A Singletrack Point of View

Flat Tire. July, 2011.

Keep Your Eyes on The Trail
Our canyons are a popular destination for bicyclists. Nearly every morning I pass a pack of road bikers riding into our canyon as I’m driving out. They race along the narrow winding road, jerseys flashing, all determination as they lean into the hills. Almost every evening, a fellowship of mountain bikers congregate in the parking lot at Cook’s Corner, swapping stories and swigging water as they load their dusty suspension bikes into truck beds and onto roof racks.

I rode my bicycle for sanity while I was writing my dissertation, so I appreciate their devotion to their sport. When my thinking stalled, a bracing ride through Los Angeles traffic from Westwood to Hermosa Beach always knocked my brain out of neutral. Dodging car doors and distracted drivers as I pedaled down San Vicente Boulevard, anticipating the ocean air that would wash over me at the beach, occupied my mind so fully that any academic spasms were chased out.

As a matter of survival, I adopted a rule of the mountain cyclist on my urban tours: Keep your eye on your path, not on your bike. As one author puts it:

Look at where you want toride instead of what you don’t want to hit. You automatically ridetoward whatever you look at. Look for a good line through the rocksand ruts and you will follow this line. But if you look at a rock orrut that you don’t want to hit you will hit it for sure! Withpractice, you will be able to quickly spot a good line, and will beable to relax and ride down it accurately.
Mountain Biking Northern California: A Guide to Low Impact Riding on Singletrack Trails

These days, I adopt this rule in my walk with Christ. Focusing on obstacles leads me to trip over them. But when I fix my attention on my King, and refuse to look at the temptations that rut the path, my steps draw me closer to Him. I dare to imagine the unimaginable: an eternity worshiping in His presence. Fixing my eyes on this promise eases the worldly spasms that grip my heart.

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)


  1. Terrific advice! Thanks for helping with my perspective.

    Have a blessed day.


  2. Loved this post. I could see you cycling in all that traffic and clearing your mind as you whipped through the wind. The mountain cyclist gave good advice when he said, to look where you want to go and not what you want to avoid. Keeping our eyes on problems will surely magnify them. Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith is where our eyes should stay.

  3. Thanks, both of you, for your comments. It is a nice perspective, isn't it?

    Now I just need to DO it.

  4. This is great advice. I haven't done much biking lately (my tushie needs some toughening up) but we used to have a great time with the trails around here. Funny how life takes you away from certain paths. But, I think you've awakened an old interest, Sheila! I'll let you know how it goes.

  5. shrinkingthecamel.com

    Still jealous of your West Coast canyons and ocean air. I always love to visit that area.

    That is sound advice, a great reminder to stay the course – and so true to life. "Fix your eyes on Jesus." I'll do that today.

  6. Laura,
    My daughter has my bike now. It was a beauty, with its lugged Reynolds 531 frame and old Campy Super Record components. Fortunately she and I are near the same height so it's the right size for her.

    Let us know when you're coming 🙂

  7. Okay, I've just become intimidated by you–biking while working on your dissertation. You are a wonder, woman!

    One of my favorite hymns–Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

  8. Nancy,
    Please don't be. It was nearly 20 years ago!!!

    Those hymn lyrics you shared….just right. Thank you.

  9. Brandee Shafer

    Lmtellya, you have just scared me to death. I can't tell you how many times I've almost hit a cyclist near where I live. I have absolutely no understanding as to why they ride these winding roads with nary a shoulder! Not even a HINT of a shoulder! What they're doing couldn't be so fun as to be worth death; could it? Anyway, you scared me because I don't like to think of my path with Jesus as being as scary as the Virginia cyclists' roads. Seriously. I'm TERRIFIED that I'm going to kill someone on a bicycle. I'd ride circles around the Food Lion parking lot before I'd ride on these roads!!! CRAZY!!! SCARY!!! (But GREAT post…just SCARY!!!)

  10. Brandee,

    I'm speculating…but I'll go with this: the cyclists ride those roads for the same reason you drive them.

    To get somewhere.
    To admire the scenery.
    Because they want to.

    I love your point about our walk with Jesus–but ultimately we know it's death-defying, hmmm?

  11. Brandee Shafer

    I reckon so. 🙂

  12. Sheila,
    Your blog is another contribution to the message that's been consistently arriving in my spiritual inbox over recent months. Yours puts it in terms that relate to my bicycling experiences & spiritual walk: keep my eyes ahead on eternity or I "fersher" will zero in on any obstacle at hand. I do much better when I'm riding a tandem bike with Jesus in front!

  13. Glad to add my voice to the chorus, Suz. And I love the image of you and Jesus pedaling along.