Saturday, March 27, 2010

steering between the rocks

remember that keep your eye on the ball advice that everyone swears by?
how about that look where you want to go advice?
although they seem to be quite different, I believe they converge somewhere in the area of focus. focus, as in, avoid/eliminate/resist distractions: focus on whatever you are doing, whether it's hitting the ball dead on, or landing your jump in a specific spot.
or guiding your tire to a smooth, clean, obstacle-free stretch of asphalt.

I'm certain this has happened to absolutely everyone: you are running/walking/biking/catching a ball/whatever and then someone says to you, watch out for that rock/pebble/hole/divot/thingee and sure enough, you step right on/in it. your attention was diverted away from where you were headed and directly into whatever it is you should avoid.

when biking with a group, it is common courtesy for the cyclist out front to point and or call out hazards to those behind, who then, hopefully, do the same for those behind them. however, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "hole!" and then plowed right into (and luckily through) it. the person in front of me points out a rock and my wheel aims right for it.
the first time I ever got a flat tire on my road bike was because I was absolutely mesmerized by the one thing that was in the middle of the almost-perfectly-clear bike lane: gosh, what's that up there, some brown thing, what could it be, a curled up leaf, hmm, gee, wonder what it--- thump, pop, hiss . . .

I've been practicing, these past few years, how to look for the clear spots. how to focus on the uncluttered section of road, not upon the rocks and debris scattered around. instead of looking at what I need to avoid, I'm teaching myself to look at what lies between the obstacles.

bike lanes are gritty these days. winter's remnants lie thick and bumpy in places, cinders and pebbles and the broken up remains of asphalt chunks dislodged by snowplows. early spring runoff leaves gently curving designs of small rocks and gravel that have moved across the bike lanes with the water then remained as the meltage slows and deposits its hangers-on. our bike lanes are like the deltas we learned about in grade school, collecting flotsam and jetsam at the mouths of rivers.

so I steer, these days, carefully around all the sediment that lies there. and I focus, both on and off my bike, on what's smooth and perfect, not upon what's bumpy and unwanted and potentially dangerous.
something is tugging the corner of my mouth upward: must be the universe out there, nodding its collective head and murmuring, you go girl.

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