Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 02 - L'Orignal (ON) to Laval (QC)

95.2 km - Total so far 198.20 



After a blissful night and a full breakfast we said good bye to Marcel, Sylvette, André and William and hit the road under a slight drizzle. Joining us for the ride today was our nemesis, the headwind. Not as bothersome as yesterday, but it certainly made it`s presence felt. By 9:00 am, we would be continuing our ride into Québec.

Bike path near Carillon, deep in the middle of mosquito country.
We stopped for lunch in St Andrews East and confirmed that Highway 344 was open. As we pedaled Highway 344, we saw how close the water was to the road. We assumed that cycling the bike path in the Oka/Pointe Calumet might be a problem and decided to go with the Plan B route. Past Saint-Placide on Hwy 344, we headed North and up Rang Saint-Étienne. This would take us to Saint-Eustache via the `Highlands`.

The church of Saint-Benoit and not a sand bag or pile of wet drywall to be seen.
Given that today is `La Journée Nationale des Patriotes` we decided to make a stop at l`Église de Saint-Eustache, site of a battle. The Battle of Saint-Eustache, fought on December 14, 1837, was a decisive battle in the Lower Canada Rebellion in which British forces defeated the principal remaining Patriotes camp at Saint-Eustache. Seventy Patriotes died and twelve of which are buried next to the church. 

Saint-Eustache Church with Daniel in yellow

Cannon ball damage upper left or door

I had not been to Saint-Eustache in years and I was amazed to see how much effort has been invested in bringing the past to life. Just to give you an idea of what is available have a look at the pictures below with links to the websites. The websites are in french only but that should not stop you from stopping in Saint-Eustache and spending the day. We plan on going back in the VW bus and the bikes on the rack.

The Patriotes Mural

Moulin Légaré, circa 1762

Weather forecast for tomorrow is sunny, 12 degrees and wait for it: winds from the West 19 km/h with gust to 30 km/h. Reacting with unmitigated excitement.

My mother, Thérèse Gamache, helped us edit and publish the blog. 

59.15 miles - Total so far 123.16 miles

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 01 - Ottawa to L'Orignal

103.0 km - Total so far 103.0 km -

This link will show you the route and terrain:

We are finally on the road. We had an early start and made it to Parliament Hill by 8 am to get the required start picture. We were surprised to see how many people were lined up across the street (Wellington Street) to get their free passes to visit Parliament.

The bicycles fully loaded and ready to hit the road

Eastward to "The Rock" official picture

We were a bit concerned about starting our trip in the rain but it held off until we were safe, secure and fully settled for the night in L'Orignal. Environment Canada might have been off on their rain forecast but they were spot on with the winds. We felt the 20 kp/h wind in our hair and face for the entire 103 kilometres. At times, we were overjoyed when the wind gusted to 40+ kp/h. Oh, we are so looking forward to those days when the wind will be to our back. 

Gotta stay sharp when on the road

Hélène rethinking this bicycling to Newfoundland deal
Tonight we are roughing it in L'Orignal at Marcel and Sylvette's (Hélène's brother and sister-in-law) home. To our surprise, the visit turned into a family event and many of Hélène's family including Simon and Réjeanne (Hélène's parents) were there. Let's hope we can resist the urge to have an early night as we usually do on bike trips.

We have just a few pictures and none include the Ottawa River as most people in the area have seen it over and over again in the news due to the floods on both sides (Québec and Ontario).

Speaking of floods, we have had to amend our intended route for tomorrow. Parts of the Quebec Route Verte (bike path) is still under water. More mileage might be required to get to Laval. A complete update tomorrow.

All in all we are ecstatic to finally be on the road!

Hélène working on the blog under challenging conditions.

64.00 miles - Total so far 64.00 miles

Saturday, May 20, 2017

1 Day to Departure

At last the big day is tomorrow. 

We had hoped for a cool day without rain but, alas, it will be wet with the possibility of precipitation being 30% according to Environment Canada or 80% according to the Weather Network. To add insult to injury, the wind forecast is for a 22 km/h headwind.

I took an extra week off from work to attend to what I thought would be small last-minute details.

Turns out that on Tuesday evening, I discovered that we had overlooked sewing Snatch-Tabs to the under side of our tarp. Without those Snatch-Tabs, it would have been impossible to suspend our Net-Tent to the tarp. A good thing we had some slack built into the schedule.

Hélène decided to modify her newly acquired 'Handle bar bag'. See the video below. 

I was also able to visit the Mountain Equipment Cooperative (MEC) without what Hélène refers too as "Adult Supervision". I took full advantage of that and brought home items that I consider to be essential for this and follow-on trips, namely a spare rear derailleur.  While not essential for this trip, it most certainly is for the Alaskan trip and thus part of the 'Experiment'.

Today, we are going to give the bicycles a final going over, clean and lubricate the chains, verify that we have everything and that it is distributed evenly amongst the panniers. 

Finally, we will have a quiet supper at the world-famous 'Elgin Street Dinner' and make it an early night.

Monday, May 15, 2017

6 Days to Departure

Only six days to departure. Training rides have continued but have not been as numerous as expected. The weather has just been horrible. On the trip, we will pedal rain or shine but at home, we prefer the rain-free rides.

On the 12th of May, we chose to play tourists and wandered to Gatineau, Chelsea and back to Ottawa. On the way back from lunch in Chelsea, we tackled a small climb in Gatineau Park just to warm the legs, then on to Gatineau where we had to make an about turn due to the ever-present flood waters. Back in Ottawa, we followed the Rideau Canal to Landsdowne Park(see video below). We took pictures and chatted with curious Ottawans  and tourists. We were mistaken for "Les 10 Pieds sur Terre"  a Quebec family that is travelling around the world. This goes to show you that cycling is good for you as it keeps you young looking. The Mom and Dad of '10 Pieds sur Terre are in their late 30s.

A new way to display our rides: Relive one of our training rides where we played tourists

The next five days will be pretty relaxed with not much activity. Our next update will be on the day before we leave and about the last minute scrambling. See you in six days! (20 May)

Ottawa in May - Tulips along Rideau canal, complete 
with cyclists, pedestrians and tourist boat!

Lovely flowers but we don't think they are tulips
(Helen D.?)

Landsdowne Park - Tulip festival

Map of Canada - Daniel standing at Cape Spear, Newfoundland

Map of Canada and the bikes fully loaded except for Hélène's AWOL bag. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

12 Days to Departure

We have been pretty busy over the last two weeks. We bought our plane tickets and made our first AirBnB booking in St-John's. We will be spending 3 lovely nights in a 1 bedroom apartment on Water St. 

Training rides continue and we had our first flat on April 26th. It was our very first late evening flat on a fully loaded touring bike. Under the glow of our headlamps, it would have been romantic had it not been for the mosquitoes.

We continue to chat with people and give away travel cards. We even had an offer for dinner and a place to sleep in Chelsea, QC (see map below). We surprised many of the road cyclists when we rode up to Pink Lake Lookout in Gatineau Park. Towing trailers, we managed to pass a few cyclists while going up hill. 😉 (Hélène strongly encouraged me to add the following: "The cyclists we passed were stopped on the side of the road in order to take our picture.")

We got a complete overhaul of the bikes as we did for the first trip. New chain for Hélène's bikes and new break pads for the both of us. 

Like most people we watched the television coverage of the floods in Gatineau and Rockland in areas that we have cycled to and through often. The Day 25 video was filmed on rue Jacques Cartier, in Gatineau, that is now mostly under water. 

On May 7th, we took a walk to the Rideau Canal, Lock #1 to see how high was the Ottawa River. You can see from the images below just how high the river is and it is expected to rise even more by tomorrow. At this time of year, the Ottawa Water Level (WL) is normally 42 meter above sea level and on May 7th, it is 45 meter and rising.

As excited as we are about starting our trip, it is impossible not to feel saddened by the hardships that thousands of people are now experiencing in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. As I worked on this post, Hélène read to me the latest Facebook entry from her brother in Rockland, Ontario.

We hope that the waters peak soon and that affected people everywhere can begin to look forward to the end of this tragedy.  

We have updated the Experiment Page by adding a map of our future Alaska/Yukon/BC trip in 2019. 

Lock # 1 in summer
Lock #1 with Ottawa River almost level with top of gates

Madame Mallard nesting in a tree by the Ottawa River
The Ottawa River has risen almost to the top of the railing 
Apr 29th on rue Jacques Cartier

Mosaicanada 150/Gatineau 2017 setting up in Jacques Cartier Park

Train station being assembled at Jacques Cartier Park and to be completely covered with plants