Where has the time gone (again)? Just a little while ago, the day seemed endless and now it’s drawing to a close. And yet, we would love to have more room to squeeze in the finer things in life. But time can’t be stopped, can it? To find out, we strapped the new MONDRAKER DUNE onto an old Land Rover Defender and headed west.

3 … 2 … 1.
Breathe in deeply through your nose

Hold for 5 seconds

and breathe out slowly until your lungs are completely empty.

Slowing down or stopping time for a little while isn’t always as easy as consciously breathing in and out. Most of the time, it feels impossible to escape the reality of our everyday lives and the strain that it puts on our emotional self. Everything around us moves at the speed of light, and passes us by like a raging river. Time perception is a complex phenomenon, one that is influenced by countless factors. The fact that time isn’t always the same wasn’t only demonstrated by Einstein with his theory of relativity – we experience it first-hand on a daily basis. But how does it happen? And what’s the key to making more time?

For example, if I’m on a very pleasant date, time literally doesn’t exist, but if I’m standing in a long queue at the supermarket, a minute feels like a lifetime. But does that mean that we can actually “trick” time? If we know that a certain emotional state allows us to slow down time, why don’t we just transport ourselves into it?

However, turning every checkout queue into a date isn’t an option and probably not what you want in the first place, unless the cashier is your soulmate! Plus, falling in love is always a palaver, so it might be a better option to develop an awareness of time first, and find out how to use it, and what is worthy of it. Which moments and activities make you experience time more intensely? Or, in other words, which are the anchors that stop us being swept away in the flow of time?

Have you ever tried to empty your dishwasher without making a noise? Since this forces you to focus on the process and movements, it freezes your thoughts and makes room for the moment. But since no one wants to reorganise their kitchen in complete silence three times a day, we looked for a more pleasant alternative to find our inner Zen anchor. Not quite as silent, but a lot more stylish!

When I walk, I walk. When I eat, I eat. When I drive, I drive!
(paraphrased from Zen Buddhism)

Nowadays we hardly drive cars, it’s the cars that drive us!

One of my undisputed time anchors are old cars with heavy steering that require great physical effort to turn the wheels. Engines that drown out cheesy pop songs playing over a crackling radio. Nothing should beep to warn me I’m in danger. Everything should shake because the drive shaft vibrates. I’m looking for cars that we can still fix ourselves, that we have to drive ourselves; sorry: that we can’t wait to drive. Why? Because they force you to be in the here and now. Modern cars with reliable steering assistance, parking aids and cruise control give us a lot of freedom and safety, but at the same time deprive us of the driving experience. The journey is no longer the goal. Most of the time, they’re just about getting from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible, without detours, without mishaps, without experiences.

Timeless beauty that will last for generations.

The Timeless Garage in Lisbon is the antithesis of autopilot, fashion and passing trends. Here you’ll look in vain for the evil-eyed headlights or vulgar, provocative design language that distinguishes many modern cars. Instead, you’ll find round, beady eyes, timeless shapes and charming beauty. This garage is a place for elegant curves, handcrafted details, chrome trims and mechanics who still spend their days tucked away under the bonnet of my ultimate Zen supplement. The scent of petrol, grease and leather fills the air. Vintage Porsches and Alfa Romeos stand door to door with classic Defenders. Cars that remind us what real beauty is – simplicity and elegance. They’re the embodiment of durability, the ability to outlast the ever-changing times and yet remain relevant. Here in the workshop, time passes more slowly, and you feel dazed and excited – just like when you drive those vehicles. So off I go: I load my bike into the Defender and let Bonnie the trail dog jump in the back. I head towards the westernmost point of Europe. Into the mystical forest of Sintra, around an hour west out of Lisbon. It’s clear from the moment I turn the ignition key that it will be at least another hour!

As I cruise down the motorway westbound, Teslas pass me by at full speed. Every now and then, they rock the Defender with their wake. Judging by the speed at which they pull away, you’d think that they didn’t want to be here. Sometimes I wonder what people do with all this time that they’ve saved so diligently. And then I turn off the motorway. The sun is shining, the engine is humming and the wind blows across my face through the window – it’s nice here. Yes, right here – so why the rush? The thin ribbon of tarmac I follow takes me deep into the forest, and nature suddenly swallows up the asphalt.

The slower you drive, the more you can take in the surroundings. I drive without haste, not troubling the speed limit. I enjoy the views and breathe in deeply.

A return to the origins

I park the Landy and unload the DUNE beneath tall trees, in a place that reminds me of the slow passing of the seasons, of the landscape’s eternity. I pause for a moment and hear nothing but the wind rustling through the damp eucalyptus and pine trees. A soft breeze blows in from the coast, you can hear the waves breaking out in the Atlantic, smell the salt in the air. I realise that I haven’t given any thought to my watch or my phone since I left the garage. I’ve been too busy losing myself in what I’m doing, driving the Defender, leaving it all behind. And the next step will take me even further away from the turmoil of everyday life – but that doesn’t take action out of the equation. Helmet on, Bosch SX motor on.

But wait: how do an eMTB and Landrover Defender fit together? Isn’t a modern eMTB the antithesis of slowing down – when you whizz up the mountain like a Tesla, tearing up the soft trails in a cloud of dirt and dust, accompanied by the whine of Turbo mode?

Of course, an eMTB is very different to an analogue MTB, but it’s never just about the product itself, but rather the emotions it triggers. Of course, you can also drive a Tesla with your heart in your hand, but a Land Rover Defender makes it easier to experience the pure sensation of driving. And that’s also the case with the MONDRAKER DUNE: from the very first turn of the cranks, it’s a joy to ride. You step on the gas, play with the trail and enjoy the views. It’s a bike that bridges the gap between the past and future of mountain biking. The distinct frame silhouette, clear lines and powerful character remind us that timelessness isn’t necessarily linked to the age or motor of a vehicle or bike, but rather to the experience it enables. Here, you don’t just lose yourself in the pedalling motion but rather in the feeling of hovering over the trails, connecting with the surroundings and experiencing the freedom that only e-mountain biking can offer. Every pedal stroke is a journey of discovery that brings you closer to yourself.

I follow Bonnie into the trail, still feeling a little stiff when gravity takes over. I carve through the first few corners, jump over mossy rocks and try to pull a manual through a puddle, without luck. However, berm after berm, I come to life and fall into the groove. I let go and my thoughts give way to the flow. It feels like snowboarding through fresh powder. I’m back. Back in the here and now.

The sun moves on and dusk descends. I carefully load up the Defender and drive along the coastline once more. I savour the feeling of having (nearly) felt the day, with all its minutes. Why nearly? Of course, I also get hectic from time to time, as everyone does, apart from Buddha himself. So it would be arrogant to claim that I’m constantly in Zen mode. Nevertheless, it’s important to find a little more awareness of the moment – because being in the here and now doesn’t just mean that life is “perfect”, it also gives you more time.

You don’t necessarily need a vintage Defender or a MONDRAKER DUNE to stop time. It’s often enough to breathe in and out carefully, to be aware. Nevertheless, the two are nice anchors in the flow of time and make it easier to break out. In the end, however, you’re the one who decides what your anchors are and how you want to use and live your time. Whether it’s your family, cars, bikes, supermarket dates or emptying the dishwasher.

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Words: Julian Lemme Photos: Robin Schmitt