I spent yesterday crisscrossing Ontario.  Starting at my friends’ house in Old Ottawa East, I drove first to the Days Inn on Rideau Street to pick up my bike, then to Stephanie’s Motel in Hawkesbury to retrieve my forgotten iPhone charger, then to Carleton Place for a much needed Starbuck’s break, and finally to my folks’ place in T.O.

With my iPhone playlist out of commission due to a busted adaptor, my road trip soundtrack options were limited to the handful of CDs I didn’t put into storage for the summer:  The Rural Alberta Advantage (Departing), Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans (The Falcon Lake Incident), Little Scream (The Golden Record), Jenn Grant (Honeymoon Punch), Radiohead (OK Computer), Erykah Badu (Baduism), Jack Johnson (Brushfire Fairytales), Elliot Brood (Ambassador), the Be Good Tanyas (Blue Horse), Sarah Harmer (You Were Here), Janet Jackson (Janet) and Lenny Kravitz (Let Love Rule).

Pulled together during a last minute grab before taping up my boxes in May, this collection was meant to suit a variety of road trip moods rather than make up what I would consider to be my favourite albums.  Of course, as I listened my way through these discs during my seven hour road trip, I couldn’t help but turn my mind toward coming up with such a top ten list.  Conclusion: couldn’t do it.  I did decide, however, that among the above noted discs, only the Be Good’s Blue Horse would be a serious contender.  Will tuck that away for future reference.

I like lists.  Establish a category, determine the criteria, identify contenders, evaluate them, and then organize the results until you have just the right elements in just the right order.  Everything is clear.  Everything has its place.

Unable to come up with a top ten favourite album list, I soon turned to thinking about my top ten experiences since my last blog post.  Way easier.  The past week and a half have been truly superb.

Presented chronologically (because it’s easiest), my week eight and nine top ten are as follows:

10. July 21.  Driving into Ottawa and feeling home.  Incredibly welcome feeling given concern that a summer spent mostly in my first city (T.O.) would weaken my ties to my second city.

9. July 22-23.  Seeing some of my fav Ottawa peeps after an almost two month absence.  Had a great time being K and M’s house guest (love staying with foodies!), checking out Town and Pure Gelato with an awesome group of friends, and decorating onesies at L’s baby shower.

8.  July 24.  Meeting up with my cycle group for the first time and realizing fairly quickly I’d lucked into a great group of people to tackle my first multi-day ride with.  As suspected, with no tales of past tours to share, I was not the typical rider on this trip.  But, I felt not a bit of judgement from my fellow eight riders when I explained my “I’ve been travelling too much to train” dilemma.  Got lots of tips along the way, and even help pumping my tires (which I learned need to be checked far more regularly during a multi-day tour than I thought  . . . yeh, I was the stereotypical newbie for sure).

7. July 25.  Finishing the first day’s ride.  111 km from Ottawa to Hawkesbury.  Confirmation that not only was I going to get through the ride, I was going to love it.  Did I hurt?  Yeh, but not that bad.  Or, not enough to override the joy of having spent a day tearing up pavement.

6. July 26.  Tackling Montreal.  After a soaking on the ride in, we sought solace in food and beer.  Later that night discovered the Just for Laughs pavilion.  Got the second tattoo I’ve been contemplating (sorta).  Talked S (provider of our trip support and my partner in after 9 pm shenanigans for the week) into doing the same.  Riding out the next morning, realized while crossing over the Jasques Cartier Bridge that I may need to start a bucket list of bridges to bike over.  Stunning views (sorry, no pic).

5. July 27.  Lunching on the best. veggie. tofu. sandwich. ever. in the small Quebec town of Beloeil.  Highly recommend eating at La boîte à thé if you ever visit.

4. July 28.  Blissing out over the beautiful ride along the St. Lawrence River into Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.  Fellow rider M: I don’t want you to think all multi-day rides are like this.  You’re getting spoiled by all this beautiful, flat terrain.  Me: Excellent.

While not in as much pain as anticipated by this fourth riding day, my hot bath followed by a nap in this river-side park still both felt well deserved : )

3. July 28.  Finding peace.  Sitting by myself under a sky brimming with stars after a group dinner at the B&B in St. Anne, was overcome by the sudden feeling that I was exactly where I needed to be right at that moment.

2.  July 29.  Discovering that outside the city, I can fly down hills as fast as I want.  Last day’s route into Quebec was the hilliest but most rewarding.  Hit over 50 km downhill and can’t wait to go faster in the future.  Makes the climb waiting on the other side pretty much worth it.  Arrived in Quebec in far better shape than anticipated.  Turns out first four days of the ride got me in condition for fifth.  Note to self: don’t count on that happening next trip!

1.  July 29.  Partying in Quebec City.  Shopping at Simon’s, dinner, and drinks at five (or was it six?) pubs.  In a word: fun.

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