Windhorse Six 9/10/2005
Another week has rumbled by in a blur and the days are numbered before my departure. Thanks to all who signed on as Windhorse sponsors-you should be able to see your names on the website very soon (some are there already). It is a special honour to carry your prayer flags along on the trip.
I had another big week of riding and I’m enthralled with my returned biking competence. As a kid, I spent hours and hours biking. I called my long time companion, the “Trusty Stead.” I still sometimes mourn for that dilapidated, rusty ten-speed that only had 4 gears left when it was stolen from the backyard. I loved riding fast, jumping curbs and feeling the freedom of self-transport. In the past weeks, similar joys have returned. I love to go fast. I love the split second of delight that results from flipping my pedal “just so” enabling my foot to slide into the toe clip without even having to look down at it. I love the feeling of power and belonging when riding swiftly in traffic: weaving, dodging, and taking up space. I imagine this feeling is similar to running with the bulls in Pamplona. I love the juxtaposition of being able to go where cars cannot and teasing drivers on occasion with blatant disregard of traffic lights and other roadside punctuation. I love riding with no hands.
Six weeks ago when I attempted to take my hands off the handlebars, the bike immediately pitched and swerved and threatened to throw me in the ditch. I was not in balance. On the bike. In my life. Perhaps both. Since then, I’ve toyed with and experimented with removing my hands. At first, I managed only a few seconds on a downhill before imbalance or fear caused me to grip the bars once more. Gradually, I could ride further and further down a hill with no hands. I could sit up, marvel at the passing scene, and relate differently to everything by this letting go. As more time passed, I found I could swerve past potholes with a subtle tightening of my core muscles: marveling at the body, brain and bike connection. Then I could turn corners. Then I began to ride uphill with no hands. Then I began to play and indulge in riding with no hands.
I put my hands behind my back and stretch. I take a drink. I splay my arms out like the wings of a bird and feel the lift of air passing over and around my “wings.” The other day, while riding down a hill, I tried to put on my sunglasses. They were tangled in my helmet. I took off the helmet. Took off the shades. Detangled the mess. Put on my sunglasses. Put on the helmet. Clipped the buckle. Thought it might be time to brake as I’d reached quite a speed and I reluctantly put my hands down for long enough to brake. There is deep joy in finding such balance and trust on the bike and the confidence to just let the bike go where it will. A lovely metaphor for the bike and life. In which parts of your life do you “let go of the handlebars?”
Yesterday, I completed another in my series of goal rides…this week’s long ride took me to Bauline. The whole time I was riding towards the coastal village, I wondered “would I or wouldn’t I?” “Hard telling, not knowing,” I replied to myself. Bauline is a small fishing village on Conception Bay halfway between Portugal Cove and Pooch Cove. It sits sleepily at the base of towering cliffs and is reached by an avalanche-like descent…would I or wouldn’t I ride all the way down to the wharf only to turn around and bike back up the huge hill? The answered varied as the morning and kilometers went on. As I reached the decision point and started to coast down, I wondered “did I have it in me?” “Of course, I do” was the reply. The real question is, instead …”do I want to?” I realized pretty quickly that having ridden all this way to shy away from the big hill would be a disappointment and in a moment of disbelief, I set my bike downhill…all the time muttering something about not really believing I was doing it.
The hill was so steep that I didn’t dare take my hands off the handlebars since I need to brake constantly to keep the bike near in control. I arrived at the wharf with forearms pumped from so much pulling on the brakes and took a few pictures to celebrate getting there. I didn’t relish the climb ahead of me so I turned my bike, had a few swigs of Gatorade, got into my lowest gear and began to dream of Tibetan high passes.
I inched my way up the hill through town. In a few places, it was so steep that I had to make diagonal cuts across the hill in order to keep riding. I passed a woman walking down and she said, “you must have some strong legs, sure.” I was too out of breath to point out my strong lungs as well; at times I was convinced that I could feel my lungs inflating all the way down into my pelvis. False summit after false summit finally gave way to a short stretch of a gentle grade and I could catch up with myself…15 minutes and the historic climb was over and I made my way back to town feeling quite proud and glad that “I would.”
Last Sunday a friend, Marie, and I rode to Portugal Cove and then took the ferry over to Bell Island to ride a loop there. The ferry docks at sea level but the rest of the island exists atop another large hill. I’m not sure when Marie will forgive me for subjecting her to such an ascent…here’s what she had to say about the adventure:
I just want to warn you that it is easier to read about T.A.’s adventures than to join her. She and I went for a bike ride on Sunday – to Portugal Cove to get the Bell Island Ferry, cycled around the island in major head winds and then back to the city; 50k for me and 60k for her. Well, the first monster mountain off the Bell Island Ferry was a Triple Diamond ¢¡¢¡¢¡. I made it about 1/3 of the way and then pushed the bike for at least 10 minutes. The rest of the undulating country road was lovely. After going up several major hills around the island I thought that maybe the first hill was doable – but no, when we returned to the ¢¡¢¡¢¡. I knew I was right the first time. Anyway, I shall keep encouraging her because some of it rubs off. Take care all,
I’ve started setting things aside for the trip and have many details to attend to over the next week. My dad is having surgery this week and I’d ask all of you to hold him in the Light, in your prayers and in your hearts. I’ve attached a PDF of the Express Article I mentioned last week. Let me know if you have trouble receiving it. I hope September is treating you well. Take care.
Windhorse Five 9/3/2005
Happy Labor Day Weekend to All,
I hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend that marks the end of North American summer. I find myself needing to take today as a gentle recovery day. It was an intense week for me and for many folks around me so it’s 4:00 pm and I haven’t made it out of my pajamas yet. So many people have been affected by the huge amount of suffering that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina. It is hard to imagine/understand/deal with devastation on that kind of scale.
I was glad to have the physical challenge of training as an outlet this week. Back in the gym, I enjoyed being on the Cosmic Yang program again…as a result of various training schedules, I’ve done the Green Tara program many, many more times than the other two so I’m finding the novelty of the Cosmic Yang to be reinvigorating. Since I’m still not able to run, I doubled my bike riding for this week and spent 14 hours in the saddle. I accomplished two “goal” rides this week-much to my surprise in both cases.in other words, I didn’t know I was going to make to my goal destination each time when I set out until I actually made it.
Tuesday morning around 6:30 am, I headed out around the harbor on my bike and then decided to start making my way towards Cape Spear. I’d always feared the Shea Heights Hill.it wasn’t so bad and I was at the top before I knew it. I passed the auto wreckers yard and they had a plow truck for sale. While I continued to pedal, I imagined that someday I would give my alter ego of “Plow Girl” an opportunity to express herself in the world.
Let me introduce you to Plow Girl. Plow Girl’s mission statement is “Plowing for the Common Good.” She imagines having a plow truck that she drives around in on stormy days looking for exacerbated people who’ve just had their driveways covered by city plows or who are struggling to move the 3 feet of snow that typically falls in St. John’s from the front of their cars. Plow Girl, dressed in a purple, triple layer Gortex XCR shell and black lycra tights-perhaps with a bright lime green cape, will plow the snow out of the way and ease the frustrations and interruptions that big blizzards cause.she won’t accept payment, but instead will ask that the recipient to pass on the good deed by offering kindness and care to someone else in the near future.
Caught up in my imagination, the kilometers continued to fly by.soon I was a half an hour from town, the fog had rolled in and the rain began to pelt me in the face. I decided to keep pedaling into the wind and rain towards Cape Spear and then I had this thought .”Vilma was right.” A few weeks back, we’d been trying to come up with an all-encompassing URL for my website.Vilma suggested TA’s Nuts.Com. As I pedaled further and further away from town into a stinging, cold rain, hardly able to keep my eyes open and see where I was going, I realized that Vilma was very, very insightful. I made it to Cape Spear, rode my bike right out to the most Easterly point in North America, chugged a little Gatorade and turned my bike for home. Exactly two hours after I left home, I arrived back at my doorstep, cold, muddy, soaked, hungry, and giddy after a morning of moving adventure.
We decided to use http://www.adventuresthatmove.com as the new URL for my website given the potential confusion that a site called TA’s Nuts.Com might sell cashews and almonds. I’ve been touched that my adventures have been moving others while at the same time moving me to new heights, locations, and understandings. We’ve made some new exciting new additions to the site-please check it out. Let me know what you think and if you have other ideas of what else might be good content on the site. I’m working to scan more pictures so I can include stories of other past adventures as well. Many thanks to AppleCore Interactive for signing on again as a sponsor for my Looking for Windhorse adventure and for designing and maintaining my website.
You’ll remember that in preparation for Denali that I undertook many “Ring of Fire” challenges. One Ring of Fire challenge for this adventure is the seeking of sponsors for it. It means putting myself out into the world and marketing myself in whole new ways.I’d rather pedal 100 kilometers, do 1000 sit-ups, and run six half marathons than ask someone to sponsor me. Denali taught me to breakdown every challenge into small bite-sized chunks and so.stepping into the ring of fire.taking a big breath. here goes.
I’d like to offer you the opportunity to sponsor a string of prayer flags in support of my Looking for Windhorse adventure. I will carry sponsored prayer flags over the six mountain passes on my bike. Once I return to Canada in November, I will send you your particular string of prayer flags along with a picture from the expedition. The cost of this sponsorship is $25 for the prayer flags and $5 for shipping. Please send a check for $30 for each string of prayer flags you would like to sponsor ($25 if you live in St. John’s, NL).
Stringing Buddhist prayer flags is thought to be beneficial for all beings in the immediate area, and to strengthen the karma of the individual who hangs the flags. Prayer flags are said to invoke compassion, harmony, peace, wisdom, strength, and to offer protection against dangers and evil. The traditional five colors represent the five Buddha families and five elements: Blue-space, White-water, Red-fire, Green-air & wind, Yellow-earth.
Make the check out to TA Loeffler to 7 Wood Street, St. John’s, NL A1C 3K8, Canada. Please enclose your name, address, and any special requests/intentions/prayers you would like me to keep in mind as I pedal your prayer flags over the passes. If getting a check together is too much of a challenge, you can send me an e-mail now and a check later.please let me know before September 19th. Thank you in advance for your support.
Tuesday evening Antony and I went out for another off-road adventure in the Kenmount Hills. I missed his friend’s fancy front suspension bike as my old clunker vibrated worse than a 6.9 earthquake over the rock-strewn trails. I thanked the Buddha (I used to thank the goddess) that I was renting a fancier bike for the Tibet ride. My well-used and worn bones and joints applaud the decision. The narrow trails demanded that we thread our bikes through the eye of a needle on numerous occasions. It was tempting to reach out and grab the trees that crowded the path but when I finally gave into the temptation at one point to keep myself from falling, the tree itself fell over, taking me with it. I lay in the bushes surveying for damage and trying to sort out how to extricate myself from the both the tree and the bike. It took several minutes of intricate problem solving to free myself from the green mess. Fortunately, nothing but ego was damaged and since Buddhists regularly try to shed their egos, I think I shall grab more trees along the way.
Friday morning I completed another goal ride by riding to Pouch Cove (at the Northern Tip) of the Avalon Peninsula.I was drowned again by passing thunderstorms and buffeted by gusting head winds but I was pleased to ride the 60 kilometer route in three hours flat before breakfast. After a quick snack, I headed into the gym for a workout and then headed home to shower before taping the first interview for the film I’m making about this adventure. Thanks to Lisa and Christina for their help in that. No wonder I’m still in my PJ’s today.
Finally, there was a great article in The Express this Wednesday about both the Denali and Windhorse adventures. I’ll try to get a hold of the text and send it out to you. The coverage has resulted in several calls asking me to speak to various groups.my motivational speaking career has been launched :-).
Have a good week. Thanks so much for coming along on this adventure-your presence means so much to me.
With gratitude and appreciation,