While it's true that life can be complicated, the idea of paying for someone's thought process (especially the valueless penny) seems odd to me. No, I propose an amendment to that phrase, offering up a pedal for your thoughts. But what can a pedal give you that a penny can't?
How about solace and freedom?
Regular readers of this blog may gather that I'm not a fan of the touring mentality of "I'll ride wherever I go today" and that I much prefer an organized approach to riding. Planned routes, intervals, heart rate and power numbers, average speed; these are all the metrics that training is about. But there's something particularly enjoyable, refreshing and even cleansing about simply going out and going where the road takes you. It's amazing how often we can become lost in thought, with each pedal stroke bringing a new thought to the fore, only to be discarded with the next crank revolution.
Something that we all too frequently forget about amongst the press of training and thrill of competition, is the cathartic effect that cycling has upon us. We very often forget that we can turn the pedals, very innocently, without purpose. There's no intervals, no expectation of increased fitness, no worries about speed or power output. When we distill our riding experience into the simplest of terms, just turning the pedals is conducive to deep thinking and can help us organize our thoughts under the most arduous circumstances.
Very often it takes some major event (not the sporting kind) to remind us the value of simply heading out, turning the pedals and letting our thoughts run wild while our wheels carry us to wherever the wind blows. This concept is not new: athletes have long used exercise as a coping mechanism for various stresses in their lives. Cycling seems different than heading to the gym, lifting weights, doing yoga or even running (although running probably most closely approximates what cyclists feel in these conditions.)
The absolute beauty of cycling and thinking is that the cycling part of the equation is (or can be) effortless. While the runner has the rhythmic fall of footsteps, the weightlifter has the clatter of weights and the gym rat has the chatter of a busy fitness center, the cyclist has only the wind in his ears, the rhythm of his breath and the constant gentle whistle of tires on tarmac. Gliding easily over the road can lead to a sense of detachment, and thoughts can flow as easily as the pedals turn, giving us boundless opportunity to see all sides of our issues and letting us resolve things in our own heads. We are almost completely detached from the world we inhabit, physically only contacting it by about 5 square centimeters of rubber. It forces us to retreat to within our own heads and look deep within ourselves and our thoughts. It's introspection in it's simplest form. It's a liberating sensation that has the potential to completely reverse our outlook or simplify the most difficult situations.
So….forget the penny. A pedal for your thoughts?