Written in Quebec City on 7/16
When I went downstairs to the bike to begin loading up I saw the city of Montreal had left me a lovely parting gift, a parking ticket for fifty something dollars. Just what i needed. I had asked Fred’s roommate if it was okay to leave the bike there, as I saw a sign in french i couldn’t read with a P crossed out, but a lot of cars parked down the sidewalk. I think it might’ve been something about not parking on a certain day for street sweeping or something along those lines, but I dont know. I left Fred’s and made my way to a car scrapyard I’d googled. I had the options of buying a 2 year old battery for 50 or a rebuilt one for 70. They were both batteries off of civics, as those were the smallest they had. Given how critical the car battery is going to be if I need it, I opted for the rebuilt one. I strapped it on to the bike, got a picture of it because it was so funny to me, and started riding off. Having the battery hanging out there is really inconvenient, as it doesn’t let me walk the bike at all. I almost dropped the bike trying to back it out of the parking lot because of it.
I got on the road to Quebec City and was met by an overabundance of traffic on the highway. I started getting really frustrated on account of not wanting the bike to sit at idle speed and die again. One of the nice things about the whole meditation and mindfulness studies I’ve been doing during this trip is that, well, I’ve become more mindful of my emotions; more observant as to my own frame of mind. It helps to be able to see yourself getting angry in a third-person perspective kind of way. Because it lets you reason how useless it is to get angry. “I’m stuck here, I HAVE to take this road, I HAVE to go through the tunnel under the river, and there’s no good way around. Just accept it, keep the RPMs at 3000, and hope for the best, as that’s all I can do now.”
Eventually traffic let up once I got far away enough from Montreal. I continued pushing forward to Quebec City in 4th gear at 60-65mph. All the while waving at passing cagers, who often pass me slowly to smile and give me a thumbs up (on account of the whiteboard sign on the back of the bike.) I made it to Quebec City without having to use the car battery. I didn’t even need to jump the battery to start it up. So it does seem to be charging while I’m at highway speeds. Great news.
I tried scouring the ADV map for a place to sleep in Quebec City, but no such luck. I tried my luck asking a few bikers as I stopped here and there, but again, no such luck. I had another idea for a place to crash in the city, but it also did not pan out. It was already past sundown. I was in the middle of Quebec City and without a place to stay. Leaving also wasn’t an option without first going through the huge hassle of reconnecting my headlight. Reconnecting it would also have been a risky idea given that I had already spent more time idling in Quebec City traffic than I’d have liked to. It was definitively dark enough out to get a ticket for the headlamp being out. All these attempts to find where to sleep consumed about an hour and a half of time. Out of ideas and unwilling to risk reconnecting the headlamp, I figured “f%$k it, it’s not a real craigslist-joe-esque trip if I don’t end up sleeping on the street at least one night.” I found a place to park, took out my sleeping bag, and tried to doze off right there and then on the street next to my bike. I slept for maybe two hours before I heard a male voice saying “monsieur, monsieur”. “F&%$, I’m going to get kicked out” I thought, as I started sticking my head out of the sleeping bag. I opened my eyes to a man smiling and talking to me in French. I proclaimed “Je ne parle pas français.” He began to tell me in broken English that he could offer me a place to stay just down the street, that he didn’t want anything from me, and that he just wanted to pay it forward because somebody had done the same for him 20 years ago or something along those lines. He also explained to me that I was on a street with fairly important buildings and it was likely that police would kick me out before sunrise. I accepted his offer and followed him to a little door through which he helped me push my bike (he wanted it off, presumably so I wouldn’t wake anyone up?). He brought me a mattress, a heater, and a couple cans of soda. I don’t know how many times I said ” merci”, but it was a lot.
The next morning he woke me up at about 6am, and asked me if I wanted to work for him for the day, as he’s a general contractor. I sleepily said yes without really thinking about my looming timeline. As an afterthought, I figured it’d be cool to be able to say I made a few bucks doing honest work along the way on my trip, so I don’t regret saying yes. It’s mostly just been helping him carry materials into his work area from a construction site just up the street. Aside from very generous pay, he’s offered to help me fix my bike. I know he won’t be able to do anything regarding my charging issue, but I’m optimistic he’ll be able to straighten my handlebars. I hope to still hit the road to Halifax today. The plan is to beeline it to Halifax to be able to say I rode coast to coast Canada, and pretty much stick to the slab the whole way home from there to make better time. I have some long days in the saddle ahead of me if I hope to finish this trip in time.
Written in Quebec City on 7/16