Posts tagged Mirabel
Posts tagged Mirabel
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.
I was up at 7am but packed away leisurely. As I packed, I realised something. It was calm. YES! It was CALM!! With a big grin on my face, I wheeled the bike out of the bushes. However, as soon as I got on the road, I realised the weather was being a huge cock-tease. I’m going to tell you, but you already know. The wind was in my face again. No matter how many times I told it to swivel, it was still there, all up in my business, pfffffffing towards me. I swung a few punches but oddly, that didn’t work either. I figured it was going to be a long day. I didn’t know the half of it.
More detours didn’t exactly help my cause and I wound up feeling very ropey for the opening few hours. I was tired from the efforts of the day before and constantly straining against resistance was only making matters worse. I wanted to get to Ottawa for the next day, but that was a mere pipe-dream after the horrendously slow 20km into Berthierville. It was the first time since restarting that I had gotten particularly close to losing my rag with the wind just boring the crap out of me. I decided that I would try for Joliette, and call it a day, resigning myself to having to take an extra day in completing the 200km that would be left.
Taking a break from all the fun I was having for a moment, let’s talk about the amount of places named Saint something in Quebec. It is like every village. Literally pick any name you want and plant “Saint” on the front of it and the Quebecoise have got it covered. By the way, when I say “any name”, I mean the most obscure, backwards name you can think of. OK let’s try. Danny thinking out loud: “Hmmmmm…maybe?…no, that’s much too ridiculous, I mean it’s got punctuation in it for God’s sake. OK, let’s try anyway…LOUIS-DU-HA! HA!”. Cov-ered. See below.
I had reached Joliette, but I was whipped. I would forgive myself for setting up for the night, and reading or writing some blog. Fortunately, at this time of year, time is on your side. Because the days are so long, I could afford to take an hour to read about Buddhism (true story) and calm down over a drink. I decided I was going to push hard for a short while, and see if I couldn’t get Ottawa within for the following day should I get lucky with the conditions. I was thinking that if I could get it down to somewhere around the 180 mark, I might have a chance if I fluked some wind assistance. It would be a shame to get a great day, and still be just too far away. My legs and back were not going to thank me for what I was about to do to them, so I smashed on my power playlist to shut them up.
A few deep breaths and away I went. I got my head down, hugged the line to get any available slipstream out of the trucks, and pushed. Problem was, I ended up pushing for longer than I had anticipated. A lot longer. The effort just went on and on and on until 60km had gone by. I had tried to keep as even a keel as possible, and had been largely successful in keeping my energy levels in check, but almost as soon as Saint Jerome arrived my blood sugar dropped off alarmingly quickly. I began to feel dizzy and my vigour nose-dived. I rectified the situation as well as I could by smothering prunes in peanut butter and just tossing them into my open mouth. I won’t lie, it was disgusting, but needs must.
But even after this quick fix, I had trouble finding somewhere to sleep. A couple of fruitless efforts to swing an invite onto somebody’s lawn went by until finally a campsite showed up 12km later. I was utterly caned.