For any of you good folks that are reading this and either know me personally, or train with us in Educogym, you will have undoubtedly already had me bend your ear in relation to my recent cycling excursions on the Iberian peninsula. As I may have been somewhat guilty of displaying an overeagerness of sorts in discussing the intricacies of my itinerary with, quite frankly anyone at all who was willing to listen to me, you might then be wondering why on earth I’m “doubling-down” here. Well, a couple of friends and colleagues planted the seed on that one and clearly having had their fill of me jabbering on about endless kilometres, eye-watering ascents, jaw dropping vistas and the inevitable saddle sores, cleverly suggested that I document my endeavours here and in particular, highlight the positive role that the educo model & gym played in the successful completion of our challenge. More than happy to oblige!
Before I specifically get into the nitty-gritty of the cycle itself, I think it might be entertaining for you, the reader, if I were to highlight a couple of rudimentary incidences that routinely occur when undertaking a challenge of this nature. Not being my first rodeo in this particular type of stampede, you have to resign yourself to the fact that people will think and tell you that you are utterly mad, and then watch them reaffirm this with a disconcerting shake of their head that flirts somewhere between disbelief and a tentative respect. Then there is the precarious task of attempting to gauge what exactly constitutes “smart-packing” for a week’s cycling on the road, a challenge that becomes crystallised with the realization that whatever you decide to take with you, had better be utilised, as your pannier literally becomes an extension to, and an integral part of your bike for a week. Otherwise you find yourself in the rather awkward position of having to justify the reasons you thought it prudent to haul an (admittedly) comfy pair of water-proof shoe covers down the length of an entire country when the only precipitation you encountered was the sea at your final destination. I guess such are the intricacies of life on the road :)
I digress. So then, why then did I not only just embrace the challenge of an arduous week’s cycling in uncomfortably warm temperatures through a near deserted landscape with a child-like ebullience, but actually knew in total confidence that I would easily complete and thoroughly enjoy every pedal stroke completed and every kilometre chalked up? Indulge me if you will as I negate on giving an immediate, unequivocal response to that question. Alternatively, I invite you to read on and draw out your own conclusions as I hint at my reasoning below, and attempt to convey how living life off the grid for a week allowed me to make a very different type of connection to the world.
Our journey then started on an overcast Monday afternoon in Santiago de Compostela Airport in northern Spain where we assembled the bikes upon arrival and set off towards the Galician town of Lalín. From here, we made our way down into Portugal to the official starting point of the mytical N2 challenge starting off from the KM 0 marker in the border town of Chaves. It was then a case of pointing the bikes due south and rolling on towards the quite stunning Douro Valley, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) & later through the villages and vineyards of the famous Dao wine making region, all the while inching our way down to the final destination of Faro in the Algarve. For the most part, it was plain sailing, or indeed cycling, simply noting our progress via the individual KM stones perched snugly on the roadside as we whirred by. That was of course until one day, when the aforementioned N2 went rogue and quite literally disappeared. Yes, disappeared!! Interestingly I now found myself negotiating motorway traffic and this quickly became a particularly emotive experience when we happened upon a roadworks section, which in turn, had narrowed down to one lane. I haven't the stats at hand but I can only imagine that my average speed for the day shot up a couple of clicks on that section.
Significantly, the logistics of the ride worked in our favour too as we tackled the more mountainous terrain in the first few days while the legs were still spinning relatively unhindered. Then, as we rode south and the temperatures inevitably soared, we found ourselves on the flatter rolling plains of the Alentejo region where although the hitherto superb road surfaces had started to waiver a little, we still managed to knock off the kms at a decent clip, thanks in no small part to the favourable topography of the region.
Through my adventures on the bike, I have discovered that once you're willing to be present and stay with your immediate surroundings, it's amazing how a country will slowly reveal itself as you steadily traverse its contours on two wheels. By paying attention, you come to realise that there is a tangible and constant reward that comes from your endeavours. I would argue that whilst cycling, there is a level of attachment to be enjoyed in the present moment of your surroundings that you simply cannot replicate in a motorised vehicle. It's as if the cyclist, bicycle and road simultaneously become one and then, in turn, connect effortlessly to the immediate environment that surrounds you. I endeavour to be truly present for as much as possible whilst riding, you know, to be really THERE. When you spend several hours on a bike every day, often riding alone, the opportunity exists to immerse yourself in life this way, to get out of your thoughts and connect with everything around you; sights, sounds, feelings, smells, tastes. When appreciated in this way, cycling becomes a magical and meditative experience. You become truly connected, so therefore you can tap into the energy of the environment around you, and in turn you become that energy, because it is one. I can in all honesty tell you that cycling in this state, regardless of whether I may be on a sweeping descent or a winding climb is an effortless act. I would directly attest the ability to cultivate this type of appreciation and what I have learned and now know to be true from the educo model. It is precisely the same model we use in the gym with our amazing clients, where we actively encourage people to train with unconscious attention, in this case, channeling the power of their mind to direct their energy and focus into the muscle being worked. Then, with no obstructing thoughts to distract them from this task, more of the person's energy becomes available to them with the result that the client can perfectly lift a weight that they would have scarcely believed had we told them beforehand.
I can honestly say that as a trainer in educogym, I feel very fortunate and consider it a wonderful opportunity to be able to work with clients in this way on a daily basis, employing a model that is inherently transformative and holistic. Grounding our work exclusively from the basis of the award winning educo model and in such a positive energetic environment with like-minded colleagues helps us to achieve a tapestry of goal achievement and success with our clients. So just as I experienced over seven days of fantastic cycling, we have infinite opportunities every day to experience, appreciate and connect both with each other and our immediate surroundings. The Educo model is just that, a model, which means it can be replicated to the individual’s needs and their environment. I encourage you whole-heartedly to carry this model with you wherever you go and put it in your employ by drawing out your own inherent power to easily complete tasks and attain goals in your every day life. Then just watch the magic happen.
Thanks for reading.
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