Peck's personal Web site
Peck tags along on the MOOSA Tour
puttered about for a few days on Mt Washington in New Hampshire, USA, the country
of his birth, for which he holds no regrets, well not too many, Mr Peck joined
Professor Berman on a weeklong bicycling tour from Rangely, Maine, through the
mountains and down onto the St. Lawrence River to Québec, and a pleasant tour
of the city with cycling friends, and some more 110km rides in the hills north
of the city.
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The MOOSA Tour
Berman, whatever his social, economic, and intellectual pretensions
in other circumstances, swats mosquitos as if they were Republicans and prepares
to drive from New Hampshire (USA) to Maine (also USA), in order to start the .
This is a scan of the MOOSA Tour t-shirt.
MOOSA Tour was a bicycling rally that began in Rangely,
Maine, and hurtled northward at 105 kilometers a day for four days, over lots
of nice cross-wise mountain ridges in the first days and then down towards the
St. Lawrence in whatever fierce headwinds could be found, to Lévis facing Québec
City across the river -- followed by a few days of myriad options for local tours
all round the region. For a pretty modest fee the tour organizers, the CAN-AM
Wheelers, arranged stopping
places for each evening (with low cost meals laid on by the local charity organizations),
marked the routes on the pavement, moved your camping equipment forward in hired
vans, and patroled the route throughout the day in "sag wagons" vigilant
for riders whose bikes had broken down, riders whose bodies had broken down,
and the few riders whose spirits had failed them utterly.
left Rangely, Maine (USA), as the birds were just taking up their chirping in
the trees, Mr Berman sets up his tent outside the village horseshow arena
in Notre Dame-de-Bois, in the province
of Québec, Canada. (Note the cute sockies.)
breaks over the mountains, a hired van was loaded with camping gear for another
day's ride, this one to a pleasant campground on the shores of Lac
Aylmer. John Aylmer (1521-1594),
"a man of quarrelsome disposition", was the Bishop of London in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth I, but it's not clear why the French Québecois
should have given him his own lake (or rather "lac"). But the nearest
town to Lac Aylmer is Stornoway, named after the formerly Norse/Viking
ferry port in the Outer Hebrides in the Western Isles which has long been a favorite
rest stop for the Russian, fishing fleet, and Lac Aylmer's nearest
large town is Disraeli, which (if Benjamin was intended) is even more confusing.
So nothing surprises us.
Mr Peck seems to be
writing poetry -- religious poetry, by the look of it -- at a campground near
St. Joseph-de-Beauce. Some 200 riders
pedaled along with us (though we saw very few of them in the course of each day's
ride), many of them in no better shape than we were, and for each of us who rode
the day's route in five hours, many rode it in four (e.g., Prof Berman) and many
more rode it in six, seven, or eight (after nine one has to hope they brought
their credit cards with them).
fact, it wasn't religious poetry on this occasion, it was a note to himself not
to forget to pack the Ibuprofen for the next day.
Shannon, one of our delightful riding
Setting up this $14 tent was well beyond one's capabilities. This nearly fatal experience,
which will remain scarred in memory forever, took place in Lévis, with the city
of Québec barely visible on the far side of the St. Lawrence river.
delighted Prof. Berman points to an eye-opening article in the NY Times in which
it was shown that Attorney General John Ashcroft, evidently the only
person ever to lose a US senatorial election to a corpse, makes Tom DeLay look
like a Mensa-guy.
aboard a ferry, two MOOSA Tour riders take a break from their bicycle seats and
choose to stand all the way as the ferry conveys them across the St Lawrence to
that little greenish band on Mr Peck's wrist? That's there so that the MOOSA tour
operators know that it's okay to feed you if you're hungry,
comfort you if you're sad, ship you home if you're
our riding companion Shannon on the pleasant boardwalk in Québec, just in front
of the Frontenac
Frontenac, taken from up by the fortress . . .
. . . where
Sir Charles explains to Shannon in great detail the hidden meanings of
all the patriotic Monuments To Everybody scattered
about Québec's Plains of Abraham.
Tour participants take time off to soak up the sights in Québec's old town,
and have a nice lunch in one of the tourist restaurants, in the company of Shannon's
sister Susan as well. Lots better than a shrink-wrapped sandwich
jambon in the rail station.
day later, MOOSA cyclists crossed the St. Lawrence
river once again, still preferring to stand, on their way to the MOOSA tour's well-marked
"Lac St Charles Loop",
110 kilometres out into the mountains north of Québec (lots of ups and downs)
and back again. The route passed through Tewkesbury, where they bought a few sandwiches and restorative soft drinks and where
the Yorkist Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians in 1471, one of the few decisive
battles of the Wars of the Roses.
. . . . Hold on a moment. . . There may be two
to traverse the last 10 kilometres or so back to Québec City (on the horizon in
this photo) and through its wonderful cycling paths right down to the ferry docks
on the St Lawrence. The cyclist pictured here purchased his fashionable
red helmet in Gland, Switzerland, only days before joining the
MOOSA Tour, because the tour organizers required it, and has since grown to love
it so excessively that he cannot be got to take it off, and wears it both at work
and at home almost round the clock, except while asleep or in the shower.
extremely serviceable bicycle was lent for the MOOSA tour by Mr Paul Miller
of Framingham, who could therefore almost be considered as
a team sponsor.
Charles Berman, Québec still on the same horizon, with a somewhat flashier bicycle,
but a much less fashionable helmet on.
Peck in final deliberations with another of our favorite cycling companions, Shannon's
sister Susan, as we contemplate the sad prospect of ending the
MOOSA tour and riding in a hired bus back to Rangely, Maine, to fetch our cars
(or, in Susan's case, our pickup trucks the size of Wyandotte County, Kansas).
our bikes back, back in Maine, USA
MOOSA is said to stand for "Maine's Original Outstanding Super Adventure",
but that sounds ex post facto -- the 10th annual tour began the following year (2002) in Kingfield instead of Rangely, but the operation seems to be out of service now .
over, back to Boston for a BBQ.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
Posted 10 December 2001, revised 4 April 2008, 1 September 2014.