Before I was a cyclist, I was a swimmer. Not competitive or anything so “serious”, just a devoted lap swimmer. I love the water, and I find swimming to be very relaxing – especially given my level of (non)-exertion. I have almost perfected a technique for napping while swimming, if that gives you any idea …
I still get in the pool once or twice a week throughout the year, and more often in the summer when I can swim outside – which is what I love the most. For several years there were a group of us who would swim together on summer mornings. We jokingly called ourselves the Aqua Geezers. (Well, maybe not so jokingly. ;-))
During the summer, the early mornings are reserved for lap swimmers. This morning, I was the only one in the water (much to my delight, and probably not so much to the lifeguard who had to stay on duty). Early in the season, in the cool morning air, it takes a little effort to jump into the cold water … but once I’m in, like when I’m on my bike, all reluctance disappears.
The repetition of the strokes, the breathing, had me thinking about rhythm – and a compelling passage in one of my knitting books. In Sally Melville’s book, The Knitting Experience: The Knit Stitch she talks about these “feel good” activities that put us into our right brain mode – the beauty of the physical rhythm, the meditative state. She writes,
The right brain is the place where new ideas form, where entities that don’t belong come together, where intuition rules, where time has no meaning… We need to get out of the dominant, full-of-rules left brain and into the more innovative, solution-advancing right brain. And we get into the right brain by engaging in activities that are
- physically repetitive,
- intellectually undemanding,
- visually stimulating.
Which, for me, perfectly explains why so many of us love the rhythm of cycling – or swimming, or knitting, or running, or any one of these activities that makes us “feel good”, give us some clarity, peace of mind. Foster creativity. Induce that state of contentment.
So today began with swimming, a little knitting during the afternoon, and ended with an evening road ride on the Xtracycle. The end of the day was as lovely as the beginning. Engaging the right side of my brain through the swim strokes, the click of the needles, the pedalling, the breathing. All of these things … the beautiful rhythm of the day.