Ride Day 6: Back to Montreal – and Stormchasing

Sunday morning we woke up and were both surprisingly refreshed. Had I known I would feel this good after hauling 40-50 lbs of gear over 100 miles I might not have booked another hotel night and instead headed right out to Montreal. That said, a rest is always good and gave us a chance to relax and do a bit of laundry as well.  With only a couple of changes of clothes you take that opportunity when you can.

We were a bit out in the suburbs and didn’t feel much like riding in to town that day and so we relaxed in the hotel room taking a break mid-day to walk out and get some Thai food in a mall food court. I was craving noodles so we ate a bunch of those though I have to admit that I was very much tempted by one menu item: “General Tao’s Poutine” Something for next time.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ate a big breakfast and then killed time in the hotel until 11. There was no good reason to leave early – we couldn’t check in the Airbnb until 3 and it would only be a couple of hours riding. We resolved to take it slowly and unlike every other day we endeavoured to take lots of stops along the way.

Our ride took us across and then up the Chambly Canal. It actually had some connections to our trip and others.  This canal provides a connection between the Great Lakes (including Lake Ontario near Toronto) and Lake Champlain. Some of the boats we saw at the end of Day 2 likely got there by way of this canal.  The canal also connects to others that eventually lead to New York City – the destination of our first tour together back in 2012.

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Even on a Monday the trail was filled with people of all ages going in both directions some of them even towing their dogs behind them in a trailer.  As planned, we made lots of stops along the way including a (much too late) stop for cookies and pop to refuel followed by a lunch stop soon after.

When we came out of the Tim Hortons after lunch something was different. The temperature had really risen and the humidity was ridiculous.  And to the north were some clouds piling up beautifully – and a little disturbingly – as we still had about 15 km to go. Maybe 45 min.

And then this notification arrived on my phone:

tstorm

Back through the suburbs we went, all on great bike lanes and trails until we got to the Jacques Cartier Bridge – the same one we left Montreal on several days before.  Like our first day, this would be our biggest “hill” of the ride.  As we went up we started to see the weather awaiting us.  On one side of the bridge was a stunning summer day. The sky on the other side looked like the sky from the climactic scene of Ghostbusters.  With weather like that on the way and us on a high metal bridge it didn’t seem wise to stop to take any photos.  And so we steadily climbed back over the bridge and in to the city.

We turned on to Rue Ste. Catharine – an east/west street and lined right up with the track of the storm.  And off in the distance we saw it as we waited for a red light: Smoke rising and headed our way. What is happening?!?

Except it wasn’t smoke – as we watched it we saw it was dust. A huge wind was rising at the edge of the storm and we were heading in to it.  Just before the light turned green it hit us. It felt as if someone turned a fan on high – in front of an open refrigerator door.

We rode in to the head wind as our bike path meandered on various streets, down to the river again and finally up through a park to the location of our night’s stay.  We pulled up and I sent some messages to our host.

As we were waiting, a woman came out on the third floor balcony across the street from us and shouted, concernedly in French at us.  My French skills have gone down very much but eventually, she gestured toward the direction of the oncoming storm and shouted “BOOM BOOM!”  I did my best to tell her it was OK, our host would arrive in 5 minutes.  It wasn’t easy – most of my French vocabulary has disappeared in the years I haven’t used it – and hilariously it has been replaced with Hindi vocabulary so if I am not careful I say sentences like “Aaj je coffee avec creme aur sucre chahiye. Je voudrais ek muffin ya bagel…” I’m *mostly* able to catch it before it comes out of my mouth like that but one or two Hindi words leak out every day or so…

Finally, frustrated, the woman came out with a map and tried to tell us to run to the metro station and take shelter.  Just then, though, our host arrived.  The neighbour talked to her – I didn’t catch much but she was clearly relieved and said “He kept saying ‘she’ll be her in 5 minutes!”

As we carried our bikes up the stairs to the apartment the first drops began to fall.

The apartment was lovely – two bedrooms all to ourselves, a block away from a friend of mine and a couple of blocks from the metro station (in case we need shelter *laughing*). We each had a shower and then it was time to head out and meet another friend across town for dinner.  We had a fantastic time – ate far too much, talked and laughed a lot and then headed back way too late – almost falling asleep on the metro.  A wonderful end to a wonderful trip.

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