#418 Balance

I had yoga class this evening which prompted me to think on the matter of balance – a topic that frequently comes to mind when I do yoga, particularly since I feel like its something that I have not managed to recover completely since I banjaxed my ankle. The essentials are there, but in the more advanced poses I wobble and just can’t find my centre the way I would like.

Of course, balance is more than just physically balancing on one foot in Tree Pose. It is mental as well. The balance you need in your own mind to keep you going through busy days, the work/life balance, the balance between soaking up every minute of your kid growing up and taking time to just be yourself and not an all-singing, all-dancing, snacks-always-at-the-ready mommy.

And this has been repeatedly leading me back to cycling. I can’t think of a better metaphor for balance than a perfect bike ride. Physically and mentally cycling, in every respect, is about finding that sweet spot between two extremes.

– The balance between slowing down at a crossing so that you can keep some forward momentum and your feet off the ground, and going too slowly and being unable to stay upright.

– The balance between speed and control.

– The balance between exhilaration and fear.

– The balance between the joy losing yourself to the rhythm of your heartbeat, your breath, your legs, and maintaining hyper awareness of everything around you for safety.

– The balance between a route with a turn across fast moving traffic at the top of a mild slope, and the route with fewer cars and a monster hill at the very end of the ride when your legs and lungs are already burning. (yeah, yeah, I know. Having tried both I’ve stuck to the safer one…)

– The balance between a commute with one very long gradual incline and one with sharp upward hills followed by flat stretches for recuperation. (Oh, the latter. Definitely the latter!)

– The balance between the desire to cycle and watching the wind and weather forecast.

– The balance of enjoying cycling late at night when the roads are much emptier and maintaining high visibility in all directions.

– The balance between when to stay on the bike path and when to take the lane.

– The balance between pulling your scarf up over your mouth to keep your face warm and pulling it down to suck heapfuls of oxygen as you fight to breathe on an incline.

– The balance between pushing your endurance the sake of it, and dropping down a couple of gears to get home easier.

– The balance between layering for the winter weather, and enjoying the cold wind in your face as your legs burn and sweat drips down your back.

Cycling is about balancing. Every moment, every breath, every push, every turn. You balance to keep your momentum and your momentum keeps you balanced. There is no better metaphor.

That sweet spot at the intersection of all of these? I think it’s the reason I like cycling so much.

Now I just have to go work on my Tree Pose.

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