Velopalooza rides a meditative new route
On the very last day of this year’s Velopalooza festival, two-wheeled coconspirators Carmen Mills and Sara Ross will pedal off on their free Bicycle Buddha Ride.
The group excursion, which takes place on July 2, promises to have a twist or two along the way.
Mills, an anti–Gateway Program activist and long-time blogger, explained to the Georgia Straight at the Union Food Market in Strathcona: “There is this huge variety of crazy rides that go out for Velopalooza. We’re going to be riding out at the exact same time as the Seven Deadly Sins ride, so we hope we can intersect with them at some opportune corners.”
Such is the fluid, organic nature of Velopalooza (which takes place from June 15 to July 2) that Mills and East Vancouver artist Ross (aka Red Sara) took it in stride, didn’t worry about rescheduling, and even took time to ponder which sin they might confront during their ride through East Vancouver, which starts at 1 p.m. from Mosaic Creek Park at Napier and Woodland streets and ends at about 5 p.m. at the same spot.
“Sloth, gluttony, desire—I don’t know,” Mills joked. “We’ll all take a rest when we hit sloth.”
According to the Velopalooza website, the ride seeks to “explore cycling as meditation” on a casual jaunt to some of East Vancouver’s Buddhist haunts. The pair went to great lengths to point out that the ride is entry-level, rather than being geared toward regular riders, and will not be overly strenuous.
Mills said she feels people are “seeking spiritual grounding to inform their practical actions” in life. Hence, in B.C. there are more than 100 “dharma” centres of various stripes, she added.
Mills said one confirmed stop on the ride is the Tilopa Kadampa Buddhist Centre (1829 Victoria Diversion). Another is the Yanviriya Temple Buddhist Society (2004 East Pender Street), which practises in the Thai Theravada tradition. Also on the route is the recently opened Mountain Rain Zendo at 2016 Wall Street. It was established for students of the Japanese Soto Zen tradition.
The Dharmalab, at 1814 Pandora Street between Commercial and Victoria drives, is a community space that was also created as a meditation space for peer-led students of Los Angeles teacher Noah Levine. Levine created the Dharma Punx movement, and Mills claimed the Dharmalab has a slightly more “secular” bent.
“In order to ride the path, you must become the path itself,” the ride description notes at the Velopalooza website.
Ride participants will get a “little introduction to the various traditions” by their hosts at each place, Mills added.
“It will be a cycling meditation, because cycling is inherently so meditative, and it brings you so close to the fresh reality that is around you, without any glass between you and the world,” Mills said. “Which is the connection between that and Buddhist philosophy. It’s about unmediated reality and really appreciating the immediacy of the moment.”
Ross, who lives in an “intentional community” rental house in East Vancouver in a cooperative environment, has taken part in Velopalooza rides before and belongs to the B:C:Clettes bicycle dance troupe.
“And I think it also connects with the breath, which is one of the common tools used in meditation—a focus on the breath,” Ross said of the Bicycle Buddha ride. “And in cycling, you’re breathing in and you’re breathing out. It’s what gets you there.”