Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The ride to the Atlantic ends in the Hub

[A taste of home: Chowder and smelts for lunch at the “No Name Restaurant” on Boston’s Fish Pier.]

Our (partial) transcontinental bicycle journey ended today on the waterfront in Boston, exactly two months and more than 2600 miles (4200 km) after an airport shuttle from Denver dropped us off outside the bike shop in Cheyenne, WY, to which we had shipped our bikes.

[End of the road: On the Fish Pier, with planes landing at Logan Airport across the harbor in the background.]

After a brief visit with family and friends in the Boston area, we’ll be getting on one of those planes in the background of the photo above to go home to San Francisco.

It’s been, by and large, a smooth trip, with few of the complications we had worried about (and even fewer that we hadn’t anticipated). We’re already thinking about where our bicycles will take us, or where we will take our bicycles, next year.

Your mileage may vary. But by far the most “vél-osympathique” (bicycle-friendly) region we passed through on this trip was Québec. Only lack of awareness in the USA of Canada and Québec can explain why the province of Québec isn’t a mecca for North American bicycle tourists, the way Vermont is (only more so).

On the Route Verte 1, the bicycle expressway into Montréal (part of a network of more than 5000 km of marked car-free bike routes throughout the province), there are staffed welcome centers for bicyclists with maps, water, toilets, tire pumps, etc:

Just as motorists are protected by the highway patrol, so the Route Verte is patrolled (by bicycle, of course) by trained professional patrolleurs from the “Comité Pro-Piste” (“Friends of the Path” — the French word “piste” can be applied equally to a runway for airplanes, a ski run, or a bike path) equipped with panniers containing emergency medical and bike-repair equipment.

And at intervals, as on a highway for motorized travel, there are rest and service areas:

More than that, general Québecois attitudes toward bicycles and bicyclists reflect the unique stature of the vélo in the Francophonie and of the French language in global bicycle culture. The Tour de France was reported with color photos on the front page of the main news section (as well as the front page of the sports section) of the French-language Montréal newspapers, but only in a box-score summary in the English-language Montréal Gazette.

Québecois drivers are not, to put it mildly, known for slow and considerate driving, but they treat bicyclists — not just bike racers but also bike tourists and recreational riders — as fully entitled to their place on the roads.

Having given a nod earlier to the best accommodations in the first half of our trip, I should also note that the best accommodations we found in the second half of the trip were at the B&B Domaine des Chutes in Frelighsburg, Qéebec. (The only term we heard used in French for “bed and breakfast” was “B&B”.)

I’ll be posting more about our trip in this blog, and incorporating lessons from this trip into the next edition of The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World.

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 31 July 2013, 11:07 (11:07 AM)
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