> about the ümabomber

Velo Devi \’vel-oh \ noun.
ve·lo 1. abbreviation for velocipede; of or pertaining to the bicycle.
de·vi 1. Sanskrit term for ‘goddess’

I’m named after a Hindu goddess who’s charged with the herculean task of balancing heaven and earth. In my own life that translates into being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll (or more like a little bit classical and a lotta punk rock). I’m a recovering yoga teacher. Now I prefer to get my zen on by racing mountain bikes and climbing rocks. I’m a writer; I write for money, to pay the bills. I also write for love. I love to write. I also love bourbon, bikes, boys, beer, and books (not necessarily in that order) and that’s just the Bs. I can cuss, shoot and spit like a cowboy, but I’ve got the elegance and grace of a dancer and the soul of an artist; think Mae West on a singlespeed 29er. They call me The Ümabomber—a nod to my love of “bombing” downhill on my bike. In my past lives I’ve been a singer in a funk band, a bike messenger in New York, a stagehand on off-off-Broadway, and a gogo dancer. I’m currently accepting freelance writing assignments, while I continue work on my next book—a real-life survivor story about overcoming impossible odds—and being “saved by bike”.

My name is Üma. The umlaut is silent.


I am a creative professional by day. When I’m not writing, I’m working as a designer and when I’m not doing either of those things I’m usually riding my bike. Now and then I race bikes, too. A bike-meets-car accident a few years back created some lasting challenges for me, and significant limitations, but my heart powers my rides when my legs fail.

Also, my singlespeed makes me do it.

To my mind, meditation is yoga is rock climbing is mountain biking. The external appearances differ, but each offers very similar internal challenges and opportunities to transform suffering into grace and experience the indomitable human spirit and the very heart of joy.

I started blogging a few years ago as a way of explaining to my yoga students that “real yoga” (not the exercises, but the psychological state and applied philosophy of yoga) isn’t bound to sticky mats, ashrams and meditation pillows. Throwing down in the local criterium, masterful arm balances, rocky descents, gnarly powder and tough cruxes can all bring us to a state of heightened consciousness. In other words, flow is where you find it.

I’m taking a sabbatical from teaching yoga now to focus on writing full-time, but I still get my “yoga” on, personally. I find it on my mountain bike, while writing, reading poetry, sipping a fine wine, or countless other pursuits. I make no claims of being enlightened, but I have seen glimpses of something bigger. Something sublime. It is my hope to drop in and ride full-tilt boogie into the future, as long as I live. I have every intention of arriving in my grave thoroughly spent, happy as a clam, and sporting a huge grin.

I hope you do too. Make it a good ride!



  1. velodevi

    Mel: Happy my little ne’er do well blog can do you well. Inspiration, passion, direction are wherever you find it. And like they say… If you’re reading about it, you ain’t doing it. Find a bike shop, get your bike a fresh saddle, and ride! You just gave me the idea for my memoir title: Confessions of a Mediocrity. I’ll probably never write it, because I’m only mediocre, but I’m having a great time being so. Cheers!

  2. Mel

    I was looking around my backyard a few minutes ago and noticed that the seat on my old Schwinn 10-speed was starting to rot. Made me sad that I left it out all winter and sad that I don’t remember the last time I rode it.

    Then I came in the house to work on a project for my boss and was just searching the internet for the use of the word “Mediocritites.” And, there was your blog covering both bikes and mediocrities. Coincidence?

    I’ve been thinking for a long time that I’m really not doing as much as I can. Not putting as much as I could into my job and putting a lot less than that into taking care of myself.

    You’ve given me direction, all I have to do is act.


  3. Uma:

    Send me an email would you? Love your blog.

    Editor at Wend

  4. Hey Uma,

    as a current visitor to your utterly inspiring blog, it was you who came to my mind first, when I started doubting my planning of a US-cycling tour in April 2010. After I browsed up and down the internet, I came to the conclusion, that Miami-Maine (as a route) is neither existing, nor safe, since there is no set up biking trail for bike-trekkers, yet.

    (source: http://www.allbusiness.com/sports-recreation/sports-games-outdoor-recreation-cycling/13486595-1.html)

    Do you maybe have different information? Would you rather suggest a west coast tour than an east coast tour (although I’d love to see some of the New England States)? Or would you choose the “road less travelled by”?

    Although you don’t seem to be so much into trekking or road cycling, I’d appreciate your opinion.

    Thanks already.
    Cheers from fellow biker, climber and life-hugger from Germany,


  5. skyguy

    Thanks for the reminder of how important getting that stoke is for mental happiness. There is nothing else like it. Cheers for the inspiration.

  6. velodevi

    Jacquie! Any chance you are heading up this way for SSCCXWC 09?

  7. jacquiephelan

    THANK you for the link, m’dear!!
    Til we meet.
    The original Cow belle
    the old bat,
    the filthy mudwoman

  8. hey UMA very nice blog i just love it. keep on the great path of light and thank you for the energy brought out with this blog! thank you.

  9. Whats happening,
    It was cool to see you out on our trail
    “Ol’ Dirty Pirate”. I hope we weren’t to stupid in our ramblings; as it had been a super long day of building trail features. How was your group night ride?
    Good I hope. Good luck in the Picketts race tomarrow!
    Hopefully we’ll see ya on the trails again sometime.

    Nick Braun, COTA Freeride Coordinator

  10. velodevi

    Matt: Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I just missed this comment!
    You are a New Yorker, are you not? I would recommend trying a bunch of different classes at different studios. Just sample them, until you find one you like, and then do it. Twice a week will show results in a few weeks. Once a week… Not so much. I’d start there. Every studio has their own vibe and culture, and every teacher has a unique approach, so it’s important to find one that works. I’m a no-bullshit, straight shooter and I have no patience for the touchy feelie stuff AT ALL. Some people like that sort of thing. Ashtanga yoga is a really great form that utilize the same poses every single time, without deviation, so if you like routine and familiarity I’d seek that. Ashtanga is not an easy practice. It’s effin’ hard. But the rewards are commensurate with the effort. Mysore style is where it’s at. Let me know if I can be more helpful. (I do plan to expand my website http://www.umakleppinger.com soon to include podcasts and video downloads, so check back this summer…) More cowbell. Uma

  11. huh. it’s often I read htatbl. it’s not often that I come across a page of this magnitude. To someone who stirs up my wanderlust like you do. I’ve never had a successful anything career, but all the same you make me want to trade this (SF) struggle for a little town and miles of singletrack meditation day in and day out.

    thanks. I think.

  12. Von Meow


  13. Totally dig the “real yoga” attitude. I also really appreciate the way that non-traditional activities (like cycling) can complement a martial art practice.

    I’m glad Ninkasi decided to sponsor you, not sure you would have hit my radar otherwise. Keep up the hard work, and continue enjoying yourself!

  14. matt suede

    even at 39 i’m not immune to using the word “rad”. you, i don’t know, but your blog and the words in your blog make me want to know how i can take a class or two. i’m an everyday cyclist for the past 8 years but not a racer… and my body and mind suffer from lack of limbracity.

  15. Hello Uma. I am glad you have pointed me here. I feel like this is going to be a great read. More F-bomb please…

  16. Stevil

    You had me at ‘sticky mats’ and ‘meditation pillows’.

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