Sorry for the gap between posts the last couple of days. I have been socializing (there are people in Canada and you can talk to them...who knew?) and had a bit of a lack of access to there interweebs. So with that in mind get ready for a huge ass blog post.
Pembroke to Ottawa - 156 km
I stopped at a truck stop first thing this morning to get some snacks for the road and noticed a map of Canada. I have been using my iPhone a lot for navigation and with that you get a narrow view of the distances you are traveling. You are focused on the route for the day and don't really get a solid perspective of the trip as a whole. So when I walked over to the map and saw where I was and where I have been I blurted out "HOLY F@#$!!!" After apologizing profusely for my profanity to everyone in the store (most of the people in there were truckers so it really wasn't an issue) I stared at the map a while longer. With the realization that I have gone a long way and I was close to getting this adventure done I aimed at getting off the the #1. After the last few day's shenanigans I was looking for quieter calmer roads. This had me winding though all the farm land out side of Ottawa. I hit the occasional gravel road but for the most part it was awesome to get to quite country roads surrounded by farmland under a beautiful clear sky.
Right after hitting a town called Carp I ran into another touring cyclist and he was actually going in my direction. His name is Curtis Anderson and he lives on Vancouver Island and that is also where he started his trip. He was awesome and it was great to have someone to chat with and ride with for the rest of the trip into Ottawa. We decided to ride to the Parliament buildings together and found ourselves weaving though rush hour traffic and chatting about our trips. Curtis was actually only intending to ride to Thunder Bay and he decided just to keep going! If you want to learn about his trip and follow his progress as well you can at: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=10377&v=T1
On this day I learned:
- I can climb a 70 lbs bike up an 18% hill. I am all that is man!
- Our Capital has a solid amount of badassness so yeah us!
- There are other riders out there and its way better to get off the #1 when you can.
- There is a town called Carp... yup... Carp.
Ottawa to Saint-Benoit - 155 km
After the success of getting off the beaten path the day before I decided to jump into Quebec and take the 148 to Montreal. I had read that the this road was much more cycle friendly and once I got out of the city the road was fairly light on traffic and had an excellent shoulder. I stopped at a McDonald's to use the bathroom and take a break and one of the customers asked me where I was coming from (first he asked me in French really fast and then switched to English). I said "Ottawa today and Vancouver to start with" to which he replied "TABARNAK!" and proceed to tell everyone around him what I had done and they all said "TABARNAK!" It was hilarious because I think I heard it said 7 times in the space of 10 seconds.
From there it was more small French towns along the Ottawa river. Every town has a giant Church in the center of it usually with a statue of Jesus suffering something fierce. I had not realized the level of religion in this area but at the same time the churches seem to be in ill repair for the most part. Not sure if this is because small towns are slowly going away or because religion in the area is changing. Soon I dove off the 148 and was riding though country back roads from farm to farm. All in all a very pleasant area to ride
The day was SUPER hot...very very humid as well. By mid afternoon it was actually made it hard to breath and it never felt like I could drink enough. I was originally thinking I would do the 207 km ride from Ottawa to Montreal in one shot but I decided to pull the plug at about the 150 km mark into the day because I was afraid of overheating. It was 34 C but with the humidity and riding on the black tarmac it felt more like 45 C. Found a park outside of the town of Saint Benoit and set up for the night.
On this day I learned:
- Humidity is not your friend
- I can pee florescent orange
- Farmers like to help people...I needed a lot of water on this day
Saint-Benoit to Montreal - 47 km
So a light ride today meant that I got to sleep in a bit (only a bit because my tent was smoking in the sun in the morning) and a easy ride to meet my host of the evening Wenner. Wenner is a champion human being who took me in, feed me and made me feel super welcome. He is honestly one of the most open and friendly people I know.
First thing he is an awesome cook and was greeted with scallops and salmon with vegetables for lunch and then we wandered around his neighborhood which is in 'little Italy' and there is an amazing farmers market right near his place and it took all my will power not to buy every piece of fruit I saw....it was all so tasty looking. We were there for lasagna ingredients because he was having people over that night so we kept our focus and got some amazing ingredients. All Wenner's friends were stellar as well and they brought food too! So I ate my face off (the lasagna was bitchin!) and throughout the night I was thinking I could totally live in Montreal. Its a cool city that I have always enjoyed visiting. Thanks again Wenner and I will be back to hang out soon or hopefully have you out to Vancouver! All in all a successful rest day.
Montreal to Trois-Rivieres - 135ish km
Got a late start to the day with not really wanting to leave Montreal and late night festivities. Getting out of cities is always hard with all the lights and traffic. Luckily it was Sunday and it was much cooler than the day before so I was able to get some kms in at a steady pace. Just after lunch I decided to stop for a snack and a stretch at a road side rest stop and there were four cycle tourers sitting on the grass stretching. WOOOO HOOO more cyclists to talk to after basically 4500 km of seeing no one its awesome to get to run into other riders. Turns out that they were all from Vancouver too and had left from Montreal late the day before and were headed in the same direction as me so I asked them if they minded I joined them for the rest of the day into Trois-Rivieres.
I honestly was not sure who I would meet on the road on this trip. Up until Ottawa, other than Alex (the French dude on the recumbent) I had only met hitch hikers and truckers with the occasional rig pig tossed in. This crew that I ran into on this day was more interesting and impressive than I could have ever imagined meeting. They had started in Montreal and planned to be at a wedding in New Brunswick and then head up to Newfoundland.
Gala on the far left had a few years ago done a gigantic tour starting in Amsterdam and heading through eastern Europe all the way to Istanbul. Danielle, in the blue shirt, is a former university volleyball player who was teaching me about meditation as we chatted on the road. Sean started this amazing project where for 52 weeks he had 52 different jobs. You can check out his site here http://oneweekjob.com/ and he even wrote a book about his adventures which I want to check out as soon as I get to a place with a English book store. And last but not least Josephine (right side on the slide), who created a web documentary called 'The Sticking Place' which is about Leah Callahan who is a Female wrestler and her journey to the Olympics you can check it out here: http://thestickingplacefilm.ca
For the rest of the day we chatted and rolled into Trois-Rivieres. Did some hunting for a grocery where I bought a whole cooked chicken and then I suggested we head to a camp ground that I had found on Google maps. I wanted a shower and needed some internet access. So Google failed me and we rode to a location that was obviously not the campground and when we eventually found the campground it was very different from anything I had seen in any of the other provinces I was in. This was more of a resort than what I was expecting with waterslides and RVs everywhere. We were informed that it was 25 dollars a tent (the places in Ontario are 25 for a section) and we all agreed that 75 dollars to put up a tent was bananas but the woman working the gate was super nice and let us 'use' the showers (they cost a dollar for 5 minutes) so we ate our dinners there and had showers. From there we loaded up and headed to a park that we saw on the way to the campground and set up our tents and cashed out.
Yesterday I learned:
- I have stupid tan lines that make people go Oooooooo!
- I can now eat an entire chicken....the whole animal
- 5 minutes is just enough time to shower
- You cannot buy beer at the Couche Tard (Macs) after 11 pm
Trois-Rivieres To Montmagny - 217 km
This morning was a bit slow as I was lamenting leaving my new friends. It was so much more fun having people to share the adventure with and I realized that this will more than likely be my last solo tour. But this trip is a bit different and we are definitely on We packed up and ate breakfast together and then said our goodbyes. We are on very different timelines and it made me lookforward to my next tour which I plan to be a bit more about exploring and less about distance.
So with a late start on the day I headed out to try to make up for the shorter days I had done in the last two days. The wind was at my back and was helping out so I made good time zipping from town to town along the St. Lawrence. The roads here are beautiful and occationally I got the smell of salt water which made me feel like I was getting close to Halifax. I am constantly amazed at the size of the river which is more like a lake. It is massive and getting wider as I go. Its also very scenic and today I only was able to roll though Quebec City and made a promise to myself to return to check it out more.
Using the wind at my back I rolled into town here at about 7 pm which was not bad for such a late start. From here I have 155 k a day. I am super inspired from the people I have meet the last couple of days and have a whole bunch of things to think about as I ride the last 1000 km. Almost there.
Today I learned:
- It is way more fun to travel with a crew
- Wind is my friend
- I am not aerodynamic at all
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