Geoff's Tour
A Journal of My Bicycle Touring

Journey Notes

(posted on 10 Aug 2012)

It was a family day as we visited with Rochelle's father and step mother today. It rained heavily so I was glad that I was not out there on the bike. We also saw a large part of VanGo's family tree in Westminster, VT.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be another rainy day, at least in the morning so I won't likely get too early a start. I will be heading due east through a slow climb of about 500 meters (1500 feet) into Concord, NH (another state entered) and to a campground near Epsom, HN.

I managed to get on the bicycle by 8:30am. That's pretty good given that there is still a bit of jet lag from flying back from the west coast.

I used Google Map's cycling directions to choose the route and it took me through rolling countryside. It did take me through one 5 km section of dirt road but that was a fairly good surface for a dirt road. I met up with another guy (didn't get his name) riding in my direction so I road with him for about 10 km. I drafted him a bit so I managed to get some extra distance for free! He gave me some pointers about riding in Vermont and the best route to my destination.

Did I mention the rolling hills? There were a lot of them. On the country roads, some of those hills were very steep and long. It made for a fairly slow day with an overall average speed of just about 20 km/h (13 mph).

I rode through Burlington, Bristol, Salisbury, and Rutland.

By about 11 am cell coverage for T-Mobile cut out and never came back. I realized later that I had looked at the wrong coverage map for T-Mobile and that all of southern Vermont is a dead zone for my phone. We always make sure that we have a detailed routing for the bike saved on my phone and that if I have communications problems, I will stick to that route so Rochelle can find me along that route. That was the case today.

It was very hot and humid. The forcast was for 30C (86F). I didn't have ice in my pack this time so I ended up drinking quite a bit to compensate. Even though I have done many 40C days, 30C still seems awfully hot.

We stopped in Bristol for lunch at about 2:30 pm. As I was getting ready to go after lunch, I could see dark storm clouds and lightning to the north and looking like it was heading my way. I rode south and that storm followed me but seemed to go around me more than at me. About 5:30 pm, my front tire went flat. It had had a slow leak so I had pumped it up, hoping to change the tube later on, but the leak was now not so slow and I had to change the tube.

As I was leaving Rutland, heavy rain started and lightning was all around me. It caught me pretty quickly. It rains a lot in Vancouver but not like this. I put on my rain jacket and continued on. Because of our lack of communications, our plan for the afternoon was for me to ride until about 7:30 pm and for Rochelle to catch up to me about that time. The storm hit about 6:45 pm so I knew I had 30 to 45 minutes in really heavy rain and lightning. It was a bit frightening to have the sky flash so bright that it lit up the entire road and trees extremely brightly. Some of these were less than a kilometer away. The thunder was incredibly loud. By the time Rochelle caught up with me, I was soaked through and through.

We drove the final section to Rochelle's father's place. I am glad that we did not have to camp last night with lots of damp cloths and a couple of leaks in VanGo.

We are back on tour! We arrive in Montreal on Monday night and were all ready to get going on Tuesday morning but we were offered a chance to see a match at the Rogers Cup Womans' Tennis on Tuesday. So we had take the day to watched the event and had a nice relaxing day.

Our 10 days in Vancouver were hectic but it was great to see everyone, including many out of town guests and to see the Celebration of Light fireworks competition.

Today's ride crossed from Quebec to Vermont at about the 70 km point. It was a very tiny border crossing and we had to wait for the one border agent to come from some other part of the building. The crossing was so small that the Canadian and US customs shared the same building right on the border. This time I crossed the border on the bicycle but pulled to the window with VanGo so we could cross together.

We had lunch right after crossing the border. Sandwiches made with lettuce instead of bread. Back on the proper diet. Vancouver was a diet disaster but it sure was good! I still really like my carbs.

Google managed to change it's mind about my route at a very inopportune time and ended up sending me down the east side of Lake Champlain instead down the islands in the middle of the lake. I didn't notice the change until I was too far on this other route. The original route would have been more interesting. Instead, I ended up in a lot of farmland that got hillier as I went south. I think that tomorrow's ride will be even hillier, if what I saw in the distance is any indication.

I will have to be more careful to look at the larger picture on Google Maps just to make sure where it is sending me is really where I want to go.

It wasn't until about 8pm that I finally pedalled into our campground for the evening. They had a nice pool but it was really too late for me to make use of it. I am really starting to notice the sun setting earlier now. I will have to be more careful to make sure that I get my cycling day done before it gets dark. I guess that means getting up earlier and making sure that I make use of all of the day's light.

We are now just about 200 km from Rochelle's farther's place. We have decided to make a big push tomorrow and get most of the way there and to drive the rest. The way that the road network works in that area, there is a spot at about the 165 km point where it would make sense to stop and pick up at that spot again after our visit and start heading east from there.

We woke up this morning to a little light rain that went away fairly quickly. The rest of the day was just cloudy although there was a few drops of rain throughout the day. The weather reports said I would have headwinds but I didn't notice. That was likely due to trees and urban the urban areas that I was riding in.

I rode most of the way on either very nice bicycle paths or very quiet shoreline roads with beautiful houses and interesting shops. The first stretch of path started near last night's campsite to Pointe-des-Cascades. These lead to a series of bridges that hoped from one small island to another, through some residential areas and then along the south shore of the island that Montreal is on.

We ate lunch at a small park on this shore and made our way up a canal, over a couple of bridges until we were on Ile Notre-Dame, the island where the Formula 1 and a NASCAR races are held each year. The track is open for driving and cycling (divided route) so Rochelle and I did one trip around the 4.361 km (2.71 mile) circuit on our bicycles and then I did one circuit just to see how fast I could do it (after already riding over 80 km). My time was 7:45. There were lots of cyclists training on that circuit.

After the ride we let VanGo do a lap. I didn't time it but given the 30 km/h speed limit, I think it was slower that me on a bicycle but VanGo got a chance to do some chicanes and curbs like a real race car!

We took another bridge over to St. Helen's Island where we saw the Biosphere.

We finally made it to the place where VanGo will rest for the next 10 days and our host made us a wonderful diner.

Tomorrow it is up early and heading to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. We won't be making updates again until we come back to Montreal on August 6.

While I had a hard time getting out of the campground this morning, it turned out to be a fast ride. There was a fairly good tailwind for most of the day so I averaged about 27 km/h and completed the 114 km by about 5:30 pm. I managed to pick out a really good route that was mostly low traffic farm roads as well as quite a number of roads with new pavement and decent shoulders.

I must say that on this trip so far, Ontario had by far the least bicycle-friendly roads. At least, the ones that I was able to find. There was very little consideration given to cyclists and in many cases the roads were bicycle-hostile even though it was legal to ride on them. Our early days in southwestern Ontario and today were the only days where I saw any consideration for cyclists.

I was amazed to see this old Ford getting gas and drive away. The engine did not sound "old" so I suspect there were a few more modern parts in it.

We crossed over into Quebec and rode along the St. Lawrence River for a while before finding our KOA in Coteau-du-Lac, just west of Montreal.

Tomorrow's ride is mostly about crossing Montreal.

I had a really hard time getting moving this morning. My body just wanted to sleep a bit more after such a hard day yesterday. I finally got on my bike by 10:30am.

Yesterday there was a constant headwind for the last 40 or 50 km. Today there was very strong wind gusts that were cross headwinds. It was a fight a lot of the time just to keep the bike upright and heading in the right direction, not to mention moving forward. My already very sore legs were really feeling it. Luckily the route was only 86 km. In choosing that destination, I was trying to make an easy day.

The most direct route from where I started to the destination campground would have been all farmland backroads and I would have missed Ottawa completely. Since I had not seen Ottawa since I was 12 years old, I decided to detour into Ottawa. I got on a bike path along the river north of Ottawa and followed it right down town until I got to the river side of the Parliament buildings. I then followed the locks up to street level and had a look at the Parliament buildings and surrounding area. I was supposed to meet Rochelle here for lunch but she had work to get done so I continued on and finally met her in the farmland southeast of Ottawa.

After a late lunch we finished the last 30 km of the ride to our campsite near the town of Bourget. While still on the Ontario side of the river, it would seem that this area is mostly French speaking. Most signs are only in French.

Tomorrow we will reach the outskirts of Montreal.

It was another long day today. There were not so many hills as the I have seen in the last few days but there was a mix of rolling hills and flat farmland. More flat as the day went on.

Rochelle caught up with me at about the 80 km point. I was just about to get going when a thunderstorm started. There was quite a bit of lightning so I figured it was a good idea to stay in VanGo until it passed. The lunch break ended up being 2 hours long.

I got back on the bike at 4pm with 70 km left to go. I put my rain jacket on as it seemed like there was still more chances of rain. That was a good thing as I was rained on several times. Nothing lasted for more than 10 minutes or so at a time but it was often a very hard rain. It also didn't help that I had headwinds for the rest of the day. That made for some unpleasant riding at times.

Google seemed to think that highway 17, just east of Renfrew was a good cycling route. It was a high traffic 2 lane road with lots of heavy trucks and absolutely no shoulders. I spend some time with the maps to find some backroads through farmland and found a more pleasant although considerably longer route.

We made it to the outskirts of Ottawa and are staying with some friends that moved here from Vancouver.

We got an especially late start today due to a wonderful breakfast that my Aunt put together for us. It was a little after noon before I got into the pedals.

After looking at the maps a bit last night and this morning, we decided not to return to Bancroft to continue the ride but to leave from Lake St. Peter, just a few kilometers from the lake we stayed at last night. It was a little further than the Bancroft route but had a lot more options for camping. The roads looked like they'd be less trafficked and they were.

Luckily, Rochelle phoned the campgound and got some directions as Google had the campground about 8km away at an OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) station.

The roads were again mostly over rolling hills and between lakes. It was very beautiful but I was starting to feel all that climbing over the last 3 days in my legs. I am hoping for a little flatter land tomorrow but I suspect that will not be the case.

Rochelle found a really nice park to eat lunch in. It had several of these ovens or BBQs through out it. I am not quite sure how anyone would use them.

In Barry's Bay they had a great park dedicated to Janusz Zurakowski, a test pilot from the area who flew the Avro Arrow.

We are getting a bit behind so I want to get in a much longer ride tomorrow. I haven't quite figured out the route yet but we should get fairly close to Ottawa and even jump over into Quebec.

There were a couple of milestones crossed today. VanGo saw 377,777.7 km on the odometer. 6 sevens has got to be pretty lucky! I passed the 5,000 km (3,100 mile) point in riding. About 62% done!

This post is a day late but just pretend you were reading it yesterday!

I got a reasonably early start on a short day. I had some nice tail winds so the 82km was completed in a little over 3 hours of peddling. I was done and waiting for Rochelle in Bancroft by 1pm. The route was on a road that had constantly changing shoulders and there was a lot of weekend cottage traffic. I had to be really careful.

The rolling hills continued and there were several fairly large climbs (and quite a number of high speed down hill sections too!) The scenery was some of the best that I have seen since leaving the Rockies.

We stopped in Bancroft for lunch but continued in VanGo further north to visit relatives on a really nice lake. I forgot to take any pictures while we were there but it was great lake and we swam in it for a while. It was just cool enough to deal with the heat of the day.

The reason why we drove part of the way is that we expect to come back to Bancroft and continue the ride east. In essence, this detour was not part of the bicycle ride.

Oh, and I just had to throw in this picture of "Carter", a Golden Doodle, in Ajax.

It was a good thing that I've had the last 3 days off because today was a tough one.

I got away at about 9:30am, riding down the road next to the creek that we used to toboggan down near (and sometimes into) when we were kids. Unfortunately they have landscaped the area and it doesn't really look much like it did when I was a kid.

Much of the day was spent slowly climbing a ridge north of Lake Ontario that was the shore of the ancient Lake Iroquois. The day started out cloudy and cool but slowly cleared and warmed up. It never got really hot so the temperature was great for cycling.

What made the day hard was the serious rolling hills and headwinds. For most of the day I was either going up or down. I think that I did more climbing today than on any day since leaving the Rockies.

I found a "short cut" that cut 3 km off of the trip leading into Peterborough. I think I made up for that in just going up and down! But it was nice that there was very little traffic on that road.

I finally reached our campground at 7:30pm. I think that is the latest that I've finished a day.

Tomorrow we head to Bancroft and then drive further north to visit more relatives.

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