June 5

June 5th, 2007

Three years ago today, my family was faced with an event of epic proportions which would forever scar us. My sister got married. Happy Anniversary, Becky and Greg! Today was not even remotely similar to that beautiful sunny day in Toronto in 2004. In fact, it started out as the polar opposite.


I knew the forecast was for rain, but I wasn’t prepared for the sudden drop in temperature. The weather channel was indicating the current temperature to be around 13 degrees with a high of 19. But once I was out in the down pour, it became very clear that 13 degrees was far from accurate. As I skated through the city of Riviere-du-Loup, my numb fingers told me the actual temperature was below 6 degrees. Even though I was lucky to relatively smooth roads at this point, I could only manage to cover 10 km before needing a break to regain feeling in my hands. The horseshoe on the front of our RV must have kicked into gear because when I was ready to head back into the storm (in full winter gear, this time), the rain began to lighten. I wasn’t much past the city limits when the rain ceased altogether! No, maybe my luck rabbits foot can do something for me about the temperature.


Presto! A sudden gust of tropical air wrapped around my body like a thick blanket. Within seconds, I went from ice cold to over heating. The clouds parted, the pavement became smooth and I could finally enjoy the Quebec landscape. I was now skating along the St. Lawrence River with beautiful old houses tucked neatly amongst the trees and overhanging escarpment. The view of the river and the North Shore hills was immaculate. We stopped for a few pictures and a snack before pushing on towards St. Andre for lunch.


Horseshoes and rabbits feet can only do so much. Just as I was rolling to the edge of St. Andre, I noticed a couple bright orange road signs which read:


“Route Barree” and “Detour”


You don’t need to know much french to understand what the signs were saying. Keep in mind, the road I was now on was a secondary highway because I am not allowed to skate on the Trans Canada in Quebec. And now I’m being forced on a detour off this road?? We sat at this crossroad for several minutes debating the best course of action. A road worker came by and we tried to get his opinion, but that conversation was lost in translation. And then something unexpected happened. I noticed someone in a bright yellow t-shirt walking down the road towards us. What really caught my attention, though, was the baby buggy she was pushing. There was no way this was a local. We were in the middle of no where! The woman turned out to be Michelle Jameus. I had heard about her before I began my skate in Newfoundland. She was running across Canada to increase awareness for animal rights (her site is www.jazzpurr.org). We chatted for a while and took a few pictures before coming to a collective decision to take our chances and go past the detour sign and head straight through the village. We wished Michelle well and I headed off towards St. Andre. It seemed like we had made a good choice until the pavement turned to mud. It appeared as though the town was having new sewage lines installed. Fortunately, St. Andre is not a big town. The construction zone was less than 2 km long. So I just hoped into the RV to get across. I guess I’ll have to do a few extra laps of the gas station parking lot tomorrow to make up that distance!


We stopped for lunch just on the other side of town. I hadn’t been working too hard today, so I didn’t take my usual nap. I had only completed about 35 km before lunch, so I wanted to get started again.


It’s a good thing the scenery was unique with very few hills, because looking around helped to distract me from the rumbling pavement beneath my skates. Although it wasn’t the worst road I’d faced, it was far from the best. My pace was very casual so as to avoid injury from the vibration. We could see that the hills to the south of us were being pelted with rain, and we were lucky enough to be hugging the river which seemed to provide enough protection from the unstable air around us. I knew I wouldn’t have long before the rain spotted me and decided to attack.


I was just approaching Riviere Ouelle when I saw 2 bicycles in the distance heading towards me. I would have paid them no attention, but the flags and stuffed animals on their bikes made it quite obvious that they were on a mission. Amazingly, these 2 men were also on a voyage, but they were heading towards Newfoundland instead of British Columbia. What are the odds that 4 people would all be on the same stretch of road in Quebec within 10 km of each other, all doing different physical activities (cycling, running, blading) in support of 3 separate causes?? One of the men was even from the Kingston area! Small world. These guys are trying to raise money so Jerome can go to Eritrea, Africa to volunteer his educational expertise in a region that desperately needs the help (his site is www.vsocan.org/JJ).


It was another much needed comical relief to chat with them, but we all needed to get moving. We knew the rain wasn’t far off. I continued on and managed to finish just over 80 km when I stopped for the night just East of La Pocatiere. I’m under 140 km to Quebec City, so I’m pretty confident I’ll arrive early on Thursday. This should give me some time to tour through the old city before heading for Montreal.


The rain has now started for the night and doesn’t look like it will let up until the morning. But we’ve got an army of buckets duct taped to the ceiling to catch the various drips that we have encountered so far. Hopefully we’ll stay dry tonight!

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