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I literally got so comfortable in Quebec City that I wanted to stay there for another 3 days or so. But with my limited time and the checkpoints and goals I had set for myself,  I had to be going. Plus, there was no time for my legs to get soft again!

I was ready to continue my journey eastward. I woke up on Sunday morning around 9am, and according to my “schedule”, thought I’d be taking the bridge south and doing an 80km day along the south shore of the St.Lawrence River. This was fine, but when I woke up pretty darn hung over from the beer fest the night before, I knew I was in for a rough day considering the hills everyone was talking about. But I knew I had to be on my way.

For some reason I decided to check my route when I woke up. Google Maps showed that there was a ferry terminal not even 20 minutes away and that it would take me to the south side of the river. Thank f*****g god. This made the day a lot more enjoyable. This ferry, which cost me $3, saved me a 30 km back-track. It allowed me to stay and have breakfast with scott, grab some whiskey and corn at the market (not knowing where I’d be posting up for the night), and provided an awesome view while crossing the river. I was ecstatic. And suddenly not hungover.

By the time I got to the other side it was around 3pm (breakfast went a bit late!). I followed a paved and busy bike path for about 6-10km after the ferry terminal. Everyone on their expensive carbon frames kept the pace moving fluidly though. It seemed like a lot of these cyclists take their bikes over on this ferry just for a change in scenery. The bike path turned south after 10km and so did I, accidently.

The vibe didn’t feel right, and I never saw the river for 20 minutes. I turned back to where I came from and asked for directions. I knew it. Wrong way. So I guess I could add 12-13km onto this day. I’ve made worse detours on small trips prior to this one and I was not to upset.

Once I got onto the road, the hills started to appear. Again, the scenery kept me going. It distracted me from how much my legs and ass hurt. The mountains which started to appear on the north side of the river, were spectacular. They were as smooth as silk against the blue sky. They all kind of blended into each other.

I did not stop much on the way out. Maybe 2 or 3 times for water (don’t have a spot for one on my frame). This was my most efficient day yet (22km/hour). QC-Montmagny was the nicest part of the trip so far. It literally was getting nicer and nicer as I ventured east. The smell of salt and “freshness” in the wind was becoming more apparent as I traveled toward the ocean. The rivers’ salt to fresh water ratio was increasing.

I had been following this river for about 340km from Montreal. I felt much further away because of that salty smell though. Smelt like somewhere foreign. This is probably because I grew up in Toronto and go to school in Montreal, and am used to breathing in smog and pollution.

No turning back now.

When I got into town, I noticed it was very well kept and clean. I pulled into a boardwalk and watched father and his son fish as the sun sank toward the horizon.

I could see a few places that looked alright for the night but everything looked very rocky, indeed 2/3 spots were. There was one other place I needed to check out closely, I’t looked like there was some tree cover too.

It was a park, and whatta’ you know there were campers. Everywhere. There was also circus looking tent 150ft away. There were families all over the place, and one older lady camping out of her car. Her and I were the only ones travelling alone.

Before setting up anything I sat down and observed the area. Lots of families. I had no clue if I was allowed here -let alone if there was a fee $.

There was a fence behind the trees where all of the RV’s were. I talked to the older lady who shared a bottle of wine and a chicken with me. She wouldn’t take any of my whiskey though. She seemed lonely and was travelling from Montreal to Nova Scotia for no apparent reason but travel.  She mentioned she paid something like $35 at the front gate and that there was some show going on in the tent.

I didn’t see any gates, and I didn’t have the dogs after me, so I set up my gear when the woman went to sleep.

Not surprisingly, everyone in their campers looked at me weird as I hooked up the blue tarp to my bike and pegged the other ends of it in the ground. They probably thought I was mentally ill.

The grass was soft and there were no roots, rocks, or rain in sight. The wind of the water kept the Mosquitoes away and wasn’t strong enough to blow my tarp out of the ground. Success.

Spiders everywhere. Fortunately, none made it into my sleeping bag.

Day 3: Trois Rivieres-Quebec City (140km)

Andreas and I both set our alarms for 9am on Friday morning. We drank a couple glasses of water, ate a muffin each (courtesy of Muddashir) and we made it slowly out of the house as we gathered our gear and said our goodbyes.  The small delay was due to my trailer and I. It never really went together so easily after it’s flip in Montreal. I found out that morning the aluminum attachment bar was completely bent. But with a bit of elbow grease I was able to squash everything together. We were off. Even after a bit of confusion getting out of Trois Rivieres, I could already tell the ride was going to be much more pleasant than if I were to have gone alone.

  

We conversed almost the whole-way riding side by side.

  

I have not really ridden with anyone before outside of Montreal, but I understand the concept of drafting, something we did not really take advantage of!  We didn’t need to. There was hardly and wind at all, and we liked to keep eachother company on the long stretches. Andreas was a much stronger rider than me at the time and I’m sure he could have reached Quebec city an hour before me in a comfortable manner! Nevertheless, I managed to keep up, and pick up some massive speed down the hills, using my 80 pound trailer and the heaviest of my 30 gears!

Below: Heading into the Corridor du Littoral.

 

It was definitely not as fun going up them though, and that’s where Andreas would gain lots of distance and take some 3 minute rests.  It was nice to know i could take my time up the big ones and I didn’t have to hold him back. (He even had time to take out his camera and snap this picture of me coming up a hill outside of Portneuf, QC). The burger and beer in town slowed me down for an hour or so!

(Andreas Golle)

There were 1.5 hills that we needed to both walk up. They just kept on coming, and were getting steeper and steeper as we approached Quebec City.  They were so steep that on my lowest gear, my front wheel was coming of the pavement on this one incline.

This was the biggest day (km wise) of the entire trip. It was tough. We aimed to rest every hour or 20-30km. I think we’d both agree that aside from the handful of 20 minute stops, we averaged about 17km/hour with the hills.

It was 8-9pm by the time I reached the city limits. We both had places to be that night, so Andreas continued to the east end of the city, and I ended up finding my way to the old part of the city where I had a place to stay.

Like me, Andreas was going to take a rest day in Quebec City and stay Saturday night as well. We had planned to explore the city a bit the next day,  but there were some timing issues and he did not have a cell phone! We have managed to keep in contact. He has a blog too and the link will be at the bottom of this post. We did not ride together afterward because his route was quite different. Andreas went to explore eastern Quebec via the north shore, and I needed to stick to the south shore, eventually turning completely south toward Edmundston NB after a few days.

It was dark, cold, windy, and cold. From asking around a little bit, I was able to determine that the temperature on Friday night was a bit abnormal. When we reached her place, the difference in temperature really hit me. I hopped in the shower and rinsed away the layers of salt off every square inch of my skin. I was so tired, I wasn’t even tired anymore, and after a cold beer, Catherine was able to convince me to get on my feet and check out a few pubs nearby. I’m glad we did.

 

Catherine had to work in the early afternoon, and so I packed up and headed to Scott’s place by the afternoon after exploring QC on my own for a bit.

  

I met Scott through Couchsurfing as well.  He originally grew up in Eastern Nova Scotia and has a very extensive family network out east (a couple of which he hooked me up with a few weeks down the road).  Funny enough, he ended up living in Quebec City by accident. He was on his way to Toronto in the early 90’s (I think***) for work but ran out of money halfway. He made it through some hard times, and found a job that he still enjoys. He is a high school history teacher and just finished a 1 year sabbatical. He has a passion for travel, learning, teaching and interacting with people. There’s no wonder we clicked instantly.

To say the least,Scott and I have become very good friends in a very short period of time. I stayed with him Saturday night and for about half of Sunday. We had an awesome bbq dinner at his apartment in town and then walked over to FestBiere and drank all sorts of interesting delicious brews for the rest of the night. The festival was packed with people and there was an irish rock band playing too.  After the festival, Scott and I had time to chitchat back at his place. It didn’t take long to realize what an awesome person he is. He has to be one of the most caring and compassionate people I know.

The festival was a great way to interact  with and observe the local people.

 

From my 3 days in Quebec city I was able to make an interesting conclusion. The culture in Quebec City is vividly different than Montreal’s. Something I never imagined. I am no expert, but they seem more cautious about safeguarding themselves against cultural intruders-like immigrants, tourists, and visitors (not that we are all intruders). The people are a lot more conservative and less open minded to change than local Montrealer’s. For some this may seem less attractive,  but I believe it makes Quebec City more attractive- by preserving almost every aspect of it-the reason there are so many tourists in the first place. Quebec’s buildings, streets, landscapes, and people are beautiful and original. Would I live there? no. Would I visit again, definitely.

http://aufdieplaetzefertiglos.org/2012/08/22/tag-2-mackenze/#

As I count my last nickels, pack my trailer, and gather my last batch of aluminum cans, I am starting to realize the grand scale of this adventure. It is the same feeling as if you were waiting to write a big test that you studied for, but are having second thoughts just as you enter the room. I have never done anything like this before, but I know it is what I need. Maybe I will gain a bit of sanity, maybe I’ll lose even more. hah.

My trailer is all filled up with film gear, camping gear, food for a couple days, and cycling related items. It weighs about 40-60lb. I don’t have a scale so I don’t know for sure. I know I will be lugging this thing off my back wheel for about 2200km over 25 days.

Half of my friends probably don’t know where i’m headed in the next couple days. Probably won’t make too much difference anyway. I have not seen many of them this summer due to a tight work schedule and extreme fatigue on the weekends. See you all in Mid September.

Some of my friends have asked me what the purpose of this whole ordeal is, and I can never give them a simple answer. There are many reasons.

#1 being a retreat. Escape from the highly stressed, sheeplike zombies of the city, and all the flashy cars, suits, and makeup that comes out at night on St.Laurent. I am outta here, at least for a good while, to clear my mind, and figure out where I want to go after I finish business school.

Let’s call it a getaway.

I want to meet interesting people, see a pow wow, catch some trout, eat some good food and drink lots of good craft beer. These are the activities that keep me smilin!

I will try to post a couple times a week or do programmed posts so that you can follow the adventure day by day. Hopefully filled with small video clips and lots of pictures.

On May 17 my good friends Shawn and Nina informed me they would be making a surprise visit to Montreal from Ottawa (2 hours north west of mtl). I have had many crazy adventures with the two of them, and it was a real treat to have them out. I took work off Saturday and Sunday, something that will not happen again.

Just before they arrived on Friday night, I was invited to a friends for a beer, right around the same time I’d be picking up Shawn and Nina. Most would kindly refuse the offer, but it just so happened their apartment was right near the bus stop where the “visitors” would be arriving. So I made it work, and what a good decision it was.. It was in an interesting area, a street which i was not aware of, or can name online.

Justin, the resident at the apartment on the cool street, suggested we head up to “the” rooftop as it was getting dark. I shrugged my shoulders, nodded,  and we headed up the rusty staircase. (I was expecting it to be like any other apartments’ rooftop). I started to notice graffiti on the walls, and a moldy scent fromt the interior as we ascended to the top.

Keep in mind, he said “the” and not “his” rooftop. It clicked, and to my surprise, the building was abandoned. I smiled as the adrenaline started to run loose. I tried to hold some of it in, as to not embarass myself in front of the others. I love abandoned places…. and the visitor’s did as well.

 

 

As soon as they arrived, I brought them to the spot. We spent the next two nights there, and explored the interior before sunset. I must have been up and down that staircase 10+ times this weekend. The best part was that it overlooked the train tracks. And everyone knows shawn and I have a thing for trains.Throughout the weekend we definetley played our part in stimulating the Montreal’s economy. We had lots of fun at the following places: St.Sulplice Bar, BoustanBrewtopia, Brasserie Benelux, Tam Tam’s, Old Montreal, Bar Diana’s and Three Amigos.

If you have taken the time to look through those links you will notice one unusual one. Diana’s.  A bar close to home. It is not the safest place, I do not go there so often,  but I have met some great people there, and I knew Shawn would enjoy checking it out. I have some great inuit friends like Betsy, for example. We spend time exchanging stories. Her daughter works in a mine in Northern Quebec. Very nice and generous person. Let me tell you, It’s not everday that a white man can gain even an ounce of respect from an Inuit person. You may or may not be aware of the long and hostile history between the two peoples. But I encourage you to look into it.

This is one interpretation of the place..

“From the outside, Bar Diana is a cold and gloomy place. Inside, there’s an unusual warmth—the warmth of a place where the marginalized can be among equals”

Betsy teaching us some Inuit

On top of the world..

There were definetley a few giggles here..

Didn’t catch this fella’s name.

It was nice to have a few other friends join as well. One in particular from Ottawa who happened to be visiting his mother in Montreal.

Of course we also drank lots of beer and that meant lots of empties.

Not the best way to attract a female, I know.

We are not alcoholics by the way, I found many of these in the abandoned building!

Total: $20. I see it as $20 I would normally not have. Some will go into savings, the rest, toward a lunch and coffee.

Just yesterday, I found another abandon building. Am I on a streak or something?

School completed Thursday, April 26th at 10:30pm. Work start: Monday, April 30th 7:30am.

What to do for the 3 days in between? Hmmm, it was a bit of a braintwister. There was not enough time to bike to say, Mexico, but still enough time to go soemwhere significant! One thing was certain, I was not going to sit on my butt at home. I just needed to get out, clear my mnd, do something active, and burn off all that winter fat.

I flipped a coin and picked one of the many places I wanted to see “close” by. I called heads, and I was heading to Trois Rivieres, QC- only 140km away. It occurred to me that camping right now in this wet and cold spring spring weather would not be the smartest idea, so i figured I’d take the oppurtunity too try out Couch Surfing for the first tme. I got in contact with a nice host, Caro, who offered a place to stay Friday night.

What I was facing all day

I headed east from downtown Montreal at 8:15am Friday morning in hopes of getting into TR by dinner time. And was I ever mistaken… It was a rough trek, much rougher than I anticipated. My overly optimistic goal was threatened by a bunch of factors; Wind,distance, carrying a heavy load by trailer, lack of strength/sleep ,extreme cold, snow/rain, 20km of backtracking-confusion, and un-motivating scenery/sky.  I saw a total of 2 cyclists the whole day (and they were travelling into Montreal only 20km east of the city) on the busiest cycling route through the province. I felt stupidly foolish and proud at the same time.

 Friday's Route

On top of it all, my wheel popped off not even a 1km out of town slowing me down of the start. Trailer was running OK, but a weird feeling using it for the first time.

Just heading out and fixed my tire..

Getting of the Island

It was snowing, -5C, and the winds were so heavy and gusty that I barely got going past 20km/hour off the island. It was definitely damaging my enthusiasm of making it to Trois Rivieres, QC-still 135km away at this point. Hell, this is even a “haul” in perfect conditions. I did not help that this was my first time doing long distance for almost a full year, and got 5 hours of sleep the night before, but i was able to put that aside-humming tunes that reminded me of the beach.

Bob Marley

Ahi Pohaku

After getting off the island and arriving at the Harvey’s near Charlemagne, I made 1 really bad choice, I followed the bike path. More specifically, the route verte #5 (I love you, and hate you even more).

East. I thought it was taking me east like it was supposed too. But damn, it was confusing in that area. I followed all the signs (when they were present), and landed in Lachenie 40 minutes later,  a total back track of about 10km (with all the winding of the path). Logically, I go back the opposite way I came, in hope that I would see a sign that could take me to Repetigny (the town east of the Harvey’s restaurant). When I realized how far out I was, I almost turned back home knowing that i’d have to cycle an additional 20km on top of the 145km. A record breaking trek even for a lot of experienced riders in perfect conditions. Anyways, I ended back up at the Harvey’s just after the bridge, said f***k the route verte #5, and followed Notre Dame  until I met up with the path again, I was in no mood to go on a Easter egg hunt to find the right signs/path near the Harvey’s. No time for that nonsense anymroe, I will just take the dangerous road est.

In Pain (Bertierville)

The winds were reaching over 35km/hour and were extremely amplified travelling along the river,farms and across bridges (90% of the trip). They hit me from all sorts of directions.

Now two hours behind schedule, I continued to bike east until I needed a little rest (50km later). I sat in front of la trattoria la volta (an italian restraunt) about 35km out of the city to eat a sandwhich, at 11:30am.

Boring and Depressing

I continued for hours and hours, battling the heavy direction-changing winds, which never seemed to blow in my favor. But that’s life.

I made it to Lanorie by 2pm. In the next couple hours I hoped to get to Maskinonge. It took me more than 3 hours. I was averaging 10km every35-50 minutes. Not very fun.

I almost got blown off the small shoulder twice by the gusts, and finally got blown into a ditch by a transport truck along a stretch of the 138 before Maskinonge which injured my upper right thigh.

I was still 35-40km out of town. I brought no camping gear with me, and envisioned saturday morning waking up in a damp field, half frozen to death. There was no shelter anywhere in sight, and none of the hosts in Trois Riveres had cars, or friends who had cars at the time to come pick me up. I started to ask around for a ride into the next town at the local pharmecie in Maskinonge. No luck for over an hour. I needed to be 10km east in order to “possibly” catch a bus. The wind at this point must have been blowng close to 45 km/h, enough to blow over an elderly person or small child.

An awesome man and his daughter over heard me asking a resident for a lift into the next town. They offered to give me a lift. It was like an angel magically floated down in front of me despite the heavy winds which seemed to have blown all my good luck away. Great conversations with the two of them. Hopefully we get to meet again when there is more time to chat.

Saved my butt

It was getting dark,windier, and even cooler.

I boxed my bike up at the convenience store/bus stop and within an hour off I went on a moderatley filled bus. Riding the bus along the 138, I pictured my self struggling at -10,0000 X the speed of the bus in pain. I was so happy to be insde. I got into town by 8 15pm.


Trois Rivieres was awesome, my host and her friend were  really great. We went for dinner at some belguim frite place downtown of Forges street and had a beer at the Gambrinus Micro brew pub near the university. The IPA and Rousse were great.

Gambrinus

Hungry

Took the bus back Saturday afternoon and was greeted by an old friend Cam who came out to visit me Saturday night. Before I left though,   I had to find the train tracks….

When we met in Montreal, Cam and I had a couple beers and started to repeat the same shanigans we were known for back in the day.. It was a hoot and we met some real characters throughout the night. Went to bed this mornng at 6am.

I think I got my fix of excitement and physical activity for a few weeks now…

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