Have to say I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the upcoming bikepacking trip. Not sure why, I’ve done many thousands of kilometres in the past, maybe it’s a feeling of it being pointless, like I have nothing further to prove with regard to ability to do long distances and so it’s no longer a challenge. Maybe doing the Nullarbor would be, but that’s just a question of planning and being able to do 200 kilometres a day, which on the flat is not as difficult as it sounds. Decidedly on the list.
Maybe the point of long-distance bike riding is in the fact that it’s meaningless. You start somewhere at some point in time and from there you move towards your destination, which could be where you started; A to A can involve a long bicycle ride around a continent or even the planet. Day to day you cannot know what challenges you will face, flat tyres, mechanical failures, steep climbs that appear endless, bad road surface, heat and rain, nowhere to camp, a very sore backside… But there are also those good moments such as stopping to admire a glorious landscape, people you meet, fun downhills, the sense of total freedom, and noticeable improvements to your body, and your mental state.
It’s without ‘meaning’, just like life where your point of departure is a maternity ward, if you’re lucky enough, and your destination is death. In between is existing day by day with all its pain and joy, the purpose is to live for others and as perfectly as possible for a being that is as good as it is bad, but has the freewill to decide between the two, and can expect to make a wrong choice, in some small way at least, everyday. On a bicycle you keep peddling, not looking up searching for the top of that hill you are climbing, you are entirely in the present moment, pain is part of the experience, but not suffering because that is a choice.
Alone on the road, you can reflect and maybe find something in Miyamoto Musashi’s (1584 – 1645) “Dokkodo” or “The Way of Aloneness” that speaks to you in 2022.
1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the way.