The last 4 weeks on the road have been filled with a diverse range of emotions, people, and events. On August 14th, 2012 I departed the disintegrating streets and overpasses of Montreal,QC and headed east a long the St.Lawrence river on a tight budget and not much more than a bike, trailer, tarp and a fairly confident mindset. I had been pushing my body to it’s limits for 25 + days and all though I had the desire to move forward, my body was hinting otherwise after just 5 days. But this soon changed.
It is very wet outside today in Antigonish, NS. I am sitting in a brand new library watching the streets fill with water as the light dims.
In my 21 days of travel I can honestly say that this is the only spare time I’ve had to dedicate my efforts towards my page.
I am a little bit dissapointed that I have not been able to provide a more live-day-to-day type insight into the trip. So to make the most out of today, I am going to write about the first 2 days, and continuously do a post about every 2-3 days of the trip from now on. Past tense is ok too!
To gain some perspective I have travelled a total distance of 1734km by bicycle less 170 km (long story will be explained in later posts)
Montreal, QC -Woodstock, NB- 824km
Woodstock, NB-Antigonish, NS- 910km
Day 1: Montreal-Berthierville (75 km)- August 14th, 2012
I left a cloudy and dreary Montreal early in the afternoon after doing some last minute preparations on the way out the door. Not feeling super energetic and a bit sick, I started to feel some insecurity and uneasiness just 2 km into the first day.My trailer flipped over after hitting a huge pot hole just before I left the island which permanently screwed up the position of my fishing rod on the trailer. It continued to ever-so-slightly brush against my rear tire on certain turns. It only took 25km to figure out the proper positioning for it. I now had a ripped trailer with some not-so-true wheels! Both of which have not been fixed to this date. What was I getting into here?
As i hit the road and my mind started to clear while the elements started to behave in my favour. Especially the wind. After all, I was heading east. It gave me the positive boost I needed to get my spirits up and get rolling.
I was leaving such a systematic work schedule, a lot of stress, my friends, the hustle and bustle of the city, and of course the certainty of waking up everyday in the same bed. As much as I wanted to do this trek for the past 8 months, it felt weird leaving the cage.
This scene above was fairly nice to take a break near. There wasn’t much after this but boring farmlands and some very flat/straight roads until I reached Berthierville, QC- A small farm town along the St.Lawrence or maybe some of it’s tributaries. With no planned place to stay that night, I had to start scanning the area for possible sleeping grounds ( I was new to this, nowhere near experienced.) There was an abandoned factory type building that looked ok. It was almost certain I’d come back here after going for a couple beers. The local bar, called “le bar” i think, was filled with working class Quebecois men. At first they seemed a bit uneasy with me probably being a new face and not speaking the native tongue. But it only took a few beers before we were conversing in ‘fringlish’ about the major activities in the city..corn, grain and beer.
I even got offered a place to stay, but it was way out of my way and it looked like a storm was coming through. After a couple cold ones, I headed back toward the factory. On the way I spotted a house and lot under construction. Perfect for a one night stay. The river that ran through the yard provided a nicer view than the crumbling factory walls anyway.
As the rain trickled on and off, I set up camp, shot some footage, and enjoyed the blue herons and jumping fish. When the sun set, hell rose on up out of the shadows…. Mosquitos. They have to be one of the most aggravating bugs on the planet. They buzzed around my ears all night, snuck into the tiny air holes in my bivvy and bit the shit out of my face. The humiditity was almost as annoying as them. I dont even know if I got any sleep. A construction worker came around 6am and booted me out. I expected worse, and to be honest Im glad I was forced out of my sticky bivvy and into the cold/wet air. It could of been worse, but not the best way to start a 31 day cycling tour. Oh, and it was raining all night and morning. Fun.
Day 2: Berthierville-Trois Rivieres (75km)
I rose out of the Mosquito infested riverside lot, moist, tired, and sore. I was starting to have second thoughts about how I were to last another 15-20 days in the bush. Luckily I had a host to stay with in TR and could think about this later. I headed out of town after grabbing some breakfeast and lots of coffee at the grocery stores’ cafe. There was no tim hortons near by. The scenery really didnt change much from the previous day. The rain died off but the humidity stayed. I stopped in Yamachiche to check out a small layup of trains. They were loading grain into the hoppers. It was cool to see, and took my mind of the bugs and humidity. I got into TR not long after and it started to pour rain again. I checked out the boats at the port and had a beer at the only bar that would let me bring my trailer inside.
I met up with my host near the University after he finished work at 5pm. His house was of course situated at the very top of a steep hill.
My host for the night Muddashir- from Mauritius was awesome. I got in contact with him through an international organization called couchsurfing.org. If you have not heard of this site/community you will be impressed.
Muddashir got a job as an industrial veternarian and lives with a 3 other roomates who also host travellers from around the world. I was his 50th “couch surfer”. He cooked a fantastic pasta for dinner and we had some great conversations. He even let me sleep in his bed (after I refused 100 times). He felt bad he booked two surfers in a night, with no place for them all to sleep. Super generous. Thanks :). Little did i know, he had another host coming from Germany that same night. Andreas arrived at the house hours after I did with a bicycle. He had just cycled from Montreal (like me), and was headed to Quebec city the next day (like me). Talk about a coincidence. So i had a partner to ride with the next morning. A much needed partner I should say. It was good to have his company and motivation on a hilly 145km into Quebec City. He kept the pace going, mostly leading with a cool carbon frame bicycle and a good attitude.