Wednesday, 23 December 2015

On an achievement I could have done without

I biked to work today.

It was the last day of my work year and there was no snow and temperatures well above zero. In fact, I have biked to work pretty much every day this month except for one day where there was a very limited amount of snow threatening and another where I discovered my bike had a flat tire just as I set off, so I decided to BMW (Bus-Metro-Walk) instead.

I probably jinked things by getting a bus pass for December. I have used it a few times to so as to have an alternate BMW (Bike-Metro-Walk) to work. However, I can only do that one day a week when my commuting times fall outside of rush hour.

Either climate change or El Niño has given Montreal a very warm December.

I find this makes the seasonal darkness even more depressing than usual. At this rate, I will be biking in January. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

On an interesting discovery regarding headlights

A couple of weeks ago, my somewhat elderly headlight was acting up. I love the old dear as it is easy to clip onto the front of my helmet and reasonably bright. Alas, it is no longer for sale and to be honest, I am not sure which company made it back in the day as it lacks logos. However, I have had it for at least six or seven years and I rather like it. Its major fault is that it is powered by three AAA batteries which is an awkward number for rechargeable batteries. Thankfully, after I applied a little TLC (in the form of filing away some corrosion on the battery contacts) it has regained its reliability.

Nonetheless, I passed away an idle hour or two surfing the net for a potential replacement.  I was vaguely annoyed that nothing in my casual survey met my rough criteria of "front-of-helmet-mounted" and "internally rechargeable" headlamp. However, I was interested to see that there is a website more or less dedicated to bike lights. What a time to be alive.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

On an idea originating in a dépanneur in Martinville

I was in a dépanneur in Martinville in order to buy a nice cold bottle of Gatorade during the Eastern Townships Challenge back in September. As a first, I was doing it with someone from work as well as my parents. My colleague Alisa was doing a bike challenge for the first time along with Troy, her significant other. In order to get the three of us out to the Townships along with our bikes, I rented a pickup truck which was a first and fun thing at a certain macho level. Alisa got a kick out of it too, and wanted to ride in the back with the bikes. I nixed that idea, but I did take a picture as she posed in the bed of the truck.
As you can see, it was a very nice day as opposed to last year's Challenge which was a miserable experience as you can read here.  After all, it wouldn't have been good for them to start their Challenge experience with a wet slog, especially as they weren't as well equipped as me for rain gear and the like.
As this year's Townships' Challenge started in Coaticook, we spent the night at the Parents' house in North Hatley and started together after the traditional Cheese du départ. (That is a group photo before starting.)
Anyway, the route was very nice, taking us through some very nice scenery and the highest village in Quebec as measured from the door of the Catholic church!
Anyway, during the mid-afternoon, I stopped for some cold Gatorade in the aforementioned dépanneur in Martinville, when I realised that the place also had public bathroom which I went to patronise. Before getting comfortable, I noticed that there was no toilet paper available, so I went out to Leonardo to retrieve the roll of TP I carry in my pannier for just such emergencies. In truth, I had left it there after my trip from the Soo. (I hadn't had need of it on that trip, but that's not important.) What is important is that something clicked in those few minutes. For some reason, I had been thinking about Adventure Cycling magazine which current includes several mentions of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Bikecentennial '76 event which seems to have been a seminal event in the Adventure Cycling Association. I then put it the context of Canada's sesquicentennial year coming up next year. What if I were to weasel an extended period off from work and ride from Vancouver to Halifax in one extended trip? I would have over a year to work on logistics and possibly bring others in on the trip.  Now there was a thought.

Anyway, I did my business and left. Owing to my superior bike and the fact I didn't stop for most of the pioneer silhouettes audio historical plaques on the route, I arrived back in Coaticook before Pappy, Alisa and Troy.  Pappy arrived first and then left in the car to retrieve Mummy who had been sidelined by multiple flat tires just beyond Compton.  Alisa and Troy arrived back tired but happy at their first major ride.
Later in September, I spoke with Margo about my idea to see what she thought of it. She was interested in the general idea particularly as she had fond memories of Expo '67 as it was first time was allowed to a major event independently of her parents. At a later time, she wrote back with a counter proposal as biking across Canada West to East was a shade too common for her. She proposed biking North from Jasper, catching a riverboat down the Mackenzie River to Inuvik and riding back to Whitehorse! Unfortunately, the riverboat she had in mind is out of service. She made another suggestion of going by freighter canoe that I wasn't enamored with as it seemed a shade too wild woolly for my liking, especially with bikes in the mix.  Thankfully, Chris was also of the same opinion and the current thinking would be to drop the Mackenzie River from the plan and either end or start in Inuvik. Now that I think of it, I think that it would be easier to plan if we were to start in Inuvik.

To be honest, I have no idea if these plans will happen. I have tentatively approached the director of the Library about getting the time off. She was somewhat taken aback as it would involve finding a replacement for my services to the Library, something that isn't as obvious as it seems. (It is nice to feel essential to the workplace!) Still, it is something to dream about.

On winter biking, more thoughts

On Thursday, I was meeting with a financial advisor when after noticing my helmet, he commented that it was apparently about to snow on the morrow. I hadn't been aware of any such forecast, so I said I would check the Environment Canada weather site when I got home. It turned out that the snow in the forecast was for Friday night or Saturday morning so I could cheerfully ignore it. In the event, there wasn't any snow to speak of.

As my readers may remember, my oft stated philosophy regarding winter biking is: "I am a devout, not a fanatical cyclist," meaning that I don't ride during the winter, the winter being defined when there is snow on the ground. I just think that winter cycling isn't worth the effort.  I am at neither of the extremes of this CBC article entitled "Winter cycling: a good idea or flat-out insane?" That hasn't stopped me from offering practical advice (i.e. other than "don't do it") to a colleague who is thinking of continuing to cycle-commute this winter. 
Of course, this makes me look like a wimp compared to Anna, as can be seen from this picture Mummy posted! ;-)  Actually, the snow hadn't started falling when they set out on their expedition. Anna seems happy to ride in the snow. Maria seems happy on her scooter. I can only hope that Alice and Mummy weren't too concerned about the conditions!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

On my next trip to visit nieces

I have just booked my second trip on the Canadian, namely a ride to Clearwater in February to see Kerry, Maria, Anna, Alice and Mark. I have also booked my third trip on the Canadian, namely Clearwater to Vancouver. In Vancouver, I hope to see a variety of relatives.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

On some photos being posted

I have posted photos of my trip.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On a new cyclist

Alice has posted on Facebook that my niece Anna has learned to pedal!  Way to go Anna!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

AMUAM JuNITO finito!!!

Short version: I got back to my flat at half past noon to finish AMUAM JuNITO in grand style.

Small update: I covered 1538 kilometers on this trip, not counting the rest days in Toronto when I didn't have the computer installed.

Long version:

We left the motel in Côteau-du-Lac in good time and rode down the main street to find a restaurant for breakfast. An older man (in his seventies or so) was on the terasse and as I arranged Leonardo for the meal, he asked "Vous venez de loin, les jeunes?"  (I don't think he had seen the Parents.)  I indicated that we had only come from the motel this morning, but we had started in Toronto. I think he was taken a mite aback when he saw my parents join me for breakfast!

After breakfast, we rolled along the Route Verte which was on the tow path of the Soulanges canal. This brought us over the newly extended Autoroute 30 which was particularly wide as there was a toll plaza nearby. The tow path was very pleasant to ride upon. Alas, it ended all too quickly and there was paucity of signage indicating where to go next. The Paternal Unit was some what obnoxious in wanting to know why I proposed to take a particular route onwards. The problem was that it based on a combination of careful scrutiny of less than satisfactory map, consultation of Google Maps on my iPhone, a well-honed sense of geography and an educated hunch. None of this was easy for me to convey quickly to my somewhat obtuse Papicito. My route brought us to Île Perrot with little trouble.

My plan had been to get the Parents onto the Island of Montreal and Lakeshore Road. There, I would have left them to proceed at my own speed back to my flat and they to car parked in Dorval. However, Mummy insisted that I leave them on Île Perrot. My Father later commented I was like horse smelling its home stable. So I left them. I later heard a something about them having to climb a steep hill which sounds suspiciously like they got lost in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, something I would have thought hard, as the Route Verte dumps you on Lakeshore.

There was truth in what my Father said as once on Lakeshore, I was home. Having ridden that road before, I could have easily claimed that I had completed my goal as I could now claim AMUAM JuNITO was complete as I have ridden from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue to home several times. Actually, technically, I was finished. However, it would have been problematic to find another way home at that point. Also, it was still morning.

I pedalled along the familiar streets at a good clip, feeling quite pleased with myself (as well I might). My progress was slowed when I came across a street fair which blocked the traffic to pedalled bike traffic. I pushed Leonardo through the "obstacle" and remounted beyond. I rolled and possibly zoomed along beside the St-Lawrence. I was surprised to get a text message from Mummy that they were stopping for lunch as it was hardly even noon, if that. I replied that I was in Lachine and would head on home before lunch. In fact, I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Lachine for a Blizzard before using the Lachine Canal bike path to get to St-Henri. As I did so, I spotted a snapping turtle on the edge of the Canal.
The Canal bike path being what it is namely familiar and flat, I made very good time.  I was soon back at my flat. I was very pleased to find one of neighbours sitting on her doorstep as it gave me an audience and someone to take my picture! The picture below was taken at 12:32 PM!
I hauled my gear up and set about securing lunch, which took the form of Chalet-Bar-Q, the traditional post exercise feast of the maternal side of my family. Admittedly, it was more traditional after skiing, but it felt appropriate! Also, it was an easy option. While waiting for lunch to arrive, the Parent arrived by car. I can't accurately remember the precise order of subsequent events, however they included the opening and drinking of a bottle of bubbly I had bought in the Okanagan and had put in the fridge before leaving for the Soo, the arrival of lunch, my eating of the same in my bike shorts and no shirt as it was a muggy day and the Parents taking their showers.  As it was still fairly early, they didn't stay for supper and left for home.

Friday, 14 August 2015

On...tario finito

I suppose it was inevitable. Then again it might have been sheer random chance, but there is something highly unlikely in the timing. When I crossed the border between Ontario and Quebec and the end of the Waterfront Trail and at the beginning of the Route Verte, it began to rain. Not terribly hard but enough that I dug out my soft shell jacket and switched to my second best pair of biking gloves. To be fair, there had been a light shower near Lancaster and more rain had been threatening, but it seemed a little peevish of the weather to mark my return to Quebec with only the third time I had needed rain gear on this trip. It felt a bit like the ending to Passport to Pimlico when after a prolonged period of sunshine throughout the movie, when it is officially announced that Pimlico is back in England the skies open up with a torrential downpour and the temperature drops visibly!

We had left Long Sault relatively late in order to not have to wait too long at the Lost Villages Museum which Mummy wanted to see. When we got there, we were still early, but from looking in the windows we could tell that it was a country museum of old bits and pieces rather than a museum about the villages that were moved to make way for the Saint-Lawrence Seaway. Mummy remembers going to see it being built in a special steam-hauled excursion train. Consequently, we didn't wait for the museum to open to go inside.
 Just before downtown Cornwall, the Waterfront Trail took us by the R.S. Saunders power station, which posted the enviable sign of 6160 days since the last time lost accident. The Library were I work doesn't have that good a record! There was a visitor centre nearby which a worker hauling big water bottles on a cargo trike suggested we visit. It did feature some information about the Lost Villages but given the nature of the beast, its spin on the displacement was of the upbeat, "we did it for the overall good and we moved the houses, built new schools, etc. and we eventually apologized to the Mohawks" variety. There was a lot more about the generation of electricity, eel ladders and the building and the opening of the Seaway.
The museum even had the chairs that the Queen and then Vice-President Richard Nixon had sat on for the event. It also had a "detonator handle" you could push to start a film clip of a cofferdam being blown up. The Saunders the dam had been named after had been a huge booster of the Seaway project. Unfortunately, the man who'd been mayor of Toronto was killed in a plane crash shortly after the megaproject was begun. Much of his work had been shaming the reluctant Americans into getting involved. In the parking lot, I noticed there was a spot reserved for electric vehicles, complete with a recharging station.
As we entered Cornwall, we passed under a bridge being dismantled, girder by girder. As we were crossing a small bridge while leaving Cornwall, I noticed a log structure in the stream with three turtles on it of two different species. One had a very smooth looking shell, the others much more rough.

Since Kingston, Mummy had been desirous of seeing a ship in the Seaway. Her wish was granted near Summerstown when the oceangoing ship the Federation Hudson hove into view. We stopped to watch her go by. From the maple leaf incorporated in the company logo on her smokestack, I assumed she was a Canadian vessel. In writing this entry, I have learned she is registered in Hong Kong but owned by Fednav, a Canadian company based in Montreal.
Once across the border, there was a distinct change in bikepath design. For one thing, it no longer favored the waterfront. In fact, when the Route Verte encountered a bit of suburbia, it went away from the river on a rather tortuous (but well-paved) path designed keep cyclists from bothering drivers. One section ran through a forest near a marsh. There was suddenly a lot of very small frogs jumping off the bikepath. I hope I didn't hit one. So, here I am having done as much of Ontario as I am likely to do as part of AMUAM JuNITO and only a very little left of the whole thing. Something on the order of 30 kms as once I get to Ste Anne de Bellevue, I will be on roads I have ridden from home!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

On a mystery bird

Brendan served us up a mighty fine breakfast worthy as his birthplace in Dublin. He steered us to a suitable place to get sandwiches in Brockville. This proved to be kitty corner to a farmer's market where I bought some maple sugar tarts for elevenses.

To be honest, today has seemed to fly by with the exception of getting a bit turned around in the parking lot of Upper Canada Village. Mummy was anxious to see a heron for some reason. We went through a nature reserve that was reputed to house many of them. We saw a couple but I saw something odder. On a sandbank with gulls and Canada geese was something white, shaped like a heron with a yellow beak and black legs. It was fairly large, taller than the geese. I took some pictures at high magnification and stared at it with my binocs. For the time being it is "mystery" heron like bird but my working theory is that it was likely a cattle egret which I have seen in Southern California but never in Canada. Where's the bird book when you need it?

On visiting the unseen places

A little after leaving Kingston Pappy and I were passed by a Bison 8x8 armoured vehicle complete with a what appeared to be a radar on a telescopic mast. It made a U-turn in front of me and went back the way it came.

A persistent set of early childhood memories is that of driving along the 401 between Toronto and either Montreal or North Hatley. These were somewhat epic affairs given two adults and up to four small children in a car as small as a Volkswagen Type 3 Station wagon. It was undertaken 2 or 3 times a year though we sometimes took the Turbo (i.e. the train). While 2 or 3 times per annum isn't much on the face of it, for a small child it adds up. One persistent part of these memories and those of many other trips along the 401 (and by train) is all those names of places on signs that we didn't stop at such as Cobourg or Brockville. Places I haven't been to hold a certain fascination, especially in a case of so near yet so far. This trip has meant I have actually got to visit some of these "mythic" places.

One of them proved to be a serious treat for cyclists, namely the Thousand Islands Parkway. It had been built as part of the Toronto to Montreal highway possibly as early as the thirties. When the 401 came into being, it was incorporated into it to the annoyance of those who had built houses on it. In about 1968, it was relieved of duty by a new route for the 401 and in 1970 became the Thousand Islands Parkway. At some point in its past, it went from being a dual carriageway to being a single carriageway, leaving behind the basic infrastructure of that carriageway including the bridges. Since then, they have used this space to put in a lovely paved bike path for the whole length of the Parkway. It made for a very enjoyable bit of cycling. Parents enjoyed it particularly as they were more able to relax their vigilance and take in the landscape more than they had been.

The weather was very nice: cool, fairly sunny and finally a West wind. As has been our habit, late in the day I left the Parents behind to get to the end of the day's journey more quickly. I rolled into Brockville admiring some magnificent houses and stores that spoke of considerable 19th century prosperity as well as reasonable 21st century wealth. As I rolled along the main street, I spotted an ice cream shop and stopped for an orange pineapple milkshake. The girl behind the counter asked me where I had biked from. She was surprised and impressed by my answer and that of my parents. As well she should. Within five minutes I had retold the story two more times getting the same reaction. The last time was at the local bike shop which is particularly gratifying. (I am trying to get the phrasing right on this as a standard turn of phrase irks Mummy.) In biking between Canada's two largest cities, we are not doing something utterly unheard of. Nor are we going particularly fast or far per day. However, we are doing something that most people find hard to imagine even if many of them might actually be able to do given the right equipment, good guidance and a bit of practice. I don't find it that hard, but then I have all but done it. It is sometimes difficult to remember that. So, without undue false modesty, I can say that what we are doing is indeed relatively remarkable especially the Parents given their age. The Parents independently decided to stop at the ice cream store in a clear cut case of great minds think alike.

After we had finished, Mummy went on the B&B while Pappy and I went back half a block to a bike shop. Brendan, the owner and manager of the King Orchard B&B was a wonderful host giving us the rundown on the various eateries in town and an aperçu of the history of Brockville and its considerable past glories.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

On getting to Kingston and what I did there

We left the Barn in Prince Edward and rode on a variety of back roads recommended by Cathy in pleasant sunshine albeit with a slight East wind. Since Toronto, the wind has been uncharacteristically uncooperative. We rejoined the Wayerfront Trail around Bloomfield. We made decent time to the Glenora ferry waved on by 18th century Union Jacks, i.e. just the crosses of St George and St Andrew. These are the chosen of the descendents of the Loyalists who settled the area under that flag. I would have liked to buy one in order to tease the Paternal Unit, but no joy even in Kingston.

 On the ferry, we held our arms out from our bodies to let the breeze dry our sweat. This devolved into pretending to be cormorants drying our wings. After the ferry, I left the Parents to proceed at their pace whilst I sped ahead. At Finkle's Park, I chanced upon a couple of young guys on their way to Maine from Seattle. Joel was riding a bike from 1975 that must of have been older than he was! Like a number of the cycle tourers I have met on this trip, they didn't have front racks. Now that I think of it, MEC only had one model for sale. Joel and his buddy Gabe looked like they had started out from Seattle clean shaven but had left their razors behind. ;-)
 The parents caught up to me as I had lunch. We rode loosely in loose proximty to the edge of Kingston. As traffic lights slow the Paternal Unit down significantly, I left them to make their own way to our destination, namely the house of Cookie, a very accomplished and slightly eccentric friend of Mummy's from their days at the Penguin Ski Club. In order to gain access to her house, I had to cross a portion of CFB Kingston, complete with signs ordaining the priority of marching soldiers! I found her house at the end of wooded lane and let myself in as she was out at an art gallery displaying her paintings. Her house had been built by her mother and rather reminded me of Aunt Lorna's house in that it was built on a slope with the bedrooms below and kitchen above. The Parents arrived a bit later and we made ourselves comfortable in the rooms assigned to us. Cookie appeared a bit before six. We had supper with her and her neighbor Jean, a somewhat shaky but spry older woman who is clearly a dear friend of Cookie's.

While parking my park in Cookie's garage, I noticed that her rear mudguard had seen better days. Over supper, I inquired if I might repay her hospitality (we would be there for two nights) by replacing her rear mudguard. She graciously declined. Mummy then made an ungracious about how men always want to weigh down women's bikes with "unnecessary" bits and pieces. This was a clear reference to my attempts to get her to carry a second water bottle in a cage and when I installed a rear mudguard on her bike as a Christmas gift for the benefit of herself and Désirée who would be starting to be hauled in a bike trailer by Mummy and others. (I felt that it would hard on Désirée to get sand in her face.) It has been two years since the trailer was retired and Mummy hasn't removed the mudguard. Hence, I found her comment a bit unfair.

We talked about plans for the rest day on the morrow. I mentioned I was going to see the Meagher house plaque which I had seen unveiled in 1984 with Granny. Cookie being an long time Kingston resident, produced a book about the buildings of Kingston which included it. I noted some particulars. The next day, we split up to do our own things: Pappy wanted to read chez Cookie, Mummy and I both had museums in mind but in different ones at least at first. We also items to buy and we agreed to meet for lunch at an Indian restaurant with Cookie. My first stop was the first I came across: Fort Henry. It is a splendid example of mid 19th century fortification and its only actual use was to house prisoners from the 1837-38 uprisings and enemy aliens during the First World War. There was a traveling exhibition about the latter. I fell into a guided tour which cunningly took us through the old bakery which was still being used to bake mouth-wateringly delicious smelling bread available for purchase in the gift shop, no free samples available. ;-) The fort had been designed quite cunning and cold bloodedly with carronades positioned to grape shot into the ditch from positions in the outside wall which were accessed via a tunnel from inside the fort. Unexpectedly, the fort was mainly designed to withstand an assault from the landward side rather than the river as an amphibious assault would be so much easier to repel. As I left, one of the tour guides in period uniform brought out a goat graze on the the lawn. I joked to another guides/guards: "Ah, the Regimental lawn mower." I bought a wonderfully tacky guardsman T-shirt and some baked goods.
I met the others for lunch then did some shopping before visiting the Great Lakes Maritime Museum and the old ice breaker/aid to navigation vessel they had. I was mildly disappointed the tour of the latter didn't include the engine room or the helicopter pad. On the other hand, the museum had the very first Laser sailboat, viz number 0, as owned by the designer. My mother inherited her mother's Laser number 308, named "Wombat". As the first one sold was number 100, this puts Wombat in with the first. The current production level is over 200,000.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

On the ideal number of bikes to own

Addendum to previous:

-At the café in Brighton, I had asked a small group if they minded if I parked Leonardo next to their outside table. They didn't, but when I came out to get something off the bike, one of them commented that it wasn't often they saw a bike with kangaroo stickers in these parts. From this comment, their accents and the Australian football T-shirt one of them was wearing, I concluded they were Aussies and had a short chin-wag with them.

-At the Clossum Chase wine barn, cousin Sarah poured me a glass of water, which I swirled, held up to the light, sipped and then pronounced: "Ah yes, light yet refreshing." ;-)

My room wasn't ready at the Barn, magnificent folly of agricultural architecture, burly beams, comfy couches, dramatic decor, eccentric eclecticism, etc. Rough hewn looking wood was the dominant motif, much of it authentic barn boards and the like though rebuilt on site to Mike's specifications and equipped with all the modern cons including a screened in "outside" dining area and a swimming pool complete with an uninvited frog. I discovered the latter while taking a dip, followed by a sprawl in an odd but comfortable contraption that allowed me to float mostly in the lovely cool water with out effort.

The parents arrived about forty minutes later. Pappy quickly got into a long conversation with Han which "could not" be interrupted by such petty concerns as taking a shower so that everyone's laundry could be tossed in the hand washing machine. Aside from this, the evening went fairly smoothly aside from a momement of panic when it seemed the power cable for this iPhone had been left in Cobourg and another when a Google Maps estimate of the distance to Kingston was seen to be 115 kms rather than the previous 90 kms and thus too far for my parents who have their limits now that they are over 70. I offered a backup plan of them going to Belleville and taking the train to Kingston as a possibility before Pappy came up with a map deduced estimate which was an acceptable distance.

The Barn lacks an outbuilding or garage so bikes are stored just inside the front door, in the entrance area. I think I counted seven including ours. Somehow, the topic came up about the ideal number of bikes to own. Cathy came up with the following:

"The ideal number is X+1, where X is the number of bikes you already have. And it is Y-1, where Y is the number of bikes that will cause a divorce."

(I believe she had it from someone else but that isn't important.)

We had an excellent supper of Mike's cooking. I have the feeling that there was more I wanted to write about but I don't recall what it was.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

On biking in glorious weather

We packed our bags in our room, then went around the corner for breakfast opposite the grandiose Victoria Hall opened by the young Prince of Wales in about 1856 or so. As a city hall it was outsized for Cobourg but back then it was hoping to become the capital of the Province of Canada. Afterwards, we "bailed" the bikes out of their cell. As today's ride was relatively short and particularly straight forwards, I opted to ride independently of the parents.

Given that is was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm and nearly windless, there were any number of cyclists of many descriptions out and about. Among the most colourful were a trio from France, two of whom were on recumbent trikes. They were on a trip from Windsor to Montreal. When I told them I had come from Sault Ste Marie, I had to explain where the Soo was. A little later as I entered Colborne, a cyclist in spandex and on a road bike came up beside me to ask me where I had come from and where I was going. I filled him in, and sought a polite way to ask his origin. I found it, namely that he was from Jamaica (which had been my theory based on his accent). He lived in Barrie but was in these parts on a visit with his wife who wasn't riding. He was apologetic about his short trip compared to mine. I replied: "The important thing is to ride." I must remember that line.

A little later, I had stopped at an intersection to check my map about the best way to make a diversion off the Waterfront Trail into Brighton for lunch when a minivan hauling a tent trailer turning onto the road suddenly went "BANG!" quite loudly making me jump. I turned to look more closely as it slowed. The minivan stopped opposite me and the driver asked me if I could seen anything from my vantage point. I said that one of the tires on the trailer had gone flat. He got out to have a look. I have been helped enough times by strangers that I went over to offer my assistance. I wasn't required as the guy looked like he knew his way around a tire and as we assessed the situation, his wife got out of the minivan wielding a large tool kit in a manner suggesting she was no slouch either. Consequently, I didn't think to offer my services twice.

 In Brighton, I found lunch in a Beer Store. Well, that was what the big sign said. In fact, it was a former Beer Store that was so recently converted to a café that the big sign hadn't been changed. There was a kid of about five that looked and acted very much like Edward. Longish, curly blonde hair, on the thin side and clearly living in a world of his own imagination, sometimes strumming a guitar.

There was a railway museum in Brighton that was, alas, shut on Sundays. There was a plaque outside that confirmed my suspicion that unlike in many parts of Canada, the CN line in these parts the older rail line compared to the CP as the CN line was in fact the old Grand Trunk line which predates many things including Confederation and of course CP. In the last few days, I have been seeing and hearing a number of Via Rail trains. One consist in particular caught my eye. It started with a Genesis locomotive hauling about three Renaissance coaches followed by another Genesis locomotive facing backwards followed by a chunkier F40PH hauling three or four old stainless steel coaches. My explanation for this odd consist is that it was two trains destined to split in Kingston, one going to Montreal, the other to Ottawa. While only two locomotives were needed for power, Via included the second Genesis locomotive in order to connect the lower Renaissance couplings to the F40PH.

 Cathy had suggested a slightly alternative route than the Waterfront Trail in Prince Edward County. At one point this brought me in front of a military communications facility connected to CFB Trenton complete with massive antennas. There something about one of the triple armed arrays that seemed out of place. Then it struck me: at the center of the arms was what proved to be an osprey nest complete with osprey! Like my parents later in the day, I overshot Mike and Cathy's living barn and went into the winery barn where I got directions from their daughter Sarah. Mike, Han and a friend were playing croquet when I arrived. Bella was happy to see me as was Cathy. I would write more but sleep beckons.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

On being in (a former) prison

The B&B in Oshawa was over decorated with rooms named for Old Testament figures. I was appropriately in the Daniel room. We were told that the other guests were "an elderly couple from Alberta." Mummy was piqued when we saw them at breakfast and they appeared to be no older than she was. ;-)

We rolled down to Lake Ontario to rejoin the Waterfront Trail. Today, it consisted mostly of quiet country roads near the lakeshore. In fact we were mostly on Lakeshore Road.

We had been warned against one bit in Oshawa by a passing local cyclist on a recumbent tricycle hauling a trailer with a few too many flags. His grounds for warning was that it had a very steep climb on a pea gravel trail. We did it anyway and the hill was pretty trivial for us. My theory about him was that he was a zealous recumbent rider. Recumbents aren't good on hills and with a trailer it might have been overly hard. Also, he struck me as a mite odd.

We suffered light rain at times and a tedious donning of rain gear as Pappy's organization of his clobber leaves something to be desired especially as he went with a larger size of rear panniers so he could "find things easily." All very well, but it doesn't fly as there are too many spots and not enough thought in keeping things together. Mummy and I waited with diminishing patience as he searched for his ankle velcro straps. It proved part of the problem was that these were home made from black webbing material. Given that ones incorporating reflective material are frequently given away at the end of bike events and colorful and fun factory-made ones are quite cheap, I can only wonder at what he was thinking. (Note to self: give him a pair of from my surplus stock in Montreal.)

On some of the bike trail sections, I saw no less than three young rabbits. At least, they seemed small, hence young.

We passed a couple of barns with stone foundations that suggested considerable age (viz early to mid 19th century). At one spot, there were gladiolas and hollyhocks growing by the side of the road adding glorious color.

As the roads promised easy navigation, I left the Parents behind after a picnic lunch beside the road in Port Granby. I rode on to Port Hope, a town I had often admired from the train. As it was Saturday, the farmers' market was in swing and I bought a cherry cheesecake tart, before sampling a Chardonnay from a winery near that in Prince Edward County where we will be spending tomorrow night.

I arrived in Cobourg and found the Jail House Inn, formerly the King George Inn and evidently, still very much in transition as some of the signs still refer to the former name. There was some disorganization evident amongst the friendly staff. (The first one I met commented favourably on my legs.) I think this partly due to the place being more heavily a pseudo-British pub/inn with good beer and food (though the only desert available was terrible ice cream.)

The building is in fact a former jail, complete with a limited museum in some of the former basement cells. The displays included a number of Gilles cartoons on the subject of prisons. Another display showed a list of offenders from 1908 or so. It included a relatively large number of listings for vagrancy and simple-mindedness which makes me wonder if it wasn't being used in part by the local society as a form of hostel. The bikes were housed in one of the basement cells.

Friday, 7 August 2015

On the Waterfront Trail

The last leg of my journey has begun. My parents and I are now on the road to Montreal. Armed leftovers from the last three suppers, departed at 20 to nine, even though my plan been to leave after nine to reduce the impact of commuters. However, Mummy was ready and restless.

Despite having been told the night before that I had already ridden it about five times, my Father expressed amazement that I was easily able to follow a recommended bike route Cathy and Mike's down to Queen Street. Mummy was surprised at how many cycle-commuters there were as "Toronto isn't a biking city." The truth of the matter is that does a better job than Montreal (especially in the matter of bike racks). However T.O. doesn't blow its own trumpet on the matter like Montreal does. Also, the riders we were seeing were likely only going shortish distances whereas the sprawling suburbs are the sources of Toronto's notorious traffic and the ultimate of T.O.'s most notorious S.O.B. a.k.a. Rob Ford.

We made our way to the Waterfront where my father began displaying the dangerous and irritating habit of apparently being unwilling or unable to stop in less than 20 meters and/or twenty. When challenged on the point he has produced several lame excuses, at least one of which relate to his being lame. Combined with his habit of reading the signs he sees out loud suggests that one of these days he is going to plow into the back of Mummy's bike after she brakes after hearing him yell "Stop" as a witless attempt at wit and failing to come to a halt.

I am tempted to put him on the train.

We followed the Waterfront Trail for most of the day as it weaved back and forth passing industrial areas, residential areas, conservation areas and a nuclear power plant. The trail is a mishmash of perfect bike paths, quiet streets, busy roads, crowded parks and boardwalks tied together with haphazard signage and maps of varying degrees of accuracy. At one point, just after a steep hill, we couldn't figure out where the trail was supposed to be. At this point, a dad arrived by bike with his (disabled?) teenage son on trike. We chatted. We were surprised that the father didn't know about the Waterfront Trail despite him cycling into Dowtown Toronto on a regular basis. As our map sections were printed PDF's that we have been chucking in recycling bins every 15 kms or so, we happily gave him one as an aide-memoire to find the whole thing online.

My estimate Google Maps generated estimated distance for the day was off by about 25 kms. I account for this difference by the fact I may have asked Google for the Toronto-Oshawa distance rather than the Cathy to B&B distance. Also, I don't think Google Maps plotted us along the inefficient but mostly nice Waterfront Trail.

At one point early in the day, we passed the Redpath sugar refinery. Just next to it, there was a sea-going bulk freighter (or "saltie" in the Great Lakes parlance) called "Andean" tied up at the dock. It didn't take that much thought to suspect it was delivering sugar products. A little further, I saw what looked like a large landing craft, possibly a landing ship, tank (or LST) painted in "dazzle camouflage" and undergoing repairs. I wonder what that was about?

Late in the day, I stopped to photograph a sign advertising kilted window cleaners ("Nae peeking allowed.") I have the notion that it is a gimmick aimed at bored housewives. Another interesting sign was one for the parks in Pickering which forbade "Obnoxious or annoying behaviour". Unfortunately or possibly revealingly, it wasn't one that someone referred to above didn't read out loud.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

On a good place to have a mishap and other tales of T.O.

In hindsight, I probably should have done something more about front rack as the wear around the top securing bolt was significant. At the very least, a few washers should have been deployed. However, that idea had been had been put in the wrong mental file.

Instead, after a morning of riding on the Waterfront Trail and the bumps it generated as it went from street to trail and back repeatedly, I was approaching Bathurst Street in Toronto on a bike path in a park when the sheet metal in the front rack around the top right securing bolt gave way, causing right bag to get in the spokes. I braked but not quickly enough as the "U" of metal joining the two sides of the rack came into contact with the tire and became jammed. This damn nearly threw me over the handlebars as the front wheel stopped. Thankfully, the weight of my rear bags kept Leonardo from bucking me off. While was happening, I couldn't uncleat my shoes fast enough which added to my fright.

I extracted myself from the bike stood back and audibly asked "WTF just happened?" No one else had witnessed the event which was either a good or a bad thing. Or possibly both.

I took a minute or two to allow my heart to slow down and for the adrenaline rush wear off. I then examined Leonardo to assess the damage. The front rack was definitely toast with the "U" clearly bent. I began by removing the front bags, then deflated the front tire. I then unbolted the front rack. I spun the front wheel to see if it was okay. I wasn't sure but I thought there was a shimmy in it. A casual glance revealed no obvious spoke damage.

Now what? I could roll but no longer had a front rack. What did this mean for the trip? Was it over for now and what would that mean for the Parents? Would they ride to Montreal without me? I then calmed myself by pointing out that the breakdown had happened in about as perfect conditions as imaginable. I had more than 48 hours to get Leonardo into shape in a large city full of cyclists and shops catering to them. More to the point, I knew where one of the bigger ones was and it was within blocks of me: MEC.

I bungeed the front bags onto the rear ones along with the front rack. I then set off gingerly to MEC. I boldly rolled Leonardo into the store and to the bike repair bay. I gave a semi-coherent account of what had happened to the guy in repairs and asked him if he could give the front wheel a look. His impression was that it was a bit out of true but that it should get me to Montreal. He said that if I wanted it trued, they could get done within 24 hours.

Time to think. "Do I leave Leonardo here and navigate my way to my cousin Cathy's house with all my clobber?" I didn't relish the notion. Nor did I like the idea of riding any more without a front rack and gear. So instead, I bought a new Filzer front rack and installed it then and there in the store. One of the staff members admired the hex key I was using. I smugly revealed that it was from Ikea! (I made a post about my "discovery" years ago.) He enjoyed my idea and said he would add an Ikea hex key to his tool kit.

The Fizler rack is sturdier and more complex than its predecessor. Consequently, it required what seemed like an hour to install. (Note to self: see if you can get a PDF of the instructions for future reference.)

I made my way to Cathy and her husband Mike's house following the Toronto bike map. I let myself in using a key code Cathy had provided me with and said "Hello" to Ella the housekeeper and Bella the quiet Westie. (She is quietest terrier I have ever encountered.) Ella showed me to the room assigned to me. I dumped the bulk of my clobber down and made an "excursion" selection of gear. As I did so, I noticed a text message from Cathy regarding my arrival and that of Mike later that evening. I replied that I had arrived but was about to leave again due bike repair issues. There followed an exchange on the matter as she suggested another location which was closer than MEC. However, it might have been busy and I didn't know exactly where it was. On the other hand, I knew where MEC was and that it had the time. I went back to MEC to hand Leonardo over to their loving care. I was given a card to pay at the cash, but first decided to do some shopping for an assortment of bike munchies and other bits and pieces. By the time I had been to the cash, Leonardo was ready! I don't think it had been 24 minutes, let alone 24 hours!

I returned to the house and settled in. By the time Mike arrived, I was bathed and relaxed. This was a good thing as Mike is a very intense man which is something I hadn't really appreciated before. He strode into the kitchen looking a mite like Richard Branson and proceeded to whip up a very nice supper of lamb, potatoes, Greek salad and grilled zucchini from scratch in less time than I would have thought possible.

We chatted on a number of topics ranging from the upcoming election to the role of librarians in the Information Age and much else over wine and supper. He gently chastised me for using his water glasses for wine, the main difference being size.

The next morning, I went out looking for the bike shop, Cathy had referred to. I found it and another one close by which I visited out of curiousity. These proved to be relatively close to the house I really remember living in Toronto so I went to have a look-see of the place I learnt to ride a bike. The rest of the day was spent chasing my tail looking for a new watch, books and bits.

Cathy was home when I returned. She informed me that her father Han would be there for supper as well as Melody, his significant other. It was good hear as I hadn't seen him since his wife's Mary's funeral a few years ago. At the time I had been concerned at his appropriate grief. My parents arrived a little after six, with Pappy wearing a stealth T-shirt.

Cathy and Mike's daughter Alison also joined us for supper. She was quite quiet and almost seemed out of place amongst the old fogies. Melody seemed a good fit for Han though nowhere the strong personality Mary was. This may have been a deliberate choice of Han's or simply a result of few people having a personality as Mary! ;-) (And I say that with all due love and respect.)

Today, I spent looking over maps with Cathy and Mummy, cleaning and prepping Leonardo, finally finding a suitable watch and mailing a box of surplus bits to Montreal. That and writing blog entries.

On a wet and warm welcome in Oakville

As consequence of the power failure the night before, my laundry wasn't done until mid-morning, so it was only around 11 that I finally hit the road. This wasn't a critical delay as Oakville was only about 60 kms away not the grueling 144 between Meaford and Guelph. Indeed, I had barely gone a dozen klicks or so before I stopped to visit a streetcar museum. I spent more than an hour there. At one point, I was ordering ice cream in a snack bar made out of an old trolley bus. Looking at the menu, I asked for butterscotch ripple.

"Sorry, we're out."

"Okay then, how about black cherry?"

"Er, no. I meant remove it from the menu."

Thankfully, she did have my third choice, or else it would have taken a dangerous step into the Pythonesque. While she was getting my cone, I offered to remove the two unavailable flavours from the board. She accepted my help and gave me the cone for free.

Afterwards, the highway I was on dipped down off the Niagara Escarpment near Rattlesnake Point, where I been taken to as a child. It then climbed again before dropping again. A little before Mount Nemo, the road dropped again and with another climb in sight, I managed to avoid by taking a road eastwards. After finding another southerly road, I descended into Burlington, hung a left onto Lakeshore Road and soon arrived in Oakville and found Rachel's home.

I was warmly greeted by Rachel and her daughters Abigail (7) and Charlotte (4). After initial hellos, clobber stowage and bike parking, I had a nice swim in their pool with the girls. Their father joined us in the water as various games were played.

After a while, my body was asking me for a break and I went to take a nice hot shower. Afterwards, I had a beer and shucked corn with Charlotte and Abigail's assistance. Supper was barbecue grilled boerwurst sausages (a favorite of Cecil, Rachel's stepfather), with hot, freshly made chutney, corn on the cob, potato salad and green salad. I remarked to Rachel that the meal she served was oddly similar to that Quintin had given me! I hope she wasn't offended as her meal hit the spot.

On a warm and wet welcome in Guelph

Elin escorted me out of Meaford onto Route 12 which promised to be less hilly than other alternatives. It began with a predictable slog up the Niagra Escarpment before settling into gently rolling fields and headwinds. Generally headwinds except when I was in the lee of a forest.

It was a long slog of a day going through small towns with considerable long weekend traffic both four wheeled and two wheeled. Around four in the afternoon, it began to sprinkle as I came into Arthur with dark clouds getting very close. I made for a Union Burger restaurant and ordered a burger and a milkshake. The storm hit with intense rain, along with lightning and some wind. I phoned Quintin in Guelph to give him an update on my status, namely tired, behind schedule and sheltering from a storm.  He offered to pick me up if necessary. I gratefully declined though admitted I might take him up on the offer. The storm seemed to be settling down to just rain, so I donned my rain gear and set off again.

The wind had died with the storm so I was able to make much better progress. I passed through Fergus admiring the lovely 19th century stone buildings. The road to Guelph from there was familiar as I had ridden it several times when I had been working on a master's degree in Scottish history twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, Quintin and family live in a new development in the extreme Eastern edge of Guelph so I didn't see my old stomping grounds.

Quintin was waiting for me with the news that in addition to leaving the big bottle of detergent behind in Meaford (as planned) I had also left behind the Campsuds. Thankfully, a friend of Elin's Alexander had been going from Meaford to Guelph that day and had dropped it off chez Quintin and family.

After a supper of an assortment of barbecued chicken and spicy sausages, potato salad, green salad and corn on the cob, we were sitting around the table chewing the fat and looking out at a thunderstorm when the power failed. Thankfully, candles were already lit so we could find headlamps and the like. As it was getting late, we decided to call it a night anyway.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

On a warm welcome in Meaford

At breakfast, I consulted with my hosts as to the suitability of some of the nearby roads for cycling as while the way I had come was nice, I was suspicious that there was an easier way to go South from Dyers Bay than going all the way back to the 6 directly. My suspicions were correct and I made an excellent start to the day despite having to climb up the Niagara Escarpment.

It was only mid morning and many kilometers later that I realized that I had neglected to record and reset my bike computer. After some thought, I decided to wait until Wiarton before recording and resetting the bike computer as it was a point from which distances were measured.

After lunch, I noticed a pedal related ticking noise that I associate with a pedal that was insufficiently tight. I spotted at a sporting goods store in Hepworth. I stopped to see if I might borrow a pedal wrench for a minute. Alas, they didn't have bike tools. However, they did have Campsuds for washing pretty much anything, so the stop was hardly a waste.

While Owen Sound did provide me with use of a pedal wrench, it was a blow to the senses being much larger than I had anticipated. Larger, louder and brasher. Also, it meant I had to go down to lake level and reclimb the Niagara Escarpment late in the day. However, I had a useful wind during the climb and eventual screaming  descent into Meaford at over seventy kilometers per hour. (Actually, that was a peak speed achieved whilst pedaling madly whilst crouched over.)

I found my cousin Elin's second home in Meaford. (I use the term second home as it is a substantial brick building dating from the 19th century or there abouts if I remember correctly. To call it cottage, is to understate it. Admittedly, she and her husband Rob use it as a cottage, but that is a detail.) Actually, Elin spotted me before I had definitively identified the house: I was rolling along looking for house numbers when she came out from a neighbors house, saw me and called out.

After a warm welcome, she, Rob and her son Alexander showed me the house. Elin and Rob are fairly avid cyclists and were a source of useful local knowledge as to the relative merits of the routes to Guelph. I had realized earlier in the day that I needed a macro scale map to plan my path as Southern Ontario has a plethora of roads. Rob was surprised that Leonardo was geared high to do 70. I did point out that that was a downhill, bent over and pedaling like mad speed.

On a warm welcome in Dyers Bay

The disadvantage of staying with relatives is that I spend so much time chatting that I don't have the time to write proper entries! In fact, I even forgot to record my stats on the 31st and neglected to reset the bike computer! This caused "calibration" issues for the next couple of days, i.e. I had trouble gauging my performance in order to predict how it would be in future.

I left my motel in Manitowaning and set out in for South Baymouth with an eye out for a restaurant connected to a garden centre in the hopes of a second breakfast. I was lured onto a side road by a sign and was rewarded by the sight of a couple of sandhill cranes followed by a fish hatchery. When I got the place it was closed which was odd, but I didn't mind.  Returning to Highway 6, I rolled along and finally found the place I was looking for. I had a second breakfast of eggs, bacon and perogies.

I was surprised by the small size of South Baymouth. It proved to be only a little more than the ferry terminal, a few motels, gift shops, restaurants and a museum. The latter had a section of the ferries past and present. One of the former was the Nindewayma which as I informed the staff person was in the wonderful movie "Bon cop, bad cop". She was quite interested by this and took down the information for future use.

There were eight cyclists waiting for the ferry: two short distance riders on hybrids, three through Trans Canada cyclists, a couple going around Georgian Bay and yours truly. We, the long distance cyclists, chatted a fair bit comparing notes on X, Y and Z.  When the Chi-Cheemaun (or Big Canoe in Ojibwe) arrived, one of the cyclists getting off was a young woman who looked as if she might be First Nations asked our group for biking info. I dug out a biking map of Manitoulin Island I happened to have and gave it to her.

Once on the ferry and heading for Tobermory, I noticed it had a list to the port (and no sails (in rags or otherwise) and I did not see the cook in the scuppers). I joked with some of the cyclists that it was the weight of our bikes lashed against the port side that was causing the list. One of the others suggested the crew had put all the SUVs on that side. Actually, it was the wind on the starboard beam.

The ferry company laid on entertainment in the form of Falcon Migwans, an Ojibwe drummer and singer who explained to us a lot about First Nations drumming, singing and pow-wows. It was fascinating.

From Tobermory, I took Highway 6 South, in company of a lot of cars off the ferry. At times, the South bound lane was full of cars as far as the eye could see given that the road was very straight. Ontario has something of a fetish for straight roads laid out in a grid that fails to align with the cardinals points or even other grids. ;-). The Ontarians also have a tendency towards numbering their roads in a slightly bewildering succession of roads, concessions, side roads, lines and highways based on counties rather than the province. It paid to keep an eye on the map.

I turned off (Provincial) Highway 6, onto Dyer's Bay Road which brought me to cousin Mary's house on the shores of the Georgian Bay. I had never met her before and she is in fact a cousin of my cousin Michael, a.k.a. The Mole or El Topo Potente (as opposed to Cathy's Mike whose house I am writing this in.).  However distant the connection, the Mole had put me in contact with her and she was most welcoming. As mentioned earlier in this entry, the chatting precluded blogging. She, her husband and some friends from London, Ontario (my birthplace) were almost overly impressed at my venture to the point I was almost embarrassed to mention that, err, um, my parents (who were a few years older than they were) would be joining me for the Toronto to Montreal leg. ;-)

On a status update

I have arrived chez Cathy and Mike, non sans peine on account of a near disaster that could hardly have taken place at a better place and time viz within blocks of MEC and just before two rest days. No physical harm to me (psyche expected to make a full recovery) and no harm to Leonardo that hasn't been fixed.

More later.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

On current location and status

In Guelph and tired after fighting headwinds until a late afternoon thunderstorm.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

On an update

Still too busy to write. Long sunny day, but somewhat tiring. In Meaford.

Friday, 31 July 2015

On my day

Today has been fun. My hosts in Dyer's Bay are great.  But I don't have the time for a long entry. Weather is fine, sunny and cool.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

On my water bottles

I was admiring the view from Ten-Mile Point (briefly the site of a Jesuit mission in the mid Seventeenth Century) when a middle-aged couple emerged from their bike laden car, noticed Leonardo leaning against a wall fully laden and commented on the number of water bottles (3). Apparently, the husband had hydration issues. I explained one was for electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade) and the other two were for just water, the one on the bottom cage being a reserve. In truth, I don't think I really need the reserve from this point but, I think I will keep it full until Guelph and the last of the 100+ km days. In fact, I hadn't given it much thought until writing this entry!

On random gusts

While waiting for a table at the Anchor Inn yesterday, I had a pint in the bar. I chanced to hear the words Schraeder and Presta being used in conversation. These being words associated with bike inner tubes, I quickly deduced the speakers were fellow cyclists. One of them sat down on the next stool. I asked him if he was part of the Trans-Canada tour. He wasn't. He and his friend had been touring the Island for the last six days. He was from Montreal. He asked me if I was the solo cyclist from Boston people had been talking about! Apparently they get a wodge of cyclists through these parts.

This morning, I moseyed along the waterfront of Little Current surveying the collection which stocked a highly eclectic selection of goods which mildly perplexed me. One sold elegant sweaters, fabric by the yards, fishing tackle, navigation charts (it claimed to be Canada's oldest chart store) and had a small museum in one room which included an account of FDR's fishing trip to the area in 1943.  While on the waterfront I watched a sailboat come in accompanied by a chorus of yips from small unseen dogs.

I set off at a leisurely pace South along Highway 6 which lacked a paved shoulder for the first dozen kilometers or so. I saw a bunch of German geology students tapping rocks at the side of the road. I had encountered a subset of them yesterday. I am not sure what they are in aid of. Opposite them was the Sequanah (I will revise the spelling later) Museum. Like the many such community museums in these parts, it was more about artifacts than history, the bulk of the collection being late 19th century to early 20th century items with the inevitable army uniforms. This particular museum also had a section on an archaeological site thought to date to about 9500 years Before Present, though I have a nagging suspicion that the archaeologist who worked with Pappy on the Fisher Site had determined it wasn't quite that old.

The museum also had the remains of a Beech Staggerwing float plane that had caught fire and sank while delivering dispatches to FDR. A later newspaper article described the heroic actions of a US Navy Lieutenant from the USS Wolverine. The latter amused me as it was formerly a paddle wheel lake steamer which had been given a flight deck so it could be used as a training aircraft carrier in the safety of Lake Michigan.

Today has been sunny but cool. The wind has been quite strong and gusty though generally with a Westerly component. One of my options for today had been to ditch the bulk of my clobber at my motel in Manitowaning and go to visit a nearby uncedeeded First Nation. However given the unpredictable habits of the wind and a slightly sore posterior, I wimped out and the only side trip I made was a paltry 2 kms to look upon Lake Manitou, the largest lake in a lake in the world. The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting the town museum, pondering the S.S. Norisle (possibly a sister ship to the Norgoma) and dozing in my motel room.

I writing this in a restaurant with its radio tuned to Moose FM which seems to play a lot of 80s music such as "Tainted Love" and "The summer of '69". There is a large, mostly francophone family group causing a certain amount of chaos, partly from a distinct failure to listen by many of them. ;-) It is a bit of a shock to the system to hear French again. I am drinking Swing Bridge Ale, Manitoulin's first beer of the microbrewery era.

Tomorrow will mark a change as I leave Northern Ontario and motels for Southern Ontario and the homes of cousins! ;-)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

On top of the swing bridge at Little Current

One of my most stressful biking experiences was crossing the Fraser River at Mission. Therefore, I approached the single lane swing bridge to Manitoulin Island with some trepidation partly as it was the end of a relatively tough day. I didn't take the end of the first green light and instead stopped to put on my high-visibility vest while the light was red. This put me at the front of line for the next green light. I wasn't wild about this but the SUV after me was clearly ready to let me go at my own pace. This was very nice of him. As it turned out, there was a walkway for pedestrians which I nipped into to walk the bike across. As well, the bridge has a 20 km/h speed limit that I am quite capable of breaking. However, I only found that out later. The mainland half of the pedestrian walkway doesn't get much use judging by the cobwebs suggesting people don't walk it that often.

The bridge swings open on the hour and as it was nearing that time, I parked Leonardo and leaned against a railing to watch the event. A man drove up in a pickup to the parking area where I was and got out in a hurry. He asked me if I wanted to see the operation from the control room atop the bridge! I said "Yes, please!" and grabbed my handlebar bag and hurried after him. We walked halfway across the bridge, crossed the roadway and went up a steep staircase to the control room.

The control room was an interesting mixture of technologies. The controls looked fairly modern. In addition there was a video monitor showing any of a number of parts of the bridge deemed critical for safe operation.  Ron Lewis, the operator, explained that after making sure all traffic was off the bridge, it was necessary to unlock the bridge extremity supports before actually swinging the bridge. He flipped through the video feeds to show me the mechanisms at work. Regrettably, I was a shade too excited to remember the minutiae well enough to relate. If my memory serves, two or three sailboats went through along with a large motor cruiser (or "gin palace" to John Mact.).  One sailboat missed the swing. Ron explained to me that the bridge can only be taken out of road use for 15 minutes out of an hour. As the swinging procedure takes about 6 minutes each way, there is only a window of about 90 seconds or so for tall vessels to pass. Apparently, the electric motors that were installed about fifteen years ago are somewhat slower than the twin car engines that used to power it!

After thanking Ron, I left floating on air. I was thinking about how much I would have enjoyed the experience the only other time I was in Little Current. That was in 1977, when my brothers and I were taken on a sailing cruise by Pappy and Granny and Grandpa Mact.. Back in those days, there were still train tracks on the bridge, though their days were numbered.

The day began with some more of the T-Can. At Massey, I took a chance on an apparent shortcut to Espanola on the Lee Valley. I told myself that there would be no shame in turning back or opting out if it became too hard. More fool I, as aside from two short bits of hard packed gravel, the whole way was paved (albeit a shade roughly), flat, quiet apart from the odd car and included some shady bits. Midway, I relaxed when I saw a guy on a narrow tired road bike going the other way. In fact, the only "problem" with the route was in Espanola itself where a section was being redone and was at the loosely-packed gravel stage. As there was a useful alternative handy, I didn't even try it. (In Little Current, I was to learn that the Lee Valley Road is a recommended cycling route!)

I had an early lunch in Espanola, before hitting Highway 6. This proved to be a long series of hills and dips with little apparent logic to it. The only good as far as I was concerned was the wide shoulder. There was a light headwind and it was quite hot. Shortly before Whitefish Falls, there was a longish downhill.  I was feeling a bit drained, especially as I had only come about a third of the distance from Espanola. I was sufficient hot that I went into the town in search cold water. The store seemed very closed as in "gone out of business", so went into the Red Dog Grill. If I had to do this over again, I'd have lunch there as it was a nice friendly place where not only the waitress but also some locals having lunch comforted me with the news that I was all but done with the hills! I left well provided and refreshed with ice water. I am getting addicted to the stuff.

The remaining 30 clicks went by fairly smoothly. First the Whitefish River First Nation, then the desolate feeling Greater La Cloche Island. Then came the bridge.

After settling into my motel and a shower, I went to Tourist Information to find out where the Laundromat was. (Tomorrow is a rest day so I think getting a few things thoroughly clean is a permissible indulgence.) Coming back, I chanced upon a Spandex-looking cyclist on a road bike waiting by the side of the road, I asked him how far he had ridden today. He was deeply tanned and grey-haired. It turned he had come from Blind River and was part of a supported Trans-Canada bike trip! They had started on the 18th June which means they have made pretty good time on their carbon fibre bikes. He was from Georgetown, Texas. It later came out that his group was the reason I could get a room in my first choice of accommodation in Little Current.

A very good day, especially as I beat the rain to Little Current!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

On the Trans-Canada and in the heat

Thus far, the Trans-Canada has proven better than feared as the forest is cut back far enough that I have little fear keeping to the edge of the pace shoulder which more often than not fairly narrow with a wide gravel shoulder. Some sections have wide paved shoulders.

The weather has been very hot for this neck of the woods though, thankfully for me, not very humid. On the other hand, the fire danger signs are at extreme, so I only hope the thunder storms expected tomorrow don't spark a forest fire.

Today went fairly smoothly. I stopped at a round barn just outside of Thessalon which sold nick knacks and Amish jam. The latter makes me suspect that the buggy drivers might be Amish. I rode beside a river as I neared Blind River thinking I was beside the Blind River. In Blind River, I discovered it was the Mississagi River. (My maps aren't great on rivers and lakes.)

After an early lunch in Blind River, I rode on to Algoma Mills where I took Highway 538. It parallel the T-Can for 5 km and made an interesting and shadier change of pace. Somewhere in the Serpent River First Nation, I was climbing a hill where the road had been cut into a hill to the North of the Highway. I was hit with a blast of radiating heat from the rock face that caused me to have to stop to catch my breath.  When I came upon a gas station in the reserve, I made a beeline for its ice cream cooler!

A good day on the whole.

Monday, 27 July 2015

On wanting to pay back the Universe

After breakfast of scrambled eggs, I bid farewell to Wayne, Gregory and Nancy. The weather forecast was for high temperatures (low 30s), sunny skies but low humidity. However, it was pleasantly cool as I set off a little after 8 with patches of mist hither and yon.

At first I rode along Highway 17B, a.k.a. an old bit of the Trans-Canada now bypassed by newer bit. In other words, the type of road that cyclists like! It took my through the Garden River First Nation which is the proud home place of Jordan Nolan, a player for the L.A. Kings. At Echo Bay, I was greeted by the sight of a giant Loonie designed by the same person who designed the Loonie who hails from there.

The old T-Can joined up with the new and much to my surprise took me through farms with big bales of hay in the fields and signs saying beware of horse and buggies! It seems this is home to one (or more) of the austere sects such as the Hutterites, Mennonites or Amish. I could google it but I am feeling lazy. I saw one arriving at a gas station by horse drawn buggy looking like extras from Little House on the Prairie complete with bonnets and heavy looking, dark clothes which looked very hot in the increasing heat. I had the feeling that some of them were about to get on a bus to go somewhere.

I was making very good time to the point where I made several stops to avoid arriving too early! One of these was at S&S Creations ( I had seen one of their billboards announcing they did work in stained glass and "puddingstone". The later was an unknown to me which given that I am the son of a geologist and widely if not deeply knowledgeable means this was something either rare or invented ;-) I went in to ask which. One of the S's (Stephanie) had evidently heard the question before and explained it was a locally occurring conglomerate containing red and brown lumps of jasper in paler sediments. What she and Steve (the other S) did was to slice the stone very thinly so as to be translucent and use them as an element in an otherwise conventional stained glass creation. Thankfully, I was on a bike and therefore had an excuse not to buy anything as they were quite special. Doubtless, the aforementioned geologist knows about puddingstone.

I got to Bruce Mines a bit after 11. I went down to the marina where I enjoyed the cool breeze blowing off Lake Huron. There were some picnic tables in the shade so I lay down on one to watch a flock of Canada geese.  After lunch in Bruce Mines, I visited their museum of bric-a-brac which included a one-armed bandit out of Lucky Luke and an old Raleigh bicycle with a novel braking system. The front brake pads pushed against the inner surface of the rim which looked dangeously close to the spokes.

The Carolyn Beach Motel is located at Western edge of Thessalon near the junction of Highway 17 and 17B. The motel looked like it had been there about as long as the T-Can. (I  later found the first bit of it was open in 1959 on the site of a former saw mill.  Further buildings were added in 1961, 1964 and 1975.)  However, I had a hankering for ice cream so I went downtown where I bought some a girl in an ice cream store who looked about twelve.

Afterwards, I rode back to the motel checked in, before having a dip in Lake Huron followed by a warm shower. I was about wash my clothes when I discovered I hadn't packed my Campsuds (general purpose biodegradable soap). I decided to ride back to downtown Thessalon to get a substitute. After four stores of different natures, the best I could come up with was a liter bottle of detergent for baby clothes. I rode back to wash my gear and hang the clothes on Leonardo. I then consulted my maps to see what tomorrow would bring. After a while, I was curious as to how far I had ridden today so I went to get my bike computer. It wasn't to be found in my room or on Leonardo. I decided it must have off between downtown and the motel. I set off on Leonardo on the wrong side of the road scanning for the little black oblong. Less than 100 meters up the road, I found it nestled in the soft sand shoulder, perfectly intact!  Feeling I owed one to the universe, I tried to find out the name of a local charity from the manager. Unfortunately, he proved to be a South Asian new to the area and hadn't much of an idea. It didn't help that I must have seemed like a madman.

I will donate $100.00 (CAD) to the first charity I come across or have suggested to me. That I how relieved I am.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

On a warm welcome in the Soo

I was met at YAM airport by Wayne, Greg's father and we drove to their house where I met Nancy, Greg's mother and Mitsui, a Japanese exchange student. They made me feel at home and fed me lasagna.

This morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, I assembled Leonardo in the garage and to him for a spin to check nothing was amiss. Aside from a couple of very minor adjustments, nothing was.  After Wayne and I put my duffel on the bus, I rode into downtown for some sightseeing. First a historic site with two buildings both over two hundred years old. Then I went to a canal related historic site. After a late lunch, I visited the Norgoma, the packet steamer on the Great Lakes. It had served the small communities on the North Shore of Lake Huron until 1963 when the Trans-Canada Highway made it redundant.  It had a second career as a car ferry between Manitolin Island and the Bruce Peninsula before being retired. While I was on board, I saw the Indiana Harbor, a thousand foot long lake "boat" sail down St Mary's River. I then took in the Bush Plane museum again.

A good day. Tomorrow looks like it will fairly hot but the forecast has the wind coming from a favourable direction.

Wayne is a retired employee from Bell. He has worked all over Northern Ontario and has been a font of knowledge. When I revealed that I was going to Thessalon tomorrow, he correctly guessed the name of the motel I will staying at! (The Carolyn Beach Motel)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

On Thierry's principle (and T.O.) revisited

The last time I was in T.O., I managed to rectify a Thierry's principle oversight (i.e. you only relax once you remember what it is you have forgotten). Back in September, I went to MEC to get a replacement fleece jacket. In the process, I got a bike map of Toronto that adorned my dining room wall for the last ten months and unfortunately currently adorns it. I had meant to bring it with me on the final leg of AMUAM JuNITO. Fortunately, on my Porter flight from YUL to YTZ, I realized that I had A. forgotten it and B. I should have enough time to get another on before my flight to YAM (a.k.a. the Soo). By dint of asking at the Billy Bishop help desk, I found out that I had indeed the time and that there was a shuttle bus to Union Station where the tourist office was. I took the ferry to the mainland hopped on the shuttle bus and away I went. I found the information office where I had got the original map, scored another then caught the bus back.

On the bus, I pondered how one could build a tunnel to avoid the short ferry ride to the airport. One thought was do much of the work during the winter to avoid annoying shipping and boaters.  As I got to the waiting room for the ferry, I saw an illuminated sign counting down the four days and 23 hours before the tunnel would be inaugurated!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

On an unusual exchange with a B&B

What with the presence of my parents on the Toronto to Montreal leg of my next bike trip, I have already started booking places to stay. Indeed, I have made something of a record for myself as currently no less than ten nights will be spent staying with relatives near and distant or friends, with another two in doubt. Of the remaining, I have booked a number of motels and B&Bs.  During a phone call to one B&B in Brockville, I was asked if we had any dietary requirements. I replied: "Well, we're cycling, so we would appreciate a substantial breakfast." The man laughed and said that he often got cyclists and he would be happy to include plenty of carbs! ;-)

On the Spring's Challenges

Yes, I know I haven't been writing much what with one thing and another. On the other hand, Mummy has written about her takes on the first two Vélo-Québec Challenges (or Défis) of the year as well as the Tour de l'Île which I will include in this entry along with my take.

Défi Métropolitain
Regarding the Metropolitan Challenge (Défi Métropolitain), I found it not atypical of what I think of as the the Chateauguay circuit. While the precise layout changes, this is the third time I have done a Challenge starting in Chateauguay, the first one being the first one I ever did.  The route landscape is very flat and open which makes it prey adverse winds. The forecast had been for light winds, but unfortunately, there were some stiff headwinds on the outward leg. To add insult to injury, the winds proved relatively fickle later in the day, so I didn't get "my deposit back" on the homeward leg. Otherwise the weather was decent with only a little rain.  Unfortunately, as I set out, I discovered my rear tire was flat. This meant a quick inner tube change and a trip to a handy Wal-Mart for a new spare. I have been having bad luck with my rear wheel of late.

Mummy's take:

We had a party at Naisi’s on the Saturday night. Should we go into Daniel’s on Saturday, quite late, or leave early Sunday morning?  In the end we opted for early Sunday, which meant Daniel had to rent a car, but that seemed easier for him than tidying his condo for us! 

After having been rude to Daniel about his often being late, he was early and we were a minute late at the Tutti Frutti in Chateauguay. 

We had done practically no biking before this excursion, what with the trip to BC and other things, so we were a bit concerned about not being in shape.  But then it is always an effort, and we always get there.

We started biking at 8:15.  We 100 km people went anti clockwise, the 75 and 150 km people went clockwise.  Léry (it seems to me we always called it Ville de Léry) had some interesting houses.  And some that were awful.  It started to sprinkle.  I stopped to put on my jacket and said to a man doing the same, that as we were putting on our jackets, it was bound to stop raining.  I trusted the other bikers would be grateful to us. 

Lots of lovely lilac out.  Three trees at one farm were sadly downwind of a pig farm.  But often there was a lovely smell, oh yes, there are the lilacs.  There was a strong wind against us until we got to Ormstown.  My average at that point was 15 km/hr.  Ormstown was a very pretty town, with lots of old buildings.  I stopped in front of the church to take off my jacket and put on sunscreen.  Then we turned and went with the wind behind to Howick.  It was easy to do 30 km/hr.  We got to Howick and lunch just at noon.  By then my average was 17 km/hr.

I sent a text to Daniel.  A bit later I got one from him, ‘Where are you?’  ‘Under the white tent.’  So he was able to join us, which was very nice.  Poor him, the tire he had just replaced had a flat.  He changed the tube, then went to Walmart, which was right there, to get a spare.  I had been surprised that he wasn’t at lunch before us, as he had 70 km to go and we had done 60.  But that explained it.

The afternoon, although mostly downwind, had quite a bit of side wind, and almost headwind, so it wasn’t all easy.  Hugh and I had decided to skip one little bit up and back a river.  I was there first and waited quite a bit, a bit down the short-cut, so I wasn’t going to confuse people, until I saw Hugh come by.  He slowed, so I thought he was going to turn, but then he went by.  I would not have been able to catch him, so I biked on.  Then I thought of phoning him.  He answered very quickly, knew he had missed it, but it was not easy to communicate.  I biked on, till I stopped to rest and eat and drink on the church steps in Mercier.  I called him again, and he was just coming into Mercier, so I waited and he caught up. 

Last bit together.  The very last bit was beside a highway, hot, lots of cars, into the wind, tired, tough!  Finished 3:30.  Daniel showed up soon after.  He had to get his rented car back by 5 pm, so he couldn’t hang around much.  He and Hugh picked up t-shirts.  I have enough.  Chocolate milk and an apple.  Bathroom.  Find cars, change, and off home. 

Hugh drove, I dozed.  Baths, PJs for me, bagel and smoked salmon.  Asleep before 9 pm.

My statistics:  98.89 km, time 5:42, average 17.3 km/hr

Daniel: 123? km, average over 20

I noticed a few men who might have been over 70, but I didn’t notice any women my age.  I did pass a few rather plump young women.

Daniel suggests I negotiate to borrow a road bike from Laurent to see if I like it.  But a new bike for a few excursions a year seems extravagant.  I thought this bike would be my last bike.

Tired but pleased on Monday morning.

Tour de l'Île
Last year, I found the Long version of the Tour de l'Île took me through too many bits that I had already done and those bits weren't the most interesting.  Consequently, this year I opted to be a volunteer again as a "Bénévélo méchano" i.e. a volunteer bike mechanic riding with the crowd. As I don't have the training to be an "encadreur", this meant I was dealing with the 50 km version of the event. As the Parents were going to do the 100 km version, they left my flat a little before me. However, I caught up with them after a few street corners whilst they were putting on their rain gear.  We rode to the start on Parc Avenue where I left them to collect my volunteer gear and meet up with the rest of my group of volunteers.  One of these was JP, the friend who got me into the volunteering gig.  We collected the relevant bits, then as our start time was only in an hour or more, he invited me back to his nearby apartment for breakfast and to collect his nephew who would be riding with us. At least in theory.

In practice, it didn't happen. When we got to the start, I took out my big bike pump and walked up and down the line of waiting cyclists trolling for customers as inflating tires is the most common thing we do.  A little before the time to start came, I was asked to replace an inner tube on someone's mountain bike. After taking the old inner tube out I noticed there seemed to be a bit of sand inside the tire. As the guy said he'd had several flats of late, I thought I would make sure all the sand was out of the tire in case that was the issue. It wasn't as I soon and painfully found out. There was a sharp nail in the tire which cut my finger quite badly. That together with the fact that I have rarely changed 26" tires made the operation fairly lengthy.  Once he was on his way, I sought out a first aid volunteer to get a band aid for my cut.  By this time, our team's departure time had come, so JP and his nephew headed off, hoping I would catch up. Unfortunately, I never did.

In an underpass, I saw a water bottle fall off someone's bike and two other water bottles lying treacherously on the ground. I picked up all three and gave one of them back to its owner. The surface of the road was quite potholed and combined with the speed of the downhill, the water bottles had been jarred lose.  Less than a kilometer later, I stopped to help someone deal with a rack that was rubbing against a wheel. There were a couple more tires in need of inflation before I got to Westmount. I was startled to learn that several méchanos didn't have bike pumps with them, something I found very surprising given how often they are needed. Also, they are prominent in the list of things to bring for méchanos.  Coming down the Glen into St-Henri, I was unsurprised to hear warnings about an accident up ahead. I have been using the Glen on a daily basis for years. Like many Montreal streets, it is in bad shape and a flash flood a few years back didn't do it any favours. In fairness, the City of Montreal did patch a few of the potholes prior to the Tour: you can no longer see the old street car rails. There I found another water bottle knocked loose by the combination of speed and rough surfaces.  At this point, I made a detour of a few blocks to my flat for pit stop and to dump the water bottles. As I was coming out, I saw my downstairs neighbour Jacques and his girlfriend about to set off on the Tour!

The route then took me under the Lachine canal and then along beside it. A kid of about 12 or so fell off his bike more or less in front of me.  I stopped and diverted traffic around him while his father picked him up and with the help of another volunteer got him to the sidewalk. I tried my best to remember what I should do in such an event. I settled on asking a few questions whilst looking up the stream of cyclists in the hopes that a first aid volunteer would show up. Another méchano commented that the boy looked a bit dazed, but the father assured him that was the kid's normal look!

I set off again and started chatting with a cyclist from Ottawa who commented he had forgotten how back Quebec roads were.  A little later, I "alerted" a parent towing a bicycle that he seemed to have lost the kid! ;-) In fact, the kid had got tired and had opted to ride in the bike trailer hauled by the other parent!  I saw several such "events".

Coming back along the ride, I helped some more people, changing inner tubes, inflating tires. I came across one older man who was sitting out a leg cramp. I flagged down a first aid volunteer for what good it did. Somewhere in Old Montreal, I was asked to oil someone's very rusted chain.  I did quick job but it really needed more attention than I was really about or supposed to give.

At the end, among the displays was a dump truck with mats around it.  The intent was to educate the people about the significant blind spots big truck have. The mats represented the places the driver couldn't see from the cab. Members of the public were invited to sit in the driver's seat and have a look. In practice, people were getting in the truck with their small children in order to have their picture taken!

Mummy writes:

The usual suspects [i.e. Joey, the Mole, the Parents and Daniel] were all doing different things at different times this year.  Hugh and me : 100 km starting between 7 and 7:30.  Daniel : bénévélo - mécano, meet at 7.  Joey and Michael – the 50 km, starting at 8:30 or later.  So there was no rendez-vous on the Charlevoix Bridge, nor breakfast together.

Hugh and I had breakfast at Daniel’s.  Daniel figured he’d get his instructions and then find breakfast.  In fact, he ran into the friend who had got him into volunteering and was invited to his place for breakfast.  We biked together to the start.  Ours was a bit on St Laurent, to get ahead of the polloi lining up for the 50 km

Saturday had been very hot and muggy.  So it was a surprise that Sunday was so cool, 8° at times.  We started as soon as we got there, at 7:20.  Raining a bit, I wore my rain pants for warmth, even when the rain stopped.  Goretex jacket the whole way.  My hands were cold at the start, but soon warmed up.  I could have used a buff around my ears.  So many different neighbourhoods!  Some horrible pretentious huge expensive new houses.  Some pretty old ones.  A few lilacs.  North up Parc Avenue, wiggle in Park Extension, TMR, Ville St Laurent, Cartierville, Dollard des Ormeaux, Ste Geneviève, Pierrefonds, Roxboro, Senneville (sheep!  MacDonald College?), Ste Anne de Bellevue (nice old narrow main street, oh, that’s where John Abbott Cégep and MacDonald College are!), Baie d’Urfé, Beaconsfield (How nice, Lakeshore Blvd is one way west, with the other half reserved for bikes and pedestrians.), Pointe Claire (nice old narrow main street), Dorval – lunch (provided by Vélo Québec, which is new) at last!  We’d done 75 km by then, although it was only 11:30.  I was hungry, although I had nibbled a bit.  Chilly, but we put on more clothes and ate outside.  We’d been passed by a couple on a tandem, with ‘Jane and Dave, Seattle, WA’ on the back.  I saw them as I was going in to the bathroom and chatted.  They had come partly for a week of bike festival, had been in ‘Un tour la nuit’ and said it was great.  Next year!  They found the tandem great for staying together and communicating.  They didn’t seem to have the troubles some have!

All day I heard quite a bit of English.  Anglos or Americans up for the event?  Some of each, I guess.

Leaving lunch, I saw that we were just opposite the Yacht Club.  I guess I was focused on lunch on the way in.  Just before lunch, we passed the Forest and Stream Club, which I remember my father being a member of.  Now that I’ve looked it up, I don’t think hunting and fishing play any part of its focus today.  It looks like a social club only.

Lachine, La Salle and into the closed roads, lots of people, last section of the tour.  In fact it seemed less dense than usual.  Daniel thinks it thins out the further you go.  Verdun, Pointe St Charles.  We stopped at Joey’s since we were going right past on Wellington.  Only Lucy at home.  Right past Michael’s house.  I had contemplated turning back to Daniel’s after the old port, but in the end I went to the finish.  It wasn’t even 2 pm.  Hugh turned to Daniel’s at Notre Dame St.  We didn’t go right to the old port, but we did go past Notre Dame Basilica, which was nice.  Just before it, a woman to my left called out a ‘merci’ to a volunteer on the right hand side walk.  As I was thinking, how nice, she and a man crashed into each other and landed on the sidewalk in a heap.  I couldn’t tell if she veered left because she was distracted, or was the man too close anyway on her left.  Whatever, it looked painful.  But I didn’t stop and get in the way.

Going up Berri, I thought of saying to the young woman beside me, ‘We can do it’.  But then she said it to me.  A father on my other side was encouraging his son, who looked a bit plump.  When we got to the top, I said, ‘Bravo pour nous tous!’

I moseyed a bit at the finish, got a chocolate milk, would have been glad to have a banana something that looked good, but the line was too long.  Started to Daniel’s and at the corner of Parc and Pine saw Jennifer Roberts biking towards me!  She was on her way home from a weekend in Sherbrooke and Magog.  She had left her bike at Lionel Groulx where she got her Amigo lift out.  And was relieved to find it still there on Sunday afternoon.  We chatted quite a while, then I suggested she join us for supper at Joey’s.

Back to Daniel’s, shower and rest.  Supper at Joey’s:  mushroom lasagna and fennel and apple salad by me, caesar salad and bread by Joey, cheese by Jennifer, tiramisu bought by Michael.

Joey had started out, got to the canal, and decided that it was no fun, spitting rain, cold, and she was alone.  I feel badly abandoning her to do our 100 km circuit.  I’m sure she wasn’t properly dressed.  Michael had done it all, until it went past his house. He wasn’t properly dressed either and was cold.  Daniel had had a good day, multiple tires pumped up, handlebar adjusted, man on crutches helped across the street, chain greased.

Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, was featured in the media.  He had promised last year that he would participate this year.  He had trained, lost 45 pounds and did the 50 km tour with a bunch of his colleagues.  Good publicity for him, but also for a healthy life style and getting in shape, as well as making Montreal bike friendly.  The media says there were 25 000 participants.  I wonder how many on each version.  We were never crowded, just the right density.

I was less tired than last week.  All in all, a very good day, in spite of the weather.

My statistics:  111.97 km, average 17.5 km/hr

Défi de Lanaudière - Mauricie

For no reason(s) I can figure out, I acquired a pain around my tailbone which while it didn't prevent me from partaking in the Défi I was leery about pushing myself too hard. In addition, we were invited to a barbecue at James' afterwards. Consequently, I wasn't very ambitious.

The night before, the Parents and I watched a DVD of an episode of a francophone TV series about general stores in Québec. This one put the spotlight on LeBaron's store and featured interviews with Joey (the owner) and Mummy as well as other locals. In addition, there was a segment about North Hatley's popcorn cart which featured two little girls in Dreamland park getting popcorn, one of whom was Désirée!  In my opinion, the episode featured too much about the various antiques on display in the store and not enough about the incredible selection of stuff available in the store, the efforts Joey puts into getting said exotic stuff and more context including the fact that despite the name the LeBarons are an English family hence Joey's accent. In addition, the filmmakers were a little naughty in using some stock "olde tyme" footage that didn't relate to LeBaron's.

This is relevant, as just after lunch, I stopped at what was labelled a "general store" in the hopes of buying a banana or two. It turned out that it was in essence a recreation of an "olde tyme" general store and that I was out of luck regarding bananas.

A further on, I came upon the municipality of St-Cuthbert which was proudly declaring that it was turning 250.  I have recently been reading a series of novels set in Alfred the Great's day and therefore noted that Saint Cuthbert was an English saint and therefore a relatively odd choice for a place name in Quebec.  I did the math (2015-250=1765), remembered that the Treaty of Paris ceding New France to Britain was 1763, and concluded that choice of saint was likely due to the place being settled by demobilised British soldiers or in order to flatter the new British masters of New France. Mummy later told me that she had seen a sign that said the name was because the land was in a seigneurie assigned to a British officer/administrator. When asked by his French tenants for a land grant for a church, he agreed provided they dedicate the church to Saint Cuthbert as one of his names was "Cuthbert". I wasn't far off!

Mummy's take:

On Friday, Hugh and I had been going to do a loop near the north end of the Richelieu river, but the weather didn’t seem promising and my knee was very sore.  So we did odd jobs at home and left after an early lunch, and tootled around Granby, which I had regretted not having time for last September.  Interesting.  15 km.  And my knee not sore a bit!

Daniel made us a good supper of fusilli and Italian sausage and wine sauce.

We got up at 5:45, out of the house before 7, on our bikes in Berthierville by 8:10.  A gorgeous day, sunny, but not too hot.  We kept our jackets on for a short while.

Such an interesting and pretty trip!  Leaving Berthierville we were on a narrow street with old houses, all well kept.  That was the tone of the whole day.  Village after village with attractive houses, pretty church, no suburbia!  I figure it is beyond commuting distance from Montreal.  Prosperous old farm houses, some brick, with verandahs, well painted.  What a discovery!

Berthierville, Maskinongé, Louiseville, St Léon, Ste Ursule, St Justin, St Viatur, St Barthélemy, St Cuthbert.

Daniel did a bit extra, just 8 km more than us, and sent a text that he was at lunch, when we were 3 km away from it.  So we were able to eat lunch together.  The afternoon extras didn’t tempt him so he was relaxed about his afternoon, and stopped to buy us bananas.

There was a bit of wind against us when we were heading west.  I managed a few kilometres close behind Hugh, but it is always scary!  Either he or I can so easily make a false move.

St Cuthbert was our last village before the end.  I was curious about why it was called St Cuthbert.  The answer was on a plaque.  James Cuthbert, aide de camp to Wolfe, was seigneur there and gave the land for the church stipulating that it had to be named St Cuthbert.  At the end I asked Daniel if he knew why it was St Cuthbert.  He had been speculating that as the town was obviously celebrating its 250th anniversary (signs on every house), it must have been founded just after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and so the English had named it.  When I told Joey about my findings and Daniel’s near guess, she said it should have been the Défi of the Librarians.

Back at the car at 2:30, to find Daniel waiting for us.  He went for chocolate milk, while I went to pee and change.  Slow drive back.  Getting out of the car at Daniel’s Hugh and Daniel were obviously having trouble.  I gaily said that I was not feeling stiff, nimble Sue would hop out.  And when I did I had a painful cramp in one leg!.  Quick showers, barbecue at James’, home by 9 pm.

A great day!

My statistics;  97.38 km, avg 18.5 km/hr
Daniel: 103 km avg 23 km/hr