It was the Summer of 1971. I spend the Summer cutting grass in Rosemere and I had the use of an old bicycle to help me get around the town. All through the Summer I rode east and west along Chemin Grande Côte in Rosemere. Late in the Summer, on a hot, sunny afternoon when I had no work lined up, I decided it would be interesting to ride on east along Grande Côte, just to see what was there.
At first was the town of Boisbriand, which started just as Grande Côte crossed the Laurentian Autoroute. Soon, I crossed into the town of St. Eustache proper, but I was far from town. I rode by something like 150th Avenue, and the numbers seemed to take forever to roll by, each sidestreet decreasing the number by one.
When I did get to St. Eustache, I took a little time to ride around the historic church, before beginning the long trek back to Rosemere. I imagine the whole ride took about four hours.
In the Summer of 1974, Donald's and my long-discussed bicycle trip to Ottawa finally got underway. I was riding the new bike I had bought in April of that year. We had no paniers or racks, so we wore everything on our back in a knapsack. For most of the way, Donald would take the lead, as he has an odometer and so could keep our pace at about 12 km an hour.
Despite our best intentions, it was nearly Noon before we got started out from Donald's house in Rosemere. The first part of the ride re-traced the route I had pioneered in 1971, but past St. Eustache all was new. I remember pausing at the base of the Two Mountains and looking with trepidation at the long climb. Coming down the far side, and racing past the entrance to Oka Park and on into the town of Oka, was quite a thrill! After such a huge climb, the hill out of Oka must have seemed puny in comparison, for I have no recollection of it.
We rode past Carillon, which I remembered from several visits with my parents. As we rode up around the dam and onto the elevated causeway, we began to suffer from the sun. We did not think to research such things as water intake. The road around the dam was desolate and seemed to go on forever. Lined on both sides by scrub forest, it offered no respite from the beating sun. When we finally got into Grenville, we both felt sick and had to lay down in the town park, under the shade, for some time before being able to continue.
At Grenville, the quieter Route 344 merged with Route 148, coming from Lachute. Suddenly having to hug the shoulder of such a busy road was a shock. There were lots of trucks!
As it was getting late in the evening, we began to think about lodging. We stopped into a couple of riverside tourist cabins and campgrounds, asking after a place, but they were all full. We began to worry, as dusk was advancing rapidly. Finally, we found an old hotel in tiny, forgotten town, above a bar, with a stairway in back. We rented a room and brought out bicycles upstairs. I forget where we ate. Perhaps it was downstairs in the very place we stayed.
We got up the next morning and had breakfast somewhere. As we rode along Route 148, we came into an area of thick woods. We were will away from the river, but to our right (north) was a steep embankment. Our road remained relatively flat.
We came upon the Chateau Montebello complex, and so decided to ride in for a "look-see". We were impressed as we rode our bikes around the magnificent lodge, built of logs. We did not get off to go inside though.
The rest of our trip was fairly uneventful. The trees gave way once again to open countryside, and we regained our view of the river. The embankment to our right faded, and we were out into flat countryside. The highway remained as busy as ever. I was surprised at hour fast the miles actually faded past. Every few minutes we would pass a mileage sign, and I could see significant progress.
At one point we approached and passed a large pulp wood plant, whose smokestack we had been observing for the longest time. We came upon the urban conglomeration of Hull almost by surprise. Suddenly the highway became a wide, suburban boulevard, with the typical malls and parking lots on either side. Not long after, we were sitting in the park across the river from Ottawa.
We had left Rosemere about Noon, or even a bit later, and had cycled until about 21:00, with perhaps an hour's stop at Grenville. We could call it 8 hours cycling. The next morning, we got an early start and arrived in early afternoon. It may have been about 6 hours cycling. The total was probably about 14 hours.
We proceeded to cycle around Ottawa's magnificent trails for a couple of day, and then we packed the bikes onto the train and came home.
(I think I first came this way back in '92, on my way to Carillon. I remember how surprised I was as the abruptness of the change, in reverse. I believe I have been by this way by bike four times now: A return ride to Hudson, my 1997 round trip via Okay, and this trip.)