Tuesday, 17 June 2008

On milestones

A number of milestones have been reached in the last few days. To start with the one most in need of flattering, my mother braved the very nasty weather and drove with me to Acton Vale to inaugurate her new bicycle in the Acton Vale Challenge. I have been surprisingly luck with the weather given that the weather hasn't been good. While it was pouring on the way to Acton Vale, there was very little rain while we pedaled. Mummy did 87 km...
...and I did 109.36.
I spent the night in a very modest motel in Acton Vale. While the motel was very ordinary, the restaurant I chose proved to be very good all things considered. To give you an example, I ordered what amounted to potato skins, (i.e. a baked potato with cheese and bacon bits) however, the cheese used turned out to be something in the brie line! Surprisingly upscale.

Acton Vale has a library. Unlike some libraries I could mention, it wasn't open on Sunday evenings. In fact, its hours were fairly restricted. Rather than have an after hours return slot, it had the following arrangement. I am not sure if this constitutes a possible endorsement of smoking by a library. If it does, then I don't approve.

I made a fool of myself by leaving my water bottles in the fridge of the motel. I only noticed 4.25 km away and had to go back.

Rather than take highway 116 all the way to Richmond from Acton Vale, I opted to take 4e Rang out of Acton Vale for about 10 km. It was a quiet dirt road that went past a surprising number of horse farms. I wonder if there is some particular reason that the area attracts horse breeders such as a high calcium content of the soil.

I got to Richmond in reasonable time. The weather was overcast and humid. As I made my way along the old Grand Trunk rail bed away from Richmond, I decided that as I seemed to be the only person on the wide, flat trail, I could remove my helmet for better cooling.

I went past beaver ponds, startled groundhogs and chipmunks and annoyed a snapping turtle by taking its picture. It had been moving fairly swiftly along (for a turtle that is) until I came up to snap a picture. It retreated into its shell and glared at me. After a couple of pictures, I left it to go about its business.
After lunch in Danville, it began to rain. However, by the time I got to Warwick and this sign... ...it had turned into a very nice day. (Unfortunately, this photo is a sign I need to do something about the spare tire.)

Between the reduced humidity and welcome presence of a tail wind, I fairly flew for much of the rest of the afternoon. Whereas before I had been cruising in the low twenties, I was now seeing numbers in the mid to high twenties. Another factor may have been that I was on a slightly better maintained and drier surface. In this stretch, the white-ish crushed stone suggested a ye olde Spanish road that truly exists only in my mind. There is something addictive about a good long, straight bike path. The vanishing point beckons, calling you further on, and farther in, until the towns fall away like milestones. It was glorious.
My mileage table had called for me to spend the night in Victoriaville. However, as the going was so fine, I hadn't booked a room and that my alternate bed for the night looked great, I kept on going to Plessisville (another 22 km, for a total of 125.95). The B&B La Maison Douce is in a Victorian house that was restored with much passion and conviction (if slightly debatable taste) by the current owners. It was well done, but is slightly overdone with materials that don't quite measure up. It is, however, a great place to stay and something of a bargin.

I dealt with distaff half of the couple who operates it. She is a rather nice, if somewhat religious lady. I am not sure if she is Catholic or merely started off Catholic before turning to something more evangelical. To be honest, I would rather not know. She wasn't obnoxiously religious, it was just that religion was something that was obviously on her mind.

Another milestone occurred as I was nearing Plessiville when the odometer function on my bike computer hit 2000 km. It was at 0 km in Seville! Evidently, I didn't use it enough last summer! ;-)

Today was a mixture of sun and cloud for me with a little bit of rain thrown in for good measure. In fact, between Dosquet and Saint-Agapit, I ran a race with a thunderstorm. I could see it to my left as well as the fact that there was clear (well rainless) skies to the North of it and as the wind was out of the West, and the trail was going North-West, I guessed that if I kept going at a good pace, I could get out of its path. I was also a mite worried about being caught out in the open on that stretch of the bike path. I think I won, by the way.

It was interesting to see that I tended to make better time on the open stretches rather than the forested bits. I think that is the appeal of the open road type thing.

A further milestone was reached when I got to the end of the line, i.e. Quebec City: there won't be anything so glorious in the way of bike paths until P.E.I.'s Confederation Trail. I've become rather spoiled in the last few days. (On the other hand, riding on roads may mean less crud sticking to my bike. I had to wash a fair bit of dirt off Leonardo this afternoon.)

I crossed the St-Lawrence on the old Pont de Québec. Despite being fascinated with its structure, I felt a bit uneasy about looking all the way dooooowwwwnnnnn!!! (I suffer from mild acrophobia.) It too was a milestone. Crossing a major bridge usually is.

I was surprised to find that both Sébastien and Marianne were waiting for me. Surprised and pleased. Little Liam (5 months) seemed intrigued if a mite perplexed. Mathilde (3 ans et demi) was shy at first but then warmed up to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear Poms. You seem really well. Hugh