I hope this letter finds you well.
This year I set a goal for myself to not ride indoors (besides, does one actually ride indoors?). I told myself that I’d be a hard man, unafraid of snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Weather-be-damned, I would exceed last year’s total mileage. Today, however, I almost caved in.
Bundled-up in enough layers to make me look like the Michelin Man, I ventured into the garage in search of my turbo trainer. After rummaging around for a few minutes, I finally found it behind a box of Christmas decorations. Looking at the dust-covered trainer I tried to remember when I used it last. Doing the mental arithmetic, I realized that I hadn’t ridden the trainer once in the 13 years I’ve lived in Colorado. After a few moments of introspection, I placed the trainer behind the cardboard box where it had spent the previous 13 years.
Trainer. It’s a strange word. I gave up racing long ago, so it’s not like I’m training for an actual competitive event. I ride for utility and sheer enjoyment. If it takes me a few minutes longer to get to work, well, so be it. And if my Strava ranking drops from 942 to 943 for the Demoralizer segment, I’m OK with that, too. I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.*
*A Zen Proverb About Bicycling
A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and dismounted their bicycles, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”
The first student said, “It is the bicycle that is carrying the sack of potatoes. I am glad that my back has escaped the pain of bearing the weight.”
The teacher was glad and said, “You are a smart boy. When you become old you will be saved of a hunch back unlike me.”
The second student had a different answer. “I love to have my eyes over the trees and the sprawling fields as I go riding,” he said. The teacher commented, “You have your eyes open and you see the world.”
The third student came up with yet a different answer and said, “When I ride I am content to chant ‘nam myoho renge kyo.’”
The teacher spoke these words of appreciation, “Your mind will roll with ease like a newly trued wheel.”
The fourth student said, “Riding my bicycle I live in perfect harmony of things.” The pleased teacher said, “You are actually riding the golden path of non-harming or non-violence.”
The fifth student said, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.”
The teacher walked up to him and sat at his feet and said, “I am your disciple!”