Friday, March 27, 2009

Final Report

First and foremost, it is time to express my profound gratitude to my most perfect wife, Subagh Kaur. She has been so tolerant of my need for solo travel and so supportive of my efforts. She did all the posting here, mailed my resupply package, drove across the country by herself to meet me, and even did without my delightful company for five whole weeks. Thank you. I love you.

And thank you also to those who have sent along your encouraging words. Knowing you were there was a real boost.

Some facts: The trip took 35 days, two hours. The route covered about 3270 miles. Along the way I had about ten flats, six of them in two days of biking on Interstate 10. I also wore out two tires. I used extra thick tubes to good advantage. I also had to replace the chain which was getting pretty stretched out. There were no other breakdowns.

The route, except for a bit I added in the beginning, was laid out by Adventure Cycling Association. It was a zig zag affair following back roads most of the way. Visit their web site if you have any interest in this sort of thing; they are terrific. Going the other way (most do this route west to east) I met a dozen or so other bike tourers, all of them using the same maps.

I camped most nights but stayed in a motel about six times.

Impressions: In the Southeast, there is an astounding amount of litter, much less in the Southwest. Almost all of it is the containers from fast food joints and quick stops. I needed to "shop" in these quick stops quite often and the selection was awful: all sugar and energy drinks, pastries, etc. I managed to find enough juice, cheese, beans, trail mix, and burritos to survive but it is scary to see what people are putting down these days.

The rural towns along the way were mostly dying.

America is a big, empty place, except for where it isn't, in which case it is crowded, intense, noisy, frantic.

Personally: I probably lost a few pounds, got a bit stronger below the waist, weaker above. I have funny tan lines and baggy skin on my face. There is numbness in all the places that body and bike came together.

My meditation practice is based on mantra repetition and biking is perfect for that: rhythmic breathing, rhythmic motion, not that much else to do with the mind. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been so engaged and to have found a deeper silence within myself.

What did I get out of this? Who knows. I had expected to do lots of contemplating of the future but that just wasn't happening. Meditating one night I asked, "How should I live my life?" and an instant answer came back: "Simply, very simply." That's about as far as that went, but it could be enough.

Subagh(o), My heartfelt congratulations on your ride--absolutely brilliant!! I look forward to an in depth recount of your adventure when we see you next. Subagh(a), Great job on the backup and technical support that allowed us to follow along. Enjoy a few days together in one place. Love, David


The wind howled all night (usually it would stop by midnight or so) and it was with some reluctance that I dressed and set out at 5:30 or so. But, the wind had veered and was now a tail wind, the first real one of the trip. And, in a few miles I was headed mostly down hill to San Diego. At times, it was too fast; it seemed I was on the verge of loosing control. I was particularly keen to not crash today. Made it to the end and the rendezvous with Ms Subagh by about 1:00, having covered over seventy miles this morning.

The last day!!!

A very good sign.
One of hundreds of such shrines

I'm (Subagha) sitting in a cafe on Mission Beach, opposite the wooden roller coaster - waiting for phone call from Subagh S. about where to meet him. Hope it is soon. It is now 12:30 p.m.

From yesterday, Thursday, March 26
I'm eating first bagel of trip in the first Starbucks in El Centro, CA. This
a.m. I crossed the Imperial Valley: tens of thousands of acres of factory
farms, perfectly flat. Not a tree or house in sight. Much of the
valley is below sea level as much as -200 ft.

Did 120 miles yesterday and feel it today; I may be getting a little
old for this stuff.

Nice desert camp last night, coyotes and all.

Next is the Yuha Desert before the final push up and ├╝ber the coastal range

A few hours later - still yesterday

Killer afternoon. Crossing the Yuha desert on the roughest road of the
trip with high temps and then the strongest head winds yet. Climbing
into the mountains on better road but higher winds, still it took 3
hours to go ten miles then down ten miles pretty fast and now it's
time to start up again. It ain't over til it's over.

Subagha is 30 miles ahead of me and tomorrow we reunite.

I just love you both so much! from Pam

Is this it? The last day? Aren't you a little early? CONGRATULATIONS! We have been following your blog, and as we do our puny little spinning classes, we think of your efforts and we are so proud of you!
Subagha, have you caught up to him yet? What a reunion that must have been! We hope to rendezvous with you in CA to debrief. Or if you need more riding time, we've got some wonderful routes up here in OR.
It was the "Go MANgo" water bottle that made you so fast, wasn't it?
Connie and Roger

It’s hard to believe that Subagh Singh is completing his 40 day journey already – easy for me to say
Well I’m incredibly impressed – mind over body – good for him
As a grand finale he might consider a ride up to Mt Soledad in La Jolla – it’s an amazing view (I showed you pictures) - you can meet him up there.
I hope your ride out west was good –



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

150 miles to go - and just 2 more days.

Yuha Desert

This am was one of the miserable ones. A cold night left muscles
cramped and stiff, a long up hill to start the ride, and me starting
to think too far ahead- to the finish in 3 days. Finally got to the
top after 13 miles, stripped off a few layers of clothes and refocused
on the next little bit.

Am about to enter CA at Ehrenberg. The next two days look pretty tough.

Seven hours later...

I set out about 1 pm across 40 miles of the most inhospitable desert
yet. It was the first land since East Texas that wasn't fenced: no
livestock could survive- all alkali flats and basalt rubble. Got to
Glamis about 5:15 and the only store is closed. I could camp around
here or head out (next town is 30 miles on). I had wanted to go about
ten of those miles but had hoped for more food than I've got. Guess
I'll go for it as I want to make this a real long day so the last day
can be short. Just need to scare up some water.
Arizona desert

I think there are angels and cloud beings in San Diego too...
anyway, carry on,

Go Subagh!! San Diego is the true thither point of the US (NASA uses it as their thither point) and you are now only 3 days away. I am so happy for you. Be careful as you come in for your landing--the last mile is the most dangerous. Felicidades!!!! David

Love to both of you, especially SubaghS’s knees.- Paul B

I'm having too much fun watching this and have decided there must be a slight change of plans. When you get to San Diego you can rest for 3 days (familiar number) but then you need to go thru resurrection and decide to bike to..say... Spokane!.. that's it.. Spokane!.. just follow US 1 from San Diego North... it pretty much goes there thru the best scenery you've ever seen...
well think it over.. your fans would enjoy the ride
Douglas M

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Beyond the sprawl

Well, it did take another hour or so to clear the sprawl, most of it
in the "city" of Surprise, so named because one day a few years back
the locals woke up and there it was. It is, essentially a strip mall
10 miles long. Towne Centre Drive (they actually spell it that way)
was the road into the WalMart!

Then the road continues arrow straight and pancake flat for 35 miles
to Wickenberg and breakfast.

4 days to go. Phoenix, AZ

50 miles east of Phoenix

My goodness, the Phoenix sprawl goes on forever. I had to take a motel
room as it's still probably ten or twenty miles to open land where I
might camp. Traveling all day in that traffic is still another sort of
intensity, not my favorite type but, frankly, better than blandness.

For some reason my iPhone isn't sending out the pics so if I can't
figure it out I'll just post them at the end of the trip, which, by the way should be in 4 days, but who's counting. Ms Subagha and I decided to meet in San Diego instead of Santa Barbara making the trip about three days shorter. I trust that will be OK with all of

Slaker!...from Simran

Hey Subagh. I have been following you on your journey. I know that story of when you were in the hospital for two months. I remember you talking about it. I hope that you are well. I love the way that you write. Molly and I will be in NY for a visit this summer. Bonnie

Monday, March 23, 2009

Before I left I thought that long boring days would be a challenge but
each day is different and interesting in its own way

Yesterday started in Thatcher, AZ and most of the day was spent
traversing the San Carlos Apache reservation. Afternoon winds got
quite strong and I had to decide to quit in Miami, AZ after only 80
miles or go up and over Signal Mt pass- another 20 miles. I went for
it and had the hairiest ride of my life (not counting the one that put
me in the hospital for 2 months when I was 14 years old).

The climb up was 7 miles, not too steep, but with the wind it took an
hour and a half. It was Sunday evening and the road was choked with RVs,
boat trailers, etc returning to Phoenix . Worse, the road was in the
midst of repaving and there was no shoulder, just two narrow lanes. No
place for a bike. The wind was buffeting me and once I was blown off
the road into the ditch.

When I got to the top I began a wild descent over rough road, people
passing me sometimes within inches, me just trying to keep it
together. A few miles from the bottom I pulled off and made camp in
the Tonto National Forest.

On the "likely to get clipped" scale I gave it a 9.8 (0 is lying on
your couch watching the Daytona 500 and 10 is rollerblading against
traffic during the Daytona 500).

This morning I waited for daylight to finish the ride down hill to
Superior, AZ. My hands froze, but traffic was lighter and I had a
thrilling ride including a tunnel and a bridge. I could barely glance
away from the road, but the scenery was spectacular I think.

Only a quarter mile after the road leveled off I got a flat; I can't
imagine what that would have been like at 30 mph on the hill!

Now I'm resting in Tempe part of an enormous, all new, suburb
stretching from Apache Junction to Peoria, AZ. It is probably the
world's largest active senior sanctuary so there are bike lanes

Before that last one does you in, whatever it is, recall the merry prankster's bus and think "FURTHER."

When you get to Santa Barbara, the angels and the cloud beings will be smiling.

And so will we, roberta y mateo

if you are getting many flats a day, it means your tires are worn to thin to protect the tubes.. you need new tires!
keep on chuggin!
Douglas M

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Arizona - about 700 miles to go.

Yesterday I started on the Arizona/New Mexico border near Buckhorn, N.M.

Started yesterday at a fairly high altitude with very cold weather. I then went over three mountain passes: long slow climbs followed by often thrilling descents. The scenery was spectacular in the Arizona mountains. I ended with 30 miles across hot desert in the town of Thacher, Arizona.

I meet bikers going the other way (this is a standard cross-country route) and I am amazed by how much stuff they are hauling across the country.

A new Subagh's law (6th.?): Given time, patience, and appropriate effort all problems and crises will eventually be resolved, except for that last one that does you in.

Subagh, We have finally settled down enough at home to begin following your trip west. We appreciate that your humor shows through the tough times with hills, wind and lack of beauty. We are pulling for you every day and are looking forward to a slide show with the photographer in the near future. 800 miles to San Diego seems so easy to us after reading of your exploits so far. We wish you good fortune during your last few days. With much love, Alexsandra and Peter

Friday, March 20, 2009

One more reason not to eat meat: Feedlot cattle near Los Cruces, NM

Oh m'god, it did!

Two long but easy days put me at noon, Fri., in Silver City, NM., one of the cooler towns I've seen.
All morning I thought there was something wrong with the bike. Turned out it was just tired legs. Did need a new chain though and a batch of new tubes; had 6 flats in two days.
Now I head into mountains and desert and more long stretches between towns. About 700 miles to go.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

the last of the empty spaces before hitting I-10

The Mystic Heart website is up and running! Check it out:

Another great day. A long descent all day to El Paso ending in
another$30 motel and a Thai meal. Had 3(!) flats today

There's about 900 miles to San Diego and although I seem to be wearing
down nothing is breaking down so I can hope I'll make it.

Bought some blanket material to supplement my bed roll- it's been very
cold at night(although hot and dry during most of the day).

You are almost out of Texas!! Just a smidgen of NM then to AZ and finally the sunshine sate.
As for that debris.... what kind of art could you make from these American artifacts? The sculpture would be 10 feet high. Roger says, "Remember... pain is inevitable, but misery is optional (quote from...??) and we are proud of your amazing journey."
Connie and Roger

My encouragement goes along with all the others on your blog. The Big Bend country is some of my most favorite in the world. Perhaps your journey doesn’t carry you down into the National Park but the sunsets on the Del Carmine are outstanding. It is God’s country in that it is said that after God created the world he deposited the debris in the Big Bend – but what beautiful debris it is for those with eyes to see. My younger days took me on a bicycle trip from Scotland to Rome but nothing like the mileage you are covering . WOW!! We wish you meditative miles full of rich contemplation Joe Adams for Gail and Jessica too

Just visited the blogspot and read most entries. What a trip. Kudos to the man, idea, spirit, fortitude.
I couldn't get onto the reply pages, so please pass on my well wishes for a safe trip, and hope that the wind is always in the direction he wishes.

Best again,
david gray

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Practicing for the steep climbs

Another great Texas town, but at least I'm off the interstate after a hundred miles or so of it. It made me go fast, and it was mostly down hill, but it is an aesthetic failure. All that speed this am led to two flats when I hit debris going pretty fast.

I'm about a half mile N. of the Mex border and 85 miles from New Mexico, having gone about 2230 miles. Tonight a motel in El Paso; I seriously need a shower!

jeez is that the hotel?? Simran

No honey, that's the town! Subagh

Today I'm riding along I-10. The highway is smooth with gradual inclines and descents - totally built for efficiency. The trade off is that I can barely take my eyes off the road long enough to appreciate the scenery because I have to be vigilant in avoiding roadside debris.

Monday, March 16, 2009

MacDonald Observatory and bike seat

I did a total of 110 miles today, my longest day. The Observatory is a 30 mile climb from Ft. Davis, some of it real steep going up to 6800 ft. After this it was a mostly downhill ride for 30 miles or so, ending at sundown. I camped along Highway 118, and probably no more than 4 cars passed me all night. It's been a real privilege to be in such empty places.

From Connie and Roger:

Subagho - We know exactly where you are today. As you ride from Alpine, through Fort Davis (there are good stores to stock up on in these towns, as well as decent Mexican food) and beyond, look out for the pesky javalinas while you camp! Those critters will sniff out your food at night and grub around for your goods. Protect yourself.
Last year we rode that stretch from Ft. Davis up the hill to the McDonald observatory, so we send you strength and smiles as you enjoy the tailwind we're sending your way. Keep up the strength and positive outlook. I think riding through Texas is a wonderful way to test your attitude. I look forward to debriefing with you. Thanks so much for your updates, we are following along. California's comin'!!!

Well... looks as tho you finally found it..the middle of nowhere!

Day 23, outside Alpine TX

Still pretty empty.

Yesterday was a killer. Climbed slowly but steadily all day with a
significant head wind and rarely got over 10 mph. Didn't finish until
almost 7:30. Slept, cold on the side of the road- no tent, hidden in
the grass.

With no cars there is real silence, just faint natural sounds. A raare
gift to be this away.

This am was the coldest ride ever; 3 hours in the dark to Alpine, 33 degrees.

Oy vey, the road you're traveling sounds challenging --- thank you for making me very grateful for my comfortable bed, warm house, and hot meals, to say nothing of friends to talk with. Helen

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Culvert west of Langtry

I camped in this last night.

Yesterday was slow uphill, upwind, on rough road surface ( which makes a huge difference. Finally cleared in time for sunset. Night sky, miles from the nearest light, was magnificent.

Stopped for breakfast in Sanderson, population ~ 800 and 55 miles to
next town. Tomorrow I'll get to Alpine and pick up the package from home.

Feeling pretty tired- hope next leg is not too hard. I've been gaining
altitude- now about 3000 ft.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The road ahead. 30 miles west of Del Rio, TX

From David:

The two most beautiful sights in the world are seeing the sun set in the Pacific Ocean and seeing Del Rio Texas in your rear view mirror. Now you have seen them both. Bueno suerte hombre fuerte.

Off to a very cold start this am, but the sky is clearing and it should warm up over the next day or so. The road ahead looks to be wide open spaces- lots of time to just get into the meditation of riding: pedal, breathe, chant.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 21

The weather continues wet and cold and it is common to have runs of
50-60 miles between "towns", about half of which are intersections
with a general store and slim pickin's for a vegetarian. So I have to
plan carefully: enough food and water, but not too much, and if the
weather is foul enough, where shall I sleep? Here almost all land is
fenced, gates locked, the houses no where in sight (to ask permission
to camp). It's necessary to be careful about everything: bike, food,
body, weather, cars and trucks, etc.

This am a 30 mile ride in dark cold. It rained to Del Rio. I now face 60
miles to a place that may have no lodging and could mean a cold camp.
Right after the post I just sent I realized it would be imprudent to
go on today- I was cold and wet already and it would only get worse.
So I found a motel and will take the rest of the day off. It seems
perfect as this is the middle day of the trip.

Branwen and Gary say hi and wish you great biking.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pam has sent you a link to a blog:

to Subagho I want to let you know how much I love to read and see what is posted and cheer you on from Brighton. ---and Subagha-you are, as always, doing such a nice back office job.

Bracketville, TX, Day 20

River I followed upstream from Hunt, Texas.

The very top of the Texas hill country.

The last two days have been pretty amazing. I started yesterday in high winds and after a while, a heavy rain. Although the road went up and down, I basically climbed for 70 miles. It was cold and by 2 o'clock I realized that camping out would not be wise. Fortunately an hour or so later I located a cabin I was able to spend the night in. Soon after I settled in, it started to pour down with a vengeance. During the night there were 3 inches of rain in a place that had gotten 17 inches all last year (Vanderpool, TX). I can't imagine how miserable I would have been had I camped.
This morning it had stopped raining but was still cold and heavily overcast. I did 3 successive multiple mile climbs before topping out about 10:30 this morning. Then it was a high speed downhill 12 miles to Camp Wood, TX. where I had breakfast. Finally, I had an easy, but cold, 50 miles to Bracketville where I found a cheap motel. It was with a real sense of relief that I emerged from the hill country.
Tomorrow, after about 30 miles, I'll hit the Mexican border at Del Rio, TX. The route I'm following, laid out by, zigzags west on the most obscure back roads possible.
Subagh, Go for the "thither!" I laughed out loud when I saw it. After the thither it's a doddle. Go "you ole Texan." Abrazos, David

Just a little light and (possibly blasphemous) poetry to lighten your way. (From Doug Mac)

Our Subagh who art in saddle, soreness is thy name
Thy body aches, thy will near done, this earth just ain’t no heaven.
Give us this day our daily post and forgive us our curiosity (about how much you can endure) as we forgive those who read the post before us.
Lead us not into the desert but deliver us from heatstroke, for this ride across the kingdom might have the power to lift us all to glory.

Ah…men…. (With apologies to my teacher, J.C.)

Douglas Mac

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Check out those handlebars

The guy with the horns met me at the top of one of the hardest climbs
I've ever done. This is the infamous (to bikers) Texas hill country
and it is tough.

I've met a few bikers coming the other way. It is encouraging to
compare experiences and realize I'm doing pretty well.

Subagh's first law of bike touring is to just take it as it comes. The
second law is to never stop part way up a hill.

Finally the route is substantially above sea level- about 1000 ft.
I'll continue to gain altitude until I reach the thither side of the
continental watershed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Marty Leinwand has sent you a link to a blog:

Subagh - Thanks for sharing your "laws" and observations along the way. As always, you bring a wry sense of humor to living on earth. Watch out for them thar cow patties. With love - Eileen and Marty

Outside Wimberlay,Tex

I rode for a few miles on I-35 predawn this morning, along with the early morning rush hour traffic going towards Austin. It was clear how insane our car/truck frantic energy culture is. Power, speed, one person per vehicle. When I got back onto a country road the contrast was great, and greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Round Top, TX

I met these 4 lovelies at Round Top, Texas, population 77 and about the nicest spot I've passed through.
Each day, each mile, has it's own challenges: wind, hills, traffic, flats, and so on. I've given up hoping for any special favors and am just taking it as it comes
From: Doug Mac

The good news is that Texas is flat, dry and boring and the wind is in your face, the bad news is that after that there are mountains!
Man I wish I was with you... Although I'm pretty sure that I'm enjoying wathcing this as much or more than you are enjoying doing it. :-)
With you in spirit my brother, admiring your determination and rejoicing in the growth of spiritual understanding thru undertaking a ritual initiation.
If you think about quitting, call 585.256.3221, I'll talk you out of it.
please say hi to Subaugh
Be Well

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ole Texan

Richards, TX
I'm not overly impressed with the deep south. All food that can be
fried is, or it's covered with butter.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Coldsprings, TX

Future burgers


Wasn't this the state we were daunted by driving across? About 1/3 of the way to CA. So far nothing has broken in mind/ body/spirit/bike, but this is really tough.

From David E.:
1/3rd there and all parts functioning!! You the man: there must be a special Subagh Law for the 1/3rd point. We are with you in spirit, though that doesn't turn the pedals.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mittie, LA

Site of much needed and cold bath.

Keep on trucking
Douglas M

Cemetery, Ville Platte, LA

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Home for the night, mile 1055, Dupont, LA

The Mississippi, St. Francisville, LA

Crossing the track of my kayak trip...

Can't describe all this very well- the frozen fingers, the bad coffee, and buttery grits, the thousand miles of rural South, sleeping in a damp bag- or why it is all so good.

Mostly, it is an emptying of mind. And if I try to describe it, the description begins to supplant the experience.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 11, At the border of Louisiana

All is well despite 3 days in the low 30's.
Have entered the strange country of LA ,the roadkill capital of the
world, where they bury people above ground.
Clear cut Louisiana

From Doug Mac:
I've driven the route you are biking I 10 from Fl to Ca. Did it in August of 1975... man it was hot!
Texas is coming!!! for me it was 13 hours of straight flat scrub... I'll be interested in seeing what it is for you.
Behind you all the way.

From Carmen:
te queremos mucho

Monday, March 2, 2009

This picture and post was sent by people Subagh met on the ferry:

I enjoyed the conversation Saturday night and will watch your updates. Stay dry and warm, keep the spirit up. I know you will achieve your goal. Your getting closer every day.
Curt Smith & Dixie Belle

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 9, Mileage way down

Unrelenting winds, mileage way down today

Subagh's laws of aging seem to apply equally well to bike tours:
A) it's always something (wind, hills,sciatica, bad attitude, whatever)
B) it's always changing
C) until the total wipe out there's still more right with me than wrong. And,
D) It's only my body or mind anyway

Stay strong maybe the winds will blow the other way tomorrow. Lots of love, Simran

Saturday, February 28, 2009

9 pm on day 8

My routine is pretty simple. I wake up around 4:30 or 5, meditate and do a little yoga, break camp and hit the road by 6:30. I try to cover about 50 miles by noon and then take a fairly long break of about an hour and finish up my ninety miles in time to camp well before dark. After I’ve set up my tent I usually meditate again, eat a little food around 6:30 and then meditate on and off while doing a few chores when I finally go to sleep around 8. I usually just find a patch of woods along side the road to camp, which has been easy enough to do. The weather has held and I haven’t gotten rained on yet.

Food is both simple and unappealing. I can’t carry too much with me so if I see a supermarket I may just grab an apple or two and a piece of cheese. Other than that, I eat mostly out of little quick-stops and, so far, one really good Chinese buffet.

Today, although it threatened rain and even, according to a newspaper, tornadoes, my only weather challenge was a strong head wind all day long. I ended the day by catching the ferry across the mouth of Mobile Bay. Tonight, since it was pitch dark and probably 40 mph head winds I took a motel for the night.

Day 8, east of Pensacola

Florida has more churches than Mexico has restaurants, and everything is for sale, especially near the coasts where there was so much speculation.

Update on the sore butt thing - Subagh stopped at a bike store this am and bought gel pants and a gel bike seat cover.

Friday, February 27, 2009

DeFuniak Springs, Florida, Day 7

Subagh's Second Law: If I am bored it means I am not going deep enough.

This is a real challenge. One mile of black top is much like the next and so far the scenery is not too thrilling. So, I try to just feel each moment the best I am able.
Looks like rain; the first.
Boy, is my butt sore!

from Simran:
Just think of all the different ice cream flavors...that's what I do! ...oh said "deep"

from David Edward:
Your Puerto Escondido fan club sends "deep" healing energy to your butt! Go El Turbano, we love you and miss you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank you to Alvin and Susan Stauber: my first and possibly only hosts on this trip. I'm writing this on their computer in the middle of the night as I find it hard to sleep in the soft bed and warm room they've provided. Or, perhaps I'm just not used to smelling good.

Day 5, 40 miles east of Tallahassee

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 4, Outside of Gainesville, FL

Success, if I am to have it, will be the result not so much of strength or endurance or even perseverance. It will primarily be dependent on my ability to surrender, to accept precisely as they are, the conditions in which I find myself. Fighting against winds or cold or tired muscles over which I have no control is disheartening. Success will be in taking it as it comes.
249.5 miles so far.

Day3, Oklahawa River

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gratitude: my weakest point. Yet all is perfect.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

They say we are afraid of the unknown but what we are afraid of arethe imaginings of our own minds. The unknown, the future, is a void with no qualities of its own, only what we give to it, and what we
assign to the future unknown is purely a product of imagination plus memory of past personal and vicarious experience. We invent our fears and although most would disagree, we do so by choice.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Subagh's First Law: If I am not finding joy in what I am doing, I'm doing it wrong.

This trip should test my resolve in following this dictum. I suspect it will be a bit of a slog with long, flat, boring stretches, prevailing head winds, bad food, too much heat or too much cold, and no companionship. My old master, Yogi Bhajan, said.," Consciousness is your best friend and soul is your only strength" and that had better guide me in the weeks ahead. If it doesn't, if I rely just on the strength of this old body and the delights of the countryside, I could suffer an acute lack of joy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Puerto Escondido, Mexico- before the trip begins

My life has been rich and yet I hope to do more: to create more sculpture and elevate the work to a higher level; to live once again in the countryside; to visit some museums I’ve yet to see; and most especially, to deepen my practice of yoga and meditation and possibly realize a greater truth. Despite these ambitions I now am finding the path to be a bit obscure. Less and less often do I envision a new work of sculpture, mentally see the way to meet some goal, or meditate in a way that seems to plumb the depths of my being.

For four or five years I’ve been intermittently sick with a thyroid problem that can be severely enervating and sometimes undermines my confidence. Lately, swimming in the Pacific, pushing against a rising tide of fatigue, it has occured to me I might never feel all better, that this might be a permanent burden. But on other days I feel more normal and energized. On those days I look forward to my trip, albeit with some fear.

There are days filled with drive and direction but at other times it seems to be time to let go of drive and direction altogether and settle into a quieter life. I imagine a cabin in the woods, a modest workshop, and a meditation hut. But then I wonder if that isn't premature, if this isn’t still the time for meaningful work and adventure. A moment later I might add into the fantasy picture of my country home wheelchair access and a spare room for a nurse.

As an antidote to all this angst and confusion I will go on retreat: a time for deeper thought, and for no thought at all, wrapped into a forty-day bike trip. Traveling alone, self-propelled, carrying all my own gear: these have always been delights. If there were former lives, mine would have been spent as a shepherd or a scout: connected to my people but off by myself for long periods. In all my travels I’ve never experienced loneliness and, despite the love I feel for them, have never missed family or friends. I’m suited to aloneness and it renews me.

Often in the past, I would go off by myself to some wild and secluded place for a few days of fasting and meditation. Nowadays, I prefer to travel, to go somewhere, to see something new, and to test myself, even as I also look within. And so I take these trips: kayaking, walking, biking, or sailing. I’m getting older, though, and arduous self propulsion may soon be a thing of the past.

I'll go from Vero Beach, Florida (where my sister lives) to Santa Barbara, California (not too far from my daughter's home), about 3500 miles. I would like to think I’ll make it, but I have some doubts. The trip is likely to be hard, especially with my hypothyroid. And, I'm now spending six weeks in Mexico, not riding a bike, loosing conditioning, and especially loosing those butt callouses that make hours on a bike seat tolerable. Each day off the bike increases the pain later on.

I’ll be camping with only a minimum of equipment and cycling long hours. The route is far south but it will be February and March, and there will be mountains and desert, so any weather is possible. On my last bike trip, through New Mexico and Colorado a few years back, I was severely hypothermic in a mountain ice storm one day and nearly collapsed from desert heat a few days later. Looking forward to such things brings out the wimp in me.

The biggest challenge will be to simply keep going enough hours each day, day after day, to complete the trip in just under six weeks. That’s how much time we’ve allotted before my wife, Subagh Kaur, meets me in Santa Barbara. I haven’t done hundred mile days in quite a while, years, in fact, but I’ll have to more or less do forty of them. What am I getting myself into?

Despite the doubts and fears, it is definitely time to renew vision, to get a deeper sense of who I am and how I might serve in the world. I’ve gotten stale these last few years and some laziness has crept in. It's time to get squarely back on the path. Hours and hours by myself, pedaling mile after mile, there will be plenty of time for contemplation and meditation. I intend to use this time to empty myself of everyday concerns and enter into the simple routines of meditating, pedaling, eating, and sleeping and the relatively still mind that should induce. Then I shall see what appears.