Monthly Archives: July 2008

Day 5 – Montreal

My first rest day.

Yes, I only spent a few minutes on the bike today, instead opting to make my way around Montreal by foot. After getting some paperwork done at the local copy-house (I had to send a fax back to Toronto to finalize my purchase of a locker at my condominium), I headed downtown. Approaching McGill University, I called my friend Rich who is a professor there, and lucky enough his schedule was free so I was able to make a visit. Spent a nice afternoon with Rich talking Raptors, hockey, work and all things in between at the graduate house, and finished off with a tour of the impressive labs he works at in Chemical Engineering.

After a short jaunt through Old Montreal, I headed to the north end of the city to watch some tennis at Jarry Park. The first match between Maria Sharapova and Marta Domechowska lasted around 3 hours and though there were some impressive points, it certainly dragged on. Sharapova finally prevailed at around 10:30pm. The latter match featured Jelena Jankovic, and the Canadian, Alexandra Wozniak. Though many had already left, the remaining fans rallied behind Wozniak to help her keep in a tough second set after getting whooped 6-0 in the first.

T’es capable Alex!!

Nous voulons coucher tard!

Oui – nous-autres sommes capables aussi!!!

And then the wave (la vague), impressively led by the guy with the big voice in the front row of our section. Alex couldn`t quite muster enough and lost 6-4 in the second, but it was worth sticking around for. 

Travel stats

Distance: 10 km
Average speed: 20.9 km/h
Time on the road: 1 hrs. (9:30AM to 10:30AM)

Interesting daily tidbit

Well, since I didn`t actually ride today, I don`t have any pertinent riding tidbits to share. As such, I`ll go back a little and tell the story of my stolen bike. Back in June, with my regular ride-around-town city bike needing some fix-its, I rode into work on my good TREK 1000 touring bike. I used the good (and expensive) lock and cable, and felt it would be OK as I wouldn`t be leaving too late in the evening. I headed to my bike that evening, and my heart sank when it was no longer there. I ran up and down Elizabeth Street thinking maybe, just maybe, I had parked somewhere a little further up. No such luck. It was gone. I went ahead and bought a new bike, and planned this trip with the new one ready to go. 

I really had no thought of ever recovering my bike, even after I saw the initial report of the big bike theft bust in Toronto. Encouraged to do so by my mom and a friend of mine, I did go down to one of the first showings of the recovered bicycles, thinking I`ll at least take a look … just to see. As I walked through the bikes, really just going through the motions, I stopped in my tracks – completely stupefied – when I came across my TREK 1000. There was no doubt it was mine, it still had the spedometer sensor on the fork, and the little green compass bell on the handlebars. After doing a little paperwork, I was approached by the omnipresent CityTV reporter (they are everywhere). Though I fumbled through my words and there was no hair and makeup girl to get me ready for my close-up, the appearance did make me a minor celebrity around TO as I was recognized at work, at my building, and at the bike shop. If you would like to see it, it`s right here. Though I`m riding my new bike on the trip (Giant FCR2), it was definitely nice to get my TREK1000 Lance Armstrong Discovery Edition back. :)

Tune of the day

Plastic Leopard – John Dorsey
As I started my day visiting my grandparents at Mount Royal Cemetery, the chosen tune on the way there was this song by my uncle John, an homage to my grandfather`s ability to see the good in things. Great song John – I`m proud to have it in my collection.

 

Day 4 – Long Sault to Montreal

Ontario – I hardly knew ya!

OK, I have in fact lived in Ontario since I was 8 months old, but I think you get the sentiment. Yes after 4 days, I`ve now crossed into la Belle Province. It was a perfect day for cycling with a mix of clear and cloudy skies, and one brief light shower that only slowed me down by forcing me to put the rain covers on the packs (which really wasn`t necessary in the end). Cycling on La Route Verte in Quebec is fantastic! Genuine cycling paths start a few kilometers from the the border and the roads that I did have to cycle on are generally very bike-friendly with tons of amazing bike lanes (some of which are partitioned off from the main roads with their own concrete curbs). Having said that, the route in Ontario from Cornwall onwards was quite nice as well.

I reached the island of Montreal and thought I was pretty much home free. As it turns out, the island is still pretty big, and downtown would be another 45-50km before I was all done for the day. As I slowly pedaled the last section through the neighbourhoods on the west side of the island, I was amazed by not only the number of cyclists in Montreal, but also how serious they are about cycling. A number of them were decked out in fancy team jerseys, and you really had to wonder – `Has the Tour de France added an extra leg in Nouvelle France?`

One of the cyclists in the West end came along side me and asked me about my trip. Noting that I must be tired after my four days of travel, he offered to have me draft behind him for the rest of the way downtown. How could I refuse? So, we were off. With Didier acting as Team US Postal, and me as Lance Armstrong we blazed into Montreal averaging speeds close to 28-30 km/h most of the way. (OK, the Armstrong reference is a bit of a stretch, but give me something – I have cycled over 600km so far). :)

So, a great thanks to Didier who brought me within a few blocks from my gracious hosts, Robin and Francois. Robin made a fantastic stir fry for dinner, and I`m now chilling out comfortably in Montreal.

Travel stats

Distance: 160 km
Average speed: 20.9 km/h
Time on the road: 11 hrs. (8:30AM to 7:30PM)

Interesting daily tidbit

Cycling in Montreal …

Didier mentioned some interesting bicycling stats about Montreal. Here was the basic rundown (as I remember them, so I may have gotten it wrong as I haven`t been able to find the related articles):

In the USA, 1% of people commute to work.
In Canada, 5% of people commute to work.
In Quebec (province), 10% of people commute to work.
In Montreal, 15% of people commute to work.

Hmmm … I think that qualifies as both interesting and impressive!

Tune of the day

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
The CRTC contacted me and noted that both Queen and Big Country are bands from the UK, and as such, I should be upping my Canadian content. Not to worry, I assured them, I have a huge Canadian collection and there are many Canadian hits to come. Tom`s big hit is a no-brainer as a road song of course, and today, with all the great cycling paths, life was truly a cyclist`s highway.

Day 3 – Gananoque to Long Sault

Did I say this was not a camping trip?

Well, it is now. It was looking like a perfect day to camp right up until the end … then it started to rain … again. However, as it looked like things would clear up, I decided to camp anyway. It has rained a little bit off and on the last couple of hours, making things a little messy setting things up. Nonetheless, I have soldiered on and I am now setup for the night. Prior to the rain, it was a great day of riding. Not as far as yesterday, but far enough to make Montreal tomorrow an almost foregone conclusion.

As it didn’t look like I’d get to Upper Canada Village before closing, I decided to drop by Fort Wellington in Prescott for a little historical site seeing. I quite enjoyed Fort Wellington. It had good exhibits and had the requisite video which was character-narrated by the local historical figure and was replete with charmingly poor acting.

Travel stats

Distance: 139.5 km
Average speed: 21.3 km/h
Time on the road: 11.5 hrs. (8:45AM to 8:15PM)

Interesting daily tidbit

Just a quick note on food…

My diet so far has consisted mainly of Nutri-grain bars, sandwiches, gatorade and apples. Today, I had a treat for lunch – a hot dog and a blue slushie at a fun little kids arcade and mini-putt outside of Brockville. I sat there looking at my meal while thinking “My bike and I laugh at your excess calories and fat … you will be nothing more than a tasty memory in 2 or 3 hours.” Yes, guilt-free eating is great. Having said that, I have tried to be good too. I bought a cucumber and a whole bunch of fresh shelled peas in Prince Edward County and have been munching on those throughout the trip. The lunch crew at work will be so pleased. Just so you know, they’re really big on fresh produce. Actually, I will bet dollars to doughnuts they talked about vegetables today at lunch … Well, did you? :)

Tune of the day

In a Big Country – Big Country
Is an explanation needed? Canada is a ________. Also, Big Country was probably my first favourite band when I was around ten years old. They had great videos that always featured trains … and I’ve seen a lot of trains already this trip. It just so happens that one has just come through this area this very moment and I can hear its whistle fade away in the distance as I write this.

Bonus biking entry

Today, we have a bonus entry brought to you by my Uncle David, the family wordsmith. (In truth, my family is full of wordsmiths, but as he has ably smithed the following words into a delightful ride-related limerick, I will bestow the honour upon him).

Scorning comforts of train, bus or car,
Every day you will ride hard and far.
You may face rain and fog,
But thanks to your blog
Your mother will know where you are.

— David Mayerovitch

Day 2 – Cobourg to Gananoque (re-sent)

(ed. note – apparently french accents – of the aigu and greve variety – mess up the email posts, so we’re trying this one again)

BIG DAY!!!

So with a tough day with the weather yesterday, I was determined to make the most of what was really an almost perfect day. With the sun shining and a nice tailwind a good part of the way I made it 204 km. Traveling along open roads (the fantastic Loyalist Parkway for most of it), I kept up a great pace right to my final destination. As I neared the campground I planned to stay at, I saw a sign … Rooms 49$. As there had been a light sporadic rain for the last hour, it didn’t take me long to decide (especially since it would have saved me only 12 bucks to stay at the campsite). So, I have yet to camp out, but to paraphrase our ski club motto: This is a biking trip not a camping trip! The camping wil come later, but for now I will enjoy the AC and the cable!

Travel stats

Distance: 204 km
Average speed: 22.5 km/h
Time on the road: 12 hrs. (8:45AM to 8:45PM)
Windshield splats (bonus stat): 1

OK, what’s with the windshield thing? Well, when you are cycling, your shades not only protect you from the sun, but also from bugs that head the wrong way on our roads (maybe they’re British or something). I’d been hit by a number of them in the arms and forehead, but today I had my first bonafied splat on the cyclist’s windshield.

Interesting daily tidbit

Though it has now become almost cliche, it does almost seem like a requirement now to take some sort of stuffed toy or figure on your trip and take pictures of it. So, riding shotgun with me is Mickey Mouse (in the wizard costume from Fantasia). I’ve taken a few photos of him so far, including one with the hostess from the restaurant I ate dinner at in Kingston. The custom is definitely widespread and accepted … she was completely unfazed by my request.

Tune of the day

Takin’ care of business – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
I had hoped to ride 190 km today … I finished with 204 km. Mr. Bachman, consider the business taken care of.

Day 2 – Cobourg to Gananoque

BIG DAY!!!

So with a tough day with the weather yesterday, I was determined to make the most of what was really an almost perfect day. With the sun shining and a nice tailwind a good part of the way I made it 204 km. Traveling along open roads (the fantastic Loyalist Parkway for most of it), I kept up a great pace right to my final destination. As I neared the campground I planned to stay at, I saw a sign … Rooms 49$. As there had been a light sporadic rain for the last hour, it didn’t take me long to decide (especially since it would have saved me only 12 bucks to stay at the campsite). So, I have yet to camp out, but to paraphrase our ski club motto: This is a biking trip not a camping trip! The camping wil come later, but for now I will enjoy the AC and the cable!

Travel stats

Distance: 204 km
Average speed: 22.5 km/h
Time on the road: 12 hrs. (8:45AM to 8:45PM)
Windshield splats (bonus stat): 1

OK, what’s with the windshield thing? Well, when you are cycling, your shades not only protect you from the sun, but also from bugs that head the wrong way on our roads (maybe they’re British or something). I’d been hit by a number of them in the arms and forehead, but today I had my first bonafied splat on the cyclist’s windshield.

Interesting daily tidbit

Though it has now become almost clich

Day 1 – Toronto to Cobourg

(apparently, it is really easy to accidentally press the send button)

WHAT A DAY!!!

Obviously the weather could have been better, but today proved to be a good test of my mettle, and my gear. In the end, both proved worthy as I traveled a good distance despite a late start, and the protective rain covers kept my stuff pretty close to bone dry.

Travel stats

I will be keeping a lot of stats along the way, but I won’t be reporting them all on a daily basis. I will always be reporting these ones though:

Distance: 143 km
Average speed: 18.9 km/h
Time on the road: 9.5 hrs. (10AM to 7:30PM)

So, not really that fast, but given my week had been very busy, and I was pretty wiped even before starting this trip, I would say it’s not too bad at all. I even went out to the Beaches Streetfest last night before I had finished packing so I was really late getting to bed (BTW, if you haven’t gone already, you should definitely do so … find the Mae Cromwell band … you may still have a chance … GO NOW!). Also, if you’re still thinking the average speed is slow, take into account that the spedometer registers speed anytime the bike is moving (even when I’m dragging it up a steep muddy trail).

Interesting daily tidbit

At one point today, I found myself stuck at a railway crossing. After waiting 5-10 minutes, a train slowly came down the rails. After it passed by, the lights continued to flash for another 10 minutes. I was tempted to just cross over the rails anyway; there was definitely no other train coming. But … Pinball Clemons told me not to. [insert your confused look here] If you haven’t seen them, the CFL has made a series of public service ads about railway crossing safety – one starring Clemons. So, when it comes down to it, how can I not listen to Pinball? Can’t be done. You know – sometimes advertising works.

Tune of the day

Every day, a song will be honoured as the first iPod tune of the day. Many have been pre-selected and are just waiting for an appropriate day. Others will be picked spontaneously. Today’s pick was selected a long time ago:

Bicycle Race – Queen
“Bicycle! BICYCLE! I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it now!” … ’nuff said