Month: September 2014

Abrupt Ends and New Beginnings

Well I arrived in Montreal last weekend and I have some bad news, unfortunately my knees are giving out on me. The right one was throbbing so much that I was not able to complete the last 70kms into Montreal. It’s an injury that many cyclist face and it’s partly due to repetitive movements and the fact that the quad muscle gets so big, that it pulls and puts significant stress on the knee. I took this last week off from biking in hopes that it would heal.

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(That freakish meat stick is my leg! The quad overdevelops and puts stress on the ligaments and cartilage in the knee.)

I went for my first ride yesterday and it was great to be back on the bike but there is still some pain in both knees and if I push them any further, I risk a longer recovery period or potentially life long damage to my knees. Thus my 2014 cross Canada tour after just under 6000kms (my odometer got water in it and broke 3 times, so that’s my best estimate) appears to be coming to an end here in Montreal. I had to do some serious gut checks because I am about 15 days of riding away from being done, however my pride isn’t worth not being able to walk later in life. And I can always finish the tour in the spring.

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(“I may be fucking crippled, but at least no one can say the name of my blog was inaccurate!”)

Since my last post I was able to spend some time in Peterborough with my cousin Phil and his family. It was awesome and Phil was a part of inspiring me to do this trip. He was the first person I met who had done long distant touring on a bike, making me realize it was possible. I had a great time in Peterborough and spent a bit of nostalgia time at the local university campus. I was also able to volunteer a few hours at the local bike co-op B!ke. Where one of the head mechanics was this young lady who is easily one of the best mechanics I have had the pleasure of working with. It was an absolute delight to get to learn from and work with a talented female mechanic, they are unfortunately quite rare in this male dominated field.

female mechanic

(Oh ya, I would let her true my wheel any time! No sexual connotation intended I am just saying she can true my wheels cause she’s really good at it and it’s hard to do…)

From Peterborough I pushed on to Kingston where I met up with my unpaid manager Tobias, we peddled the next few days to Cornwall, 70kms outside of Montreal. Where as I said my right knee stopped being usable. I used the VIA rail train to make it the last 70kms here.

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(This is what my childhood taught me trains would look like, it was like Santa all over again… Here is a little treat for you, one of my idols voices him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV6ew_MMZIA )

While in Montreal I got to perform at the Comedy Nest, one of the last bastions of dedicated comedy clubs here in Montreal and my set went well but was by no means fantastic. What was fantastic though, was that a number of friends came out to support me including a cameo from my Vancouver Island current friend and ex neighbour Lexi. Such a delight to see familiar faces in strange places. In addition getting to network with the local comics is invaluable and I am performing another set tonight at a hostel.

me at the nest

(A less talented, less bangable Canadian version of Russell Brand.)

In geekey news, I played a number of magic card tournaments over the last few days and won 2 tournaments Friday night/Saturday morning, putting my record at 23-1. However I was due for some humble pie and I lost a match to a new friend of mine Primo and finished that tournament 4-1. Because I had won a number of additional prizes I was able to trade in some of my cards to play more magic so I entered another tournament at 12am.  I lost the first round to another cool cat Mo and decided that I was pretty tired and since I could no longer win first, I decided to go get some sleep. But a 27-3 record is still pretty sweet :D.

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(This is what I look like while eating humble pie, reflective, a bit perturbed and entirely confused. “But I was so awesome only a few minutes ago…”)

On the note of reflection I have had to reflect on what to do after the bike trip and these are the top excellent options available to me.

  • Return to Manning Park in BC and work at the resort while trying to run a comedy night at the bar (this option also comes with access to the ski mountain).
  • Return to Vancouver Island and help the community in Bowser and grow food.
  • Stay in either Montreal or Toronto and make ends meet while pursuing stand up comedy.
  • Become Super hero/bike mechanic and fight crime.
  • Apply for work visa in the USA and do a similar bike tour there.
Flying dion

(And you thought the 4th option wasn’t viable.)

As you can see I am spoiled with some excellent options. I am leaning towards staying here in Montreal as I have two very close friends from Kamloops living in the area. There also is a particular young lady I am quite fond of living here. It has a solid stand up scene. And cheap rent, 600$ for spacious apt.

However, nothing is written in stone yet (and even if it was, it’s would just be some writing in some stupid rock, right?) Manning Park was such a cool experience so living there for the winter would also be awesome. Thus I will continue to reflect on what to do as I surf people’s couches here in Montreal.

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(See this rock gets it!)

Well readers this unfortunately will be the last blog post where I am on the 2014 bike tour. However I have 3 fun articles I intended to write once the trip had finished. So there will be a few more posts here on Biking Across Canada to Cure Comedy.

I would like to whole heartedly thank everyone for reading and especially thank those that read on a regular basis. WordPress keeps statistic so I know mmmwhahahahahhah! It’s been such a great experience and I encourage everyone who is able, to do some bike touring, it’s like no other experience I’ve had. I feel more myself and more grounded than I have in a long time. If you have any questions or comments they are always incredibly welcome, again thanks so much for reading. Getting to share the experience helped make it so much more worthwhile

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(Thank you, that’s right you!)

Lots of love,

Qapla,

Dion

Small Breaks, Big Perspectives

Hello everyone I hope this weeks blog post finds you well.

So for the first time I missed a blog post last week 😦 Sometimes it can be challenging to find the time and energy to write and last week, that was the case. But good news to any dedicated readers who thought I might be dead, I’m not! Wooooooo!

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(Dion iz sorry for missing a post…)

My time in Toronto was rewarding and I am currently in Peterborough spending time with my cousin Phil and his family.

Last week I was able to head back out to Muskoka to spend some more time at the cottage with family and friends. This was an awesome time, we had 12 people hang out in the little cottage and it was an absolute delight. Highlighted by a cameo from my cousin Jacinta whom I did not think I would get to visit. We even set up an outdoor projector and watched The Princess Bride and The Fisher King. Two excellent but very different movies.

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(The picture doesn’t do our outdoor movie set up, the justice it deserves!)

I got a ride up with one of my cousins friends. She was a really nice person but had the tendency to consistently take a long time to get ready, often seemingly unaware of other peoples time constraints. If you’re reading this I’m sorry but it’s true! Their lackadaisicalness came to a head when the 12 of us were going to go enjoy the last hour of sunlight and go for a swim. So we all piled out of the cottage and headed to the lake. We went in two separate groups because a number of people got tired of waiting. I went with the second group. We thought we had everyone and began the 5 minute hike to the beach. When we arrived we realized we were 2 people short and figured they would shortly be arriving. After 30 minutes of frizbee and swimming we headed back to the cottage. When we returned we realized Stef had latched the cottage from the outside to ensure his dog JD couldn’t get out. This also resulted in the tardy party being stuck in the cottage for a maximum of 1 hour (more likely 45 mins). In a bizarre moment of panic and insanity, despite everyone’s stuff still being there including the dog, people’s cars, phones, wallets and literally 2 weeks supply of food, they for some reason figured we had abandoned them and they were surely going to die. So using a massive knife they cut their way out of one of the screen windows! The ridiculousness of this action overwhelmed me, instead of being able to laugh it off and maybe having a snack or watching a movie. They fucking freaked out damaged the door by smashing it (which I can understand) but fucking knifing out the screen really?! A screen I may add that is vital to keeping bugs out. No apology or laugher was shared and just this horrible awkward tension hung in the air. Fortunately my level headed cousin Tom was like “these are just things let’s make sure all the people are ok” and we did.

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(Are we all 45 minutes away from this maneuver?)

In other news, the night before going out to the cottage I did some stand up at a venue that was an audience of other comedians vying for open mic spots (always a critical and tough crowd) the mic was also broken and couldn’t be picked up, which never helps. I performed a set and received a few laughs and groans but not the desired hysterics I seek from telling jokes. I didn’t think too much of it, but while I was outside some random other comedian asked, “hey man how long you been doing this” to which I replied “about a year and a half”, “oh ok” he replied, “how many sets?”, “well maybe 30 or so” I said, to which he said “Oh that makes sense then…”. :/ Now I could have just left it at that but I decided ok I’ll bite “what are you implying?”, “well” he said “all your material fell flat tonight…” and I gave him a funny look, sarcastically replying “well thanks for the constructive criticism!”. He continued with his discouraging comments by informing me he didn’t trust people that were happy or confident with themselves. I informed him that “that way of thinking pretty much makes you a social cancer” and “maybe you should consider suicide for your own sake and ours?”. This grim concept made him laugh, which apparently the rest of my material failed to do.

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(“Haters gonna hate!”)

With this experience in mind I like many people, have concluded that to enjoy this thing known as life, it is best not to take anything personally, however his comments didn’t sit well with me. Fortunately I utilized it as fuel, to hold myself to a higher standard as a comedian, rather than internalizing the criticism and getting negative over it. So I cut out my day time pot for now and am trying to meditate in its spot, (way healthier but way less fun). I chose not to let some random insecure dick’s comments get me down, and a few days later I managed to score a set at Yuk Yuk’s down town Toronto and it went great! I even networked with a gentlemen responsible for booking and he told me to contact him when I had a full hour set ready.

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(Taking things personally will lead to situations like this.)

In another excellent eye opening experience. I was temporarily homeless. My cousin Stef had been hosting me for the entirety of my stay and we both needed a break from each other. So I searched for another host for Friday-Monday. I had one girl through Warmshowers say she could host me, as well as a friend whom I’ve know for nearly 20 years, said he could help me out. Between the two I figured I would for sure have a place to sleep. Needless to say both of them didn’t pull through. So during a Saturday night with a torrential downpour and thunder, I had no where to stay. Being soaking wet, a little miserable and without a place to sleep, you all of a sudden realize the wealth of the people out there who live that existence every day. It’s unbelievable the amount of indoor space available but that we won’t let people use. Somehow its normal to heat an empty office buildings full of inanimate objects all night and yet totally fine to leave people cold and desperate on the street. A pretty fucked up value system when office furniture is held in higher esteem than many of our fellow humans.

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(“Hey man, you ever dream you were a desk? We would be treated better if we were desks, that’s fucked!”)

Unlike those poor souls who battle homelessness every night, I ended up hanging in Burger King until 2am when a friend of a friend was able to put me up. The person who helped me also worked as a social worker she said “as a social worker I have never met someone who because of their own incompetence and laziness was homeless”. We tend to blame the victim but I can tell you that personally, on this bike trip I am often not far away from sleeping on the streets. Many of us are one missed pay check away from not making rent, so I try and treat those battling on the street with some empathy rather than disdain, we are all in this together right?

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(“According to the logic of blaming the victim, it’s my fault I’m homeless, I guess I did make some bad decisions as a 2 year old.”)

Whewf! This blog post is a heavy one but I had one another experience that I felt I needed to share.

As men our biological drive to find sexual partners, compounded by a societal pressure to validate our life through sex often causes us to be unintentionally callous. I had a friend here in Toronto whom needed a host and a random stranger was incredibly generous and offered to host him totally last minute. Literally is was 8pm and they had no where to go and when a random lady over heard us she offered to put him up on her couch. This particular lady was nice but overly forward with her advances, she was interested in trying to get either of us to participate in an encounter that neither of us were at all interested in. Her aggressive advances made us both uncomfortable. However in a bought of irony my friend did the exact same thing to a lovely young girl. We met this lovely girl and biked around Toronto with her for two days, the three of us really got along really well. Evidently being only human both of us were very attracted to the young lady, however my friend in an over the top maneuver decided to ask if she would like to go for a discreet encounter with him. She passed on the offer, but guess what? She decided not to extend her visit in Toronto another day to catch my stand up show and instead continued off on her adventures. Likely as a direct result of my friends overly aggressive advances.

My friend for some reason couldn’t see that this would tarnish the relationship in the exact same fashion that his host had done. I am no saint and have been guilty of very similar insensitivities, fortunately this bike trip is really helping me see things better from other peoples perspective and empathising with their situation. Read the signals friends and don’t wreck relationships with needlessly unwelcomed advances, something I’ve often had to learn the hard way!

Unwelcome advances at work

(“Well our friendship will never be the same…”)

Here enjoy a quick break from Dion’s preachy writing with some cool pictures from my last 2 weeks!

 

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(My cousin It impression and Muskoka swimming time)

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(Anarchism at it’s best.)

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(Worf and I at the CN Tower.)

Also my awesome unpaid manager Tobias met up with me again here in Toronto. The two of us hung out over the last week filled with laughs, great pictures and good times. Toby always takes the best pictures and he even took a really nice HD video of my last set in Toronto at a venue called PJ O’brians. I think the footage came out great and I can hopefully upload it to my webpage shortly. Unfortunately the poor fellow had his bike stolen from beside the Eaton’s Centre :(. He was able to afford another one but it was a huge loss and I hope that his old bike shows up.

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(His stolen bike the only Austrian Cube in Toronto!)

That about sums up my last 2 weeks I am enjoying a quick stop in Peterborough and am especially excited for my time in Montreal. I managed to score some stand up time at The Comedy Nest in Montreal which is the premier venue there :D. I will do some volunteering at bike co-ops and maybe even find a bike polo league to play with.

Thanks for reading,

Qapla,

Dion