Monday, 30 June 2014

On U.S. highways

After publishing my previous post, I realized I hadn't mentioned some odds and ends. The first is that I have left the agricultural prairies and am now in what I take to be part of the Canadian Shield. Am I correct, Pappy? One sign of this was the fact that a passing freight train consisted of cars for hauling minerals rather the grain trains hitherto dominant. Farming has given way to fishing, hunting and logging in order of prominence if not economic significance. Hills are becoming more common.

Being so far up the Mississippi, I find it strange to know the altitude is barely over 1000 feet and it has a looong way to go before it gets to the Gulf of Mexico. It also seem weird the Mississippi itself is so close to Lake Superior. I have already lost count how many times I have crossed it.

The towns in these parts seem very different than the many small towns along the Trans-Canada in the Prairie Provinces. Fewer Chinese restaurants for one thing. Fewer small town motels or B&Bs for another. Lots more liquor stores, mostly of the "Steve's Discount Liquor Warehouse" variety. Out of curiousity, I went into one. The theme seemed be beer, vodka, rum, rye and bourbon, plus American plonk. Nothing special.  The banks lack the attributes I associate with them such as familiar names or permanent looking architecture. Maybe the latter is a subconscious admission of their failings! ;-)  As I was leaving Fosston, I passed an elaborate, relatively low structure that I took for an evangelical church. It turned out to be a bank. It put me in mind of an exchange from Astérix et le chaudron d'or. Astérix and Obelix are eating in an inn when Astérix sees an impressive building out the window. He asks the innkeeper "What's that building? A temple?" "Nearly," replies the innkeeper, "It's where the Romans keep their money. It's called a bank." Or something like it.

Also, as I was riding today, I kept being passed by trucks carrying bits of a fairground. As they stopped for gas or to regroup, I think they passed me several times.

On the banks of the Mississippi

I neglected to mention that Bemidji likes to boast that it is "the first city on the Mississippi". This not insignificant as I left Bemidji via rear exit, namely the Paul Bunyan bike trail, a former railway track that runs among other places along the Eastern Shore of Lake Bemidji. (I had been on the Western shore of the Brome Lake sized body of water.) I rode the well paved trail until I crossed the nascent Mississippi River which was no bigger than the Massawippi at Lennoxville. (This analogy may mystify some of my readers. The Massawippi river was a feature of childhood.)

Unfortunately, that meant I had missed my cue to leave the Paul Bunyan trail! I backtracked a few hundred feet and back across the Mississippi and onto back roads guided by a handout acquired in Bemidji. It brought me to at least a part of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, crossing and recrossing the fabled river. I am a bit hazy on the precise geography of the Leech Lake Reservation (I wonder what the story behind that name is?) as my map conflates at least part of it with the Chippewa National Forest. To further muddy the waters, the band of Indians in Leech Lake refer to themselves as a band of Ojibwe. Chippewa is a synonym of Ojibwe. Various bands of Ojibwe in Minnesota describe themselves as Ojibwe or Chippewa in a manner that leaves me perplexed as to which is the proper term. Wikipedia seems to indicate that Ojibwe is the dominant usage.  I only assume there is some sort of reason behind it all and the Ojibwe/Chippewa and National Forest people have sorted out nomenclature as well as who can do what in the National Forest and the Reservation. I only hope that all the re-elect "Archie La Rose for secretary-treasurer" signs get taken down. (I should look up to see if he got in.)

The wind was out of the South West this sunny day.  I spent a good deal of the day crossing the Chippewa National Forest on a road that ran pretty much due East. The trees largely channeled the breeze into a very useful tailwind!  I made very good time indeed. In fact at lunch in Bena, I pondered pushing beyond Grand Rapids, my objective for the day. Consulting a "visit Minnesota" booklet and my map, I could find nowhere to stop, I pondered camping but opted to wait to see what conditions later in the day would bring.

As I was getting ready to leave a couple young guys left their truck which was towing a speed boat. One of them sporting an extreme sports T-shirt as me what kind of gas mileage did I get on my bike? I replied with equal sarcasm, the gassier I get, the faster I go!

A bit after leaving the National Forest, Highway 2 angled more to the South. As the land was more open, the Southerly vector of  the wind became larger, so given fatigue, I opted to stop at a motel in Grand Rapids which proved to have Adventure Cyclist sticker on the office door and a swimming lake behind.

After unloading my clobber and changing into my trunks, I went for a swim in the lake which a public beach without a lifeguard. There were a number of kids in about the four to nine age range who were being loosely supervised by a relatively small number of "responsible adults". I retrieved a flutter board from an area weeds and reeds for a four year old who seemed to be having an overly theatrical meltdown with obvious parental response. I swam back and forth keeping a loose weather eye on the kids given the relative lack of obvious supervision. There was one younger kid of about two years of age whose happy running around in the swallow water made me a trifle uneasy as he seemed capable of running out over his depth to the bigger kids at one of whom he was related to. I didn't want to judge or say anything but memories of a cousin who had drowned before I was born made me feel it was my duty as an adult in the area to keep an eye on things. This task was made easier by the fact he was a cute and happy kid.

I had supper in the steakhouse next to the motel where I chatted with a nice retired(?) couple from Madison, Wisconsin who were up for her aunt's memorial service.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

On my day off in Bemidji

It would have been easier to sleep in this morning had I thought to close my curtains. Nevertheless, I persevered in my sloth. After the continental breakfast (the continent being North America) I filled one of my MEC saddle bags with stuff for day, having dumped the biking clothes it contained on the bed.

I rode down to statue of Babe the blue ox and Paul Bunyan, as my sources had informed me that there was a bike shop nearby. I was hoping to find a pair of bike shorts to replace the pair I had deemed unfit for service on Thursday. As luck would have it, the shop was the right sort of shop, i.e. a shop for people who know about biking run by serious cyclists. I came away with a reasonably priced pair that promises well. Whether it will keep the promise, I shall see on the morrow.

In the afternoon, I rode to the local cineplex to catch a showing of How to train your dragon 2. Most provokingly, said theater was located a couple of klicks West of town, almost as if it was deemed a "nuisance neighbor" like an airport. Actually, come to think of it, the airport was closer to downtown! ;-)

Afterwards, I rode downtown to see the sights which led me against my better judgement to a book store. I was very good and all I bought was a pair of discounted maps (Duluth and Upper Pennisula Michigan).  As I prepared to leave a rain squall was in the offing so I ducked into an Irish themed pub for a glass of a local microbrew. At some point, I realized the sound system was playing a comparatively obscure Stan Rogers song! ("Day to day" about the St-Roch!)

One my way back my lodgings, I noticed a squall was imminent. I took refuge in a park building where I past the time reading about the geology and history of Bemidji. It answered a question I'd had about the origin of the name. Minnesota has place names given by Indians, French explorers, "ordinary" American settlers and Scandinavian settlers. Consequently, I am never quite sure who named what a lot of the time. It turns out Bemidji is an Indian name.

When I got back to my room, I was surprised that in addition to making my bed, housekeeping had folded the clothes I had left on it. I was particularly embarrassed as this included my soon-to-be-thrown-out bike shorts!

Planning ahead, as next weekend is also July 4th, I booked beds for the long weekend. This way, I will have less to worry about.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

On contrary winds

June 27
The day arrived bright and sunny. Unfortunately, the wind was strong and very much a factor for the day as it was something like SSE at 20 mph all day. There was also a fair bit of humidity something that I didn't notice much until I came out of the Subways in Thief River Falls and it hit me. Fortunately, once I started moving again, I didn't feel it directly. I was however craving cold drinks and stopped at most of the little towns along the way, mostly for Gatorade, but also the odd ice cream sandwich or other cold item.

I probably should have bailed at Thief River Falls, but stubbornness drove me on. Route 59 (which connects with the Manitoba Route 59) follows part of the Soo Line Network now owned by CPR. I was over taken by a slow moving train headed by a Canadian Pacific locomotive. I waved at the engineer who waved back a blew the horn/whistle for me. It was hauling a line of grain cars some which were Government of Canada and others from Alberta or Saskatchewan. Not terribly surprising as North American railroads swap loads and cars around a lot as Lac-Mégantic discovered to its regret.

I am quite the curiosity for the locals as a number of people have asked me about my trip. At around 6:30 this evening, after I had turned onto the big highway 2 from the 59, I came across another long distance cyclist. He spoke bad English in a way that lead me to ask if he spoke French. It turned out he was from Quebec City! Even after I gave him my particulars, he complimented me by saying my French sounded "français de la France". He wasn't the first Québécois to say that about about my French. The truth is that as I learned my French mostly from school, my diction is a bit more formal or possibly stuffy.  He had started in Quebec City and was on his way to Winnipeg! He said he hadn't encountered many American cyclists, only Canadians. I theorized that U.S. cyclists tend to ride a bit further South.  I wished him good luck on the 59 to Winnipeg.

After I left him in a bid to beat some menacing rain clouds to my B&B in Fosston, I realized I had neglected to mention the detour near Lancaster. As I wrote, I also realized, I should have given him my Manitoba road map.  My B&B is run by Swedish-American Lutherans. Interestingly, there is a picture of a US Navy sailor in their wall of family photos.  I can't but wonder if growing up in Minnesota made really want to get away to sea. ;-)  Truth be told, Dean and Bev, the owners of the Amanda House B&B are very nice and wonderfully friendly.

Stats for the day are 140 kms at a slogging 16 kph. Given the number of Americans I talk to, I have made a conversion kms to miles function in my mileage database in my iPhone, hence the stats are about 88 miles at a slogging 10 mph.

As a result of the haphazard application of sunscreen, my sweat cap and biking gloves, I now have some rather distinctive sunburns.

June 28
I am now at the headwaters of the Mississippi, having left the Hudson's Bay drainage basin.

Breakfast with Dean and Bev was a very sociable affair but did take quite a lot of time. Bev asked me if the rain during the night had awoken me. I had to think for a moment before realizing that I hadn't! I lingered over breakfast.  This was not a serious problem as I only expected to do about 73 klicks. A relative walk in the park. I was tempted to take my rest day in Fosston, but something drove me on.

Before I left Fosston, I stopped to examine an M-60 tank and a Hueycobra attack helicopter that formed part of a veterans' memorial. The names included where or when they had served the most unusual was Desert One.

Highway 2 took me up some mild hills more or less due East with lots of trees to shield me from the SSE wind.  As a result, I made much better time today.

I was riding along when my iPhone rang. I didn't answer it in time, but I could see it was my sister Alice!  I rang her back. When she answered, I immediately asked if it was a boy or a girl. ;-)  Alas, I was wrong about the nature of her call: the babe hadn't arrived (Alice is only due July 1st and babies can't read calenders) and Alice wanted to talk about something else. She was surprised to learn that I was on the road to Bemidji, Minnesota. Between two toddlers and imminent arrival of number three, she hadn't realized I was away. Quite understandable.

I must confess I was a little disappointed that it wasn't the joyful news. Que sera, sera.

The weather was cloudy with sunny patches but carried the menace of rain (or worse). However, I made Bemidji in decent time with only getting hit by a couple of drops. I made my way to the tourist information office next to statue of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe in search of a bed for the night. As it was a Saturday night, this proved a mite elusive. As a result, I ended up at an old but nice lakefront resort a few miles North of downtown Bemidji. (A bit expensive but they have good selection of micro-brews on tap including something called "Fat tire" which made me think of the 700Cx37s on Leonardo.) I got there just before a violent downpour began. After a bath, I collapse onto my bed in a tired but relieved stupor.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

On the road again

June 25
I am in Saint-Malo, Manitoba, a relative stronghold of the French language. (I also understand it is a relative important spot for the Métis.) When was approaching town, a toothless old timer in a pickup stopped by the side of the road wanting to chat. When he heard I was from Montreal, he switched to French.

After running a few errands in Winnipeg this morning, including mailing myself a package to Sault Sainte Marie (heads up Greg). Another errand was getting a new pair of binoculars as I somehow left mine off my packing list and therefore in Montreal. However, it is so useful that I got another at MEC. (Cheap Bushnells.)

The light wind was against me as I rolled down Manitoba Highway 59. There was something off in in the experience, though it was not the courtesy of the "Friendly Manitoban" drivers: I getting tired of waving "thank you's" to drivers especially some of the truckers who sometimes slow right down in order to pass. (I am very glad I brought my high-viz vest!). I then realized the missing element was the sight of grain elevators unlike on Highway 2 two years ago which had many as it followed a railway line unlike Highway 59.

Weather has been mostly almost claustrophobicly low clouds with patches of cloud.  Temperature is cool.

I am writing this in my motel room with the Honduras versus Switzerland game on TV as played in Manaus.  The latter Brazilian city was sometimes a stop over for Lloyd Areo Boliviana on its runs to Miami.

I have also realized I have erred in my bandana choices as they are both reds that don't work with my red jerseys. I should have selected blue bandanas.

June 26
At breakfast in the motor hotel, I overheard conversations in a mix of French and English, sometimes in the same sentence! One man was talking in French about some parts of a local campground weren't in use on account of (switching to English) "the high water table."

 It has been very wet around these parts of late. The point was driven home tonight when I read the blog of a Yorkshireman named Derek who rode through here about a week ago. (He is someone Margo and Chris met near Clearwater in May.  He had been riding against the same headwinds as I but also had to contend with a downpour which prompted some Good Samaritans to give him money to stay in at the North Star Motor Inn in Karlstad where I am spending the night.  In fact, the people at the North Star gave him a discount. I only found this out while I was checking out my email for the first time since Winnipeg using their WiFi.  I then made a point of thanking them in person.(A link to Derek's blog will be added in due course.)

Minnesotans are a quite friendly. I sat down for lunch at a diner in Lancaster, Minnesota, when an older man sat down opposite me as he was curious about me. I have him a précis of my route and particulars. He was impressed about the distances I covered.

He also informed me why there had been a 20+ detour between the border and Lancaster. There had been a bridge out or under repair. The detour had involved going on two sides of a triangle.  It also increased my exposure to the the wind as the first side of the triangle was downwind which I had later make up. It was exhilarating as my speed popped up to over 30 kph from barely 20. The road was also recently paved which was also a plus.

A minus was the discovery that my second best bike shorts needs to be replaced. Either that or my butt is seriously out of shape. As the shorts date from the time I bought Leonardo (nearly 8 years ago, I am going with the shorts theory.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

On my return to Winnipeg

After a shaky couple of days that had me calling James to release stress, I am quite happy to be in Winnipeg with Leonardo reassembled without much trouble or damage from transit. While putting him back together, I did notice a few spots of rust, hither and yon. I have made mental note to discuss the corrosion with my bike shop.

My flight was on WestJet as they had the optimum combination of price, schedule and aircraft. It turned out to be part of a service to Vancouver. I can't quite fathom taking a stopping flight from Montreal to Vancouver when non-stops are available. Weirder still was the fact that it was also some sort of code share with Air France! I pity the unsuspecting Frenchman on vacation to Vancouver!  My seatmate was an older woman originally from Dublin on her way to Vancouver. I spent much of the flight watching the World Cup. I nearly cheered when Greece scored against Côte d'Ivoire.

After Leonardo was reassembled, I sorted my clobber out of my duffle bag and into my panniers. I then went off on Leonardo on a short trial run in to find some supper in the form of a Danish bistro.

On my return, I booked my beds for the next two nights in Saint-Malo and Karlstad Minnesota, respectively.

Monday, 23 June 2014

On my preparation status

Leonardo is packed into a bike box I acquired in St. John's, Newfoundland. Almost everything on my packing list is ticked off, and what is left falls into "wait until tomorrow" such as contact lens stuff, etc. 

Consequently, I am feeling a darn sight more relaxed than I was when I left work at 6 PM.  Then again, supper and 2 gin & tonics help.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

On my 500th post

As I was preparing this entry, I noticed that this was my 500th post, hence the title. Also, I can't think of a better title.
Note the bright polar fleece jacket Mummy is wearing
Yesterday was the Défi du Centre-du-Québec out of Victoriaville (or "Victo" to the locals)  I attended with my Parents and Annie, a friend of my mother's. After the traditional posing for photographs, we set off at our respective speeds.
 The sky was full of cumulus clouds that only occasionally left through sunlight to warm us. I didn't regret forgetting to bring my short-sleeved jersey. The route seemed particularly well thought out as the hilly bits were at the start. (After lunch, there were no hills to speak of.)  One glitch was the fact that the route took us down a stretch of dirt road whose surface was very loose. Many cyclists walked their narrow tired racing bikes down it.  I felt quite smug zipping past on my 37 mm wide tires.
 At around 11 AM, I stopped for a coffee in Tingwick. While I slurped, Annie showed up. This surprised me a mite as she was supposed to have a fancy, schmancy road bike complete with a carbon fork and all. I had expected she would have been ahead of me. After a chat and accidentally spilling some coffee on the head of one of the volunteers, (long and rather boring story) I rode off to Kingsey Falls and lunch.  Along the way, I was following a woman in a bright pink jersey with a feminist biking symbol on the back.  That is, a bike wheel, with an attached plus sign.
Kingsey Falls is the place of origin of Cascades paper company which has probably deserved rep as a socially conscious corporation, treating both the environment and its employees decently. It also has given the small down a very large and elaborate botanical garden named for Marie-Victorin the noted botanist and anti-semite.  Lunch was served on the grounds of the garden and featured Cascades compostable containers. I sat in a tent partially filled with rows of peonies on tables and partially filled with cyclist hunched over their lunches. The couple sitting beside me were chatting with one of the volunteers. The distaff half of the couple was visibly chilly in her "antelope" biking outfit, so I lent her my fleece jacket which she draped around herself.

(By "antelope", I refer to a philosophy of cyclist which holds that the best way to avoid "trouble" is to go as quickly as possible in order to get to the end. Therefore, one should carry only the absolute bare minimum in order to lighten the load. My strategy and one I firmly advocate for my parents (fit as they are) and myself is the "buffalo" philosophy that one should carry enough to endure "trouble". Both philosophies are valid depending on the circumstance.)

My plan had been to do two optional bits after lunch, however due to a late-ish start and my relatively slow pace, I missed the cutoff time to the second one by about 40 minutes to what I must confess was a certain relief on my part. It hadn't been a particularly easy day.

The route brought me back into Victoriaville on the same rail-trail that I had first entered Victoriaville 7 years ago on my way to Newfoundland. I arrived before the others, giving me the time to scope out the freebies on offer. These included a knock-off version of a Buff and a bag from Cascades containing two rolls of paper towels and a box of Kleenex.
 I was in position to photograph Mummy as she arrived.
After putting all four bikes on the trailer-hitch bike rack, some of us posed feeling smug for photographs.
The people in the car next to use had an ingenious contraption to safely house both their bikes in their Mercedes hatchback. It consisted on a piece of wood to which some fork mounts had been bolted to. This keeps the bikes upright and secure. It also means the seats and front wheels have to be removed before transport, but they seemed to do it with less trouble that we had.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

On a picture a biking co-worker sent to me

One of my colleagues e-mailed me this picture today. She is a budding cycle commuter with whom I have shared my wisdom and corroplast.

Monday, 16 June 2014

On a very bad day for Floria die Fleddermoose and a very evocative Aussie-ism

Last Friday, I picked up Floria die Fleddermoose at the bike shop with her new back wheel.  It wasn't cheap. I took her home riding on Leonardo. It wasn't an easy task. I locked Floria to her usual sign post and hauled Leonardo indoors.

As the forecast called for rain that evening, I "wimped" out and took the Metro to a friend's house for an evening of wargaming. I returned home very late and got up very late. After a prolonged bit of mucking around, I assembled my gym kit, and went down to use Floria to get to my gym to lift weights.

The seat and seat post were missing.

Some S.O.B. had stolen the saddle.

An S.O.B. with an Allen key.


I am very upset about this.  I have been living in this neighbourhood for going 16 years and have left my bikes out on a regular basis with only one issue of theft (viz a milk crate).  Hell, a few occasions, I accidentally left bikes out unlocked and found them still there in the morning.  To have a seat stolen with an Allen key really makes me paranoid, which in turns upsets me.

My neighbourhood isn't the best of neighbourhoods.  At one point, someone across the street was selling drugs.  I actually viewed this as a plus as he was always sitting on his stoop which meant his presence probably discouraged casual theft!  A former neighbour told me that there was a bunch of ex-cons living at one end of my street.  As they didn't want trouble (partially in case they might be accused of any misdeeds), they made a point of keeping an eye on things. where they lived.  I used to have the feeling that my neighbours were relatively trustworthy.

Now I don't.

Thankfully, I have a number of spare bike saddles on hand owing to my pack rat nature. I "only" had to fork over for a new seat post.

A very evocative Aussie expression
The Aussies are well known for some of their "colourful"  terms, but this one rather tickles my funnybone:

"Budgie smugglers - tight-fitting skimpy swimming trunks"

Courtsey of the BBC.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

On my magazine subscriptions

I was completing Momentum Magazine's annual survey on my lunch hour, when in the process of answering one of their questions, I realised something.  The question was: "What other biking magazines do you read?"  My answer was "Adventure Cyclist" and "Vélo-Mag".  I have subscriptions to both.  The former was started by Margo and continued by me.  The latter is a by-product of being a member of Vélo-Québec.

What I realised was not that I subscribed to three bike magazines but that those three subscriptions represented all of my magazine subscriptions! ;-)  I am not sure what this says about me.  Maybe if I should subscribe to "Moose Spotters Monthly" or something...

Anyway, I finished the survey and put in my mother's name to receive a free copy of Momentum.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

On an unfortunate month for Floria die Fleddermoose

It has not been a good month for Floria die Fleddermoose, a.k.a. my commuting bicycle.  On the 14th of May, while riding to work, I noticed that there was a distinct bulge in the front wheel that boded poorly. As I had replaced an inner tube on the back wheel the weekend before, I decided to go to MEC to buy some new tires (front and back) that evening.  This event went less than smoothly as while I was replacing the old tires at MEC, I broke one of my tires spoons, which meant I had to go back in to buy another tire spoon!
 Having removed the front tire and looked firmly at the location of the perceived damage, I was quite convinced of the wisdom of replacing the tires.  While the rear tire didn't have that particular damage, I had removed a large, puncture causing staple from it less than a week before and therefore figured that I had better kill two birds with one stone.
 That was not the end of my travails. I had been noticing that there was a persistent ticking sound coming from Floria that I believed might be ascribed to the fact that the rear tire was a bit out of true.  I made a half-hearted attempt at straightening it which may have been misguided. After giving up, I made an appointment with my local bike shop to get the wheel trued by a professional.  As Montreal is in the rush period for bikes, I got an appointment for next Wednesday.

Last night, my DVD player pooped out on me after more than ten years of faithful service. This morning I rode off to get a new DVD player at the Angrignon Mall.  Shortly after leaving with my purchase, I heard and felt a "sproing" noise followed by a rhythmic "tunk-tunk" noise which I associated with "bad bike news".  I stopped and saw the following:
One of the spokes had pulled itself out of the rim, leaving a hole that meant it was time to replace the rim.  I trudged in the direction of the Angrignon Metro Station only to find out that bikes weren't allowed on as it because of the CENSORED F1 race that was taking place at that time.  Thankfully, I was able to find a taxi to drive me to the bike shop where I was able to share my woes and ask them to order a replacement wheel. Steve (who seems to run the place) was kind enough to let me leave Floria there while awaiting the mechanic's attention.

With the benefit of time and a little perspective, I can see that while I have a certain cause to be annoyed, if not PO'd, there are several upsides to today's woes.  First, it happened on a sunny, warm Sunday when there were no demands on my time very near an assortment of means of transportation, including at the worst, a not impossible (4 km at the most) walk home.  Secondly, I do have another bike, viz Leonardo.  Thirdly, my local bike shop is able to get me a replacement wheel by about Thursday.  Fourthly, while it comes at an inconvenient time financially, I have a job that pays well enough for me to able to pay for a new wheel without worry. One of the junior managers at work is a fellow cyclist. From various conversations with her, I have the distinct impression that she makes significantly less than I do as she seems to regard buying one these as a financial hardship.

Memo to self: bring some corroplast to work tomorrow to jobber her some fenders.

Monday, 2 June 2014

On a "true" Tour de l'Île

Yesterday's version of the Tour de l'Île (a.k.a. the Détour de l'Île by haters and the Festival of cyclists riding without stupid motorists by supporters) featured among other things a special 100 or 130 km version limited to "only" 2000 participants (as opposed to the 25000+ catered to by the standard event.  The 130 km version allowed the participant to truly tour the Island of Montreal as it entirely encircles the island from tip to tip.
 My parents and I met the Mole and Joey at our traditional meet up location, namely the Charlevoix Bridge before heading off in search of breakfast at the traditional Chez Cora on Stanley Street.  (Note the brightly coloured MEC Watchtower fleece jackets worn by my parents as given to them by one of their sons. (Please, no comments about the stereotypical colour choices: that was what was available at the time.))
Afterwards, we rode to the start of the Tour.  Joey and the Mole had opted for the 50 km closed street version of the Tour, whereas the parents and I were going to do the Limited Version.  Unfortunately, the limited version took place mostly on open streets and somehow it wasn't as much fun, even though the day was gorgeous with sunny skies, cool temperatures and little wind.

As I was riding along a bike path on Notre Dame in the East End  I came up behind an African-Canadian cyclist who was wearing a very bright green shirt.  I was tempted to make a comment along the lines of "You are a very visible minority!", but I thought better of it.

The Limited tour briefly joined the regular tour along Gouin Boulevard. The stretch features a large number of old folks homes and there was a large number of retirees cheering and waving us on.

The 100 km and 130 versions split at the Parc Nature Bois-de-Liesse where there was a "halte de ravitaillement".  At this point, I headed out on the 130 km version through the West Island. While rolling through Pierrefonds-Roxboro, I noticed some people manning a table with Gatorade coolers on the other side of the road.  It turns out they were city employees who had been put in charge of sating the thirst of cyclists in the Tour.  After rolling through Senneville and dodging traffic in touron-clogged Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, I turned Leonardo back towards the start.

Around Beaconsfield, a "civilian" cyclist asked me "Wasn't the Tour de l'île being held in the East End this year?"  I explained that: "Yes, the main Tour is, but that there is a 100-130 km tour for a limited number of people."  He was impressed.

A short while later,  I could see up ahead that cyclists from the 100 km version of the Tour were joining my stream (well trickle) of 130 km cyclists.  I noticed a female cyclist in yellow t-shirt on a hybrid bicycle with red pannier. This descriptor matched that of my mother.  Then a large "Santa Claus" in a dangerously drab t-shirt on a road bike with a large red pannier joined her.  My readers are likely to have formed an idea of who they were, namely my parents. The event could not have been planned and executed with any more precision.  I quickly caught up with them to their surprise and amusement. Near the Dairy Queen in Lachine, Pappy announced that he would be going straight back to my flat rather than complete the official 100 km course.  Mummy and I are made of sterner stuff and completed our respective official distances, before returning to my abode for showers.

Thinking back, while this Tour de l'Île was a true tour of the Island of Montreal and while I am pleased and proud to have done it, something was lacking.  This was largely on roads open to traffic and somehow not as much fun as the shorter but closed streets version of the Tour.  I could rarely get into the "fast cruise" zone as while I can cruise at relatively high speeds, it takes me time and distance to build up to fast cruise. Traffic and traffic signals denied me this. As well, I had ridden all or nearly all of the route before, possibly twice over on solo jaunts to the extremities of Canada's most populous island.  There was a sense of déja vu. Consequently, I am considering doing the 50 km version as a volunteer next year.

My stats for this  "true" Tour de l'Île, including the to and from the start from my flat are a biking time of 6.51.47 (excluding stops), covering 145.96 km, at an average speed of 21.2 km/h. Maximum speed of 46.5 km/h. Pappy's stats are a distance of 107 km and average speed 17.9 km/h.  Mummy's were 123 km and average of 18.5 km/h.  Joey and the Mole don't have bike computers.

Mummy writes:
What I really enjoyed, was the numbers of people outside having fun! 25 or 30 thousand people were in the Tour de l’Île. There were the old folks cheering us on along Gouin Boulevard, and people picnicking in the parks along Gouin, and others  fishing in the Rivière des Prairies.  Then so many people along the Lachine Rapids, picnicking, sunbathing, reading, surfing, and biking – hazardous for the through cyclist!  I thought I’d seen most of the inhabitants of Montreal, but there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the old port.  I had to walk my bike at times, the crowd was that dense (and the bike path not obvious).   And at the finish – Fletcher’s Field was covered with people, I assume enjoying the Tam-Tam as well as the perfect weather.

What a lot of people enjoying a perfect Sunday!