There I stand on the far side of the stadium, watching two teams warm up for the final game that they have put months if not longer of preparation into. I guess I am on the brink of a final moment of my own, one that I had also been working towards for months. The music coming over the loud speakers comes to a stop and the announcer calls me in, I climb onto my bicycle to make one last ultimate appearance as the Canadian Ultimate Ride.
And so here it is what will likely be my last entry onto this website. I have never been a big fan of good byes as I feel like they represent such a small part of a relationship yet they always seem to have so much significance put on them. Therefore I don’t expect this entry to rise above the rest; I think it will be like all the others before it.
That being said it feels like there is much to cover.
My final destination and final objective was the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) in Vancouver. All those months ago when I sat and watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in Halifax before opening pull of my first tournament, the CUC seemed an unreachable goal. As I pedaled over the 7400 Km I wondered whether my $ 45 bicycle had what it would take, I questioned my safety as cars and trucks of all kinds zoomed by me, and I asked myself if I had what it would take to make this dream a reality.
When I sat on the sideline of the fields at UBC in Vancouver for the first time I realized that my dream had come true. I began the tournament as a volunteer for the junior division, helping out with score keeping and various tasks before the tournament got under way. Volunteering at the CUC is something I have made a habit of over the past couple of years even if I am playing, it is a cool way to meet people and watch some ultimate. In my case it also might help me gain back a small part of the vast debt I feel that I owe the ultimate community.
As the junior’s portion of the tournament came to a close my teammates from Newfoundland began to arrive in the city. I admit that playing with a team from Newfoundland doesn’t come close to excusing me for not biking through the province, in fact it is now the only province I have never visited at all, but playing with a bunch of them has to be the next best thing. It would have helped if they had made good on their promise to Screech me in.
The senior portion of CUC started with a ton of nervous energy, as it normally seems to, with my team, Wreckhouse, taking on the eventual tournament champions: Union. The day wore on into the next day, with a team dinner in between. Wreckhouse missed the cut off for the top 8 by but a single point lost on universe to Rogue Hippo from Edmonton. The Saturday a lack of bodies caught up with the team as it spiralled out of the last two games of the day eventually finishing in 12th place.
The Saturday night party is always an event to look forward to when it comes to playing CUC, the only teams that still have games are in the finals, and everyone else is ready to celebrate an end to the Canadian club summer season. The tournament organizers, who did a fantastic job throughout the whole tournament, put a special twist to this party filling an above ground pool with 70 000 balls for people to practice their lay outs into. There was music, beer, and dancing and it was a party, I think the lack of teams from the Atlantic region meant everyone kept their shirts on at this shindig, that and the sheep costumes.
The following day most CUC participants made it out to Thunderbird Stadium to watch the finals over the course of the day; time of arrival usually dependant on degree of hangover. Chris was doing the announcing over the loud speaker for the finals and he had contacted me about a month earlier with the idea of having me enter the stadium on my bicycle as a guest of honour.
Here is a slide show of a few of my favourites along the way:
That was where I stood watching the teams warm up at the far side of the stadium. I pedaled in towards the hundreds of fans who were waiting to take in the open final between Phoenix of Ottawa and Furious George of Vancouver, they started to cheer. It was an elating feeling as I leaned my bike up against the Ultimate Canada table and turned to take in the crowd to the chants of my name. But in my mind it wasn’t just me they were chanting for, they were celebrating a community. A community that could accept a vagabond like me as I cycled my way across a country. The cheers were more for every couch, every bed, every floor, every meal, every kind gesture that had kept me in the saddle day in and day out. The cheers were for so many kind acts and the people behind them that I could sit here for the next few days listing them all and I still wouldn’t be able to do them justice. I will try to be fair by listing none of them. But I hope my gratitude extends to each and every one of you for whatever your contribution to the ride has been.
It brings to mind a saying I thought up: A trip that was Tim powered, but community fueled.
I think if there is one major take away message for me as I evaluate my experience is what an incredible amount of generosity we have in our society. From my recent experience in Africa where society seems to stretch its potential to the limit I wondered if in Canada we would ever be capable of demonstrating even a fraction of their hospitality. I have found that, with a little commonality, we can in our own way. In a way it seemed that the more distance I put behind me the smaller Canada actually became with connections only a bike ride away, there is a real positive undercurrent to our sometimes seemingly distant society.
It has amazed me at how many people throw out the idea that I might just turn around and bike back, now that I have made it. As if getting here was that easy that I might as well just double up and do it again. I hate to disappoint, but that is not what I have in mind for my future.
It is another exciting time in my life where I feel like I have as many opportunities ahead of me as are possible. Very similar to the way I felt when I first took on the bike ride, except I do not have the luxury of having $ 5000 lying around. This new chapter will involve making money and not spending it. I will likely stick around the West coast, unless an attractive opportunity presents itself in the East.
As far as this project and everything that it entails. I will leave the website, facebook, email address, and twitter active but I don’t think I will make any more contributions to them. I would be more than happy to discuss my adventure and I love hearing from people whether they are advice seekers or just want to have a chat in general. I have tossed around the idea of doing an E-book using predominantly the content from the blogs with a little bit of added flow and/or making a short movie or slideshow to give some finality to the social portion of the trip but that will depend on how much time I have available to me. In terms of conducting a self-assessment of the past few months of my life, I think for the most part I will assess and evaluate privately but overall I am very pleased with how this most recent chapter in my life turned out. I am glad to have been able to share some of it here.
I am excited to start the next one.