I ventured out into the certain headwind. I knew it was coming but it still stung when the prediction was actualised. It took some time to get over the disappointment, but once I settled I cycled well, and clawed back the villages one by one.
There appeared to be a discrepancy of nearly 30km between map and road signs, and since the map offered the shorter route, I decided that it was the map that was correct. In any event, I was making solid ground and was excited to be feeling good. I had been fighting the impulse all morning, but in an act of demagoguery, I finally caved and allowed myself to entertain the idea of an arrival in Ottawa that day. Almost instantly, and without conscious effort, I kicked things up a gear.
Early afternoon, and the intense, golden sun began to weigh down on my arms and neck. I had heard stories of temperatures upwards of 40 being recorded in Ontario, and it was evident that the heat was coming. I was chugging water unbelievably often in an attempt to replenish the huge amount of fluid draining out of every pore. Is it was possible to hook cyclists up to a rolling IV?
One small source of frustration was the town boundaries. I found that town limits began miles away from the towns themselves. Even villages “started” a good 5 or 6 kilometres away from anything you could reasonably call civilization. It wasn’t a real problem, but I couldn’t trust the signs to be indicative of any significant progress towards a place. The “Gatineau” sign was fully 20km away from downtown Gatineau; a fact I was displeased about.
As I made my way through what I came to call “Outer Gatineau”, it became obvious that the heat was having a detrimental effect on more than just me. Crops were suffering and large, open grassy areas had adopted a sickly, sandy look. A large forest permanently occupied my peripherals to the right, and I tracked planes flying in a circular fashion above me, relaying water from the Ottawa river to some distant cluster of trees. I speculated that there might be a fire somewhere.
Eventually, the Ottawa skyline rose from the horizon, backed by the dusty evening sunshine. It was only a matter of time until the bridge from Quebec to Ontario presented itself, and once it did, I was filled with satisfaction. I had arrived at a bridge over which I had run over 2 years previously on a separate visit to Ottawa, and I took great satisfaction in adding the place to my growing list of connected dots.
As I waited to meet Renee (a friend I had lived with in Denmark) outside the Canadian National Gallery, I got chatting to a group of people from DR Congo. Ottawa instantly seemed like a very multicultural place.
Within a few minutes, I had met Renee. It was amazing; I hadn’t seen her in so long, and it was a great moment. We had a picnic in the park, before going back to her place and catching up over some of Youtube’s best.