Day 53 – Trois-Rivières to Quebec City, PQ – 135km

I had the wind
at my back today. The sun was out. Highway 138 was flat and it followed the St.
Lawrence River. The country here is so calm. I feel like I would be more suited
riding a metal cruiser bike with fenders and a basket with a packed picnic…. I
would love to stop in a field and just watch the clouds waft over the peaceful
green meadows and the ships drift their way up or down the river. That sounds
lovely and all, but I was racing today. I had an event in Quebec City at 2:30
at the centre Cardinal Villeneuve, IRDPQ site Saint-Louis. I’ve been late for
my last 2 events, so I wasn’t going to let myself be late for this one.

It just so
happened I was sharing my route with the Ride to Conquer Cancer, again, for the
second day in the row. Yesterday, I caught up to the big charity ride at the
end of my route, about 20km before the finish. Today, I started probably only a
couple minutes after the Ride to Conquer Cancer set off, and I started only a
kilometre or two from their start. I passed the rear support vehicles which were
a cube van and a police car. I passed the slow riders. There were a couple rest
stations over the next 50km where it seemed all the riders stopped to refill
water and socialize (or procrastinate biking). I pack myself with 3 water
bottles and 2 pouches full of nuts and beef jerky, so I can go a while without
stopping. I made up a lot of ground, and eventually I was riding with the very
front of the pack—a peloton of 15 riders cycling at 35-40km/hr behind the front
police squad car. It was never on my bucket list, but passing an entire charity
ride of a couple hundred riders is definitely worthy of my list, and it is now
crossed off.

I did get my
helmet cam set up for my entrance into Quebec City. I won’t be able to post the
video until I have high speed internet, but I do have some pictures of the scenery
from just west of the city.

Going back up a steep hill that I accidentally made a wrong turn and went down

....still regretting that wrong turn. Climbing that tedious hill

Louise Lefort
Leblanc, Louise Pagé, Marie-Christine Corriveau and Isabelle Savard work with
people who communicate in alternative ways. They had set up a table of fruits,
salads, cheeses, and meats for a lunch meet-and-gather.

On this afternoon, I
met Michel (forgive me for any misspellings), a man who’s bilingual, and speaks
with AAC. He operates his computer with a clicker in his left hand and with a
joystick in his right hand. Michel was astonished to hear that I was cycling
across the country. I guess he thought I was driving. His reaction was funny. He
had a “Really? You’re not kidding me?” smile of astonishment on his face. I told
him I was serious. He had a big grin on his face and he typed out “You’re my
king,” on his communication device. I don’t think I’ve met anyone on this trip
who has been so surprised or thrilled as Michel. Thank you for that moment. I
won’t forget it.

Some close
family friends of ours drove from Toronto to Quebec City to join us on the
road. Melisa, who worked with my brother nearly 20 years ago, was present the
day I was born. Her husband, Jeff, a tennis player—not a huge cyclist, would be
cycling with me from Quebec City into New Brunswick. He picked some challenging
distances to join me on. Melisa and Jeff’s kids, Sari and Timo, were there as
well. I’ve grown up with these friends, so it’s suiting that they’re a part of
this and I feel honoured by their effort to accompany my family on this
profound journey.

Our crew in Quebec City

Jeff coaches
Timo’s soccer team. Jeff happened to be wearing a Chilean soccer jersey. Michel
complimented him on it, and Jeff, Timo and Michel ended up getting into a
conversation about soccer. I used to play a lot of soccer but I’ve never
followed it or watched much of it, so I listened in on their conversation. It
turns out that Michel actually collects jerseys—he has over 30. Jeff, being the
generous person he is, insisted that Michel take his Chilean jersey for the
collection. I guess it was Michel’s day. I gave Michel his first bike jersey
for the collection—a maroon Norco Performance Bikes jersey.

Michel's new Norco Jersey

As I was
talking with Michel, it was obvious that he was really into sports. I was
curious. I wondered if he ever played sports. I never did muster the courage to
ask him that question. I later learned that Michel was in a car accident which
paralyzed him and resulted in his loss of speech. I learned this after I said
good bye to him. On one hand, I wasn’t surprised—I had wondered if he had been
a soccer player, if he had been mobile before. However, another part of me was surprised.
It’s inspiring to meet someone with such a good sense of humour and playful spirit
as Michel’s after experiencing such a drastic change in life.

We all take
lots for granted. I know I do. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I could
have been paralyzed twice in the last 2 years riding my bike (a downhill bike
accident and being hit by a car while riding my bike 10 months later). For me,
my physical mobility is the first thing I dread losing, but the more I think
about it, the more I dread losing my speech. Michel, I have lots of admiration
for the perseverance of your spirit, although I imagine it took a long time to
recover it.

My brother,
dad and I slept inside a room in the Centre with 3 hospital beds. My mom slept
in the RV which was parked behind the building. Melisa, Jeff, Timo, and Sari
set up a tent on a grassy pad behind the building next to our RV. I was extremely
grateful to the Louise’s and Isabelle for arranging our complimentary room. I
had a nice long warm shower. I tried to catch up on blogs from Toronto to
Montreal. There was a wild thunderstorm as I typed away. I made some progress,
but not enough.

There’s always
more to be done. It’s about pacing to cover the most distance each day, day
after day.

-Skye

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