Thursday August 2nd
I awoke at 4:30 and was on the road before 5. Morning light was just beginning to make an appearance in the eastern sky and moonlight was still shining down from the west. I had packed the bike the night before, so I turned the key, the bike sprang into life and, not wanting to irritate the neighbours more than usual, I headed down the road as quietly as possible.
I love that time of day. Most people are still in bed, so the roads are quiet and apart from the occasional skunk or deer, I have the roads to myself. I love the early morning mist, the way it hangs in the valleys and condenses on my visor. I can usually have a couple of hundred kilometres under my belt before most people have hit the snooze button.
This morning there was plenty of chilly mist in the valleys and the short ride to the highway had me reaching for my gloves
and wishing for the Breva’s heated grips. I joined highway 401 just east of Kingston, cranked the 750 up to a steady 110kph
(fast enough to make time - no so far above the 100kph limit to attract the attention of the police) and joined the transport trucks on the early morning parade east.
After about an hour and a half I stopped for gas and coffee in Prescott. That first coffee always seems triply welcome. It appeases the raging caffeine monster inside, warms chilled hands, and triggers a gastro-colic reflex. I try and organize my food breaks with gas stops. For me, a perfect stop is the village gas bar / grocery store / liquor store where I can grab all the necessities for the day without having to spend any time waiting, queuing or looking at menus. Stopping for gas is unavoidable and I resent it. Stopping for food and drink can be delayed. The booze is for later.
I crossed from Ontario into Quebec at Salaberry de Valleyfield a sprawling town on a large island in the St. Lawrence River. Rather than struggle through the urban nightmare of Montreal, I chose a southern loop around the city, passing through the small towns of Sainte Hyacinthe and Yamaska before recrossing the St. Lawrence at Sorel-tracy, about 80 kilometres downstream from Montreal.
Highway 138 - Heading to Quebec City
On a typical trip day, I’m pretty much on the bike from dawn till dusk and this day was to be no exception. I wasn’t interested in sight-seeing so I droned along on Highway 40 past Quebec City, reentering the atmosphere of two-lane traffic just west of Beauport. It had been playing on my nerves that although I had my tyre irons and a puncture kit with me, I had neither spare tube nor pump. On impulse I pulled into a Suzuki dealer and with plenty of gestures and some Franglais, managed to communicate
my need for a tube to the helpful sales guy. The only 18inch tube he had in stock was a motocross tube - better than nothing, I thought.
Because I’m an old geezer on an old bike, I usually find myself travelling slightly slower than the ambient speed on Quebec highways (posted speed 100kph, my speed 105-110, ambient speed 115+). Most vehicles just breeze by: back-seat kids noses pressed to the window, parents stoically or disinterestedly looking forward. Occasionally someone will pull along side for a while and I get the full fledged, appreciative, enthusiasts thumbs-up.
A couple of years ago, as the last leg of a father-son three day blast, my eldest son Sam (on his VFR) and I (on my Breva) had put in a long day riding from Tadoussac to home, virtually in rain the whole way. I was determined to beat our record, so set my sights on Forestville, a village another 100 kilometres down the valley.
By the time I got there, I was tired and sore, but pleased with the bike and with myself. A bottle of cheap red wine, some chips, a motel room with the Olympics on the TV and a classic bike outside - its hard to imagine a better life.
Somewhere along 138 near La Malbaie