April 14th : le grand départ
4am. I woke up with one of those huge migrains I get once a month. Pat couln’t sleep anymore either; the night before, he saw his new Italian frame, Wilier Cento Uno, at Le Yéti in Montreal. After coffee…and a few Advils, my head felt a bit lighter. I managed to finish packing while Pat loaded up the car. Quick could sense the excitement around him: terrified that we were gonna leave him behind, he made sure to get right in the middle of the hallway. In French we say: “être dans nos jambes”.
We took off at 9am, knowing that we had a big day ahead of us:
- Driving down to LeYéti, on St-Laurent street in Montreal, to get his new bike assemble and get a proper fit.
- Fixing my new Speed Play pedals on my Mizuno shoes.
- Getting on the road as soon as possible to get to Scranton, PA (a 6 hour drive), where we rented a pet friendly motel for the night.
We got in Montreal at 10:30 and had to face a few complicated issues: since the Wilier was coming from Italy, it didn’t fit with the Sram Red groupo that Pat had bought a while ago and was so eager to try. Couldn’t put his Devox saddle he loves so much either. It took a few hours to find temporary solutions but thanks to the guys at LeYéti, especially Christian, Sasha and Steve, the bike was finally completed.
By 6:00, running late according to our schedule, but all set to go (oh, and by the way, a special thank you to the City of Montreal for that unnecessary parking ticket!). Anyway, I don’t know how Pat did it, but as I was sleeping in the back of the van, he managed to drive us to our motel in Scranton, where we arrived just a bit after midnight.
April 15th: On the road
With about 5.5 hours remaining to get to Massanutten resort, we took easy and left the hotel at around 10. The hardest part was to get Quick in the elevator. He can be a very stubborn dog when he wants. For some reason, he’s afraid of stairs and elevators(among other things!). Soooo scared that Pat had to take him in his arms. You should have seen the look of terror in those big brown eyes.
The highlight of that road trip was certainly our lunch at Chipotle’s. The best burrito I ever tasted. And those chips…addictive! (We don’t have Chipotle’s in Québec.)
We got to our rental house at about 5pm, put our luggage inside and changed into our cycling clothes for a short spin. After 12 hours of sitting in a car, just turning the legs is a real joy! Felt like summertime; no sleeves, no vest. What a wonderful way to start a vacation!
April 16th: Day 1
Pat slept in. His winter season is so crazy; he works weeks without any days off. (He runs a ski school, ski shop, repair and boutique). He usually needs at least 2 weeks to recover when the season ends.
That first morning, our goal was to get a decent Internet connection at the house. Thanks to our neighbour, we were able to get into his network. At 1:30, we headed down for our first ride, the “Indian Trail”. I say “headed down” because we rent a house on Trevino Drive, which is half way up the mountain. A long and steep climb; the ideal way to kill my weak hip and lower back!
Friday’s plan was simple: a short loop together, kind of a warm up for Pat’s solo ride.
As soon as we started, even if I knew the region well, I was still overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery: cows, sheep, goats, horses. Trees blooming in pink. Breathtaking smell of purple and white lilac. Surrounded by that rolling terrain that I love so much, I was happy. Enjoying every seconds of freedom…Until it all came back. A déjà vu. An undesirable visitor that gets comfortable and never seems to leave. A long and sharp knife, running from mid-back all the way down to my sacrum. A burning sensation in my right gluteus.My entire right leg feeling heavy and weak at the same time. Numbness in my right foot. Discomfort? Ache? Nope. Pain. Unbearable pain. Impossible to ignore. The same sensation that I got a little than 2 weeks ago, that took 10 days to heal. In fact, I’ve got to go back to 2003, when I started feeling soreness in my lower back. Over the years, it just got worse(one day, I’ll tell you about all the different treatments I got to treat that condition.)
Anyway, with only 12 km to go, I took Pat’s wheel. The head wind was tough and strong, and showed no mercy for the injured one! Nevertheless, I was able to protect myself behind Pat. Tears were coming down my face. A mix of emotions: frustration, anger, disappointment, pity, embarrassment. For my first day of camp, that same old pain was too much to handle. Back at the car, I kissed Pat goodbye, got into the driver’s seat and watched him go on with his ride.
Another ride, another set back. I got home and that cute little 10 weeks old cutie pie puppy came to greet me. A new friend for Quick!
Got inside and I immediately lied down, applied ice on my sacrum and coccyx, wrapped my back and right leg with a heated pad, took a muscle relaxant to keep everything as loose as possible, and a pain killer to ease the pain. A few hours later, Pat arrived, satisfied with his ride, pleased with his final climb and thrilled by his new Italian bike.
April 17th: Day 2
Not a good morning. Even though the Internet was working, my back and hips were not responding very well. To make sure I was reading the signs correctly, I went for a short walk with Quick. You see, on a bad day, I can’t walk more than 10 minutes. Pretty hard to accept since I use to go trail running for an hour with him before jumping on my bike…So, after a few yards, the verdict was obvious. I came back with the word disappointed written in my face. Pat, who knows me pretty well, insisted that I join him just for a warm up, as he lowered my saddle a bit, convinced that it would help my condition. I said no. No way I was getting on my bike today. Let it be a sad and dark day. Stock in a body that I don’t control anymore. Like an old rusty frame.
After I showered, I decided to go ahead with his offer. How about a 180° twist! What do I had to loose anyway? Couldn’t get worse than that. So we drove down to the Water Park here at Massanutten resort. Got on the bike and tried my new position. Definitely felt less pressure. Kind of awkward tho, to be sitting that low. Just a few minutes and my spirit completely change; from sadness to delight. A 30 minute ride can sound ridiculous to many but in that context, it means that I’m still alive and that I haven’t surrounded yet. I was out there, against all odds, thanks to Pat!
More to come in a few days. Again, thanks for reading!