vac2001b01a.jpg (13376 bytes)Dwight Peck's personal website

Mr Peck tags along on the MOOSA Tour

Having 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

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Prof 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 . . .


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This is a scan of the MOOSA Tour t-shirt.

The 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.

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Having left Rangely, Maine (USA), as the birds were just taking up their chirping in the trees, Mr Berman later sets up his tent outside the village horseshow arena in Notre Dame-de-Bois, in the province of Québec, Canada. (Note the cute sockies.)

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As dawn 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.

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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 during 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).

In 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.

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With Shannon, one of our delightful riding companions

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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.

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A 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.

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Relaxing 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 Québec City.

(See 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 dead.)

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With our riding companion Shannon on the pleasant boardwalk in Québec, just in front of the Frontenac

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The Frontenac, taken from up by the fortress . . .

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. . . 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.

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MOOSA 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.

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A 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 Tewkesburys.

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Preparing 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.

This 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.

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Sir Charles Berman, Québec still on the same horizon, with a somewhat flashier bicycle, but a much less fashionable helmet on.

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Mr 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).

Getting our bikes back, back in Maine, USA

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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 [2014].

MOOSA's over, back to Boston for a BBQ.

There is no law to the effect that you have to continue, but if you want to, it's okay (Go to file 3.)

Summer 2001

Mt Washington, USA, by Ammonoosuc and Huntington Ravine trails

The MOOSA tour, Maine to Québec

Barbecue in Framingham, cycling to Rockport

Visit to Alison at the Effelsberg radio telescope in Germany

Visits by Marlowe and Alison to the Jura, September-October

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . Posted 10 December 2001, revised 4 April 2008, 1 September 2014.

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