- Jour 7
Once you’ve done one Grand Tour, you’ll want to do another
If it is true that the human body can remember smells, you will leave Lac Saint-Jean with a lifetime supply of memories of the most amazing smells: the fragrance of the flowers, the scent of the woods, and all the fruity, humid, and earthy aromas that anointed us during Thursday’s ride. From field to forest, it was an unforgettable aromatic journey.
The Véloroute des Bleuets is an absolute gift when it comes to our sense of smell. And then there’s what it can do for the taste buds, as a few of our cyclists discovered when they made a quick stop – well okay, perhaps not that quick a stop – at the very welcoming Microbrasserie de Saint-Gédéon. The monitors had to issue an ultimatum to Brigitte and her friends: they gave them a maximum of 15 minutes (and not a minute longer) for their last round, after which they were able to close the course.
The Grand Tour Desjardins brings together cyclists from all over! About 60 Americans are participating, including Jim, Emily, and Debbie from Minnesota, all three on their first Tour. Before arriving in Chicoutimi, they had no idea where the Saguenay was. At first, they unnecessarily insisted on converting kilometres to miles, but they soon gave that up. They learned a few French phrases during the week: “Arrêtez!” (Stop!), “Allez-y!” (You can do it!), “Bravo” (well, that one’s pretty universal). Even so, Jim would have liked to learn a few more words, if only to express his gratitude, especially during the stop at the microbrewery.
Jim and Laurie from Iowa are on their sixth Grand Tour Desjardins. They have also taken part in 25 RAGBRAIs, a joyfully chaotic gathering of 10,000 cyclists. They came to know about the Grand Tour Desjardins through a mention in their cycling club’s newsletter 19 years ago. The couple has only good things to say about the kindness of the Quebecers they’ve met, who went out of their way to speak to them in English, and about the food and the organization of the event. They enlisted Jack and Carole, also from Iowa, who learned what “à gauche” and “à droite” (to the left and to the right, respectively) mean. Especially à gauche! There were no linguistic worries for this group, especially since the monitors quickly figured out when there was a look of doubt on someone’s face, and translated as needed.
Jim, Laurie, Jack, and Carole are now devoted fans of the crazy DJ from Alma, the inimitable Jello. Maybe he should think about launching a career south of the border…
It’s time to think about heading homeward, first to Chicoutimi and then home. Just a few dozen more kilometres on your bike and then back to your regular life.
Don’t be surprised if in a few days or weeks, you find yourself standing under the shower suddenly remembering one of the tunes that made you want to drop your soap and charge out of the shower trailer on to the dance floor. Or maybe you’ll stand in line when entering your kitchen or consider taking either the regular route or an optional route to the grocery store or the office. You may also find yourself looking for a signal from a monitor while out on a bike path or from a support vehicle a few kilometres from home, or waiting patiently for DJ Jello’s signal before breaking into “O Holy Night” at your next holiday party, or “We are the Champions” on Superbowl Sunday.
Keep calm. It’s completely normal.
Once you’ve done one Grand Tour Desjardins, we know you’ll be back for another!
Your (favourite) reporter is looking forward to seeing you again next year in… Oh, it’s going to be magnificent, the 27th Grand Tour Desjardins in…
You didn’t think I’d tell you where it is going to be held and spoil the surprise, did you? Of course not! I wouldn’t want to disturb you while you bask in your memories of Lac Saint-Jean and the Saguenay.
In the meantime, enjoy those memories and hang on to them while you head in to the last few lazy days of summer. They are more precious than you may think.