Two years ago, Yann took me for a ride through the fall colours of Bromont, QC. The old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest may be more impressive, but in the autumn a mountainside of decaying deciduous trees cannot be topped.
This was one of the best bike rides I’ve done. With fond memories of biking in Bromont, I was thrilled to go back. As a bonus, the hills of Bromont would help us prepare for all the climbing we’ll have to do on our bikes in less than two weeks from now.
Nearly two years later, a ride in beautiful Bromont ended up being one of the worst bike rides I’ve done. The worst being the Lac-Joinville portion of last month’s overnight trip in the Laurentians. Yes, the one that landed me in the hospital.
In my post about the Lac-Joinville accident, I over-estimated how quickly I had gotten help after my fall:
“Within a minute, Yann jumped off his bike to help me move my stuff off the road. At the same time, a couple stopped in their pickup truck to offer help.”
I later learned that Yann stopped when he noticed that I was no longer in his sight and waited 3-4 minutes before circling back to check up on me.
The last memory I have before crashing was the blur of the ground. The next thing I remember is Yann running towards me while I was trying to collect one of the panniers that had fallen off my rack from the middle of the road. I had blacked out. I might have laid in the middle of the road for 3-4 minutes before I woke up.
Before our Bromont ride, Yann made me promise that I would be extra careful; another bad fall could mean cancelling our Pyrénées tour. Yann proposed inviting a co-worker, Thomas, along. Thomas is not someone I know well as he doesn’t work in the bike shop, but as far as colleagues go, he’s one of the few who has made it into my “good books”. (A lot of the people I work with are intimidated by the deaf anglophone combination that I am.)
I didn’t think Thomas did a lot of long-distance cycling, but if Yann didn’t feel that Thomas would have trouble keeping up with us, why not?
I was smiling at the beginning of the ride as the weather was perfect and I was about to spend an entire day in a beautiful place!
10km into the ride, we hit Chemin King where the gravel road became atrocious. I had cycled this portion two years ago but didn’t recall it being in that bad of a shape. “Don’t worry, this is the hardest section,” Yann reassured me.
I made it through this portion, and sure enough, our riding conditions improved but my confidence didn’t.
The photos Yann took of this ride was like a visual timeline of my diminishing confidence.
I spent the majority of the ride gripping my handlebar with white-knuckled intensity and therefore didn’t take as many photos as the guys did. Here’s an intergalactic narwhal that looked cool upon first passing, but was downgraded when I returned for a closer look.
My body tensed up with every slip on the gravel. Riding with your upper body locked in place is the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when navigating the bumps, dips, and cracks of a route. Also, it was making me feel really sore.
Yann had to give me a pep talk at the 80km mark, “We can slow down. I know you’re not enjoying yourself, but I also know if you’re able to finish this ride, you’ll feel proud of yourself.” Thereon, Yann rode alongside me. We made it up a huge hill together; at the top, there was this sign:
We dismounted and walked alongside our bikes and found Thomas at the bottom of the hill frolicking among giant bales of hay in a field. I didn’t ask, but I am certain he gleefully bombed that hill.
I wanted to punch him and ride off with his confidence. I’m glad I didn’t because I waved the proverbial white flag at the 98km mark (with a total elevation of 1700m) and he was the one who rode the last 10km and came back for us with Yann’s car so that Yann could stay with me.
I didn’t realize it until yesterday but the Lac-Joinville fall had hurt my confidence the most. I’ll get it back… somehow. With drugs? Therapy? Is Jesus the answer?