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A Guide to Staying Human

An unfortunate crash and a subsequent broken clavicula gave our good friend and Human in The Van - Jaime Pintado Ruiz - some extra time to reflect on life on and off the roads of Europe. As Destination Everywhere Manager, what does it take to stay on track? How does he stay grounded? Stay human? Jaime got a few rolls of film back from the last couple of months and put some words down for us. Over to you, Jaime.
Words and photos by Jaime Ruiz Pintado

As in every discipline, recovery is needed to perform. When your job is driving around Europe, meeting people and riding your bike, Destination Everywhere Manager is very stimulating for the senses. Days packed with all sorts of opportunities, people, places, anecdotes.

But. And that’s the thing. Through this job, a very thin line runs. On one side of that line, the job is fun, enriching and fulfilling. But on the other side, you can easily end up feeling misplaced, stressed, uncomfortable, and messy.

So far, I’ve managed to stay on the right side of that line. But I also know that it can change in a heartbeat if you don’t stay mindful about your approach to life. Especially if you don’t leave room for adapting, the flow and the unknown.


Hence why I need rest days. To get a feeling of how close I am to the line that I don’t want to cross. Event-free days are rest days socially, although I always have screen tasks piled up to catch up with - a part of the job that I also enjoy.

Where I rest and recharge are the days in the middle of nowhere. Pouring myself countless coffees. Cleaning and clearing. During these days, I’d love to say that I cook myself colourful and nutritively rich food, read books, and service my bikes but my only rule when on this mode is to do literally what I feel like doing; which is usually watching Netflix, drinking beer and eating crisps. I also do a few healthy things. Kettlebells. Self-massage. Dip myself in any sort of water source.

Like in mixing music, matching the beat is needed to don’t mess up with the flow and energy. Blending the outer pace with my inner one is key to performing and flowing simultaneously.

Follow the journey.

Relationships

I’m a people’s person. I just naturally love creating and growing human relationships. And I can, fortunately, say that generally speaking, people are interested in spending time with me as well. Although I consider myself very emotional, I’m very pragmatic as well. I’ve always been very analytical when it comes to involving people in my life and to which extent. This might sound very harsh and artificial but it’s not – by filtering the relationships I decide to grow, allows me to take them to deeper and more meaningful layers. Which, to me, is where the joy of long-lasting relationships resides.


This daily exercise has become even more important in my new life as Human in the Van. I meet hundreds of people every week with at least one thing in common, which makes a conversation very easy to initiate. This doesn’t mean I don’t talk to people and show interest, I do and enjoy every event, I simply watch out not to incorporate another exciting and high-maintenance relationship in my life unless I see a unique value in this person and feel inside the first and most important of my “filers”: geography.

Switching

Being so passionate about what I do and barely having boundaries between work and personal life, I need to be able to switch myself into specific modes to focus and deliver. On occasions, metaphorically speaking, I can radically press the bottom and switch whereas at times I need to turn the knob and dial to prioritize one of the layers without turning the rest completely off.

These modes are:

Social: Here falls everything that is interacting with others and being out there. Hosting rides, inspiring with talks and chats, setting up events, big dinners with people I don’t know. That kind of stuff.

To-dos: This mode gathers "all hands on deck" tasks such as emails, all the computer work to be done but also all sorts of tasks such as cleaning the van and other non-work-related things such as calling the bank, doing laundry and keeping my life more or less organized. Instagram maintenance also falls here.

Inner connection: Time to reflect, know myself better, redefine priorities, improve on personal aspects, digest experiences and grow as a person in an organized manner.

Right now, writing these lines, the Social knob would be at 0, the To-dos on 2/10 (because I’m sort of working and delivering something), and the Inner connection 8/10.

Driving

People tend to relate long hours on the steering wheel as tiring. To me, it is quite the opposite - I see it as a valuable tool for mental recovery. I specify mental because sitting in a car after a demanding bike ride and fixing my legs into a particular position, is not good for physical recovery. I try to minimize this by stopping once in a while for stretching and by using the cruise control to move the legs, though. Driving allows me to digest what’s already behind. Conversations, landscapes, anecdotes. And at the same time make space for what’s to come. When on the steering wheel, I can’t continue with my To-Dos except for the calls, which force me to relax, enjoy the right music, listen to non-cycling related podcasts, and get on the phone with people I love.

Sleeping

When I’m jumping from one event to another and I just need a bed to crash, I get random hotels without parking height limits and front desks with 24-hour service. When I can stay more than one night, I try to stay in farms, cabins in the woods or similar. Staying in so many different houses in different cultures is an opportunity to build up my requirements and wish list when planning my future house. Filling this backpack of house criteria is another takeaway from this beautiful period of my life.


Now, for the actual act of sleeping. Since last year I’ve been struggling with this topic and although I’ve improved notoriously, it’s still an ongoing battle. Finishing events late, having plans at night, and sleeping in a new bed every day certainly don’t make this simple, although despite lacking some sleep on the weekly average, the hours I get I feel they’re enough to perform well. Many mornings I wake up as if a truck has driven over me, however, the eagerness of the day I'm facing the day and the destination ahead helps me to stay excited and keep it up. I think I can keep it up.

Social Media

Social media can be very tiring, time-consuming, and even harmful. I’ve always tried to have control of the way I use my Instagram in particular so one of the things I defined before hopping in the van was how I’d handle this one. It didn’t change drastically but it needed some adjustments.

Instagram for me is a tool, it’s a sharp machete that opens up paths in a leafy jungle, although you can get cut if not handling it properly. Following the metaphor; the sharper it is, the easier can do both operations. As the face of Pas Normal Studios on the roads of Europe, my machete gets naturally sharpened, so I’ve been working on how to use it accordingly and open up, without harming anyone, a shiny path not only for me but for others as well. What’s the point of arriving alone at the most beautiful beach in the world? I’d rather arrive at a puddle but be accompanied.

Instagram has become a task for me, a task that I predominantly enjoy, and most importantly I’m very aware of what it provides me. I work on minimizing the way this influences my self-esteem and who I am. This comes from digging inward and listening to people I love. I can't deny that social media also can be hurtful and stressful. But in this period of my life, the positives outweigh the negatives.


You can follow Jaime and the rest of our International Cycling Club community on Instagram. You can find all our rides via the Pas Normal Studios Strava Club.

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