How My Bike Freed My Brain

Saturday night, my mind just wouldn’t quiet down. Work was running through my head. I had just watched a show that ended in a depressing moment. The combination of the two was not doing me any favors for getting to sleep.

Then I thought, “What if I rode the Ride for the Arts tomorrow morning? I could do the 45 mile route.

Moments later, I texted my friend, Jeff, and he was all in.

Was I ready for a 45 mile ride? If it was nice and easy, Yes I was.  And I knew it would get my mind off all the thoughts running through it.

Sunday morning, Jeff and I take off. Right off the start, we have to ride up the Hoan Bridge (along Lake Michigan and high up) into the wind. We were both saying, “Once we get through this, the rest is going to be easy.” We had ridden this ride 2 years ago, but this portion was new …and exhausting.

Something happened as we came off the Hoan Bridge. I didn’t want to slow down. It felt good to ride fast (well what is fast for me – not hard core cyclists). Suddenly, we had hit the 10 mile mark well ahead of the goal of when I needed to be done (my son is graduating high school later in the day). That got me pumped up to maintain the pace. My legs were already started to burn.

“So what, Mike, keep it going” – that was me talking to myself.

27 miles in, legs burning and still feeling good with the burn.

35 miles in and 10 miles to go. Now I’m feeling a little more mental exhaustion while still thinking, “Come on. Keep it going.”

The last 3 miles felt like they took forever. We get done and our average speed over the race was ¬†actually faster than 2 years ago when we did this ride. Why did that surprise me? 2 years ago, Jeff and I were riding quite a bit before we did this ride. Plus, this year’s course was tougher and longer by 7 miles.

Mike and Jeff Ride for the Arts

What was the difference? I was in a zone. I needed the mental getaway. Sometimes physical activity is the greatest gift we can give our brain and emotions.

A huge shout out to Jeff for being such an awesome riding partner and friend. A huge THANKS to my personal trainers. While I wasn’t riding much this year, the conditioning they had me in for my overall vibrancy paid off.

What do you do physically to give your brain and emotions the break they need?