Writing on 7/18/15 in Halifax
Later in the day on 7/16, the general contractor, Peter (or Pierre? I don’t know) helped me with the handlebars a bit. I disconnected everything off of them and took the handlebars off the bike so we could try to take a few whacks at them. Peter didn’t have any useful tools for the task, so we pretty much just used two by fours and brute force. We scored the chrome completely, and the bars are extremely ugly now, but we did get them slightly better than they were before. After a full day of arduous construction work, I looked at my phone and saw it was already 6pm. Not having had a chance to explore Quebec City and unlikely to make significant progress before sundown, I decided to stay another night and leave the following morning. Peter offered me some cash if I’d help him with some more work early in the morning before leaving. I agreed to it.
I walked around Quebec City for several hours. There were events going on everywhere and music could be heard throughout the streets. It’s quite a neat city with a very old european feel to it. By the time I decided to turn back, it was after sundown and I was completely lost. I ended up asking for help from some locals. I showed them the pictures on my camera from earlier in the walk and asked what direction those buildings were in. Before long I found my way back to Peter’s construction site (and the bed).
The next morning he, again, woke me up extremely early. Another couple of guys showed up, as well as a large steel garbage container. The task I’d signed myself up for was to help move a couple of humongous piles of debris off site and into the container with just buckets and shovels.
It was backbreaking work, and I went to great lengths to ensure every time I lifted something I was using my legs to do so. My mechanical guru, Sarge, got a hernia a fairly short time before I left on this trip. His injury was very much at the forefront of my mind as I heaved these heavy bins of debris back and forth.
It was interesting to me, a cubicle drone, to spend a day walking in a construction worker’s shoes. I’ve met quite a few guys on this trip who work construction, and I’ve always been dumbfounded how much money they make given the complete lack of education required for the job. That day of work in Quebec City put it into perspective for me, as the risk of injury from falls, getting hit by objects, hernias, or throwing one’s back out is extreme. It is also incredibly physically demanding. (It’s hard keeping up with the pace of a bunch of buff guys who also snort a bump before starting to work.)
I’m glad I chose to work. I’m glad to be able to say I did a manly honest day’s work during the trip. I can see why those guys get paid as much as they do, and it’s definitively not work I’d want to do for any kind of extended period.
I left Quebec City bound for Halifax. I did manage to score a place to sleep a few minutes from Halifax on ADVrider. Unfortunately, having left Quebec City a little later in the morning than I’d hoped for, the whole ride was a race to the finish as to whether I’d make it to Halifax before sundown. It was 1000kms from Quebec City to Halifax.
It’s interesting being in these marathon rides sometimes. I’ll often tell myself things in a very similar fashion as I would at the gym. “Just 40 more miles and I can take a break.” “Just two more gas tanks and you’re there.”
I was riding the shadow fairly hard the whole way, keeping it at 80mph +/-5.
Inevitably, when I need to make good time, I go faster. When I go faster, more things start to go wrong. When things go wrong, I need to stop and fix them. The more I stop, the less time I have, the faster I want to go, the more things break.
It’s a vicious cycle.
The gas can fell off the side of the bike, my shifter pedal kept wanting to fall off, I ran out of gas at one point… It was quite frustrating.
At one point I found myself with my back pressed against the gas can because it was about to fall off again, my left leg numb from exerting force against the shifter to keep it from falling, my right wrist aching from keeping the throttle open, fighting to get my left glove back on with just my left hand after having to check on my GPS (because I have to just turn it on to check it and turn it back off, else I run out of battery), it was starting to get cold, I’m hungry, and I’m worrying about whether I’ll make it to the next gas station before I run out of gas.
But I had set a goal for myself.
I told myself I was going to make it to Halifax that same day.
And so I did.
I made it here at about 10pm. I did have to stop and reconnect the headlight, as it just got too damn dangerously dark and I can’t afford a ticket.
I made it to my Halifax hosts’s, (Stephen and Isabelle) place right on the coast, and was greeted with a cold beer, hot food, a hot shower, and a warm bed. I got a good night’s sleep.
It’s about 9:00AM right now, I’m hoping to leave later today to make at least some progress to NYC, but we’ll see.