Why our idea of a Winter in Canadas wilderness did not come true and how we came to a decision about that - as well as the report about our journey from Québec to Montréal: A recommendation for cycling trips in Winter - more sun than imagined, calm, clear, meditative and romantic.
After a wonderful week in Québec City, which we spent discovering our surroundings, relaxing and enjoying the feeling to actually have made it on our bicycles and with all our luggage for a whole year in Canada, in a very rainy Autumn from Halifax to Québec, we decided to stay one more week. This second week in the beautiful capital could not have been more differing to the first one - we spent it job hunting, self doubting and reading the weather forecast. Thats how we fell from the cycling-heaven to the work-and-travel-reality and had to say good bye to the vague idea to spend the Winter in Canada working as snow board teacher and yoga teacher in a skiing area, learning French as we go. Somehow we had never planned what would happen after we had reached our first goal to reach Québec City by bicycles. Even this goal had evolved out of the journey itself so that we had not even searched for jobs in Québecs capital in advance.
With the bicycles it also was not possible for us to just drive up north on the other side of the river to the small skiing area to look for jobs - because we would not have been able to leave again during the Winter. Additionally we already realized during our webresearch that for more demanding jobs in Québec we would have to be able to speak better French. I also took a good look at the possibility of „WWOOFing“ instead of working for money and designed a profile for us. WWOOFing stands for „World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms“ and is a wonderful possibility to work voluntarily and get accomodation and food in exchange, as well as getting included in a family or community. This way you get to know the country, the land and it's people on a much more personal and deeper, intentional level. However it is in the nature of things that most of the farms only need help during Spring, Summer and Autumn. We also spoke about that we could take the train, a bus or a plane to get further West and to be back in English-speaking regions of Canada. However this did not feel right at all at this time of our adventure because we wanted to travel by bicycle. Also the bikes with all equipment and conversions had been more expensive than we had thought and because of the cold weather in the last weeks we had already spent more money on accommodation than planned. That is why we really wanted to find a job soon. In this situation riding our bikes to Montréal really was the most logical idea for us, especially since all Canadiens, with whom we had spoken about our journey along the way, had told us that Montréal is a big, cosmopolitan, international City with many opportunities to find a job even with little knowledge of the French language.
So the decision was made, we would continue the journey on our bicycles to Montréal from November 4th to November 8th 2018. The conditions for these five days did not look very promising, although the snow had melted again in Québec City, the Autumn storms with rain and wind were frequent and the temperature sank slowly but steady. Comforting was that „La Route Verte“ leads over small streets with almost no traffic but a lot of Motels in good distances between Québec and Montréal so that we were able to find shelter in the evenings, cook our own affordable dinner (maybe half legal), enjoy a warm shower and stretch on our Yoga mats as well as on the bed and recover from the day.
Apart from the circumstances and considerations that lead to it, there is not much to say about these five days of cycling in November, as well as not many photos to show you. The area itself is not known for any special scenery and no experiences or sights happened or caught our eyes along the way. All in all the weather was not as bad as we had feared, we were already used to riding in cold temperatures between -3 and + 10 degrees Celsius and we mostly had a mix of clouds and sun.
Especially the first day was much more sunny than we had expected after reading the forecast. To this day I still remember vividly the wonderful yet melancholic feeling I had while leaving Québec: It was a Sunday, the streets were deserted, the sun was shining and a soft wind blew the smell of the autumn, that was slowly drawing to an end, towards us. After the last few days in Québec, on which we had driven ourselves crazy, it felt so good to had finally made a decision and to be moving outside in the fresh air. I hope that the memory of this feeling will make me take a bike ride outside on sunny Winter Sundays in the future as well - even though it is actually way too cold. When it was time for lunch we found the perfect picnic table in the sunshine along our way next to a waterfall and a bird sanctuary. The dramatical sunset later, shortly befor we arrived at our Motel, was the glorious finish of the beautiful day.
The good mood stayed with us the whole time on those last days of our journey on our bicycles in 2018. The streets stayed almost empty, we saw next to no one, the countryside, the sky, the view felt endless and the small villages we passed were sleepy and beautiful. On the second day we experienced how it feels to ride with tailwind for the first time and Pascal enchanted me with the observation: „the sky looks like vacation in Italy with you“.
This way we dreamed ourselves forwards to Montréal - even on gray days with rain. Thanks to the many Motels along the way it was possible for us to shorten the distance from the planned 60 km to 35 km on Tuesday, the day with the most heavy rain. The left over time until it got dark we used to clean our chains and oil them fresh.
The rest of the way rolled along uneventful to meditative - only the preparations of the residents for Winter and the resulting garden design always gave us reason to be amused as well as light be concerned… how high would it snow, how soon and for how long, that grown bushes need so much protection!?
Text und Pictures: Kira