Eastwards and Far


Incompetence Patrol


“Just one more episode of Peep Show, then we’re off”

It was noon on our first day riding after four rest days. We were tempting mishap and testing our theory that things only go wrong when we leave early (which two puncture-fests in three days, both after 7am starts, prompted).

We were half-packed, and decided finishing the remaining two beers before we left would be prudent.

At 1.30: “just one more episode of Peep Show, then we’re really off”.

At 2 we closed the apartment door behind us, and realised immediately my helmet was still inside.

Problematic because Alex had the key at work, and going to collect it this late in the afternoon would almost definitely prompt a light-hearted berating for being disorganised.

So it was either save face and ride without a helmet, or save head and lose face.

At 5, after organising key collection with Alex via patchy wifi, riding from and to and from the apartment, and being called “the incompetence patrol”, we hit the road.

It turns out the theory was false: things can go awry when we leave late too.

The 75 miles we’d planned dropped to “somewhere around 30” and we adapted our route between Montreal and Quebec City to be slightly shorter.

The ride, though short, was lovely. Montreal’s suburbs don’t last long, and you’re quickly in flat green farmland with good cycle paths. Although their bridges with only steps are a bit sadistic.

We arrived at a park beside a marina in Vercheres around 8pm and decided to camp there. Probably the most public place we’ve camped yet, but for some reason less nerve-wracking than similarly exposed spots elsewhere in Canada. Either because we’ve been told the Quebecois are more relaxed, or because knowing we wouldn’t be able to understand people telling us to move on removes some of the pressure.

We stood on the manicured lawn wondering if camping there was allowed: there were no signs forbidding it but none inviting it either. A grey area we’ve found ourselves in many times before.

“I bet if we wait here someone will talk to us and tell us it’s alright”, Kristian predicted.

“[something in French]?”, said a guy nearby.
“Parlé vous Anglais?”

Then, within the usual exchange of information about tos, froms, distances and dates, he coloured the grey area and assured us camping would be fine.

“There’s potable water there too, and a toilet block there.”

It’s interesting how much faith we’re happy to put in one person’s approval on this trip. It turned out the guy (Renault) was right: we camped hassle-free.

Another case to back up our other theory that things end up going right even if they went awry briefly earlier.

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