Everything started last winter. Geoff came at my place to grab a drink and talk (about bikes obviously). He proposed one crazy idea; ‘’A ride, so wild and unpredictable that everything can potentially happen during that ride. A journey where Murphy’s Law would be honored’’. As we started to reflect on what the actual ride would look like, Geoff exclaim himself: ‘’Let’s call it Murphy’s Ride’’.
The plan was simple, gather a couple of hardcore gravel grinders, make them pedal on some old fire roads, through lakes and mountains and see what happens. We wanted to create something special, a ride we would remember (at least for a couple of years), that would be special not only by its length but mainly by the adventures that would emerge from it.
Spring came, the snow melted, we rode our bike through the wet conditions and the summer finally came out. Murphy’s Ride could then happen. The date was fixed, the map was fine tuned, the riders were selected and the preparation continued.
We finalized the route a couple of days prior to the ride. A combination of fire roads, old quad trails and a couple of unknown sections. We would start form Quebec City early morning and hopefully make it to Baie-St-Paul by late afternoon. The route was 152km (95 miles) long and more than 2000m (6,600m) of total ascent.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
The vibe was high on the morning of our ride. We rode fast for the first hour. It was the perfect timing to burn a couple matches and test who was going to be dropped first. As we made our entry on the gravel, the vibe was even higher, we were forgetting about the journey that was ahead of us, we just wanted to enjoy our fresh legs, the beautiful scenery and the loneliness of the forest.
For the first miles of the ride, the pace was fast, the gravel roads were surprisingly well maintained and we were eating kilometers like never before. And that’s were Murphy’s Law showed up.
We hit our first technical climb, the rain started to poor and we made our first wrong turn. This did not affect our vibe too much, we were still super pumped to be doing that ride. As we were moving forward, following what the GPS was dictating, the trail started to become narrower. Not many people used that trail this season or never really… we were riding through high grass with hidden rocks. We hit another intersection…
‘’Is this really the trail?’’ exclaimed David. We were in fact getting deeper and deeper into the woods with a trail getting narrow to finally totally disappearing. The GPS was still totally confident in its route, it was right in front of us, there was no doubt. So we continued our journey. It was like a summer version of the Bowie Loop ;-) Our only hope to find back the right trail was a couple of deer footprints and their excrements… was that even a good sign… I don’t even know.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
We finally came back on a legit trail. The morale was a bit affected by the couple hundred meters of walking through bushes, ponds and MOSQUITOS! As we jumped back on our bikes, it seems like we had found some of the best gravel trails we’ve ever rode. The surface was fast and we started to catch back the time we just lost. We were riding through some magnificent sceneries hoping to see some wildlife.
We were now 4 hours in and almost midway through our journey. Time for a well deserved snack on the lake shore. As we were eating sugary bars, candies and other sport nutrition, it was good to get some real food in and make sure we had enough fuel to continue our journey and fight what Murphy’s was cooking.
Murphy’s Fight Back
Once we got all fed, our bottles were filled of the lake water and our legs full of acid, we started back our journey to Baie-St-Paul. Our 5 person escuadron was moving forward and we were making progress through the rolling roads and then Murphy made us turn right to find narrow trail that was getting narrower and narrower… ‘’F**K this Jay, what is this trail?’’ exclaimed David! And yes again we were back on some primitive Caribou trail that would lead us, again, through, mud, branches and some more mosquitos.
Getting back, again, on a nicer road, nobody was talking anymore. Everybody was tired, have been stabbed a couple of times by mosquitos and pine needles.
At this point, you could feel the tension of the weakest rider, they didn’t want to make some extra miles or to walk one more mile in the bushes, they just wanted to get back home and take a nap… We took another left and then: ‘’ARE YOU SERIOUS JAY!’’ Another bushes section was waiting for us. A very narrow trail that would push our limits to the next step. As we were a couple hundred meter into the bushes, Jay said: ‘’Guys it’s left here!’’. What the hell there is not even a trail how can it be left??
We followed the Map master and found this!
A (very) old bridge that was barely standing over the river. We crossed it and took picture like if it was the nicest thing we have ever seen. The good news was, after this hurdle, the trail was fine. We were only 35 km from our final destination. Our pace was a lot slower than earlier. We were barely moving but we were making slow progress.
As long as you move forward, you are making progress.
We then started to hit consecutive downhills, fast downhills that led us to the first trace of human civilisation since we have left the pavement 100km earlier; a house. We knew we were close, as the end of the ride was mostly downhill, we pushed the pace one last time and finally made it to Baie-St-Paul.
We all ordered a BigMac meal and went to liquor store to get our favorite beverage. For dinner we ate like crazy and spent the night talking about our adventure. About how crazy fun that was and how we messed up so bad on the route.
Even though Murphy was the 6th rider on our journey, we still remember that ride as being fun, tough but also some of the best riding in our life. As this was the goal of our ride, we were happy, tired and already talking about next year’s edition.
As we are getting older and more confined in our adulthood we sometime forget the reason why we started cycling: to explore, the spent some times with our friends and to challenge ourselves. It is about living the adventure getting all muddy and smiling. We will be back next year, but with a different route, a route that we don’t know and we expect to still get lost and bring Murphy in our Camelbak.