Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hazon CaRide

Hazon's first California Bike Ride was such a unique compilation of people, geography, weather, experiences, emotions, and challenges....

We had a beautiful Shabbaton. My spiritual samplings included traditional Kabbalat Shabbat singing, Qi Gong, chanting, Frisbee, and a meditation hike in the forest.

As for the ride, words can't capture its breadth or depth. I had the honor of starting us off with a few blasts of shofar. For a group dedicated to saving the environment, Mother Nature wasn’t all that kind in return. We started off in rain Sunday morning, which fortunately gave way to cool sunny skies later as we progressed through hillsides and farmlands, along the coast, passing many sheep and cows, a few llama, an egret, and just before finishing the day a wild turkey even ran right across the road before me. I decided that was a good omen.

Monday was a more eclectic experience, and fraught with considerable peril. We had a mixture of rural, suburban, and very urban roads. The weather was less cooperative than the day before, with much cold rain and gusty winds penetrating every pore, making both climbs and ascents a challenge. Unlike Sunday where it was a simple route and I happily pedaled unaccompanied through most of the open landscape, on the second day the route may have been a bit too complex, and had it not been for the good fortune of linking up with some very perceptive fellow cyclists I surely would have lost my way. The scenery was captivating initially, a bit pedestrian through the Marin towns, and then typically splendid as we made it through Sausalito on our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Not everyone made it to the bridge. Fewer still made it across. I was one of the “lucky” ones who somehow got there on schedule. Stragglers had to be bussed to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in order to complete our events on time. A small band of us made our way to the pedestrian walkway facing the northbound traffic. The bicycle lane on the other side was closed. The wind was fierce. The rain felt like ice pellets hitting the side of my face. [Later I learned it was indeed hail.] Still, I really wouldn’t have missed this for the world!!!

There continued to be some confusion about the route once we crossed. I thought a bunch of us was headed in the same direction but pretty soon I was on my own again, but at least in familiar territory. Pedaling along the Embarcadero’s cobblestones and railroad tracks would have been sufficiently challenging without the continuing rain. Probably a mile from the goal my bicycle suddenly went out from under me. My helmet did its job as I fell to my right and lay stunned on the pavement. Very kind people stopped their car behind me to protect me as I slowly regained some sense of composure (I did not lose consciousness). I got to my feet, checked for damage, and somewhat gingerly completed the ride to the museum. Once there I was further blessed by the kindness of our docs and other volunteers who gave me warm dry clothing, and by a friend who provided a most welcome bowl of hot chicken soup.

The weekend was everything from agony to bliss, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it—well maybe the fall. As the oldest rider among many twenty-and thirty-somethings I feel I still had lessons to learn about perseverance, about recognizing the many forms of beauty life offers, about accepting love and blessings in many forms. It was a miracle that I finished.

On this adventure I felt as I did on my first Hazon bike ride in the Negev in 2008. I could be alone, dependant on my own strength and will, able to meditate on the emptiness of the road and landscape that surrounded me, and at the same time comforted that I was part of something larger—a community who provided love and support, all of us in a larger community supported by an even greater unending love.

Baruch haShem.

Learn more about Hazon’s good works and future events at Hazon.org.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a mix of everything, and a great achievement! Looking forward to hearing more about it, hopefully on a future Israel ride.