Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Monday, December 20, 2010

Its snowing...

Its snowing and I don't know if it will stick or not, but the goal remains! I hope it doesn't accumulate over the next few days, I would like to finish before New Year's, but I'd also like snow for Christmas, what is a girl to do?

So as a further effort to inform and amuse, here are a few of the extra curricular stats from this journey so far:

5: the number of times I have witnessed public urination-(3 by senior citizens)
3: the incidents of hypothermia -(1 was truly heat stroke but that is classified with hypothermia, so I read)
1: the times I was propositioned by a dude in an Escalade full of unsavory characters as I was biking down Comm Ave... after which I promptly did one of those annoying and life-saving cyclist things of going onto the sidewalk in the wrong direction to escape
2: number of falls
3: number of pants ruined by holes by either falling, getting caught on my pedals, etc
2: sets of tires
6: number of tubes (for my rear tire) I have popped in one way or another
13: total number of layers of clothing overall I have to wear when the temperature is below 30
4: number of times my bicycle has been hit on (as in someone I don't know said something suggestive about how mad sexy Charlie is)

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 2,072
Miles left to goal: 128
Days left: +87 over

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Past and passed two thousand...

After so long, finally past 2,000 miles?

Its 2,010 to be exact, and its the end of 2010....

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 2,010
Miles left to goal: 190
Days left: +81 over

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,985
Miles left to goal: 215
Days left: +80 over

Monday, December 6, 2010

I finished the 1904 Tour de France?

In different years the Tour de France is different lengths, about 500 miles ago I finished the 1904 Tour de France (the shortest), and if I continue past my goal I will at some point finish the 1924 Tour at 3,570 miles (the longest)...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,935
Miles left to goal: 265
Days left: +73 over

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

please refrain from snowing

Charlie is back in action!

In other news, to battle the persistent flat tire issue (which of course had been more to do with my stubborn ignorance about high pressure tires then anything else), I purchased (a few weeks ago) both a floor pump (better than the sad one I had already) and a hand pump by Lezyne. The floor pump is not only efficient but its also pretty, but the best part is it has this lovely screw on system rather than the annoying lever situation most pumps seem to have. (And right now with a sprained wrist I am exceptionally glad of not having to deal with a lever at the valve stem.) The screw section flips for either shrader or presta valves, in other words, hurray!

but now we enter snow season, just a few hundred more miles, then it can snow!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,867
Miles left to goal: 333
Days left: +67 over

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Broken Spoke and Unexpected Goodies

I went to get Charlie and look what we find? Broken spoke, which I do not yet possess the knowledge to fix, so back to Cambridge Bicycle we went, and Charlie got to spend Thanksgiving with his bicycle buddies.

In other news this Thanksgiving was a little different this year at homestead. When we (these siblings of mine) asked our mother the usual question, i.e. what do you want for Christmas this year? (or some similar wording); the reply we received was, "A dumpster." After being taken aback for a few moments she elaborated that she would like us to sift through all those old boxes and forgotten furniture that are covered with dust and live in the attic. Boxes that sensible, normal people leave there and forget about for ages, until say they have a midlife crisis and want to wear their old leather jacket and listen to genuine LPs again... but that's beside the point.
Besides the dumpster and filling the dumpster and sorting and stacking and throwing; generally breaking the laws of physics and figuring, "Does that all really fit in there?" There was a box of bicycle stuff.

Unbeknownst to me my father was quite the cyclist in the years before my birth. All sorts of bicycle goodies! (And almost contemporaneous with Charlie!) I rescued them before they were flung into the abyss of no return, the dumpster. Thusly have I acquired a few things which I cannot at present utilize, but perhaps the fine folks at the shop can? We shall see... But more is that I have found an unexpected something in common with the father I barely got the chance to know before he was taken from me.

And a tool kit.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

To continue

Theoretically this shouldn't take much longer:) Its been raining/windy/gross quite frequently so I'm not increasing my miles as quickly as I'd like, but sometimes things don't go exactly as we'd like and that's part of life...but that doesn't mean we give up or stop trying. Instances of hypothermia have taught me, the hard way, how to layer better and that what we think we know to be correct, in this instance, about proper layering (or in life) may not be correct.

And so sometimes we learn the hard way (in life and in cycling) that the advice in the driver's manual, that water freezes on a bridge before regular roadways, is indeed true. And sometimes it means you completely wipe out on the ice on the pedestrian bridge and get snazzy green, yellow, and purplish blue bruises to prove your newly gained knowledge.

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,812
Miles left to goal: 388
Days left: +50 over

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


What was supposed to be a tuneup became a rear hub overhaul became a rear hub replacement.
Sounds a little like life.

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,693
Miles left to goal: 507
Days left: +39 over

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Charlie started sounding like he was popping popcorn in his rear hub... time for a rear hub overhaul! So when you think your bicycle has turned into a Jiffy pop its time to think about maintenance....

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,589
Miles left to goal: 611
Days left: +33 over

Friday, October 22, 2010

Charlie's Post

I will be attending a copywriting, as in ad-copy, workshop for my job. Prior to going I have an evaluation to fill out and some exercises to do, homework for my workshop. One of my assignments is to learn about perspective, so here was the first thing that came to mind:

Hello, My name is Charlie. I’m from Austria and I’m blue. We know at least that much because my sticker says so. I’m a bit of a lost boy you see. I was rescued from a dumpster by Bud, the manager of Cambridge Bicycle, and then re-outfitted. (The time between this and the next part of my adventure no one knows about and I’m not telling.) I was put out with the other used bicycles in front of the shop and a girl in a dress walked by me. Then she came back, she just couldn’t walk right by. First she thought I was too tall for her, but after a test ride we knew it was meant to be. I was sold to this weird girl, Jessie after that, who took me out of Cambridge, to some place called Waltham where there aren’t as many of my people. But we get to visit the shop every once and awhile, I always look forward to being reunited with my people.

I don’t talk much, so the best Jessie can figure is that I was manufactured in the late 1980’s, shortly before my parent company: Steyr-Daimler-Puch was broken up in an antitrust lawsuit. They also did some shady business back in WWII but that was before I was born and so I hope I’m mostly innocent?

I’m also a Bergmeister. Don’t tell but, I could be older than I look, they started making Bergmeisters in the 1960s as a step up from those pedantic Clubmen (Clubmans?). Bergmeisters are known for their signature copper plating, but like I mentioned before, I’m blue. I also have this snazzy seat tube art with commemorative Olympic rings, which is all well and good, but which Olympics? I don’t remember exactly and the sticker doesn’t remind me either, you spend time in dumpsters and let’s see what you remember…

When I’m not outside I tend to spend my time in scenic basements, in Waltham and in one particular brownstone in Boston. I don’t have to sit outside in the rain and the cold to wait all day. But my favorite place is outside, by the Charles River, for which I am named. Oh I almost forgot to mention, I’m a Buddhist bicycle, I didn’t know that I was but I carry Jessie to Buddhist meetings all over the place, so does that make me a Buddhist too?

Well this is the most talking I’ve done in awhile, I usually leave that to my human. Oh have you checked out my new tires? And boy oh boy I'm getting a tuneup next week!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,537
Miles left to goal: 663
Days left: +28 over

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,473
Miles left to goal: 727
Days left: +24 over

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting held up by rain and a cold....again

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,388
Miles left to goal: 812
Days left: +18 over

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ouch: How I Fell in the Fall

Well it was a statistical inevitability... I was bound to fall off sometime- although fall over is the more accurate term. In trying to stop to avoid another biker I fell right over. Nothing dramatic and with no particular speed as the recipe, I have my embarrassment, a scraped knee, and a couple of worried and annoyed bikers who were behind me to show for myself. Am I proud? no... Am I happy the rain finally stopped? yes....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bullet Proof

I am now in possession of a Kevlar lined tire, will be making that plural soon. Charlie's rolling on bulletproof contact patches. I certainly hope they are as badass as they sound....
Continental Ultra Gatorskins, here we go~

On another note: all this rain is cramping my style! (read as: Jessie would rather be biking than taking the bus.) In general rain doesn't bother me much, but when some of the following minor hindrances come in exciting, fun-filled combinations I hesitate. Rain coupled with winds higher than 20mph. Wearing glasses in said wind and rain and trying to see in the dark. Not yet having installed fenders... Basically some more extensive autumn-bike-commuter-outfitting is going to have to take place in the near future or Charlie will be spending more quality time in the basement than I'd like...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,312
Miles left to goal: 888
Days left: +10 over

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be prepared...

New experience: fixing a flat with improvised tools. Took far too long. Need to start carrying the proper equipment. Need a new tire....

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,254
Miles left to goal: 946
Days left: +5 over

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weighing in?

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,229
Miles left to goal: 971
Days left: no day but today!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomorrow is the day!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,205
Miles left to goal: 995
Days left: tomorrow is the day!

Tomorrow is the day, I've ridden as much as I can. Out of this I've become one of those impassioned (crazy?) people who ride no matter what. I've developed some discipline but the training goes on. (That's the point of training right, you're never really done?) I'm putting off the celebration until I finish this in its entirety, even if that means October or November. (This doesn't mean I'm going to lie about my age:) Less than a thousand miles to go!

Just keep pedaling....

After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow. ~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Well this was not fun, I got sick on Thursday and hardly rode for 4 whole days...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,158
Miles left to goal: 1,042
Days left: 3

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More than halfway...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,118
Miles left to goal: 1,082
Days left: 9

Monday, September 13, 2010

Miles to go before I sleep...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,060
Miles left to goal: 1,140
Days left: 12

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Past 1000!

At long last...past 1000!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 1,005
Miles left to goal: 1,195
Days left: 16

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Charlie's made some friends...

Charlie, and there he is...
made his first non-utilitarian outing yesterday (read as biking for the sake of biking, not just as a means to get somewhere). Some friends of mine humored my obsessive need to bicycle and we went from Waltham to about as far as the bike trail goes east, near the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and then back again. On the way back we took some of the trail on the north side of the river, which I usually don't use. Talks for the next outing may take us to Minuteman Bike trail up in Concord.

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 958
Miles left to goal: 1,242
Days left: 18

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Sometimes things go as expected and sometimes they don't. As far as bicycling goes its easy to think this:

You never have the wind with you - either it is against you or you're having a good day. ~Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles

Although in this case more with expectations than wind...

At the beginning of this adventure, when I did some of the math (read as approximations:) it appeared, if everything went swimmingly that I would reach the half way point in mileage (~1,100mi) sometime in August. August has obviously come and gone, and it did not include nearly enough biking. First was vacation in the mountains of Vermont, much needed- I will admit, but without Charlie. Next was returning home to deal with the flat tire mystery. During which we learned many wonderful things.

We also learned, don't wait to deal with things; it may take longer than you think, so get started now and then no matter how long it takes you're on the road to the goal, as it were. (Read as: Charlie could have been fixed while I was away and not after I got back. Hello this is procrastination you have a minute? We can wait until tomorrow if you'd like...) So instead of going a week without bicycle as he waited in the maintenance queue of the shop I could have been riding.

After that of course was the week of rain, and as stubborn as I am, and as frequently, foolishly ready as I am to challenge the weather, when it comes down to the bicycle and keeping Charlie in tiptop shape I will bear the burden of the bus to keep him out of the rain for prolonged periods.

So what now? As it goes, if I am to finish on Sept 24th I would be needing to ride ~59 miles a day. This is not impossible and real Tour de France riders usually do this entire distance of several thousand miles in 21 days, with only a few rest days between. But alas, I am not a professional cyclist and I think my legs might give out if I rode four and a half hours every day (how much time I estimate it would take to ride the required mileage at my average speed).... but I may yet surprise myself.

Don't let your doubting mind set the tone when things get rough. But do realize you still have to go to work, sleep, eat, and talk to other human beings once and while(... although I know several people who may argue some of those points). Point being that I knew I would be away for 2 weeks but I have had ~2 weeks worth of obstacles. So do I push myself beyond to complete by the deadline or do I extend the deadline (in this rare instance of a deadline being within my control)? Charlie is also going to be due for a tuneup in about 200 miles or so...

Fall arrives and it will rain, that's what Boston autumns like to do, handy hurricanes and all (Hello Earl, how are you?). And right now once I've ridden about 80 miles in a week and continue above that I get very tired, of course more training will expand my effective range...

So for now I ride as much as I can as often as I can and ride even when I'm not trying to get to any particular destination. If the overall average of ~25 miles per day continues I will be at 1,426 miles on the goal date and then will not finish the entire distance until another month has elapsed.

Sometimes our expectations are not met in exactly the way we want them to be. We do not complete or achieve what we set out to do in the way we imagined it. But we can still win as long as we persevere and continue without giving up. And then we can be delightfully surprised when we open up the possibility in our hearts and minds for the unexpected to arise. For sometimes it is better than you ever could have imagined or expected, all because you never gave up. That's victory in life, never giving up- even when things don't always go according to plan.

"Happiness doesn't exist on the far side of distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. Not you, however, sitting in idle passivity. It is to be found in the vibrant dynamism of your own life as you struggle to challenge and overcome one obstacle after another, as you clamber up a perilous ridge in pursuit of that which lies beyond." -Daisaku Ikeda

So this is me, not giving up, even though things haven't gone exactly as calculated. And it has been a great benefit for all these sunny days....

"Life is something that happens while you're busy making other plans." -John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 851
Miles left to goal: 1,349
Days left: 23

Aside: I appear to have a completely defunct way of calculating days... for me Sept 24th on the countdown is day 1 not 0 and I imagine that's all kinds of crazy incompetent...but it made sense at the time. Can I put it down to artistic sentiment?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 801
Miles left to goal: 1,399
Days left: 26

Beware of dehydration and onset of heat stroke. Yesterday was in the 90's and I apparently did not drink enough water. To put it nicely it was I feel like I was hit by a truck. Did I learn my lesson? yes...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Capacity of a Heart

More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. Strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart! (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1 p. 1170)

Your heart is bigger than this fist-sized muscle beating in your chest next to your lungs. It’s larger than you can fathom. We like to think that we can only love so much or give so much or be so much and that’s all we have and then we can’t love any more or give any more or be any more. But that isn’t the case either. There is no limitation on what we can give, or how much we can love, or what we can imagine. The only limitations are those we make for ourselves. And yes its true that sometimes we know not what we do. And yes it is true that it can be immensely and even debilitating difficult to love more or give more than we’re ready to do.

This also means there is no limit to our capacity for compassion, except it must be honed and nurtured.

And you don’t have to do more than you’re ready for. Please just realize that whatever you think is not ever going to be possible for you; financial freedom, love, joy, health, happiness, focus, a career, children, whatever it may be- that this is not the case either. Our limitations exist so only that we may break through them. (Or let them go)

We break through them with our faith. The Lotus Sutra is alternately likened to a sword to cut through obstacles, a great ship to cross the sea of suffering, and the roar of the lion... We access this path through our daimoku and we stay on this path by manifesting, each uniquely, our mentor and disciple relationship.... (posted by request, excerpt from August study presentation that I wrote Aug 26th, 2010)

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 758
Miles left to goal: 1,442
Days left: 29

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bicycle quotes on life

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 721
Miles left to goal: 1,479
Days left: 31

Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things. ~William Golding

Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 710
Miles left to goal: 1,490
Days left: 33

Friday, August 20, 2010

700 at last!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 700
Miles left to goal: 1,500
Days left: 36

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charlie is back in action!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 694
Miles left to goal: 1,506
Days left: 37 (somewhere in there i forgot to do the math correctly, i guess its good i'm not an engineer...)

Its going to take a lot of determination to catch up for being 3 weeks behind... here we go!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

"I believe that it's our duty to reach as far as we can reach, to extend the edge of our capabilities in some way no matter the cost." -Dodge Morgan

"I believe that it's our duty to reach as far as we can reach, to extend the edge of our capabilities in some way no matter the cost." -Dodge Morgan

Dodge Morgan, as I hear it, was just a 53 year old businessman... but he was more than that. He quit his job and decided to sail around the world, alone... and apparently without stopping.

He did it. He set a new record with 150 days at sea.

They made his video footage into a film called Around Alone.

I haven't seen it yet but we'll be showing it at work on the week of my birthday. Here's someone who has shown tremendous actual proof of what a determined individual can accomplish. I'm hoping that this bicycle business will push me on to extend my capacity far beyond what I am presently capable of doing and far beyond what I think I am capable of doing.

This business of cost though, I'm still trying to figure out what that means... the difference between cost and worth?

Monday, August 16, 2010


"My other legal stimulant is my bicycle."

From the coffee mug that Soma Fabrications makes for its coffee mug holder kit. Who else would think to put a coffee mug holder on a bicycle? This is so on the top of my ridiculous-and-unnecessary-but-I-want-it-anyway birthday list!

Also from their site: "We are enamored with versatility."
seems like a good philosophy:)

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

Charlie's Diagnosis

After the continual problem of the mystery flat tire progressed beyond any reasonable length of time (this also seems to be a metaphor* for all the things in my life that I need to deal with...) I finally gave in and brought him to the wonderful people at Cambridge Bicycle.

The diagnosis: Charlie's back wheel is falling apart.

The specifics: Guy taking the tire off comments, "You've been doing a lot of skid stops on this thing, haven't you?"- well yes I have, but not intentionally. Charlie has a coaster break on the back wheel, which I have become a very big fan of. However, I don't think I've actually had a bike with coaster breaks since I was 13, so.... when I have to stop quickly the old habits turn on, bypass conscious thought, which is still required to correctly utilize the coaster brakes at this point, and I pull the break lever on the handle bar, which is only on the front wheel- sometimes I do this without remembering to use the coasters at all, sometimes both... well here is a testament to my learning curve...I apparently stop with enough passion to break my wheel.

...Continuing- what does all this skid stopping mean? basically an unhappy wheel, it wasn't designed for this and so my spokes go all loosey-goosey and once the rim liner came off, literally just started falling out of the wheel. And in case you didn't get my drift earlier- that's bad. So basically my loose spokes were poking out my tube, and that was why my wheel felt wobbly...

All this means Charlie is in the shop for a week, and I'm another week behind on my miles. This also means I still haven't quite learned to use coaster breaks correctly and doesn't seem to give much hope to my skills of observation ... my excuse could be I'm usually so tired I don't even notice when potholes try to throw me off my bicycle, but that would be wimpy:)

So much more to learn!

The mileage remains:
Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 683
Miles left to goal: 1,517
Days left: 37

*(although because I used "seems" I think that more properly makes it a simile...)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Post-vacation drama: The repeating, mystery, dead tube (read as: flat tire problem) adventures continue...
... I will not be defeated. Is this tire karma?

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 683
Miles left to goal: 1,517
Days left: 43

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rocking the Era

These are my first rough reflections upon this, which I imagine will be revised as time and introspection progress... I am also somewhat at odds trying to determine where and how it is appropriate to mention other people in a way that truly shows how wonderful and supportive they are without being presumptuous or telling stories that are not mine to tell, this will unfold with time too...

All I can say is thank you to everyone and yet still knowing that the words themselves are inadequate, hoping that the heart behind them shows through nonetheless...

I leave this weekend profoundly uplifted and profoundly humbled. This is something that I do not know if I will ever be able to properly fathom, it has a scale in my life experience along the lines of something cosmic.

I realized somewhere in the course of all this that my life view, my vision of myself, my self perception, however one should express it, was rooted in the things that I had been through that were negative, loss, death, my own battles with depression and self abuse. My sense of self has been in some ways primarily as a survivor. This month two profoundly positive and creative things happened in my life in close succession, my cousin was married and I participated in this festival. Weddings have been virtually something that I have never directly experienced in the sense of being close with anyone who was going to be married, I've seen them in movies and I've worked them- some of which have moved me but none like this and nothing to ever prepare me for this. Funerals on the other hand, sometimes it feels like I'm an old hand at those, and no one should ever feel like that- well except maybe funeral directors...?

but this festival, the journey of taiko over a year started in 2009 and culminated this weekend with our Dream Big, Change the World in Philadelphia. These 3 days felt like so much more and my world was shifted completely. I learned what true partnership and collaboration feels like- in art, in faith, in dealing with change. So much happened but I never felt alone or forgotten, only supported and cared for, and somewhere deep in my being knowing that somehow I could make a difference.

In the loading dock in practice I learned that I am always holding something back, but for what purpose? I realized that if I held back there, what would be the point, everything else was in preparation for this moment, if I held back I wouldn't be fulfilling the vow I made to finally finish something in a way that I knew I had given my all too, and so somewhere in that hot afternoon, sweating away in that hot loading dock, the concrete cavern filled with 300 taiko players, the attachment to holding back fell away and there was the drum and me and the music and the people playing the music, but they weren't separate in any way, they were all one and I knew that no part of me was wasted, that no effort i exerted would go without purpose, it felt like completion. And I finally understood that when I hold back in my life that, somehow, thinking that I am saving strength for later that I am just trying to protect something that doesn't need protecting, that it is better unleashed, living that way is being true to who I am...and so coming out of that practice with legs and arms shaking, hardly able to control my limbs was one of the most beautiful and joyous moments of my life...

And one of the most inspiring....
One of the taiko members has an allergic condition of tongue swelling which can prevent her from breathing. It seemed each time we began she had a reaction- she went to the ER twice in those first days, but she never gave up. She has had her own experience out of this which is, of course hers to tell, but that she never gave up and tried and was able to perform- that is an inspiration to all of us, and none of us will ever forget it.

At length from the beginning...

Our weekend began with a lot of surprises, out first rehearsal on Saturday morning showed us that unity is hard work. Bob, our fearless leader for 300 drummers, was calling the timing over the PA system of the stadium and we could not find a unified rhythm... it was also during this initial set up that I learned I would be playing odaiko, which was a challenge to my confidence and my strength.

We all seemed to come out of that morning's practice with a heavy weight, a why have I invested to much for this? Discussion over lunch ensued, we could practice until the cows came home but the only way this was going to work was to come back to the prime point, this was a faith activity and that was where it was going to be won. The afternoon came and we were to practice in the loading dock, a large, hot concrete cavern, just large enough to fit the 300. As behind the scenes group began to set up one of our taiko group members began to chant and it spread it a wave amongst the throng waiting to begin practice. The loading dock began to reverberate with the sound of so many voices. When set up was complete I was asked if I was still prepared to lead a warm-up, which had been discussed briefly before. (I have always been outspoken about the importance of warm-ups and returning to the basics. All my training has fostered this strong foundation.) And so with a megaphone and a dollop of courage we began. And for the first time the myriad drums began to speak with one voice.

In the course of the ensuing hours the realization I arrived at, mentioned above, came to pass. But that and the ~100 degree heat weren't it. At the beginning of the afternoon practice we learned that all of the solos, each zone was supposed to have its own mini-section in the larger arrangement, in between a united introduction and finale, were to be cut. The news had come down and we somehow had to inform everyone of this. Our fearless leader was the deliverer of news he had no say in, but his determination never wavered, his very bearing showed that this would be a victory no matter what. So despite this heavy news the afternoon in the loading dock proved to us we could play as one, even when things were not as we had hoped.

The evening's dress rehearsal left us with more uncertainty. We rehearsed with one zone solo left in, the group was not loud enough by some counts. Many others were hurt that it was not their zone's solo that was chosen. But underneath it all, its not about ego, its about uplifting people. So after rehearsal was done for the night and everyone had returned to their dorms for the night the zone leaders sat down and had a dialogue.

In the bottom of Mitten Hall, in the middle of the night we sat and talked about how to create value from all of these perspectives. From those who were hurt to those who were striving for a bigger picture. The message of unity is the most important thing. To encourage and inspire those who had come from so far to see this moment that so many had worked so hard for, that was the point. So we build a new arrangement out of the suggestions and ideas of those present, trying to represent those we had taught and played with for months. Out of this came a new song arrangement, we quickly got the news out to the other players. Each leader speaking with each taiko player to communicate the new vision.

We had no time to rehearse that new arrangement before our performance the next morning.

So we walked onstage and we began.

And we did it.

Many have commented on the unity of our performance, this is something produced through more than rehearsing, it came from the power in our lives to unify through our shared faith.

And so my life, and probably many others (?) were changed again from not being able to rehearse the changes before the performance and so going in to perform in front of 10,000 people an arrangement we had all never played together before...and doing it, and knowing it touched lives.

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 663
Miles left to goal: 1,537
Days left: 58

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 651
Miles left to goal: 1,549
Days left: 63

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Past 600!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 613
Miles left to goal: 1,587
Days left: 65

You sand wood to ground down the rough edges, to completely manifest the intent of the construction, the sculpting, the building. With the rough edges one can not only get hurt, but the true beauty beneath is still waiting for something. We weed the garden to bring the focus back to the reason we planted in the first place; the vegetables or the flowers, what have you. The process of sanding off the excess; pulling out the weeds; deleting old spam mail; cleaning your room; doing the laundry; and of course the ubiquitous: cleaning out the garage… (Although growing up we never had a garage, just several sheds and a barn which ultimately served the same purpose.)

…something we undertake to get back to the reason we began in the first place, to the prime point, to remove the distractions. To free ourselves to take a new direction, a new perspective, a reawakening. You could call it hosshaku kempon- aka casting off the transient and revealing the true.

In a lot of ways this whole bicycling thing for me has been a step in that direction. I had done some collecting of my own, being stuck in front of a computer all day at work, and after Gus (my old bicycle) went decrepit, often just making excuses for not getting any exercise. And those somehow became excuses for not dealing with a lot of other things. And so the karma built up in the corners, covered with cobwebs but sulking with nightmare intentions.

This bicycle goal isn’t just so much about shedding some unnecessary padding I have acquired but its also about shedding some other things; like mistaken perspectives, old coping mechanisms that do nothing productive, cleaning up that sulking karma so that old things weighing me (or my life?) down can be laid to rest, brought to completion, and generally expiated. Its almost like a kind of purification.

Taking the “yuck” and using it to become more of who we really are. That’s casting off the transient and revealing the true. Shucking the corn to reveal the corn? (Didn't we know it was going to be corn even when we started the shucking, its not much of a surprise...) After spending all this time flailing, (metaphorically and actually, I suppose), grabbing at what we’re supposed to be; what we thought we were going to be; what those we love would like to see us be (which isn’t always the determiner of that “supposed to be”); reaching for when it was good; or getting rose-tinted visions of what looks so good after the fact- well after that there is just that, what is.

All that we ever needed to be, we were born with (the teaching from the Lotus Sutra goes). Each of our lives is perfectly endowed with the most beautiful and profound of treasures, that is the true waiting under the transient. Waiting with complete patience and truth. The four aspects of the Buddha are eternity, purity, true self, and happiness. And no they’re not on sale as a 2 for 1 deal at the nearest chain megastore, they were part of you from the very beginning. All they ever needed to be was revealed.

Once we finish looking for, ignoring, denying, attacking, begrudging this most precious thing of our lives (made profound and inherently complete as they are) outside of us, we can realize its been in there all along. When we can put all that disillusionment and delusion aside we cast off the transient. (Delusion isn’t always so obvious as the mistaking the world for flat or thinking that there is spontaneous generation; although in their time and given the evidence those might have once been convincing arguments; sometimes delusion is thinking that always, always no matter how hard you try you’re never good enough, or that no one will ever love you for who you really are.)

Underneath the transient is the true, who we really are. Sometimes it may seem as though I’m living on the edge of what I can tolerate but I know I’ve been through worse. The hard times teach us what we’re made of, getting pushed into a corner makes us show our true selves. By constantly challenging ourselves in places where this isn’t a necessarily uncomfortable thing to do we prepare ourselves to be able to remain true to ourselves even when the big things in life happen. We get to learn to be larger than our circumstances as it were, so that the world around us doesn’t tell us how its going to be, that’s a decision we make for ourselves.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 589
Miles left to goal: 1,611
Days left: 66

Friday, July 16, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 564
Miles left to goal: 1,636
Days left: 69

looks like August weekends once I get back from camping are going to be including long bike rides:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 540
Miles left to goal: 1,660
Days left: 70

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Past 500!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 515
Miles left to goal: 1,685
Days left: 72

"I'll strive again, with all my youthful passion. As befits a youth who lives in pursuit of an ideal, a youth burning with great joy. High and fierce are the waves of life, the waves of society. Steep are the mountains that rise before us. But one way or another, people advance... I will go on, bravely. I will pioneer the world to come." -Daisaku Ikeda, July 31, 1950

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 490
Miles left to goal: 1,710
Days left: 73

Friday, July 9, 2010

Perspective and Perseverance

Some things are a manner of perspective, as in: "Hmm, I ride my bike a lot, I will be needing extra protein in my diet to keep my muscles happy and keep them from disintegrating. I am a vegetarian so this will take some creativity...."
Useful perspective on this: finding foods with more protein.
Useless perspective: "Well, by the time I get home in the evening I am usually draped in dead insects, insects are made of protein, therefore I will be all set, I will absorb the protein from my skin!"
Although I doubt anyone who would think this way, this same sort of ridiculous kind of reasoning seems to follow us into everyday life where we least expect it to be.

It's very easy to go around doubting ourselves. XYZQ hasn't worked out the way we planned, the way we wanted and so that makes me a less capable person. Maybe if I finally get one more advanced degree I will be smart enough. This person, W, so attractive I can never be as beautiful, handsome, smart, capable, desirable, special, this person, and so I am less of a person. My value comes from some arbitrary comparison outside my life and therefore I am less. This is about as correct and useful as expecting to be able to absorb insect protein from your skin (assuming one is a homo sapiens)...

So what do we do about? Where do we get the perspective? I imagine some people are born with it. We find it in many ways and in many forms, for a lot of people it comes from faith. I won't go on about the power that gives at the moment, but perhaps you've found a source of perspective...

Ok now what? What about my protein? How does the perspective empower the perseverance? It's a source, a fuel source, if you will, for making the impossible possible, for making the meek strong, allowing the oppressed to stand up for justice, making you able to call out that bully on the playground...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 446
Miles left to goal: 1,754
Days left: 76

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 386
Miles left to goal: 1,814
Days left: 79

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Past 300!

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 314
Miles left to goal: 1,886
Days left: 85

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 290
Miles left to goal: 1,910
Days left: 86

Friday, June 25, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 240
Miles left to goal: 1,960
Days left: 90

Can I count going out dancing as several more miles?:)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 229
Miles left to goal: 1,971
Days left: 91

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting Lost...

Coming home one night last week I detoured from my regular route, taking residential streets in lieu of the river path, although I am bedecked in lights and reflectors, certain parts of the trail require a certain devoted, precise observation in order to navigate them successfully. Things immediately apparent in daylight take on a different depth in the partial illumination of a front bicycle light, lending them to appear less deadly than by the light of day. Sometimes this is surprising and one finds herself half thrown from her saddle... made worse by the blur of fatigue...

This being one of my first trips back in the night and being new to Waltham- deciding to depart from the known route was a necessary decision- it meant biking into the unknown, which sounds far more dramatic than it really is. However then Edgar Allan Poe decided to show up. Around a corner I come and there we have a cemetery. Cemeteries are all well and good, and having lost some of those I hold so dear in this life I am well acquainted with them. However, when one is already lost (although pretty sure that I am going in the right direction), it is night, the cemetery is dark and hard to cross- one cannot see to the other side, the roads within it are misleading in their vectors and here and there, full of holes. Oh Mr Poe, why do you do this to me? Actually what was going through my mind was H.P. Lovecraft (The Tomb).... “Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal...” of course as rational beings we know that there is nothing to fear there in the night but as feeling beings we know this is no place for the living once the sun has set. Always with my nose stuck in a book, “I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little-known books, and in roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there...” having always been in possession of (or perhaps by?) an active imagination and it's at moments like this that I wish it did not run so fast.

But there is something wonderful about getting lost- even in this gothic night journey... When we get lost we have to face the parts of ourselves that mundane, everyday existence lets us (forces us?) to keep hidden, forgotten, and/or unexplored.... so when I entered that cemetery in the middle of the night, small flickers of light by the tombstones in my peripheral vision, heart pounding once I turned a corner that I expected to provide me a way out but instead brought me into the woods, denied the light from the periphery of the necropolis. H.P. Lovecraft whispering in my ear. It was just me and being lost.

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. ~Henry David Thoreau

Remove your coping mechanisms, remove what makes you comfortable. Some people take being lost in stride, some of us have to turn down the car radio (as if that impeded our ability to see the street sign?), some of us can never ask for directions, and well some of us hear echoes of H.P. Lovecraft, some of us seek to get lost just to explore the way back...

Getting lost creates space for something new, in between what you were expecting to find and where you find yourself is a place to create the next step...part 1 end

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 204
Miles left to goal: 1,996
Days left: 93

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Couple of Sundays ago....

A couple of Sundays ago whilst biking back from Rock the Era practice, i.e. the place where most of the taiko in my life happens...amongst other events:) I was (not very innocently) riding my bike down the sidewalk (!) somewhere near the Watertown/Waltham line and as I go someone leans out of the window of a passing car and yells at me: "Rock the Era!!" -At the top of her lungs- it takes me (what feels like a very long time) to realize that this is another SGI member and that I'm wearing the tshirt, fatigue does not encourage detailed observational skills... anyway you run into people you know in the strangest places and its rewarding to learn that the things you work so hard for have an influence beyond what you see and do with your own two hands...

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 180
Miles left to goal: 2,020
Days left: 94

Sunday, June 20, 2010


So I've ridden about 100 miles this past week... I have been trying to ease myself into this amount of riding week by week, so end of the weekend's totals are:

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date: 168
Miles left to goal: 2,032
Days left: 95

Friday, June 18, 2010


So the first episode of a tv show is called a pilot and here is mine....

I am undertaking this endeavor in order to document this somewhat silly thing I have decided to do, what is that? Ride the "equivalent distance" of the Tour de France, which according to its wiki (and yes I realize wiki is not known for its scientific rigor...) averages 2,200 miles (yes also as I am American I will be using the inelegant imperial system of measure)... before my 27th birthday (Sept 24th).

Somewhat inclined by the animated French film, Les Triplettes de Belleville; also somewhat inspired by the scene in Amelie where the horse watches the Tour de France cyclists going by its pasture- gallops leaping over the fence to run with them; also by Daisaku Ikeda's going through 3 bicycles in the Osaka campaign of 1951, and of course to have a goal of an odd nature and post it by the Julia/Julie project blog & film...

Speaking about what I do know: there are people who like horses and then there are equestrians, myself generally identifying with the later I can say- there are people who ride bicycles and their are cyclists, in this instance I am definitely the former.

The story so far, I moved to Cambridge in 2007 and found myself in the bicycling Mecca of Massachusetts, not wanting to be left behind I started biking to work on an old hybrid I bought off my room mate for $25. I named him (the bicycle, and yes I name things), Gus. Gus and I spend 3 lovely years together until the winter of 2010. I left him outside for one too many snow storms and the last bits of Gus' innards (if bicycles have innards) went into their final death throws. Despite biking all this time the ignorance of a "person who bicycles" is still quite apparent. Gus was going to cost more to fix than a new bike....and having not the fiscal means for such a purpose I become well acquainted with the bus for the ensuing months.

But, things change, as they do, and I moved to Waltham on Memorial Day weekend, now I had a proper commute, which my sister deftly negotiates daily via the commuter rail. And I like trains, not perhaps with the same childlike zest that she does, but I do; however trains most decidedly do not like me. The commuter rail schedule is not designed for someone who works 10-6:30 on most weekdays... and so the part of me that yearned for a bicycle learned to speak with a louder and more incessant voice.

Long story short- I have come into possession of a used, blue, Steyr-Puch Bergmeister single speed bicycle, I have named him Charlie. I bike almost daily along the Charles River Reservation to work and other exploits. The usual daily round trip distance is 25 miles. I will be posting my distances as I advance toward my goal of 2,200 miles by Sept 24th. Now I imagine anyone who is a proper cyclist could say that this isn't that impressive- but for me it's the next step in proving I can do what I set my mind to:)

Details in short:

Bicycle, aka Charlie, obtained on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010.

Goal: 2,200 miles by 9.24.10
Miles ridden to date (including the ride to work this morning): 136
Miles left to goal: 2,064
Days left: 97
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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License