Prelude to Toulouse.

I don’t know how we did it, but Yann and I have decided on a destination for our August vacation: Toulouse, France. As we will be taking our bicycles, we now need to decide on our sub-destinations.

Assuming we train hard for the next two months, remain injury-free, and in perfect health, we aim to cover between 800-1000km in the 12 days we’ll have to explore the Pyrénées.

Admittedly, this is ambitious. I haven’t been as fortunate as some when it comes to completing a trip in perfect health: I suffered a sunstroke in Beijing, China (2010), and caught a terrible cold at the end of my Japan trip (2014). Yann and I were even supposed to do our first overnight cycling trip on Friday but this was cancelled as I woke up feeling unwell.

My dodgy wellness has taught me to never expect trips to go according to plan. For our France trip, we’re going to have a plan B, as well as a plan C, D, E, E.1, E.2i, E.2ii, and so on.

We did have a plan B for the weekend, and this backup plan involved Ruth, and the hillbilly town of Grenville, QC.

As plan B didn’t materialize until 2pm on Saturday, Yann almost ended up opting for plan C (C for couch). I persuaded Yann that 2pm wasn’t too late to do a century ride with simple math: 20km/h average means we’ll complete 100km in 5 hours; therefore, if we start at 3pm, we’ll finish by 8pm!

Two hours later, we found ourselves crossing the Ottawa River by boat.

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I sight with my poor eyesight, Ontario.

This crossing took a good five minutes, and bolted to a post next to the ramp on the ferry was a sign with the Facebook logo as to say: “If you enjoyed your five-minute ride, follow us on Facebook!”

Ruth described the ferry’s website as being “overblown”. If it takes one more time to read up on the history of the ferry than it does to do a crossing on said ferry then, yes, it is overblown.

I got a bigger thrill out of my first pit toilet stop. I wonder how a hearing person would describe the noise that escaped my throat when I opened the door to the pit toilet. A shriek? Or was it more of a yelp? Did I squeak? Whatever noise I made probably shocked Yann and Ruth more than this surprised me:

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Not the kind of coilers you expect to see in an outhouse.

The outhouse was already occupied by two lively snakes. Once I recognized that they were just garter snakes, I briefly contemplated going for a piss anyway but went, “You know what, I’m not really up for a rim job today.” I do not discriminate against the limbless: had they been a pair of squirrels, I would have also politely declined.

I trusted my kegel muscles to keep me dry until the next pit toilet, which came up only five minutes later. Instead of two wriggling serpents, my butt faced hundreds of tent caterpillars. What was I supposed to do? Hope that the next pit toilet doesn’t have me squatting over a river of lava? I braved the caterpillars, and five minutes later, we came upon a campsite that had flush toilets. Nice.

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I have never seen anybody look as cool eating a long popsicle as Yann. That’s Ruth on the left: she instinctively broke her popsicle in two to avoid indecency.

I soothed my disappointment with a popiscle. But before that, I managed to hit my right knee on the handle of a wheelbarrow that was haphazardly placed inside the store. Nice.

If this trip doesn’t seem fucked-up enough already, a car nearly rammed into me headfirst while we were cycling down this concession road:

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Riding in peace.

I was cruising in the middle of the road when I noticed the oncoming car and calmly began to veer to the right side of the road. At the same time, the car, going about 70km/h began to shift left. I was now in the right lane, yet the car had gotten into the wrong lane. This was a scene straight out of Tarantino’s “Death Proof”.

Was I going to die or what? With how fast the car was going, I didn’t even have time to panic. The driver reacted quickly enough to give me about 6 inches of space as they swerved and whizzed by me.

“Was that on purpose?!” I asked Yann who was ahead of me, but already well to the right of the road at the time the car passed by. Yann concluded that it was unintentional: the driver was reaching for something in the glove compartment, and only noticed that he wasn’t alone on this dirt road when he saw my ghostly expression.

Unlike the pit toilet snake incident, I did not make a sound when faced with actual danger. Nice.

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Hawkesbury, ON: Visually pleasing, but nasally unpleasing.

The trip ended with a 15km ride through the shit-scented fields of Hawkesbury, ON. At one point, we caught a glimpse of a dead chupacabra on the side of the road. Most likely it was an escaped warthog that had been reduced to a bloody pile of guts with tusks. This was only a tiny bit nicer to look at than the redneck who stopped to fill up his truck at a gas station in Grenville wearing the Borat mankini.

After 114km, we arrived at the car at 10pm, far past my original ETA of 8pm but considering everything that happened, can you really blame us?

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