I arrived in Trois Rivieres, QC at about 8pm last night. Ciarin has been here for the past 5 weeks participating in a french immersion program which finishes this Thursday. The plan was to be in Montreal until Wednesday or Thursday and then bike here in a day or two however as you can tell it is Tuesday and I am no longer in Montreal. I love Montreal. The city has a lot to offer in terms of activities and culture but for me, this time, it took only a few days and I was starting to get stir crazy. So yesterday morning by about 10am I was on my bike and heading East…ish to Trois Rivieres. I took a slight detour North half way through the day adding on an extra 20kms, it’s fine.
I had bounced around to a couple of my friends places while in the city, staying on couches and guest beds. On the last two nights I had stayed with my friend Pam in Verdun on the west side of the city. After a relaxed night of watching Batman movies I woke up and made a big 4 egg Omelet. I forgot how much I love cooking, having been living off of the bare essentials and cooking over a fire for the past few months it was a nice change to manage more than one burner and become creative with my ingredients and timing. I have had some meals to be proud of on the road but for the most part my meals have been about efficiency rather than creativity.
The Explore french immersion program seems to be a fun experience. Ciarin has made many friends in his short time here and everyone has no problem switching back and forth from english to french depending on the conversation. I pick up a nice relaxed vibe from everyone here but can see that everyone is very focused when it comes to academics. I walked in on a homework party last night and watched as everyone got up early this morning and headed to straight to class. After hearing everyone talk of Explore and getting to see the program first hand I am confident that I will attempt to participate in it over the next couple of years. For me it is a matter of balancing work, school and Explore. All three have doors already opened to me I just need to do some time management as to when to walk through each one.
The last time I wrote on my blog, I had my bicycle along with all of my belongings stolen from me in Gatineau, QC. I remained calm, focused on the positive and in the end everything worked out fine. It was tough the first day, dealing with losing the sentimental items but by the time I woke up the next morning I had become content with not owning them and was happy to feel as though I was learning so much from this experience. Had this not happened to me I would not have had the honor of meeting so many great people around Gatineau and Ottawa. I got to go out to lunch and sit down to coffee with complete strangers just to share stories of the road and what was to come. Everyday I had emails from people offering whatever they could in order to help. In the first two days I had gathered up everything I needed in order to continue on other than a bike. I was a little nervous over that weekend wondering what I would do for a bike, unsure if I’d be able to get one off of Kijiji or if I would have to spend all my money and buy one new.
That weekend was Evolve Weekend. Evolve is a music festival in Antigonish, NS that I had gone to for the first time last year. So many great people and so much good music over the course of three days. Back in late April when I was in Tofino I had been talking with my friends back home Sean and Scott and decided(after a lot of convincing on Sean and Scotts part) that I would go to this years Evolve. I spent a day figuring out the details and than purchased a flight to go from Ottawa to NS and back the day the festival begins and the evening It ended. I was also able to squeeze in a night of good food and beers with my brother who will be in Toronto when I arrive home in August. Overall I am very happy I made the decision to go and in the end the festival, just like the Lynx, the Bears, the Mosquitos and the bike getting stolen are all just another chapter of the story.
When I arrived back in Ottawa I was met by the rest of my original group who I had not seen in a month. They were all in good spirits and we had much to talk about and catch up on that night. During the following day I went around pricing bicycles and gathering up several items which I had not gotten donated, but that were necessary for the road ahead. In the afternoon I went and met with a man in the Market who claimed to have a bike that would do the job. One shop in the city sold a Salsa, Fargo so I had went to take it for a test ride. After riding this bike for ten minutes I can tell you that I will probably never own another one of these bikes again. I loved my Fargo. Perhaps loved it a little bit too much because when I rode that second one not a thing on it felt right. Everything about this Fargo was different. Physically the seat, tires, wheels, handlebars, shifters, component selection and just about everything else other than the frame was different. Besides the physical make up of the bike it was apparent this Fargo simply had no spirit. I can only assume the feeling I had inside me is the same feeling someone has when they cheat on the person they love. The decision was an easy one, I walked the bike back into the store and told him it just didn’t feel right and walked out of the store.
I walked to the Market where I had agreed I would meet Ed at about 2pm. Dom and Kat came with me and we waited out front of the shop curious as to which vehicle would be Ed’s. Right on time he showed up. I could tell by his demeanor he was the guy I was looking for. There is a certain facial expression you get on your face when searching for someone you have never met before. I could see this look on Ed’s face and made my approach opening with, “Ed? , hi I’m Coady.”
Meeting all the people I have in addition to working as a guide I have seen this expression many times before and I was easily able to pick it out. It is not always the exact same look, it various depending on the person wearing it. There are people who take this look and bring to it their confidence in the unknown to come. Where as others who shy away from these social encounters wear the look only slightly, perhaps in hopes they will not make the encounter and they will continue on with their day, continue on with their comfortable, safe routine. Myself, I cannot help but be confident in what is around the next corner. You could say I am lucky, I have experienced the good there can be. I have seen the opportunities and cherished the moments. Sickened to the core with the thought of letting those moments pass by. All those people, strangers at first, but who is not a stranger at some point in life to another person? Later strangers can turn into lifelong friends, looking back finding it hard to remember the days when you were strangers at all. So I wear my look of confidence that good friends are waiting to be met and that doors closed are right there, waiting for me to open them. I am not scared of let downs, awkward moments, rejection. I am not afraid of the bad that can come because I know and have witnessed that it is in the shadow of the large amount of good in our world.
I could tell that Ed shared this same look of confidence. He has toured on a bicycle (the bicycle he gave to be exact) and knows the great people that exist in this world. He said short and simply, “I know how many people helped us out when we were on our bikes and this is just me paying a little of it back.” After a few minutes of telling me the tricks and tips of mounting the pannier bags onto it he got in his car and drove off. I now held in my hands a new bike. A real beauty. All steel, made to tour, bar end shifters, threaded holes where you need threaded holes, cantilever brakes, wide range of gears and a set of sweet old school red Cannondale pannier bags. I was set.
I spent the night tweaking the bike to make it suited for me and gave it a quick little tune up. When I get it home, I’ll change the stem to better fit me and at some point I will be purchasing another Brooks saddle. I have biked three days on the Selle Italia saddle it came with and I miss my Brooks now more than ever. I am not sure I will make it past Quebec (City) before buying another Brooks.
The very next morning I was ready with my new bike and all my newly acquired gear to go on it. I had stayed at Ben and Vans that night to take advantage of the bike shop Ben has in his garage as well as give a proper good bye when I took off.
I headed off from their house to the PB to meet with Eddy, Court, Kat and Dom. A morning bonus, I was able to grab a coffee before they got there. I have such an appreciation for coffee and ice cream since doing this trip. We snapped some group photos in front of the buildings and made our way out of the city. We were in Quebec in a matter of minutes and started on La Route Verte in the direction of Montreal. La Route Verte is a special series of bike pathways and low traffic roads designated for cyclists traveling from city to city in Quebec. For anyone looking to do some touring, perhaps not a 4 month trip but something to get your feet wet. I suggest taking La Route Verte from Gatineau to Quebec City, or to shorten it up by 200kms, going from Montreal to Quebec. I have heard mixed opinions of this route. I went into it with an open mind and absolutely fell in love with it. You spend the day weaving in and out of streets, constantly alert and always engaged in what is going on. La Route Verte is a beautiful part of La Belle Province and I will certainly be back to bike it again.
We planned to do Ottawa to Montreal (203kms) in two days and achieved that no problem. Along the way we were met with beautiful landscapes, hilarious language barriers, delicious home cooked breakfast and shuttled across the water on the Oka ferry. The whole time the feeling of being back on a bike heading East never got old. I felt great. Even if I was sore or sick, you would not have known it. I was too full of emotion to feel physical stress.
It was apparent through out both days to me and the others that it had been a long time since I had biked in a group. I no longer questioned the pace at which I biked and instead just did what I found comfortable. I biked fast and alone. I stopped where I wanted to stop and biked when I wanted to bike. Things are different now then before, a month of alone time and encounters with other cyclists on the road have shown me what I want and how I want to do it. I now take more out of each day and go to sleep with no regrets towards things I didn’t do. This mentality can be a hard one to hold while in a group, but I plan to keep it all the way to Halifax(and possibly further). I want this trip to be everything it can be, because I know it will only happen once.
After some time spent in Montreal I felt the urge to move on, so I called the rest of the group and told them I’d be leaving two days ahead of schedule. The next morning I was up and on my bike, last night I arrived in Trois Rivieres.
I am happy I came here early, my first night was spent at a Bonfire, meeting all of Ciarins friends and this morning I went kayaking with Pam. This afternoon I plan to bum around a Value Village, find a book and sit and drink coffee with a 90% chance of getting ice cream. Tonight is Karaoke with Ciarin. The rest of the group should be here Thursday night I think and then we will all go to a segment of the Grande Prix, which is in Trois Rivieres and free to go to on Friday. In other Free News, Quebec city is offering free Cirque Du Soleil shows, so in several days when I arrive there I will hopefully be attending my first Cirque! Ref: Knocked Up.
That’s all I have to say for now, well I have a lot more to say but I’m losing focus and I’m sure you are too.
Cheers, go see the new Batman it is sick,