Why Lauren Bikes

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

 

Greetings!

In 35 days, I’ll be up in Fortuna, CA, and preparing to ride the 350 miles to San Francisco – 5 days of cycling to celebrate this Earth-home of ours, and to raise awareness about how we can do a better job of taking care of it.

So, SO many of you have already offered support.  Thank you for your generosity!  And for those of you still wanting to give, you have 4 more weeks.  You might recall that I’ve designated 4 NGOs, in particular, to receive the funds raised on behalf of my pedaling.  For the time remaining between now and Oct. 2nd,I’m going to focus on 1 NGO a week, highlighting why I think their efforts are important and worthy of your donation.

 

This week: The East Bay Bike Coalition  http://ebbc.org/

Their mission: Promoting bicycling as an everyday means of transportation and recreation since 1972.

Geek Treat: In the United States, 25% of trips are under a mile, but 75% of those trips are made by car.  Biking or walking one mile instead of driving will save you at least 15 cents on gas. And what about all those fun interactions with people and your neighborhood when you’re not stuck behind the wheel? (http://www.americantrails.org/resources/health/SuburbBrody.html)

 

And now….Why Lauren Bikes

 

“God made so many different kinds of people;
why would God allow only one way to worship”

– Martin Buber

 

I bike because it’s when my body prays.  I bike because it makes me feel strong.  I bike because two wheels take me to locations I wouldn’t otherwise see.  I bike because I always return from rides feeling different from when I left.  I bike because the challenges scare me…and I am someone who needs to lean into her fears directly.

 

A few years ago, I was riding my first double century – a double century is 200 miles in one day.  I became very afraid, suddenly, when I learned a big climb was coming and we’d be working very hard for the next hour.  “Climbing for the next hour?”  I questioned inwardly. A young voice inside whimpered, “I can’t!” and I wanted to cry….but another harsher voice snapped, “You can’t cry and ride a bike at the same time!  Keep moving!”

 

I finished the climb; infact, I finished the entire 200 miles, but I also became irrationally fearful of climbing.  For two months after that ride, I avoided certain roads and noticed an existential distancing between me and my love for meditation on the bike.  I knew I had to lean into this fear and find out what it meant.

 

In sought-out time with a Buddhist teacher, who is also an avid cyclist, he asked, “Lauren, do you KNOW that you can’t cry and ride your bike at the same time? For whatever it’s worth, I had a lovely cry on my bike just last Sunday.”  He also questioned wisely, “About how old was the one inside who said she couldn’t?  And who was the one who told her she had to?”  Before ending our session, he asked me to describe what it was like to finish all 200 miles.  Had I even taken time to acknowledge the accomplishment?  Ever so gently, with his own tears of joy leading the way, we both wept and celebrated my first double century triumph.  I agreed then to address the fears directly by returning to the East Bay hills, and I vowed to let him know what happened.

 

One week later, on a very foggy morning, I climbed South Park Road, one of Tilden Park’s steepest.  Along the way, I spoke to the fear, “You can do it.  Look at you: you’re doing it!!  You don’t have to go fast; you can stop if you need to….but look at you!  You are doing this.  Breathe.  Pull, push.  Breathe.”  At the top of the hill, I cried.  I cried and pedaled and laughed and whooped my way across the ridge, tears and snot running down my face, while I rode my bike at the same time.

 

Practice with Parvati, my two-wheeled Guru

 

I ride my bike because I see Creation from ever-changing angles.  I ride my bike because it is meditation in motion.  I ride my bike because in our dance together, we find God.

 

 

 

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