There's something about waking up feeling better that is akin to getting a snow day when you've forgotten to do your homework.
I awoke on my second day in Canmore feeling refreshed and eager to get on my bike. I fixed myself breakfast and made extra to share, feeling grateful for all the acts of kindness that I had experienced since deciding to embark on this trip. The day before, when I'd been too sick to move and needed food, Clayton, who was also a guest at the hostel, offered me fixings for anything I needed in order to take care of myself. Before long, I had warm soup and a delicious sandwich in my belly.
But before that, even—before I'd even left San Francisco—the goodness that exists in people had shown itself to me. I am exceedingly lucky to have the friends I have. Without them, I would be lost. Yet, the world holds so much more goodness than we often believe it to possess, and to simply call it luck would be to sell humanity short.
When my plans were dashed after I'd sublet my place, my friends gave me space in their homes. When I needed a bike because mine had been stolen, the good people at Fitwell came to my rescue. When it needed fixing, multiple bike shops donated their services and discounted their products for me simply because they knew I was going on an extended bike tour. When my knees hurt and I was worried about making it on my ride, 3DBikeFit, a premium bike fitting service, graciously covered my fit.
Every one of these acts has saved my ride, and every kindness since has enriched the adventure.
On my departure date, when I checked in for my flight, I was upgraded to first class and my baggage fees were waived with a wink and a smile. I arrived in Calgary to one of my closest friends, Theresa, waiting for me and excited to spend time with me. Not only did she make space for me while I was in Calgary, but she also booked me into a hostel to sleep in when I was sick and unsure of where to stay, and even came to visit me a few days in to make sure I was doing ok.
I rolled through the lush mountain scenery into Banff, past the Vermillion Lakes, and down the peaceful Bow Valley Parkway, filled with the kind of happiness that comes from discovering the altruism in others as well as yourself. As I waited for Theresa and her husband, Adam, to meet me (they'd gone on ahead to check on campsite availability, since everything appeared to be booked), a server from a nearby restaurant walked by. On his way back, he stopped to offer to fill my water bottles, which were empty. Theresa arrived shortly after to tell me that the campgrounds were full, but the wilderness hostel up the way—which was full—would find a way to make room for all of us.
The next morning, a few minutes after I got on my bike, it poured. Rain hurled itself down from the sky, making it difficult to see and rendering the road dangerously wet. I pulled into a visitor centre, and ran into a couple that I had met at the hostel. They offered me their car and data plan to warm up and double check my route. When the rain slowed down a bit, I headed out again, only to have the skies open up once more.
I rode a harrowing ride with single lane roads and rocky shoulders until I reached Golden, soaking and shivering. I pulled into the nearest establishment, and took cover. My server set me up with their WiFi and told me to stay as long as I want, and while I did my friend Patrick helped me sort out lodgings so that I didn't have to camp in the cold after the ride I'd had.
When, finally, the rain gave way to sunshine and I made my way to a hostel which provided free camping in the back to cyclists. There, I made the acquaintance of a wonderful Scottish hostess and the firefighters that had made their home there while out battling forest fires.
The rain came down again, but by then I was warm, safe, and dry, shooting pool and sharing a beer with my newfound friends.