Cycling is a great way to push yourself, just as many other sports and hobbies are – especially if you enjoy doing them. You don’t always have to push yourself though as it is often just as rewarding to do something to relax and to take your mind off things. On the flip side I also find cycling an excellent opportunity to reflect, go over previous experiences and events and to also formulate new ideas for upcoming projects and activities. I have realised that this happens best when really exerting yourself in the saddle and taking on the terrain – the brain seems to have a positive connection with the effort being put in to get up a steep hill and the exhilaration you feel by beating a best time or furthering a maximum distance achieved. I am sure there is a biological explanation or a proven concept for this – I compare it to the state of FLOW, a theory first explained by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Flow is where you lose yourself in the function, when your skills to do something are being challenged by the difficulty of the task or a personal target to succeed. You can often recognise that you have experienced this state when time has flown by – as a teacher it is especially rewarding when you hear your students say that they can’t believe it is the end of the lesson, ‘the time has just flown by!‘ To me this signifies that they have experienced the following attributes to their learning during that lesson:
Engagement, challenge, ownership, confidence, fun, skill utilisation and development
I very much enjoy cycling with my own children and watching them grow in confidence as they have moved from their tricycles to learning wheels and then onto their first proper bikes. My oldest son is now cycling with gears and is always inquiring about the science behind how they work and why they make uphill cycling easier, etc. My daughter, who has only just turned five, doesn’t have gears on her little pink bike but loves the motivation and challenge to ride as far as her big brother – she has just rode her first 10kms and was very proud of her achievement.
What impresses me is when I see them jump on their bikes without any encouragement and watch them ride around the garden and compound. They set up little bike tracks and obstacle courses and challenge each other to do different tricks. They are exploring their abilities themselves and using their confidence to be even better cyclists with a more diverse range of skills. I want them to set themselves personal targets (Jonah now wants to cycle 20kms – without his sister!) but not at the cost of not enjoying the experience and possibly putting them off that activity or hobby permanently. Getting the balance right is important, knowing when to let go and not to push them too far is not easy as a parent or a teacher but it is worth it to seek that optimum state of flow and an independent resilience to be successful in life.
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