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October 8, 2015 5 comments

Take A Technological Detox

Correspondence Friends Bicycles Monthly highlights
By Juliet Elliott
Take A Technological Detox
I’m terribly easily distracted. Between sitting down to write this piece and actually typing the first words, I found myself tidying the living room, brushing one of my cats, going to the shop to buy coffee, watering my plants, looking at Facebook and Twitter and replying to all my emails, and all this before I’d even changed out of my pajamas. I sometimes kid myself that by doing millions of things all at the same time I’m being super efficient, plowing through stuff on my to-do list at lightning speed. The reality is I’m flitting between so many things that I’m never really concentrating on one or truly immersing myself in anything at all; there are so many distractions when working at home that I’m all over the place yet never really anywhere. Cycling is usually a break from all this faffing – it’s just me and my bike rolling through the countryside; a pure, simple, uncomplicated time to sooth the neural pathways. It’s a time to disconnect from life’s worries, untether from technology and just focus on the here and now, a time to notice the small things. Or at least it used to be.
Now that I’m not longer a commuter and tend to use my bikes to go for a ride for it’s own sake, I take a fair while to get ready. Going cycling is my version of ‘going out’ and it’s when I enjoy selecting a nice outfit, braiding my hair, choosing accessories and whatnot – it makes my husband laugh because I’ll go to the pub with mascara all over my face and still wearing those pajamas, but I do like to make an effort for cycling even though I’ll often see no one out on a ride. I enjoy this faffing; it’s a luxurious inefficiency that I like to indulge in when I have time. But over the summer, I’ve added another dimension to my faffing and distractedness which is really eating up time I don’t have, and dare I say it, taking away from the ride experience. I’ve been doing a lot of training and testing out some new tech bits and bobs I’ve borrowed, so now along with choosing which bike, which outfit and which hairstyle, I have to pair and synch all manner of gadgets, which hopefully I’ve remembered to charge using one of a multitude of different sized cables. Yes I know, first world problems, but hear me out. A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed my mobile phone and my GoPro camera, both of which work over WiFi to connect to various accounts – Strava, GoPro Studio, Instagram, Facebook etc. I put on my heart rate monitor, which connects to my cycling computer that in turn connects to both Garmin Express and Strava. I switched everything on and spun my pedals waiting for the cycling computer to connect to my power monitoring pedals. Then I farted about for more than half an hour trying to get everything to work, eventually changing the batteries in the pedal pods before spending the ensuing ride looking my Garmin to see what power zone I was in, how fast I was pedaling and following the rise and fall of my heartbeat. How relaxing. Back at home, I down and uploaded all my data and photos, posted a couple of pictures to my social media accounts, trawled through all the Strava segments on my ride than spent longer than I’d been riding analysing an inordinately large and complex amount of data, such as what angle my left foot had been in. What is this madness? Isn’t cycling meant to spell FREEDOM! It reminded me of the time I was reviewing a bike with electronic Di2 gear shifters and I ran out of power in the middle of Dartmoor and my husband had a real good laugh at me for riding a bike that you have to plug in. I was reading this morning (ironically online, when I was meant to be working) about some apps that you can download to disable the internet on your computer so that you don’t flit between Facebook and emails when you’re meant to be working. Just what is wrong with us humans that we can’t manage to ignore distractions or switch the damn internet off at the plug? So realizing some drastic action is needed to save my tiny mind from dissolving into a mass of blancmange that’s unable to keep track of what it’s doing from one time to the next, I’m ditching technology and going riding the old-fashioned way – just with a bike. For the sake of your health, I’d suggest you do that too. And if you really, really, can’t resist a glance at your stem and need a reminder that your bike will take you anywhere if you’ll let it, check out the No Garmin No Rules stickers from a couple of years back.
In addition to Muir's list I'd add ;

1)Skip the bendy bar road bike or any semblance thereof , using either a hard nose/hard tail Mt Bike .. or better yet as I do ... a Moulton ATB !

2) Afterwards do not post , comment . Twitter , FaceBook or YouTube the ride ... rather savoring the moment in your mind and sharing it verbally face to face with your friends [ now theres a thought ]

And then ... once the initial shock of TechnoSeparation Anxiety Disorder is over .. begin the long process of ... dare I say it ... unplugging in your daily life as well . You'll be surprised at the resultant changes .. pleasantly so i might add ... though your friends may think you mad
TJ Martin May 23, 2016 at 6:10 PM
Very agree with your reasoning. Bikin puts us in our place with regard to the world. Nice post Juliet
Hipster Code May 23, 2016 at 6:10 PM
Sounds remarkably familiar. A couple of rides without GPS due to technical issues meant I enjoyed it more - concentrating on the journey not the numbers.

However, keep the camera - we look more intensely and differently at the world around us when trying to find the good photo opportunity.
Ian May 23, 2016 at 6:11 PM
I'd like to say nice piece but doesn't seem to do justice to your essay. Maybe this will do, great!
kamoteQ May 23, 2016 at 6:11 PM
My 5 Rules for enjoying cycling:
1. Forget about speed
2. Forget about weight
3. Forget about aerodynamics
4. No digital gizmos on the bars
5. No Lycra

I think you've broken Rule 4. And possibly Rule 5.
muir mackean May 23, 2016 at 6:11 PM