A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VIII

June 10, 2018

Ok, two years later and I never did finish writing this up! As Micha is due to arrive tomorrow morning for our 2018 trip (Edinburgh -> Colchester), I thought it might be a good idea to finally finish off this last chapter of the 2016 trip.

Friday 27th May

After climbing up a mountain on our “day off”, we took it a little easier today and made 56miles to Island Pond in Brighton, Essex (Vermont). American place names are amusing.

We were in the back half of the trip so as usual, I’m not bothering to stop and take as many photographs.

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Seems a strange place for a school bus to end up.

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A very rural gas station.

 

We spent quite a while following the route of the Conneticut River which was nice and relaxing. Today felt a lot flater than previous days, which I was very pleased about.

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One day, it would be a lot of fun to do a tour by canoe rather than bike!

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This was back in 2016, before the United States had declared war on Canada.

We set up camp later afternoon in a forest. This turned out to be a really bad move, as by sunset, the tent had really heated up It felt like being inside some sort of oven.

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Is that a fire pit I spy?

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They sure do like their flags in this part of the world.

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My feet feel much muh much happier now. 

Once it got dark, we decided to set fire to some things. Sadly, no marshmallows. But still, it was fun!

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Micha contemplates his future

After dark, a mousterous thunder storm broke out somewhere in the distance. It sounded close, but it stayed dry where we were. To add to the atmosphere, I was introduced to the nighttime call of the loon. Vry eerie.

Saturday 28th May

Our penultimate day, and our triumphate return to Canada!

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It’s nice here. Do I really have to get on my bike again?

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I was very happy to find out that the border didn’t involve such a steep hill this time.

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I really liked this tree. We were friends. Sadly, afew minutes after this photo was taken, we had to get going again.

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Micha continues to stare in to the future.

Saturday 29th May

Our final 65 miles back to Montreal! I think I’m actually going to make it: clearly I am fitter than I give myself credit for.

 

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Which Micha thought he should carry his own personal warning road sign with him for the whole trip, I don’t know

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Racing against the storm.

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My main memory of Quebec is mile after mile of straight cycle lane.

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We’re making progress!

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This seems excessive?

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Although it was a lot of fun to cycle down at speed!

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And, we’re back!

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It finally all seems worth it!

 

 

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A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VII

February 5, 2017

Thursday 26th May

Today is our day off cycling. And Micha wants to climb up a mountain. Not just any mountain. Like a humble little Scottish Monroe or something. But an actual mountain. Mount Washington is considerably larger than Ben Nevis. And my legs are already tired from all that cycling. Oh well. Guess it’s time to get up and cycle to the foot of the mountain.

Sadly, we're not taking the train.

Sadly, we’re not taking the train.

Read the rest of this entry »


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VII

October 27, 2016

Wednesday 25th May

What a luxury, sleeping in a proper bed. And then having a reasonably leisurely breakfast at a cafe (the Moose Muck!) before heading off. Only 60 miles to cover today, although we are heading into the White Mountains National Forest. Mountains. Hm.

Heading towards those there mountains.

Heading towards those there mountains.

Read the rest of this entry »


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VI

October 11, 2016

Tuesday 24th May

Early morning.

Early morning.

Everything is starting to hurt. Sleeping on a wooden platform has after all that hard work yesterday means I feel pretty much like an inflexible log. I suppose getting everything back down the hill to the road will help me loosen up.


Ah yes, the path down…

The path is the stream. I had forgotten about that. All my limbs ache.

The path is the stream. I had forgotten about that. All my limbs ache.

Luckily, our bikes are were they left them. Although I suppose the chance of them getting stolen was minimal. We left them in the middle of a forest in rural Canada half way up a stream. Just before it got dark. So I guess luck had nothing to do with it.

The fox cubs look on with amusement as we cart out bags down the hill.

The fox cubs look on with amusement as we cart out bags down the hill.

Once we had carried the bags back down to the bikes, we then of course had to carry everything else down to the nearest road. Which turned out to look more like a ski piste than a road. But at least it was cycle-able on our bikes. Although I was pretty paranoid about blowing a tire.

All in all, a slower start than we would have liked given we had another 60 miles to cover today. South over the border and into the U S of A! But first, breakfast! Except, there’s no sign of any cafes in Notre-Dame-des-Bois. We sit and admire the  funky church (they all have metal roofs over here – very bling) ; unhappily ponder the uphill slog back out of the village; eat a handful of trail mix, and then get ready to set off.

Looks like it is going to be another sunny day

Looks like it is going to be another sunny day

Turns out the route wasn’t quite as bad as it looked. Once the initial uphill had been done, we had miles of reasonable flat (with some good downhills) through the forest. Felt like the road was never-ending at times. Sadly, these back roads in Canada appear to be mainly unpaved, and so skidding (given all the weight on the pannier rack) was a worry. I dread to think what our stopping distance would have been if we had gone full pelt down some of the hills!

Miles and miles of this!

Miles and miles of this!

and a photo with me in it!

and a photo with me in it!

We reached Chatierville around noon and had some lunch. I think I was treated to some authentic North American cuisine: the stodgyiest pizza I have ever eaten. I was pretty hungry though. And gave it plenty of time to digest before tackling the hill up to the border crossing.

Which has to rank as one of the hardest things I have done. I guess I’m not super fit, but the combination of the steep hill, midday heat, no shelter, no option to stop and avoid the midday sun (as we needed to make it to Colbrook by sunset) and all the luggage was tough. I had to stop a couple of times to let my heart rate slow down.

Got there in the end though.

Yes, I think I'll spend a little while resting here.

Yes, I think I’ll spend a little while resting here.

The view back down into Chatierville and Quebec

The view back down into Chatierville and Quebec

While the hardest part of getting out of Canada was getting up a steep hill, getting into America was a little tricky. It doesn’t look like this border crossing gets much traffic. Or any traffic. It took about half an hour for them to ok my passport and during that time, apart from the two Homeland Security guys, we didn’t see anybody else. I guess they don’t get much in the way of non-American or non-Canadians crossing. Especially on bicycle. And they seemed a little confused by my answer of when I would be leaving the United States (in three days time, but then I’ll be flying back to the US again, in order to then get a flight back home). Eventually they charged me $10 or so to staple a piece of paper into my passport. Time to hit the road again!

And into America. New Hampshire to be precise.

"Live free or die" - I guess we're no longer in Canada then.

“Live free or die” – I guess we’re no longer in Canada then.

Cycling in this corner of New Hampshire is pretty great – it’s mostly all gently downhill from the Canadian border, and there’s literally no traffic. Hours (and hours) later, we reach a trading post!

Very quaint. I wonder if they do ice cream?

Very quaint. I wonder if they do ice cream?

Eek!

Eek!

Apparently we're getting close to town.

Apparently we’re getting close to town.

 

Colbrook. And I’m knackered.

Yup. this place should hopefully have beer. No need to go any further.

Yup. this place should hopefully have beer. No need to go any further.

Boy am I glad to finally get a shower (as there weren’t any at Mt Megantic). Two days worth of sweat, dust and suncream. Lovely.

View from outside the motel. That box of a building is the pub.

View from outside the motel. That box of a building is the pub.

Venturing outside after a wash and a rest, and we go for a walk around the town before food (and beer!)

This place is pretty remote.

This place is pretty remote.

Ok, I suggest we stay here. And drink beer, eat food, and have more beer.

Ok, I suggest we stay here. And drink beer, eat food, and have more beer.


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt V

September 14, 2016

Monday 23rd May

Up early!

Up early!

This morning, we needed to decide if we were going to head to Mont-Megantic National Park, or b-line back across the Canadian-America border. Camping in the park was on our original plan, but I had realise that it was another 70+mile to get to the park from last night’s camping spot, and then tomorrow would be yet another 70+mile ride to get to Colebrook. Whereas, if we went straight to Colebrook today, it would only be 60miles.

Hey little fellow. Good morning to you too!

Hey little fellow. Good morning to you too


We decided to postpone the decision until after morning coffee in a nearby town.

Maybe deciding to cycle another 70 miles will be easier after some coffee.

Maybe deciding to cycle another 70 miles will be easier after some coffee.

As expected, after several coffees, I decided that we should go for the long option. Sure, I’m a little worried my knee might give up. But what was the point of all that exercise if not to allow me to make potentially bad decisions? Onwards!

No Micha, we can't tkae a detour to Fromagerie La Station. Yes, it does sound good, but we have to head off in the opposite direction.

No Micha, we can’t take a detour to Fromagerie La Station. Yes, it does sound good, but we have to head off in the opposite direction.

Very quickly, my chief concern turned away from my knee, and to making sure I was drinking enough water. I’m really not used to doing so much exercise in 30degree heat, and we simply don’t have the luxury of seeking shade during the middle of the day! Onwards!

I forget which river this is. But doesn't it look nice.

I forget which river this is. But doesn’t it look nice.

We were managing to just about go fast enough that we’d pass through a town or village every hour or so, and I took every opportunity to refill my water bottles. After reaching Cookshire-Eaton, the route basically was: cycle east for a long long time and don’t stop until you reach Notre-Dame-des-Bois.

One of the rare times in which I end up ahead and have to wait for Micha. Usually it's the other way around.

One of the rare times in which I end up ahead and have to wait for Micha. Usually it’s the other way around.

More road!

More road!

Sadly this involved quite a lot of up hill. Then a little downhill. And then more uphill. Not least the road up into the last town. Yuck, that was a slog and a half.

I disliked this town, for no reason other than that last uphill.

I disliked this town, for no reason other than that last uphill.

The good news was that we got to the town in the early evening, which should give us enough time to get to the National Park before sunset! It’s going to be a bit of an effort, as I’m feeling really tired by now, but still, we can do it, we can do it!

The light is starting to fade fast

The light is starting to fade fast

Just as we’re starting to relax, as WE ARE ALMOST THERE, we hit a final hurdle. The campsites are in the middle of the forest, and the trail there is, well, more of a trail than a road.

This might be fun on a mountain bike, but not on a heavily loaded touring bike!

This might be fun on a mountain bike, but not on a heavily loaded touring bike!

Time to give up all pretense that we're cycling up this

Time to give up all pretense that we’re cycling up this

After a while, the trail got so hard going that we decided it would be faster to unload the bikes and just carry our bags up to the campsite. Probably a good move, as the sun was starting to set and we were knackered.

However, it was all worth it, as we say a litter of fox cubs!

Awwwww. So cuuuuute

Awwwww. So cuuuuute

In the end, we get the tent up just as it’s getting dark. Cook some food on the stove, and drink some whisky while watching the stars. It’s an incredibly clear sky. Sadly, I’m far too tired to stay up late stargazing. Maybe later in the trip!


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt IV

July 7, 2016

Sunday 22nd May

“Is it time to get up now?” asks Micha. This seems unlikely, as it is still pitch black in the tent. “Let me check,… no, it’s only quarter past 2.” Sigh. Not much sleep was had.

On the plus side, it did mean we were up early and had packed up and left by 7:30am. Possibly a new record? But we did have a long way to go today, as we wanted to make up for the time lost yesterday.

A barn. Exciting huh.

A barn. Exciting huh.


Off on the open road

Off on the open road

We make pretty good time and reach Saint-Cesaire for some coffee and tea.

Contemplating the road ahead

Contemplating the road ahead

Next stop is Granby! Only 23km and then we can have a proper brunch!

I guess I should go this way then?

I guess I should go this way then?

As the morning progresses, the weather gets nicer and nicer. The clouds slowly give way to a nice blue sky. And better yet, we manage to find a cycle path heading in the right direction! I think this is the path we were meant to be on yesterday! This is much nicer than cycling down the hard shoulder of a duel carriageway.

Micha basks in the sun

Micha basks in the sun

We reach Granby by 11am and stop for brunch. I go for the brioche and fruit. With a generous serving of maple syrup. We are in Canada after all.

Finally, time for a proper breakfast!

Finally, time for a proper breakfast!

Quebec seems to have a lot of nice churches, and a lot of chunky motortricycles.

Quebec seems to have a lot of nice churches, and a lot of chunky motor-tricycles.

We headed off, continuing along the cycle path, and were surprised to find a turtle crossing the road. Quite a big fella too!

I was told to expect moose, not turtle.

I was told to expect moose, not turtle.

Taking a break, sitting by the lake.

Taking a break, sitting by the lake.

That was pretty much the highlight of the afternoon, as the rest of the time was spent cycling a long way in more or less a straight line to Ayer’s Cliff via Magog.

And the road goes on. And on. Up and down. And on. No traffic though!

And the road goes on. And on. Up and down. And on. No traffic though!

Still going strong!

Still going strong!

Mile and miles of cycling through the forest.

Mile and miles of cycling through the forest.

As we get close to the campsite, we stumble across a pub (diner?). The local stuff appears to be called Moosehead!

A well deserved pint of beer, sitting in the shade.

A well deserved pint of beer, sitting in the shade.

We get to the campsite in good time. Over 70 miles in one day! That’s a lot lot longer than anything I’ve done before. I wonder how my legs will feel tomorrow. Hmmm.

Time to rest those legs!

Time to rest those legs!

 

 

 


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt III

June 25, 2016

Saturday 21st May

After two days of recovering from VSS, it’s time to get up very early in the morning and fly to Montreal. Luckily, the luggage doesn’t get lost en route (losing the tent and all our camping gear would spell disaster!) and we arrive in Montreal on time. The only hiccup is that Micha manages to lose his notes on where to find things and how to get to the bike shop in the airport. Luckily, Montreal is a wonderfully nice city with free public wifi. Not for the first time, I pay myself on the back for sorting out a new smart phone for this trip. We decide to split up: I’ll stay and watch over our bags while taking down some notes on our route, campsites, etc, and Micha will run around for a bit and try to find some camping gas (which for obvious reasons, we couldn’t take with us on the plane).

Somehow, all this is going to fit on the back of our two bikes. Honest.

Somehow, all this is going to fit on the back of our two bikes. Honest.


Montreal seems pretty nice. I’m amused how the metro signs use a similar design and font to the Paris underground.

Quebec feels slightly surreal. I really don't know much French. Je voudrais un grande beir s'il vou plait.

Quebec feels slightly surreal. I really don’t know much French. Je voudrais un grande beir s’il vou plait?

Micha eventually returns empty-handed. No camping gas. Oh well. No point getting stressed. It’s lunchtime… let’s go find something for lunch. Oh, we appear to be in a Chinese district? Well, I guess we’ll go for a Chinese for lunch. Sure.

Je voudrais une bière, s'il vous plait

Je voudrais une bière, s’il vous plait

Ok, now that we’ve taken care of that, time to pick up the bikes and find some camping gas. The bike hire shop is really friendly, although getting everything sorted takes a while (packing panniers efficiently is always a bit slow!). We’re ready a little after 2pm and head off to the camping shop.

Urrghh. Cycling through city centre traffic isn’t much fun. I guess that’s one thing the Hebrides have going for them! The traffic is made worse by having all the luggage on the back of the bikes, and made even worse by me being pretty out of practice with cycling shoes (which clip on to the pedals). All the starting and stopping is a nightmare.

We get to the camping shop, put the bikes down, and I go to find out where I put my wallet… oh shit. Cue 20 minutes packing and repacking both pannier bags in the hope that it will magically appear.

Luckily, my “of course, it will be back in the bike shop” reasoning turned out to be true. I’d simply left my wallet in the pair of trousers I wasn’t taking, which we had left in the empty bags in the bike shop.

I guess that didn’t waste too much time? It’s now around half past three and time to head off.

We haven't started yet, and we're already an hour and a half behind schedule!

We haven’t started yet, and we’re already an hour and a half behind schedule!

Our first leg is Montreal to a campsite just south of Marieville. We straight away make a bad choice with directions, opting to go south rather than north. Our reasoning was that we had already just cycled down that way to the camping shop, and were eager to avoid retracing out steps. Plus, the Parc Jean-Drapeau looked nice! Much nicer than cycling through traffic.

The downside was we ended up taking a somewhat convoluted route. Really we should have just taken the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Instead, we end up getting held up by a vertical lift bridge.

Hurry up! We don't know where we're going, or exactly how far it is to our campsite, or how long it will take. And we're already behind schedule and we don't want to be stranded out in the dark.

Hurry up! We don’t know where we’re going, or exactly how far it is to our campsite, or how long it will take. And we’re already behind schedule and we don’t want to be stranded out in the dark.

One the plus side we did see lots of bird life on the islands. The red-winged blackbirds are pretty nice.

We eventually get across to the other side of the river, but are then faced with an even harder challenge: how to actually get out of the city easily. There’s a bike path around somewhere, but we’re not sure where. And the route instructions we printed off are not so helpful. Plus, we’re already no longer on the original route. I seem to remember this happening a couple of times last time I went camping with Micha. But that time was on Orkney, and there are only two or three roads on the entire island. Not something you can say about North American cities. We eventually find a road that will take us to Chambly, although sadly it’s pretty busy. Lots of stopping and starting, and being stuck behind a bus (never a fun situation when you’re on a bike).

A gentler way to travel

A gentler way to travel

After crossing over the Richelieu River we make an attempt to move on to a quieter road, but after cycling south for a mile or so, we find that our efforts to get off the dual carriageway would end up with us on a Highway. Lets not do that. Turn around, head back onto Route 112 and head east to Marieville.  Some food at a diner, then cycle out of town to find our campsite, arriving just as the sun is setting.

Now that is a pretty kickass tricycle.

Now that is a pretty kickass tricycle.

Time to get some sleep

Time to get some sleep