The Spirit of Spinning

“So Tim, is this what you expected?”

The question came out of nowhere and seemed innocent in nature and I didn’t think I would base an entire blog post about it, but the words that call into question my expectations often give me cause for thought. Not to mention I was having one of the most unique and interesting experiences of my trip thus far.

I checked my surroundings before answering. It was dark out, there were explosions in the distance, children were running around screaming carrying burning sparklers, and what can only be described as UFOs were flying through the air. I didn’t feel concern because I had a cool beer in my hand and I was surrounded by people who, although I didn’t know any of them by sight a few hours earlier, had become fast friends and another story in this remarkable adventure. Having completed the survey I replied:

“No, but only because I didn’t have any expectations to begin with.”

The Durham Ultimate Club

The Durham Ultimate Club

This story begins a month and a half earlier when I had just launched a website, this very website actually, about my weird idea to bike from Halifax to Vancouver on a $45 bike playing ultimate as I went. The next step in this story involves a fellow named Derek. Now Derek is just your regular father of two, but I felt a connection to Derek for two significant reasons. The first reason is that Derek plays ultimate and is a member of the Durham Ultimate Club or DUC. The second is that Derek has an email account and he knows how to use it. When Derek came across my website about this weird idea he decided to send me an email inviting me out to a tournament hosted by DUC and even linking me to some of the bike trails to take in the region in order to arrive in Oshawa.

Having exchanged several emails it turned out that the tournament was going to be on the same day as TUF, an ultimate tournament in Toronto, so I would not be able to make it. Derek and I persisted in our email contact and I decided that Oshawa would be a good stop to make in between Peterborough and Toronto, so Derek went about finding me a couch.

Derek introduced to me to Mark by email, describing him as a ‘super awesome guy’, about 3 days before my expected arrival in Oshawa. I did not know him nor he me. All we knew about each other was a few emails and a phone message.

I came in from Peterborough on a lovely Saturday having stopped at the Farmers’ Market before taking my leave of the city. With some perogies and apples to fuel me on my way I had a nice ride through Ontario that was maybe a little more hilly than I had originally expected.

I came down the street to the address I had received by email to the sight of a beautiful house with an old Volks Wagon Bug parked out front and a man standing out front with both his arms raised above his head telling me to pull right in. I had met the self-proclaimed oldest player in the DUC but the youngest at heart, Mark “The Spirit of Spin”. Mark’s enthusiasm was infectious right off the bat and there appeared to be about a million things going on at once. George the lawnmower was getting reworked by Mark’s son Connor and his friend David and Troy, Mark’s buddy from BC, was making a solar powered light to sit on the fence. Feeling slightly overwhelmed I asked if I might be able to grab a shower and hoped to grab a moment to collect myself.

I made the Wall of Fame at Mark "The Spirit of Spin"'s residence

I made the Wall of Fame at Mark “The Spirit of Spin”‘s residence

When I was led into the house I knew I had landed in the right place. Mark took me in through the garage into a room absolutely filled with discs. They lined the walls and each seemed to have a unique story. There were fun discs like a disc you could fill with water and it would spray as it rotated through the air. More serious discs like the 2013 Toronto Rush Inaugural Season where Mark had attended the home opener with over 100 people from the DUC. Or discs with stories like the one Troy had acquired in Costa Rica because he was feeling a little bored and, as per Mark’s instructions, he bought the disc and waved at people as they passed hoping to find someone to toss with on the beach. The first couple to see him have now become his good friends. Every where I looked all I could see were discs and attached to each disc a story lining the walls and Mark was telling me all about them, talking a mile a minute.

I came up from my shower feeling a little more prepared for what was bound to be an interesting evening, and Mark pointed out his wall of fame and showed me where I had been honoured with a message, in the picture above. We sat out on the front porch with a beer and talked ultimate and Frisbie amid the distractions of friends dropping by and lawnmower maintenance questions, it all seemed like an everyday occurrence for Mark, being the focal point of the neighbourhood.

Mark has been throwing a disc for many years and is a frisbee/disc/ultimate nerd/junkie/fanatic. He was actually a member of the International Frisbee Association (IFA), established in 1967, and at one point he even had the T-Shirt to prove it. Mark brought out some literature that he had acquired over the years about the history of Frisbee right from the fabled pie plate that kick started the sport when it was turned upside down in order to be thrown. He even had one of the original Frisbie’s pie plates as a part of his already impressive disc collection which he had made a pie in for the occasion.

A Spirit of Spin apple pie in the Frisbie's pie plate that is the origin of the sport.

A Spirit of Spin apple pie in the Frisbie’s pie plate that is the origin of the sport.

We eventually went up to the park, as a group of four: myself, Mark, Connor and David, after a delicious spaghetti dinner, to toss a few discs. We took about six discs and some water and had a great time throwing around. Mark even had a disc that measures the RPMs on your throws and we took turns whipping it at one another to see who could come out as the best spinner.

We retired to the house for some beers and Frisbie pie and Mark read me a story he had written about the life of his favourite disc Mr. Friz from game disc to road warrior. It was an awesome listen and I think it should be out in the next Ultimate Canada Magazine. Mark has already written an article for said magazine entitled “I’ve found my people” found on page 26.

Derek, the emailer who set this all in motion, swung by and we got to have a beer in person to make up for the all the keyboard tapping we had done back and forth. Then the lot of us headed back out to the park for some long weekend fireworks, sparklers, light up disc tossing, and beer. It was there that I was asked:

“So Tim, is this what you expected?”

And my subsequent reply:

“No, but only because I didn’t have any expectations to begin with.”

Even if I did have expectations before the start of this trip they never could have lived up to what I am experiencing.

Thanks to Mark “The Spirit of Spin” and crew for making my stay in Oshawa such an awesome one.

Mark "The Spirit of Spin" and  me in Oshawa May 19th

Mark “The Spirit of Spin” and me in Oshawa May 19th


19 thoughts on “The Spirit of Spinning

  1. Hi Tim,we are really enjoying your stories,stay safe take lots of pictures along the way,pretty amazing spirit you have.
    Yep you guessed it marks mom and dad,jack and Helen Schill
    Have fun and keep inspiring the kids!

    • O wow, what an honour to be contacted by Mark’s parents. Great to hear from you, if you are anything like your son I am sure you have a pretty amazing spirit too.

  2. I’ve been playing frisbee with Mark for many many years … our neighborhood as kids was frisbee heaven … keep going, we’re all cheering you on … Cheers, Dale

    • Mark told me a story about making it to a high level tournament in Toronto when he was kid, but then missed out on because of a family vacation. Thanks for the cheers I appreciate it.

      • Oh yes. Willowdale Marauders :).
        We used to play frisbee for hours and hours as kids. Then we went to an international tournament at the Canadian Nation Exhibition. Won trophies and awards galore – I still have the plaques and various newspaper clippings.

        Last min, they invited us to play in something called “Guts Frisbee” where 5-6 guys stand 20 yards away from an opposing team. Goal is to throw hard (any way you want / can) and through the other team. A full speed frisbee coming at your head from 20 yards is … Crazy. Most teams had gloves and goggles etc. We had nothing – just bare hands. Think we won by beating a team from Ohio.

        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

      • I should add, my brother Dan (probably 11 at the time) had his picture taken with “Miss CNE” for a story in the Toronto Star :). He won for longest throw. All Canada 🙂

        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  3. awesome story,,, I’ve been a friend of Mark’s for many years and could spend hours.. telling countless stories about the crazy stuff
    we’ve done together,, we’ve tossed a frisbee many times on the beach,, all the best on your adventure,,,,,

  4. Great story! My boys have just started with DUC upon Mark’s encouragement. They love playing the sport with Mark and Connor at the park and think you are really “cool”. Good luck on your journey!

  5. Tim,
    It was a blast to meet you, and I’m happy you hooked up with Mark. He’s one of a kind, that’s for sure. Shame we never got to meet up on the pitch. Although, playing with the flashflight in the middle of fireworks with you was surreal, and totally amazing. I like the touch where the random guy (Josh?) and his girl showed up and hopped right into the game. I never did see his face!

    Who knows GB2013: MUPH vs Mutiny!

    Ahoy! 2 days ’till *pssscht*

  6. Pingback: The art of hitchhiking and 2 flat tires | Canadian Ultimate Ride

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