The sound of a whirring chain is heard beyond the din of the hot Mumuku winds. These Hawaiian winds blow over from the town of Waimea on a course to reach the coast below Kawaihae, a town on the Big Island of Hawaii. The daily direction of the wind is over the lava on the lower slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano however on this day this ancient flow is interrupted by over twelve-hundred warriors on bikes.
My immediate attention was the focus of a 3-inch wide white line roadway boundary tied like a ribbon along the black asphalt surface of the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway, often called the ‘Queen K’. If I would dare to turn my head for the briefest moment I would see a landscape that was rocky, malformed and desolate, making the surface of the moon look like an oasis. The view of the rocky, barren landscape could only be a glimpse as the focus and attention immediately returned to the white line along the black surface. Yet the relentless wind continued its endless swirl amidst the presence of this tri-athlete’s body, sitting on a saddle, hands on handlebar, and nothing else going through the mind except the awareness of the legs pumping, the feet on the pedals…push-spin-pull… breathe in, breathe out… push-spin-pull…breathe in, breathe out.
Little did I know that my first active meditation practice was introduced to me at that time while riding along that sun-baked road. During the ride my focus was to have the front wheel of the bike centered within the 3 inch wide white-line roadway boundary. The process required a relaxed body, a quiet mind and steady breathing while maintaining an awareness of what was happening around me in the immediate surroundings. The practice soon developed to lift my head for a moment to view the road ahead only to return to the practice of riding in the center of the white-line highway boundary.
This practice continued along the entire bike course until reaching the hill climb leading to the turn-around point at the town of Hawi. Greeted by a sense of re-assurance and confidence the benefits of this white-line focus were present on the return journey to the bike-run transition area as the marathon commenced…it was the beginning of a new ride. Little did I know at the time that the greatest transition in my life would soon be present. It was a marathon journey that continues to this day.
This single-pointed focus was a meditation that evolved into a practice of personal and spiritual awareness later in life. It is a dormant presence in every athlete, in every person, and is the ultimate choice of the life-long journey.
You have no choice…now choose.