Canada is the second largest country in the world. Thanks to some social media shares and a few news spots on some local news platforms it was difficult to not be recognized in some pretty isolated parts of Atlantic Canada. I was virtually recognized everywhere I went and generally was know as “that guy” almost anywhere I went. People would randomly come up to me asking me if I was “that guy” multiple times a day sometimes.
The recognition very quickly ended entering the province of Quebec, but entering the city of Montreal with a population of 1.6 million or 4 million in the greater urban area I was crossing an intersection when I heard a guy yell out from on his road bike that he was following me on Facebook.
A week later only hours after getting into Ontario pedalling out of the small town of Bourget on my way to Ottawa Brian Kostick pulled over in his white pick-up truck asking me if I was Arie. Less then a week later at a Best Buy in Ottawa (population of just under 1 million) a department manager asked me if I was the guy biking across Canada. Apparently, the guy working in appliances had recognized me.
On August 16 the day I entered Jasper Alberta I found myself staying and working late in the common area of the Jasper Downtown Hostel. The time would have been just before midnight. Most of all the lights would have been off but there was a street light on outside. I was working at a bench facing the street with large front windows. Covid-19 restrictions were in full effect making everyone between Calgary and Jasper to wear masks in public. Out of the dark 2 masked faces came close up to me at the window. After a few seconds these 2 masked faces pulled away. Weird but whatever. A few moments later those 2 masked faces reappeared holding up a phone screen with “Safari Arie?” texted on it.
Anthony Giardetti and Chris Townsend have been following my ride from basically the beginning. Currently they were on their own ride, riding from Calgary to Vancouver. They discovered I was in Jasper from my Strava app update and spotted my bike locked in the hostel yard and then saw me working a way through the window. (On side note, 5 weeks later I would find myself being hosted by Chris in Nanaimo BC.)
Three weeks later wandering the streets of downtown Vancouver (population 2.6 million people) Bruce Barton casually walks up to me on the street and asks me if I am Arie. Bruce was enjoying some time with his wife on a patio restaurant when I walked past. He said he recognized my smile, my (Voortman Cookie) baseball hat and my steel toe work boots.
Bruce had been following my ride since at least April and heard about me on his own bike ride when a complete stranger walked up to him at Ontario St and 18th Avenue in Vancouver and asked him if he had ever heard of Safari Arie, this guy biking across Canada. Something caused Bruce to look me up and start following my ride.
When Bruce introduced himself, I also recognized his name right away as someone who regularly likes my Facebook photos.
Most of my stories of biking across Canada are so surreal that in my wildest imagination I could never make them up if I wanted.