Plein Nord: an unfinished adventure
by Simon-Pierre Goneau
On February 15, 2020, after years of imagining this adventure, I finally left the terminal marking the southernmost point of Quebec. Alone on my fat bike loaded with nearly 100 pounds of equipment, I have 1,500 km of road in front of me to the village of Chisasibi, then 1,300 km on the ice floes and the coast of Hudson Bay before reaching the northernmost point of Quebec. A huge challenge, even surreal, that I intend to complete in 10 to 12 weeks. Despite intense months of preparation, planning and training, it is only with the first pedal strokes that I realize the full extent of the project in which I have invested myself.
The first days pass without a major incident. Valleyfield, Oka, Lachute, Mont-Tremblant, Mont-Laurier … I quickly and happily completed the first 250 km… I finally made my dream come true. Despite some fears, my cohabitation with road traffic is going well. I implement all possible initiatives to keep a safe distance from vehicles, even if it means stopping and pulling into the snowbank when the shoulder is not safe. These frequent stops slow me down, but I can’t leave the responsibility of keeping me safe to others. The only unforeseen event is the weather. It is shaping up to be warmer than normal for this time of year. The mild temperature and the sun melt the snow on the pavement and everything from my gear to my clothing is covered with a layer of calcium. The transmission of the bicycle suffers in particular. The latter resonates like a mill, crushing the grains of salt that are thrown into it. Despite frequent cleaning (including one in a car wash), a chain replacement becomes essential after the first week only.