Friday, August 8, 2008

ta DAH!


We have arrived in Montreal.

It was totally worth the 3 flats (all mine, all rear), 1 lost towel (also mine), 1 lost lock (mine again), 1 lost pair of gloves (yup, mine), and the 7million pounds of trader joe's spaghetti with flax we had to eat (again, my doing. the food will get its own designated post forthwith, I promise. There's something called Meat Stick Syndrome that I must explain.) The city is gorgeous and the rain can't dampen our spirits a bit.

I was making a mental list of the amazing things I saw today and my brain (though it's well-conditioned by grad school) became overful, so here's just a sampling.

The bike paths in Quebec are astounding. Wide. Paved. Well-tended. Totally distinguished from regular car lanes. Some are part of a network of paths called "routes vert," numbered like highways, that run through forests and along the shore of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence river. Too beautiful- it makes urban biking feel like being in a fairy tale.

We encountered some completely entrancing cottages and houses today next to the Lachine canal (do a google image search. Seriously.)- it was a sort of gray and overcast sky, and we passed a little stone home with a glossy tin roof that was so red it made my heart jump a little... Then there were the houses that butted up next to the canal with canoes and kayaks docked-- charming, sure, but rendered unforgettable by the giant blue heron that was roosting on one of the boats-- the 30-k ride in along that canal was the very definition of serenity.

Within minutes of arriving we stumbled onto a lovely little organic/local slowfood place in Old Montreal- I had a phenomenal gazpacho and some chipotle hummus and Melissa got a sunflower loaf panini (chris brunn- we must make this)- and now that I'm showered and nearly human again we're getting ready to go out on the town.

I wish you all were here in person- but you're definitely here in our hearts. Merci, darlings.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

If you wanna

know the cool and interesting and provocative things about canadian political economy, ask an old farmer. While waiting for Melissa outside the library in South Lancaster, Ontario, I had a 30min chat with a guy named Gordon and learned more from him than all the official plaques and museums and whatnot I've passed in 2.5 weeks. So awesome, you guys.

Also I heart the metric system. Kilos and kilos I heart the metric system.
Onward and quebecward!

Goodbye, Ontario

This is the last posting from Ontario. We have been following Brian Hedley's Toronto to Montreal route (see sidebar), and we really can't say enough great things about it. Canada's definition of a bike path is much different than mine - sometimes it means 2 inches wide dirt path through overgrown shrubs or 2 inches deep gravel. Brian's step-by-step guide leads you around the mountain bike stuff for your touring pleasure, while still saving some pleasant surprises. So, thanks, Doug at Boulevard Bikes for passing it on. When I log off, we will go straight to the Ontario/Quebec border, then it's Montreal tomorrow. Sorry we haven't been posting, but we've been having some trouble locating public libraries for free internet and there was a holiday. We have much to report. Gene, got your comment and I'm working on a list of "how-to bike tour" for ya! Thanks for subscribing! See you all soon, melissa & meg

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So Canada is lovely, toronto is a very cool and environmentally aware city, and there are an astounding number of cyclists here. We have much to report, including Blackie, Cedars (the most amazing gay campground *ever*), and an adventure at the toronto bicycle network workshop/co-operative, but we're on a hostel computer and must dash. Suffice to say we're tan and tired and enjoying our adventure, and we'll tell you more very soon.
meg & melissa

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 13: Put Another Dime in the Jukebox Baby

We have stumbled into the quirky little town of London, Ontario along the Thames River. A daily farmer's market, historical monuments and used book stores. Satisfactory, but is there anything fun to do? By some gross oversight, minor-leaguer Sammy Hagar (the Who? Eagles?) was billed as the headliner of a festival sponsored by a classic rock station. Luckily, I opened a paper that gave us the real news. Joan Jett, people. THE Joan Jett, as in my favorite version of Crimson and Clover, ba bum bum bum ba ba. Our mullets weren't long enough to get in, so we sat in the adjacent park and waited patiently through the opening bands, Megan with her Booker Award book and I with my Proust. Finally, the time came to climb a tree to see the crown of her head bopping over the tops of outhouses. Ms. Jett really gives you something to look forward to turning 50. We tried stalking her at her hotel later that night, but only ran into members of the band and the long hair guy from Skid Row.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things I have learned, Meg's vol. 1

Oh, bike road trip = learning experience.

Notes others may profit from:
*don't pack dry lentils. Waste of weight and labor. (I over-estimated my willingness to cook.)
*do pack Trader Joe's boil-in-bag indian meals. yum. fast. win/win.
*do bring your leftover Chicago Blue Bag recycling bags- they make excellent cheapo rain gear. If the city won't recycle, at least you can.
*bring twice as many big and medium ziplock bags as you think you'll want. You'll use them.
*make a point of getting the bike maps of the states/provinces you'll be in ahead of time- verrry helpful.
*keep pens in handy places for directions/contact info.
*it is better to bring 1 bikini top and a couple of random shirts to ride in than to mess with jerseys/sportsbras/etc. Trust me and my new tan on this one.
*bring more than academic reading. After 100 K today, the last damn thing I feel like reading is Hannah Arendt. An Us Weekly would be more like it. (though I did think a bit about swiping the newest Economist from the farmhouse where we stopped to use the bathroom...)
*three resounding cheers for the Brooks saddle. Worth every penny, breaks in even better than the doc martens I wore in high school, it attracts fellow cyclists who will buy you italian sodas (thanks Pete and Judy!), and it is So. Totally. Comfortable.

These are today's lessons-- There are definitely more but I'm a little fuzzy-headed and I'm positive Melissa will have some excellent insights to add...

Time to lube the chain and ice the knees. Gnight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As my dear Dan often tells me, you can know a thing to be true and still appreciate supporting evidence. He's right. I've always maintained that people are fundamentally good and our time riding through Michigan has provided ample evidence to support my perspective. Christy the bartender in Walkerville who called the Bitely Boys Motorcycle Gang to get us a free camping spot, Rusty and Jack and Don of said gang who chatted, Sandy the Bitely bartender who gave us coffee and pancakes and wouldn't take payment, Donnie and Kim who let us sleep in their award-winning pole barn and swim in their pool, Pete and Judy who bought us coffee and joined me in geeking out over gear stuff and gave us Tour de France updates and a beautiful route out of Midland, and now Gerry and Sara who opened their jaw-droppingly gorgeous historic (1872! Survived a wildfire!) home and their homemade wine and vegetarian pizza and stayed up laughing with us til faaar too late at night--- all kind and lively souls who reached out to us, each one the source of stories we'll be telling for years. Amazing.

And that's just over the last 10 days. I'd be remiss if I failed to also mention the enthusiastic support we've gotten from the homefront. There was a great deal of collaborative work in the lead-up to this adventure: before the sendoff brunch and the Zion camping, there were months of speculation and planning and chatter. My mom and Dad and Dan and Arline and Ruth and Max and Rachel and Dave and Toby and Stacey and Nick and the crews at Uptown Bikes and Boulevard Bikes and Johnny Sprockets-- good lord, you guys. Words fail. Big hugs.

I continue to be overwhelmed by the graciousness and generosity and good humor of the people I encounter, both in regular life and in epic undertakings like this one. You all make it easy for me to be happy and hopeful. Hooray for evidence.