He was sitting at the bench by Metro. I wanted to feel that energy, that feeling of being an animal. Of being free like him. Of pushing myself, feeling hungry and eager to smell the night.
I am inspired by the unknown; of how to attain the seemingly impossible. I watched in awe the Hardrock 100 race which motivated me when my energy was low this week.
Camaraderie, commitment. Anxiety, nerves, excitement.
Comfort is not the only key to Happiness.
Train hard, ride fast, have fun.
He was a hoodie-wearing, unbreakable ex-con. He fights to clear his name and save his neighborhood. He wasn’t looking for a fight, but the people need a hero.
I thought to myself – enough of this rhetoric, let’s go for a ride. Words, too many words.
It’s 4pm Friday afternoon and I am ready to go, but really would be much more fun to binge watch that new Marvel series on Netflix. Although I think perhaps I might be able to stream it in the middle of the woods tonight.
I’m all packed up – practice really is the mother of success for me in organizing my pre-race space. Nice list(s) handy and I’m ready to rumble. Green tea and honey frozen for leg 1 drinks, Skratch in the pack, couple of PBJ sandwiches (there’s a porn reference there somewhere) and a bunch of bars.
Am planning to ride as far as possible on these food items, and then buy something on the road later. I’m itching to go but first need a last minute dump of nerves. All been there. Not sure why I am. Oh yes, that pot of coffee on my desk.
Swiss precision departure at 4:30pm back who knows when. Wanted to take the route to Kingston but no way I’m paying $108 for a 2.5hr Via train ride home.
See you soon. What’s that? OK, I’ll try and take pictures for you. It is actually beautiful outside now.
It’s the usual GPS nonsense after 10 minutes – my Oregon 600 has reverted to some primitive mode more suited to playground distances. I stop, I fiddle, I go, it stops. Repeat. Repeat. I turn it off. Like CP-30.
The route from my place north covers a couple of stretches of commuter roads, then after that it’s onto the bike paths. So now I feel safe. Not so much crazy with the road hassle that seems to be common on a Friday afternoon.
The bike feels good, but heavy. I’ve slimmed my pack down as much as possible, and think this is pretty close to it being as good as it gets. I have my Alpkit waterproof sack rolled at the front – sleeping bag, winter jacket, toque, gloves, and leggings for the clothes. Have some shammy cream and bug spray.
I head pretty much straight up the Route Verte, and it’s an easy ride through Laval and Blaineville to St Therese and St Jerome. The route is mostly flat, although that belies a steady ascent into the Laurentiens.
On Quebec bike paths you see very elderly couple’s hot rodding it on their mobility devices, I swear looking spry. You also see roller skating moms with pushchairs. You also see guys in Golf carts drinking beer – oh wait that was on the Albert & Plantagenet trail the other day.
Once I’m north of Ste-Therese, I start to see some recreational cyclists out for their evening spin. Without words or plans, I fall in with a total stranger (although are bikers really total strangers to each other?) and we start pulling each other. He’s working hard, I can hear his breathing is heavy and we crush one sector after another. As I fade he takes over and vice versa.
I put the hurt on towards Ste-Jerome, more curious than anything to see what will happen. We pick it up to the high 30’s, low 40’s and the distance falls away. He turns back near town, and I continue to find some food, blowing straight through the station area and choosing a little gas station feast of cheese, grapes and orange juice. I’m not really hungry but figure it’s better to keep tanked up a bit at least.
A few pics and some texts and social media check-ins later I’m on my way.
It’s a wild life trail tonight – deer galore, bunnies, birdies, silly chipmunks playing chicken then running off yelping in front of my oncoming panzer tires.
The path turns to gravel, and it’s pretty well packed, so I go fast. But night is calling and after 40 km, I’m pulling over and stocking up just before 9pm at a gourmet depanneur which has all kinds of delicious food. Mostly frozen. The guy is sort of standoffish with me, but I’m not sure why. Maybe I smell bad. I buy a sandwich that gives me heartburn.
I stash a bottle of water on the trail side, congratulating myself on this space and weight saving cunning and continue north. I don’t get far, another 15 km or so before succumbing to a deep but content tired. I pull over, inspect my camping ground, pick my spot, clean my teeth, and get my PJ’s ready (winter coat, toque and everything else warm in my pack.) A nice mattress of decking awaits my tired legs and I wriggle into my cheap, ordered from China sleeping bag and fall asleep.
I awake a couple of times to the local noise or a car nearby or the sound of someone talking in the distance but I am feeling safe. I’m not feeling warm. I see my breath. I check my bag – it’s slimy with dew. I check my phone – its 2h30 in the morning. Fuck, it’s really cold. What the hell, it’s the longest day of the year!!! Summer solstice in fact.
I don’t have a good choice – not much food, not much energy, crappy sleep and 60 km to go to Tremblent. This goose is cooked. I opt for the path of reason and head back towards Montreal, a little bummed out but certain that losing elevation will result in warmer temperatures. It’s a mental crack. I make notes for future reference.
I cruise through the night – it feels like I’m going fast, but in reality only about 20km/hr and it takes me a long time to reach daylight. I retrieve my stashed water, eat a bar and pull up near Ste-Jerome to marvel at a beautiful sunrise.
I keep checking for open gas stations just off the route but all turn out to be closed. Finally I get lucky and find a 24 hour place. Hot chocolate spiked with espresso hits the spot. Love this Van Houte machines. The guy way undercharges me for my pain au chocolats and when I point this out he says ok, recalculates and comes up with a number even lower. Well, ok, I tried! It’s a nice breakfast moment and I’m reluctant to continue.
Somewhere south of Ste Jerome I finally run out of steam completely. I pull up about 6:45am and throw down on the side of the trail on a picnic table. It’s comfy enough with only a couple of planks jamming in my back and with the field birds singing all around me fall into a very deep sleep.
I awake all drooly and continue on, stopping at Tim’s for a quick breakfast (hold the bacon) and continue back to Montreal. I am completely whupped – the last week of intense riding and racing has caught up and I am beat tired.
A slow roll home turns into a final comedic race up Victoria at about 9km/hr as I try and out-muscle a very unfit cyclist. Between my fatigue and his lack of fitness it’s a tight race, but I prevail. Another notch in my belt of absurdity.
It’s good to make it home. Pizza and beer for breakfast. I learned about night riding tonight and next time it will be better.
I still dream of 600km in a day – watch this space.