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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.

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(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.

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(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.
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(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

Damn it Feels Good to Eat Falafel

Hello everyone I hope this weeks blog post finds you well and you are able to enjoy and squeeze the fun out of the last days of summer.

 

My time in Toronto has been a blast but is slowly winding down. I have been able to network and volunteer at 2 awesome bike co-ops here in TO. One called Bike Sauce and one called Bike Pirates. Bike Sauce is an excellent co-op that boast a kitchen and often feeds it’s volunteers. Take note people feeding volunteers is a great way to keep them both fuelled, motivated and appreciated. One afternoon this awesome girl Meghan prepared falafel for the whole crew. FYI falafel is one of my favourite foods and my second favourite word.

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(Eating falafel with the Bike Sauce crew. Just say falafel out loud and try not to smile!)

The other bike co-op Bike Pirates started out as a freeganism movement that raided grocery store dumpsters to get food to Vietnam protesters. Out of these awesome roots the original organization moved on. However, it left what some refer to as an anarchist bike shop. Totally up my alley, bonus I bought some falafel before volunteering here.

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(Seriously garbanzo beans + spices = delicious)

Through Bike Sauce I built a really nice single speed Miele that I borrowed for a night to go play bike polo. Bike polo is like combining ball hockey and biking two of my favourite things. So I will brag and say I was a bit of a natural. A number of different people were like “are you sure this is your first time?” To which I smugly answered yes and went back to putting up some serious points. This is a sport I will be playing again!

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(The Miele I used for polo, obviously I couldn’t leave Ltn Commander Worf stranded on The Enterprise so I proudly tapped him to my bars.)

Also I managed to catch part of Busker Fest which was awesome and I really should have prioritized spending more time there. All the acts I caught were tremendous and I even found another Trekie!

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(What did Spock see when he went into the captains bathroom?                              The captains log!)

In terms of the stand up scene I hit up 2 comedy nights thus far as a “booked” comedian. As of right now that just entails getting to go to an open mic comedy night and being guaranteed a spot and a little more leeway with time constraints. The first one went really well the second one was just ok. I wasn’t 100% on point and it was an all comedian crowd. One patron who came into the bar raved “oh fuck they’re doing a comedy night here…” hahah good times.

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(The first show was definitely highlighted by one comedian who wanted to exemplify how not racist he was by wearing a “hat” that had a “not a racist” sign attached to it, let’s just say his material was a little racy.)

I have another set tonight and a final one Tuesday before I head towards Montreal. I am struggling a bit as I know Toronto’s International Film Festival (TIFF) starts next week. So I am a bit torn on whether I should extend my visit here in Toronto one more week in order to try and capitalize on the influx of opportunity brought by TIFF. What are your thoughts?

Anyway that about sums up my week, I am heading off to the cottage up in Muskoka for the long weekend which should be fun. I will aim to have next weeks article be a theme or list as I feel those are a little more entertaining to read. I will admit I have lost a bit of steam for the blog and have had a really low energy week. However I hope my enthusiasm returns and helps spur some interesting narratives and comedic writing. Thanks so much for reading, have a great day.

Qapla,

Dion

Biking into the Center of the Universe

Hello everyone, I hope this weeks blog post finds you well. So I am in the center of the universe Toronto and it is a bumping city! The stand up scene is vibrant and there is stage time available every night. Big news check out what I have up and running, my very own stand up site, woooooo (www.dionowen.com). A big thanks comically enough to my mom and my other unpaid manager Tobias.

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(I just love this song and it’s similar to what I imagine biking into the middle of the universe would be like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWVshkVF0SY)

Onto the occurrences of this past week. One major highlight was a 7 hour hike adventure with one of my favorite cousins Tom. I had the good fortune of getting to spend 5 days with Tom at the family cottage. It was full of laughter, fun and a Robin Williams movie marathon. Weird that so many people can feel so much loss for someone they never met, but Mr. Williams touched so many people’s lives and he is sorely missed. But look a pensive picture of Tom sitting beside a lake we hiked around

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(Tom)

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(Robin and his beard will be sorely missed… thanks for all the laughs!)

The time in Torrence was great and there is a chance I might make it back for a cameo on labour day weekend however it was time for me to bike onwards. The leg between Torrence and Aurilia was easily in my top 5 favourite bike routes from this entire trip. It was this secluded road with more bike traffic then car traffic. For almost the entire 90km bike ride you are surrounded by a lush leafy canopy on either side. Once in awhile it forms a perfect leaf tunnel, the air is so fresh and it was just a stunning ride. I even had to bike over a pivoting bridge that was cool, but two douche bags were driving yachts and needed the bridge to open for them to get by.

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(One of the best biking roads in Canada thus far)

I was very fortunate to get to stay with my moms good friend Beth outside of Aurilia. Her and her partner Phil fed me and put me up for the night.

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(Beth and Phil)

However I had 150kms to go to get into Toronto so I peddled onwards. This leg of the trip was pretty brutal the first 110kms were ok but my right knee was severely aggravated. Probably from the 5200kms of biking!

When I arrived in Toronto the joke is true there are 2 seasons here, winter and construction. I had arrived for lovely construction season and in turn I was neither safe on the road, the bike lanes or the side walk. I even got lost several times and my phone/gps died so it took me 5 hours to do the last 40 kms through the city. When I finally arrived at my cousin Stef’s I had been on my bike for around 12 hours that day which is WAYYYYYY too much time to be on a bike. In the end I had a very soar butt and a throbbing knee.

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(Ummmm how the fuck do I get by? Seriously click this link all the red dots are construction https://www.google.ca/maps/search/construction%5C/@43.7434385,-79.5177668,11z)

Throughout my bike trip I have been what some people call a “masher” which means I haven’t been wearing bike shoes that clip into my peddles. However in an effort to save me knee I forked out the 140$ for shoes, peddles and clips. Bonus I get an estimated 30% more power as I now get to use my hamstring and glutes. (With clips and shoes you are able to pull up on the peddles).

I was also able to get dinner with my aunt Anne who is Stef’s mother.

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(Stef, Anne and super Jesus?)

On another awesome note my friend Anthony had been raving about this sport bike polo and I found a league here in Toronto. Christine a friend I visited here in Toronto was playing and she brought me out to check it out. Newbie night is Wednesday so I am super stoked to get to play. It’s a combination of ball hockey and biking, two of my favorite things.

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(Bike POLO!!!!)

On a final note. Toronto is a bumping city and there is always something happening. While I was down town there were some fireworks going off. And the boom is quite loud and deafening. It made me dread imagining what an actual bomb sounds and feels like. Sure glad I don’t know and hopefully never will!

Anyway that sums up my last week I found a good bike co-op to volunteer at and will be grinding out open mic comedy nights. If you clicked on my website you may have notice 3 booked gigs!

Thanks for reading,

Qapla,

Dion

Laid Back and Low Stress

Hello everyone, it seems with the randomness of this adventure that sticking to getting the blog posted mid week is not possible. Thus we have a Friday afternoon post. I’ve had a pretty mellow week of family time, so if you are not related to me you might find this weeks post a little lackluster, however if you’re my mom then you are in for a treat!

I am typing this weeks blog from a nice little coffee shop called Oliver’s in my old stomping grounds of Bala Ontario.

I am very fortunate to have access to a family cottage in this super cool region and have a feeling I might use it as a writers paradise.

Time in Barrie was excellent and my aunt and uncle were awesome hosts we enjoyed lots of laugh and good food. My uncle John is a super funny guy so I lifted as much material from him as possible. They have 4 sons three of whom still reside in Barrie and are starting families of they’re own. I had the fortune of hitting up the cousins to meet the new relatives and score some free food, here is pizza at Dylan’s and Lianne’s.

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(Aunt Velia, uncle John, Lianne, Jeremy, Dylan)

 

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(Jessie, Anne-Marie and their 5 day old baby girl.)

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(Jeremy and his youngest son)

In the above photo I went to visit Jeremy in the park to cheer on his sister in law who was doing a triathlon. After the race she for some insane reason went to McDonalds!!!!! I was hungry but not up for McD’s so I decided to eat elsewhere.

The rest of the family in Barrie were busy with kids, jobs and life in general. So I went out for lunch solo and let me tell you, for a social extroverted fellow like myself eating alone at a restaurant was weird. I did snag this awesome photo though, at the pizza restaurant all the chairs have bikini bottoms on the back so the gentleman’s misleading back side made me do a double take.

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(The highlight of my lonely lunch.)

From Barrie I headed up with my cousin Phil to the family cottage here in Bala where I got to spend some time with my cousin Tom his son Dylan. My cousin Stef even came up from Toronto for a night.

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(The awesome family cottage you can see The Enterprise hiding behind a tree.)

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(Phil, Tom, a hobo?)

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(Stef, Tom, Dylan a hobo with a touque? and a photo bomb from Stef’s dog JD.)

Well that about sums it up. It’s been a nice relaxing last week however I have a feeling the next 2-4 weeks is going to be pretty event filled especially in terms of my stand up career. Toronto and Montreal are the make or break areas for me. So hopefully next weeks post will be all about big opportunities, big breaks and big laughs. Whatever happens I will make sure I have fun and share it on here.

Thanks for reading,

Qapla,

Dion

What Goes Ying Must Go Yang

Hello folks, I hope this weeks blog post finds you well. This last week was absolutely amazing and was a nice Ying to the Yang of 2 weeks ago. This previous week everything fell into place and I had amazing weather and amazing hosts consecutively. While 2 weeks ago was a total slug fest of rain, restless nights and a run down bicycle. I did however, enjoy both experiences.

When last I wrote I was in Sault Ste Marie. I wrote that post on my lap top that shortly after posting, was promptly “beered”. I rarely drink these days but Andre the awesome mastermind behind Velorution introduced me to some of his friends. One volunteered to purchase the table a round so I decided to indulge. Unfortunately as the waiter was handing out the last beer he was bumped and the final beer toppled and smashed on my laptop. It was in it’s spandex case so I hoped it would be ok. The table looked at me waiting for me to freak out. But I took it out of its soggie case gave it a wipe and said “no biggy” as I had rescued it before.

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(“Hopefully this lands on a laptop to cushion the fall of this poor spilled beer.”)

But at the end of the night I tried to boot it up with no response. I informed the waiter of the issues and he suggested I try leaving it in a bag of rice. So I left it over night and good news! I had a bag of beer flavored rice, but the bad news was my laptop was not working and smelled like beer and burnt electronics. I managed to track down another small laptop that a pretty, blonde lawyer promptly delivered to me. She was very kind and sold it to me for $100. The waiter who was partially responsible for the beering, informed me that he didn’t have to pay anything as it was my responsibility, because I brought the laptop into the premises. But because of my situation and calmness, (if he would have beered almost anyone else’s laptop there would have almost for sure been a freak out!) he was willing to accept 40% responsibility and reluctantly gave me 40$, which was greatly appreciated.

I was concerned that my data might be lost, including my last 3 months of writing :S. However through my people skills and the kindness of a fellow at staples named Steven I was able to exchange some Magic the Gathering cards for a small device to make my old hardrive a USB plug in. Also conveniently the local store that hosts magic tournaments was also a computer store and they helped me rescue my data (which was in Linux format and was a mild pain to transfer to my new Windows XP laptop).

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I camped for 3 days and 2 nights behind this amazing bike shop called Velorution. For some bizarre reason I didn’t take any pictures of the staff or store… But if you are ever in the area check them out. Camping for cyclists is free and you get access to a shower and get to hang out with the awesome staff. I have to give a shout out to one fellow Stevo who’s positivity and joe de vive is contagious. Also the owner and master mind behind it all Andre, is a pretty groovy dude as well, thanks again Velo crew!

The other fellow I was able to spend some time with in the Sue was this German fellow Uwz. He is this kick ass 70 year old I met previously in Marathon, whom biked from Vancouver to Sault Ste Marie, at 70 none the less! The two of us hung out for two days and he kindly donated a few bike components and bought me a few meals. We also did a tent exchange, as his tent is much better than the one I had. It was a bit tough to give away the old one as it belonged to a previous partner of mine, but it felt like good closure giving the old tent away. Plus the new one is way better and I actually fit in it. For extra bonus points, his wife was meeting him in Sault Ste Marie then they were driving to southern Ontario. They passed me 150 kms outside of the Sue and pulled over for a happy visit.

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(Uwz the gift giving German leprechaun.)

After saying another farewell to Uwz I peddled onto Little River where the Orton’s were some of the best hosts I have had yet. They let me stay in the guest house and they live right on the river. I arrived just in time for diner (mostly because they waited for me to arrive before eating). This family makes Warmshowers a better experience than anything I could have paid for.

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(The Orton family)

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(Sunset in their backyard)

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(My evening then my morning views)

The next day I pressed onto Manitouland Island, a leg of the trip I have been very excited for. It did not disappoint. Through Warmshowers I was able to stay with a host Justin whom in conjunction with his mother and a number of dedicated individuals run a small eco village. It’s a super cool spot and honestly places like this give me a lot of hope for the future. I was able to help out with some random tasks on the farm and had a great time hanging out with the whole crew. The eco village shuts down for the winter so I extended them an invite to Bowser during the cold winter months.

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(The “Land Yatch” trailer I got to stay in, look it has a bicycle on the plaque!)

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(Silvio and I on a hike to check on the shores of lake Huron)

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(Meal time and the awesome outdoor kitchen that was often the social gathering point)

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(Ignore the homely looking fellow on the left, handsome guy on the right is Justin the ringleader of the eco farm)

I was even able to spend a day doing a work exchange at the local bike shop with the owner Jeff who was an awesome dude and hooked me up with a much needed new rear wheel and tire. Jeff and I had such a great time hanging out that I left with barely enough time to catch the 10 o’clock ferry.

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(Some crazy homeless guy that wandered into the bike shop.)

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(Jeff the excellent and helpful owner operator.)

However this was just the opportunity I was looking for and I powered hard for 40 kms and caught the ferry in the nick of time. The ferry even had food and I ate 2 veggie burgers, 3 cookies, fries and a butter tart, mmmmm calories. The ship had a stargazing presentation on the top deck which was relaxing and informative. It was a really clear night and the space station zoomed over head, pretty ideal. When I got off the ferry I was able to find a nice little camping spot and set up my new tent courtesy of Uwz.

The next day I peddled onto Owen Sound. Where I contacted a host on late notice. He never responded but when I arrived I asked a young lady with a kid carrier behind her bike for some directions. She noticed I was on a bike tour and asked if I needed a host. I said “sure”, then she promptly invited me to a BBQ with her friends which was awesome. The host of the BBQ Chris and his partner Angie put me up in the tent trailer and fed me both diner and breakfast. On a comical note Carlo the host I initially contacted was at the BBQ!

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(The BBQ I “crashed”.)

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(Breakfast on Chirs and Angie’s front lawn looking out on Georgia Bay.)

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(Chris and his cool kids Cohen and Olivia, again in his front yard!.)

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(Worf finds his long lost brother. Chris has had this guy since the early 90’s!)

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(There was some controversy over the lack of Worf photo’s in the previous post so here is an extra of Worf doing his new job of operating the bell. He takes it very seriously.)

Well that sums it up, I am now in Barrie where I will be spending some time with my awesome uncle John, aunt Velia their kids and their grand kids. Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed.

Qapla,

Dion

Plastic Horses, Wet Dreams and Broken Spokes

Hello folks I hope this weeks post finds you well. So I voyaged from Thunder Bay around Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie since my last post.

Thunder Bay was a great time, I managed to do one open mic at a cafe that was held outdoors and it went really well. There were 2 other open mics the same night and so I attempted to do 3 in one night. However when I arrived at the second open mic it was a long bar with most of the audience already pretty hammered and 50% of them facing away from the stage. My gut told me to brave this one out, other venues similar to this had gone terrible but part of me was like “this one will be good if you are on”. I however decided to opt out and headed to the 3rd open mic that was stand up comedy specific. However it was unfortunately swapped to kareokee so I didn’t get to do either :/ I have to learn to trust my gut.

Thus I left TB and peddled towards Swartz Bay which was 120kms north. Enroute I found what I thought was this super cool abandoned hotel. Which had a plastic horse on the balcony and I couldn’t help but set up a selfie. I also had to use the facilities and prior to this bike trip I would have waited for one of these,

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However these days when I got to go, I find a spot and go and so I found a spot behind the “abandoned” hotel to do my business. I went back to the front deck to snoop and continue contemplating if I should try to investigate inside (not going to lie I have never wanted to break into a place more in my life). The curiosity was overwhelming. However as I just finished my plastic horse selfie a car drove up, with a dude who had keys and entered the hotel. He informed me it was behind on re opening for the season but would be open in a week. So I headed off knowing some poor grounds keeper was going to find an unpleasant surprise in the back yard :/

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(On the plastic horse outside of the recently “fertilized” abandoned hotel.)

In Swartz Bay camping again was like 30$. So I found a secluded spot out of the way and set up camp. Unfortunately it rained and I was in a dewy meadow so I woke up with most of my clothes and gear moist from the combinations of my own breathing and water seeping into the edges of the tent. I managed to get brunch at an awesome local family run restaurant that reminded me of our friends pasta restaurant in Williams Lake called Trattorias.

I pressed on the next day and I arrived in a place called Shreiber that had a cool little restaurant called the Hungry Moose. I snagged some food and a local fellow showed me a good spot just down the road to camp. It rained throughout the night but I managed to stay dry, however traffic was quite loud and I was abruptly woken up at about 2 am to the sound of my rear tire spontaneously blowing up, I let out a heavy “sigh” and tried to go back to sleep. In the morning as I was half packed up a torrential downpour kicked in and myself and all my gear got soaked. I quickly tossed on what I thought was a sweet $10 water proof jacket I picked up, turns out it wasn’t water proof… So I packed all my soaking things up, grabbed my bike with the flat tire and like a wet rat headed towards the Hungry Moose. Fortunately the downpour only lasted an hour or so and then the sun came out. I spent the next few hours drying my clothes and tent out. I even had to put my laptop and camera on top of the Hungry Moose’s pizza oven to dry out and hopefully work again. Which they did!

Scored a new rain coat that had never been used before and it looks just like this.

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(Garbage bags are surprisingly excellent rain coats, I strongly suggest them in a pinch, mine saved me over last few days.)

So after drying out I pressed onto Marathon where I arrived at 9 pm everything was closed other than a small hotel restaurant which did have amazing nachos. I snagged a random secluded tall grass meadow to camp in before it got dark. Unfortunately it was directly beside the train tracks which kept me awake and again all night it rained. Thus I had 3 straight days of “wet dreams” in Northern Ontario. They were unfortunately not of the teenage variety but of the literal being cold and wet.

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(Puddles in your tent are never good.)

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(Super grumpy, wet sleepy selfie.)

So I grumpily packed up my stuff with a 3rd day of minimal sleep. In addition to being grumpy my muscles ached because during deep sleep and R.E.M. is when your muscles tend to regenerate, something I had very little of over the last few days.

I found a really nice local coffee shop named Rumor’s and the sun again came out so I could dry all my stuff. Again the electronics were wet and needed to be dried out but were rescued once more.

Whenever I spend time in coffee shops I am always like “screw biking I should just live here, they have coffee, food and random pretty girls I can flirt with”.

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(“Why bike in the rain to potentially sleep in some shitty camping spot, when you could hang out and drink coffee with us!?”)

It was around 2 o’clock and I knew I should be pushing on. I really needed a safe heaven soon so when two pretty girls in dresses came in and I striked up a conversation and asked if they knew anyone in Wawa. One girl tentatively said “yes” and when I explained my situation, she then happily connected me with a cousin of hers in Wawa which was 180kms away.

My legs were pretty drained so I let myself away with my lowest km day thus far at 60. While riding I realized I hadn’t eaten any fish or had vitamin b12 in awhile and was like “damn I could use some”. After I hit my 60km goal I passed 2 camping spots that like Goldie Locks and the 3 bears, were ok but not quite right. But the 3rd spot was a dynamite boat launch/camp spot where a lady Janelle had already set up. There was a couple on the lake that were courteous enough to give us 4 fish when they docked up. Patty and Barney even donated me a good chunk of food including two delicious peanut butter and raw honey sandwiches. So Janelle and I made some fish stew and I slept like a baby.

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(Gutting Diner)

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(Patty and Barney suppliers of food!)

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(Food)

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(Lovely rested sunny morning)

The next day I grabbed breakfast at a restaurant right beside where I camped and peddled on. A few kms down the road I realized there was a bit of a wobble in my rear wheel. Unfortunately I had a broken spoke. I was able to tweak it to smooth it out but the nearest bike shop was still 400 kms away in Sault St Marie, the problem would only get worse. I pressed onto Wawa where another spoke broke on me but I managed to make it to my host Cassandra’s home where she let me camp on her covered deck, use the shower and the cooking facilities. I did laugh a little as there was floor space and an open couch available but the arrangement was I would camp on her deck so that’s what I did. (Both the dog and the cat got to sleep inside hahahaha!).

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(“That stupid human that looks homeless must stay outside, master suspects he is not house broken yet.”)

I thanked Cassandra for her hospitality and headed on my way. I was 225 kms away for S.S.M., the next bike shop and my wheel was only getting worse. There are few sounds worse to a bikers ear then the “ping” of another spoke breaking. I did manage to find an amazing camp spot 110 kms outside of my destination, however 6 spokes had broken.

But after a solid nights rest I got on the bike and hoped for the best. Unfortunately after 55kms and 12 broken spokes the bike was no longer ridable. So I snagged a lift and The Enterprise was towed 60kms to the bike shop. I walked the bike 10kms on “impulse power” and for any trekkies you’ll get the reference and we all know it takes awhile to get anywhere under impulse power.

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(Another battle damaged Enterprise.)

I arrived in Sault Ste Marie at the amazing bike shop/camp ground Velorution. Bike tourers camp for free and get access to a shower. I spent 20$ on the gear I needed for my wheel and The Enterprise is up and running but still needs a few hours of cleaning and tuning because I still have 4000kms to go.

I am off to visit Andre the mastermind and owner behind Velorution whom is going to connect me with his friend Donna who might be able to hook me up with some stage time here in S.S.M., fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

Qapla

Dion

Warp Whistling out of Winnipeg

 

Hello everyone I hope this weeks blog post finds you well. So after 10 days in Winnipeg I finally moved on. Unfortunately because I keep connecting with so many great people in the array of amazing cities and towns of Canada I am running a little behind schedule and “winter is coming”. The next leg of the trip between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay is renownly hot, muggy and other than a few serene lakes, not much for scenery, oh what is a boy to do? Why not “warp whistle” past it?

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(This may be so, but new episodes of Game of Thrones are almost a year away 😦 )

And so I bypassed a 700km chunk of Canada for the small fee of 50$ (less than the cost of the 5-6 days of food I would have needed!) It was a last minute ride share I snagged Monday night and so the following Tuesday morning I crammed into a Volvo station wagon for 7 hours, that was holding 3 people, all their luggage and some asshole’s bike!

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(A picture of said asshole looking like a zombie.)

For those who loved Mario World 3 I will admit I used whistles in that game to, so I had very little trepidation to do so in “real life”. Some people think this is in bad taste (Bryan!), but why suffer through water world when there are so many awesome other places? And so this is what it would look like if my bike trip was like Mario 3.

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(For the Mario enthusiasts open this link in a new tab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOg0GZZuCak and then click on the above picture.)

My time in Winnipeg was really rewarding I managed to catch 3 Fringe shows all of which were entertaining. I strongly advise trying to be in Winnipeg for it’s fringe festival it’s a cornucopia of arts and entertainment. Other highlights were volunteering at 3 different bike co-ops.

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(Helping Angela fix her BMX at The Wrench)

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(Finishing my Magic Card buddy Matt’s cool Spanish road bike I found on Kijiji for him. The bike is aptly called The Matador)

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(The Bike Cage crew)

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(Two volunteers of The Bike Dump, Winnipeg’s first bike co-op)

I was really happy I was able to volunteer at the co-ops in Winnipeg as many of the volunteers are a little overwhelmed and in turn a bit jaded from how many people need help and access to bikes. Its a big challenge as the goal of co-ops aren’t to simply fix and donate bikes, it’s to empower people to be able to do it themselves and in turn share those skills with their community, though I personally am happy to fix and donate bikes, many co-op mechanics are not.

However the large populations of street people whom have been marginalized and neglected can often be a challenge to work with as they have a wealth of frustrations and baggage that come with their life. For instance I worked with a very nice First Nations fellow named Fred. He wanted to be able to help me with his bike but because someone assaulted his hands with a hammer! He had severe arthritis and couldn’t. Also Fred had just recently been release from jail as he was finally acquitted of a murder that he did not commit after serving a number of years in jail for a crime he DIDN’T COMMIT!

He confessed to me that he just really liked to ride his bike beside the river, it brought him a lot of relief… Fred story was a bit heavy for me because as I am a very fortunate middle class white kid whose biggest emotional turmoils are “bad” breakups I had trouble relating. And I felt any of my woes were completely insignificant in contrast.

But back to more positive stuff! I spent almost every night getting 2 $1.50 vegetarian samosas and dancing at the free stage, in the Exchange district of Winnipeg.

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(the stage and dance floor)

 

While in Winnipeg I even got a surprise visit from my cool BC friends John, Jodie and Will. John and Jodie are expecting a little gaffer and I quickly was like “have you heard of Bowser, great place to raise a family!”. My recruiting of young folks never stops.

The other fellow Will is one of those people who you quickly realize is as easy to hang out with, as it is to eat delicious room temperature pizza. He was even so kind he hooked me up with some excellent donations to Dion’s cross country bike trip and connected me to an amazing vegan burger restaurant called Boon Burger. (Eat here if you are ever in Winnipeg).

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(“Hey everybody doesn’t this feel just like hanging out with Will?!”)

It was so good I took a girl I met at the free stage named Heather to join me for a burger and a show. Our Boon Burger was delicious and we caught a great one women show called Pride and Promiscuity, and even was donated a free ticket as it was otherwise going to go to waste. My adventures with Heather would cap off my my last evening in Winnipeg as the next morning at 8:30 I took a ride share to Thunder Bay.

When I arrived in Thunder Bay several warm showers hosts volunteered to take me in but one in particular Megan, had an offer I couldn’t pass up. Here was her text “I’m heading to Kanga’s sauna tonight with some friends. You’re welcome to join. It holds 20 people and involves a shower room and a hot tub and alcoholic beverages.” How could I pass this up!?

So I respectfully informed Dan and Frank I had another host and went off adventuring. And to my delight it was as advertised. A super cool spa where I got to hang with her friend group and like an idiot I didn’t bring my camera. But look a stock photo with an appropriately funny caption.

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(“Ummm who the fuck invited the really hairy guy, who won’t stop making mediocre jokes and talking about bikes!? Did he just take a picture of us!??”

But I  and had a great time in this relaxing and fun environment. And “old Dion” was a great hit with the locals whom were happy to hear about my adventures and laughed at many of my jokes, I received a number of accolades that are always flattering to hear. But I try to “not let success go to my head, nor failure go to my heart” so despite the wealth of positivity I always remind myself that I am am still a Neanderthal in clothing.

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(I mean look at me, I literally look like I am right out of the Palaeolithic!)

Anyway that sums up where I am at. Thanks so much for reading. Have a great week.

Qapla,

Dion

 

There’s no Place Like Feeling at Home

Hello everyone I hope this weeks post finds you well. I am still in Winnipeg and conveniently the Fringe festival is on. And thus again I am extending my visit in another spectacular spot of Canada.

 

When last I wrote I had just swallowed my pride and taken a lift into Winnipeg in order to give myself time with my cousin Dave and his family. And let me tell you it was incredibly worth it.

 

I often find it draining to see the wealth of children out there who are often being raised by parents whom honestly I do not think are ready to be raising kids. Though this comes across overly judgemental if you take a tour of your local Wal Mart I think you may agree. Society seems to be ripe with physically and mentally unhealthy people who are in turn rearing physically and mentally unhealthy children. There are few things I find more unnerving than seeing an overweight toddler being pushed around in a stroller, while in a zombie like trance, as they stare blankly at the screen of their parents hand held devices. I am a little terrified to meet this entity in 10 years, how does this situation make you feel?

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(I am not in favour of bureaucracy, but I find it comical that the state requires you to have a fishing licence but is like “shit produce as many humans as you want!”)

 

Anyway my cousin Dave’s children were the polar opposite. Vibrant, healthy inquisitive kids who were an endless supply of entertainment and challenges. They use technology and are just as hooked as the rest of us but not to a destructive degree.

 

I really enjoy kids and currently don’t have any in my life. (Torrey make some nephews and nieces!). So when I got to spend an afternoon with his son Even and getting to be “uncle Dion” was such a delight. The two of us worked on his bike as he eagerly watched and learned how to tune it, then we rode around for 4 hours of fun and were treated to lunch variously through my mom 4000 kms away. (Thanks mom!)

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(Evan and I’s biking/gangster selfie.)

The 7 of us (uncle Dick, aunt Peggy, Dave, Sereta, Isha, Even and I) ate diner together each night sharing laughs, bad puns and just a very genuine feeling of family. I was sad to see them leave but very grateful to get the few days with them.

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My moms side of the family is huge I have some 35 cousins a number of whom I’ve never met. Uncle Dick and aunt Peggy have done such an amazing job raising their 5 kids and I hope to be able to touch base with each of them on the trip. Their efforts and love resonate in their grand kids whom I cannot express what absolute gems they are.

 

The other experience that has been pretty surreal is how welcoming Dick and Peggy have been. They both remind me of my mother and father and have treated more like a son than a guest, this has been such a beautiful feeling of being home even though it’s thousands of kilometres away.

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(“There’s no place like home…” unless of course you’re fortunate enough to have relatives that are awesome!”)

With their kids being so great and their kids children being so spectacular, it would only make sense that their friends would follow suit. And sure enough we went for diner at family friend Gord’s home and this evening was another highlight. Food was great and the quality of conversation was through the roof. The evening was highlighted by these two immensely entertaining, intelligent and attractive sisters Maria and Laura, who shared a very cool word game with the diner party that was so fun, we had 7 adults behaving like kindergarteners because we were so excited.

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(“Nooooo it’s my turn to pick a word!”)

The two of them have such a cool sibling dynamic that I would really like to meet and hang out with the rest of their family, it would probably be a wreaking ball of fun and music.

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(Yay for contemporary references that add nothing to the blog, other than having a picture of a word I used!)

On another note if you folks weren’t aware I am a pretty big geek. I have been playing Magic the Gathering for 15 years and was able to play in two tournaments here in Winnipeg. Both of which I won (smug emotion smug).

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(“My people, my kingdom…”)

 

I also connected with a fellow Matt whom I played in the finals of one tournament with. We immediately got along well. Matt is working on his masters and his partner Jen is in medical school. I again tried to recruit them to Bowser. I was able to track Matt down a cool Spanish road bike for 80$ that needs a little TLC but should be running in tip top shape after we work on it at a bike co-op tomorrow afternoon.

 

Well that about surmises my week. I hope you enjoyed the read, on a final note, though the aim of my blog was as a pseudo journal for myself and as a way for those interested to follow along on my journey. Part of me, like any human yearns to share this experience known as life. And according to my WordPress stats my readership has peaked and is slowly on the decline. I try not to put too much stock into it but it can be tough.

 

So I ask you the reader, what can I do while writing the blog to keep it interesting and keep people following and ideally passing the blog off to others to read? Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Qapla,

 

Dion

Manitoba’s Sinking Man and I Don’t Wanna Swim

Hello everyone, this blog post is a day late! But because of this I can now post anywhere from Tuesday – Thursday mwhahahahah!

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(This is what the prairies look like right now!)
Well I finally left Saskatoon but I also left a piece of my heart there. It is an awesome city and any energies I shared while there I felt were well received and made a huge difference.

Networking with the bike co-op was awesome and allowed me to donate a super sexy pink Bianchi to a very cool cat named Adam. I also got to make 5 kids their very first bikes! My last day working at the bike shop I got to work closely with the lovely and talented Megan, whom is into alternative education. And whenever I meet healthy young people I always try and get them to move to Bowser.

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(Isaih helping me switch his peddles)

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(Getting to give away a super cool BMX with pink rims!)

My final evening in Saskatoon was a deusey. Rebecca the very talented girl who introduced me to Nicole was kind enough to give me a Thai Yoga massage that was out of this aether! Rebecca learned the technique the absolute best way possible, while in Thailand she met a monk who needed someone to practice on to perfect his craft. So he would massage her 3 hours a day and in turn she learned the techniques vicariously through the experience. And boy did she learn, I do Yoga on and off so it was neat to experience I would describe it like, assisted Yoga with precise pressure points to release tension. I felt so relax and limber that I managed to bike 600kms over the following 3 days. Thanks again Rebecca!

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(This may not look relaxing but it’s unreal!)

After my massage I was disorientedly relaxed and was lying on the couch. When another lovely roomate Camille came in wearing cut offs that’s pockets were longer than the shorts. Girls btw if your pockets stick out longer than the denim of your shorts, these are no longer shorts, they are pretty much underwear or a bathing suit bottom, either way we appreciate what you are doing :).

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(See the difference?)

Anywho seeing this my male brain was like, “you should go out and mingle on the town, it’s your last night here”. But I was also feeling pretty “meh” so I lied back down. Then Alyssa the other roomate came in, stocked full of energy and “raging” as she described it. She invited me out to a cd release dance party, I knew this was no time to be lying down, so I jumped at the opportunity.

 

Alyssa planned to negate cover by walking in confidently and saying “I’m on this list”. So following her lead I tried to walk sexy and confidently like her “boy toy +1”. And the ruse worked, we were in! So I got more live music, dancing and was able to visit a number of people I met earlier in the week, all for free!

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(“That guy does have a confident, sexy swagger… he must be on the list!”)

Alyssa and I had a great time and she even treated me to the best breakfast I have had thus far, at the restaurant she works at. I can’t emphasize how awesome the folks living in this house are. Alyssa was kind enough to share some of her music with me, she has one of the sultriest voices I have ever heard, I again tried to recruit another young person to come live in Bowser!

 

But the next day I was off. I biked till my legs were soar and then camped beside some cows, who when I awoke were incredibly confused and aggressively mooed at me as I did my morning routine.

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(“MOOOOooooooo GTFO MOOOOOOOO!!!!!”)

On Monday I biked into Yorkton where I had found a host named Ed who put me up at his girl friends house. The two of them were very pleasant and helped me do shopping in the morning and saw me off down highway 16. I had solid tail wind and made great kms that day. However I literally camped in a mosquito infested bog directly between the highway and the rail road tracks. I got woken up by trucks and trains. I was also was cold and wet in the middle of the night. Then in the morning the sun quickly overheated my tent. My morning ritual was not the usual pleasant breakfast and stretch, instead I was swarmed by mosquitoes as I packed up my tent and fled with my bike sludging through the muck.

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(“Why the fuck did I camp here, what was I thinking!”)

Day 4 was the most disheartening riding thus far. I battled headwinds, lack of sleep and some severe muscle stiffness, I had hope to make Winnipeg in 4 days but this wouldn’t be the case. Usually in the prairies I can average 25kms an hour. And In 3 days I had managed 600kms, but it took me 3 hours do to 40kms so I pulled over for a rest.

There were severe head winds and my cousin Dave and his family are only in Winnipeg till Saturday. Then they move back to India. I haven’t seen Dave in nearly 20 years but I have been super excited to visit him and meet his family, so I swallowed my pride and took a ride from a lovely lady Cathy for the last 200kms to Winnipeg. And conveniently arrived with enough time to visit Dave and his family and it’s also Folk Fest in Winnipeg right now 😀

I have been bad with photos, since loosing my “unpaid manager” Tobias whom had an excellent camera and was damn good with it. So I do not have photos of any of the cool people I spent the last week with :(. From now on I will be the “take too many photos guy”. I did snag these cool photos though.

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(Highway 16 was washed out and I was the only vehicle to get through.)

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(There was a water vortex that looked like someone pulled the plug from a drain)

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(Worf at Manitoba border)

 

I have safely arrive in Winnipeg and will be here for about a week.

 

Well I know my previous posts have been a little long and have often been filled with heavy philosophical shit, so I figured I would balance it with this nice straight forward one.

 

Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed,

 

Qapla,

 

Dion