The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo

The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo, created by Tim Shay.

by Molly Hurford

I know it’s silly to be writing about this: blogging about being unplugged from phone, Internet and even cameras? A bit of a contradiction. But nonetheless, I learned a kind of cool “life lesson” out in California last month.

Working from home (or wherever I am) is awesome, but with one drawback: I never really disconnect anymore. Phone rings at dinner? I’m probably answering it. I sleep with my laptop next to me so the first thing I can do when I open my eyes is check my email and catch up with whatever I missed while I was mid-REM cycle. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but there was never a point where I was just unplugged. Rides were especially bad, once I got a Garmin and a GoPro to play with. Pause for photo-taking? Check. Post-ride downloading? Probably took about as much time as the ride.

And then, I stayed with an old friend out in San Francisco. He hates technology with a passion: this is a guy who, when you ask about heart rate, gives you a disparaging look. “You’re on your phone again?” he’d ask when we were driving to the beach with the dogs to go for a run. “Are you still emailing?” when we were about to leave for a ride. My phone was banned from the dinner table. And, perhaps most irritating, “No taking pictures or using your phone on these rides.” Wait, what?! It was a bit extreme, but he had a point.

With Strava and Instagram and all the million ways that we stay plugged in on our rides, the idea of just going out, doing a ride, especially in a place I’ve never been that offered some seriously spectacular views, was just crazy. But I did it. And it was strangely liberating, though I still don’t think pausing for a picture at a particularly scenic vista would have hurt anyone.

It turns out, my being plugged in had turned into an irritating habit that bugged friends and family back home as well. I was chatting with a friend about my new resolution to keep the phone off the dinner table, and he replied, “Wait a second, all I had to say was that you couldn’t use and and you would have stopped?” Yikes. Even my boss, our publisher, when I told him about my new-found appreciation of “turning off” told me he thought I needed to do that more often.

It’s a pretty simply lesson to learn, but I feel like it’s one that a lot of us struggle with a lot. Even now, I’m debating publishing something about getting unplugged, since obviously I’m taking time out of my Saturday morning to write about this instead of playing on my bike.

So, with that said, I’m going to go unplug and ride some trails. But I’m bringing my phone, for safety reasons. They don’t call me Crash for nothing!

Do you stop to take the picture, or keep enjoying the experience? © Cyclocross Magazine

Do you stop to take the picture, or keep enjoying the experience? © Cyclocross Magazine

Follow me on Twitter, or if you want to read more about my training, racing, and editing exploits, check out