Friday Musings: Dream lover

Twice this week on my bike commutes home I have found myself humming a random tune. Each time the tune was one I had invented and made up as I rode along, yet both times I ended up singing this oldies tune:
Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover.

Biking usually clears my mind. As daily bike commuter Phil Day from Chicago’s PBS station WTTW said in this updated segment about winter biking: “All you think about is what’s right in front of you.” ….and nothing else matters.

He’s right. Yet I often find my mind straying to random tunes or to thoughts of the tasks I have to do or any other number of meanderings. Most of the time the thoughts are fleeting and gone by the time I arrive at my destination.

Unfortunately all it takes is one such thought to distract me and cause a split second of lost focus. In fact just last week I nearly wiped out when my front wheel evidently caught a crevice in the road and I found myself suddenly struggling to recover my balance and stay upright…. My mind had wandered to my work “to do” list and thoughts about the impending winter weather and pondering just how frozen the roads felt below my bike tires; my last thought before I was in recovery mode was “it would probably really hurt to go down on this frozen ground”. One moment and one bad move = a close call.
We’ve posted about making such mistakes in the past and I even alerted cyclists to stay alert back when I was profiled (I could use some of my own advice sometimes).

Yet, I will continue to daydream, hopefully not about what I have to do at work that day or what I have to do when I get home. RL has listed all of his random thoughts while bike commuting. I’ll just keep singing wistful songs to myself. Who needs an iPod and headphones when I can entertain myself? In winter, I don’t even have to worry about someone in a car hearing my off-key humming; their windows are closed up tight.

What do you “muse” about during your bike riding commutes?

Fellow bike commuters: We’ll be calling this and future such posts “Friday Musings”. Every once in a while on a Friday we’ll post some light-hearted musing for your TGIF enjoyment. (kind of reminds me of the concept of “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey“)


  1. Jesse

    Generally speaking, one of the things I love about bike commuting is how it helps me stay focused on the here and now. Like the reporter you quoted said, what matters is what’s in front of you (OK, so I paraphrased).

    That said, when my mind wanders away (which it is prone to doing) it tends to head for one of two places. Future plans – I’m working on changing careers so there’s a lot going on up there on that topic – or the status of my current work project. I’m working on a Windows 7 deployment for a large research/medical facility, and since as I mentioned I’m also working on changing careers, I find that the latter thoughts inevitably lead to the former.

    Then I hit a pothole and am jolted back to the present – albeit rudely.

  2. Ghost Rider

    I’ve long felt that I can separate my thoughts…sort of riding along on autopilot (the same commuting routes every day tends to build in memory, dodging cracks and potholes without conscious thought) while my mind wanders elsewhere…movies I’d like to see, songs stuck in my head, what’s for dinner, etc.

  3. Rob E.

    I tend to listen to audio books or podcasts while I ride. While I know that many folks feel that any type of headphone makes you a hazard, I find that something that requires active listening keeps me focused. When just listening to music or nothing at all, I’m much more prone to zone out. What do I think about when I’ve zoned out? Anything and everything. What happened today, what will happen tomorrow, how can I plan my weekend, reminiscing, planning, playing out imaginary scenarios in my head. It’s easy for me to get lost in thought, so it’s nice to have a crutch to keep me focused, although zoning out can be enjoyable as well. Zoning out doesn’t mean I’m not reacting to my surroundings, it just means my reactions are less deliberate or possibly just less memorable. Some days I emerge from a daydream and find that my commute is half done. I certainly wasn’t able to get there by ignoring my surroundings. There were intersections to negotiate and other traffic to work with, and I got through it, just without having it be the foremost thing on my mind. I agree that being mindful of your surroundings is good, and there are sections of road and kinds of traffic that require my full attention and will bring me back to reality in a snap if I’m not already there, but there are other places where traffic is light and moves slowly, and the roads are smooth and peaceful where I don’t mind a little daydreaming. If every part of my commute felt like a death match with the road and other traffic, I would probably enjoy riding a lot less.

  4. Elizabeth

    Why was I humming the tune “I’ve been working on the railroad” earlier today?

  5. BluesCat

    Dang it, Elizabeth!
    So I’m riding home yesterday, thinking about something, I can’t remember what it was, and I remembered your post about wandering, random thoughts, and I started humming Dream Lover, and the beat just wasn’t right for the cadence I was doing, so I tried the Everly Brothers All I Have To Do Is Dream, and that was WORSE, and so I started rummaging around in that dusty file drawer in the back of my head that’s labeled “Classic Rock – Teen Heartthrobs,” and the only thing that popped up was Buddy Holly’s Rave On, and that was PERFECT, so that’s what ran through my head for the next FIVE miles …
    … and all last evening …
    … and this morning …
    … AND EVEN NOW …

  6. Elizabeth

    Right on!

    Rave On!

  7. Jon Karak

    Actually I like the mind wandering experience of a good ride. It is the physical effort of a decent ride that unspools all of the nonsense wrapped up in my head. Usually around 15 minutes in, when my physical presence gets into “the zone,” it’s like the tongue-tied part of my brain can finally speak clearly.

  8. Iron_Man

    I do a lot of deep thinking on my ride. My route is mostly clear of traffic and hazards, which means I can ride along on cruise control without much worry. so I let the mind chew through things that I’ve been contemplating during the day, but couldn’t focus on because of work–everything from politics to family vacations. I lean towards being a visual, tactile, and kinesthetic learner, so anything that occupies the body and sight helps my mind to focus. I get my best thinking done when I’m pedaling home or to work.

  9. Ali Khan

    What all of you have said is so true for me too. I use a small motorcycle and I often sing. Mind slipping away is so common for me.

  10. Mir.I.Am

    I sing out loud (that’s right, I said it!) and the best part is, it;’s often indistinguishable gibberish since I don’t know the words to the songs! OR sometimes, I coundown in a whisper-scream voice as the crosswalk signs countdown from “white man says walk” to “red hand say stop!” Ok, so the singing aloud usually happens at night when streets are mostly clear. Karaoke practice time: no headphones for me, just a head case…

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