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Friday, 8 July 2011

June 24th: Day off in Calgary

  I woke up rather late. Knowing I wouldn't be biking during the day was motivation enough for me to remain motionless in my bed for an extra hour. It was worth every second.
   When I finally made my way upstairs Roger and his family were already up. His wife had gone to work but his child had stayed home from school to come with Roger and I to the ALS Calgary office.
   At around 11:30 am, Amanda, from the ALS office Calgary arrived to pick up our crew and head over to the office. When I arrived I was more than happy to find pizza after pizza waiting for all the workers, volunteers, families, and media people who were invited to the event. By some of the looks being cast in my direction, I could tell a couple of people looked doubtful whether or not I was one of the guys biking accross Canada due to the copious amounts of pizza I was shoving into my face, but I silenced any inner worry I had by reassuring myself that I was carbo loading, and  therefore was performing a duty of utmost importance for the completion of our trip.
   Downey did not make it to the ALS Calgary meeting. His father had driven to Calgary from Winnipeg to see Downey and spend some quality time, father and son. Some people from the ALS Calgary office were dissapointed that they could not meet Downey. They said he sounded like a very interresting fellow and a very animated one at that. I assured them that that just wasn't the case, and that if I made Downey seem like an interresting, nice, or decent fellow, it was only due to the creative liberty I take when I'm writting the blogs.

     "He is ok at best, and after all, more pizza for us!" I said jokingly... yet seriously.

   The meeting was great! Everyone present at the table shared stories. I was asked many times about the things we had seen on the trip, as well as the interesting people we had met. I recounted all the various breakdowns we had, both our bikes and ourselves, and all the memories we cherished from the trip. Some people at the table told me, their own stories of struggle, effort, and hope. For me, the most difficult part in some of my days are climbing mountain passes or cycling threw the rain. For others at the table, their version of climbing a mountain can be as simple as picking up a spoon, tying their shoelaces or moving from their bed to their wheelchair.
   I often talk about how a warm shower or a dry bed is the greatest thing in the world after spending a couple of days in rain. They are common things that are so easily taken for granted. During my time on the road, I have come accross a huge number of people who take nothing for granted anymore. Something as simple as a full breath of air in their lungs is something they cherish. It has been a priviledge to meet the people at the front line of ALS, and its resounding impression has not been lost. These workers, volunteers, patients, and families are among the most determined, strong, and positive people I have ever met. When every little task in one's life is comparable to climbing to a mountain peak of thier own, these people face every challenge, no matter how bleak, with a strong courageous motivation. No mountain is too big, and that is how I know that its only a matter of time before we find a cure of this terrible disease.
    After the office party, Roger, Amanda and I made our way to a bike shop. My back tire was cursed, I was sure of it, and therefore had to be replaced. A 36 spoke tire should afford me the extra strenght I needed to support the extra weight I was carrying. After a quick repair, we were back to Rogers home.
   Downey and his father, Mr. Downey, arrived at Rogers home sometime in the afternoon and we said our goodbyes. For our second night in Calgary we would be staying, once again, with my cousin Nicole and her boyfriend Jeff. Roger and his family were great people and they will be amoung the cherished memories we will carry forever.
   My cousin Nicole and Jeff were happy to see us again. It was funny how close I felt to Nicole and Jeff. They had been the only faces we had seen twice in the last month at different times, and I suppose it made me feel really happy. Downey was in great spirits too, I think a combination of seeing his father and seeing Nicole and Jeff were great mood lifters.
   We had a nice supper, talked and watched a movie. I slept on the couch as there was only one bed. My sleep was fitful, but I did manage to get some precious rest.

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