Feb 012020
Bikespedition Ideas: Noontime Noodling

Some of us find it relatively manageable to bike to and from work. For others it may not be as feasible, or you may not have found a way to move the hassle factor around so that biking is easier than other modes. If you’re finding it challenging to work in some bicycle time and want to roll more often, what about going for a noonday noodle?

This idea is inspired by a Rob Walker column (author of The Art of Noticing*) that pointed me to this piece by Rob Kilner on using your lunch hour to explore your town as if you were a tourist.

Kilner focused primarily on the idea of going for a walk, although he mentions the additional possibilities created by using other modes. Basic idea: Map a half-hour radius from your workplace, set off in any direction, explore and see what you find.

If you use this time for a bike ride you can cover more ground than walking and experience even more of wherever you live. Whether you’re riding out into the countryside and listening to the birds and insects or checking out a side street that takes you to an antique store you’ve never noticed before, a lunchtime bikespedition can recharge your batteries and reconnect you to place.

What I find especially helpful in this idea is the commitment to moving away from your work space and your work mind for a while. Your brain will thank you, as will your body.

I’m one of those dubbed a “knowledge worker”, meaning that much of my time is spent staring at a screen processing bits and bytes of information. Most days I will work straight through lunch to “get more done”, and yet that isn’t actually what happens.

Research findings tell us movement breaks are valuable to give your mind time in which to process, synthesize, mull over and connect. You do better work going away from the question or problem, letting it ripen, and coming back.

If your work is physically demanding this may not appeal as much. Give it a try, though, in case moving your body in a different way from whatever your job demands (assuming you’re not working for a bicycle delivery service) proves to give you something you need.

Mind you, I don’t think you should do this just to “be productive.” That suggests your value is measured by economic productivity. I’m saying to do this because you deserve to take actual lunch breaks; because your town is more interesting than you know if you’ve only viewed it through a windshield or you travel the exact same route to/from work every day; and because your body and mind will thank you. Bicycling is downtime and downtime has value.

If you add up a year’s worth of one-hour lunch breaks that’s a lot of mini-vacation time you could spend exploring and moving: 50 weeks * 5 hours/week = 250 hours = 31.25 days — over a month! It offers the chance to practice a moving meditation, if that’s your thing, and to become more mindful of the small details of places and people you pass along the way.

If your town offers bikeshare that can serve as your getaway wheels. If your bike isn’t your transportation to work and you don’t ride it on weekends, what about taking it to work and riding away from everything on your lunch break? Or pick up a yard-sale special, get the brakes checked out, and stash it at work. This isn’t about going out for some high-performance sweat-inducing exercise break. This is about noodling.

Try it. Let me know how it works for you. You can become part of the movement Kilner’s trying to start if you use #WorkersLunchtime as a hashtag when you share your bikespeditions.

*I include Amazon Affiliate links in this and other posts. I’ve never made a dime from Amazon, mind you, and I believe you should shop at local bookstores and use your local library. If you don’t have either of those available to you, or like me you own a Kindle, you may appreciate the link. If I ever receive any click-through revenue I’ll donate it to a bike-related nonprofit.

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