"Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever; a happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story."
—Peter S. Beagle
About a month-and-a-half ago, this quote would have come quite in handy, as sickness overcame me and cycling the other half of the second-largest country in the world seemed quite daunting. But it was a month-and-a half-before that that the hardest part of doing a cross-Canada music tour on a bicycle actually took place.
Starting on May 12 in Victoria, British Columbia, with no previous cycling experience other than peninsula commuting in Halifax, I began the enormous New Year's resolution/quest that I had made some four months previously. This "hardest part" was not letting go of my silly/whimsical/fantastical idea and taking that first step to plan for it. First steps, as simple as they always are —calling that student advisor, putting in that resume, making that plane ticket reservation—are the hardest part; we keep these "plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines." This is because turning these "one days" into "todays" takes more than that phone call, application and mouse click; it takes sacrifice and leaving family and friends and/or losing things we already have.
Once the hardest part is over, though, all that stands in your way are trials and tribulations, which are to be expected and enjoyed or overcome, as they are the stories and adventures from your quest: "at every moment life is beautifully tragic, retrospectively comic or mundanely fantastic."
In my situation, starting to bike across the country for my tour and the Childhood Cancer Foundation (childhoodcancer.ca), I was met with ominous mountains lurking on the horizon, saying, "Hey buddy, you can't get to Halifax without going through us!"—only to reach them and nearly break down both physically and mentally because of the utter exhaustion biking over a mountain induces.
Sheets of rain were the next trial, which diminished over time—biking for 100 to 150km in eight hours of pouring rain became somewhat of a standard (especially by the Prairies...it was really hard to keep going after being offered a ride from Saskatoon to Regina by the In-Flight Safety boys).
Outside of Edmonton, when this rain turned to hail, a new experience of what could only be called wet-pain was obtained; this was also the beginning of cycling through thunder and lightning storms with only "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" as a comfort song to keep company since my cellphone chose to give up only a week in. Breakdowns, hitchhiking to gas stations, bike repair shops, botched personal bike repairs (I'm not really a cyclist in any respect), and one hell of a head cold bring us back to where this started.
Sometime after Thunder Bay and before Wawa, Ontario, I got the cold that would rival any of the annual colds that put me in bed for a week. Still, I had to keep performing, biking and enduring. But what happened that week was a perfect example of what has been shown to me time and time again on this trek—when things get rough, people come to the aid of other people. At the peak of my illness, a couple took me in, gave me a place to sleep and arranged a 200km drive for me so that I could rest before my next show. Across the country, I have seen examples of what Paulo Coelho meant when he said that if you follow your dreams, the universe will conspire to help you achieve them; no amount of thunderstorms and breakdowns will get in your way.
So, in the middle of the story, with more breakdowns, life-threatening hailstorms and the second half of the country to come (read all about it here!), I had complete faith that things would work out, thanks to the support of everyone I had met, people who came together to make this cycling/fundraising/music adventure happen. Thanks very, very much to everyone to has contributed, pledged and given their support.
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!" —Dr. Seuss
Rich Aucoin’s final performance of How The Grinch Stole Christmas w/The First Aid Kit and Jason Ball, August 17 at Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agricola, $5. To make a tax-deductible donation to the Childhood Cancer Foundation visit myspace.com/richaucoin.