Riding my little gray pill

Why do you ride?

That’s a powerful and seldom asked question. To lose weight, to prove something, to be with friends, to have fun?

Fun is one of the better answers. Let’s dig into that.

If you imagine a chart with skill on one axis and challenge on the other, fun occurs along the diagonal. Little skill and little challenge is fun. Mega skill and mega challenge is fun.

Within fun there’s a gradient. Toward the bottom is, “That was pleasant.” Toward the top is “Holy shit! That was the most amazing thing ever!”

At the top end of fun, that’s where you find Flow: the seemingly magical but perfectly repeatable place where the front of your brain switches off, the rest of your brain operates at hyper speed, and you enjoy peak performance. Great musicians Flow. Great writers Flow. Great software engineers Flow. Great riders Flow.

Flow is so all encompassing that no other feeling or experience can coincide with it. When you slip into Flow, that’s all there is. That’s what makes Flow so worth attaining — and so worth hacking so you can Flow at will.

I ride for lots of reasons: work, weight management, proving things, self improvement and of course Flow. Flow is the biggie.

I try to set up Flow in advance. I ride great bikes, and they fit me perfectly. The suspension works as it should, and I know which adjustments to make on the fly. I do my PT and training religiously. I work on my mental and hysical skill. Shoot, I invented a machine to help me ride better (RipRow).

I am fortunate to decide which amazing bike to ride on any given trail. Do I rock the Specialized Bicycles Enduro Coil, which is a frickin’ downhill bike that can be pedaled, or do I rock the S-Works Fuse, which is a hardtail that didn’t get the memo about being cautious?

2017 Specialized Enduro Öhlins Coil

2018 Specialized S-Works Fuse:

When the terrain is gnarly, the Enduro smoothens the chop into sweet, long-phase waves. Cyclical heavy/light being one of the key Flow triggers, this bike — when combined with high speed — helps me paint sine waves of love onto violent canvases.

When the terrain is less gnarly, or when I want a turbo boost, the Fuse forces hyper attention. The waves are shorter, so that means more operations per meter of trail. The rigid frame requires spot-on execution and total commitment.

I love riding the Enduro! That is one hell of a bike, especially in the right kind of gnar/hugeness. But I have to tell you, from the standpoing of mental performance, the Fuse is a little gray pill. It can be charged without apology, and yet it rewards precision. When I ride at full speed on normal trails, it feels like I’m racing downhill: everything is happening so fast — and it has to be perfect — and it’s faster than my ability to think.

This, of course, turns off the worryig mind and turns on the shredding mind. For that moment and the rest of the day — all is good. “Holy shit! That was the most amazing thing ever!”

What’s your little gray pill?


A moment of perfect on the S-Works Fuse:


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