Month: June 2014

Dion’s 10 Challenges You Will Face While Biking

Hello folks I hope this weeks blog post finds you well. Last weeks article was suppose to be in regards to the challenges of biking thus far, but it was postponed till this week. So without further a due here is Dion’s 10 Challenges You Will Face While Biking:

#1 – Finding a bike that meets your biking needs:

This is of paramount importance. For instance when I started my trip I was on a Leader that was a solid bike for commuting, but did not cut it for touring. The added weight created significant speed wobbles that felt like my bike was struck with an abrupt onset of parkinson’s disease. In contrast the Miyata is very stable up to 72kms an hour which is my top speed thus far.

I would suggest anyone interested in riding do your research and buy a bike appropriate for the type of riding you will be doing. For long distance tours I would suggest finding a nice moutainbike/roadbike hybrid. So you can ride both road and trails effectively. A devoted roadbike like mine is a dream on any road or compact dirt, however on trails or gravels it feels like using sand as a sexual lubricant, needlessly painful, brutally uncomfortable and teeth chattering.

Also make sure the bike is the right size for you. My frame is 23 inches, which like many things is one inch shorter than ideal. After 1000kms of riding I was having back and shoulder cramps so in Penticton I purchased a stem adapter that effectively increased the size of my frame and ensured a much more comfortable and enjoyable ride.

tinybike

(“I spent all my cash on my sweet biker attire, so this bike was all I could afford…” Don’t let this be you!)

#2 – Eat right

This is a huge challenge for biking and if you have allergies or other dietary needs (vegan or vegetarian) it is even more challenging. Normally people need around 2000 calories a day, while biking 6-10 hours a day this requirement will go up, significantly! However if you put 5000 calories of Doritos, McDonalds and 7-11 Splurpees, you will feel shitty and quickly. (And speaking of shit I do not want to know what your stool would consist of with the above diet :S).

matt-sick-final

(“The 15 Mars bars I ate have the 4000 calories I needed, so why do I feel like this…”)

For instance I was buying Rogers granola which my friend Bryan aplty describes as sugar they market as “granola”. While eating this garbage I would get headaches and feel really drained, but because of being so active I would need calories so I would gobble it down, not a good combination.

Currently I eat a lot of Adams peanut butter it has 100 calories in 16 grams, as a pescatarian (vegetarian that eats fish) I have found nothing else has the same price performance. I supplement this with honey, unsweetened bags of porridge, bananas and whatever fruit juice is on sale. If you have the budget Cliff bars are great.

#3 – Drinking enough water

You pretty much can never drink enough water, unless of course you are at one of those frats that have initiation ceremonies where people literally have died from drinking too much water (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill/).

As a biker however you will need a lot of water before biking, during biking and after biking. I suggest at least 3 mount points for water bottles and I personally try to have 2-3 liters of water.

homelesguybottles

(Something like this)

I ran out of water one time while climbing Anarchist summit and it was a terrifying experience, there were no fill points and I quickly began to feel a sense of dread. I even flagged a park ranger down and he fortunately had an extra 500ml of water that was just enough to get me to another fill point. Water drink it, lots of it!

#4 – Bike seat

Like the bike frame this is vital to the success of a tour. If you have welts on your butt and your glutes begin seize, biking will be impossible. Make sure you have an appropriate seat for you butt. Girls because you have to push humans out of your nether regions, nature has given you wider sit bones so purchase a seat accordingly. Guys narrow ones are better and both genders this should be a no brainer but don’t put weight on your genitalia.

seatless

(If you have a bad seat it will quickly feel like you are riding a bike like this)

I also suggest finding a leather seat that is the appropriate size for you. I managed to salvage one that was neglected and it has made my riding so much better. I received this advice from a number of long distant tourers. The morality of using an animal skin for your sitting pleasure may be challenging, but their lovely thick hide will shape itself so that it becomes a hammock for your bum. If I use my regular bike seat I can ride for 4 hours before my butt starts to cramp, with my leather one I can ride 8-10 hours.

#5 – Grip positions

I have 5 different grip positions on my bars now and I rotate between then constantly. I personally really enjoy that many for touring. On a 10 hour ride you can shift around and vary the different muscle groups you’re using.  My good buddy Tobias only has 1 and he does fine. I however, encourage having at least 3.

#6 – Keeping limber (Stretch do some Yoga!)

Your muscles are doing a lot of work and will begin to tighten up they need stretching. I really encourage finding a solid Yoga routine. My good friend Lennie helped me with mine and I have my own regimement of Sun Salutations that allow me to limber up my quads, hams, glutes, groin, calves and hip flexers. Don’t forget the hip flexers they are the first ones you will begin to notice because you put way more strain on them as a biker than you do in regular life. It’s also a good idea to stretch out the upper body the shoulders and triceps will stiffen up but lower body is a MUST!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

(“I’m only 27 but I never stretched, oh god why didn’t I read Dion’s blog!”)

#7 – Get enough sleep

It can be challenging to find good places to sleep, I have been so lucky to have a good networks of friends, family, Warmshower hosts, Couchsurfing hosts and the occasional random stranger. To my understanding sleep is when you body rebuilds and heals all the damages caused during the day. When pushing your body you create “micro tears” in your muscles and with the right fuel and sleep your body will say “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster” (-Cheesey Movie/TV Show). If you are getting the right fuel and sleep you will feel it and it feels great!

2

(With appropriate sleep and food you could look as good as this sexy beast)

#8 – Be mentally prepared for natures adversity (She can be a bitch…)

There are four major challenges nature will throw at you. You can overcome them mentally the first two are pretty much unavoidable: hills and headwinds.

These can be frustrating, personally I didn’t mind hills and more appropriately for BC, mountains. Life is often about overcoming adversity “nothing easy is ever worth doing” this quote is 100% not true but works well here. (For instant breathing takes very little work, but incredibly worthwhile). Anywho back to the topic at hand, there are few things more rewarding then mentally and physically defeating a literal mountain, when you get to the top and see that “summit sign” a huge feeling of accomplishment and relief sweeps over you. And the huge bonus you get to enjoy a huge downhill section and get to immediately reap the rewards.

Rocky_2_I_Did_It

(This will be you “I did it!!!”, ya Stalone, we know now for the love of god please stop making movies)

The second, the spirit draining headwind is a huge challenge both mentally and physically. And you never get to an end point. I do suggest planing a trip according to the prevailing winds for me there was nothing more draining than a head wind sapping my speed and leg power as I slowed to a walking pace, happened to me yesterday, often better just to pull over and nap till the wind dies down, seriously! If you have to face the legendary uphill headwind I hope you have a good sense of humour, cause all you can do is laugh.

hopeless

(This is what the feeling of biking into a headwind looks like)

The other two you cannot do much about other than planning around them and in turn avoiding them: perception and heat. Neither of these are great for biking, my favourite is biking on cool lightly cloudy days. The rain can make visibility hard and being wet and cold is miserable biking or otherwise. With heat you will sweat and use more energy as your body utilizes that vital (and heavy water) you are portaging. I suggest not biking mid day. Morning and evening peddles are the best. Bonus full moon rides are amazing, a clear cool night lit by the full moon is the absolute best, but impossible to get with any consistency take advantage when you can!

etmoon

(“This bike ride is amazing and this acid is something else!)

#9 – Budget and gear

A good bike is expense so is good food and good places to sleep. I have very tight funds and even needed to take out a loan from the bank of mom and dad. (However they have great interest rates). I have a total of 600$ into my bike including my rain gear, saddle bags, lights and upgrades. Most people I have met have spent significantly more on their bikes and gear ranging from 1500-5000$. Some people’s coats cost more than all of my gear combined!

However if you can afford it, a good bike and great rain gear are so helpul when battling the adversities of biking. This also ties into food, if you can afford to eat out at good restaurants 3 meals a day good on you. (That is my personal dream 😦 one day, one day…) The minimum I think you can spend to be able to bike in Canada with enough proper nutrients is 15$ a day.

This brings me to accommodations, I have spent a total of 10$ on accommodations in my 2 months thus far. This is largely because I don’t have the money to spend on hostels or the offensively high rates people try to charge for camping. One lady in Drumheller looked at me with a straight face and said 32$+tax for pitching a tent. HA! So I suggest starting a Warmshowers and Couchsurfing account right now. Like right now! Seriously go do it! Did you? Is it done? Good, now keep reading. Now that you have made both those accounts you can help other travellers, meet great new friends and it will pay dividend on your next trip.

cat

(“Did you seriously not make an account on those websites? That makes me sad… you should do it right meow.”)

#10 – Staying loose and fancy free

This one has two parts the first is in terms of weight, the less you pack the easier it is to peddle. However the added weight of a tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag can be invaluable. But don’t be concerned about bringing a wardrobe, the less clothes the better. You will thank yourself later.

bicycle-carry-huge-weight

(“I live in the 3rd world I have to do this to survive, it’s impressive I know, but you should pack light!”)

The other challenge of staying loose and fancy free is not having too regimented of an itinerary. For me I am a social butterfly and love people. On this trip I have met so many great people and stayed so many cool places and I’m only 1/3rd done! The challenge is leaving them, “the good traveller has no plans, and is not intent on arrival”. I try to implement this as often as possible and frequently stay longer than I had expected. Which in turn has led me to numerous great nights and great connections. However as a traveller you are travelling and leaving cool places and awesome people is part of the package. Be ready to leave places and people you really like, it’s hard but more adventures await you!

Well that’s my list for biking challenges. My last week was spent in Calgary and Drumheller. I was hosted almost entirely by my amazing and talented friend Sam. Who is in the process of moving so comically might host me again in Toronto, hahahaha!

I also got to hang out with my good friend Devin whom is a very good sounding board these days. I did stand up at 2 open mics that went awesome and met a talented guitarist (who looks like Lenny Kravitz) and a base player whom I hope to make a band with. Seriously though, they need a lead singer and drummer. Despite both of them being good singers, however I have always wanted to be a front man for a band, so I am going to try and figure out a way to make it work.

Tobias and I did the Drumheller dinosaur museum which was great. No pics of time in Calgary though :(.

dionnatural

(I look unnervingly at home in this scene)

That sums it up for now, I am off to Saskatoon, thanks for reading,

 

Qapla

 

Dion

 

 

One does not simply bike into Mordor

Hello everyone, I hope this weeks article finds you well. In terms of the title of the article, let me explain. I have a very good friend Dave, whom I share more laughs per hang out then almost any other person. Dave has been courteous enough to read my blog and forward me inspirational songs for each province. BC was “I Will not be Broken” by Ben Harper, the title of which I yelled at many a mountain or headwind. For Alberta he gave me a song from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack that plays when the light is given to Frodo, here is what Dave wrote to me “”May it be a light for you in dark places, as all other lights go out”. May it assist your meditation as you travel through Canada’s Mordor””.

(For those interested, the first link is where the quote is from and the second link is the song Dave forwarded me)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIGbz9pU7yg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_UDmFJ5TwU

I know right?! Some heavy shit from Dave. I feel his song and description are fairly apt. Unfortunately the reality is many people rely on the employment of Northern Alberta to feed their families. Also Alberta is often refereed to as the “Texas of Canada” and Northern Alberta in particular as “Mordor”. Some photos do seem as though the evil lord Sauron is amassing an army of Orcs there.

 

Tar Sands

(Actual picture of Northern Alberta tar sands )

mordor

(Computer generated Mordor, you can see the similarities)

 

I had really intended to write this weeks article focusing on the biking of B.C. however that is not where my head is at right now. With the latest government green lights on pipeline projects, many Canadians are a buzz with confusion, worry and frustration. Which in my opinion are appropriate feelings to have.

While I travelled through BC I did not get a sense that the citizens there had any desire for a pipe line. The demographic of people I socialize with, evidently skews these findings however, I do feel the majority (probably even the vast majority) of British Colombians do not want a pipeline.

 

hippie-web

(This is what the majority of people in BC look like “Peace and love man, say no to pipelines. I haven’t done my taxes for the last 17 years the same goes for showeing!”)

However, like Dorthy I am no longer in Kansas any more. And as I entered Calgary there were some very dark clouds on the horizon and I couldn’t stop saying “one does not simply bike into Mordor!”.

Onedoesnot

(Weirdly enough yes you do)

Banff and Canmore still felt like BC, but Calgary feels very Albertan. People are not running around with guns and trying to fight me. Nor are they aggressive or mean, on the contrary people are generally nice and courteous people. There is however a feel and a sense that the oil industry is the accepted life blood here. That it is what needs to be done and the many well paid professionals here have accepted and now support continual growth and “development” of the tar sands. Who knows if I lived here and got paid the astounding incomes that many of them earn, I could very well be living under the same paradigm.

With different paradigms comes social pressures to conform to them and unfortunately even I am not immune to social pressures. For instance with the advice of my current host, I decided not to make fun of the oil sands in my last stand up routine here in Calgary. An act I feel is cowardly and doing so has not sat well with me over the last 24 hours. Censoring oneself to curtail to local ideologies is not something I want to prescribe to. I would like to clarify that it’s always a good idea to know your audience and tell appropriate jokes, grandma might not relate to your jokes about Tinder, but not at the expense of compromising your core values and beliefs. Something I feel I did 😦

oldlady

 

(I always swipe right, but I never get a match, this thing must be broken…)

My actions were humbling and a little horrifying. I am pretty vocal about a need to change the direction we are going so to hide my feelings and beliefs to not disturb the status quo is the exact opposite of what I want to be doing.

This brings me to a quote my father gave me from a German friend of his. While living in Canada he critiqued our behaviour and it become evident that we were a docile people who tolerated our “rights” being stepped on. His quote went something like this, make sure you use a German accent I have written it as such so it helps with the voice.

geman

“Vat is vrong vis you Canadians, I have been arrested a number of times for protesting, but ven zings happen here, you do nozing. You let it happen and just tolerate it. You have to stand up for vat you believe in.”

This is something I just did, implementing the Canadian docility, trying to make everyone happy and cause the lease disruption as possible. This is a trait I don’t think serves us well any more and I personally look to the First Nations for guidance and leadership in the coming storm. They have a lot of wisdom and are a strong culture. They are some of the few Canadians who are not relying solely on social media for change but go out and say “No I will not let these projects happen. They will not serve my interest or the interest of future generations”.

I was also fortunate to have a great and influential professor whom in the very first lecture shared a scenario that has stuck with me to this day. He felt that in Canada we would not see the people get active until we either saw a tank on the streets or empty shelves in our grocery stores.  If we continue on our current path his predictions may be accurate.

tankman

 

(“I hope my actions and bravery won’t be forcibly erased from my countries memory… also I hope oil companies don’t get to change Alberta’s school curriculum, wait what both of those happened!?”)

On a positive note while I was fillin water at a spring in Canmore I met a man named Dave. He describe that we were at the point where we as a people we can act as the immune system. We are at the point where we can see, analyse and even feels there is something wrong, something sick in regards to society as a whole. I feel it is time to be the white blood cells and to fight off the infections we are aware of. If we continue to be docile, inactive Canadians our country and potentially the very global eco system we are dependant on may succumb to the modern societal disease of infinite growth on a finite planet. But we are becoming more and more aware. And once an immune system is aware of an infection it fights it off, otherwise it succumbs to the disease. These are my feelings on the matter, how do you feel?

Well that’s the heavy stuff of the article, I apologize for not writing about biking as promised but this was stuff I really needed to address and I promised there will be an article focusing on the biking end. However now to transition to what has happened to me over the last week.

I spent nearly a week in Banff staying with my awesome aunt and uncle and cannot thank them enough. I also did 3 open mics while in Banff, 2 of which went amazing and 1 of which I bombed as a result of the venue. Through these open mics I met a number of awesome people highlighted by a very cool band called The Shrugs check them out (http://theshrugsmusic.com/). I Hope Catherine, Stephanie and Brandon have a great summer playing excellent tunes, hopefully they may even do a loft jam cameo.

When I met The Shrugs, I also met their very cool friend, and now my cool friend Raffi. Raffi worked at a Yuks Yuks club and has been living in Banff. The two of us really resonated and Raffi gave me some excellent tips for my stand up, which I have implemented and already seen awesome results. Like so many times in this trip we connected at just the right time.

Speaking of connecting at the right time, my host in Canmore Marc, took me to me a women I will call The Oracle. Think of the lady from the Matrix. She was a very wise old women whom again showed up at just the right time in this trip.

oracle

(“Dion don’t be a dick”. “Wow I never thought of it that way”)

This trip has been a lot about people and experience and my host Marc was kind enough to give me two experiences on two totally different spectrum’s. Marc cleans out grease traps, and it’s way grosser than it sounds. We went into a restaurant in Banff to vacuum out the most disgusting, gross smelling and horrendous meat sludge by products I’ve ever encountered. Part of the reason I don’t eat industrial meat is so I can avoid this grotesque shit. I dry heaved a number of times, but again it’s great to get different experiences and helping Marc with the grease trap was the dirtiest job I’ve ever done :/.

 

HPIM2819

(I wish photos had smello vision)

 

Bonus, Raffi worked at the restaurant we were at!

To contrast that experience Marc took me and his friend Katcha on a 50 km bike ride into the wilderness of Canore where he had found a canoe someone stashed in a secret little lake. The 3 of us paddled down this secluded canyon and parked on the other side for tea and lunch. Easily one of the more surreal and probably best immersion in nature I’ve had the whole trip. Thanks for the hosting Marc and I hope your upcoming bike adventure is all that you hope it will be.

HPIM2834

(“Fuck paddling I’m going to take some selfies!”)

 

IMG_7827

Also look at this cat we met named Mr Mustachio!

Well that sums up my week, thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post. I will be hitting up another open mic tonight and will leave Calgary towards Saskatoon in the next few days. As per usual if you have any comments, words of wisdom or questions feel free to contact me.

 

Qapla,

 

Dion

 

Hello everyone I hope you are all well. In my last post I realize there were a number of spelling and/or grammar errors, I hope they did not make the read needlessly confusing. I place full blame on my blog editor “future Dion”. On behalf of past and present Dion we apologize for his incompetence. The staff here will continue to aim for the pinnacle of excellent in regards to the articles posted on this page. Thanks for your patience. 

Now that the formalities are out of the way, we press onto this weeks issues. As promised I will be talking about staying at other peoples home 101. I feel safe addressing this topic because over the last 5 years of my life I have hosted close to 100 people through friends, family and online organizations such as Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. In addition I have stayed at quite a few peoples homes, and by the end of this trip that number will likely be over 100. 

Here is my top 10 list. It is in order of what I consider most important: 

#1 – Wash dishes

This may seem like a no brainer but some people don't pick up on this one. While I was working and going to school there was nothing better than coming home and finding that my guest had cleaned all the dishes. And this doesn't simply mean clean you own dish, for me that borders on rude, if you're staying with someone for free, don't just wash your bowl, pull up your sleeves and scrub those pots and pans they have been neglecting. Your host will notice and be very grateful. You also get the smug feeling of contributing, even though you are still a bum staying for free in their home. In turn if you do not wash dishes you will quickly overstay your welcome. I cannot overemphasize this one enough, WASH DISHES!

Image
(This is way better than sleeping outside or forking out 150$ for a hotel room! Also is it just me, or is this stock photo sexist?) 

#2 – Time Your Bathroom Use

You host is busy, in contrast you are on vacation and everyday is Saturday for you. Thus try to figure out when your host needs to use the bathroom, if you're very observant you can figure this out. Easiest thing to do is ask, “I am going to shower” or “I am going to launch the brown October” then follow these lines with “does anyone need to use the facilities before me?”. In my experience there are few things more frustrating than running late, needing to jump into the shower, only to find it was being used by my guest. And the worst is entering a hot, stinky and wet bathroom because they forgot to put the fan on.
Image("Why does my bathroom smell like vomit and baby food, oh well at least I'm late for work now...") 

If this is your behaviour you will not be welcome long. So time your bathroom use around your hosts needs and help keep this particular room very clean. I personally have to be very fastidious in making sure the many hairs I am constantly shedding are not left pasted on other peoples showers. Also keep yourself clean, stinky people are not great to have around. And there is nothing more awkward than someone politely asking you to shower or wash your clothes. No one wants to have to talk to you about this!

#3 – Keep Your Host in the Loop

Arguably this one could be #1. There are few things more frustrating then rescheduling you day to ensure you can rendezvous with a guest, then having them not show up and not even bother contacting you. If you are running late or plans have changed contact your host A.S.A.P. it makes everyone's life easier and demonstrates you value their time. On the flip side the reverse behaviour denotes you do not give a shit about inconveniencing them. Not a wise or respectful move.

Image("Sure glad I missed that audition for the Joshua Jackson stand in, and buddy doesn't even show up...")

#4 – Make Food

This one is budget dependant but can go a long way. If you are able to go out and purchase a meals worth of groceries and cook it for your host, do it! This gesture goes a long way and often will become a team effort and a bonding experience. If you have extreme budget confinements like myself, you cannot always do this. So if they are cooking, offer to help do any prep and at the end of the meal implement rule #1. BONUS – If you have the cash, figure out what they like to drink, get the appropriate bottle of wine or 6 pack.

#5 – Don't be too Much of a Couch Potato

Again your host is busy and you are a vacation bum, loving your life with little to no responsibilities. You are able to do so because you are sleeping on a couch they pay for. I find it best to not constantly remind people of the glory of not working by going out and doing things. Even if those things are sitting at a cafe for 8 hours. Being in the exact same spot when they leave to the job they potentially hate, and being in that same spot when they return from said job is not ideal. 

Image
("Hey bro I watched the Big Lebowski 4 times while drinking white russians and taking bong tokes all day, how was the 12 hour shift at the mill?”)

Sometimes for budget or rest reasons you may need to just hang around your hosts home for the day. Make sure they are ok with it and give them a heads up, also again implement rule #1 and tidy up whatever else you can. 

#6 – Don't be Annoying

This one can be challenging as even a handsome charming person like myself can begin to overwhelm someone with my constant excellent jokes, advice and words of wisdom. Gauge how well received your socializing is, some host are introverted and/or simply don't have the time and/or emotional energy to hang out. In these cases I try to become what I call a “dish washing ghost”. You are rarely seen and they will wonder if you are still there. But will happily always find the kitchen cleaned.

Image
("Blahsshshh, while I am here, I will haunt your dreams but keep your kitchen clean!")

#7 – Don't Make Unwelcome Advances

Often you will end up in the home of a beautiful person, or as a host a beautiful person may be staying in the comfort of your abode. This situation is often the goal of any single persons night out on the town, so it can be confusing. In both situations I suggest playing it on the safe side. If there is some chemistry and your advances are welcome go for it, this situation can be a great time for all involved. But don't be the creepy horn dog whose relentless rapist like advances are the reason many women on Couchsurfing will only host other women. Shame on you!

goforit
(This is what chemistry looks like)
Image
(This is why many women only host other women)

#8 – Help Out, Share Your Skills

We all are good at some thing. I myself have recently become very apt at fixing bikes, so whenever someone is courteous enough to host me, I always offer to fix, tune or help my host find a bike. It has gone a long way and I always feel so good being able to give back to someone who is helping me. Also if they have a large project they are working on spring cleaning, yard work ect, offer to pitch in, it can be a bonding experience and will often help extend how long you are welcome in their home. 

#9 – Don't Overstay Your Welcome

This can be challenging as some people are so incredibly good at making their home feel like your home. “Me casa su casa”. However it is not your home, they are paying the bills and often probably enjoy wondering around naked and pooping with the bathroom door open. Things that are prohibited by your mere presence. There are a number of factors to gauge how long to remain at someone's home, however I try to be the “awwww he's gone” guy rather than the “hey buddy so where are you heading next!?!?!?!?”

#10 – Leave a Thank You Note

You have potentially made a new life long friend. The easiest and cheapest way to demonstrate your gratitude is to leave a heartfelt note explaining how much you appreciated their efforts. If it's well written and has a cool picture on it, it might even make it onto their fridge, and you kind words will continue to make them smile long after you've left. BONUS! Leave a gift that they could use.

Image
("That was so thoughtful of my guest to leave me this noodle splash guard, I never have to stain my shirts again!")

I hope this list was an entertaining and informative read and helps any of you in your hosting and guesting experiences. Feel free if you are an active host to post it on your fridge to help any inexperience guest ensure their stay meets everyone's needs!

Now that's out of the way onto my experiences over the last week. Revelstoke was a great pit stop and I stayed and extra day as I had done 350km in the mountains over the previous 3 days. I was also very fortunate to get to spend some time chatting and sharing with the other guests Peter and Ki were hosting.
Igor is this awesome fellow who's roots are in Russia but now lives in Vancouver. He is a highly intelligent thinker and we shared many ideas and some of the most heartfelt belly laughs I've have had in awhile. He is currently examining Buddhist philosophy and is trying to live a detached and in turn enjoyable life. In our discussion we culminated that potentially “life is suffering” and detaching ourselves from said suffering may be the key step to enlightenment. Heavy shit! However the irony is that Igor was so happy to realize “life is suffering”. This was too funny for either of to not laugh at and the concept still makes me snicker.

The other awesome fellow Dimitri has a calming Zen about him. The two would often meditate, and the three of us got along swimmingly. I hope I am able to cross paths with both of them again. Throughout this journey there has been a constant pull towards getting me to do some meditation and I will be committing 30 minutes a day to it, as I think it has a lot to offer.

Another highlight of my time in Revelstoke is one night I went from no where to sleep, 24 hours later I was in the hot tub of the ski resort. Because one of Peter and Ki's friends had an access card to the lavish facilities. Pretty sweet contrast!

REvelstoke crew
(Peter, Ki, Igor, Dimitri, Me)

I had been in contact with a fellow Tobias whom I had met earlier in my trip at Manning Park. Tobias was a ways ahead of me but because of getting sick he was held up in Golden. So I peddled the 150km from Revelstoke to Golden, which was a pretty draining ride. The climb up to Rogers Pass was not as challenging as I had anticipated but the last 30kms of rolling hills to get into Golden was painfully slow and frustrating.

WorfRogerspass
(Worf at Rogers Pass)
Just as I arrived in Golden I got a flat tire. Tobias came out to meet me as I was switching tubes. For once I didn't inspect the tire, and to my dismay I had another flat, drained and frustrated I walked my bike to a hostel where I paid 10$ to camp, but also got access to all of the facilities. It's worth noting that this 10$ is the first money I have spent for accommodations throughout my entire trip. Kicking Horse hostel was awesome and allowed me a much needed shower and kitchen access. But adventure awaited so the next afternoon Tobias and I were off to Lake Louise.

Lake Louise, was a pretty manageable bike ride and was a total of 70km of very beautiful riding. From my previous post it should be evident I have been struggling with the isolation so Tobias's company was incredibly welcome. When we arrived in Lake Louise, we intended to splurge on non grocery store food. We found a local pub and went inside, just as we entered the waitress went up to the bartender and said last call for food. We hastily put in an order for two veggie burgers, and ate them with an astounding amount of satisfaction.

TobiasBiking
(Tobias en route to Lake Louise.)

In searching for a place to stay, the local camping ground was needlessly overprice, and the local hostel was 45$ a night. This was outside of my budget. Tobias on the other hand had aggravated his soar knee, so wanting a warm bed to recuperated he forked out the 45$. And I headed out to squat at the local baseball diamond. It was a cold night but as you can tell in the pictures below I was well prepared and under that tarp and sleeping bag, I wore long johns and 2 sweaters. When I met up with Tobias in the morning to my dismay he had a room all to himself. Where I could have easily snuck in. So needlessly, I slept outside in sub 0 temperatures.

frostonsaddlebags 
(Frost on my saddle bags)
sleepingoutside 
(My bed for the night)
tobiashostelroom
(Tobias's empty room)

We shared a good laugh about the situation and continued on our way. Our next stop was Banff where my aunt Carla and uncle Joe live. Two people I have not seen in 15 years. They have been incredible hosts and have put us up over the last couple days. Uncle Joe is definitely a Cowan and it's always cool to see the commonalities in your parents and their siblings. I also had an exceptional visit with Carla where we just really resonated, and again the common theme of meditation came up and how much it could increase my quality of life.

Tobias and I are hanging around Banff for a few more nights. I get to do stand up Comedy tonight and Wednesday, then will head off to visit Marc my next host in Canmore. Whom I randomly ran into here in Banff while he was here doing his banking.

That about sums up my week. Thanks for reading, I hope you all enjoyed this weeks post. It has come to my attention that I have not written much about the biking itself. So for next weeks article I will reflect on the challenges thus far and try to put them into words what biking BC was like. Because now I am in Alberta.

(And look what I hit 2000kms!)
worf2000km

Qapla,

Dion

 

“Happiness is only real when shared”

“Hapiness is only real when shared” is a quote from Chris McCandless. (Check out his book or movie both named Into the Wild, both are worth checking out). His quote often echoes in my mind and I frequesntly share it with people. However over the last few days it’s really been an overwhelming feeling.

 

While on this journey I’ve encountered jaw droping landscape after jaw droping landscape. Numerous mountain streams, that gently meander through the valleys. Torrent rivers cascading down the mountain side, rushing with untammed might. I have peddled through lush prairie valleys, with the smell of Lilac floating on the warm summer breeze. In the last month I have seen more pictureques lakes that perfectly mirror the world around them, then I can shake a stick at.

 

But despite these incredible sights there is that human condition beating away in my heart. The seemingly inevitable feeling of loneliness and the resulting attmept to share this experience known as life with others. The best way I can describe it, is when you take a photo because you hope to be able to convey the beauty of the scene to the rest of the world, but so often the picture hardly does it justice. This feeling can be visualized by my selfie on top of a mountain camping under snowy peaks.

 

lonelyselfie

(me)

christopher

(Chris McCandless)

 

I love to share and convinently other peoples love of sharing, has made this trip possible. When I am able to share it brings me so much joy and wealth into my life. I am getting to the point where I feel that not only is hapiness only real when shared but I feel like life is only “real” when shared.

 

With this in mind I’d like to talk about my experience in Nelson and the generosity of my host Vivian. She openly shared her home to me, no expectations, no strings attached and no pressures on me. It was an amazing feeling. When I arrived, this was the sign on the entrance to her home, I knew we would get along swimmingly :D.

 

vivssign

 

As soon as I entered her home I felt warm and welcome. She had elegant and tasteful decore that was abundant but not overwelming. Her home had the perfect balance of being clean but feeling lived in. As a couch surfer you get to expereince a wide array of different homes, ranging from this

 

101031unknown2

(ummm people live here?)

to this,

images6MV9MET4

(umm do people live here? or is this a hermitally sealed room for building micro chips :S)

 

My lovely host Vivian even made me breakfast every morning and we found an excellent balance of skill, resources and even emotional sharing that made the experience very enjoyable and life feel a little more “real” .

 

My sharing crusade extended out into the rest of my Nelson experience. I was able to volunteer at the local bike co-op sharing my bike fixing skills and laughs with the other volunteers and patrons. Here are some photos of the co-op.

francois

(The awesome Francois, whom has spearheaded the project)

pilesofbikes

(Pile of bikes that need fixing, mmmm bikes…)

workignatcoop

(Me fixing some of said bikes)

 

The co-op is then run by volunteer mechanics who help members fix their bikes when they come in. For begginers this often involves watching the mechanics do much of the work, but for the eager learners, it quickly becomes a hands on expreience. The co-op also recycles neglected bikes which can be seen in the above photo.

 

In exchange for my service the co-op even donated me a few parts I needed for the bike, even an awesome leather seat, which through the help of a local leather expert Dean, we managed to bring it back to life. It has been super comfy thus far, and is like a hammock for my bum :).

 

With the bike end covered in Nelson I also managed to do some stand up at an venue called Expressions. It was run by the talented and knowledgable Nelson (Yes Nelson from Nelson!). It was a no alcohol venue that had a very similar feel to the loft concerts we conduct in Bowser. It was on open mic and thus sharing at it’s pinacle.

 

openmic

(Nelson from Nelson, mcing!)

 

When you think about it art, music and performing in general are intertwined with sharing. Without an audience what is the point? The venue and crowd were great, and a number of people displayed a huge variety of skills, from music to poetry, to an expressive dance/story/sonnet. I also have to tip my hat to the folks who attended this open mic, as cellphone usage was at a minimum, nearing zero! Everyone gave full attention to the performers it was a great evening.

 

I was stayed in Nelson from Monday to Sunday morning, with a number of highlights. One of my first days I encountered an awesome man of the theatrical arts named Micheal, we began chit chatting at the local coffee hole, and he said he had a bike that needed some fixing. He was unsure of how much work it needed but when I arrived, it only needed some air in the tires, oil on the chain and some minor adjustments. So withing a few minutes Micheal had a nice rideable bike and I had 25$ for food! Woo go life!

 

I also went to a 2 hour no talking dance that was awesome and very unusual for me. I am such a social guy, so shutting up for two hours and just dancing and stretching was a good growing experience for me. It was an absolute blast and people danced in a very safe environment. It was an urban no alcohol dance party.

 

white-people-dancing

(Dude totally stole my move)

 

Worf and I also checked out the local waterfall.

 

worfatwaterfall

(Worf searches for Zen)

 

The last night I was there the co-op held a film fest, depicting the numerous ways bikes makes this world better. It was held in this great venue the oldest church in town, that has recently been coverted to a fitness gym and also host events such as the film fest.

 

coopcrew

(The co-op crew, David, Francois, Vivian, Mortan, Simonne, Jessie, Jess, Brent and I forget last girls name 😦 )

 

My time in Nelson was capped off by an excellent live music performance at a local venue. I had made a number of aquentences roaming around Nelson for the week and I got to re meet so many of them. This experience was really pronouced when I was talking to the local bouncer who initially had a bit of the “bouncer” stance.

 

untitled

(Grrrrr)

 

After talking to him about the bike co-op film fest, he randomly aksed me if my name was Dion. I said “yes” and he yelled “do you know who I am?!” To which I replied, “if you have to ask then no…”. Oddly enough it turns out Brad was the one person to reply to my free bike servicing ad on Kijiji, I posted an ad describing myself as a “bike genie” and described my bike trip and offered free service to anyone that needed it. I only got one response here is what Brad the Bouncer forwarded me!

 

“I don’t need any bike work but I just wanted to congratulate you and wish you the best on your trip. I’ve done a smaller trip but not with so much class.
Good luck and be well,
Brad
And if you need a place to crash, I’m half way to Castlegar and you welcome to stay. ”

 

That was a pretty sureal and stange coincidence.

 

The whole time I was in Nelson I was trying to find a second host. Vivian was by far one of the nicest hosts ever but I always try to be the “ohhh hes gone” guy rather then the “where are you heading next there friend!!!!!???”. So as things continue to work out an awesome fellow David hosted me my last night. Dave and I hit it off, he has dabled in a number of different acedemic fields so we had amazing discussions. (Added bonus!) His family lives in Newfoundland and his dad is a political science professor, can’t wait to pick Daves dads brain.

 

I had so many people tell me I had to spend some time in Nelson and I can see why. It’s filled with some of the most physically and emotially healthy people I’ve met. I loved the people and the eclectic mix of taste and style.

 

After staying with David I said a heartfelt goodbye to Nelson I peddled on, on the way out of town there where two french Canadian hitchhikers I had some extra bananas and some extra “greenery” I had been gifted, so I was happy to share. Which always feels great ;). I peddled to Kaslow. I then peddled up an easy 400 meter mountain climb where I had a whole valley to myself.

 

valleyalltomyself bloomingvalley

(In the morning the grass I was sleeping on was in full bloom)

 

The next day I peddled to Nakusp for groceries and coffee and was enroute to my first ever hot spring. Which is non commercilized and undeveleoped, and I was soooo incredibly excited about it. Ironically it’s “renowndly” secret and cahllenging to find. On a frustrating note I found it on my first try but didn’t trust my gut and after 20 minutes of confusion peddled 10 km past it, only to realize my amazing host Vivian had given me one last gift. She wrote me a very detailed note of how to get to the spring, which I remember I placed in my wallet! And so I had to peddle back 10km up a hill I had just come down :S. Once I got there I also had to push my bike 6kms up this rocky dirt road,

 

rockroad

(Road bikes and rocks are not friends)

 

but my god was it worth it!

 

This place is one of the most magical places I have been, and no photo or explination can do it justice. Again I felt this overwhelming desire and yet inability to share the expereince. I had hopes of some beautiful nymph, gently bathing in the ancient spring, instead I found 5 freindly french men and a few comfortably naked old men.

 

Becoming more comfortably naked myself, I also went for a swim and soak in the buff and it was a delight. A girl from the coffee shop in Nakusp I met had also come, however she was with her father, so not exactly the ideal combination ;). I camped right beside the springs, and sticking with the common theme, again I had a new episode of Game of Thrones to watch before bed.

 

The spings are a half kilometer walk down some beautiful cedar root systems.

 

cedarroots hotsprings

(Joe enjoying the secluded majesty that is, St Leon hot springs)

 

In the morning I was dreading the 6km  ride down the rock road, but fortunatlely I made friends with Joe and Charity a really nice couple visiting from the US. They had a super cool 1972 ford that Joe had restored, we visited and did some gift exchanging and they gave me a ride back down to the highway. Thx so much Joe and Chairty that apple sauce was AMAZING!

 

truck

 

And again I was off, heading towards Revelstoke for the night. My host feel through, but fortunately a Warmshowers host Doug connected me to his friend Peter and Kai, whom hosted me and two other awesome fellows. I am spending an extra day in Revelstoke resting my legs before the 148km climb into Goldern. Rumor has is there is an open mic tonight, and as usual I will be trying to fix peoples bikes.

 

That about sums up my adventures for the week, hope you enjoyed the post, thanks for reading. My next post should be from Banff where I will be spending 5 or so days. As usual if you have any questions, helpful tips for people or places to see I always welcome them. Next weeks article will be Sleeping in Other Peoples Homes 101.

 

Qapla,