Sunday, July 28, 2002

Path: A-9

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A-9 Angers Bridge / Pont Angers
July 28, 2002


Crazy ride three weekends ago. I didn’t really know how to get to Sainte-Madelaine except to go east. I decided to wing it. I went with my friend Mike. First we got off on the Longueuil metro – which drops you off on the South shore of the Island – and headed down a highway. It was a major highway (the 20) as it turned out, and it was pretty busy. Plus, there was construction. My instincts were flashing – it didn’t feel right. A lot of cars were beeping at us and there were transports. It seemed that the longer we stayed there, the more likely something would go wrong. I wanted to get off onto another road, but Mike seemed to think it was fine. I agreed to go on a bit hoping that after the construction stopped it would get better.

About 5 minutes after, we hear a loudspeaker. There is a police car behind us telling us to get off the road. I talk to the officer in French and he gives us a ribbing. Tells me it is dangerous and irresponsible. I play dumb and say we are not from here. We're from the Maritimes. (Technically not a lie as my cycling experience stems from out east during my Halifax days).

He proceeded to escort us to the next exit. I felt like we were in a parade. He blocked off a whole lane of traffic so that we could get off safely. As soon as we got off, Mike got a flat so we parked onto a grassy shoulder and ate while he changed his inner tube. Pored over the map.

The cop came by and his tone had relaxed. He was quite nice and gave us some tips on which roads to take. I was so relieved to be off that road. My heart had been beating fast, aware of how vulnerable we were. We were also lucky he didn’t give us a huge ticket.

We rode into St-Bruno de Montarville and went up some trails on Mont Saint Bruno itself. Beautiful winding trails through leafy foliage, fields and manoirs and mansions with delicately kept gardens peppered here and there. It was such a contrast to the highway. As it was a humid day, my asthma was acting up, and I wheezed as we went uphill.

Once in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Mike craved his habitual poutine so we went to St-Hubert. (He later had indigestion – no wonder.) Though we sometimes took the wrong route, re-circling a few times – I was fearful of finding ourselves on another major highway – we finally got to the strip of road where my bridge was supposed to be.

A note about the GPS. It is off about 30 metres as the US military scrambles the signal for civilians. That 20 metres can make quite the difference in a cornfield. I found two bridges: one on a road, a metal government-issued one, quite unremarkable, and another hidden in the bushes, over a swamp really, with the inscription G.B. 1959. Of course I decided the latter would be Angers Bridge/Pont Angers. It actually made more sense seeing that my research showed that the word "anger" often seemed to denote fields or meadows.

By this time, it was like a sauna with the humidity and the swarming insects. We were both shiny, glistening, and the only relief came from moving.

The ride back was less convoluted. We realized that our route could have been much more simple, but I laughed it off. I did not want to harp on it because these trips should be about letting go and making mistakes as I tentatively find my way around unfamiliar territory.

It got cooler at the end of the day and my energy quickened. Mike was pretty beat in the end but he was also faster in the morning. (I eventually crashed when I got home). He was an amazing cycling partner. I found him a good sport about the amount of times we got lost or backtracked. He also seemed comfortable switching roles. Sometimes he would lead and take control, and he seemed to be ok about ceding the leadership to me at times. He also had a really good pace. Faster than mine in the beginning which I prefer. It made me hasten my pace and we made good time despite everything. In the end, we cycled 120 km.

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