the mind and the machine

why do we ride?

A motorcycle provides one of the most powerful experiences we can partake in, a paradoxical state of flying through the landscape, yet being completely still. Anyone who has ridden a motorcycle for the first time, says it’s one of the most memorable things they’ve ever experienced. Riding a motorcycle is like gaining a superpower, yet realizing that you are human.

Studies have shown that motorcycling imprints our mental health in an effective way. The surge of acceleration, twists of the road, and sharp turns stimulates adrenaline and sends dopamine (a neurotransmitter that governs pleasure) to the brain.

The ritual of riding is a form of meditation, a heightened level of mindfulness, and an intimate connection with freedom.Every piece of the rider is attuned to the road, surroundings, and possible elements of spontaneity. Danger becomes the rider’s close friend, escape feels tangible and clarity reveals itself in the wake of the experience.

In the space before your visor, we examine the very nature of our existence. Something deep inside of us says that movement is liberation. It is in those moments of complete vulnerability, we feel the most alive. We are in love with these machines because they take us to heightened places that are not physical. 
Where reason loses its hold and pure awareness enters.

We want to dig deeper and go beyond the “why” and understand the state we are in while moving 70mph cutting through the wind. What is happening with our mind and body in that state is a psychological state that has been pursued for centuries, but only recently has science been able to answer this question. No matter if you ride motorcycles, play a violin, jump off mountains or hunt sunrays, the experience is shared by many endeavors where we challenge ourselves when our body and mind are stretched to its limits. A place that has been called the state of optimal experience.

Let’s explore the why and what happens to our senses in that moment. A deeper reflection that goes far beyond transportation.

In the middle of the last century, a curious artist with an interest in psychology had an inquisitive thought. Why are some artists and creatives so fully immersed in their work during the activity that seemed to consume their fullest attention and was more important than the finished work itself.

He wanted to understand what the connection is between what we do and how we feel. Could it be that focusing our mind in a specific way also enhances our senses?

Mihaly did what any reasonable hunter of knowledge would do – create an experiment, gather data and see if his ideas made any sense. He convinced a group of teenagers to wear a beeping device that would go off at random throughout the day. Every time it beeped, the student would record what activity they were doing and how they felt at that time. Most of the time, the tasks were mundane, and the participants’ mood and energy were uninspired. 
In some cases, he began noticing a pattern. Whenever someone was focused on a challenging task, they felt energized and uplifted.

The results of this study became one of the foundational cornerstones in psychology and sparked a new wave of researchers trying to understand the core of this optimal experience.

“Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.”— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow states have triggers or pre-conditions that lead to more flow. Essentially, flow can only arise when all of our attention is focused on the present moment, so that’s what these triggers do—they drive attention into the here and now. Put differently, these triggers are the very things that evolution shaped our brain to pay the most attention to, so, in using these triggers to hack flow, we’re just using evolutionary biology to our advantage.

Is flow a natural state of existence when riding? Is flow a natural state of existence while living?