What just happened?

[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.]




I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing. 

And nothing happens!  Nothing…

Nothing happens?  Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly
in the new life?


It’s been one week since my 320 mile journey from Fortuna, CA ended safe and soppy at San Francisco’s City Hall.  Since then, with all of you in mind, I’ve been trying to piece together a synopsis of the event – a couple of cleanly written, succinct and inspiring paragraphs to summarize the success of our activism and the mission we accomplished.


Much to my own confusion, I can’t.


It’s not that there wasn’t success, which I’ll get to in a minute.  But last Thursday, upon leaving the 124 other cyclists and walking my bike towardBART, I was weighted-down by more than my backpack.  I was feeling an unwelcome sense of anti-climax.




In ways I could never have predicted, last week’s Climate Ride was epic: Northern California’s rainy season began the evening of day one, and day two featured a winding 12 mile mountain descent in a downpour.  The fourth night delivered a midnightstorm so severe tents were ripped apart. On a brighter note, the week also included miles of coast-side pedaling, paralleling pelicans flying in formation.  And, the fortitude of the group was astounding! Individually, each of us admitted we wanted a warm bath and dry clothes, but as a group, we surprised every doubter within by showing-up to breakfast each morning, bedecked in spandex, ready to ride.  I am no longer afraid of cycling in the rain, even when my shoes are squishing puddles and the raindrops are forming a waterfall at the end of my nose!

Sun for a second, Day 4





There is a lesson here, right?  It’s about meeting adversity, and digging deep into the reservoir that’s created by community.  It’s a success well worth mentioning since climate change forecasts include perfectly lousy weather and natural disasters likely to have us wishing for a warm bath, but pushing us instead to ban together and to respond as best we can.  And, THIS, I think offers insight to my mood following the ride.


Did we, as Climate Riders, accomplish our mission?  We did!  Do you know that of the 325 of you on this list, more than 100 of you gave money to my Climate Ride?  A 30% response!!!  And together, we raised $6500 of the nearly $300,000 received for this year’s Climate Ride beneficiaries.  Thank you so, SO much.  Your generosity has been incredible.


Was our activism successful?  I don’t have an answer because I’m now seeing, it’s the WRONG question. JuanRamonJimenez‘s words above describe perfectly how I feel about “activism” in today’s world.  Like you, I like my life to flow easefully along with humor, beauty and love.  Death, heartache, and fear are messy and inconvenient.  Riding every mapped mile of the Climate Ride did not bring an end to the grief I feel toward what could be a future none of us would wish for, nor did it immediately change the decisions made by CEOs and political leaders around the world.  But this doesn’t mean that “nothing happened.”

Dear CEOs of America...


Cycling through the hush of the redwood groves, riding high above the white caps hitting the jagged rocks below, attempting to mimic those incredible pelicans in flight, I was reminded to soften (my grip), to relax (into the downhill), and to love (in the face of uncertainty).   And, like it or not, you were all there with me!

Last Thursday morning, preparing to ride our final 40 miles into San Francisco, the rain showers grew louder and louder upon the make-shift meal tent.  One of our pack  reveled fervently, “Harder!  HARDER!!!!”  And the rest of us, heads thrown back, joined-in, howling hearty invitations to the pouring skies.  In the face of life’s inevitable hurts, inconveniences and uncertainties, a practice of “inviting in” might be the best plan there is.  Did nothing happen?  Did everything happen?  I’ll let you decide.  Thank you, all, for taking this Climate Ride with me, and for showing me, again, this ever-anew life.

City Hall, San Francisco

What is Losing?

[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.]


“Tut, Tut, it looks like rain.”

– ChristopherRobin, Winnie-the-Pooh


“View all problems as challenges. Don’t run from them, condemn yourself or bear your burden in saintly silence.  You have a problem?  Great.  More grist for the mill.  Rejoice, dive in and investigate.”

– Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English


Last week, in the final throes the fundraising countdown, I mused about winning.  I’ve enjoyed conversations with several of you this week about ‘fessing-up to my competitive nature.  AND…as an aspiring non-dualist, it got me thinking a lot about losing.  What is losing?


I’m seeing that, for me, losing happens when I shut down.  Do you know the sort of “shutting down,” I’m talking about?  There are 3 times I feel it most: when I’m afraid, when I “know” something (HA!), and (this is a tough one) when I’m feeling self-conscious.  Yep, alone or in combination, these are the perfect ingredients for me to shut down…and in such a moment, I have EVERYTHING to lose.


On Monday I learned, along with my fellow Climate Riders, that rain is in next week’s forecast…for at least 3 of the 5 days.  “Oh, Nooooooooo,” the voice reverberated though my head.  It was fear kicking-in and I began to shut down.  …THEN, I remembered how just the day before, I’d spent the morning cycling in the rain.  I re-visited the experience in my mind: I was dry beneath my windbreaker; the redwood trees above leant extra shelter from the falling drops; my brakes responded perfectly, and my friends and I arrived safely at our destination.  Truth be told, many moments of the ride were beautifully pleasant!  Hmmmm….


Riding between raindrops, Hwy 1

Before climate change began, it was fairly safe to presume September and early October were rain-free times in Northern California.  And while rain isn’t exactly a problem, I tend to believe that climate change is.  I could be wrong, so I will hold the question openly, trying to notice when my fear or righteous indignation kick-in.  I will try instead, for these next 5 days to un-self-consciously, sing in the rain and practice the instructions offered above by the Venerable Gunaratana, “Rejoice, dive in and investigate.”


I believe that responding to climate change is a GROUP activity.  I know most of you agree because the support you’ve shown me in my fundraising these past months has been incredible.  You’ve already done so much, and I encourage you to ride along next week.  Let’s rejoice, dive in and investigate this beautiful, messy, amazing world of ours together!  Reportedly, cell and wireless service is spotty at BEST along our coastal route, but should the cell gods and goddesses smile, check my Google Plus posts.  Don’t worry!  If a techno-phob like me can do it, you can too.

Bien Viaje!


Alright, I’m off…but, wait!  You’re still caught in winners/losers suspense, huh?  I came in 2nd and won a trip to Glacier National Park!  How fun is that??  Thanks for all your support!