Back in the U.S. of A.!
Welcome back to the USA. I’ve officially brought the tour back into the United States after spending the last week riding and hanging out in our friendly Canadian neighbors to the north. It was a fun segment of the trip in which I formed many more friendships and had some crazy experiences. There’s always more stories to share, more thoughts to digest, and more feelings to open up about. So let’s get to it!
Toronto was a great city to hang out in, remarkably clean, and very friendly people. I conducted a few interviews in Toronto, one of which with Global News. Doing an interview in Canada was a little different, I had to talk in kilometers instead of miles, and state I was biking all over the continent instead of the country. Not gonna lie, it sounds way cooler to say that I’ve biked all over the continent. Kind of crazy to think about.
While in Toronto, I was even able to partner up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto to not only promote mentorship with them but also attend one of their events. A major ping pong tournament at one of the bigger bars in downtown Toronto. The event was a lot of fun, and had plenty of young professionals taking action. It was great to meet so many people my age who were passionate about Big Brothers Big Sisters just like me. Plus, hanging out in downtown Toronto was a whole lot of fun as well. With an off day the next day I even was able to enjoy a little bit of beer as well. I love to taste the local brews!
Of course, I also had to catch a ballgame in Toronto as well. That’s an important part of the trip. Right? Well, the Jays returned from a long road trip with a series versus Detroit which is probably the closest team geographically to the Jays. With the Jays playing some of their best baseball in 22 years, the game was a sell out. It was packed, and the fans were excited. My host,Steven, graciously bought my ticket and shared the gameday excitement with me. The Jays big bats showed up, as Donaldson, Bautista, and Tulowitzki all went deep. They held on for a 5-3 when after Osuna one of the youngest players in baseball came in for the save. My favorite line from the Toronto fans was, “Osuna Matata, it means no worries for the rest of the game.” Love it. As someone who knows how to speak some Swahili, referencing the infamous Lion King quote will always win me over. Well done, Toronto, well done.
After the game, I anticipated heading back to the home, getting to aroud 11:00 and then arising early to take off for Detroit in the morning. Before I knew it, those plans changed quickly. LaTroy Hawkins the oldest player in the MLB, a 21 year veteran of the league and has played for 11 teams, reached out to me via twitter after the game and invited me out to dinner. Uhhhh yes! I’m in! Plus it was only about a mile in a half bike ride from where I was staying. Sweet!
LaTroy is an absolute class act. He has to be. That’s how he’s stayed in the league for so long. A lot of people have made fun of him cause his age, but his reply to the haters? Only 70 people in the history of baseball have had 20 year careers. I’m one of them. I’m proud of that, make fun of me if you want. I was so impressed with LaTroy and he was of me, a really cool guy who is a genuine kind man. We talked about his time with Brewers, time in Milwaukee, life in Texas, literally everything that could have possibly came up. It’s always cool to get a personal view into the life of a major leaguer, especially one who is as much of a class act as Latroy. Thanks for the hospitality LaTroy! Hi5!
The late night with LaTroy meant a little bit later start in the morning. Fortunately, I don’t have to rush to Detroit as the Tigers are on the road for a while, so I only had 60 miles. Riding through Canada has been nice. There’s enough backroads where I really don’t have to worry about traffic. Sometimes I’m on a gravel road, but for the most part it’s smooth sailing. I’ve been worried about this stretch, mostly because I’m really heading directly West. Which means that a headwind is all but inevitable. Everyday, I’m just hoping the wind isn’t 20 mph gusts. If it’s under 10 mph, I can handle it. Anything above that can really become a nuisance. Fortunately, I’ve been able to avoid those nasty winds all except one day since Boston. So I can’t complain.
Last night, I spent the night with Poncho, a cyclist activist from Mexico who relocated to London, Ontario. He was an amazing host, with two little ones, a baby a few months old, and a daughter just under two. It was so much fun to play with the kids, and share stories with Poncho. His cycling activism in Mexico was beyond impressive. He really had a passion for rides that raise money through cycling. Plus, he fed me an amazing Chinese dinner. Here’s a huge Hi5 to you, and a slightly smaller Hi5 to the kiddos!
As I alluded to earlier, I crossed back into the United States today. Which if it means anything, it means that cell phone service is a little bit easier for me. I can actually make phone calls! Beyond that, there’s not much difference. The weather is the same, the roads are similar, and the people are still friendly. I’m extremely close to Detroit and ballpark 26! It’s unreal how close I am getting.
With just about one month remaining on the trip, I’m trying to think back to all the riding I’ve done, all the places I’ve seen, the stories I’ve heard, the people I’ve met. It really is incredible to think about. Not only do I enjoy the opportunity to form these kind of experiences, but I hope I’ve been able to do the same to others. When I’m told that I’m inspiring people, I’m not sure what to think. I’m not sure how to react? I still see myself as a normal dude. Because I am. That’s what’s cool about this, you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong, you don’t have to be Hercules himself. I’m normal. I wanted to make a difference. So can you! Don’t tell me you don’t have the time. Don’t tell me you have to work. Don’t tell me you’re too old. Don’t give me an excuse. Find something you’re passionate about! School supplies for kids? Start a fundraiser! Helping the elderly population? Start a program that connects high schoolers with a nursing home resident and form new friendships! Always wanted to start a food pantry? Start collecting food from locals! Seriously, there’s no reason why you can’t take steps to make a difference. Look at me. I’ve had people from all over the wolrd tell me that I’ve inspired them to sign up to become a mentor. It’s unreal. If I can change the world, so can you!
So before you think of the reasons to put off that next endeavor, that next life changing decision, look at it this way. Why not give it a shot? You’ll be glad you did. I could have never gone through with this idea of biking to all 30 MLB Ballparks. After all, it certainly is a crazy one. But I said, why not do it? It wasn’t easy, but I am so glad to have started pedaling. You can too. Hop on your own metaphorical bike, and start pedaling. And when you hit a rough point, just keep pedaling. That’s what I do. I just do it a little bit more literally.