June 6

June 6th, 2007

I’m sitting here in Montmagny staring at the sun as it slowly falls behind the north shore mountains and casts a gold shimmer across the St. Lawrence river. It’s easy for me to look around and appreciate the magnificence of nature and how it emphasizes this beautiful country I live in. But it wasn’t more than an hour ago visions were blurred.


Today I faced what could be considered the single hardest conditions next to my experience at Port Aux Basque. I’ve been reviewing the day over in my head, and it’s a tough call to pick a unanimous winner. On one hand, the weather during my last day on Newfoundland was unquestionably the worst I could possibly encounter. Strong winds, blowing snow and slippery hills. But the worst of those conditions were primarily during the last 10-15 km of the island. Today was another story.


I woke up to the sound of tapping against the roof of the motor home. What I thought was just the last few drops of rain from the night before turned out to be a flag slapping against the metal roof. I rolled over and pulled the curtain back only to gaze upon a sight of sheer horror. The wind was pushing tree branches around like they were blades of grass. The sky was still cloudy, but it wasn’t raining anymore. I flipped on the computer to do a quick check of the weather network to see how strong the winds actually were and how long they were going to last. My fears were confirmed. 50-60 km/hr from the south west… the exact direction I was heading. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy day so I got my skates laced up nice and early. I was on the road by 8am.


To add insult to injury, the pavement went from bad to worse. Now, even if I wanted to go faster, I couldn’t. The first hour felt like an eternity. Although I was very slow, I was optimistic that I was making respectable time. Unfortunately I was wrong. I had only managed a mere 9 kilometers. The second and third hours were no better. I was trying not to over-exert myself, but the wind was fierce. It felt like I was trying to run under water. I was losing the battle. Port Aux Basque was only an hour or so. This was going to be all day long.


I was forced to skate with my head down for a couple of reasons. First, it helped me cut through the wind and hold my balance. Second, I had to stare at the ground to make sure I didn’t skate into a foot long pot hole or hit one of the millions of scattered stones. Even looking down, I still came too close to falling on many occasions today. The treacherous roads had just too many obstacles at times. Every so often, I would lift my head to see what was going on around me. The landscape, the river, the houses and the history would be incredible to explore through this region. It’s a shame I couldn’t fully appreciate it today.


It was taking every ounce of mental strength to maintain my composure through the elements today. As the wind continued to howl around me, I heard a faint honk. “Odd…there’s no cars nearby”, I thought. I turned around to see my parents frantically trying to get my attention. The sound of the walkie talkie was being drowned by the sound of the wind. I looked across the road where my parents were pointing. A bison farm! For those of you who don’t know, nutrition is a big part of my journey. I have to make sure my body is getting the right nutrients so I’ll stay healthy and be able to complete the trek. And I’m lucky enough to have an amazing girlfriend in Vancouver who is a nutritionist! Well, bison meat is a major component to my diet. It’s an exceptionally healthy meat and is almost indistinguishable from beef. The health benefits of bison far exceed that of beef. I could go into details, but I won’t. I do recommend looking into it if you’re interested.


After purchasing various cuts of meat, I headed off into the wind once again. By the time we stopped for lunch, I’d covered an astounding 27 kilometers. I can usually clear that distance in an hour without breaking a sweat, but today I was exhausted.


In the afternoon, the wind showed no signs of weakening. I skated through a few small villages and hamlets along the river and couldn’t help but notice the number of artists and galleries in the area. It seemed as though every second house was a struggling artist. All the wood carvings made for a very unique visual stimulus that I tried to enjoy, but only managed a glimpse once in a while.


The mental games I’d been playing all day to hold onto my sanity came to a crashing halt when something unexpected happened. It had been days since the last donation had been handed to me, but a wonderful woman finally pulled over to help me out. I had been skating in Quebec for more than 200 km before the first donation came in. I didn’t realize how much this donation meant until the woman handed it to me. Even though I’m not bilingual, I hope the rest of Quebec follow this woman’s example and see that cancer has no boundaries. I’m faced with a language barrier while I’m in Quebec, but cancer affects us all.


Another small donation and a few more intense kilometers later, and I had reached Montmagny. I bladed through the town to make sure I at least completed 60 km on the day. But by the time I finished, I was feeling utterly dejected. My only consolation was the fact that I was now less than 50 km from Levis where I will be crossing into Quebec City tomorrow. I enjoyed a fabulous barbequed bison steak dinner and another memorable sunset, but I pushed myself as far as I could today. It’s time for a good night’s sleep to regenerate my damaged enthusiasm.

Posted in Daily Journal | 1 Comment »


One Response to “June 6”

  1. Steven Di Domizio Says:

    Keep it up rich 🙂 if you can make it through Quebec, you can conquer any other roads that you’re faced with

    good luck, and stay safe 🙂


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