Summer is over and I must say it went by so fast. Working with Freewheeling Adventures and leading cycling trips every week sure keeps things interesting and fun!
Since most of the guests I had where English speakers, I decided to write a review of my first summer in English. That way, everyone can enjoy it! I’m glad to say that my English has improved over the weeks but I’m still working on my translation skills. By the way French is the best language, just saying!
It’s hard to summarize so many good memories in one blog post but I’ll try my best to share my impressions. I always loved numbers and stats, so let’s start with some fun facts!
72 = guests I guided
6 different guests nationalities
80 = oldest guest
29 = younger guest
7 = guides I’ve worked with
1 = wheelchair + crutches on tour
1 = blind women + service dog
13 216 km in the van
1513 km on the bike with guests
15.2 km/h = estimated average speed while cycling
24 days of cycling
6 flat tires changed
112 = estimated number of loading bikes on the roof
130km = longest day on the bike with guests (Saguenay to Tadoussac)
1 day kayaking
3 days hiking
62 sunny days (no rain)
3 rainy days
2 days with a mega tail wind in Bas St-Laurent
58 coffee stops (apparently, I make good coffee)
15 lunches prepared, 30 more attended (helping)
38 dinners attended
25 camping nights
41 other lodging (auberge, hotel, motel, family)
43 morning meetings
42 stops at local bakery, fish place, groceries
Eastern Townships = favorite trip
Auberge le Mange Grenouille au Bic = favorite dinner location
5-6 = kg of cheese eaten
10lbs = extra weight (gain)
582 photos (probably 5-10 good ones)
1 Drone crashed in Lac St-Jean (not my fault!)
Cycling and eating are two of my favorite things in life. Being paid to do that, day after day, was the icing on the cake. I lost count of how many duck breasts, scallops ceviche, arctic chars, local cheeses and crème brûlée I ate in the last couple months. More than I ever had and definitely more than I should have! I gain some major experience in food critic after having dinner in so many nice restaurants. I’m also way more comfortable enjoying a 3h+ dinner than I was before, let’s say the « small talk conversation’’ doesn’t come naturally to me but it’s a work in progress and I’m trying hard! That’s why on my rest days, I cherish simple and comfort food while reading my newspaper. Finding balance is the key!
The paradox of eating in amazing restaurants that I definitely don’t have the status and money to pay for and then set-up my tent to wild camp by the beach. The best of both worlds! Why only get a 4-5 stars hotel when I can get 1 billion one!
Being « on » week after week was for sure a big challenge. The season is long with some ups and down, but every guest deserved the best out of me. Every group dynamic and every trip is different but some aspects never changed. No matter how big or small the group is, there is always someone who calls you days before the trip to start asking a bunch of questions most of the time I don’t even know who I’ll be guiding yet … A phone call away they say!
It’s almost impossible to have a group with more or less the same cycling speed. Sometimes, the group is so spread out that logistics for lunch, pick-ups is a real nightmare because everyone deserved the right to have support and assistance. Flexibility is the key and being able to make a plan with everyone in the equation and get the timing right is just awesome!
You will be surprised how people can be so slow on the bike. Most of the time, I don’t mind going slow but after many hours on the saddle I’m ready to move on and do something else! As a guide, I was prepared to hear many complaints about hills and challenging days, it’s always too hilly. I’ve tried different strategies to present those days in the morning route planning but I have yet to find the perfect way to describe it. If you minimize the hills people will get mad at you but if you make it sound way more difficult than it was actually they may not trust you in the future. Big learning curve! I would say it was one of the most frustrating situation. I don’t wake-up early in the morning and go add some hills on the day route. Just for the record, I LOVE hills, oh yeah, I enjoy riding uphill for hours because I feel in real connection with my body and thoughts.
Looking for missing people is always stressful but it can also be kind of fun. When chasing people who took a wrong turn, I have the opportunity to hammer down and push as hard as I can to catch them feeling the pain in my legs and a taste of blood in my mouth. Even if we tell them to leave their bikes easy to spot on the road, they tend to forget. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often otherwise I would get too much training hours into my body!
Dealing with stressing situations was also part of the job. Backing up the trailer is not one of my favorite activity and so is bike mechanic, specially the first day of the trip with 10 people around me asking questions and giving me unsolicited advices.
All of the guests I had were older than me. Most of the time they have about the same age than my parents. I’m an old soul, I actually go along better with older people so that was no big deal for me. People were respectful and in fact it was mostly a running gag depending on the groups calling me Mom or daughter! I made numerous relations and I’ll stay in contact with some of the guests. If you are reading this, thank you for the reviews, you made me become a better version of myself.
I learned a lot, made some mistakes, got better and more confident in my skills as the summer was progressing. I found it interesting working with many different guides, taking the best out of each and making my own recipe for success. I got high standards and sometimes it was hard to achieve everything the way I wanted it to be. I became more efficient in my daily routine while making sure I was not getting lazy. I’m putting all these experiences in my tool box.
A BIG THANK YOU to the Freewheeling team, I just feel like part of a great family!
Coming up next for me is a trip to Nunavut, going to work as kitchen staff in a mining camp until Christmas and the ski season start.