I’m now in Quebec City sitting in a bar. People speaking French behind me, Stevie Wonder playing on a jukebox, gamblers playing on fruit machines. Outside the sun’s come out and tourists are clapping along to some street entertainers – jugglers I think. I’m in the old town, Vieux Quebec, where there are many many tourists, and I’m one of them.
I was here yesterday as well, but spent most of the day sleeping after the 114km ride here the day before, cycling into the wind and for much of it cycling through rain. And the Quebec roads aren’t good – though about halfway I found some cycle routes, mostly along gravelly paths and not as direct as the roads but much nicer and safer. By the time I got to the city, well after dark, the bike was as knackered as I was. It’s now being looked after by a bike shop – they’re doing a full service, including a new back tyre since the one on there was falling to bits. I’ve asked them to sort out the gears as well so that the chain doesn’t keep coming off. Fortunately someone there spoke English.
I’ve now done over 1000km total, though probably only about half that is in the right direction. The route across Maine was very zig-zaggy, and then a did a 10km circle in Quebec the other night, dutifully following signs to cycle routes, but the signs didn’t say where the cycle routes were going so when after an hour I arrived back at where I’d started from I decided to ignore the signs and cycle on the road in the direction I wanted to go.
They don’t seem to like you cycling on the road here, unless there’s a proper cycle path. Bikes are meant to ride on the pavement with pedestrians, but the pavements aren’t very flat so you can’t go much faster than the pedestrians, which kind of defeats the point of having a bike.
So while the bike gets repaired so do I. I’ve only been drinking water so far, sitting in this bar for several hours and they don’t seem to mind but I feel I’d better order a beer, just so as to be spending some money.