To Berthierville

When I read the guidebook this morning, it said to go north on rue Sherbrooke Est. This would have been a good direction, except that rue Sherbrooke runs east to west. This was the first time today that the guidebook could have been clearer in its instructions.
After consulting a map, I went east on rue Sherbrooke and started pedalling toward the east end of the city and the island. It was going to be a pretty easy day of about 105km over fairly flat terrain. Rue Sherbrooke was pretty easy pedalling and there were bike lanes along some of the way, so I was a happy camper. About 20km in, I came to a roundabout. I’ve encountered some of these before on my travels, but have not enjoyed them overly much. North American cars and drivers are generally boggled by roundabouts as they’re quite uncommon and can be confusing, even though they’re usually only a maximum of 2 lanes and 4 possible exits.
This roundabout had 2 possible exits for me – rue Notre Dame or Repentigny. Neither of these were continuations of rue Sherbrooke in name, so I consulted the guidebook, which indicated that rue Sherbrooke turned into rue Notre Dame.
I stopped for lunch and a grocery shop at a Metro and was quite impressed by outer Montreal. I noticed that the Montreal bus system was vast, and that the city’s services were quite far reaching. As I continued riding, I noticed more divided bike lanes, just like in downtown Montreal. Then I noticed buses with routes named the same as those in Montreal. Then I noticed the Montreal bixi bikes. Shouldn’t I have crossed a bridge out of the city and off the island by now? How big is the island end to end, anyhow? Did the wind change directions halfway through the day?
Those of you from Montreal and the surrounding area may have guessed by now. I had not actually left the island. I had not actually left the city. After pedalling about 50km, I was in fact only about 5km from my hostel. That’s right, I was still in Montreal. I can’t even say “back” in Montreal, because technically I never left.
After a quick consultation of google maps, I realized where I had gone wrong. That damn roundabout! Instead of turning right I should have turned left toward Repentigny. Rue Notre Dame actually went both ways, but because of the confusing sign and the confusing guidebook instructions, I had turned the wrong way. Expletive!
While a 50km jaunt around the city was not in the original plans, it’s what I had done anyway, so I had to backtrack. It was basically like I went for a long joy ride and then decided to get down to business and start the real ride at 2pm. Awesome. I’ve never been prouder of myself.
When I did finally get back to the roundabout, it did look fairly confusing. It wasn’t as if I had appeared to turn back on myself when I did the wrong turn – it looked like the road just curved a bit.
So, I kept pedalling. I finally got off the island and gave myself a pat on the back. No one else was going to.
Eastward I went. I decided to just keep riding for as long and as far as I could before stopping for the night.
Then I saw the storm. It was off to my left and looked like it might just blow past either ahead or behind me. But, as you may have already guessed based on my past experiences with rain, this was not the case. I was just at the edge of a town when the wind really picked up. Then it started pouring. There was no preamble, it just started pouring. I pedalled as fast as I could into town and took refuge in a depanneur. The storm passed fairly quickly, but I was pretty soaked by that point.
Once I got riding again I ran into a couple of cyclists doing a tour from Montreal to Quebec City, although taking a different route than me. They had had mechanical difficulties this morning, so were also not that far from Montreal. We decided to stop in the town of Berthierville and camp for the night. I’ve kind of wanted to try free camping on this trip (somewhat illegally setting up a tent on an undesignated campground), but refused to do it on my own. But now that I have cohorts, we pitched our tents at the back of a potentially abandoned factory that looks like it starred in a horror movie that begins with people camping out back. We plan to be up early in the morning to erase all signs of the camp, just in case the factory is not in fact abandoned. This will either be an awesome adventure or the beginning of a horrible story. Only time will tell.

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