Day 64 – Montreal to Louiseville – It was very sad to be leaving after having such a wonderful time with Annie and her family hosting me in Montreal. A chance encounter cycling along the St Lawrence River led to one of the most memorable weekends so far.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): /110
- Time in saddle: 6h 03
- Max/min temp (°c): 36°/21°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 409 / 432
- Calories used:
- Cafe time: 2h 50
The map’s back! Actually it’s a parting present from the glove compartment of Annie’s car, so thanks again. I had breakfast with Colin too this morning, as he didn’t have another dawn start on the set of X-Men today. They’ve been blowing things up and crashing vehicles together whilst I’ve been chilling in sunny Montreal and sipping glasses of rosé. His company (they’re in digital imaging) are expanding and flourishing so they’re moving today to their new premises. The only family member missing was little Mai Lan, fast asleep after getting very excited when Colin came home last night. ‘Daddified’ is the technical term. She is an absolute delight, and we spent ages playing a game on the garden steps in the afternoon, that I think might be called “where’s the airplane?”, and involved asking each other over and over where all the planes had gone, then saying “Voila, un avion!” when one flew by. When we got bored of this game (or rather when Mai Lan got bored. I could have kept – Plane! – playing all night) she decided that it was time for some dancing with grandma with the uke. It turns out she was born to samba.
The uke made an appearance too and after being a bit shy of it at first, Mai-Lan got some pretty full-on strumming going. We all sat out in the garden as the sun set, eating, chatting and laughing and playing a bit of uke, natch.
Today we got a goodbye photo at the house, courtesy of Colin:
..but then Annie rode out for around 15km with me to help me get the best route out of the city, and I’m now following the Route Verte (a côté de notre vieil ami, le Fleuve Saint-Laurent) which promises to be another gem for cycling on. After passing the Montreal Olympic tower from 1976, which is having some extremely expensive roof repairs…
…until the computer said 15km and we said goodbye, as they’re all helping move Colin’s office today. She promised to get in touch if they make a trip to England. Merci beaucoup encore une fois, Annie!
I have a feeling that this part of my journey is going to involve a lot of stopping. There is so much to see, and when you stop for a bite to eat or drink there’s often a different range of stuff available compared with the last, er, 3,000+ miles! The coffee is generally stronger too, which suits me just fine.
I’ve become conditioned by my experience since late May to make the most of every opportunity to eat and drink that comes my way, as there may be a long and hungry few hours of cycling ahead if I pass it up. The problem is now that every few kilometres or so along this stretch of the river there’s a local restaurant offering poutine, or Vietnamese cuisine (two this morning alone), or even some really high-end dining, plus all the nice-looking coffee joints, and I need to learn to Just Say No. Warning – childhood memory coming up…..when I were a lad…..I distinctly remember vowing that when I grew up I would stop at every motorway services, not go sailing by like all the grown ups always did. I was genuinely confused why they would do this, when all the good stuff (food, drink, playground, grass for football, shops with toys) was right there, and the car was so boring. Not me, I thought, I’m going to play by different rules when I’m grown up. On this trip, I’m truly living out my childhood dream. THIS BIKE TRIP STOPS AT ALL SERVICES.
A huge thank-you to my dad today, for suggesting that I have a YouTube-type look at Tim Kliphuis (they went to hear him live in Cambridge the other day). I don’t think that there’s a sunny afternoon or evening out in the garden anywhere in the world that couldn’t find a little bit of room for this, perhaps with a glass of something cold:
“The Nearness of You” has a bitter sweetness for me right now, knowing that Susie is further away each day (even though we’re still on the same time zone) and will be heading home ahead of me to England next week.
Just in case we’re all getting a little too dozy, or even a soupçon melancholique, how about THIS!:
Any Beechwood students of mine out there, have a good listen and a think about this….it’s a great big musical world out there, and anything is possible….
I decided to put my foot down after lunch and remind my legs that they’re here to cycle, not stretch out in front of me. The kilometres flew by and I ended up here, in the lovely Louiseville Marina campground, camping beside a pretty stretch of river, where I met Jean Chambers, a retired aviation expert who has spent years living up in Churchill and beyond on Hudson Bay, coping with some of the harshest flying conditions anywhere in the world. We sat on a swing seat and drank a beer together, talking about life at the edge, where small mistakes have very serious consequences and preparation is everything. He is now living in Montreal, devoting his time to photography and riding his motor scooter. He’s heading for a very rare business in this neck of the woods; a charcoal maker. He believes that there’s only this one place in the whole region. I’m not quite sure what he needs this charcoal for, except maybe the BBQ, but will ask him if we bump in to each other again.
Update – ridiculous coincidence once again. The Calgary Two, aka Kaitlin and Naheer, just came over to say hello! They arrived here after me sometime this afternoon then bumped in to Jean who told them we’d met. We had a lovely time catching up on progress (Naheer has flown to Calgary for a wedding since I last saw him) and also problems (Kaitlin has had some broken bike parts). Such a great surprise, and we’ve booked coffee together in the morning. Now I must cook, or I’ll be in calorie-deficit and it will be dark. See you all tomorrow.