Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Sunday morning




I had forgotten how peaceful Sunday morning rides can be.  Lifeless flags hanging.  Empty streets.  So quiet.  So serene.  I used to ride early in the morning when my daughter was young.  Now, my sleep requirements seems to have superseded my need to get out early.  Or maybe I just like sleeping in now that I finally can?  Sundays are almost always ride days, but I have usually only been getting out right before noon.  This Sunday, awake around 7 am, feeling rested, I decide to head out early as the rest of the house slept.  The snap of my cleats clicking into my pedals cuts through the early morning silence.  Pedalling through the morning fog, the cold humidity makes my eyes water.  Or maybe it’s tears of joy and appreciation being out there on my bike in that moment?  About 20 minutes in, the sun dissolves the airborne smoky mist.  My arm and leg warmers come off.  In and out of the valley.  The covered bridge.  Rivers and wide open roads.  Up to the empty church on the other side.  The thinning cloud unwrapping the view around me.  I used to ride to forget.  Now I ride to remember.  For some weird, unexplainable reason, remembering seems to help me forget.  Purgative.  Cathartic.  The wind picks up after a few hours.  Riding through clouds of expired dandelions, it already looks and feels like summer.  It smells like summer too.  100k in before lunch.  No wonder Sundays are my favorite day of the week.  Happy World Bicycle Day !

Friday, May 29, 2020

Atari



I got an Atari home video console for Christmas in the early 80s.  The Atari 2600.  With the fake wood finish and red button joy sticks.  The best games also.  Pac Man.  Donkey Kong.  All the cool kids were into it.  A family in my neighborhood even burned out their TV after playing non stop for over 15 hours.  That wasn’t my problem.  I may have played with mine a total of 3 or 4 hours.  Max.  Maybe?  I liked hanging out in arcades as a teenager, but I never played the games.  Not once.  For some reason a Snickers bar seemed like a better way to spend any change that I had in my pocket.  I’ve just never been into video games.  I mean, I find them cool, but I just can’t seem to lose myself in them like everyone else.  The video game world seems to have collided with the cycling world these last few years with the introduction of Zwift, an online cycling platform that enables riders to ride and compete with each other virtually.  The concept is brilliant.  The graphics and avatars are amazing.  Most of my cycling friends are into it.  It certainly is the next big thing.  But, for some reason, I remain unmoved.  Maybe it’s the competitive aspect?  Maybe it’s the stationary pedaling?  I used to ride indoors all winter, 3 – 4 hours at a time when I trained to race.  But the truth is that I have not ridden on a stationary trainer once in about 5 years.  I just can’t anymore.  I try to let myself be excited by the whole Zwift movement.  I really do.  The technology.  The practicality.  The potential to get faster.  But if I’m honest, I would be faking it.  Maybe my reason is the same as why I never really played with my Atari 2600?  Maybe my problem is really just that I never really was into video games?  Forward movement, going somewhere, outside, exploring the natural world I live in is too big of a part of why I ride.  The crunchy feel of my tires floating on top of the gravel.  The breeze brushing the skin on my face.  The smells.  The sounds.  The sceneries.  Like the way that the flora on the edge of this lake shelters the water on the side making the periphery surface smooth instead of choppy and rippled like the wind blown center.  Sorry Zwift, you really are amazing.  It isn’t you.  It’s me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

That gut feeling





Life is short.  Why do we keep rushing through it?  So much to do.  So little time.  Maybe it’s not that we have too much to do?  Maybe it’s that we’re not doing the right stuff?  In the simplest terms, that’s exactly what life really is.  Doing stuff.  For a while.  We take it so seriously, but in reality that’s all it is.  Time to do stuff.  We get to choose.  And in the end, our regrets are simply having done the wrong stuff.  So, how do we know what stuff that we should be doing?  The answer is always in the gut.  Our gut knows.  Listen to your gut.  It’s always right.  It always knows.  Last Friday was a gorgeous day.  Sunny and unseasonably warm.  Perfect for a ride out to the coast taking the long road less travelled.  Chip seal, gravel, some dirt, near zero traffic and road side couches.  I had mapped the loop last year, but had never gotten to ride it.  This was the day.  My longest ride of the year.  Unhurried, and powered by eggs and bacon, my legs felt fluid.  Not fast, but strong.  It’s a strange, but very pleasant, feeling.  A deep sense of comfort and well-being, my butt comfortably perched on my saddle, my legs spinning smooth circles.  Familiar.  Like a baby being rocked in his cradle.  Revealing.  Knowing.  A pathway to my gut.  That’s one of the best gifts that riding always gives me.  That intuitive internal gut connection.  The day capped off with Kombucha, supper with family and an evening walk with our dog Zen.  Simple.  Blessed.  Happy.  A day that ended, knowing in my gut, that I had done the right stuff.

Friday, May 22, 2020

This too shall pass




This too shall pass.  Covid-19.  This too shall pass.  Unchartered territory.  This too shall pass.  Global pandemic.  This too shall pass.  Physical distancing.  This too shall pass.  Early May snowstorms.  This too shall pass.  Late May heatwaves.  This too shall pass.  Long rainy days.  This too shall pass.  Infinite deep blue cloudless skies.   This too shall pass.  Early sunrises and late sunsets.  This too shall pass.  Morning meditation and yoga.  This too shall pass.  Working from home.  This too shall pass.  Quality time with family.  This too shall pass.  Simple schedules.  This too shall pass.  Stress and fatigue.  This too shall pass.  Health.  This too shall pass.  Sickness.  This too shall pass.  Long rides on wide open roads.  This too shall pass.  The Corona virus has definitely shown us how fickle life really is, how quickly everything can change, what’s really important.  This too shall pass is a Persian adage about the ephemerality of the human condition, or what we simply call life.  Temporary.  Ever changing.  All we can do really is show up for it.  Be there.  Wholly.  Entirely.  No matter if it’s pleasant, difficult, easy or unwanted.  Show up.  Show up for our family.  Show up for the weak and vulnerable.  Show up for the seemingly unremarkable things.  Show up even when we’re afraid.  Show up in the present moment.  Some days, showing up is pretty easy.  Other days, not so much.  In the end, it’s all that we can do.  Show up.  Every single day.  This too shall pass.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Rockport






Eyes open.  Quiet.  The first day in a very long while that the wind cannot be heard.  A faint bird chitter chatter.  Dust dancing in the beam of sunlight peaking through bedroom blinds.  Refreshed after the restless darkness.  A new day.  A great day.  Laying there, I can just feel it.  I used to have a hard time sleeping the night before races because of nervousness.  Now, with my solo ride adventures, pure excitement makes me toss and turn.  The forecast is sun and 17 degrees but we aren’t there yet.  The first layer shed at the top of the climb.  The tattered pavement replaced by well worn gravel.  My stoke growing as I approach Johnson’s Mills.  Glancing out towards Hopewell and Shepody across the bay, I feel so very small.  Not in a bad way.  Simply insignificant and at the same time part of something infinitely greater, highlighted by the carefully painted vast landscape surrounding me.  Nova Scotia, clearly visible across the water from Rockport.  So very close.  Yet, still, so very far.  Literally another world during these pandemic times.  The dirt road endlessly narrowing, I finally reach Slack’s Cove.  Such a picturesque spot.  No words.  Just panoramic seascape.  My bike resting against this monument, I sit there for a bit.  Sublime.  Majestic.  Alone.  In silence.  Taking in the energy of the scene I am immersed in.  Contemplating how the explorers had felt when they landed here over 250 years ago.  I wondered if they appreciated their surroundings as much as I did in this moment.  Legs rekindled, I made my way towards Sackville.  Chai tea and a cupcake at Cackling Goose to top it all off.  How was your weekend? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Change




Change.  Always there.  A lifelong constant.  Why do we resist it so much?  Our minds struggling to find something solid to grab onto.  Always looking for an anchor.  We panic as we feel ourselves drift.  Nothing  remains the same as it once was.  Everything constantly changing.  Life is so very dynamic this way.  Being alive means living in a persistent shift.  We all wish that things would stay the same.  That we wouldn’t grow old.  That our children wouldn’t grow up.  That our happiness would be everlasting.  But this ceaseless metamorphosis is what makes everything beautiful.  A real flower is so much more beautiful than a fake plastic one even if the latter lasts forever.  It’s beauty fleeting, momentary.  And that briefness is exactly why it is so perfectly pretty.  A life without change is a plastic life.  A much cheaper simulation.  As the season changes, I am also beginning to feel my body change.  Mostly when I ride.  Fluidity.  Souplesse.  A very deep sense of happiness as the summer cycling pieces of me slowly fall into place.  I realize that there will come a day when I won’t be able to ride anymore.  It’s inevitable.  All part of life’s essence of constant change.  And that makes me appreciate still being able to ride today even more.  This moment.  Constantly slipping away.  Health.  Focus.  Creativity.  Change.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Colour






Colour.  Flowers and rainbows.  Spring reminding us that colourful things are almost always beautiful things.  A rich diversity in tones certainly makes the world a better place.  Like all ecosystems that thrive when chock-full of a boundless mix of various species, each having a specific role in keeping the whole naturally in balance.  The cycle of life in perfect harmony.  Nature flourishes and rises in a vast diversity of colour.  Why does human society’s mold want us all to be monochromatic, all the same?  Our vibrant beauty hidden as we all try to fit in.  Our distinct inner and outer shades make each and everyone of us wonderfully unique even if we are also all interconnected, all part of the same rainbow.  Break out of the old mold.  Be you.  Show the world your colours, the brilliant colours that live inside of your heart.  Everything is so much better in living colour.  The emerging new earth.  In full.  Colour.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Suspended





Suspended.  In limbo.  What are we supposed to do in the meantime?  While life is on hold?  Is not knowing when or how this pandemic is going to end driving you crazy?  For me, it comes in waves.  Some days, when I’m present, in the now, I’m good.  I feel a certain sense of ease and grounded safety in our little bubble.  Like we can do this.  That everything is going to be OK.  Other days, when I’m in my head, I feel frustrated, really wanting a concrete timeline, a tangible detailed schedule telling me exactly what’s next and when.  My egoic mind desperately seeking security, wanting measurable milestones in order to better prepare, perceiving this as something that I absolutely need to figure out.  The truth is that no one knows for sure what happens next.  Unprecedented in our lifetime.  Day to day.  A trial.  An experiment based on our best estimates.  Everything has never been as uncertain as it is right now.  Unknown.  The question is, can we be OK with it?  Can we let go of our need to know?  Fear is born from not being OK with the mystery of what we’re facing.  Accepting the unknown, embracing it even, creates a heightened sense of aliveness, an appreciation for what we still have.   Can we make peace with our helplessness during these times?  Have trust in our unity?  Life is out of our control.  It will always be.  I mean, there are certain things that we have control over like our intentions and our actions, but in the grand scheme of things, life always was, is and will always be out of control.  No one knows when or how it ends.  And it’s OK not to know.  Do all that you can to help others and remain healthy and safe.  And then, mindfully sit back and watch history unfold.  Drop the personal mind-made stories.  No expectations or assumptions.  All that we ever have is this moment.  Can we be here for it during these trying times?

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Normal




Normal.  Everyone keeps talking about when things get back to normal, about life after we can finally put Covid-19 behind us.  I’m certainly looking forward to the day when a vaccine is finally available.  But I’m really beginning to question if I can return back to the same normal after this is all done?  Back to the same rat race, the same grind, the same running around now that I’ve tasted this simpler and slower life?  I’m really not sure if I’ll be able to ramp things up again to the same velocity as before?  The Covid quarantine has forced us into minimalism and simplicity and if I’m honest, I really don’t want to give it up.  My new schedule seems much more natural to me, closer to my instinctive tempo, closer to the beat of the universe, much less forced.  This unhurried pace has given me more time for self-care.  Or maybe it’s not that I now have more time for it?  Maybe the current situation has simply shown me how important self-care really is?  The reason why doesn’t really matter.  Either way I enhance my body and spirit by spending more time practicing what nourishes my physical body and mental health.  Meditation.  Yoga.  Long walks.  Lunch break naps.  Long soul quenching bike rides.  Many future normals are available to us.  Which one are we going to choose?  What is the new normal going to look like?  Normal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Alone Never Lonely





The bare naked branches reaching up towards the clear blue sky.  The trees stretching their arms long and tall after their winter nap.  Rested, but hungry.  Starving for light energy as their buds begin to burgeon.  Awakening.  Rebirth.  A recurrent occurrence every single year, but still so very mystical when we pause to witness it unfold.  Sunday morning was one of those mornings that you long for towards the end of a long winter.  Warm sun embrace.  Calm and quiet winds.  Loud songbirds.  A spring kickoff jamboree of sorts.  I could just sense that this was going to be a gravel lottery winning ride day.  I concentrated on this strong gut feeling as I was getting ready to start pedaling.  The loop mapped out in my head, I set out towards Sackville.  Craving my warm tea and Larabar snack, I remembered seeing a sign for a rest area when I was riding through last year.  The Beech Hill park is a really nice spot.  Bigger than I expected with a small trail network.  It was well worth the slight detour.  Lying flat on my back on the picnic table bench, face to the gleaming sun, I meditated for about 20 minutes.  The silence intermittently broken by the occasional passing truck on the nearby highway.  A fly landed on my hand and walked around for a bit.  It may even have been a bee?  I didn’t look or move.  I just let it do its thing while I did mine.  The gentle breeze caressing my cheek.  My soul soothed by nature’s mercy in that moment.  I felt a very deep peace settle inside of me as I became more me.  I didn’t want to leave.  The life inside of me invigorated by the life surrounding me.  All one.  Timeless.  Limitless.  Startled by a family walking by, I awoke from my holy nap.  Energized, and lightly caffeinated, I rode back.  Over 3 hours on quiet, mostly gravel roads.  Over 3 hours of pure dusty flow.  Over 3 hours alone.  Never lonely.  Social distancing?!  Yeah, it isn’t all that bad on magical days like these.  Stay safe everyone.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Satori




Satori.  Is it just me or is the sky a much clearer shade of blue since most of the planes aren’t flying anymore?  Like the sudden lifting of a certain haze.  The rays of light able to penetrate us deeper, energizing our souls.  Beams of hope greeting us from the heavens.  Glimmers of grace helping us navigate these heavy times.  Is it just me?  Have you noticed this as well?  I scouted a few new dirt / gravel roads last weekend.  The windy sunny days of late have done a great job of drying things up.  We still need a few more weeks for the base to harden and for the wet spots to dry a bit more, but I can surely feel a certain gravel excitement bubbling up inside of me.  The urgency that I used to feel to get out and get my training done has been replaced with the need to get out and pedal alone.  Far from the noise.  Far from the commotion.  Closer to the truth.  Closer to my true self.  Long solo rides were always what I enjoyed most about training.  And now, especially in these times of social distancing, every single ride is a solo ride.  Exploring new places, losing myself, way out there, then finding that I was never really lost.  Seeking outer spaciousness in order to show me my inner spaciousness.  Solo rides are about glimpses of presence.  In Zen, such glimpses are called Satori.  A part of me has been missing the social aspect of our sport lately.  But, to be honest, the best thing about cycling is definitely the brief moments of Satori on solo rides in the back of beyond.  Satori.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Peace




If there existed a list that contained all the ways that people die, we could all go through it and every single one of us would eventually come across how we will end up leaving this world.  Even if we wouldn’t necessarily be able to recognize it as such just yet.  This list isn’t a menu.  Most often, we don’t get to choose.  You may be thinking that Covid-19 is a new item recently added to this list.  But it was already there along with many other unknown causes.  Dying from this virus almost always means dying alone in ICU.  No last minute I love yous.  No family or loved ones by our side.  And then, in the midst of this pandemic, so close to home, the deadliest mass murder in Canadian history at the hands of a mad gunman disguised as a police officer.  Such crazy times that we are living in.  So senseless.  So tragic.  Physical distancing preventing us from really coming together like we would need to during these difficult moments.  Broken-hearted.  So sad.  And so terrified.  Maybe our greatest fear isn’t death?  Maybe our greatest fear is not knowing how we are going to die?   Maybe our greatest fear is the physical pain that we may endure before leaving?  Maybe our greatest fear is leaving our loved ones behind?  Living is dangerous.  People have died doing what you are doing at every minute of every day.  We live with a false sense of security with our insurance policies and consumer guarantees but these are but an illusion.  And this illusion has been shattered by these recent events.  It has put us face-to-face with the only sure thing in this life, our mortality.  Not to downplay or disrespect the victims of these tragedies, but in reality we were always as vulnerable even before the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent shootings in Nova Scotia.  We simply had pushed it at the very back of our consciousness.  May we all give ourselves permission and space to grieve these deep losses.  And may we be reminded how precious and fragile life actually is.  My sincere condolences to everyone affected.  Peace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Corona Quarantine



Week 5 of the Corona virus quarantine.  Over a month of forced minimalism, bare bones living, essential services only and getting back to basics.  In many ways, life right now is more real than it was before.  More about appreciation, less about diversion.  More about connection, less about stuff.  More about survival, less about amusement.  More about real shit, less about bullshit.  Fresh produce has become a very hot commodity when you only get out to the grocery store every second week.  Overly busy schedules have been replaced by carefully organized menus based on available food, long family walks and real life learning at home.  No more picking up and driving children to this and that.  No more live sports to keep us entertained.  We feel lost without all these distractions.  Standing in front of our fears and insecurities with nowhere to run can be terrifying.  Everyone keeps warning us about the mental health crisis that will likely follow this pandemic.  To be honest, this mental health crisis already existed before this pandemic.  Most of us were simply too busy to see it.  To quote Eckhart Tolle “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”  Will Covid-19 be enough to transform humanity’s collective consciousness beyond busyness, selfishness, greed and exploitation?  We’ll have to wait and see…

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Do Better



Gratefulness.  So very, very important in these times.  Grateful for my health.  Grateful for my family.  Grateful for our home that keeps us safe.  Grateful for food on the table.  Grateful for insulin that keeps my daughter alive.  Grateful for my job.  And grateful for solo bike rides.  Riding always makes me see things more clearly by raising my level of awareness.  Realizing how humans are the only beings or entities negatively affected by Covid-19 right now.  Think about that for a moment.  My dog has never been happier.  Our planet is healing and able to breathe again.  Wild animals are doing more than fine.  Our marine life is thriving as our waters are being replenished.  The sad truth is that the world would be better off without humans on it…  But there is still always hope.  What if the whole purpose of this pandemic is to teach us that we need to change?   That our survival depends on a life of harmony instead of on a life of fighting?  What if the virus is showing us that nature can never be conquered?  That, in the end, nature always wins?  What if we don’t defeat nature with our man-made vaccines and drugs?  What if these so called remedies or solutions are simply nature giving us a second chance?  What if nature just wants us to be healthy and happy?  But that it also needs us to understand that we are not above it?  That we are a part of it?  Covid-19 is asking for our presence in this moment, showing us that we need to play by nature’s rules instead of by our ego’s rules.  Behind each crisis is an opportunity to learn, a moment to understand better, an invitation to raise our level of awareness.  And once we know better, we are able to do better.  We should not be aiming for back to normal.  We should be striving for better than before.  Stay safe everyone…

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

2 meters




Have you noticed the sound of the birds chirping in the morning?  Lying in bed, as you wake, listen.  This melody instantly takes me back to my childhood and the excitement that I felt every spring.  Such a refreshingly joyous sound.  The sound of hope.  The sound of rebirth.  The sound of warmer days ahead.  The snow is melting.  Winter fat bike season is officially over.  I have switched to road riding the last few weeks.  Short loops around the neighborhood.  Social distancing on my bike is what I have mostly been doing the last few years, so in many ways it still feels somewhat normal.  I feel healthy, but with the amount of snot and phlegm that I often expel during my rides, it probably isn’t safe for me to ride with anyone else right now.  Very, very cautiously is how I always ride, especially now.  This surely isn’t time to be taking risks.  Our health care system has enough on its plate with Covid-19 already.  I usually ride the multi-use trails around the city as soon as they are dry, but I have been noticing that most trail users are not giving the 2 meter distance when passing.  If we don’t want to lose the right to keep using the trails we need to smarten up.  2 meters often means pulling over to one side of the trail or proceeding single file if you’re out walking or riding with someone from your household.  It really isn’t that complicated folks.  Our health care workers are literally putting their life on the line, the very least that we can do is follow the social distancing guidelines at all times.  Ride for your health.  But please ride smart and safe !