It was quite an abnormally- warm and beautiful day here in Montreal. I couldn't let myself sit in side and do homework, so I grabbed my camera and headed up to Mount Royal with a friend. It was well worth it. My grip-less shoes and the slippery slopes put me into automatic kid-mode. It was packed with tourists and locals alike, but it was still peaceful in a way and a hopeful reminder that summer is on its way :) On my way to the mountain. I spotted this. I thought the shot would turn out alot cooler. I call it "The Outlier" This is the view from the top. A couple cool guys we met. They were visiting from D.C. Sliding down the slopes. Easily sliding 40ft+ at a time !! For those of you who try to "act your age" every minute of the day, try letting lose every once in awhile. People will look at you funny, but you won't regret it in the end!
Well, what can I say… This is the last blog post of my 3600km, 30 day, solo cycling journey through Eastern Canada. It took place from Aug 16th- September 17th 2013 and I have been busy with school and other hobbies ever since my return. Probably why I am completing the last post now, but better now then never, right?
This is a map of the route I travelled. Definitely more extensive than what I had planned.
The tour was interesting, challenging, emotional, eye opening, and in general a real stepping stone in my life. If you want to see what I mean, just skim through the last 15 or so posts and you’ll get the idea. (I suggest starting from the bottom and working upward. This is the order I wrote them in.)
It really took alot of effort and time to acquire enough funds for the tour as well. My main source of income was obtained through recylcing cans, bottles, and scrap metal. More regularly, I worked 6-7 days a week doing exterior painting while working for a moving company on the weekends. It was rough but in the rare spare time, my friends and I managed to sneak a few beers and laughs in trackside.
I am looking to do more intense endeavors in the future both alone and with others.
If you’ve been following my posts from 8-10 months ago, you would understand that this was a first for me in terms of travel; leaving Montreal, QC on a bicycle with little experience in terms of long distance solo-touring. I’ll tell you now, there were no five-star hotels with breakfeasts included every morning. Accomodations consisted of sleeping on peoples floors and couches, or simply pitching a tarp in city parks, ditchs, bushes, beaches, and in one case, a graveyard. Some bug repellent probably would have helped on a few occasions.
Below: Organizing gear before departure out of Montreal.
I cycled a total of 1800km. Not the 2200km I planned. But, I soon realized that the plan didn’t matter anymore. Especially once it got wet and became unreadable. The most important lesson I learned was that the plan didn’t matter. I just had to make it to Newfoundland. When you set your expectations exceptionally high, it typically leads to disappointment. I learned to appreciate the now while taking in as much value as possible, and going with the flow. I try to incorperate this concept everyday. This was an ongoing experience for me. I found myself in many storms, sometimes forcing me to stay put in certain places like Moncton, North Rustico, PEI and Antigonish, NS. And you know what, those were three of the most memorable moments. Steve, Blaine and Penelope were great to hang around with and their friends were wicked too. The extended time with each gave room for relationship building. Something I only touched on throughout the trip. A big reason why most of the trip was just way too lonely. I’ll remember to leave much more time for relationship building on the next trip. The same could be said for what I will share next, and is the subject of my final post for this tour…
As a hurricane pounded Antigonish, NS I was pondering how I would continue the next week I had available till my flight out of Deer Lake, NL. Cycling was not an option, well it was, but I’m not that crazy. hah.
It was pouring, and it would be pouring on and off all throughout my desired route through Cape Breton Island, NS and Newfoundland.
To make a long story short, I was given the contact of a trucker from New Brunswick who ran fishing supplies from NB to remote fishing villages in Newfoundland. I was told Tommy was a friendly guy and that he’d most likely be able to pick me up off the Trans Canada Highway if the storm got too bad.
Well it was bad, and I bailed on cycling the last 300km of the trip. And plus, by the sound of it, this was an oppurtunity I couldn’t pass up. Screw the schedule! I called him up and he was able to meet me at 1 am in the morning at a truck stop outside of Antigonish. Of course I thought this was sketchy, but I was drunk, and figured I could handle any surprises.
He was 2.5 hours late do to some technical issues with the engine (“this is going to be a smooth ride” I said) I threw my bike in the back and there we went. It didn’t take long for both of us to realize we both liked to talk.
Below: Passing time filming myself, drinking whiskey, and listening to Bob Marley.
Below: Hanging out at gas stations was not uncommon.
We made it to the port at Sydney. We waited over 30 hours in the port gates for one of the storms to pass. Winds were blowing upwards of 100 km/h.
There was a Tim Horton’s. Thank god. It was at this time I blabbered on about my adventure to all the curious truckers from around North America. It was an interesting perspective travelling to Newfoundland via truck. Especially because the majority of truckers were aged 45+, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Which was not neccasarily a bad thing. It was also funny to see the reactions of the tourists and families traveling over by ferry. I was thankful to be in the shelter of a truck chatting a way with a guy who liked to chat. I think we became friends quite quick. Tommy was an awesomely funny guy with a good heart. I was happy to have a bed to sleep in too ( I got the top bunk).
After 30 hours, we got the clear to drive onto the ferry. From my memory there were about 50+ 53ft trailers allowed on, and we were one of the last to squeeze onto the ferry.
If we hadn’t of made it we would most likely be there for another 6 hours. I really didn’t care, It was warm inside the truck and there was a Tim Horton’s nearby. Once parked and into the passenger section of the ferry, Tommy and his trucker friends made there way to the buffet. I sat with them but couldn’t join in on the eats due to my lack of funds. They offered to pay but I refused, and was satisfied with their leftovers and infinite refills of coffee.
When we hit the otherside, I had an intense and immediete sense of accomplishment, excitement, happiness, and that hoppy-skippy feeling in the chest. I was so far away from what I call home…
What a beautifully interesting landscape this was. It was exotic. This was not a Canada even a Canadian would think about let alone a foreigner. Newfoundland is a must see.
I won’t explain the Newfoundand tour km by km or mile by mile but we generally headed north to about Deer Lake, then east toward St John almost the span of the entire island (but on the north side), and then cut straight south through the most vast landscape I’ve ever seen. We dropped off nets and other equipment to a salmon farming company situated in Pool’s Cove. We were there at about 5:30am and for the first time the sun was out. I was half asleep and really didn’t feel like taking photos, but I managed to do so.
Of course nothing goes perfect, and we broke down a good two times.
Below: Tommy getting ready to secure the door with 50,000 lb of Salmon inside.
In the 4-5 days I was with Tommy, I slept at the most 12 hours. I didn’t want to miss anything. That, and I had a hard time sleeping with the abundance of Moose on the loose. We stopped only a few times to rest.
I got dropped off in Deer Lake. Tommy now headed for the port.
Slept in the woods that night, and managed to get a ride from another trucker into Gros Morne Park where I was supposed to climb the famous Mountain the next day. This was supposed to be the highlight of the trip. But the weather was too bad. I saw the mountain, though. It was nice.
After getting rained out at Rocky Harbour and having to move to the more secluded Norris Point, I was forced to stay in the first payed motel of the trip (80$). It sucked, but was nice staying dry. I thought for a minute that the weather would break up for a day and I could get to the top of that mountain. The next day I found out there was a hostel for $30/night 5 minutes away. But of course, Pittman, the owner of the hotel wouldn’t let my broke ass know before I paid. There are good and bad people out there and everyone in between. Live and learn… They felt bad once they knew I found out and gave me a complentary breakfast in the morning. I forgave them.
It was time to get out of Gros Morne, and with no visibility there was not much point in staying anyway. Temperatures were also dropping close to 0 Celsius at night. I managed to get a lift from an older fellow named Bob who lived in Alberta his whole life but returned recently. Funny enough, he was headed into Deer Lake to pick up blue berries for his wifes’ dish. We shared stories the whole way and he dropped me off at the truck stop where I would spend the rainy night.
I was able to convice the cashier to let me sleep in the restraunt till it opened at 6am. There was a guy on drugs in the trucker lounge and even after all I’ve seen on the road I was in no mood for anything freaky. But that’s another story in itself.
I managed to link up a ride to the airport the next day. Bob’s Blueberry supplier. The woman was actually the aunt of a girl I hung out with at the truck stop that night. She brought me fresh blueberries and frozen moose meat which I managed to keep frozen on my stop-over flight to Toronto.
I made it back home to Toronto with no issues. 3 days later, I was on a train to Montreal a week late for school. I felt weird to say the least; going from a free for all to a structured/fixed city environment.
So many places seen, so many people met, and so many emotions along the way. Even months later it’s still all very hard to comprehend, and I stopped trying.
Below: Bob and the Blueberry Lady
It was what it was and it has affected me in ways I can’t put into words.
Below: Flying over the greater area of Halifax.
Today was the day I entered the province of New Brunswick for the first time ever. It was picturesque all the way through, and although the Trans Canada Bike Trail was a “B****H” of a ride… the fact I made it to a new province done me good.
The gravel bike trail weaves in and out of forests and towns the whole way to Edmunston. I rarely saw pavement, and suggest that if you are going to do the stretch, you have larger width tires than I did:
-Lost traction constantly (found myself in the ditch a couple times)
-Felt I could have been going at a faster pace on the gravel. Then again, I probably made up time on the smooth pavement in Eastern Quebec.
At some points a cross country bike would have been beneficial- there were all sorts of combinations of roots, large stones, gravel and packed dirt for about .5km stretches. I asked myself what I was doing many times on this trail especially just leaving Cabano, and getting into Edmunston near the golf course.
I’m glad I had those Mavic A719 rims though. They didn’t collapse.
Once I reached Degelis, QC I was on a paved path for a few km’s. In my fatigue, I failed to slow down at a crossing where there was a slight deformity in the pavement. I didn’t think much of it, and then the next thing you know my 65lb loaded trailer is on it’s back, dragging along the trail at 15-20km/h.
My belongings were packed so tightly that the trailer held it’s structure no problem. Other than a bend in the aluminum trailer arm (attached to rear chain stay , slightly out of true wheels, and some tears in the fabric I was good to go). And thankful. I was in no mood to take everything out of the trailer to find out I did not have the right part to fix whatever problem there was. ( I never planned on the trailer flipping.. who would).
For next time, If i still decide to use the trailer, I will be more prepared. Maybe even to the point where I could design and build my own custom trailer, addressing the faults on my Burly Nomad.
- Not a very sturdy floor
- Structure fairly wobbly with and without gear in it (has nothing to do with loos bolts)
- Could probably design one a few pounds lighter
- Trails behind off center of my back wheel (Don’t know if this is normal for all trailers, but I think it creates drag and balance problems)
- Lastly, and not so importantly, the color and shape. I am not a fan of yellow.
There were nice rivers and trees along the way, again, there were no significant hills, as the trail lays on top of an old railway bed. So other than the gravel it was all fine and dandy. 60km did however feel like 95.
Not having a computer or a roof to sleep under for the past 5-6 days really makes a difference when your trying to film your trip.
Hence why this post doesn’t many visuals other than the odd camera pic, and some cell phone pictures.
The go pro, lent to me by a friend, had to be charge via usb plugged into a computer. I even had the little USB-Outlet converter but for some reason it didn’t like that.
So once my Go Pro ran out, there was no hope in charging it unless I could get to a computer who’s owner would allow me to plug in it in.
This was the only tool I had to capturing moments on the road. It was unrealistic to take out my big camera every single time I wanted footage. Maybe I can think of some better system next time.
The Trans-Canada Bike Trail runs along side of the Trans Canada highway. In NB, i guess it’s illegal to ride on the highway for this reason
A free shuttle service.
The construction on the highway overlapped onto the bike path and so it was un-ride-able. The construction company operated a little shuttle to bring you to the ride-able section of the path 2km down the road.
This was sort of cool.
I got into Edmunston late afternoon with a slight drizzle coming down on me.
I had no “meetings” to go to or any plans really so I explored around. I got to find out that helmets are required in the province of NB, without getting a ticket. Whew..
Of course the dive bar wasn’t hard to find.. The owner gladly let me bring my gear into the bar for a few hours. Pool was free, I bought more beer because of this.
Kind of drunk now, I get a call from a very unknown number- An area code iv’e never seen before.
It was a cyclist dude I talked to online about my trip. He and his family lived in Maine, US. We were sort of unsure if the whole meet up thing was going to work out because one of his two children could not get their passports renewed in time. The whole idea was for the wife, husband and kids to come along on the cycling adventure for a few days. We were planning on going to a Pow Wow at the Maliseet Nation Reserve in Tobique, NB (100km’s south of Edmunston) .
Anyways, he calls letting me know that he’s going to meet up with me in Edmundston to tag along for a couple days or so.
I was absolutely stoked. I had been alone for about 6 days now. Kind of wanting someone to share these experiences with, let alone someone to talk to on the road.
It turns out when they arrived, there was just 1 baby and no wife. The baby was just 2 years old. He rode in his own personal trailer and seemed like he was just lovin’ it.
Once I got the trailer hooked back up and said by to all my new buddies at the bar, we headed out to a campsite just 3km outside town.
It cost us $21 for the whole “family”.
We chit chatted, I had a shower, and we pretty much hit the sack.
Don’t think it took to long for us all to get to know each other.
They had a tent, I just sort of slept on the grass. Something I don’t mind if the mosquitoes are kind!
No visitor’s from any rodents either.
We were up by 9am , grabbed some Tim Hortons, and were on our way to the pow wow for day #10. It was cool rollin’ with a dad and his little kid.
Soran was damn cute too and was a real celebrity everywhere we went.
I thought it was pretty epic. I hope that I can do something this cool if I ever had kids one day.
Day #6 brought a crazy mix of emotions, events, and people.
I was in a bit of a gloomy and even frustrated mood from the time I pulled into my camping spot in Kamouraska on day 5. Not even the surreal sunset that night could offset these feelings. I went to sleep in a mosquito infested graveyard, which was probably the scene of a raping (see previous post). Luckily, when I woke up, the mosquitoes were gone due to the drop in temperature. 18 to 5 degrees Celsius overnight.
Never mind breakfast, I packed up quickly, and was out of there by 8 am. The road eastward was only a few steps away from the graveyard. Riviere du Loup (Wolf River or River of Wolves) was only 35 km away. I knew there was a McDonald’s there where I could charge up my electronics and grab a coffee by 10:30 am. This stretch was beautiful. The road was smooth. There were vibrant coastal mountains, lush forests, and the first moose sign of the trip. Definitely far away from home…
Riviere du loup popped up out of no where. It was quite large too. It surprised me.
The Mcdonald’s was easy to find. Was able to charge up my electronics within a couple hours.
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures.
The stretch from Riviere du loup took me along a bike trail. Probably an old railroad bed as there were almost no steep ascents or descents. More moose warning signs were visible along the 70km gravel path to Cabano.
There were small huts along the route with picnic tables and placed beside fast moving streams or small lakes. Getting more and more fatigued, I stopped at almost all of them.
I figured out very quickly that my road tires were absolutely not meant for these soft and deep gravel paths. Every pedal stroke felt like I was losing more and more energy, not to mention the complete loss of traction. The Trans Canada highway was really not an option at this point. No shoulders, and Illegal on this stretch I think.
That being said, I felt like a slug truckin’ though the rain forest. I anticipated camping in these deep woods a few times, but the rain that started to fall around 4pm changed my mind. I needed to get into town even if it took me until dark.
About 15km outside of Cabano, QC, I stopped for my last water break underneath a bridge. There was some nice artwork from some Montreal kids so I took out my phone to take the shot below. The tiny green light was flashing indicating a message. I listened to the message left from this unknown sender and to my surprise, it was the police. Something about my wallet. They wanted to know if I would be coming to pick it up. In disbelief, I rummaged through the trailer positive that this was some sick joke by a friend.
It wasn’t in it’s designated pouch. I felt absolutely stupid. So pissed off in the moment, I was ready to call the whole thing off. Which would have been even stupider. In my crappy mood, I felt it hard to believe someone was decent enough to return the wallet.
This was no joke. At the time I was sort of in shock. Many ideas came to mind. Of course, the first thing was to call the police back. (How the hell did they get my number anyway?) All of my id’s were from Ontario, not Quebec where I live now. The officer specifically stated I needed to come pick it up personally. They made me describe what was in it all the way down to the # of pennies in the zipper pouch.
1. Do I go back to Riviere du Loup now to get it?
2. Should I take a bus from the next town and leave my bike here? Then take a bus back and continue the trip?
3. Should I try to hitchhike back and get it?
4. Could an officer bring it out somehow?
5. Should I go into town and talk to people for help?
I told the officers my situation, nothing was going to happen today. I was not going to peddle a foot more than 15km to the next town. #5 it was.
I continued toward town. Now pretty hungry, but with no money.
Feeling pretty hopeless, i was asking random people for advice. People who really didn’t speak English. It was quite useless.
Maybe someone had a friend that was coming out to Cabano anyways? They could pick it up for me and bring it out here. That idea failed. I soon found out there were no busses running into or out of Cabano, so that option was out the window. The cops would not ship it out anywhere either. I felt shit out of luck. Until I met one french/italian fellow who owned a bakery. His assistant was a young student on summer holiday. She spoke english and was able to translate my issue to her boss. He understood what was going on and gave me a muffin and a number that may help out. He knew of some small local delivery company that came here almost everyday. They were not open till 9am the next day though. He was closing shop too. The sun started to sink lower.
Not to long after, I stumbled upon a little park bordering a nice lake with some tree cover too. This was my home for the night. With no identification, the police wouldn’t be able to write me a ticket anyways.
Man, I felt like a loser. I had some whiskey left from the previous night and it sure came in handy. These ducks hung out with me all night.
I woke up at 7 with a couple hours to kill before I could make the call. I sat on the park bench-looking lost-until a rough looking guy named Bernard approached me with interest.
He noticed I was travelling through and obviously assumed something was up. He shouted something in french, probably along the lines of “What’s wrong?!”… Confused, and still unsure if this delivery thing was going to work, I replied “I’ve got an issue here!”. I explained everything very clearly to him in English-which he understood very well. A long story short, the bilingual, experienced, angel-Bernard stuck with me for the next couple hours back at the bakery.
Even though the owner of the bakery was quite helpful, he maybe knew 5 words in English. It was crucial that he gave me the number. Bernard was able to conjugate with the owner and devised a plan to get this wallet here. He first called the shipping company about the special “pickup and delivery”. It was hard to convince them, as this was against their policy but eventually agreed after some persuasion Now he needed to work it out with the police station. He argued in a loud and confident voice with the french police officer. Of course, the officer that day was not passed on the information about the wallet, and this seemed crazy to him/her. In the end it was agreed on all ends that the wallet would be picked up in the afternoon at the police station and brought out to my remote location -65km+ away -by about 3pm.
The owner of the bakery kept watch over my gear in front of his shop for the whole day.He fed me sandwiches, croissants, muffins, and coffee and allowed me to boil the two pieces of corn in his shop.
I was in a revolutionary shock. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
I will never be able to comprehend, nor put in words, the amount of gratitude and thankfulness I felt this day.
When the wallet arrived I was able to pay the mere $7.00 for shipping, and pay the owner back for all the food.
I cleaned off after 3 days in the lake. And decided to stay another night in the famous city park.
This was my view in the morning (taken with cell phone)
OK, take me seriously when I say this was the best stretch so far. 90km felt like 45km. The salty smell in the air was getting stronger and the sun was not too hot. Going on my second day without a shower, I felt cleaner and more refreshed than the day before.
Sneaking into that campground in Montmagny the night before was a super idea. The ground was soft and the whiskey put me into a deep sleep on the silky smooth and soft grass. It felt like I was staying at the “Hilton” of free camping. Not many bugs to worry about and I didn’t get rained on. I didn’t get to use my corn though, I had to lug the two pieces around with me for the whole day! boo…
Leaving on a positive note like this definitely helped me plow through the hills quite effortlessly.
I loaded up my trailer, brushed my teeth, and strolled on out, making a left onto the 132 which is now the old highway. Might I add, this stretch of road had almost no potholes, and although there wasn’t much of a siding, the lack of traffic made it more than safe. It was a beautiful road and the weather was superb once again.
It felt like from this point on drivers were much more cautious of cyclists and went into the opposite lane to pass if they were able too.
I did not make breakfast that morning, but instead cycled until I found a tiny cafe to eat. My phone had not been on for awhile and I figured this would be a good chance to charge it. There was an Antique store nearby. Lot’s of cool things I wanted to buy. Then I remembered I was cycling and hardly had room for a single beer in my trailer. Nevermind.
My GoPro was completely dead by the time I got to Kamouraska and there was no place to charge it. It just occurred to me on this day that you can only charge it if it’s plugged into a computer. At least this is the case with mine. After today I had could not use my GoPro for awhile.
60-70km down the road I stopped at the famous- La Pocatiere.
A county which hosts “one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world!” (www.myexplore.ca/en/where) Unfourtunatley, I was there in the middle of the day and could not afford to stay here the night. Too bad.
I took the oppurtunity to relax here for awhile, check out the rocky beach below, and take in the amazing mountains (or hills) across the fast moving river.
It was apparent that this was a special place. An older woman named Julie approached me out of nowhere and started up a conversation. She had seen I was taking photos with my tripod, and was wondering where I had come from and where I was going.
She was a nice lady, who seemed to have a keen interest in what I was doing. Also surprised I was alone.
She had suggested I change my route to go up the mountains south of me, so I could get a view of the river basin below. I smiled and told her that it would be awesome to bike up there but just not after 70km of riding! It would also pack on another 20km to go there, and then end in Kamouraska.
She wanted to me to see these mountains so badly, that she offered to take me up there in her car. Of course, I couldn’t pass this up!
Because she did not have a pick up truck, I had to leave the bulk of my gear behind including my bike. A risky choice just for a few photos. I locked my bike and asked another lady to keep an eye on my trailer for 40 minutes or so. She gladly agreed to. Considering there were a bunch of older folks and no punks around, I felt ok leaving the trailer in her hands.
We headed for this specific mountain, part of it a ski hill, and with a name I cannot remember or find on the internet. It was about 10 minutes away from Julies hometown- St. Pacome. I felt honored that she took the time to show me this little jem of a village.
We went through the town and made it to the lookout. It was interesting to see the route at which I just travelled and where I was going for the rest of the day from someplace other than a digital map.
She said she feels obligated to tell people about this little lookout, as she is from this village, and it is not advertised in any brochures. I was the first random person she’d ever driven up there though. So maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought.
She drove me back about 40 minutes later after taking some photos. She passed me some cherries, and cheese before she left. I couldn’t believe the generosity towards me- a complete stranger.
Back on the road again I had many intense thoughts and feelings about the people I had met so far on the trip. The thoughts were obviously ignited from my recent encounter with Julie. I could not imagine myself travelling this way or any way actually, in complete isolation of humans.
What would be the point really? Yes, I left by myself, but it is the fact I know there will be people along the road who are willing to share something. Whether it be a simple conversation, a story, a warning, a salutation, a bag of cherries, a meal and even a couch to sleep on. There are people waiting out there for you, who are just as curious about you as you are about them. I don’t mean ‘you’ personally either.
It felt like a made it to Kamouraska pretty darn quick after I left left Julie in La Pocatiere. Scenery was looking pretty fantastic. I came around a corner of a farm and there it was … Kamouraska. It was on this rock which looked like it was put there randomly. Kind of funny I thought. I had no idea what this town was going to be like, but since I was so far from any large city, I figured it would be pretty darn easy to find a place to sleep.
The first thing that caught my eye as soon as I got into the village was this bird below. I don’t know what kind it is, but it sure is different looking. Maybe someone knows what species it is?
I think it got hit by a car too. I got super close to it and it didn’t even move. But i saw dried up blood near the leg. He would move every once and awhile. I felt like doing something -like putting it out of it’s misery. The poor guy put me in a pretty gloomy mood and I knew it wasn’t feelin’ so hot either. I thought that would be the best thing to do “morally”. But I didn’t and cycled away pretending I saw nothing. I just couldn’t bring myself to doing it. Plus, he could have been attacked from a natural predator. Perfectly normal I guess.
Earlier in the summer, one of our customers mentioned he and his family had a cottage right in this very town. He told me months ago that I would have no problem finding and staying at their cottage. Well I definitely got my hopes up. He never messaged me for 2 weeks prior to my arrival here. But just so happened to “see my message” later that night. Says he was renting it out or something like that.
Anyway, I figured I’d try my luck at the local bar in hopes of snagging at least a lawn to sleep on legally. The bar, which was packed with staring old folks in nice sweaters, had unusually expensive beer and food. I knew I wouldn’t be hanging around much longer after this 9$ beer. This put me in an even worse mood. I know I wasn’t dressed up for the place, but I sat outside in the corner, and this was apparently the only place to grab a beer in town- hence the prices… so loosen up a bit!
It’s possible though that my mood at the time created a bit of a negative vibration in the place. Or I just wasn’t wanted there.
As the sun started sinking quickly I needed to make a decision. Do I stay in this town and search all over or do I leave the town (toward my next destination), In hope of finding somewhere to stay. I only had an 1.5-2 hours of light left. I decided to make some distance and stop at the next place I saw suitable.
All of the coast line for the next 3-4 km was either inhabited, too rocky, marshy, or inaccessible. The road veered away from the coast and I was getting worried as I became densly sandwiched between farms. (I like sleeping on beaches and in forests, not a muddy farm-field with no element protection). The temperature became perfect and the view was just getting nicer. I could have biked for another 35km very easily.
Luckily though I came across some sort of building with a Jesus statue inside I think. It centered a graveyard with the tombstones and all. Almost biking by without even acknowledging it, I pulled off and made this my home for the night.
I walked in with my gear and situated myself under the best trees. Two that provided protection from the wind, provided some shielding if it rained, minimal roots on the ground, and enough cover from the semi-busy road.
I set up my stuff and got my stove cooking. Buttered pasta with herbs..mmm. I was not going to start a fire in the graveyard to cook my corn and risk blowing my cover! Those two pieces of corn will be sitting in my trailer again on route to Cabano, QC. I wanted to eat those so badly.
I walked around the graveyard trying to read the tombstone messages but no luck. I sat down at one of the picnic tables to eat and I was a bit shocked to find a pair of ripped female leopard panties. You all may laugh at me now, but when you’ve been alone for awhile on the road in a place you know nothing about-specifically the crime rate, you tend to think on the less optimistic side.
Sleeping in a graveyard is creepy enough but the fact I may now be sleeping in a potential crime scene, gave this night a comedic feel.
But I made it through the night with out any thoughts of the rapist. I was plenty occupied with my only visitors- the F*****G mosquitoes. Excuse my language. I drove myself insane slapping these buggers flying around my ears all night. The buzzing sound when their flying is outrageously annoying and frustrating- and when the sound stops you know they’ve landed on something, possibly your ear, eyelid, cheek or the outside of your sleeping bag. Either way you are still wide awake-adrenaline pumping- as you whisk them away hour after hour.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Yes, the first photo I took is of my toe!. I was bored, and had nothing else to shoot before bed. It gets a bit better I promise.
To all the the photo experts out there, please bare with my amateur attempts using manual. I am slowly learning.
Was amazed at the amount of trains today; 4 freights and 4vias (passenger trains).
The weather could not have been better either… phew, I never thought I’d say it… but i am trained out for the day.
On top of the trains, there was a cool dog, a live crew change , and some kids who thought it would be cool to try and touch one of the moving trains. There was some cool artwork by the tracks too.