The rain, on the first day of our P’tit Train du Nord cycling trip in the Laurentiens, was kind of like being in a car wash, without, of course, those humongous swirling foamy rollers.
But everything else was the same; the deluge-like monsoonial waters and the miraculous ability of the water to come at us from every direction. And, I must say, the sheeting action when the rain really surged was quite spectacular. There was also the wonderful bonus, with every revolution of my pedals, of how the water slopped back and forth in my shoes. Oh la la la!
Occasionally we stopped in one of the caboose-like shelters and I wrung out my socks.
Like a badass biker, I wore a bandana under my helmet to soak up the rain and prevent my earlier overly-optimistic application of sunscreen from running in to my eyes.
It was not, as you might surmise, the best of beginnings…
The bonus was the 2% grade of the former rail bed.
On paper this sounds good.
It probably would work even better if one hadn’t been sitting in a car for the last several months with the bikes locked and very much neglected on the back rack.
If one, let’s say ‘this’ one, had actually trained a little, it probably wouldn’t have felt quite as arduous as it did. In my defence, I think that the gully-washing nature of the rain had an overly detrimental effect on my psyche.
Whatever it was, by the time we had pedalled 58 kilometres to Auberge Chez Ignace, I was spent.
Happily there was a tub in our room, hot coffee for me and cold beer for Kevin.
And bonus (!) we’d made new friends with two couples who were also from BC and they happened to be carrying ibuprofen. Quelle chance!
I’m not sure how I managed to forget my bottle back at the trailer, but it was lovely that Hazel shared some of her stash.
The next day was glorious, and, with plenty of ibuprofen on board, those 60 kilometres didn’t feel quite as tough. We wheeled into Auberge Le Voyageur B&B feeling pretty strong; hale enough to stroll the couple kilometres required to get to town and back so we could enjoy a wonderful pasta dinner.
It was almost too easy to cycle the next day’s 50 kilometres.
The weather was sunny with random clouds and the gusting breezes at the end of the day brought only a smattering of rain. It was that night’s bashing thunder that felt like Auberge de la Gare might just blow up. Luckily, the inn had stayed intact since 1891, so it managed to hang on through another night, long enough to ensure that we had yet another magnificent breakfast.
Except for the random gusts of strong wind, the final 32 kilometres to St. Jerome was almost anticlimatic in how easy it felt.
It was like I’d finally trained enough to start the trip.
I know people do century rides where they knock these kind of distances off before lunch, but I’m not one of those people.
So, at the end of our four days of cycling, especially when the 2% grade was going downhill instead of up, I have to admit…I kind of felt like a pedalling rock star.
Cycling is my life.
If you decide to cycle the P’tit Train du Nord:
I highly recommend using Autobus Le Petit Train du Nord. They deliver you and your bicycle (or provide a rental bike) to the northern start of the trail in Mont Laurier. Every day your suitcase magically arrives at the next inn. All you have to do is keep making those wheels go round and round until you tuck into a fantastic dinner (this is Quebec after all!) and a cozy bed at the next auberge.
Next thing you know? You’ve gone 200 kilometres, eaten fantastic French food and made some new friends.
PS: Remember the ibuprofen…