Day 69 – Saint-Antonin to Edmundston

Some technical problems over the last few days have meant no blog – the big storm below meant several places I needed to connect from had no wifi.

Last night (actually two night ago now – Ed) I received a weather warning, from my weather app and also very thoughtfully from Amanda back in Wisconsin (whom I met on Lake Superior). This large storm system has been travelling north east across the USA and Canada (causing flooding in Ontario) and was forecast to clip my route a bit later today:

  •  Today’s Distance (miles/km): / 104
  • Time in saddle: 6h 06
  • Max/min temp (°c): 34°/19°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 2473 / 2549
  • Calories used: 
  • Cafe time: 2h 21

So at 6.30am this morning (yesterday morning, oh you get it – Ed) I woke up Raymond in Edmunston and booked myself a motel room, just to be safe. I got one of the last rooms they had for tonight, so I guess a lot of holidaying Canadians are thinking the same way. Once that was sorted I relaxed. I’ve been finding this stretch of my journey hard to get a handle on, not knowing much about the route, so every time a piece slots into place I feel like I’ve made progress.

After 15km of the TransCanada Highway (TCH) I decided that the strong headwind and the hills were tiresome, making the trail worth trying as it had an access path at this point. Just before turning off I passed a nice lake where I watched four Belted Kingfishers (I just looked them up) dive down across the water, past what I think was a beaver den in the middle there, and then swoop back up their tree perch a few times. One was chasing the other, rather than hunting for fish, as far as I could tell (photo from Google Images, as if you need telling)

I had some local advice about the Temiscouta Trail in very rapid French yesterday from a guy outside the supermarket, and I was pretty sure he (a keen cyclist) was saying that I shouldn’t miss it. just possibly that I should. It turned out to be totally protected from the wind, very level (it’s an old train track) with a close-packedb gravel surface, and beautiful too. I know it’s added a few km  but with the ease of riding compared to the TCH I don’t mind taking the extra distance any day.

The entrance to the trail is made too narrow for a motorbike (just got my panniers through) and too low for a horse rider, and there are signs everywhere saying that it’s only for cyclists (and walkers of course). There are also occasional camping spots for one or two tents, complete with permanent fire pit, BBQ, picnic table and even a toilet. Crazy. I wonder if you have to book?

One thought about a comment I received from John Mills yesterday, responding to the picture of a file-shop sign:

“Recorded Gorecki string trio the other day. THAT needed filing…(in the bin).”

Apart from making me laugh a lot, which John invariably does anyway, it reminded me of a piece that the Guildhall Strings (the group I played in with Gill from Vancouver and several others who may still be following the blog – hello G Strings!) commissioned quite a few years ago.

It was for a live broadcast on Radio 3, and the composer (who’s name I’ve forgotten – not) was given express instructions that we DID NOT have a conductor. He proceeded to write the most complex and unplayable piece for us, despite all of our years of experience at solving ensemble problems. We were completely stuck, so two or three of us volunteered to conduct (with our bows, like Johann Strauss) at points where we weren’t actually playing. It didn’t really solve the problem, but at least we had a floating object to cling to. This was a BBC conducting debut for each of us, but little did the public realise. Anyway, the piece was supposed to be about modern “intelligent” weapons, that are launched by pressing a button, assured that they will lock on to their target, and was called “Fire and Forget”. Our leader, George Salter, memorably retitled the piece to reflect it’s likely appearances in our future concerts; one small letter change (I know, you’ve guessed), to “File and Forget”.

A certain horn player (I forget his name) was a little the worse for wear (or “tired and emotional” as Private Eye used to say) one afternoon on tour in Prague. The orchestra (I forget their name) had a free afternoon and he was making the most of it. Passing one of the old music shops, he wandered in, to find the conductor himself (I forget his name – Tha’s enough forgets – Ed)) standing at the counter surrounded by conductors’ batons. “What you doing, maestro?” asked the horn player.

“I am trying zese batons. It is not so simple, zere is ze question of weight, of balance, of feel…”

“Oh right” said our horn player, with a characteristic slight swaying and wobbling of the head. “C’mon then maestro, let’s hear one”

I think it might be best to draw a veil over the afternoon’s cycling, except to suggest that you try to imagine taking a heavily-laden bike out on the deck of a cross-channel ferry on a very windy day (when the ship’s doors will hardly open) , and then cycling into the wind for a few hours.

I should tell you that I left Quebec behind today, and arrived unannounced (no sign on the quieter roads) into New Brunswick, the seventh Province of our journey together though Canada. New Brunswick does a nice line in retro signage, a least around here:

I’m not mentioning the wind, so let’s just say I arrived safely, and gratefully, at my motel. I’ve always wanted to stay at the Ritz. (more retro signage):

…and the predicted downpour began shortly afterwards, giving us (everyone wanted a motel room this evening, and I’m guessing that the campgrounds were pretty quiet) the chance to enjoy the retro signage in its full glory:

Technically, although I took an extra day in Quebec City (which I spent not resting much at all), Sunday should be my rest day. The weather is very dicey at the moment so I may stay here for an extra day if the winds and rain don’t ease up tomorrow.

One sign for a place on the old rail route that I passed made me laugh today, as instructed:

8 thoughts on “Day 69 – Saint-Antonin to Edmundston

  1. That gravel trail looks delightful, makes me want to walk along it or even bike! Was the wind strong there as well? It looks so tranquil. Glad to hear that you managed to find a motel room to escape storm and are “putting on the Ritz like Gary Cooper (super-duper)” (Yes I am thinking about Young Frankenstein! ) Glad you are back online too, . I’m amazed at how consistent the wifi is on your trip, actually. Greetings from Bloomington! Ol xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Olly facetimed today and I was so shattered after a day of mowing, strimming etc, with my pathetic little strimmer in the bantams’ overgrown patch (now a field) that I left Chris to do all the talking and tried to get my back straight again. But, much more important than my exhaustion, we sat down to watch a recording of a prog on “The Secret of Scott’s Hut” later, only to find a programme being broadcast of Frank Skinner on George Formby! A whole world of ukulele playing, wonderful clips of Formby films, the story of his life, and extraordinary groups of mad uke fans all strumming away. Really heart warming. Immediately recorded for your future viewing. I wonder if any Beechwood students saw it.

    Keep safe from the storms. Do you half love them? I always have this fantasy off only just being safe from storms, arctic weather, a hut found just in time to get safe, light a fire, shut out the elements. Waiting to hear what happened next. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi dad! I think I’ve seen that uke film. Don’t they do a mass singalong?? Re storms – the North American variety I find are a touch scary and if there’s thunder involved I like to get to a Tim Hortons asap! My tent has proved superb in all circumstances so far. Bx


  3. I do hope the storm passes quickly, Ben and you are soon cycling again with the wind behind you! Your blogs remain so incredibly enjoyable and so informative…I really miss them if there is a gap! I loved your uke song but it really has gone round and round in my head too much now. I never cease to be amazed at the progress you are making – does it feel like the end is in sight at all yet? I don’t think I mentioned, but we had a charity day at Beechwood in the last week of term and the money raised will be split between the 4 House charities; so there will be just a little more money coming your way soon hopefully. Still thinking of you always and wishing you all the very best! 🚴🎶xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. seems we’re all getting just a little bogged down….
    Susie’s flight was cancelled last night……
    after 3 hours waiting in the ‘plane……..
    she’s snoozing in this morning……….
    and we’re reaching a nexus…………
    of things coming on…………..
    throttling down……………
    our travel………………
    But soon we will all be merrily on our way!!!!! Thanks to the Chief Arranger of the Winds, Clouds, Tempests, Skies of Blue and You.

    Liked by 1 person

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