Home > Day to Day > Into stiff headwinds for the second long day, but with a larger ‘crew’ — Trois Rivieres to Quebec City

Into stiff headwinds for the second long day, but with a larger ‘crew’ — Trois Rivieres to Quebec City

When I was in the army there was this custom: when you were within 100 days of being discharged you created a “Desperation Chart”. Some just outlined those final days of service on a calendar. Others drew elaborate charts. But the subsequent actions were virtually the same: we crossed off each day, yearning for the soon-to-arrive freedom. I thought about this with reference to this ride. Before I started riding, and in the early days, it had not occurred to me that I might feel this way. But as I sit in my nice hotel room in Quebec City, while its raining cats and chiens outside, I am definitely aware that only 16 days remain. And only 10 more nights of pitching my tent and 10 more mornings of packing it up.

What is the mixture of feelings? It is starting to dawn on me what I have been experiencing and what I have already accomplished. The distances, the connections, the experiences, the nearly $75,000 already raised, the frustrations and disappointments (with Cycle Canada, with my bike, with the weather, with myself for not doing a better job handling those frustrations and disappointments…)

Yesterday — it is 05:30 again. Time to get going. Worrisome sound of water dripping outside until I realized that it was the fountain in the middle of the huge pool, right next to our tents. A big ‘phew’ of relief…until I realized that the groundsheet and rain fly were drenched. And all this moisture came from dew, caused by the major temperature drop yesterday – from a high of around 35C to a low of around 10C overnight! Yes, our all-too-short summer is showing first signs of checking out! So I stuffed the drippers into the wet sac, dreading the thought that they would stew there for the next 48 hours. But then Owen remarked that he was going to take his gear into the hotel room and dry it out. Good idea! I will do likewise.

The Mouseketeers had left very early, once again shunning the (almost always very good) breakfast served by Nieka. I stuffed myself in anticipation of the long day and dropped two sandwiches and three pieces of fruit into my pannier. And three water bottles plus a bottle of Gatorade on the bike – can’t be too careful!

For the second time we joined up with Landen and Isabel. This meant there would be three of us rotating through the lead – a welcome relief. Isabel kept up smartly on the flats but had difficulties with both the climbs and the descents: likely due to the gearing and wheel size on her special miniature bike.

The scenery continued taking my breath away, whether the spectacular vistas of the St. Lawrence, the lush and bountiful farmlands or the beautifully elaborate churches and cathedrals, each seemingly attempting to outdo the others. And topping it all were the bike paths and roadside facilities. I plan to write and congratulate the Quebec Ministry of Transportation about the tremendous investment made to accommodate cyclists: generous, well-paved and well-marked paths, bathroom stops with drinking water and shaded sitting areas, and access to food facilities at reasonable intervals. And not surprisingly we came across numerous cyclists, both ‘local riders’ ca rrying next to nothing on their bikes and all the way to obvious cyclo-tourists whose bikes were with overloaded with panniers and other packs and bags and instruments.

Two things marred this day. The first was the unrelenting headwind. Taking the lead for 10 km was tough – averaging less than 20 kph, flattening myself close to the handlebars, trying to punch a hole through the wind with my helmet. And we got some good climbs thrown in for good measure! And yes, I know this may sound exactly like so many other descriptions of the same experience – but I haven’t gotten used to headwinds – and don’t expect I will.

The second problem was my bike’s nasty clicking. My drive-train problems were gone, thanks to installing a new Shimano chain, plus Michel Deshaies’ expert adjustments. So now I was left with only one culprit – the seat. I know this leather beauty is nearing the end of its life, as indicated by the adjusting screw. But why does it have to be so LOUD? I suppose some of the increasingly annoying sounds might also be coming from the elaborate seat attachment unit, or even from the carbon fibre seat post. But my bet is on the seat.

So what to do? It feels risky to opt for a new seat at this stage, but the noise is really annoying and the chafing is getting worse, even with twice-daily applications of Zincofax and copious layers of Chamois Butter on my nether regions. It feels like one of those dreaded “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations. Grrrrrrrr!

The map instructions to enter Quebec City were good. We stopped under the fabulous elevated railway bridge, just ahead of a monster climb to the heights of the old city. Then we climbed, once again in my lowest gear, after a long hiatus. Along the 14% grade we passed a paraplegic in a specially-designed recumbent bike, the chain driven by his massive arms pumping in parallel (vs. the opposing leg positions in regular bikes.) This struck me as much harder, but what do I know? He was making good progress. Then an older gentleman, dressed in nice clothes and sitting jauntily on an old style bike sailed past me, turning his pedals at a leisurely pace. What the heck?! I then noticed the electric motor and battery pack strapped to his frame. Phew! I really feared that I was ‘losing it’!

Lovely street just by the end of the precipice, one gorgeous house after another sharing the spectacular panorama. Bud’s instructions were different from those of my GPS, and we decided to go with the map. No problem till we reached Laval University. In close order we were sent down a rough gravel road in a construction site and then over a narrow grassy path that climbed up a hill and then spilled sharply into a busy four-lane road. Insanity! We gingerly rode down to Ste Foy and then realized that our hotel was a short distance away. Wow – we made it through another day!

I got another chance to inflict my French – this time on the reception person. He did not flinch and seemed to understand me perfectly: he handed us our keys and said that he had the key to the truck. “Is our luggage in the rooms?” He did not know. We crossed the atrium and into the Caribbean…a hugely warm and incredibly humid cavernous space, three floors tall, dominated by tropical foliage and huge hot tubs! Well, this is different! On the way to our room we checked the Exercise Room. No, don’t be silly – not because we had the least interest in the machines! We wanted to see if they had a weigh scale! But no luck.

Room looks fine, not as nice as the one in Montreal but certainly good enough. And no luggage. Back down to Reception for the truck key. Truck is out back. Sans luggage. Back to Reception. Landen placed a call to Bud and left a message wondering about the whereabouts of our stuff. Then I had an idea! Emboldened by my positive French experiences I asked the reception guy if they had a storage room where our stuff may have been left. “Mais oui!” Tiny space, much of which was taken up by our belongings. And on each rider’s box or bag or crate was a pile of goodies: a chocolate bar, a bag of chips, and some other treat! Yes! We humped our stuff up to the room. Owen went to the shower. I went into a junk-food frenzy and polished off my stash in about 2 minutes! Then I settled back on the bed and fell asleep.

Excellent Greek dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants. And a Quebec oddity – they don’t sell wine, but you can bring your own! We’ll remember that for tomorrow. So after dinner we went to a nearby supermarket where they sell…wine, among other things! How civilized! Nice bottle of Australian red and assorted energy beverages, then back to the hotel.

Owen woke me up around 10 pm and asked if I intended to sleep, in my clothes, on top of the sheets. Funny guy! So…good night!

 “Fuelled by Equator Coffee!”

imageSmall boats, large boat — in the thick early morning fog, on the way to Trois Rivieres
imageSun masked by fog over the spectacular Notre Dame in Trois Rivieres
image…and the not so special more recent addition next to it
imageLong iron bridge (which includes the riding (driving?!) surface — a latticework of open grid panels) near Batiscan — first time I walked my bike over a bridge: didn’t want to risk tire damage
imageElaborate Catholic churches everywhere, ie., in even the smallest villages — this one at St-Anne La Perade
imageAncient wooden boats racing on the St. Lawrence. One is way ahead of the pack…

Fantastic elevated railway bridge, before the steep climb into Quebec City

Categories: Day to Day
  1. August 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Ilan, very nice pics of my beautiful province. I’m happy I managed to solve your bike problems, sorry for your increasing chafing but there’s nothing I could’ve done to help other then suggesting to try to put some Polysporin ovenrnight. It already did some miracles for me. Keep your highly positive state of mind and all my thoughts are with you guys and wish you the best for the rest of the trip. You’re almost there and the upcoming panoramas should continue to take your breath away.

  2. darylwood
    August 10, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Wow Ilan, I can hardly believe how far you have gone and the Maritimes are in sight! Congratulations on all the you have overcome to keep moving toward your vision. May the donations increase as you close in on the finish line with only 18 days left. YOU are amazing. Dox

  1. October 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm

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