Camping under the stars is good for the soul. Even if there is a thick layer of clouds in between. My second night out was as good as the first. Though it lacked the dryness and sunrise of the morning before, I never sleep so good as when light rain is massaging the tent. Plus I was beginning to feel as if I was really out there now. That probably sounds funny to those that have run the Trans Labrador Highway or cut across the salt flats of Bolivia, but it's relative. Tell Reinhold Messner that such trips are tests of endurance and he'd probably have a chuckle.
The night had been cold enough that I needed to at least climb inside the Montbell bag. Maybe it had gotten down to 40 degrees, but I didn't need to zip her up. I secured my bag and broke down the tent cramming it still damp into it's bag. At least it slid in easier. I stashed the gear under the ground cloth. Wasn't going to secure it to the bike until I was sure I could make it back up the trail with a loaded bike. Then I fired up the Dragon Fly and cooked some food. I was lucky to be traveling with half a dozen eggs and a hunk of cheddar. Heated the pan with some oil, dumped in milk & eggs and finally the cheese. A dash of S&P and it was done in five minutes. Topped it with hot sauce. I resisted the urge to make coffee. I was looking forward to having that pleasure served to me by a curvy waitress somewhere on the road.
After downing my grub, I took a walk up the trail. Strange, but it hadn't seemed so steep coming down. It looked a bit challenging. I decided to take the gear off the bike and run it dry. Luckily the nights rain had dried. Getting out wouldn't be easy, but I ain't some jonny come lately to riding. I had my first bike when I was ten, a Harley. Laugh, but I'm serious. The old man worked at IBM and had a Harley dealership across the road from his building. In 1974, they wheeled out an X90 minibike for all the fathers to see. One day near my birthday he walked in and laid down the cash for it. Surprised me with it. From there it was a succession of bigger off road bikes. From 10 to 18 years of age as other neighborhood boys immersed themselves in the silly endeavor of chasing balls around fields, I tirelessly rode the rutty trails around my hometown. True, they got the cheerleaders, but I got molested by older beer swilling tattoo chicks who lurked the field parties I would come across when I rode. "He's so cute," they'd say, as they led me by the hand into the high brush. The shit I was forced to do. Invite me on an adventure ride and I'll tell you sometime.
It took forty-five difficult minutes to fight my way be back to Rt. 138. I always don aggressive knobbies on my bike. For the trip, however, I had opted for a more road worthy tire. That decision made for a comfortable road ride, but obviously jimmy-sacked me in the off road stuff. If it hadn't been for the rocky terrain, I would be camping by that creek still. Mud would've done me in. It began raining half way out. It spent me pretty good though and tweaked my back a bit. After making it out, I had to huff it back for my panniers and dry bags. My tee shirt and underwear were wet with sweat when the ordeal was done. Getting up to highway speed put an instant, deep chill into me. I wondered if my underwear would dry out as I rode along. Cool experiment, I thought.
Ripping back into Town, I stopped into a cafe to warm up and have a cup. Then I gassed up throwing on a down vest under my jacket. Getting back on the road I was riding into a seriously cold quagmire of dark rain clouds. Why couldn't it be sunny and warm, I wondered? Why couldn't I have a riding companion to share these amazing sights? It was the first time on the trip I had questions of misgiving. Heading north out of Baie-Saint-Paul you get a taste of some great mountain riding. The temperature dropped fast. Rain and fog everywhere, I could only see fifty feet in front of me. My face shield fogged up something fierce. Rainwater found its way inside my helmet and cold permeated my body. It rained harder. I was experiencing adventure rider misery for the first time. Then I remembered my grip warmers which I rarely use. Flicking the switch to high, I slowly felt the build up of heat. As my fingers got warmer and warmer, I remembered something my father had told me before I left on the trip. "Your gonna face hardships out there, may as well enjoy them. You're doing what you always wanted." Somehow, at that moment, his simple advice worked itself into my frame of mind. Over the course of about three miles I felt a new man. Let it rain, I said. Let it fucking snow. Soak me to the bone, my enthusiasm will grow. And I rode on.