As great as I felt after yesterday's ride, I feel equally dejected today. I laugh when I think back to last night and how I mused about combining two days' rides into one today and powering through 175kms to arrive in Quebec one day early. After all, yesterday I felt invincible!
Today the temperature dropped, the rain came, the headwind set in, the road conditions deteriorated, and the elevation decided to jump around. In short, it was the day from hell. It was 1 degree with the windchill - which was constant and in my face the whole way, combined with freezing rain that pelted me non-stop for the entire day. If that weren't enough, the head wind slowed my progress to a crawl the entire way.
I knew if I stopped to eat or rest, the chills would set in and I wouldn't be able to go back out, but at the 70km mark my left hand was fused into a frozen claw resting uselessly on the handlebar, both feet might as well have been blocks of wood for all the sensation left in them, and my pace had slowed to the point where I'm positive I was going backwards. I needed to stop.
Sure enough, sitting there eating my hamburger, my adrenaline started subsiding, the cold seeped into my bones even as the warmth of being indoors did its best to offset it. Looking out the window I could see the rain picking up. There was simply no way I could go back out there.
I don't entirely recall how I motivated myself, but I imagine it had something to do with not liking the alternative. Sitting in the restaurant eating my hamburger, another 5 minutes out in that mess seemed inconceivable - and I don't mean that figuratively - I actually tried to visualize riding through all that discomfort and crappy conditions for another 5 minutes and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't find a silver lining to cling to, it just seemed like the worst thing imaginable.
The fact of the matter is that I had to go back out, even if just to find a place close by to get a room. If I was going to do that, I might as well ride for as long as I'm able to. At that point it was war. Each agonizing km was worse than the last, and time just seemed to stand still. But whenever I asked myself 'is this all you got for today?' for some reason I just kept pedaling. I managed to get in another 50kms - 120kms total for the day - before settling in to a b and b. So today I left Louiseville, passed through Trois Riviers, and ended up past Portneuf.
This day was terrible, and I'd like to say that in hindsight it was satisfying, but I can't. It was just terrible. Tomorrow doesn't look to be any better, but because of the miles I put in today, I have less than 60kms to go to get in to Quebec. At least there's that.