Waterloo, QC to Yamaska National Park 36 miles (58 km)
Saturday, June 6-7, 2015
I just returned from Vermont where I was for three days. I went to my sister’s house in Jericho to pick up some equipment that I had ordered online: iPhone, dragonfire stove, new MSR pots, bedrolls, bottle cages, clothing, and whatnot. I also had the chance to meet up with Greg on Friday and he took me to an awesome eatery buried in a convenience store, “the Shopping Bag” on North St., in Burlington. That’s a story for another day, but I will say this, know what you want before calling.
Up early Saturday, I started getting the bikes ready. I installed a mirror, an odometer, adjusted the straps on my panniers, swapped out my factory saddle for a Brooks B17, and a host of other things. I was feeling particularly good about the stress-free morning, which is unusual for me. I often run around, checking the time, making sure someone is doing something; however, today was different. Julie busied herself getting the kitchen gear ready, which included a dinner, breakfast, and snacks.
It felt like we were stretching sore muscles. You might not know this, but we aren’t new to bicycle touring. Four years ago we bicycled with our kids (4 and 6 years old at the time) to Lac St-Jean, Quebec from Waterloo, Quebec. In total we did about 11oo km (683 miles). You can read an article about our trip, published by Gabrielle, located in the media tab above.
Our first 20 km
We live in a small town that is at the center of several different bicycling routes. We took La Campagnarde out of town towards Warden. Before getting on the bikes we discussed a few things, including riding order. Julie led us through town, while Leo, riding alone, was sandwiched between the two of us. Charlotte sat in the recumbent seat (stoker position) in front of me. Once we were clearly out of town, we pulled to the side of the trail and took a deep breath. We did it. Two years of planning (bikes, route, selling our home, leave from work, homeschooling, equipment, the list goes on) finally paid off. We were a mobile family and it felt good. We congratulated each other with smiles and high fives. Moments later we were back on the move. Charlotte was singing songs in front of me, Leo called out his speed, Julie was taking it all in, and I was still smiling from ear to ear.
We stopped several times along the route to drink water or make small adjustments to our gear or our bikes. We played with the settings on our new Son 28 Dynamo, a front hub that will power our small electronic devices (phone, camera).
A few hours before nightfall we pulled into the hiker/biker campground in the Yamaska National Park. The site is only accessible by foot, bicycle, or canoe/kayak. The sites (4) are situated on the north side of the Choinière Réservoir. There were several people sitting around when we arrived, though only one would spend the night. I recognized him as soon as I saw him. I had seen this grey-haired man several times in Granby waiting at red lights on his bicycle, or at the counter in the Cegep de Granby library (the college where I teach). Dressed as if he were field-testing winter camping gear on a chilly night, he spoke to us about his career choices. I sat back in my camp chair listening and drinking a beer. Leo skipped stones across the still water. Charlotte didn’t pack a warm shirt, so she wrapped herself up in one of Julie’s extra layers. We all looked across the water as Roland traced the path of the previous night’s full moon.
Bagels and coffee
Charlotte and I were up early the next day. I fiddled around installing my wireless odometer, well more like sifting through the different language manuals before I could find the English one. Using the saw blade on a Swiss army knife, Leo whittled a branch into a kickstand for his bike. Julie stayed in the tent taking advantage of her sleeping bag’s warmth on this cold morning. Charlotte grabbed my camera a cruised throughout the campsite taking pictures.
It wasn’t long before we were back on our bikes heading back to Waterloo. At this point we left the park and met up with La Granbyene bike trail. For the last 30 km we cruised along a dedicated bike route (paved rail trail). We stopped less frequently and arrived in Waterloo early enough to sit back and talk about the experience.