Montreal, Canada - Polarsteps
Trip total : 5899km
-A place of deep rest.
-A place so far east we can no longer really conceive of how far we've cycled since we started.
-The slowest bicycle crossing of Canada you're ever going to witness (our handle is 'derailed'; I hope you weren't here to watch us do this quickly).
-A month rich with good visits with good people. We emerged from the wilds of Northern Ontario into the backyard of my friend Aurora's family in Sault Ste Marie, then cycled our way to Danielle on Manitoulin, Devon in Caladon, Francesca and Dave in North York, my dad in Prince Edward County, Jane and Charles in Kingston, Chloe and Mandy in Newboro, Kayla in the south of Ottawa, Julie and Grant in the north of Ottawa, and Christine and Em in Montreal-- and a good few more friends from various times in our lives who we got to catch up with in several of those places. It's hardly felt like part of a bike-camping trip lately-- we haven't biked most days, and we've camped once in the last four weeks-- but home-hopping through this part of the country has been a major highlight for us.
It's getting cold and the leaves are turning; we're coming into our third season of this trip, and it's time to get moving on our last leg of this continent. As of tomorrow we'll be fully back in cycling mode, dusting off our grade-school French and heading towards the Atlantic and our next/last round of familiar faces in Nova Scotia.
We'll go back and fill in that big update gap in the blog when we have time (and then probably switch to an update schedule where we aren't trying to document every single day on the road). Plans-wise, we've decided to skip Newfoundland on account of running out of season to do it (and doing a full exploration of it by bicycle sounds like an amazing trip on its own for another time). Also, we were always a bit iffy about shuttling the bikes over to P.E.I. for a few days of riding (no bikes allowed on the bridge); given more time we'd do it, but as it is we're going to be skipping that, too-- sorry, P.E.I. Our Atlantic end-point at the moment is Halifax. We'll be heading to the first post-Canada leg of our trip from there; we have some decisions to make and some logistics to take care of before that really takes shape (not to mention some long cycling days ahead of us to beat the winter weather to the coast). Working on it/still here/still pedalling.
The last time I sat down to try and write an entry was in Wawa, ON; I got one sentence in and then we started setting up our tent behind the visitor center for the night. It is so funny on rest days, especially the ones we have taken with friends and in bigger cities, where I would be in the most comfortable places to write an entry, that I have either been distracted with bicycle maintenace (sort of a constant since we hit the 4000km mark, so many small things just wearing down but also tracking down small components for future repair/ if repair is needed in the more remote places). There is also just being with the people we know and love and on those days I don't even think about writing. As Sara mentioned we are going to start updating more like once a week or so instead of everyday, it feels more sustainable. On cycling days after setting up a tent and making dinner the last thing I think about doing is writing an entry; all I want at that point is to sleep.
I joke with Sara that we are the most slacker cyclists to ever travel but we probably win the gold metal for enjoying the places we find ourselves in and for our safety measures (especially through northern Ontario). Most people take 3 months to cross Canada, we are going on 5 1/2 months. For us it is not a race and we also are not on a schedule; even if we set our lives up in a manner that just gave us three months to travel this way I still know I would rather take my time than have a rigid final destination. Although, there will be times when we will need to be more on the ball; like having to perhaps make a certain date for visas, airplanes or, you know, finishing a landmass before the cold weather really sets in. Reading entries from another cyclist's journey across Canada this past summer I really saw the contrast in how we appproached this adventure. He and his cyclist buddy didn't take a day off for a month and a half and aimed to do at least 100km a day (which through some of this landscape sounds just bananas and stressful). I won't lie, I found him to be super whiny, but as Sara points out I would be whiny as well if I did the trip this way (I still don't think I would post about ALL my flat tires but maybe I would). The most striking entry was his last one where he mentioned that when he finished/dipped his tires in the Atlantic he thought he would have his Hollywood movie moment where he felt overwhelmed with happiness (I imagine the signature music in " Chariots of Fire" playing) but instead didn't feel anything.
First time, hey?
I hope that he reflects on this and sees how it (and perhaps life) isn't about a final achievement but about the experiences along the way. Going at such a fast, regimented pace (similar to that of a work day in my opinion) doesn't necessarily mean confetti and a ribbon at the end of it all.
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲