Our time on Earth is limited. It is a harsh truth and we have to make our time on Earth count. I agree with Viktor E. Frankl who claimed that there is no universal definition of purpose. It is up to every one of us to figure out our own purpose. My co-founder and I found our purpose in developing and providing you the tools to explore the Earth. The tools that will let you spend every single second of your free time enjoying new views and descending narrow singletrails. You want to know why we’re obsessed with exploring? Because we want to make every kilometer count and make every wheel rotation enrich your life.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost
Experience joy and satisfaction
The most obvious benefit is certainly the immense joy you get when you’re exposed to new visual stimuli. The trail doesn’t even have to be special or to achieve these benefits. It might as well be a forest road in your backyard. Simply experiencing the novelty is enough. Therefore, exploration rides are my favorite and most reliable way to achieve the flow state outside my professional environment. And as many authors have concluded, the flow generates happiness.
Let me borrow the Cal Newport’s paragraph from his book called the “Deep work”: “If you give your mind something meaningful to do throughout all your waking hours , you’ll end the day more fulfilled , and begin the next one more relaxed , than if you instead allow your mind to bathe for hours in semiconscious and unstructured Web surfing .”
Some people might argue that they don’t need to ride new trails to experience immense satisfaction. After all, they get this feeling when they complete a physically demanding ride, usually when they best themselves or others (such as achieving a KOM). And I agree. I get the same feeling on those occasions as well. However, in my experience joy and fulfillment from a demanding ride pale in comparison to new trails, they appear quite rarely and last for a shorter time. But the crucial advantage of exploration in maximizing joy and fulfillment is that it is completely within your control. You can always decide to make exploration ride and experience satisfaction and joy, whereas only a handful of workouts and races in a year have a potential to bring you such feeling. Just think about all the workouts you need to perform to get in your best shape.
Another problem especially with racing is that most of us often set ourselves (unrealistic) goals, which disregard our limited time and mental energy that we can dedicate to training. This ruins our race experience even though we left our hearts bleeding on the road. And don’t get me wrong. I like racing and I wish to race more often. But I don’t race to experience inner satisfaction. I race because I want to get in great physical shape or stay there. As a side benefit this enables me to explore the most remote and difficult areas.
The fulfillment and joy that anyone can get during an exploration ride is closely linked to the next benefit.
Restore mental energy (prolong deep work state)
As previously noted, most hard workouts and races usually further deplete your mental energy (as though your work and family obligations weren’t enough!) and leave you mentally exhausted. This might not bother you, if you can afford to spend the rest of the day mentally off. However, for a great majority of us this is not an option.
According to Cal Newport, the economy we live in values the results, which require deep work (prolonged attention directed on a single task). Such efforts leave us exhausted. If we want to achieve success (be it professional or personal), we need to replenish our willpower to be able to perform deep work constantly. He offered a particularly useful advice: “when [walking] through nature, you’re freed from having to direct your attention, as there are few challenges to navigate, and experience enough interesting stimuli to keep your mind sufficiently occupied to avoid the need to actively aim your attention . This state allows your directed attention resources time to replenish”.
In contrast, network tools (Web surfing, social media etc.) don’t offer the same propensity to replenish your mental energy. Even worse, as Mr. Newport put it: ““network tools are distracting us from work that requires unbroken concentration, while simultaneously degrading our capacity to remain focused.”
Building on the previous point, the replenished mental capacity nicely complements our deep work capacity. I would argue that replenished mental capacity in connection with activity that does not require direct attention stimulates creative thinking.
I find no other explanation as to why the “Notes” and “”Just press record” smartphone apps are my most used apps during exploration bike rides. I’ve come up with numerous creative ideas and insights during exploration rides. And we’re up to the last point.
Improve health and performance
This last major benefit is especially useful for those, who ride for health or performance reasons. Whereas the previous benefits are already materialized during or shortly after a ride, this is not the case with improved health or performance.
As lazy as we are, a benefit that we can immediately experience is often necessary to do something. The health and performance sadly can neither be felt, nor are they immediate. So, if you’re riding primarily for those two reasons the previous benefits, especially the joy will motivate you to ride more often.
Personally, I employ the exploration rides to do my weekly “long slow distance” workouts and I think it’s a perfect fit. The incorporated new trails keep the boredom away, whereas the unfamiliarity with the terrain helps to curb my need to go fast and keep my LSD rides slow, to avoid the grey zone. This way I can reap the benefits of improved fat metabolism and economy.
Have a nice ride and don’t forget to share this post with your friends, if you found it valuable.
Written by marko