Saturday, March 10, 2007

MY HERO IS NOT SLIM

The bicycle is parked there, close to a picnic table in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park. It is equipped with all the things you need to make a vacation by bicycle. It has bags in the back. Yellow cylinder bags where for sure he had tent and sleeping bag. Bags on the front wheels. A bag on the handlebar. A map of the Big Sur area. It is closed with a big locker. We look at it and we comment that the owner is probably down to check out the waterfall. There are Canadian flag stickers on every bag. It is easy to conclude that the guy is coming from Canada. A pretty long trip. We decide to seat in the picnic table and I start to tell to Tina about my 2 vacations by bicycle. In Sicily in 1995. And in the Netherlands in 1999. Probably among my best vacations ever. And how I was fit and slim after these two vacations. And how difficult it was to ride everyday for weeks. And put on and down the tent everyday. We are there chitchatting when this guy is getting close to the bicycle. He is touching the bike. My first reaction is a surprise. Why is this guy touching that bike? I look at him. He looks at me and he smiles. The guy doesn't look in shape at all. I would say that he looks fat to me. Now he is opening the locker. Come on, he can't be the owner of that bike. For few seconds I think that all this is a joke. But I have to change my mind. I am wrong. That guy must be really the owner of the bike. We start speaking. So, you are coming from Canada, aren't you? Let's say that I started my trip there. And where are you coming from, now? From LAX, the LA airport. There you go, I am thinking, he didn't do it all the way down from Canada. But I am wrong again. And how long have you been around? Something like four and half years now. What? From LAX? Something is definitely wrong. He laughs. Ehehe. No, not from the LAX. Actually I started my trip in September 2001. I was a teacher, and when my pupils stepped into the class, I started hitting the road. Tina & I are like shining. We have in front of us a true hero. We love this guy. He is telling about his journey and he lists every possible country in the entire world. He had been in all of them. WOW! How many miles did you ride so far? Actually I measured in kilometers. He looks at the speedometer on the handlebar and he comes out with this absurd (for me) number. 94 thousand and something kilometers. What? WOW. That is amazing! A kind of. It is like 2.5 time the Earth equator! WOW! Yes, I want to get to 100,000 kilometers and after I will decide what to do. If continue or not. Now he is totally kidnapping our thoughts. We speak forever. About how he thought about the trip. If he ever got seriously sick during the trip. If he got robbed. If he was broke after all those years without an income from the work. If his trip is over. If he has a website or something. We are submerging him of questions. Of course we get also his name, Rob Cassibo, and his email address. We are going to send him the pictures we took there.And now he is telling us also how he decided to make that awesome and endless trip. He is telling us that his pupils after they won a scientific competition (and he won an award as teacher of the year in Canada) turned to him and told him something like ... You told us that we an achieve whatever we want if we really believe in it and we run for it. We just did it. So what about your dream to go around the world with your bicycle? You can do it. You are 38, you can't wait more! That simple question changed his life forever. In 1 week he resigned. He sold his place and he start pedalling. Such an amazing story. Rob told us also that, as soon as he will stop, he wants also to write a book. He has already the material. He just needs to trim it a little. I will buy his book for sure! And you know what? Also the fact that he is not as slim as I would expect a guy who is riding his bike for the last four and half years makes Rob a real hero. I also googled his name and I found this picture. This is when he won the title of teacher of the year in Canada. Rob is the guy on the left. It is all true. Heroes exist and the only difference between them and normal people is that they believe in their dreams and they go for it with all the love and passion and energy they have. BTW, we spoke also about his weight. And we laughed about it. He told us, that yes he lost some kilos, but not too many. Ehehe. Heroes exist and are not necessarily slim ... :D I don't know why I thought differently. I guess are all the advertisements I have seen in my life. My hero is not slim. He is wearing eyeglasses. And he has gray hair.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Andrea,

We have never met and chances are pretty good that you don't know who I am. However, I do know your hero Rob Cassibo quite well. Remember that science competition Rob was telling you about? Well, I was a member of that team ... some of my fondest memories.

I had the privilege of being one of his students in high school. The year I graduated high school was the year that Rob started his incredible journey around the globe. That same year, I also started a journey. I enrolled in the Canadian Military about two weeks after graduation. I now work as an Air Traffic Controller in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada.

How did I find your website? My mother forwarded me an email from a friend with a link to this blog.

Small world.


-Steven
s_barfoot@hotmail.com

Andrea said...

Yep, a pretty small world. I am glad that you found my post, and I hope that you liked it. I am sure you found interesting to see how is your old teacher. XA

Anonymous said...

Rob was my teacher several times. I was on the 01' Science Olympiad team.

I can't say I was a good student but I can say that Mr. Cassibo was the best teacher I ever had.

It'll probably make his book when he writes it but I'd like to share my favorite memory with Cassibo.

We're on our grade 12 canoe trip for Phys-Ed. We're three days into the bush and we're camped on the shore of a tiny lake in the middle of northern Ontario.

Cassibo has something of an affinity for Diet Coke (as he probably told you) and he was starting to go through withdrawl.

He sat on a rock by the shore mumbling "wish I had a coke.... wish I had a coke...."

We hear this drone coming from the west and turn to find a float plane flying low along the lake. He's spotted our tents and come by for a wave.

He makes a lazy circle at the end of the lake and comes by, even lower this time..... something bright flashes out the window and splashes into the water, a hundred yards off shore.

A race to retrieve the prize ensues but I'm not the fastest swimmer and a friend gets to it first. He swims back to shore and pops up with an empty bleach bottle in a mesh bag with a single (cold) can of Diet Coke.

The campsite goes wild..... Cassibo seizes the can an heads off into the bush. He comes back an hour later with a glassy look in his eye, mumbling "wish I had a pizza....wish I had a pizza"

some of my science olympiad friends had arranged the drop, knowing cassibo's weakness for DC.

***Cassibo is truly one of the few people who has CHANGED my life.

-Derek
stone_troll(at)hotmail.com

Andrea said...

I was reading your comment, and I was thinking that I really hope that one day someone will write the same about me ... a person able to change his / her life. Who knows!? Possibly that is the reason why Ihappento meet Rob ... to have a model to follow ... :) XA

Anonymous said...

Hey Steven, hey Derek! Another former student here.

It's great to know that Cassibo got safely back to North America. Some of the missives from China cast the outcome into question.

Home stretch now!

Tristan Armstrong

clare said...

I miss him, probably not everyday, but a many of them. I'm working on my masters in physics because of him. Sometimes I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse, but he certainly inspired me to try and do something I didn't think I was capable of.

 
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