Zen and The Art Of Bicycle Maintenance

In the Summer of 2010 I completed a journey of a lifetime, my lifetime. I bicycled across Canada from Vancouver Island, BC to St John’s, NL. I had live GPS tracking and constant blog updates to keep those informed of my every pedal stroke; 7300 km of awesomeness over seventy six days. Even though my friends, family and colleagues weren’t the ones riding many were excited for my trip.  Their excitement came from their own imagination of doing it themselves. My blog updates were like a living book mixed in with a reality show, where the next chapter had yet to be written. I had no script; Point my bike East, pedal to the horizon and see what happens. It’s a great feeling being on a bicycle. You are both the driver and engine of your freedom.

During the Fall of 2011, I read a story in the newspaper about a woman who was going to be the FIRST woman ever to cross country ski to the South Pole, SOLO!  Her name is Felicity Aston and she  had previously made the trek with a group of other female adventurers. This time around she would be by herself.  So there’s no one to immediately help you if things go wrong; You are your own rescuer.  I understand that concept all too well since my bike trip was also solo. I was excited for Felicity, followed her on Facebook and wished her a safe journey. She even had a Twitter feed, did podcasts and conducted satellite phone interviews; Felicity was by herself yet she wasn’t alone. I paid particular attention to the trip’s technical aspects; Gear used, type of tent, food rations, other supplies and risk management techniques during her epic 1700 km Antarctica journey. Keep it simple, your life is at stake; If the weather’s bad, don’t go outside and patiently wait it out. At the end of Felicity’s journey she cried and said she didn’t know why she does “these things” and this adventure was her last one. I disagree. She knows why… and it won’t be her last.

Now here we are, Summer 2012. My buddy Sebastian is currently biking across Canada. He started in Victoria, BC and is now somewhere in Alberta. I am more excited for him than I was for Felicity. Why? Well, I befriended Sebastian. I had found him on the MEC Trip Partners web site and wished him a safe trip. Sebastian then emailed me back for trip advice. And over some beers we hung out and he picked my brain.  Turns out we’re the same age and he is in the same stage of life as I am.  The advice I felt which was the most important to give was that it was HIS bike trip. Anything I said should only be taken in consideration; I gave feedback on trip routes, gear and equipment and shared some of my experiences.  I understood Sebastian’s reasons for doing the journey, what lessons can be learned and what to expect, And herein lies a Zen lesson, have no expectations.

Sebastian is posting updates on his experiences which has given me the opportunity to re-live  my own trip. I’m imagining myself riding across Canada all over again. Sebastian’s ridden up the Coqulhalla Summit, Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass. He’s biked uphill for hours and hours. He’s biked in heavy rain. And he’s appreciated how tasty a beer can be after a long hard day of riding; Though for me, it was caramel lattes. There are some differences. Sebastian had bike buddies with him at the start of his trip.  And now he’s taking a different route through Alberta; After all, it’s his journey, his life and his decision.

I know that if I did the trip again it would be an entirely different experience. Taking the same road again doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same result. Following Sebastian is my vicarious re-adventure. He’s pedaling East and we’ll see what happens. After all, Sebastian is the driver and the engine of his freedom, his destiny.


1 thought on “Zen and The Art Of Bicycle Maintenance

  1. ..and what an incredible way to live! When I started cycling this year, I had no expectations. No real goals, per se. But I do now. Enjoy! Every! Second! I’m enjoying life out on the road. I’ve endured long, sun scorched days, unbearable windstorms, and pouring rain—and still I wouldn’t think to complain. As long as there is air in my lungs, there is beauty. Thankful for life & the lessons that come along with ‘the ride!’

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