followed their daily routine; thus, I got a great insight what people from this particular region were doing.
2. Riding solo
On the contrary what might appear, riding solo is not boring. Sure, I didn’t have anyone to talk to while riding but my senses heightened because I was fully responsible for my actions. I pay more attention to my surroundings, thus constantly evaluating external situations and internal conditions. Am I hungry? Thirsty? If so, do I want to stop here or wait for a better location. All these micro-decisions take up a good chunk of time.
3. Reaching a destination
If I want to reach a destination, the motivation to get there is a lot higher than just making a loop or return to the same place. For that, I also calculate quite frequently how far and fast I travel. How many kilometers I can cover in the next hours and days. At day 3 of the Mallorca to Munich trip, I made the decision to finish in 5 days; but for that I needed to calculate more where I have to be to be able to complete the ride in a reasonable time. Throwing a lot of numbers around in my head and the kilometers pass very quickly.
4. Zoning out
When I am not occupied with thinking about distance, time, food or the next hotel and the route and traffic doesn’t require any brain power because of a long, boring stretch, I zone out easily and think about completely different things such as ideas for my next adventure, the topic for my next speaking engagement or anything else.
Sometimes, it is just boring.
Sure, sometimes, it is just boring. If that happens, I switch my Garmin away from showing the distance and time so I don’t look constantly how much I have or havent covered. Instead I look around and try to find a way to engage myself mentally with something different. Why are more cars coming the other way than the ones passing me? How does the farmer mow the grass? Would I be able to move here?
Time to adapt
It usually takes me one day to adapt to the cycling adventure – being able to disconnect from real life and enter a different mental zone but once there, the mind relaxes, takes in more from the surroundings and is able to get into ‘the zone’ easily.
What do you think about when you are doing long rides?