Is there ever really a bad time to order a bacon cheeseburger and fries? That’s what I was thinking when Saturday’s MIT ride rolled into Richer and the Cat Sass Tavern for the mid-ride food stop at just around 9:30am. To a man, all of the guys ended up ordering the “Provencher“, a typical, and delicious, breakfast special that the menu claims is a house favourite consisting of meat, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. Me? I boldly ordered the “Nor’wester Burger“, a local favourite – I know that’s true because it says so in the menu. In this case, I don’t doubt it as I consider myself a pretty good judge of a great burger, and I’d say this one ranks in the top 5 I’ve eaten anywhere, even out ranking VJ’s in Winnipeg. The homemade fries were also excellent. So if you’re ever in the neighbourhood, forget Gepetto’s down the road and try out the “Nor’wester”.
Next week I will be riding in the MCC Manitoba Thrift Shop Recycle: Journey For Justice. This week long ride (Aug 25 to Aug 30) will start in Brandon on Monday and finish in Riverton on Saturday. I will be riding about 100KM per day and visiting every MCC Thrift Shop in Manitoba. The ride’s purpose is to promote the thrift shop network and to raise funds for MCC’s Restorative Justice program (Initiatives For Just Communities). All of the stores will be donating their net sales for the day and we have a foundation sponsor to match the first $25,000 raised, plus individual donations. Last year we raised a total of $55,000 and I think we might even beat that this year.
YOU are invited to ride with me (the ride schedule and donation instructions can be found here).
Last year Pete rode with me on the final day from Winnipeg to Riverton. It was a nice ride through the interlake and along the lakeshore from Winnipeg Beach to Gimli and on up to Riverton (about 135 KM). Please let me know if you want to join for any part of the ride – it would be great to have the company (and the draft!). I will see if I can arrange transportation home for you. There is a short 30 minute celebration at each thrift shop where I give a speech and other staff tell some program impact stories. Lots of fun!
I was thinking about how excited I was that my son Brett was interested in the different bikes that hang in my garage. It’s not that I have too many bikes because the commonly accepted formula for how many bikes one should own is ‘current plus one’. For clarity I own a number of bikes; my Cannondale R800 road bike for nicer days, my older Cannondale for rain rides, my Brodie mountain bike, a Rocky Mountain cruiser used mostly for commuting to work and then the Montenni which has been converted to a spin bike that doesn’t leave the garage plus a carbon fiber road bike that just needs a few parts and will be ready for the road next year I guess that last one is currently my plus one.
But back to Brett eying up my bikes in the garage. I thought wow my son wants to start riding bike after all he was asking many questions and looking at the bikes even asking if could take them down, sit on them not really asking to ride but too me that was the next obvious step. It didn’t take long and bikes from Self-Help Thrift Store appeared in our garage along side of my bikes. Brett would tinker on the bikes and work at understanding how they functioned often taking apart the rear hubs then not putting it back together.
What did seem strange at the time is he asked for an electric hand grinder for his birthday. I have asked different friends about their adult children and even co-workers and none of them has ever remembered someone asking for an electric hand grinder for their birthday.
Shortly after his birthday I came home to find Brett busy cutting up the bikes he had brought home. There was this idea somewhere in his head on what a bike should or could look like. As he put the bike parts together they started to resemble a one-of-a-kind of bike and the vision of what the end result was only in his head. Brett has always been the kind of person who would get a Lego box for his birthday, put it together once then rebuild the same thing in what he thought it should look like. That first bike parts adventure in our garage didn’t result in a bike as much as a huge mess that I cleaned up without telling Brett. For the most part he has forgiven me.
Now 6 years later and he can make the mess in his own garage. I noticed that he was collecting different bikes again. So out came the grinder and with a friend who knows how to weld and lots of advice from Pat from Body Driven Sports they came up with the first comfort bike that suits Brett as he rides the 7 foot low rider. Up close it’s alittle rough but it does function well and he is able to ride it to work and with his kids around town.
With the first one built the ideas started to flow for the second bike, this one for his wife Natalie. Brett is abit of an artist so he drew what it might look like.
Then as the different bikes started to fall to the hand grinder he put the pieces together to start to resemble the bike that he had on paper.
Then with his friend they welded it together, gave it a paint job and presented it to his wife Natalie.
Both bikes ride beautifully, tough to describe the feeling of a comfort ride that rolls over speed bumps, takes wide corners and attracts many looks.
So my son doesn’t ride road bike with me, he isn’t into speed or spandex but he is growing up and found a passion in bikes. Makes me proud of how he has put his dreams into reality by working at the vision that was in his head which has resulted in two bikes (so far) that he can be proud of.
Yvonne and I have wrapped up our cycling vacation in Quebec, so I thought I would share a couple of observations about cycling in this part of La Belle Province. Observation #1 The respect for cyclists in this part of Quebec is amazing. It seems as if the entire population has bought into the idea that cyclists are great for the economy and deserve to be treated with respect. Observation #2 The quality of the secondary road surfaces varies from reasonably good to brutal. While the scenery is fantastic the road surfaces are at times so rough that you have to be continually concentrating on finding a route around cracks and holes in the pavement. Unlike Wisconsin where all the roads are excellent, you can’t let fly on the downhills as you are likely to get launched by a frost heave. The hills are shorter but a lot more tiring because of the roughness of the pavement and the effort it takes to find a good line. Observation #3 A 200 km rail to trail bike path called Le Petit Chemin du Nord runs through the region. Most of the loop rides from Mount Tremblant intersect this bike trail. I have at times scoffed at the idea of riding converted rail beds. They are generally straight, flat and dull. There are exceptions however, and “Le Petit” is one of them. The path winds through some beautiful scenery, especially along the lakes and rivers in the area. After one of our rides with 60km of continuous hills Yvonne and I were only to happy to take the bike path the 40 km. back to Mount Tremblant. Most of the path is made of very fine crushed rock that is so hard packed it was no problem to ride it with 23 road tires. The climbs and downhills are long and gradual but this meant you could really motor up and also crank along at a high rate on the downhills. Observation #4 There is an 11 km. paved path that goes up to the Mount Tremblant resort village where we were staying that is a blast to ride. It is a roller coaster for road bikes and was a great way to begin and end each day as we road down to the valley. Observation #5 Two wheeled mountain biking is passe. Try downhilling on a unicycle. I hiked to the top of Mount Tremblant and saw all of these people of different ages getting off the gondolas with unicycles with disk brakes. Apparently Montreal is hosting the world unicycle championships and they were in Mount Tremblant for the World Unicycle downhill. There were kids that appeared to be as young as 10 years old as well as adults downhilling. The unicycles even have disc brakes. I found these photos that were taken the day we were on the mountain; we observed them coming down as we took the easy route down via the gondola. I watched one kid leaping off ledges as he unicycled down the mountain. Wow.
All in all, I would highly recommend the cycling in this part of Quebec. The roads leave a little to be desired but the scenery, culture, and the fact that you can use your aeroplan miles to stay at a very posh hotel make this a place to come back to.
Yvonne and I drove up from Kemptville (south of Ottawa) to Mount-Tremblant. We have been using the GPS the young ones gifted to me for Christmas. Instead of having us cross over the Ottawa R. at Hull it had us taking some tiny ferry further down river. This was an interesting and pleasant bonus to the drive. The GPS proved itself to be as bad at finding the correct roads in Quebec as I am at speaking French. Sometimes a good old paper map really is better. We settled into our new dig, the Fairmont Resort in Mount-Tremblant. This is a serious upgrade from the Hickory Hill Motel in Wisconsin and the borrowed tent trailer we used in Kemptville. Of course, as a good Menno this sort of lavish luxury would be a sin unless someone else was paying for it or, as in our case, it was paid for with a wack of air miles. The down side of all this “free luxury” is that there really is nothing for free. The valets and bell hops all want their slice of your wallet and the 750 ml bottle of Evian water costs $8.00. Don’t touch the mini-bar; the cokes are $5 bucks a pop and the beers are the same as the Evian. Even the wi-fi is 19 bucks a day unless you sign up to be a Fairmont Friend. This is free, though I expect a load of promotional emails to clog my in-box as a result. As a good Menno I always travel with my electric cooler so that I can bring in my own discounted food and beverages.
After a really nice 50 km ride we decided to check out the upper village of Mont-Tremblant where we are staying. Life is full of coincidences, so who should we meet but Justin and Jane Enns on their way home from the MTB World Cup in Mount Ste. Anne. This couple are as tough as nails. Not only are they two wheeling it on the dirt, they are also camping. Just to show them that a friend from Steinbach is still a friend away, we will hang with them at our three hot tub and pool terrace spa tomorrow after our respective rides.. We checked, they can join us for free. Check out the photos of our ride today; the Riviere at Brebeuf and the Pont Prudhomme at …. somewhere on our ride.