Wednesday, 30 July 2008

On preparations afoot and other matters

Well, I am sort of packed and ready, for a sufficiently large value of packed and ready. There are still two workdays to go and as I need a certain percentage of my biking gear to go to work, it hasn't been packed in my touring panniers bags. Actually, in theory, I could bike to work without rain gear or my tool kit but that would bring Mr. Murphy and his laws into the equation.

As I packed, I was very grateful that I thought to write in my note book what I left in Le Bic with my bike. If I hadn't I would be much more worried than I am right now. When I was staying in Le Bic, it came to my attention that my hosts didn't have any laundry baskets. I therefore bought them three to given them as house presents on my return. In addition, they should make taking my load of clobber on the bus much more manageable.
In other news, I was in North Hatley on the weekend and had the opportunity to take this photograph of someone who was just back from her first vacation in Le Bic. Her first vacation ever for that matter.
I think that no one could believe that my niece is underfed!!! Actually, babies are babies and my mother said that my brother (i.e. my niece's father) was quite chubby at her age. He grew up to be even skinnier than I am.

I was watching Pete Seeger : the Power of Song on DVD last night. The more I learn about the man, the more I am impressed. Of course, the documentary is quite openly the "authorized biography" version of events, given that one of the producers was Toshi Seeger, Pete's wife of over sixty years. Given she has stood by him through thick and thin, it would be very surprising that there would be much harsh criticism of him. In fact, it wouldn't be far from the truth to say that some of the harshest criticism of him comes in the form of saying that she put up with a lot in order to further his ideals. Nonetheless, the documentary was about a very gifted and noble individual, so in many respects there is relatively little to critique. It was, however, notable that there was little about Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport festival.

I now feel obligated to come up with a biking folk song while on the journey.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

On distances travelled during part 1.

In re-reading this blog, I noticed that I had neglected to give the distances traveled on the various days. So without further ado, here they are:

Day : Date . Distance / Avg. speed
Day 1: June 14. 109.32 / 20.5
Day 2: June 15. 109.36 / 24.1 (Light load in the Acton Vale challenge)
Day 3: June 16. 125.95 / 19.9
Day 4: June 17. 86.66 / 18.2
Day 5: June 18. n/a Rest day
Day 6: June 19. 90.88 / 19.5
Day 7: June 20. 114.41 / 20.3
Day 8: June 21. 122.77 / 18.5

Monday, 14 July 2008

On another turtle shot for Mark's benefit

I am feeling bored and can't think of anything particularly witty to say. Instead, I will show you another shot of the snapping turtle. Mark, my sister's fiancée, has an interest in turtles.
I didn't intend to upload this next shot but in trying upload the turtle shot, I accidentally did so on the first try, so I decided to leave it in.
This was taken on the first day, on the Route des Champs bike path. The sign was leftover from the days when the bike path was still a railway line. If I am not mistaken, Autoroute 10 (a.k.a. the Eastern Townships' Autoroute) runs next to the power line in the far distance. I was surprised to see that near Marieville, the path was very close to the Autoroute. Since then, I have seen the bike path while on the Autoroute.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

On photos from part 1

A CD-ROM with the images I downloaded from my camera in Quebec City to my cousins' computer arrived today. Consequently, it seems time to clutter my blog with some pictures from the first half of the first part of my trip to Newfoundland.
This swing beside the route of the Défi d'Acton Vale was made from some old tires. If you look closely, you will it was made to look like a horse, complete with a saddle and stirrups.
This old hotel(?) caught my attention, particularly with the perspective of the road and railroad going off into the distance.
Here we have the snapping turtle, looking rather fierce.
This is the approximate location where the Victoria Cross was earned in Danville.
This is one of the most tarted up and posh-looking farms I have seen. I can only guess that you would pay a premium to buy a cow from here!
This is the B&B I stayed at in Plessisville just after a thunderstorm had swept through.
This shot shows why fenders are a good thing. That is only a fraction of what would have been on my legs had I not had them.

As I neared the Pont du Québec, I had to cross the Chaudière river, no mean task. I had the safe option of staying beside a busy road or going down a 13% grade on which the Guide de la Route Verte did not recommend the use of trailers. They had a point. Not that the grade would have been a problem but as the park rather discouraged riding down the hill with a series of would be hard to navigate on a bike with a trailer.
I crossed the Chaudière on this overly springy suspension bridge.
I had the luck to get another cyclist to take this shot of me about to tackle the Pont du Québec.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

On the differences between bikes

I should have written this entry a couple of weeks ago but I haven't been in the writing mood. However, better late than never.

My two bikes have a lot in common by design. They have the same seats and wheels and are both of "ten-speed" type mold. However, beyond this, their specific layouts are actually quite different. Leonardo has a longer frame and wider handlebars than the Castafiore. Furthermore, in touring trim with low-rider bags and a handlebar bag, steering requires greater force and movement than on the Castafiore. The upshot of this is that after a week on Leonardo, I was wondering if there was something wrong with the steering on the Castafiore as it seemed loose and I was wobbling significantly!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

On a legend

I saw a living legend today. He's been a legend since before I was born. I have any number of his recordings and recordings he has inspired. And he is still inspiring people.

He is Pete Seeger.

He was performing in a church along with his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (who is two years younger than I) and Guy Davis.I was slightly embarrassed by the fact that I was in the younger quarter of the crowd. Despite the fact that it was billed as a family concert, most the crowd were old farts (i.e. my age or older). However, there was a good smattering of children.

As well, the crowd was well trained in being played by Pete. Pete is a master banjo picker but that is not the instrument he is best at. He can play a crowd, leading them through songs, old and new, like no one else I know of. This is partly a consequence of the fact that he largely lost his singing voice about twenty years ago, but also because that is part of his gift. If you listen to the CD of "We shall overcome" his 1963 Carnegie Hall concert, several times in the proceedings you can hear how he is playing the audience as well as his instruments. That was well before his voice went.

Pete has aged well, though it was obvious that he isn't as young as he used to be. However, he seemed younger than his 89 years. His songs (or at least the songs he sang) have also aged well. He, Tao and Guy started out with "The Midnight Special" as well as many other well known "Pete" songs. The three performers were relaxed and obviously in good humour. It was also evident what craftsmen the three of them were in the casual way they discussed amongst themselves what key the next song would be in. I don't think the play list had been worked out in advance, but they all knew or could adapt to one another's choices.

The lead alternated between the three performers allowing them to catch their breath in turn. However, a couple of times, when a song by some else began, there would be a light in Pete's eyes and he would get up from his chair and join in on 5-string banjo or 12-string guitar. His love of music and of playing was so obvious. I almost wish he had sung "How can I keep from singing."

After the show was over, I was walking up to the stage to try to get a "Gravity is a theory" bumper sticker, Tao came out of a side door and headed for the back of the church. I managed to shake his hand and say "Thank you".