It was May long weekend, which also happened to be my birthday weekend, and I wanted to spend it in Ottawa.
When normal people travel to between Ottawa and Montreal, they drive. Or bus. Or maybe take the train. In what I now consider to be a moment of questionable judgement, I decided it would make a fun (and completely feasible) day-long bicycle ride at just over 200km. I’ve known people who have done the trip in the past, so no big deal, right?
Thankfully I have an Ottawa-abiding soul mate who shares the same passion for cycling and who so kindly agreed to come meet me half-way.
So it all began at 7:00am on Friday morning. I packed up my bike with two paniers and my sleeping bag (a tent was to be purchased at our friendly neighborhood Ottawa MEC). I was on my way and totally invincible -Hawkesbury by 1pm, no problem. The ride started with a tour across the entire south side of the island, which was quaint and beautiful. For the first dozen kilometres or so, I rode alongside the Lachine Canal, which was fantastic despite the wind being to my face.
My self-assurance (and energy) started to dwindle by the third hour, at which point I still had not made it off the island. Yes, an out of practice cyclist is a slow cyclist. On the bright side, I got to acquaint myself with a handful of Montreal’s boroughs that I would not have visited otherwise: Lasalle, Lachine, Dorval, Pointe-Claire, Beaconsfield, Baie D’urfe and St. Anne.
I was thrilled when I finally reached the bridge and said bye-bye to Montreal.
Once on l’Ile-Perrot I made the first in a series of mistakes and took a wrong turn. Thankfully this was only a minor setback, and after a quick phone call to my oh-so-patient roomie I was back on track.
Okay, so a quick sidenote to defend my cycle-adventuring honour: I brought two sets of directions with me on this trip. The first set was acquired from what I now know to be a less-than-reliable fellow blogger. The second set was mapped out by yours truly on almighty Google. I figured with two sets of instructions I could not go wrong, and at the first sign of trouble I would nip into a depanneur and purchase a road map (smartphones, huh?). I was foiled on two fronts. First, I opted to go with the shoddy blogger directions that took me on unnecessary detours and conveniently omitted important turns. Second, while stores in little Quebec towns do carry maps, they don’t see the necessity of carrying interprovincial maps. Lucky for me, I have a man in Montreal who works near a computer and agreed to be my long-distance navigator (in shining armor).
Needless to say I showed up in Hawkesbury several hours later than scheduled, leaving my travel companion to cafe and curb hop (because everything in Hawkesbury closes at 2:30pm, apparently). The second half of the trip was a hundred times more pleasant and starry, despite a few minor setbacks (ie. finding ourselves on the side of the highway for several kilometres). We reached the outskirts of Ottawa around midnight, and instead of chance the bike paths so late at night we hailed a van-cab to take us the rest of the way home.
Paying no attention to our bike-ride fatigue, we finished the night off with champagne and plans to bike a simple 40km to Wakefield the next am.
1. I am not cut-out for solo bike journeys.
2. 200km is too far for one day
3. Think about a smart phone.