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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Countdown Begins, 22 days...


Only 22 days until I begin my 26 hour journey from Newark to Bangkok. Things have been coming along well. I am making all of the final adjustments to my bike and getting it dialed in for the rough terrain of SE Asia.

I met with the Berkshire Eagle lastweek and told them all about my mission and my journey, so keep an eye out for my story!!

Loaded my panniers up and hit the road for the maiden voyage on my newly renovated touring bike. I climbed up Taconic and headed out to Alford and rode the loop, the bike was riding perfectly and everything was good. I did the Alford loop and was flying back down Taconic jamming out to The Red Hot Chili Peppers when all of sudden I was laying semi unconscious with all the wind knocked out of me on the ground. I couldn't get up, my bike was 15
feet in front of me, all 4 of my pannier bags were in the road, cars in both lanes were stopped. I stumbled to my bike and dragged it to the side of the road kneeling down with my cheek resting on the top tube. Confused and disoriented I saw a woman get our of her car to help me. I gathered all of my bags from the middle of the road and when the adrenaline wore off I checked my body for broken bones. Thank god I thought, nothing was broken, except my helmet from landing on my head. It all happened so fast and I didn't see it coming. I must have hit a huge pothole and from all the weight in my bags the bike stopped dead and threw me over my handlebars, the bike landed on top of me and then went skidding down the road. I haven't crashed all season on my road bike, I was due for a good crashing! Glad I got that out of the way before the trip!!!! Learned my lesson to be more mindful and alert and also not go full speed down steep hills on the touring bike.

I am trying to get in as much hiking and Berkshire-ish type activities. The knowledge of leaving soon is really allowing me to take it in and enjoy the beauty we have right here in our backyard. I took my new camera and went to the falls in Falls Village Ct, the water was super high and the negative ions from the water were in the air, it was beautiful!



Heres a shot of the tent I am bringing with me with my bike in it. The tent is a Mountain Ghisall, designed specifically for bicycle touring. When it's zipped up you can't see me or any of my gear, it is completely hidden along with my bike!!! Pretty sweet tent..


Here is the butterfly I painted in Fundamentals of Painting class this week!!


That is all for now. I hope all is well with everyone and my going away party is this coming Friday at the Gypsy Joynt at 830 PM, hope to see you all there!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gratitude


Went for a little hike this morning and felt inspired to make my first official video blog.
I am truly grateful for all of the people and opportunities in my life.

The practices of giving back, selflessness, compassion, and humility have become more and more important in my life over the last year and I know that I am going to learn so much about myself on this trip.
video


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bittersweet



Its funny how life works out sometimes. Everything seems to be falling into place beautifully and then all of a sudden life hands you an ice cold bitch slap. At least that had been my experience this past week.

All of the planning for this trip was coming together so smoothly with all the hard work I have been putting into this. I had been working tirelessly on creating contracts for the independent studies I was creating, countless meetings at BCC's main campus
in Pittsfield with different administrators to create a game plan. After a few drafts on each of the 3 Independent studies an
d tri-weekly meetings for over a month I got my 3 sponsors and 3 heads of each of the departments to sign off on them. I was beaming with happiness as I
left campus to go for a mountain bike ride. At this point everything was perfect, I had all the gear I needed for this trip I had all my academics figured out and I was going mountain biking, life couldn't get any better. So just a few days ago on the 23rd I got a call from one of my sponsors, she told me the Dean would not sign off on the contracts. The last month and a half of work that went into this was for nothing, at first I was pissed and felt very lost, everything I had worked on had gone into the trash with one person's say so. After a lot of thinking and some meditation I realized that this bitch slap life gave me was actually a blessing in disguise. The amount of work I had created for myself on this trip was going to hinder my traveling experience, it was going to be 3 months of living in one spot and conducting micro-studies and research on education, nutrition and migration. Now I am signed up for 2 online classes that I can do while on the move throughout the country and have much more time to travel and get to know and help villagers.

I spent a day last week hitting up all the local businesses in downtown Great Barrington for donations to raffle off at my party. I kind of feel like a tool bag going into a business and pitching some lame "help my cause" gimmick. After doing it a few times I was awed at how many people are willing to help out. Almost every business I went into on Main and Railroad street gave a donation of something. I think that says a lot about local business and the awesome community we have here in the Berkshires. Now I have all of this cool stuff and lots of gift certificates to raffle off next month at the party which is Dec 17th at the Gypsy Joynt at 8pm. I hope to see all of you there!! Adam Post and Rob Sanzone will be performing live.

The day before Thanksgiving was my 26th birthday, I know! I'm getting old. I'll be 30 in 4 years! It was a really awesome day. I never make a big deal out of my birthday, it's just another day to me so I went for a mountain bike ride early in the morning like I would any other day then I headed home to my parents house in central MA. My mom made me some special gluten free pasta with buffalo meat sauce and a gluten free cake! MMmmmm. My family thinks I am so weird, that's what living in the Berkshires and practicing yoga does to you. I spent the day with family and went to my grandparents house to clean out their gutters on the roof. I couldn't think of any better way to spend my 26th birthday. I don't know why people go out and get hammered on their birthdays, it was so nice to see the family that I rarely get to spend time with.

Thanksgiving morning my brother and I have a tradition of going for a 3 or 4 hour mountainbike ride early in the morning to jump start our metabolisms for a marathon day of eating delicious food. My brother broke his collar bone riding his bike about a month ago so mountainbiking was out of the question, we went for a frosty cold road ride after we put the turkey in the oven. Neither one of us knew what we were doing and had never cooked a turkey before. The family showed up around noon at my brothers place in Amherst and we had a really nice day of family, board games, laughs, and great food.
A good friend told me in a text message that you don't have to understand your family to love them and that I already knew that which I did but it was really nice to hear it again. I have a built in forgetter in my mind. It was just so nice to spend time with them before I embark on this journey. I feel that I don't fit in with my family a lot of the time. I am definitely a "special" guy hahahahaha. It's really beautiful how much my life has changed in the last 5 years since I moved to the Berkshires. When I tell
people around here that I'm a disabled Iraq war veteran they usually could not have guessed that.

A couple weeks ago I did an interview with the Institute of Extraordinary Living at Kripalu. IEL is a program Kripalu has that conducts research on the effects of yoga on war veterans that have PTSD and I agreed to meet and talk with them. I got there and wasn't expecting a whole professional set up. there were all these lighting sets and a big professional video camera with this big fluffy microphone thing right in front of the chair I had to sit on. There was one woman interviewing me and another man on the camera, it was kind of intimidating because I had never been interviewed like this before. I began to tell them all about my experience in Iraq and the different traumatic things I experienced while there and then told them all about how yoga, mindfulness, and cycling have completely and utterly transformed every aspect of my life. After the interview they had me do my own yoga practice while they took still photos. I have never been photographed while doing yoga before and it felt kind of weird having someone clicking away while I am doing chaturangas. Anyways it was definitely an experience and I had never had professional photos taken of me, I just got the copies yesterday so I am including some pictures of me practicing.

That is all for now, life has been really great and busy. On top of all this stuff I am taking 5 classes at school and I have insanely busy trying to keep up and do well on quizzes and tests.

I hope you are all well and I will be posting again in the next couple weeks.
Love and Light,

Tim

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preperation


Hello all, its been about a month since I created my main blog. I wanted to leave it up for a while so that I could tell people to visit it if they wanted more information about my trip. I can now start updating my blog on a regular basis because I have a main website now thanks to Kelly Collins!! She has donated her time and energy like so many other people have. The website is www.swiftyrides.com check it out! Its still under construction and will be finished at some point. Thank you so much Kelly, you are truly awesome!

So I have been working on so much over the last month. This trip is transforming every day. I am now taking on 3 separate independent studies for school. I will be doing them on nutrition, education and migration. I had NO idea how much work this was going to be. Countless drafts of writing contracts and endless meetings with sponsors and heads of departments at BCC. They have all been very encouraging and passionate about this project.



Imagine your heart pumping, your lungs gasping for air, your legs feeling like they're going to explode, mud, sweat,tears and blood flying in every direction. I did my first cyclocross race ever 2 weeks ago in Northampton, it was an incredible amount of fun. There were 150 guys in my race and I was 138 on the starting line. I made my way up to the top 20 by the second lap and my legs were feeling pretty good. I saw a great opportunity to pass a group of guys, I stood up and started sprinting as fast as I could and SNAP, my rear derailer broke in half and I lost my footing, flying forward and slamming my knees into my handlebars. The race was over for me. It was all good cause I got to hang out and chill with my brother Jeremy who I never get to see and cheer on my good buddy Rob.


I am trying to get in as many miles as I can on the mountain and road bike before I take off on this trip. I will be traveling thousands of miles across southeast Asia and I need to make sure I'm in good shape.

I am throwing a big party next month on Dec. 17th at the Gypsy Joynt, 8:30pm. Rob Sanzone and Adam Post will be performing live and we will have a big raffle with tons of awesome stuff from local businesses and artists. Tell all your friends and family to come out and support this great cause.

My good friend Marc and
I went on a beautiful ride this past Saturday and it was absolutely epic, fantastic, beautiful, warm November day. Here are a couple pics from our ride


















This is my last week with my loyal pet Sven, I will miss you buddy.
He is relocating to a Muddy Brook elementary school classroom where he will get all the love he needs. I have had Sven for 4 years and I will miss him for sure

Friday, October 8, 2010

And so it begins!



I have always wanted to do something extraordinary with my life. As a child my parents taught me the importance of giving back and following my dreams. When I was a teenager I began to search for a purpose in life, which led me to the military. I deployed to Iraq when I was 19. I learned alot about myself and what is truly important to me. I saw the true nature of modern warfare and the endemic corruption that follows. I was a terrified kid caught in the middle of a war that I didn't truly believe. Following Iraq and my tour of duty in the military I have since joined the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War. (IVAW). http://www.ivaw.org/ As a member of this organization I try to contribute to the end of global conflict but on a personal level I want to find a way to do what I can to help reduce the collateral damage of war.

Soon I will be embarking on my second big traveling adventure, although this time people will not be trying to kill me (I hope!). I am so excited about this opportunity of a lifetime. The thought of this trip originated as a desire to hop on a plane and just simply travel. After researching possibilities based upon my budget and my desire to explore spiritual practices, I decided on south east Asia as my destination. Not wishing to be the variety of traveler who simply hangs out poolside, I started to do some research into Non Government Organizations (NGO's), meditation centers, monasteries, and other aid organizations in Cambodia.

Now as most of you know I am a fanatical cyclist. I have ridden over 5,000 miles this year alone. My wish is to incorporate my love for cycling into this trip and "do good" while I'm there. My mode of transportation while venturing through cambodia will be by bicycle. During the course of my research, I have come in contact with a man named Charles DiBella, who does something I think is really extraordinary. He's been living and bicycle touring in Cambodia for four years; sponsoring children towards their goals of achieving higher education. www.bikepaths.org He is a pretty awesome guy.

Charles has been invaluable by answering all of my questions about riding a bicycle and living on the fly in SE Asia. I quickly realized that I could turn this into a "save the world" (or at least a few children) trip. An idea that was originally something pretty self-involved, is turning into a project that has some spiritual depth, and weight. This is where this blog comes in, because I can't do this alone. I am asking for your help.

As I am traveling, my goal is to identify communities where I can be of the most service. What I have learned from my research, is that these kids really need technology. I plan on mentoring and sponsoring high school age kids that have a good foundation in english. With technology they can become self reliant and create a revenue stream that can help supplement their continued higher education. Using Charles as an inspiration my plan is to work closely with educators in these communities, matching students with the necessary technology to achieve their educational goals.This organization is amazing and their video will give you an idea of what it's like in Cambodia. http://jointhepowerof10.org/

My plan is to leave early January and spend anywhere from 3-6 months (maybe more!) I will arrive in Bangkok on January 5th and stay with a friend. After the jet lag wears off I will set off on my bike and make my way across the Cambodian border. I will sleep in monasteries nd villages as I make my way to the city of Siem Reap where I have connected with some students over the internet in the past few weeks.

Due to the educational nature of this trip I have partially funded it by student loans. I need donations to fund the altruistic aspect of this project; specifically children in need. These kids I sponsor will need laptops, digital cameras, etc. I am going to teach them how to set up websites and document their lives, and help them share their stories with the world through social media and networking. I need support from all of you. Anything you can donate will be greatly appreciated. Our outdated technology is more than useful for their needs. Support me and watch this blog as I travel the world and do what I can. First and foremost, monetary donations will be most helpful so that I can purchase items when I get to Bangkok and Cambodia. I am also looking for any used electronics such as digital cameras, USB storage devices, and even laptops. Due to my traveling by bicycle for this whole trip, I need to travel light, so smaller items would be ideal. Any of your old outdated stuff can be super useful, especially for these developing countries. You can contact me at timdurrin@hotmail.com call or text me to arrange for a meet-up if you want to donate used electronics. 860-248-0889

Please click donate at the bottom of the page.

l want to thank all of the amazing people that have been a part of my life for helping me progress as a person and helping me get where I am today as well as wherever this crazy adventure will take me.

Love and Light
Tim.