Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Body, Bike, Mind and Me

By Adventure Pedlars
14, May, 2019

Exploring mindfulness: accepting the limitations of his Body, Pete McNeil returns to HT550 to push the boundaries of his mind

“So we’re back here again are we!!?.."

"But this time it’s worse... We four idiots. All alone. You’d think we’d have learnt our lesson from last time... Didn’t we remember the fall-outs? All that screaming? The anguish? The not speaking? Ignoring each other? Not listening? Pushing, shoving… willfully hurting each other?! Why on earth have we come back here? Whose sodding idea was this anyway?!..."

“STOP!..!!”

“I’m not listening”

“For the love of god!! Stop you madman…It hurts. Why are you doing this?”

“La la la la la laaaaaa...”

“Right, That's it. I’m never speaking to you again…”

“Shhhhh… just breathe”

"But we’re past all that now aren’t we? Too tired anyway. At some fragile kind of truce. No protest because it doesn’t really matter anymore. None of it does. Body, Bike, Mind, and Me all existing peaceably together, just for a moment. All the quarrels have died away and we pause.
Together. Silence. 
Some kind of disjointed unison. None of us saying anything, we all lie down.”

It’s 7am on the last morning of the Highland Trail 550 and I’ll admit things have begun to get a little bit weird… I’ve been riding my bike for 26 hours and it's been 200km since my last sleep amongst the remote hills of Fisherfield, I’ve barely seen a soul since. The temptation to lay my head down on the soft grass at the side of the Great Glen Way, dappled with the first rays of the morning’s sunlight, is just too powerful and, for a moment, the whole World stops spinning…

 
"Body, Bike, Mind, and Me all existing peaceably together,
just for a moment."
 

“It wasn’t always like this though was it? These dark times. Remember the highs? Oh the highs! The ecstasy of the night before! All four of us moving symbiotically together, brethren in arms. Taking on the world and winning. Egging each other on
further, further, harder, stronger, faster - “Sod the future… Live for NOW!”
Was it the rhythm that intoxicated us? The trance-like beat of pedal strokes spinning us onwards and slicing the night. Still fog reflecting off headlights so only the air on my face foiled the alarming illusion that we weren’t moving at all. Mind struck dumb by the spectacle. Bike trundling on regardless.
Or was it the joy in the childish reckless abandonment of all the rules? That moment when we all convened under hushed whispers and moonlight and decided, like four naughty schoolboys, that bed was for losers and we could all sleep when we were dead…”

So where did it all go wrong?… dawn, always dawn.

I lay there, head in the grass, Mind numb. Body caked in mud, blood and sweat as the sunlight slowly bathed and massaged it back into some semblance of life. I don’t know if I actually slept. Sleep would seem too definitive a term for that particular experience. It seemed as though I could have been there for hours but then, fifteen whole minutes later, my alarm beeps. We all jump up, Body, Bike, Mind and Me, surprisingly rejuvenated and determined. We set ourselves to completing this journey.

It seems strange now, perhaps a little too strange, ridiculous even as I sit here weeks later in the comfort of home writing about it all, but that was my reality then. Nothing else existed. And that, as it turns out, was exactly what I was looking for. Nothing. Although, over the past few weeks, it’s taken a while for me to figure that out. Body is still grumbling, Bike has undergone major cosmetic surgery and Mind is still grappling to make sense of all that it has learned.

Confused? Don’t worry, me too. Let’s explore this one together...

...was it the joy in the childish reckless abandonment of all the rules? That moment when we all convened under hushed whispers and moonlight and decided, like four naughty schoolboys, that bed was for losers and we could all sleep when we were dead…”
 

This was my second experience of the Highland Trail 550, a self supported 550 mile mountain bike race around some of the most remote corners of Scotland. That first year beguiled me into going back. I felt then that, although I’d pushed myself further than ever before and surpassed all my expectations, it still wasn’t the bottom of the tank. I knew that there were lessons I’d learned out there that could take me further and so I vowed, as I rolled across that unassuming finish line on a back lane in Tyndrum, that I’d certainly return next year... better prepared.

Well, next year came and I returned to Tyndrum, but thanks to a string of work commitments and only a two day preparation period I certainly didn’t feel in any way better prepared. In the sleepless nights before the race, I was forced me to re-evaluate my motivations.

I wrote:

“I came to a settling notion that to just enjoy being out on my bike in one of the best places on earth with a bunch of other kindred spirits could well be enough without any external pressures of achieving any particular goals. Once again I’m headed off on an adventure and one which, this time, I’m mainly approaching in a state of curiosity.”

I’d resigned myself to the fact that physically, my body would not be as capable as it was the year before. What I was curious about was how far I could push the boundaries of my mind.

Taking Mindfulness on adventure... carry on to Part Two

  • Google+

In pictures

No Comments

Share your thoughts about this article.

Daring Deeds

The Frog Whitton
The UK's ultimate swim-cycle challenge
The Tour Divide story - Part 1
Rich and Tom take on the Tour Divide
Al Humphreys - Suilven
Al Humphreys takes his new Brompton on a trip to Suilven
Rich and Tom Siepp Pre-Tour Divide ride
Rich and Tom's kit list and pre-amble for their Tour Divide route ride
The Proof of the Pudding
make sure you test your equipment
Highland Trail 550 - 2019
“Its not worth drowning to get free fish and chips” Alan Goldsmith
Body, Bike, Mind and Me: Part 2
Exploring mindfulness on the Highland Trail 550
Reccying The Dales Divide
The first one round the Dales Divide

More from Deeds

News

800 Mile Great North Trail Opens
New off-road cycle route
Sonder Storybook 2019 Comp Now Open
Release your inner Dervla Murphy
Join us for the long easter weekend.
come along and catch nature off guard this weekend.
Alpkit Keswick Official Opening
Yippee! It's officially official... We're open!
Ireland To Asia: A Year On My Bike
Tales from Sean Hoban's journey to Asia
Alpkit Adventure Weekender
Join us in store for an adventure filled weekend
Teuchters on Tour
Fundraising cycle trip
Silk Road Mountain Race
An unsupported bikepacking race in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan

More from News

Develop

New Sonder Transmitter: Q&A with Neil Sutton
We catch Sonder Bike Guru Neil to quiz him about the new Transmitter
The Squalline Story
Developing our new run/ride showerproof shell
Bags more packs in our range
New packs for you to put your kit in
New UK Made Bikepacking Bag Range
UK-made bike luggage shifts up a cog
Sonder Evol: Q&A with Bike Guru Neil
Sonder's new 140mm trail bike
The low-down on Polygiene™
Wear more, wash less: you can't get simpler than that!
Branching out with the Rando Bikepacking Bag Range
New welded bike luggage
2 new Sonder bikes
2 new bikes set to join Sonder

More from Develop

Spotlight

Wild Camping Tips and Kit List
The guide to getting it right when camping out
The Highland Trail 550 2019
Stu Taylor returns to the Highland Trail
Long Distance Bikepacking: Highland Trail 550 Packing List
Pete McNeil tells us how to pack for endurance bikepacking events
Dirty Reiver 2019
Our staff rides for the 2019 Reiver 200
Layering up for Cycling
Our new Rhythm range, and how to layer for a ride
Supporting the Silk Road Race
Watching dots on the Silk Road
The Who’s Who of Alpkit Backpacks
Navigating our new range of packs

Be the first to hear about our newest products and promotions

Join AlpCol's Espresso newsletter for that hit of Go Nice Places, Do Good Things Greatness

CLOSE

By adding your email you consent to our terms and conditions