Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I'm Capable of: Mental Grit and Bikes Not Bombs

Well last year I did a my first Tough Mudder solo, more on that here.

And I rode home for the first time solo, more on that here.

I still haven't ridden a century, and I've got another Tough Mudder coming up in June. This time with a team. I've been running all winter, even with this crazy pile of snow Nemo dumped on Boston last weekend.

I also play taiko, and we've got our first round of competition coming up.

So why not challenge myself a little more.

Enter, the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-a-thon. (If you want to help our donation goal.)

Last year was my first Hub on Wheels (more here), compliments of the Bandit Man. And once again, we endeavor upon a bike ride. The Bandit Man has done the Bike-a-thon for several, many a year (see here). I have not yet participated.

So why not do a Tough Mudder, then the Bike-a-thon, back to back? Supporting The Wounded Warrior Project and Bikes Not Bombs in one weekend. (And it'll be the Bandit Man's birthday!)

I am no triathlete. I am not an elite cyclist like one of my roommates. I am however, stubborn, and I want to see what I can do.

So spring training has a new meaning. Running, biking, and drums.

I'm already running 8 miles with hill climbs, so let's see what we can do next!

Looks like a job for.... Princess Buttercup (aka the Bumblebee Bianchi bike)....

Friday, February 8, 2013

True Wheels, True Self

Wheel Building, part 2

So I've recently had a chance to add wheel building to the eclectic mix of bike nerd skills I've acquired this year.

Once you've got the wheel laced and get a little tension happening you have to start dealing with lateral truing and radial truing. The wheels I've been building for Charlie have been a challenging set to true radially (i.e. the wheel ought to be a circle, not an oblong-circle-like-thing). No wheel is perfect but these have not been easy. Which has been entirely to my advantage because I get to learn more.

Lateral true: you spin the wheel in between a set of calipers and identify spots that are warping up (or out, depending upon how you look at it I guess) and tighen the opposite side. Little by little as you deal with the problem areas the calipers come in and the standard deviation of wobbliness (not a technical term), is reduced until your wheel has only maybe one or two millimeters of imperfection.

Radial true: How good of a circle is it? My rims have some impressive deviation in this regard. Truing radially has taken quite a long time. Still dealing with one problem area at a time, refining the wheel through patience, diligent attention to detail, and an understanding of the bigger picture.

Once again bicycles help get the deeper meaning out of life. We're not perfect, but how well we roll depends on how we refine ourselves. Just as no one spoke has provided the easy answer to all my wheel building problems, no one quick fix makes life suddenly trouble free.

We deal with the obstacles as they come up, refining as we go - just like building the wheel. Without an understanding of the bigger picture we might get too caught up in the details and make things worse, but if we ignore the details we cannot refine the current situation.

Wheels are of course meant to be used. Not just admired, even if they are ever so pretty, like those I am building for Charlie. Through use they break in, and sometimes are damaged, need a spoke replaced, need to be trued again. They also say wheel building is an art form. Our lives are like this, best when used, continuously a work in progress. An art form that's never quite done.

And isn't that the best part?

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Only Way Out is Through

Sometimes something happens that has the potential to make us hate what we used to love. After a trying moment of my own last fall it almost happened to me and bicycles. I didn't want to have much of anything more to do with them. It took a couple of weeks and some digging into what really matters to me, and I got over the first hurdle.

Healing means we have to get through the pain one step at a time, it doesn't happen all at once. And ignoring the pain is definitely not going to help. There is no way around this, the only way out is through.

A lot of mistakes and Buddhism taught me that. Face your problems head on. They cannot be buried or pushed onto someone else. Cause and effect is very strict like that, think you can avoid anything and you will find it calling back around at some point.

Karma is accumulated thought, word, and deed. Karmic cycles of behavior are not necessarily some bad thing as pop culture would point out. We can have good cycles of behavior and negative ones. The negative ones ought to be dealt with head on if we ever want to change our lives.

I once read that the definition of insanity was doing something the same way over and over and expecting a different result. How much of our avoidance is just this? Wasted effort. The way around is just that, around - it comes back on itself.

The way through may be more difficult, more uncertain, but there is a better me on the other side of it.
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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License