Lisa and I parted ways bright and early, and I struck out on my own, heading north out of Lachute up hwy 329 and straight up the hills. I was in good company, as it was the weekend and there were plenty of other spandex-clad cyclists tackling the hills. Unfortunately, my “moon time” showed up 2 weeks early (seriously!!?! not cool) so I was in rather desperate need of additional supplies. Not to get too graphic, but the [adapted] words of Lional Richie were singing in my head all the way there, “…Cause I’m bleeding. Bleeding like a Sunday morning.” That spurred me on the hills and powered my speedy arrival in Morin Heights. I then proceeded to make my ultra-light weight tripping sister proud by sitting outside the convenience store to dissect the tampons in order to divest them of the excess applicator weight.
Route (part 1):
I was impressed by by mastery of this hilly section and motivated to go on and continue to be awesome.
Instead of staying on the 329, I decided to take the short cut to Val David. This was NOT a good call, as the road started with 6k of the most intense hills I have had the displeasure of sweating on. Just as I started to wish the hills away, the road turned gravel.
Using the fallacy of sunk costs to justify my decisions, I pressed on, because I could not think of going back on all that hard work up the hills. However, as the loose gravel and steep hills continued, I was beginning to doubt everything. This particular section of road was the most mentally and physically difficult challenge I have faced in a while and it nearly broke me. Not only was it exceedingly difficult to push my fully-loaded bike up and down the hills, wheels skidding to the side on the loosely packed gravel, but the more difficult things was the lack of a deadline. I did not know this road, and had no way of knowing if the gravel would continue for 100 meters or 10k.
My only choice was to continue moving forward, but as I began to despair, I also started to wonder if there was a bigger learning in all of this.
Maybe that life is pain? That when you wish away one form of discomfort, another will undoubtedly take its place?
Or maybe something more. I had wished away the hills and the heat, only to hit gravel and pray for the previous discomfort back. Maybe being a successful cycle tourist and a successful person it is not about waiting for the moments when everything is comfortable and calm, but finding ways to persist amid discomfort. And the other thing is to drink deeply in the moments of pure joy. The moments in life when you turn a corner and there is black, beautiful paved road ahead and for a brief moment, everything is perfect.
Route (part 2):
In general, I would strongly recommend taking the (slightly) longer way around, avoid some gravel, but you may also avoid some character-building agony and a taste of pure joy.
And here it is! The Parc Linéaire, Le P’tit Train du Nord! At last!!