Reflections and History

These posts reflect the generosity and gratefulness of the pilgrims who have shared the rides in the past few years.

Some historical Pilgrimage Flyers from Previous Years
[2017] [2016]   [2015]   [2014]   [2013]   [2012]   [2011]   [2010]   [2009]   [2008]   [2007]   [2006]   [2005]   [2004]   [2003]   [2002]

Diary across the year, sometimes more detail and sometimes less

2024. The year is underway with a vitalized Board (maxed out at 15 members) and an ambitious plan ahead.

2022-2023: The return of in-person gatherings. With COVID protocols in place, we continued the traditional pilgrimage route. We’ve learned from the experience the toll of executing a completely new route and are now focused on nurturing existing sangha relationships and tweaking the experience incrementally. Yes we’re interested in pilgrimages to new places, but not at the cost of the traditional event.

  • Monthly “Community Rides” around the Bay Area and areas north
  • WhatsApp channel for spontaneous rides
  • First visit to Stone Creek Zen Center in Graton, California
  • Rober Burns creates and offers our first riding jersey

2020-2021: The pandemic years. We created one-day pilgrimages entirely outdoors. The highlight was an incredible ride from Nicasio to Drake’s Beach on the Point Reyes peninsula with support from Dhammadharini monastery. We filled a picnic table with food offerings for Ayya Sobhana and a half dozen nuns visiting from Europe. The nuns wandered across the beach followed by a line of pilgrims. Ayya Sobhana settled atop a massive driftwood sticking out of the sand and gave a talk to a few dozen cyclists.

2019: We return to the “traditional” route.

2018. Here we go again. The17th pilgrimage DharmaWheels is only 12 weeks away, the Board of Directors is vitalized with 3 new people, and our plans are ahead of schedule. Highlights:

  • Julie DeHart coordinated the 2018 theme (to be announced soon)
  • Brian Kruse over-hauled the registration process (it’s live now)
  • Paul Ries secured camping reservations in Cloverdale
  • Phil Wiegand chartered a bus for return transportation. .

This bicycle pilgrimage began as a one-time event in 2002. Dennis Crean had an idea, took action, and a pilgrimage happened. That was it. Done.

Then a funny thing happened. Participants asked, “What about next year?” People stepped up, and a second pilgrimage happened. Year after year new-comers created new pilgrimages. They’d get a taste of one pilgrimage, they’d meet like-minded friends, and they’d step up to organize the next. For 17 years , this is how a one-time event repeats in an ever-changing kaleidiscope of participants, monasteries, monks, and nuns.

Behind the scenes is a Board of Directors. We are 8 people who meet year round to formulate a plan, take action, and make the next pilgrimage happen. What have we been up to over the last two year? Big experiments!

  • We found new routes, new teachers, new Board members, and new pilgrims.
  • We engaged with monks and nuns from Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, United Kingdom, Austria, and Thailand.

2017: Building on the momentum of 2017 we repeated the new route accompanied by Buddhist nuns from Vacaville to Placerville. We bicycled through Davis, across the Sacramento valley, and for miles along the American River with overnight camping in Folsom and stops at the American Buddhist Seminary, Dieu Nhan Monastery, and Aloka Vihara. This year we raised $3,000 dollars for projects at the monasteries. The Ride Coordinators were Autumn Bernstein and Peter Crimmin.

  • Autumn and Peter Crimmin become co-coordinators.
  • We tuned the new route, added food catering and acupuncture service, and cemented bonds with the teachers.
  • More than half of the pilgrims were first-time participants.

How does this pilgrimage happen year after year? One year at time. We rode north, then east, and now we’re riding north again. Anybody want to ride south? Be safe on the roads, and keep to the path, PeterC, 2018 Ride Coordinator

2016: After all these years of talking about putting together a new route, we were finally able to create one that ended at Aloka Vihara. It worked because of the determination of the Board members, coordinators, volunteers and of course our pilgrims.

  • Autumn Bernstein took the reigns of Ride Coordinator.
  • The Board determined to support the community of nuns at Aloka Vihara.
  • We scouted a new route, new stops, new campground, and new monasteries.
  • Our cheer? “To the Nuns!” 

The theme was “Continuous Practice” and we definitely “Continued” even though it was somewhat daunting in the beginning with a lot of doubts and confusion, complications, paperwork, finding rest stops, obtaining permits from the counties, having a campsite that turned out to have no kitchen…the list goes on.  But no one got lost (well, maybe lost in thought), we had great weather, smiles were everywhere and our community energy was heartfelt.  Our received donations were near $9,000 which will be distributed (after our expenses) to the monasteries and stops along the way.  We, the Board, hope to see you next year in 2017…and “May our coming here together be of benefit to all beings everywhere.”


Turning our Wheels for the Dharma v7

 (Posted: October 2, 2015) 

Well, the dust has settled (a little), everyone is home safe and – wonder of wonders! – it decided to rain. I think what this means is the 2015 Buddhist Bike Pilgrimage (the 14th annual!) is over. Thank you all so much for your wholehearted and spirited participation. Every one of you – even the ones who, for one reason or another had to sit this one out – gave their all to make it a memorable and rewarding experience for everyone.

Contentment and Gratitude fill the skies and cover the great Earth.

First and foremost, we’re grateful to the Buddhist centers that generously host and support this annual event. They are all actively engaged in spreading the Dharma in this land where the need is so great, and working unstintingly to relieve the suffering of all beings. What could be more worthy of praise and support? If you are able, now would be an excellent time to visit the Dana page and make a donation. This will ensure both that the costs of the Pilgrimage are completely covered and that more is left over to distribute to our hosts.

Even though it’s a year away, it’s not too soon to start thinking about next year’s Pilgrimage. Perhaps, you enjoyed riding or volunteering this year and it occurred to you that it might be fun to dig in a little deeper. We are always looking for people who wish to be Coordinators and if you think this might be you then please let us know. You can always change your mind, of course.

Finally, as Ride Coordinator I’ve tried my best for two years to carry forward this marvelous event. It has been a gift and an honor and I know that I’ve been unworthy of it. I’ve made so many mistakes that I can’t keep track of the ones I know about, not to mention the ones I’m not even aware of. I can only ask your forgiveness and understanding, and vow to do better.

10,000 thanks to all, Zachary, (Ride Coordinator)


 (Posted: November 21, 2014)

Greetings, 2014 Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrims!

How fitting that, in the week of Thanksgiving, we’re able to share such abundantly good news with you. Thanks to your gifts of in-kind and financial generosity, the 2014 BBP collected dana totaling $5000, after expenses.

The Dharmawheels Foundation is sending a $1,000 check to each of the five spiritual centers: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sae Taw Win II, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Aloka Vihara and Abhayagiri Monastery.*

Our spiritual theme of “Community” continues! It is a special sangha, indeed, when people, bikes and Dharma come together!!! THANK YOU for your support and participation in this event.

The DharmaWheels Foundation Board Members: Tracy Dellavalle, Hime Levine, Paul Ries, Zachary Smith, Lauren Van Ham


(Posted: October 3, 2014 after the BBP Ride)

I think it must be true that the future Buddha is somewhere, very ready … the Buddha will appear not as a person but as sangha, as community.  – Thich Nhat Hanh

 Greetings Pilgrims!

2014: How fitting that, in the week of Thanksgiving, we’re able to share such abundantly good news with you. Thanks to your gifts of in-kind and financial generosity, the 2014 BBP collected dana totaling $5000, after expenses.  The Dharmawheels Foundation is sending a $1,000 check to each of the five spiritual centers: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sae Taw Win II, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Aloka Vihara and Abhayagiri Monastery.*  Our spiritual theme of “Community” continues! It is a special sangha, indeed, when people, bikes and Dharma come together!!! THANK YOU for your support and participation in this event.

How has your week been?  It is our hope that you have felt the “life-line” of Community each day since we parted ways on Sunday; it has been SO sweet to read the tidbits a number of you have shared with your “reply all” messages this week.  :)  Each one of you helped to create another Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage – Volunteers, Riders, Coordinators, Monasteries, Board members and everyone else – and we made it safely, together.

Pilgrims, we hope you enjoyed the ride, the weather, the talks, the food, the support, the Dharma, the love, the generosity, the smiles, the hugs and everything else.

Cultivate Community…and, enjoy your magical gift of life.

Special thanks again to the 2014 team of Coordinators (and of course our Volunteers)

  • BBP Ride Coordinator:     Zachary Smith
  • Volunteer Coordinator:     Peter Crimmin
  • Kitchen Coordinator:     Kevin Kienast
  • RideShare Coordinator:      Phil Wiegand
  • Rest Stop Coordinator:     Scott Boaltinghouse
  • SAG/Sweep Coordinator:     David Harcos
  • Gear Truck Coordinator:     John Berry
  • Spiritual Theme Coordinator:     Dennis Crean
  • Check-In Coordinator:      Tracy Dellavalle

May these next months gift you with great riding!  We hope to see you on some of our training rides along the way!  Stay tuned! With love and a deep bow to each of you, The DharmaWheels Board

2017: Building on the momentum of 2017 we repeated the new route accompanied by Buddhist nuns from Vacaville to Placerville. We bicycled through Davis, across the Sacramento valley, and for miles along the American River with overnight camping in Folsom and stops at the American Buddhist Seminary, Dieu Nhan Monastery, and Aloka Vihara. This year we raised $3,000 dollars for projects at the monasteries. The Ride Coordinators were Autumn Bernstein and Peter Crimmin.

2016: After all these years of talking about putting together a new route, we were finally able to create one that ended at Aloka Vihara. It worked because of the determination of the Board members, coordinators, volunteers and of course our pilgrims.  The theme was “Continuous Practice” and we definitely “Continued” even though it was somewhat daunting in the beginning with a lot of doubts and confusion, complications, paperwork, finding rest stops, obtaining permits from the counties, having a campsite that turned out to have no kitchen…the list goes on.  But no one got lost (well, maybe lost in thought), we had great weather, smiles were everywhere and our community energy was heartfelt.  Our received donations were near $9,000 which will be distributed (after our expenses) to the monasteries and stops along the way.  We, the Board, hope to see you next year in 2017…and “May our coming here together be of benefit to all beings everywhere.”

2015: Well, the dust has settled (a little), everyone is home safe and – wonder of wonders! – it decided to rain. I think what this means is the 2015 Buddhist Bike Pilgrimage (the 14th annual!) is over. Thank you all so much for your wholehearted and spirited participation. Every one of you – even the ones who, for one reason or another had to sit this one out – gave their all to make it a memorable and rewarding experience for everyone.  Contentment and Gratitude fill the skies and cover the great Earth.

2014: How fitting that, in the week of Thanksgiving, we’re able to share such abundantly good news with you. Thanks to your gifts of in-kind and financial generosity, the 2014 BBP collected dana totaling $5000, after expenses.  The Dharmawheels Foundation is sending a $1,000 check to each of the five spiritual centers: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sae Taw Win II, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Aloka Vihara and Abhayagiri Monastery.*  Our spiritual theme of “Community” continues! It is a special sangha, indeed, when people, bikes and Dharma come together!!! THANK YOU for your support and participation in this event.


 (Posted: December 17, 2013 after the 2013 BBP Ride)

Greetings, 2013 Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrims!

2013: This year marked a new chapter for the Pilgrimage.  It would be the first time we were joined on the route by Bhikkhunis!  Newly ordained in October, 2012, Ayyas Anandabodhi and Santacitta joined the BBP, along with Sister Jayacita to provide the monastic presence and teachings along the route.  In her second year as Ride Coordinator, Lauren Van Ham partnered with Spiritual Theme Coordinator, Dennis Crean, to communicate the year’s teaching: Generosity.  The 2013 BBP reached a new height in its fundraising and divided contributions of just over $10k between the five spiritual centers. Pilgrims took the rain on Sunday morning in stride and gave generously, all weekend long, in the form of smiles, safety, and open-heartedness.How fitting that, just after Thanksgiving, I’m able to share such abundantly good news with you: this year’s BBP collected a greater sum of dana than in any years’ previous. Perhaps it was our theme and practice this year of Generosity that so buoyed our efforts? Thanks to your generosity, the 2013 BBP collected dana totaling $7500, after expenses.

What generosity, indeed! The Dharmawheels Foundation will be distributing this money to each of the five spiritual centers: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sae Taw Win II, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Aloka Vihara and Abhayagiri Monastery (Dharmawheels’ financial statements will be available to anyone, upon request at the end of the year).

As a member of the DharmaWheels Board, as this year’s Ride Coordinator, and as a fellow pilgrim with each one of you, I feel happy, grateful and strengthened by all that happens when people, bikes and Dharma come together!!! THANK YOU for your support and participation in this event.

The DharmaWheels Foundation Board Members: Tracy Dellavalle, Hime Levine, Paul Ries, Lauren Van Ham, Bill Weber & Franklyn Wu

2012 proved to be a challenging year in many ways with a lot of obstacles. Fortunately, Lauren Van Ham stepped up and volunteered to be our BBP Ride Coordinator along with 3 new board members which turned out to be a great team.  There were 2 days of inspiring dharma talks, an abundance of good food, perfect weather, fantastic volunteers, respectful riders, a lot of smiles, and inspiring community.

2010 and 2011: Matt Trojnar was the ride coordinator which was a success in both years. We added two different stops, one of which was at the organic Middleton Farm owned and operated by a charming elderly lady.

2009: Michael Nellany, Eileen Spillane, were the ride coordinators. Michael rode the BBP for the past 4 years and was moved by the 2008 event to lead the 2009 BBP.

2008: Eileen Spillane, Megan Hagler, Franklyn Wu and Rinaldi were the ride coordinators. Eileen rode the 2004 BBP, Megan rode the past two BBPs and Franklyn has been a BBP rider since the beginning. Megan Franklyn and Rinaldi practice at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery.

2007: Dennis Crean and Jim Brown were the 2007 ride coordinators. As noted above, the BBP was hatched by Dennis in 2002 and he was the first coordinator. Jim Brown has been on the organizing committee since the ride’s inception. Among Jim’s many contributions has been that of one of the food organizors throughout. In 2007, Sae Taw Win was added as a host destination. The 2007 BBP donated $4,500 to our four hosts cultivation centers.

2006 Judi Garland, Jane Demartini and Leon Sun were the 2006 coordinators. Both Jane and Leon were BPP ride veterans and have helped organize the ride for many years, including Jane as the veteran carpool coordinator and Leon’s doing the training program for the 2004 BBP.

2005: Judi Garland was the 2005 ride coordinator. Judi rode the first BBP. She provided sag for the 2nd BBP when injuries prevented her riding.

2004: Matt Wathen was the 2004 ride coordinator. Matt rode both the 2002 and 2003 rides, and was the BBP treasurer in 2003.

In 2003, Dennis passed the reins to a new organizer, Corry Wagner. Because of her positive experience on the 2002 pilgrimage as both a rider and volunteer, Corry wanted to keep the event rolling. Others joined her on the planning committee. Dharma Wheels Foundation, a non-profit corporation organized and run entirely by volunteers, was formed to carry on the event and to bring together the community.
The 2003 event was organized in the same spirit as the first Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage; a community event, organized on a volunteer basis, ridden and supported by spiritual seekers looking to bring practice into all aspects of their lives. Thanks again to the generosity of the ride’s pariticpants and supporters, the 2003 BBP donated nearly $2,800 to our three hosts: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the City of 10,000 Buddhas and Abhayagiri Monastery.