We've been at this Grand Gaspé Cycling Tour for just over two weeks now. We've developed a certain rhythm to our days, established some routines, set a few ground rules, and acquired a taste for specific treats along the way. So what is it like to cycle an average of 60 miles a day?
Up with the sun! Well, not quite, but we are early risers. We like to get on the road early for several reasons. Rich can't tolerate the heat, so he prefers to get in as many cool miles as possible. And the early morning light is beautiful, showing off the scenery at its best. We are happy when we can start cycling by 7am.
To get rolling sometimes requires breaking camp – packing up the sleeping bags and tent when we've been camping. Oddly enough, we seem to be able to assemble ourselves more quickly on those mornings than when we are trying to retrieve our goods strewn around a motel room.
Breakfast! We like to get 20 miles under our belt before stopping for breakfast. By that time we've worked up a good hunger and are ready for a hearty meal. While I crave sitting in a coffee shop with a latte, Rich requires a full bacon and eggs type breakfast. Given the calories we blow through, I see his logic. And I will admit to being able to polish off a huge pile of blueberry pancakes and eggs. The trickiest part of that plan is trying to find that humble breakfast cafe. Time and again we set our sights on a likely town, only to find it devoid of breakfast places. Some days it turns into lunch before we find food – we're pretty crabby and hungry by then. I try to keep bagels and peanutbutter in my bag just for such cases.
Push, Pedal and Pull! That's pretty much it for the day. We follow our planned route, with our intended destination in mind. The pace depends on the hills, the time of day, miles traveled, food consumption and the hills. Oh, and did I mention the hills? Rich is strongest first thing in the morning, right after eating, and when the end is in sight. I am a bit slower on start-up, working out the kinks after stops, but once up to speed I tend to be more steady all day long. When I comes to those hills, there is no contest. I roar up them and Rich whizzes down.
Stop! We're both allowed reasons to stop. Photo opps are probably the most frequent. Seeing the world at 12mph means noticing things that we'd miss from a car. Scenery, interesting sights, a promising side road are all valid excuses to pause and spend some time along the way. So is ice cream. That's one of the requirements each afternoon.
Ah, we're done! We like to reach our destination by mid afternoon. Rich usually has already researched motels and campgrounds, so we have a starting point. But all does not always go as planned. Last night we hoped for a motel room. But the nearest was another 18k down the road. We camped instead.
Once settled in, our first priority is a shower. Then, like it or not, doing laundry. We're on the wear-one, wash-one system for our biking clothes which means constantly washing things out. But it means less to carry. Chores done, we hope for a good internet connection. Believe it or not, even campgrounds often have wifi! It's our lifeline to family and the outside world, and we crave time for email, blogging, and admittedly Facebook. It's also our source for maps, travel info and detailed planning for the following day.
Night life! Not really. We're usually eager to have dinner on the early side, and try to pick lodging near restaurants or food shops. At the end of the day, we prefer walking to cycling. I enjoy trying out the local cuisine – in this case, lots of seafood. And a tall glass of cold hard cider tastes really, really good.
Finalizing the next day's plans, writing blog posts and doing some reading round out our evening before we conk out. After all, morning will come quickly, and we get to do it all over again.