feat that seemed impossible given how much equipment we had with us. As fate would have it, luck was on our side and we found a ride from a jubilant construction worker with a large pickup truck with enough room to fit our bikes, trailer, and bags and to take us all the way to Albany. We were hosted by two wonderfully hospitable couch surfers for the evening; making it an early night so that we could get up and get on the road at the dawn’s first light.
3. Be prepared to let go.
I love my bike. Well, loved. It was a funky old bike from someone’s basement that I bought at a co-op when I first moved to Montreal. I was particularly fond of the bike because it was pink, and affectionately named her Rosie. However, being an old bike there were many mechanical issues that were difficult to overcome. Rodolfo did an amazing job upgrading Rosie for the trip with new rims, tires, seat, bike rack and a thorough tune-up. Nevertheless certain problems persisted no matter how carefully she was looked after, such as a chain that would fall off, gears that wouldn’t shift properly or even at all, and a derailleur that had a habit of coming unhinged.
The night after our spirits were lifted by good luck, good company, and a good night’s sleep in Albany we got off to an early start and enthusiastically got on our bikes ready, excited to ride! Minutes into our journey Rosie’s derailleur went catawampus and bent sideways as I attempted to shift gears, getting caught in the spokes and folding in half. We pulled off to inspect the bike and it quickly became obvious that we needed a new derailleur and could go no further until it was fixed which meant losing time and pouring more money into an already capricious bike. Unsure of what to do next we called our couch surfer friends and asked for a ride to the nearest Greyhound bus stop.
4. Know your limits (re: It will be harder than you imagined).
Rodolfo and I agreed it was best to cut our losses and take the bus the rest of the way to New York City. The weather had begun to turn (rain, again!) and Rosie had finally bit the dust. We began to disassemble the bikes to fit them into the boxes necessary for bus travel. True to her nature Rosie was less then agreeable; the pedals were practically welded to the bike after all the rust that resulted from a harsh Montreal winter. Rodolfo tried to remove the pedals to no avail, breaking the wrench in the process. “I think we have to leave Rosie,” he sighed. I nodded silently in agreement.
The act of throwing one’s bike into a dumpster on a bike trip is a cruel and absurd finish to what was supposed to be an exhilarating adventure. I carried Rosie to her final resting place as a line of cab drivers looked on, some in shock and some in empathy, as I lifted her frame which had been stripped of all useful parts and laid her carefully into the cold bin as Rodolfo looked on in silence, photographing the moment.
5. If at first you don’t succeed…
Although our trip was riddled with mishaps and unfortunate events it was still an incredible and unique experience. We met many amazing people along the way who were willing to go out of their way to help us—how refreshing it is to meet kind people, kind strangers. We also saw unparalleled beauty in the great state of Vermont! The scenery was stunning and so refreshing to our tired eyes. We realized the foolishness of our initial goals but learned how to better plan for the next trip. The trip was without a doubt one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done, but I was left with an amazing sense of accomplishment at what we had achieved. Despite not being able to reach our initial goal of biking the entire way we still had an amazing ride trying to achieve it. Leaving Rosie behind was a cathartic experience but I like to think that someone rescued her the way we had been rescued, and that she’s somewhere pedaling the streets of Albany now, a revision of what had been expected, but an adventure nonetheless.