The View from the Rear–Reflections

8 06 2012

We’ve been home from our tandem ride for a few days now; it’s time to reflect on this trip, before important details are forgotten.

Are we finished with long distance cycling?  Nope!  There’s something to be said about the independance, the challenge, the joy of pedalling, even the physical discomfort, that speaks to us.  In fact, we continue to dream about a cross country trip.

What would we do differently?  Rest days!  Not only to give our bodies a rest, but to give us a chance to explore some of the interesting places we just rolled through.  With our longer days of cycling we weren’t much interested in anything more than a bed, whether it was a rather boring campsite or a chain hotel and food, most often at a familiar chain.  The trip would have had more “flavour” if we had the time to find the out-of the-way inn or B & B, if we could have tried foods made by independent chefs, if we could have just been tourists for a day or two.

And what about the tandem?  I won’t be giving up my single bike any time soon. Sometimes space is good!  But for long distance touring the tandem worked well.  Communication was so much easier, packing was easier, the physical challenge was shared, neither of us got left behind or found ourselves way ahead.

Our tandem will be put up for sale and we’ll be looking to upgrade.  Important things to look for include a shock absorbing seat for the stoker (it can be very painful when you don’t see the bumps ahead of time and the captain doesn’t warn you!) and an extra brake for the rear (one set of brakes on a steep hill is not enough to stop the bike!),  higher quality components, especially to make shifting easier, possibly a lighter bike.  We’ll have fun in the next few months looking!

Ready to Ride


The View from the Rear–Hospitality on the Road

5 06 2012

One of the things that makes a trip special is the people you meet, both those you already know and those you meet for the first time.

We are grateful for the hospitality of G & M.  They opened their home to us, gave us a bed at the beginning and the end of our trip, fed us more breakfast than we could possibly eat, allowed us to park our truck for the 10 days we were gone and gave us an opportunity to talk about our “shared” children.

The home of G & M. A welcome sight!

In the middle of our trip we stayed with our friend C.  We first met C just over a year ago as part of our Camino group.  Since then, she and M have become an “item”.   We were happy to be able to spend some time with the and it gave us an excuse to cycle through Montreal.  Our timing was great, it was M’s birthday and we got to share a birthday dinner with them.

C & M

Birthday Dinner (M and his daughter G)


Thank you to all of you for making our trip more special.

There are also those we meet along the way, who touch our lives for only a moment.  The work crew volunteering their time to make the trail usable.  The two couples who suggested we stop at an art show and have hot dogs for lunch.  The many people who were amazed or horrified at what we consider a holiday, the staff at various places who were extra kind to weary cyclists.

We are grateful.



The View from the Rear–Triumphant!!!

4 06 2012

We’ve finished our ride.  1000 km in 10 days.

The day after our century ride was probably the toughest day for me.  In the fitness world, we talk about “rest days”, the day after a tough workout in which you, well, rest.  It gives your muscles a chance to recover, and is one of the things personal trainers teach their clients from day one.  Well, we broke that very basic rule–no rest day for us…not even an easy day.  The weather again looked rather “iffy” and we actually cycled part of the day in the rain, so again, we chose a hotel rather than a campsite.  This meant staying in Kingston, not quite as far as we had planned.

The last day was much like the day before, muscles were a little more co-operative, but again we spent part of the day cycling in the rain.  We really appreciated our tea and butter tart break in the middle of the morning.

Tea and Buttertarts. How civilized!

We stopped for our last break at a MacDonald’s in a Walmart in Belleville, only 15 km from our final destination.  We overcame the temptation to make a phone call (G, come get us!!) and arrived at our final destination around 4:30.

Tired, dirty, beyond saddle sore, but riding a wave of adrenaline…we did it!

The View from the Rear–A Century!

1 06 2012

I was thinking it, he said it!! Maybe we should try for a century!  We’ve never done one, not on our tandem, not on our touring bikes, not even on our road bikes.  Could we do it?

Yes we can and yes we did!

For our non-cycling friends, a century is a 100 mile, or 160 km ride.

We knew this morning the weather was going to turn less than ideal, not camping weather for us and our little tent.  When we started out, the pavement was smooth, the wind at our back; knowing we didn’t have to camp we decided to push on.

We are awesome!

The only downside…I made a mistake with the GPS and missed a few kilometres on our route.  This century turned into a requirement rather than an option.

The View from the Rear–Urban Riding

1 06 2012

Bike Path

Bridges, this one got us over a major road.

Detours for bicycles!

and Construction.

We spent two days travelling from Oka to Brossard to St Zotique.  It was the kind of biking which makes the trip interesting.  Bike trails and bridges don’t happen in our part of the world.  But then again, we don’t make very many detours for construction either!

Pictures to follow when a better internet  connection happens!

The View from the Rear–Ambushed!!

30 05 2012

Day 5 of this trip (Tuesday, May 29) will be remembered as the low point of this trip.  At least I hope it’s the low point, or I’m giving up and taking a train back to our start point.

It started out well, it stormed the night before but we dry and under cover in our hotel in Montebello.  The wind was a bit brisk and they were calling for thunderstorms, but we pedalled well and got to Oka in decent time.  We arrived at the grocery store about the same time as the rain, so we took our time choosing supper for the evening.  A quick internet search using K’s blackberry confirmed there were no other choices of places to stay so we headed to the park.

Oka National Park is only a national park in that Quebec thinks of themselves as a separate nation.  Think provincial park.  It’s a fine park.  Friendly staff.  Decent campsites. Clean bathrooms.  Same price as an Ontario provincial park. 

We arrive, register for a campsite, set up our tent and manage to cover the rest of our belongings with a waterproof cover before the storm hit.  We lie in our tent, reading and dozing, and congratulating ourselfves on getting set up before the rain.  But wait….what is that noise?  Sounds like a racoon but it’s still daylight, don’t they usually raid at night?  When I stuck my head out the door of the tent, there he was, bold as brass, in our food bag.  Our steak was gone, our bread was gone. 

We repackaged our remaining food and headed for the showers.  Another shock, these showers are coin operated.  Back to the campsite for quarters.  Do you think 4 minutes is long enough? (At a cost of $1)  Thought we’d share a shower but the handicapped washrrom was locked.

Being from southwestern Ontario, we assumed “c” on a shower control means cold.  Let’s turn the control to “h” and wait forever for the water to heat–never happened.  4 minutes of cold shower is long enough.  It didn’t occur to us until the next day, in Quebec, “c” is chaud or hot.

Returning to our campsite we find the coon and his friends in our food again.  This time they’ve eaten 1/2 of our energy bars, 1/2 of our sugar, all of our peanuts, some of our hot chocolate.  they’ve left us with a beat up package of noodles, our fresh vegetables, some energy bars, some nuts and thank goodness, they didn’t find the chocolate.

It also started to rain again, so we packed up our remaining food and headed for shelter under a canopy at the beach.  Our supper entertainment was watching the coons go in and out of garbage cans foraging for food. We put most of our stuff right beside the tent and spent the night kicking at them as they tried, unsuccessfully, to get to our remaining food.

The only thing getting me through, is the thought that tomorrow night will be better!

The View from the Rear–Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe

28 05 2012

Reluctantly, we left the hotel this morning.  On our way headed to Montebello.  Thought it would be an easy day, after all, our goal was only 76 km.  Headed through Hull and out of the city.  Why does Huron County not give us paved shoulders?  The road was busy, but with a 3 ft shoulder, even the transport trucks didn’t cause us too much anxiety.

76 km riding into the wind makes one tired.  As the stoker, sitting on the back seat, I’m somewhat sheltered from the wind.  I didn’t realize how hard we were working until we got up from our chairs after supper.  Legs aren’t moving very well tonight.

We had a choice to make when we got to town.  Campsite or motel.  The Fairmont Chateau Montebello is a little more money than we wanted to spend.  But there are several other choices.  There is rain in the forecast.  We went to the marina where camping was supposed to be available.  No one to be found, a depressing place, our choice was made, a hotel it is.  Not near as nice as last night, smells a little musty, but it will be dry.

What we do to a hotel room!