Touring Magic

(06/22/17) It is now midnight in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada as I write this. I just got back from seeing my favorite band live—the Red Hot Chili Peppers—FOR FREE. Now, in order to tell the story of how the orchestra of coincidence played out to make this possible, I have to backtrack a week.

Last Friday, Clara and I were riding from Ottawa to Tweed, Ontario—a 65-mile ride . . . or so we had planned. Heading out of Ottawa, we got on the TransCanada trail. At first, the ride was great: clear skies, car-free path, and nice pavement. But as we got further into the trail, it began to pour and the path became composed of either large rocks or no-traction sand. This trail was no longer for biking, not even mountain bikes, it was for ATVs and snowmobiles. However, our alternative was to be on a very busy highway running parallel that had large semis, no shoulder, and awful visibility due to the rain. We decided that this was still the safer option. We trekked through the almost unbikeable path, having to walk our fully loaded bikes across a few segments—the last thing a cyclist wants to have to do. Although, don’t get me wrong, it was a crazy beautiful trail.

Having only ridden about 30 miles and already being exhausted, we came across a sign that signaled an inn up ahead. We decided that it was worth calling it a day, especially since we had walked through poison ivy and really needed to wash ourselves and our clothes. We made it to Sharbot Lake Inn and settled in with a beer, hot food, and a beautiful lakeside view. As we chilled on our sweet deck looking out onto the lake, a couple some rooms down walked over and introduced themselves to us—Cindy and James. They had some great energy and we hit it off right away. We sat there talking about nothing and everything. In the conversation, it came up that James worked for Live Nation—a company that organizes large concerts in major cities throughout the world. James had met and driven around everyone from Elton John to ACDC to any major band/artist you can think of. And this one time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers spontaneously stopped at his house while one of their touring buses was being repaired and jumped around on his trampoline and shot the shit with him. James said, “They were great guys. No trouble with those guys. Super down to Earth.”

View from our room in Sharbot Lake Inn

I told James that they were my favorite band and jokingly asked him if he could get me tickets to their show. He pulled out his phone and said, “Let me see if they’re coming by any time soon . . . They just played a show in Ottawa.” Shit, we had just missed the show! James continued, “Wait a minute, they’re playing in Hamilton next week.” Me: “Isn’t that on the way to Niagara Falls? That’s exactly where we’ll be in a week!” James: “Yeah let me just text the Vice President of Live Nation Canada, I’m close with him . . . Yeah he says it’s alright. You have two tickets waiting for you in Hamilton.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck! James had just hooked it up! We exchanged information and parted ways. It was too good to be true, so I actually didn’t want to believe it. There were no ticket confirmations sent to me or any of that, all I had was James’ word that there were two tickets waiting for me under my name at the Hamilton box office. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Fast forward a week later and we’re in Hamilton. The day before, I had messaged a bunch of WarmShowers hosts in Hamilton and all of them had shut me down. Except for one: Claudia. She later told me that she had also been turning everyone away because she is so busy but that she made an exception for me because I seemed to be so excited about this concert. And the best part was, she lived less than a 10-minute walk from the venue. We arrived in the city and walked over to the First Ontario Centre and stopped at a great Indian restaurant on the way (SHAMELESS PLUG: if you’re ever in Hamilton, Ontario, go to the Hamilton Hakka Indian Restaurant on York St.—this guy is a fantastic cook and such a fricken sweetheart, and such a good price!). We arrived at the venue and I still didn’t want to believe that there were actually tickets waiting for me. I went up to the box office and told them my name and they said, “one second.” They walked back and, sure enough, they had two tickets waiting for me. But maybe they were crappy seats—nope! We were in an area that the band gets to reserve for their guests so it was elevated above GA and we had a great view!

The concert was such a blast! I sang and danced my heart out—I have no voice left so you know it was good. And afterwards, I wanted to try to tell the band that I had biked all the way from Boston to make it to their show but I didn’t succeed in telling them personally. However, one of the crew members said they’d find the story amusing and gave me a guitar pick.

Free pick I got at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert for trying to tell the band my story

I still can’t really believe that all of that happened but I attribute this not-so-uncommon luck to something I’ve taken to calling “Touring Magic.” It seems to be that people who are bike touring long distances end up in really bizarre and awesome situations. Who knows where Touring Magic will take me next.

– EG