Distance ~ 76 km. Winds ~ gentle tailwind
Temperature ~ 15c – 22c sun/ cloud/drizzle/heavy rain
Friday, July 4, 2014
As we were getting packed up this morning and getting ready for our ride, I peered into my little bag of maps and noticed there are only a couple left. Our big Canada map, in case we needed the overall view, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces. I’ve slowly ripped off each part of the provincial maps we’ve used with all our day’s destinations and distances on them, then thrown out the part of the maps we didn’t use. Weight! Too much weight!
We headed over to Yantha Cycle for 10 a.m. to have Adam change Doug’s cable casing. He worked on Doug’s bike yesterday at the end of the day for 1/2 hour before closing and was willing to stay late to finish the job so he wouldn’t hold up our trip, but we told him we were fine to return in the morning. This morning while he had Doug’s bike apart he changed the rear hanger, because it had a bit of a bend in it and he adjusted the B screw that tensions the derailleur at the back. After he re-taped the handle bar, he gave it a quick once over. He worked on it for an hour and chatted to us the entire time while he was stripping the cable, threading the casing, checking the shifts, tightening and loosening screws and adjustments, and explaining what he was doing and why. He told Doug some trouble shooting tips as well. He charged us for a spare brake and gear cable, and the one he replaced and sent us on our way. He’s a pretty funny guy and if you ever get a chance to stop at his shop, you won’t be disappointed!
Adam suggested we ride the P.P.J. Trail in Quebec that parallels the 148. It is an acronym for the old Pontiac Pacific Junction railroad that operated in the region between 1885 and 1977. He said it is hard packed gravel, is an old rail bed, follows the river and is as flat as can be. When we crossed the bridge over the Ottawa River, it began to rain. The trail was just inside the provincial boundary. We rode on it for 45 km. It was through a forested area, farmland, and wild flower fields. It was such a pleasant change running through the country side, rather than being on the road. And, it was so flat, what a change!
It had rained lightly on and off throughout the afternoon. Eventually a big, dark cloud engulfed the area and down came the rain, heavily. We stopped to take cover under a little sheltered area near a camp ground to get a snack before moving on. A skinny, older man wearing a faded blue plaid shirt tucked into his pants that were cinched tightly around his waist, strolled out and stood under the gazebo. His hair was grey and long enough to stick out from under his well-worn Tilley hat. He peered over his square rimmed glasses as he pulled out his packet of rolling papers and rolled himself a cigarette. “It’s not suppose to be raining, it’s suppose to be 30% chance of rain.” Not long after, he told us the towns are all spaced out along the trail at 18 km each. “How come?” we asked. “Because that’s how far a horse can walk in a day,” he replied. “Really?” we asked surprised. He chuckled and said, “Well that’s what someone told me a long time ago and I think it could be true!” We had a good chuckle before we left.
Not long after we decided to finish our ride on the road. The pathway was soft from the rain and it was eating up all our forward energy, sinking us into the ground 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Our aim was 100 km today, but we enjoyed the path too long and fought it some when it was soft. We settled on 76 km at the end of our day ~ it felt like a 100 km effort. We stopped on top of a hillside in Litchfield, that overlooks the surrounding mountains in the distance. There is a free camping area set up here, complete with washrooms, water and sheltered picnic tables. Doug hung up a line for us to dry out some of our gear and we enjoyed the sunset. What a mixed bag of weather today!
“Really, are you serious? I’ll need a map of Canada first, to think about it.” I hesitated for a short time, then . . . . our planning began.
Reading and researching bike blogs and checking out the Biking Across Canada web site, which is full of invaluable information, was a nightly activity through March. I requested maps of all the provinces we’d be riding through from Alberta to Newfoundland (~ thanks, Amanda and Janet!) We began making lists and lists of camping equipment and clothing needed. We made appointments to update our wills, have our yearly dentist and doctor check ups, have blood work done and listed the numerous jobs to done at home ~ to close up the house until we return. Where ever we went we talked about the trek and added more to the lists. Then we figured out what we had and what we needed to purchase ~ that meant making more lists.
The month of April was spent slowly checking off our lists . . . .what needed to be done, what needed to be purchased or what needed to be packed. May 1st, John drove us to the airport and we boarded the plane with the one way tickets, our bikes packed in boxes and our trailers dismantled and packed with our biking and camping gear. Ready for the “BIG RIDE!” But first, two weeks of visiting with our boys and Marie!