I have enjoyed playing a game I like to call “1000km per-day.” This game about from a trip where I drove 2,000 kilometres in two days. Since then I was hooked, as these endurance rides are as a form of active meditation. Yet just like any other meditation technique, you don’t instantly feel the benefits. It’s only after a certain period that you start noticing your feelings, thoughts, reactions, relationship with your surroundings change, get easier. Map couldn’t offer many choices where I could ride 1000 kilometers a day for longer period than a week. I decided to drive from where I live in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, to Vladivostok - the furthest point in Russia’s Far East before Japan.
11,000 kilometers in 14 days. Alone.
I started this trip in July 2016 with the idea of riding 11,000 kilometers in 12 days from Vilnius to Vladivostok. To reach the furthest point in Russia’s Far East, I knew I would have to ride hundreds of kilometers across Russia’s vast taiga. There would also be hours spent in Russia’s infamous traffic jams, as well as having to overcome endless birch tree forests and swamps.
In addition to having to navigate Russia itself, there was also a small issue of the weather. Russian summers are harsh. During the day, temperatures reach up to 40°C and drop into the minuses of a night. Then there were the mosquitoes, actually millions of them. Then there was that Siberian daily rain. However, despite everything, I finished the 11,000 kilometer trip in 14 days alone - no support crew.
For obvious reasons, I questioned whether it was sensible to travel across Russia. However, given that Lithuania and Russia have a shared history, most Lithuanians from their late-20s upwards are able to get along quite well in Russia. In general, Russia is not expensive. As for a budget traveler, cheap fuel and food were also a draw.
“Maybe the fact that Karolis was born in Druskininkai, a city that promotes healthy living, turn him into such a fearless and enduring person”
– Craig Campbell, “The Sunday Post”
Despite these crazy-sounding endurance rides, I have plenty of fears just like everyone else. Yet part of these journeys are an internal exploration and what happens when we confront these fears and push our selves outside of comfort zones. The difference with this trip is that most of us have never tried to sit in one place for 10 hours per-day for a number of days taking it as a practice.
The bike I used was a one-cylinder Yamaha XT660Z Tenere, not really made for such trips. It is always good to do silent sitting, as a spiritual practice, in our lives. In this case I merge this practice with riding a motorcycle and it takes more then 10 hours daily. I start from the senses, then go to emotions – I see joy, the roots of happiness, how everything is so real, how those feelings come and go etc. I have heard that people would be scared to run into such a “meditator” on a motorcycle. But I am not “out of it”, in general, I am very much here and now. My way of riding is to see where I am right now, where is my attention and to explore.
On the first days of the journey, after riding 500 kilometers per day, riding becomes meditative, later meditation doesn’t stop. Vilnius – Vladivostok, 11 000 kilometers, self-exploration trip.