FIRSTLY WE JUST WANTED TO THANK EVERYONE FOR THE SUPPORT AND THEIR GENEROUS DONATIONS. WE ARE AT 32,OOO DOLLARS RAISED AND COUNTING AND COULD NOT THANK EVERYONE ENOUGH!
Leaving Quebec City was bittersweet for our guy Sean Neville, I thought we might wake up to find him sitting in our hotel room, covered in “Biking for Baha” Stickers, unpacked and spending the rest of the 10 day festival on the hill in Quebec City. Sean has embraced the French culture more than any of us. In the past few days I have seen him with a glass of red wine, making small talk with student protesters, rubbing shoulders with Party Quebecois leaders and since we have arrived in the land of Les Fluers, all of our sandwiches have been made on baguettes. Sean was made for this province, and I think he is started to realize that.
Our Sunday morning started off similar to every other Sunday morning we have had on this trip. We wake up, dust off the 150KM we rode the night before, listen to Russ banter on about “Snackies”, watch him try and squeeze his voluptuous behind into his leotard spandex and jump back on our bikes and decide to pedal again.
However for some reason this morning felt different. For the first time in a while, I was beginning to believe we were going to make it to Halifax. After our surprisingly smooth trip north along the St. Lawrence from Montreal to Quebec City, we were all feeling quite positive about our possibilities of actually seeing the Atlantic. Within minutes, as it does on this journey, everything was about to change.
Quebec City borders the west side of the St. Lawrence River, to get across to the other side you have two options, Option A: Bike Friendly Alexandria Bridge or Option B: Suicidal, bike prohibited highway 20 Bridge. Through a dreadful navigational mishap by yours truly, we naturally chose Option B.
And our story begins …
As soon as Sean Neville took the left turn onto the SUICIDAL BRIDGE I knew we were in trouble. Sean was about 100 Metres ahead of Ryan and myself, and was met with a bombardment of Jacque Villaneuve like drivers jetting, swerving and forcefully directing themselves across the bridge. Ryan, Russ and myself watched as Sean stuck on the middle of the ludicrously busy death trap of a highway jutted out into oncoming traffic and busted to the other side of the road, clinging against the median he successfully got to the middle of the bridge. Sean waited about 5 minutes but was literally a sitting duck on the bridge and he had to leave, as it was way to intense. We saw him vanish across into the distance, leaving a trail of golden hair and his rainbow of serendipitous festivity behind him. Without our fearless leader we were very nervous.
Now it was Russ, Ryan and myselfs turn. Sitting on the imaginary island of yellow lines smack dab in the middle of the highway, we were positioned in a seriously dangerous spot. The island was connected to the highway by a blind curve that had three lanes of agitated, aspiring Formula 1 drivers tearing around it. When they noticed us they either started honking their horns or waving their hands in repulsion. For about ten minutes (It seemed like 2 hours) we were stuck on this island, poking our front tire out a little bit about to push off, just to have another set of cars swing around the corner at mock speed. That is when panic began to set in. We realized even if we crossed to the correct side of the road we were going to have to then traverse across the narrow, condensed bridge. Russ was in full “Rusty” panic mode. His eyes as big as saucers, you could literally see his life passing before them, you could see images full of black leather couches, ice cream raindrops falling from the sky, pana-go pizza parties and his new inclination Poutine cheese curds floating through his head. Russ eventually decided we should try and back up into oncoming traffic and the lane that we entered onto the bridge. This lasted about 5 seconds as Russ waddled his unmaneuverable bike back up the hill and had a wave of 25 cars honk balistically at him. Sheepishly Russ crawled back to our 5-foot island out of ideas and broken, dreaming of one episode of Saved by the Bell on our couch. For another 10 minutes we sat there, getting verbally abused and having passers by throw their hands up in disgust. All we could do was watch in agony. There was no way we could get across without causing a 42 car pile up and there was no way we could go back without risking our lives even more.
Finally Ryan who genuinely seemed worried for Russ’s sanity and who had not spoken in a long time, said “ We just have to go”. Looking up at the oncoming traffic was probably one of the most nervous moments of my life, I knew if we did not hit the gap at the exactly correct instant we were in big time trouble. Sitting there, waiting, was excruciatingly painful as there was just no opening. Finally we got the chance we were looking for, Ryan and I bolted across the road narrowly missing the traffic and safely caressing the other side of the road. The comforting relief of knowing we were off of the island lasted about 10 seconds as we turned our heads to realize Russ had not moved. Russ was still frozen in the middle of the imaginary island, his peanut butter covered whiskers twitching in fear. We tried to help Russ by being lookouts for him on the other side of the road but it was to no use. If you have ever seen a first time rock climber freeze on the wall, too afraid to go up, too afraid to go down and petrified of letting go of the wall, this was our guy Russ. He was on another planet. Finally he fired across the lanes successfully, pretty much leaping off of his bike into Ryan’s waiting arms. We decided we were going to clasp the railing of the bridge and slowly move our way across. With cars hastily passing us, we finally heard a sound that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Sirens, Red and White flashing lights following directly behind the three of us, I looked back and saw a policeman waving frantically at us to get off of the bridge. What transpired next was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. The cop was so flustered by us; he was screaming French which is complete gibberish to all of us and waving his hands frantically. Russ, the last in the line of us three meatheads, turned his head rattled by the screeching sirens and started screaming through the front passenger side window at the cop, “PARLEZ VOUS ANGLAIS, PARLEZ VOUS ANGLAIS, PARLEZ VOUS ANGLAISSSSSSSSSSSSS!” the cop rattled kept rambling in French and then finally squealed as loud as he could “GET OVER THERE!!!!!!” Over there was a fifteen-foot by fifteen foot square piece of land that stood right before the bridge. After hammering our bikes over the curve and escaping the madness, the policeman drove up over the curve and scrambled out of the car like we were runaway fugitives. I am not sure if anyone knows about this, but a cyclist riding across Canada for charity was arrested a month ago for riding on one of the highways in Quebec. The French Canadians had an up roar about this. So we think the policeman was nice to us because of this. The policeman proceeded to Hughie Mac lecture us in broken English about responsibilities, the dangers of riding on this bridge and asking us, “What were you people thinking”. The policeman shaking his head, brilliantly decided to reverse back against the traffic, his car angled down half on the meridian and half on the concrete and privately escort us back across to the correct exit and eventually the bridge we were suppose to take. Walking our bikes across the beautiful bike lane on the Alexandria Bridge…
It is not hard to realize why people are so amazed we have actually made it this far.