A North of the Border Adventure
For those of you who wanted to go last year but found the ride sold out, or those of you new to the club wanting to get a sense for what a weekend trip with the club is like, we are re-printing this article by Dave Meltzer on his perspective on the trip. If you'd like to speak to others on the trip - reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with someone willing to share further:
5:45 came early. Nine 5BBCers biked through the silent streets of Brooklyn to the Monsey Bus Yard. Bikes were loaded and the Weekend Trip to Montreal was off and running. After a further stop in the Bronx, we were on the road.
The Club's Montreal adventure was devised by Montreal native Allan Friedman, ably assisted by former Club president Sharon Behnke and current Club president David MEL Meltzer. In addition to the leaders, we had 31 adventurous trippers. Add Ernie, our dependable bus driver, and you have the makings of a great trip.
After clearing customs, we arrived at Ruby Foo's Hotel. The bikes were re-assembled, folks grabbed some food, and an hour or so later we were cycling on Rue Jean Talon to the meet up point for the Tour la Nuit. We waited near the front of the pack listening to speeches we did not understand and watching the sun slowly sink. As day turned to night, the barriers were dropped and off we went. Tour la Nuit is less of a strenuous ride and more of a rolling party. All sorts or riders were out – from the spandex-clad regulars to the kids with training wheels. The 15 mile course wound through the joyful streets of Montreal. Along the sidewalks there were cheers of encouragement and music. After enjoying the Festival, we rode as a group back to the hotel to our well earned sleep.
Saturday was not promising. The Canadian government put a severe storm warning out. Chance of rain was 60% or more – with hail. We were undaunted and decided to go. What a great decision. The temps were in the mid 80's, the wind occasionally had a bite, but we had a full day in the saddle. Starting at the beautiful St. Joseph Oratorio, we climbed to the top for an amazing view of the City. From there, Allan led us through the neighborhoods of his birthplace. We stopped for such highlights as William Shatner's high school and the graffiti covered walls in the Plateau neighborhood. Our lunch was waiting for us at Schwartz's Charcuterie Hebraica, and we loaded bag after delicious smelling bag into panniers and baskets and headed through the Old City of Montreal for a group picnic by the harbor. There was relative silence as we dug into our smoked meat sandwiches.
After lunch, we continued our ride to the islands in the harbor. We hung out by Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 for a photo shoot and then off to the Biosphere. The Cartier bridge had some stinging winds and the weather seemed to be closing in. We cut the trip a bit shorter and returned by lively Rue Sherbrooke – making a short stop for ice cream. And as the rains came, we were soundly back in our hotel. Saturday night was free with groups of cyclists disbursing. Some went to Chinatown, some went to a microbrewery on St. Denis, but the most popular choice seemed to be dinner at the hotel bar and an early night of much needed sleep. We were leaving the hotel at 6:30 the following day.
The featured event of the weekend was the Tour de L'ile. Remember the rain that was supposed to come on Saturday? It managed to show up a day late. Yesterday's temperatures in the 80's were replaced by those in the low 50's. Some our our more intrepid riders continued with their plans for the 100 K ride, but many stepped back to the 65 K ride or the “Classique”. The gray drizzle provided the backdrop for some interesting riding. The mile and a half dirt track through the park turned to a slog through the mud. We emerged into a world of bland corporate structures, but at least the roads were paved. As we neared the lunch stop the landscape changed, and we were treated to a wonderful ride along the banks of the majestic St. Lawrence River. Mile after mile of beautiful views, gorgeous parks and expensive housing. The rains abated, the pedaling was easy, and after what seemed like no time at all we were back in Montreal – heading through the Old City, Chinatown, the Plateau and back to the park.
At Ruby Foos, the bikes were rapidly disassembled, sorted by destination and loaded into the bays. 34 happy, tired and unwashed riders tromped back onto the bus for the long ride home. Allan, our fearless leader surprised us with famous Montreal bagels from St. Viateur, along with other traditional Montreal goodies for the ride home. Our driver, Ernie brought us amazing luck, as the drenching rains managed to stop during the Bronx load out – and then cease entirely at the Brooklyn load out. Just before midnight, the last riders re-assembled their bikes and our weekend journey was complete.
An international weekend trip requires a significant amount of planning. Transportation for people and bikes must be arranged. Appropriate lodging must be found. The rides must be coordinated. During the weekend, some decisions were leader driven, some were tripper driven and many just sort of evolved. In the end, the 5BBC showed what we could do as a cohesive group of leaders, trippers and friends.
So...who's ready for Montreal 2016?
David MEL Meltzer