The Zen of Singletrack

In Blog by Eric Benjamin5 Comments

I took the Beargrease to our local trails in Emporia. This fat-tired bike is more nimble than you’d think. I climbed hills and flew over obstacles without much problem. The biggest limitation is me. I haven’t ridden singletrack regularly since college. I am still a little out of shape and am definitely not in mountain biking shape. Plus I am a wimp as I pick my way through downhill technical terrain. The heart rate was up there to say the least. I plan on riding this bike a lot, all winter, and putting in a lot of miles on the trails. That will whip me into shape. This is one fun bike to ride and I am praying for some snow about now too.

Oh my, I blush when I see her 🙂

I rode Camp Alexander and also hit the trails behind ESU. The ESU trails are surprisingly pretty sweet. I didn’t realize they were being so well maintained. They run by a river and most of it is pretty fast and flowy with a bit of very technical rocky sections. As I was riding through leaf-filtered sunbeams near the river, I went into a metaphysical thought stream pedaling those fat tires. I was not just pedaling on the bike trail, I was on a path, a spiritual path. I can’t help it, my mind always goes there.

I’m a little ashamed to admit some things but once again I think my experience is wasted if I don’t share it. Plus I am determined to not only get through this but also to overcome it and live an abundant, content and happy life. I hope this resonates.

Some Realizations about Me

So the one thing I have found out about myself through my reading and listening to the Daily Love Extravaganza, during my work commute, is that my level of self acceptance is low, even nonexistent at times. I not only hid that from others, but I hid it from myself too. I thought I had it all together. And I did on the surface. But my ego, (see definitions here) which lives in the external world, bases its decisions on fear. And mostly the fear of failure for me. I have, because of childhood issues, not only developed a fear of failure, which has made me a high performer, but I always see myself as a failure in the end. Pretty messed up really. I have done quite a bit in my lifetime but since I moved on and am currently at an unfulfilling job, my ego marks all those experiences up as failures instead of rich life experiences. Then it bases new decisions on that past failure. But probably the worst thing is the thought patterns I have been entangled in for the past 35 years or so. To “protect” me from failure, my ego has a thought pattern of lack. The universe, our inner spirits, do not work in a reality of lack. They lack nothing. So everything is possible.

But our thoughts are very powerful. We do become what we think about. I was constantly thinking about what sucked and how to get out of that instead of thinking about how (excuse my language but from here on out cuss words will be used when necessary to make a point.) fucking awesome I am. That sounds a little conceited but the inner spirit we have inside of us has been put there by a higher power and is capable of man’s greatest achievements. And guess what? It is inside us all and at that level, the level of the divine, we are all the same! We are incredible! But we, I know I was, are thinking with our limited ego, basing all our decisions on external feedback that is not real, since it’s in the past and over, instead of realizing how incredible we are and even more amazing, how incredible we can be if we get in touch with our inner spirit, that is capable of all things and is connected to all things. Yes, I am speaking about God but this is much different than the limited view of God presented in religion.

Now don’t get me wrong. I realize I live on earth and there are some realities, like gravity, that I have to take into account. But the power we can have if we realize who we are is unimaginable to the ego. And that somehow brings me back to riding this sweet fatbike through the trails…

The Ride

I am pedaling, climbing, descending, turning, picking lines, hopping over obstacles and trying to find my way on the trail. I am getting physically tired and then my mind starts thinking existentially about my ride.

When I got to the trail I saw a friend of mine and I started asking him questions about the trail. Last time I was on it, I ended up going in a circle and never finding the other part of the trail that I knew was there. He was nice enough to ride the three mile trail one more time and let me follow. He showed me the way. No big deal until I was riding by myself. There are many places where choices can be made – Y’s in the road. Without having that guide I would have not known where to go and I would have gotten lost, or ended up going the wrong way on the trail which can be dangerous. Sometimes that is what we need – a guide to help us find our way. The ego thinks it knows the way in life but it knows nothing. A guide can come in many forms – a person, a book, a school, a synagogue or church, but sometimes in life we need to give up and just ask the universe, something greater than us, for help. It’s not weak and it can cut out a lot of wasted time “riding the wrong way.”

As I continued riding by myself after my “guide” left I did make a wrong turn and ended up at a dead end once and at an obstacle that was too much for me to handle and I didn’t know where that path even led. I reflected on this as I backtracked through the woods. Sometimes we get off track. Sometimes we have to backtrack. There’s no need to rush when we are beginning our journey.  We have a choice at that point to get really pissed off or to learn and laugh it off. Fat tires help with the laughter part, that is for sure. I was able to go off trail, off road and get back to going the right way on the trail. When I ended up at that obstacle, a thin metal bridge across a stream bed immediately followed by an extreme climb, I knew my limitations. I was not ready for that yet.

When we are on our path it is important to be patient with ourselves, keep pedaling but not to worry so much about our ability and speed as much as the fact that we are moving. Just enjoy the ride.

So my first time around the “track” I was slow, took a few wrong turns, but made it. My attitude, which is totally up to me, stayed smiling and had fun. I was riding my bike for crying out loud not doing calculations or something else that is the opposite of fun. But I could have returned to my old thought patterns and gotten mad that I was slow, took wrong turns and had to get off the bike twice. I could have quit and gone home. But I didn’t. In fact I rode the trail two more times before getting so tired I decided to go home. And you know what I discovered?

I got better each time. I learned which line to take (although the fat Husker Du tires allow me to roll over just about anything), which turn to make and without trying I got faster and more confident. I made the commitment to ride the trail each time. Each commitment we make will get tested. This test was easy to see. Did I make the right turns, was I able to make that climb, etc. In life you make many commitments. Relationships, friendships, jobs, an attitude or belief, these require commitment. Every commitment will get tested which is a good thing since it shows you how important that commitment is to you. You either become stronger in that commitment or you let it go and move on to something else. That is a good thing. For me right now, I am choosing love over fear. I am choosing to side with my inner spirit rather than my fearful ego. This new commitment is tested daily. It’s easy to choose love over fear when my nose is in a book, but how about the next time some real asshole does something to piss me off? Am I going to be able to keep in mind that even though at that moment he is led by his ego, he too has an inner spirit which connects us? However I treat him then is how I treat myself. What I don’t like in him is something I don’t like in myself.

It’s easy to be a cyclist when our bike is in the garage, but what about when it gets windy or cold? I still ride. That choice, believe me, has been tested. But loving humanity can be tougher than riding my bike against a north wind when it’s snowing and in the negative digits. That’s for sure fatbike or not. But loving others is our greatest gift. 


 I saw The other fatbiker out at Camp Alexander. The amount of fatbikes is growing across the country.

 Fatbike on gravel

Here’s a short video I made using trees and rocks for a tripod. I am wanting to do more video, so here is just a snip. Don’t make fun, I know I don’t look too impressive. But I was loving it!

Beargrease Take 1 from Eric Benjamin on Vimeo.

Feed Your Monkey!