After such an eventful trip, I decided I would push on towards home today, even though my original plan was to spend 7 days on the road. Even though this trip had been essential, it was time to get home.
So, I left Mont Laurier bright and early, a little bit nervous about the road ahead. For the first time, I would be setting out along the Trans Canada highway, and I had not heard the best things about riding this road. But I was in for a pleasant surprise!
The 30 (ish)km section I rode was terrific – luxuriously wide, well-maintained shoulders. In some parts, I am sure the shoulder had equivalent width to the driving lane. Sure there was a lot of truck traffic, but for the most part, I felt safely secluded, meters away from the fast flow of traffic.
I was so thrilled with the road, I decided not to take the slightly shorter route (down the 107) and instead stuck on the Trans Can until I hit 105, where I turned south, pointing my nose home.
While this bit of the journey still had it share of cheery diversions, like this charming covered bridge, much of the day was just tough.
I was physically exhausted from the journey and fighting a strong and gusty headwind, but more than that, I was emotionally drained.
Up until this point, I felt like the days in the saddle had been a moving meditation. As I biked along, the wind filled my ears and thought flowed pretty freely through my head, nothing of note settling in for a stay. If I tried, I could reach out and grab a though to ruminate on for a while, but for the most part, I was happy to move my legs, and let my thought just float away. The first 5 days were a soothing balm for my brain, where all I could do that day was bike, eat, and sleep. It doesn’t get much more perfectly simple than that.
However, as soon as I turned south, the weight of my worries started pressing down on me. As I biked into the persistent headwind, I was overcome with emotion. I wanted so badly to be in my cool, comfortable home, with my smooth sheets and soft pillow, protected from the heat, the bugs, and the wind, but at the same time, the weight of my regular life – my doubts, worries, and concerns about my thesis, work, and life started pressing down with such a weight that it was tempting to turn and run away, to keep biking and filling my ears with wind, carrying away the thoughts of struggle and challenge that awaited me at home. While I desperately wanted to be home, it was precisely the road home that was the hardest to ride. The place I most wanted to be in the world was the most difficult to return to. For the first time since I had left a week ago, I felt a little bit broken, and very weak.
I ended up riding 126 km that day, each pedal stroke fighting the war in my mind.
As the sky darkened and the rain started once more, I decided that rather than push on, I would hunker down in Kazubazua and wait for my knight and shiny grey Civic steed to collect me.
So, that is all for this journey, for my grand La Bicyclette Adventuré. I gladly took my seat in a fine Kazubazua diner for a generous helping of cheezewhiz-filled omelettes, beer, and my thoughts.
In general, I was so proud of myself for DOING IT. For being brave enough to strike out on my own. For being strong enough to pedal myself and all my stuff nearly 550km. For successfully not dying, and for nurturing the seed of independence and strength and is so important to my self-concept.
Even as I sat in that place, covered in salt and dirt, I knew that I officially fell in love with this mode of travel. Cycle touring is swift enough to cover a lot of ground yet slow enough that you can take in the sights, stop at will to check out the unusual or beautiful along your way. It opens the window for conversations with people everywhere you find yourself. The added bonus is that through the hills, heat, and headwind, it might be the perfect way to strengthen your mind and find your way to somewhere spectacular.
Whether your adventures take you near or far, travel slow. Learn and grow.
Until next time!