Mountain Biking & The Highest Form of Research

The high today was about 30F. Not terribly warm, but not as cold as it could have been. More importantly, it was sunny. I bundled up (which included coercing neoprene booties over my cycling shoes) and headed for the trail with my dog in tow.

I pedaled, he ran (often times stopping immediately in front of me to mark a stump). My fingers went numb shortly after starting the ride, which was the major negative to the whole ride. Other than that, the colors were delightful, the air was crisp, the trails were in great conditions.

While riding, I was thinking what it would be like if I were the only person left on Earth. Would I have the time and motivation still to ride my mountain bike? Seriously. I had little to no responsibility today, what with my girlfriend out of town and it being my day off and all. I chose to ride my bike, to play.

This post-apocalyptic thought came because I spent the morning reading Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. If you haven’t read it, I suggest checking it out.

While I passed a couple of other hikers and one other rider on the trail, I pondered this. After all, Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research.” Through my research today, I hypothesized that, provided I was able to fulfill my basic needs, yes; I would continue to tide my mountain bike. I would continue to run. I would continue to boulder. Hell, I might even keep going to the gym.

At one point during the ride, I felt myself tensing up, wanting to go faster, be more aggressive. I stopped. Asked myself to relax, and carried on riding. And had waaaaaaay more fun. Which ties into my previous point thus: the point of my pursuits is not to be the best; it is to have fun. Some number of years ago I discovered (much to my bemusement) that I am not the best. At anything. But I play like it’s my job.

And that, is the highest form of research.


  1. Janou Scherb · · Reply

    I like that! It makes sense!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Janou! Come by anytime.

  2. I think that If you were the only person left on earth you’d have no choice but to keep riding your mountain bike with the lack of petrol, mechanics to fix your car, etc, etc… Self sufficiency might be a great asset if that ever happens! 🙂

    1. Very true. I got excited about the idea of riding any bike in the world. And finally having the time to become a really skilled mechanic. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. eloquently written

  4. Similar thoughts go through my head when I’m the only one out running a Sunday morning when everybody is going back home from the club, I wouldn’t put it so nicely into words tho.

  5. […] If mountain biking is the highest form of research, adventure mountain biking is astrophysics. In north Idaho it’s research with magnificent consequences. It’s researching outside the laboratory. It’s research where bears roam and moose graze. It’s research where you’d better know your shit if you have a mechanical. It’s research you can’t do on the internet. […]

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