As the temperature drops and the sun hangs lower and lower in the sky with each day, I increasingly look to find activities that don’t involve dunking myself in the water or spending lots of time setting up, breaking down, and cleaning gear. So the other day I thought it was time to pick up my OneWheel and give it another try. For the past six months it’s been sitting in a corner of the house, mocking me every time I walk past, telling me I’m an old man. It laughs at me and insists that it can’t be tamed, like some wild animal that really shouldn’t be kept as a pet.
The last time I rode the beast, an electric skateboard that makes those home-igniting hoverboards look like the wimpy toys that they are, I ended up being bucked onto the road, with my hand and elbow looking like it had been run through a cheese grater. That pretty much sapped my motivation for a while.
The OneWheel was purchased last winter in a fairly drunken state of mind, after my wife and I had watched a few You Tube videos on a cold, rainy Friday night. Looking forward to warmer weather and being bad-ass street shredders, we pulled the trigger and wrote one more small chapter in my mid-life crisis story. And I have to say, there is a lot of bad-assery that comes with riding this thing. Chances are, you’re not going to see anyone else with one, so it’s a great conversation starter. It’s also a pretty smooth ride and can go over sand, trails, and climb hills. And of course, as alluded to before, it won’t set your house on fire, so you can store it inside. I keep mine next to the dining room table, mostly to impress visitors with my youthful pursuits.
So one morning I decided to actually get outdoors, instead of sitting behind the computer screen writing about the outdoors. I had some time to spare and the weather was a perfect mix of brisk fall air, sunshine, and low wind. I would take the board out for an hour, hoping that it would focus my mind on the present moment and generate a bit of flow. After a few minutes of warming up, I could feel my youth returning. The thing about the OneWheel is that it looks like something only a teenager should be doing. Most adults are going to be too afraid of breaking their asses to give it a try. It just looks too unsafe. So relative to everyone else, you just can’t help feeling a bit more alive. I steadily increased the cruising speed, threw in a few slalom turns, and soon I was mentally lost in the ride. I wasn’t thinking about my other appointments during the day, what I was going to make for dinner, or how much the whining noise coming from under the car was going to set me back. Being focused on the ride and having only one thought at a time running through the mind is a gift that we should all give to ourselves every now and then.
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I read this book when it first came out, and recommend it highly for anyone that wants to learn more about the “flow state”. Also known as “the Zone”, flow is a hyper-focused state of awareness that allows one to be completely engaged in the present moment. As a result, it leads to optimal performance. Flow can be achieved anywhere, including your living room, but a novel experience tends to bring it out more readily, which is why the author focuses on action-adventure athletes in this book to illustrate the concepts of flow. With examples from legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, to pro skateboarder Danny Way and climber Dean Potter (RIP), this book will give you an excellent sense of Flow and how to hack into it. It’s worth the read.