Troy Media publisher Doug Firby is part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting last May in British Columbia and ending in October in Newfoundland, they hope to make an 8,000-km bicycle journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and sense of community. Watch for their reports on Troy Media. More information on the cycling tour is available at ConnecTour.ca. To help them meet their goal, click here.
The ConnecTour team has been incredibly lucky with the weather through most of the ride across Canada. Yes, there was that scary day when we were hypothermic near Nancy Greene Provincial Park in British Columbia, the day-after-day intense summer heat in Saskatchewan and a steady downpour as we headed out of Ottawa.
But our rain days have been few and far between. As luck would have it, most of the rain has fallen overnight or on days we booked off for rests.
Until we hit Rimouski.
Rimouski is a mid-sized town about as far east as we’re travelling in Quebec. Sitting on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, it faces onto the river and the north shore, which recedes into the distance as the river widens toward the sea. A modest town, it’s touched with the folksy charm that makes the Gaspesie such a delightful place to visit.
After a 99-km ride, we settled in for the night at a campground called Motel de l’Anse, just a few kilometres west of town. The blue skies and still air held no foreboding of what was to come; only the chill in the air that evening sent us to bed early.
We woke up in the middle of the night to more than just a rain storm.
To call this a downpour would do a disservice. It would be much more accurate to call it a deluge. At times, it seemed cats, dogs and frogs were falling from the sky.
Our group numbered six at this point, using five tents. For the most part, the tents stood up well to the wicked winds and relentless rain. Colleen’s tent, unfortunately, sat in a low spot, which became a puddle.
Worse off, however, was Andy. His tent collapsed about 5 a.m., forcing him to seek refuge in the washroom nearby for the rest of the night.
There’s little you can do when the rain is falling hard. For the first time in our entire tour, the team decided to take a rain day to catch up on emails and dry out our drenched clothing.
“I thought we should have had a contest … the last tent standing,” quipped Lynn Marshall. Her tent was reinforced with ropes. Even so, her clothing got wet.
Although in a lake, Colleen’s tent stayed dry inside. The floor of the tent proved to be waterproof.
Lisa set up our tent. Wisely, she chose a location on a high spot. She did her best not to appear smug as she said, “Always go to high ground.”
The vicious winds also proved the value in staking the tents as securely as possible. Even so, the winds ripped a number of stakes out of the ground. It was weird to feel the tent walls slapping the top of your head as the winds cranked up through the night.
The one blessing in the experience was a secure shelter near our campsite. There, we gathered in the morning, watched the rain drive down in sheets and started looking for a dry place to spend the day. We found a lovely home bed and breakfast, where host Jo’Anne Roberge provided a warm bed and ready dryer.
We’re ready to ride once again.
Doug Firby is president of Troy Media Digital Solutions and publisher of Troy Media. For interview requests, click here.
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