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Francois Cross Canada Adventure 2005 : Trip Diary

July 10, 2005 at 06:49AM
From: francois
July 9, 2005

Tobermory, ON to Barrie, ON
KM Travelled Today: 204 KM, Total So far: 4481 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050709/

Ryan and I slept in until about 0830 today before enjoying a continental breakfast at our motel. We were on the road at 1015 with mostly flat roads and a nice tail wind.

Progress was great during the first 3.5 hours of the ride. We managed to travel just over 100KM in that time. We were riding quite hard most of the time, and continued to take turns drafting. We stopped in the town of Wiarton for a nice lunch and we continued riding together until Owen Sound where Ryan and I shook hands and said our goodbyes with the hopes of meeting up again at some future point. Ryan was continuing south on highway #6 hoping to reach his home in Guelph by the end of the day. I proceeded to highway #26 to start heading towards Barrie. Ryan also keeps an online journal of his trip and it can be found at the following URL:
http://www.xcanadabike.blogspot.com/

As I reached highway #26 I learned that it was in fact closed for several KMs due to construction. The highway during that construction area was all gravel and essentially not rideable. I decided to stop by a nearby restaurant, Montana's Cookhouse, to ask for suggestions on alternate routes. I was greeted at Montana's by Greg who was very helpful in finding an alternate route for me. Greg was very kind, also offering food, water, or anything else I needed. I declined the food as I had just eaten but he filled up my hydration pack using the cool water from the bar nozzle, and he also gave me some extra bottled water as well. Its so awesome to meet people like Greg who are generous and kind with strangers and it truly made my day.

I had to double back a little due to the highway construction to get on an alternate route. The alternate route took me through some lovely farm lands and through a lot of difficult hills. Also, the route was actually a fair bit confusing at times, especially at the different highway junctions, and I had to stop and pull out my maps and even my computer three times to make sure that I was actually going the right way. This unfortunately ended up taking a lot of time but I eventually made a huge descent and found my way back to highway 26 a few KMs east of Thornbury past all of the construction. The detour ended up adding about 15 KM to the journey and I began to realize that I wasn't going to reach Barrie before dark. So I decided I would ride as far and fast as I could until dark and then I would get picked up by my brother-in-law, Andrew.

Before reaching Collingwood I passed a ski resort which is apparently owned by Intrawest. Collingwood looked like a nice area and there was a lot of construction of new condos, houses, etc, around that area. Its right on the water so there are plenty of beaches around.

I cycled until around 9:15 pm and then decided that it was getting dark enough that I should get off the road. Highway 26 was very busy and the shoulder almost non-existant so it wasn't worth risking riding any further. I was approximately 30 KM from Andrew's house in Barrie at that point and I pulled over to a gas station and awaited Andrew's arrival. He showed up a few minutes later and we loaded my bike and bags into the vehicle and drove to his house where my wife and kids awaited.

My wife and kids gave me a most wonderful welcome when I arrived, greeting me with hugs and kisses, causing a few tears of joy to fall down my cheeks. Its so nice to be loved.


My plan is stay and visit with family for the next 4 days or so after which I will be dropped back off at the same spot I was picked up at 30 KM outside Barrie and I will continue my journey.


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July 14, 2005 at 08:08AM
From: francois
July 14, 2005

Rest day in Burlington, Ontario

I've been spending the last few days enjoying some rest with my family. We drove down from Barrie to stay in Burlington at my in-law's house. I took my bike to a local bike shop called Brant Cycles to have the following things done:

* a general check-up to see how components are holding up
* to have the rear tire replaced as its quite worn out.
* to have tri-bars installed
* to have handebar tape replaced

I picked up my bike yesterday and was told that the components are holding up well. The mechanics found no problems at all with the bike so thats good news.

Tomorrow (Friday), I will continue on my cycling adventure. But rather than driving back up to Barrie and starting off where I left off I have decided to continue from Burlington. This will end up adding extra mileage to my trip but it is more convenient at this point than having to drive up to Barrie tonight. I will be more or less following the Waterfront Trail which follows the shore of Lake Ontario. I will likely skip Ottawa as I've been there before and instead go through Kingston and then get to my home town in Quebec fairly quickly.


July 15, 2005 at 07:07PM
From: francois
July 15, 2005

Burlington, ON to Oshawa, ON
KM Travelled Today: 148 KM, Total So far: 4629 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050715/

The cycling adventure has resumed. It was a little bit easier to say bye to my wife and kids this time as I will see them again in 4 or 5 days, so no tears were shed. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by my mom-in-law and then I got underway at about 1015 with a headwind and scorching temperatures to make things interesting.

My body felt fresh today due to the five days of rest and my bike felt like a comfortable old chair as I climbed on and started cycling. I followed the Waterfront Trail, which consists of roads and paved park paths, through Burlington, Oakville, and then into Mississauga where I stopped for my first rest stop and enjoyed a quick tiramisu and some cranberry juice. An hour later I was still cycling in Mississauga and I stopped for lunch at Tim Hortons where I was surprised to find that Interac is not accepted.

I really enjoyed cycling through Toronto as the Waterfront trail was very clearly marked and easy to follow and also because there was lots to see. I stopped to take a few photos and to chat with a family that was cycling to Niagara Falls from somewhere in Quebec. This family had two boys, one 6 years old and the other 7 years old which rode at the back of tandem bikes as passengers as they were too young to cycle themselves on a such a journey. I also stopped briefly in a Toronto neighborhood known as The Beaches where I would go windsurfing when I lived in North York back 95/96. It seems the windsurfers have been replaced with kitesurfers. I had previously seen kitesufing on TV, but this was the first time that I saw it live, in person, and it was very cool to watch.

Once I was west of Toronto I sometimes found the Waterfront Trail hard to stay on due to inadequate signage. I ended up taking several wrong turns and ending up on some dead end streets and had to double back. This occured several times and I suspect I ended up travelling about 20 KM in vain.

Somewhere in Pickering or Ajax I noticed a waterpark and I stopped, got off my bike and stood underneath some flowing water. It was wonderful. Drenched and cooled-off, I climbed back on my bike and continued while curious faces looked on. Shortly thereafter the paved path along the water front ended and I was back on a road with no visible signage of where to proceed and I ended up going back to highway 2 which had no shoulder and a lot of traffic. A few KMs later I found a cyclist and he gave me great directions that got me back to the waterfront trail.

By 8pm I was partway through Oshawa and decided I better find a motel soon in order to finish up before dark. I got off the Waterfront Trail and proceeded north and stopped at a gas station to ask about local motels. The nice lady working at the station took the time to write down wonderful directions for me to get me to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop which apparently has good food and affordable rooms. Unfortunately I didn't make it there as I ran into a Holiday Inn along the way and decided to stop.

Looks like the scorching temperatures will be around for several more days so I hope I pass more water parks along the way.


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July 17, 2005 at 03:52PM
From: francois
July 16, 2005

Oshawa, ON to Port Hope, ON
KM Travelled Today: 45 KM, Total So far: 4674 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050716/

Today wasn't a good day. I woke up at 0745 feeling not quite right. I was a little queezy and feeling fatigued, not really sure why. Perhaps it was the heat or perhaps the thick pollution in Toronto. Anyway, I ate some breakfast in my room and hit the road at 0930.

I decided to avoid using the Waterfront trail today as it requires too much effort and focus to actually remain on it due to inadequate signage. I travelled instead along highway #2 which was actually ok since traffic was fairly light.

As I cycled the heat seemed to make me feel worse and my energy levels were draining quickly. I generally felt weak and my breathing was much heavier than usual. I stopped at a gas station and downed some gatorade in the hopes that it would magically make everything better. No such luck. I continued on but at a very slow pace and then noticed that my right knee was starting to hurt. When it rains, it pours I guess :-)

After 30 KM, I stopped at a coffee shop to cool off and to do some stretching to hopefully help my knee. By this point I was actually starting to feel all better except for my knee problem which was getting worse.

After a few more KM of cycling I was really having trouble pedalling and I decided that I better stop and let my knee rest rather than making the situation worse. I found a motel just outside of Port Hope and checked-in.

This is the first time that I've had problems with my knee on this cross-Canada adventure and I'm fairly certain it is from pushing high gears yesterday. Since my legs were fresh yesterday my leg muscles felt like they could push hard and so instead of spinning faster in lower gears, like I usually do, I ended up spinning slower in higher gears and my right knee is paying the price for that sillyness today. Hopefully it will be better by morning.

I didn't do much the rest of the day except for eating and a little laundry. After that I relaxed by watching poker on TV.


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July 17, 2005 at 03:56PM
From: francois
July 17, 2005

Port Hope, ON to Napanee, ON
KM Travelled Today: 130 KM, Total So far: 4804 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050717/

I woke up at 0630 today and was actually out on the road by 0715 which I believe is the earliest start I've had on this trip. Unfortunately I had to endure riding in the rain for the first two hours today and to make things more interesting I punctured my front tire while travelling through Cobourg. I patched it up fairly quickly and continued on.

Now, as for my right knee, it was much better when I woke up this morning but by the time I had ridden 40 KM it was starting to be a problem again and my pace slowed down dramatically as a result. I began riding mostly with my left leg, allowing the right leg to just spin around while exerting as little force as possible. When I arrived in Brighton I streched the crap out of my right leg. I did all my usual stretches but I did them much harder and longer than usual and it worked wonders. When I got back on my bike my right knee felt completely fine (for the moment).

After an additional 15-20 KM of riding I could feel the problem returning in my right knee, and I stopped once again to do some very rigorous stretching which once again did the trick. I would repeat the process every 15-20 KM for the remainder of the day.

I passed many nice looking towns today, such as Cobourg, Brighton, and Belleville and all of them had nice clock towers. I also passed by the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton.

The treat of my day was meeting up with my wife, kids, and my mom about 10 KM east of Belleville. They were en-route to Quebec to visit with friends and family and we arranged to meet for a quick lunch. I will see them again in two or three days.

I was hoping to make it to Kingston today but with my knee still not in top form, I ended up making it to Napanee, which is about 40KM west of Kingston. I should have actually stopped earlier on in the day to give my knee more rest but I kept going in the hopes of making Kingston.

I'm going to do a lot of streching tonight and hope that my knee issues go away.

Can anyone do anything about this crazy hot weather? Its costing me a fortune in Gatorade expenditures.


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July 18, 2005 at 07:01PM
From: francois
July 18, 2005

Napanee, ON to Cornwall, ON
KM Travelled Today: 220 KM, Total So far: 5024 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050718/

Brace yourselves, this is a long one :)

I was up at 0530 today. Yes, 0530! And I was out the door cycling by 0715. Its a funny feeling going outside at that time of day and still finding temperatures of 30 celcius or more.

I had spoken to Ryan a couple days ago and learned that he was already in Kingston visiting with friends and family and so he and I made plans to meet up for breakfast. I arrived in Kingston at 0830 and met up with Ryan and his friend Meghan at a breakfast place called Cora's. It was great to have breakfast with company as opposed to being by myself like most days.

After breakfast I continued on highway #2 which took me through downtown Kingston. I also took a short detour to take a quick look at Queen's University during which I also passed by three beautiful churches.

Approximately 30 KM east of Kingston is a town called Gananoque which is the entry point to the lovely 1000 islands. I left highway #2 and got on the 1000 Islands Pky which is right along the St. Lawrence river and has its own dedicated bike path. The views along the 1000 Islands Pky were spectacular. There are so many tiny little rock islands with cottages on them.

I stopped for some ice cream and a beverage a few KMs before Brockville and thats where I met Dick and Dorothy from Illinois. Dick and Dorothy have a cottage on one of the 1000 Islands and have been coming here for over 30 years. They have four daughters, one of which recently honeymooned in Vancouver. Dick was very interested in my trip and after I told him how far I had travelled he insisted on giving me some money. Its very nice to know that there are people out there who actually want to help someone that they just met. I tried to explain to Dick that I didn't need financial help but I could see that there was no changing his mind and so I accepted the money.

After saying goodbye to Dick and Dorothy I headed off. I then heard a loud bang and my bike immediately came to a halt. I climbed off and investigated. One of the screws that holds my bike rack in place had come out and as a result part of the rack had crashed into the back wheel. After working on it for a while I was able to get things back to a rideable condition but my back wheel is having some problems and I will have to get that investigated at some point. Basically the back wheel doesn't spin very well. Its like the brakes are on lightly all the time but they aren't, so its a problem with the hub.

I passed many beautiful river front homes as I continued on through Brockville, Prescott, and Cardinal. I will definitely return to this area someday to visit more thoroughly.

By the time I reached Iroquois I had travelled 170 KM and I was starting to feel my right knee again. Up until then my right knee hadn't bothered me at all. I decided to take a rest and do some stretching so I stopped outside of a Mac's convenience store and went in to get some gatorade and a sandwich. The clerk, whose name is Fadir was very much intrigued by my trip and we chatted for about 45 minutes. Fadir is originally from Pakistan and he now lives in Iroquois with his wife and 2 month old baby boy. Eventually Fadir would like to move to Victoria, BC and find a job driving a taxi. He has heard about how beautiful it is in BC and also how the weather is not as extreme as in Ontario. He often works two jobs to make ends meet but he seems very happy and he really likes it here in Canada. I gave Fadir my cell phone number for when he makes it out to BC.

After 220 KM I arrived in Cornwall at 8pm where I checked-in at the Days Inn. The shower felt amazing after sweating all day in the scorching humidity and the beer I had with my dinner was simply glorious.

A couple of other things worth mentioning: I crossed the 5000KM mark today and tomorrow I will leave Ontario and enter Quebec.


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July 21, 2005 at 04:47AM
From: francois
July 19, 2005

Cornwall, ON to Montreal, QC
KM Travelled Today: 136 KM, Total So far: 5160 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050719/

I slept in a little bit today and woke up at 0830 and lounged around for a while on the bed to plan my route for the day. I was out on the road by 1015.

I rode a bike trail along the St. Lawrence until I reached the outskirts of Cornwall where the trail ended and I then got on highway #2, which has a nice paved shoulder, and continued until I reached South Lancaster which was my first rest stop.

From South Lancaster I rode on the service road just south of highway 401 for approx. 11 KM, after which I was back on highway #2 for only few minutes before leaving Ontario and entering Quebec where highway #2 becomes highway #338.

Somewhere near the town of Saint-Zotique I found a Route Verte cycling path that followed an old canal and I followed this path all the way to Pointe-des-Cascades. I had read about Quebec's extensive network of cycling paths, called Route Verte and this was a wonderful first introduction to it.

From Point-des-Cascades I travelled to Dorion on highway 338 and then I rode briefly on highway #20 to cross the bridge over to l'Ile Perrot. The south side of the bridge has a bike path which is well divided from the main highway #20 traffic. After crossing the bridge I took small roads which hugged the north side of the island until I reached the bridge to cross onto the island that is Montreal.

Upon arriving in Montreal I immediately found a Route Verte bike path which followed the south shoreline through Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Baie-d'Urfe, Dorval and Lachine. It was wonderful cycling through some beautiful neighbourhoods full of amazing homes and lovely views. The bike paths were all clearly marked and easy to follow.

When I arrived in Lachine I took the bike path that follows the canal and I followed it for a little over 10 KM to reach the old port of Montreal. This path along the canal is quite wonderful and is well used by many cyclists. I stopped near Rue de la Commune and Boulevard Saint-Laurent and enjoyed a huge bowl of gelato while watching people pass. This part of Montreal is full of beautiful old buildings, brick roads and charming cafes.

Shortly afterwards my dad picked me up and drove me to his home where we (my wife, kids and I) will be staying for the next few days. I will be visiting relatives and resting here until Monday morning.


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July 25, 2005 at 06:03PM
From: francois
July 20 - 24, 2005

July 25, 2005 at 06:06PM
From: francois
July 25, 2005

Montreal, QC to Trois-Rivières
KM Travelled Today: 145 KM, Total So far: 5305 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050725/

My dad dropped me off at 10 am this morning near the old port of Montreal in the same location where he had picked me up a few days earlier and that is where I continued my cycling adventure.

I followed Route Verte #5 for approx. 1 hour until I was out of Montreal and into Repentigny. As with all the other Quebec cycling paths that I have travelled, this one was clearly marked and very easy to follow. Quebec definitely has the best and most useful cycling paths I've encountered thus far on this trip. Before I forget I should mention that I stopped at Harveys, my favourite fast-food burger place, in Repentigny and enjoyed a glorious cheeseburger. I wish there were more Harveys in the Vancouver area.

I followed route 138 for the rest of the day. Traffic wasn't too heavy and the road often had a nice big shoulder. There are some sections without shoulder but traffic was light enough during those parts that it didn't matter too much. The route takes you through some nice little towns and sometimes right along the St Lawrence. The segment along Lac Saint-Pierre was very nice. Its all very flat and was thus a relatively easy ride except for the slight headwind which slowed me down a little bit.


Sometime before reaching the town of Berthierville I caught up to another cyclist, whose name is Richard. We exchanged a few words and I continued on at a faster pace. When I reached Berthierville I stopped outside of a restaurant and Richard saw me and also pulled over to talk. Richard is from Montreal and is currently on holidays and is doing some cycle touring for 10 or 11 days. I went in to eat and Richard continued cycling.

Near Pointe-du-Lac I caught up to Richard again and we rode together the rest of the way to Trois Rivieres where we are both staying at L'Auberge (hostel) Internationale De Trois-Rivieres.

I was lazy today and didn't take any photos today except for one of the room here at the hostel and one of Richard.

Tomorrow I will ride to Quebec city where I will stay with my uncle Gilles.


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July 26, 2005 at 08:00PM
From: francois
July 26, 2005

Trois-Rivières to Quebec City
KM Travelled Today: 95 KM, Total So far: 5400 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050726/

I awoke at 0700 this morning and made my way over to Cora's, a restaurant chain not yet found in western Canada, to enjoy breakfast. After breakfast I walked around a little bit and took some photos of Trois Rivieres before returning to the hostel to pack up my things.

Richard and I decided to ride together again today and we left the hostel at around 0830. We followed route 138 through many lovely small towns and I took the time to snap a few pictures this time.

At noon we stopped somewhere between Grondines and Deschambault to have lunch at a place called Restaurant L'Arret which had a glorious view of the St. Lawrence. The pasta that we ate really hit the spot and as a result our pace increased afterwards.

About 20 KM later I started feeling a little pain in my right knee. I wasn't too worried though as I figured a little stretching would help so I stopped and went through my stretching routine. The stretching helped but when I reached Donnacona I started feeling a little off and I decided to stop for a while and rest. I told Richard that I would rest there for at least an hour and that he should continue on ahead without me. We stopped at a Tim Horton's and had a coffee together before saying goodbye and parting ways.

Now I was starting to feel worse. My stomach was feeling off and my leg muscles were starting to ache in a way that I had never felt before. I tried to stretch them but the pain was so intense that I felt nauseaus. Something was definitely happening to my body but I wasn't sure exactly what. I felt a bit faint so I sat down and raised my legs up on a chair and pondered my options. I decided to wait a little bit to see if the condition would worsen. A few minutes later I tried to get up and although I managed it was very difficult. Walking around was very painful to the point that I thought I would throw up. I struggled to the bathroom and afterwards my stomach was much better. With my legs still useless I realized that biking would likely not be an option again today and so I phoned a taxi to come and get me.

I removed both wheels from my bike as well as my paniers and waited for the taxi to arrive. When the taxi arrived I struggled into the front seat while the cab driver loaded all of my equipment. The cab driver took me the remaining 40 KM to my uncle's house, travelling at speeds rarely less than 160 KM per hour while using only one hand to control the steering wheel. I began to wonder wether my day could get any worse. It did. Even though it was rather hot out and even hotter in the cab, I started shivering uncontrollably. I felt cold and was likely feverish. By the time I reached my uncle's house though I could already feel things improving. Walking around was still painful but was much more tolerable and things continued to improve as the night went on. As I write this now my legs are feeling almost within normal operating parameters though I do feel more tired than usual. I'm not sure what the cause of the problem was but I do have a theory. I believe that something I ate or drank didn't sit well and perhaps prevented my body temporarily from absorbing necessary nutrients like salt and sufficient water. Today's ride should have been an easy one, as the terrain is very flat, and indeed it was until the problem occured.

Anyway, I'm rather pleased that things are returning to normal now and I'll do some online research to try to determine what the likely cause was.


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