- Slowest Known Time -
My Journey to Completing the Log Driver’s Waltz Bikepacking Route
Anyone interested in riding the Log Driver’s Waltz?
Guest writer Gene Villeneuve shares his story of riding the Log Driver’s Waltz in 2021.
On August 3, 2021 Gene Villeneuve and David Wright set off to complete the LDW route in four days. Unfortunately, they needed five days and Gene couldn’t add the fifth day due to family commitments and had to abandon the route at the end of day four. David went on to complete the LDW in five days. However, Gene was relentless in his commitment to ride every kilometre of the route. Here is a short excerpt that covers the fourth day of the Log Driver’s Waltz. You can read Gene’s full story about his journey to bikepacking and completing the LDW in 2021 here.
Gene is a fifty something lifelong athlete and semi-retired software executive from Ottawa, Canada. He is happily married and has two daughters. You can follow him on Instagram, Strava, or RideWithGPS.
LDW Day Four: August 6, 2021 – Decision Day
Campbell’s Bay to Home for me; and to Mont Sainte Marie for David
D: 152.28KM (75KMs on the official LDW route), E: 1246M, T: 7h36m
After a solid night’s sleep, I felt rested and strong, but knew I had to get back to Ottawa to be with my family. David and I didn’t talk much about it, but David being a father and husband understood and respected my decision. However, I felt terrible for not completing the entire route in one trip with him. Deep down I felt I was not holding my end of the bargain. Rarely am I the guy who throws in the towel. In fact, in most situations people ask me to stop, or wrap it up, or quit. I won’t let something go. So, we planned to ride together until Venosta and then I would turn south for Ottawa as David would continue to Mont Sainte Marie.
The view over the Ottawa River Valley from Campbell’s Bay.
As we packed up our campsite at Campbell’s Bay, I paused to admire the view of the valley and to the meandering Ottawa river to the north and south. I reflected on the history of this land from the original indigenous peoples to the European settlers and wondered what the future may hold with climate change and long-term cultural changes as a response to the coronavirus. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, especially on my kids. Online learning is tough and undermines socialization and play which are so important for developing minds and bodies. As we headed off on our bikes I couldn’t stop thinking about my daughters.
One of the many roads on the LDW with “use at your own risk” signs. Photo courtesy of David Wright.
We were blessed with another gorgeous morning. The sky was clear, and the air was fresh compared to the humidity from the day before. The gravel roads and secondary roads along the route were wide, in good shape and quiet. The route also took us through Ladysmith, a small village with a wonderful corner store owned by Gerda and Wally Bretzlaff, who have since passed on the store to their children. I hadn’t yet developed the appreciation for Gerda and Wally’s special touch and relationship with the community. Gerda was incredibly friendly and let me use the store’s restrooms which were impeccably clean. While lingering in the store I observed Gerda’s interactions with her customers. They were friendly, kind with a twist of humour built on years of friendship. Stopping at their store was a highlight of the route. Wally and Gerda made you feel at home.
An abandoned home in Ladysmith, QC.
After Ladysmith the roads are rolling and fast. We rode along old farms and homesteads that triggered my imagination for the ways of the pioneers. We stopped in Alleyn-et-Cawood for a sandwich and a drink. The homemade sandwich was delicious, and I couldn’t remember having a better sandwich in years. Maybe it was the hunger, but it hit the spot.
Within an hour we arrived at the decision point. I was still struggling with the decision and wondered if I would change my mind at the last minute to continue with David. At Venosta where the route turns north along the Veloroute Des Draveurs we stopped to wish each other luck with the next phase in our respective journeys. Fortunately, there was a nice couple who graciously offered to take a photo of us before we said goodbye.
The last photo of David and me together on the LDW.
David had another 70-75 KMs to Mont Sainte Marie and I had about the same back to Ottawa. However, I didn’t realize how far north Venosta is from Wakefield. I thought it was only 15-20 KMs, but it was over 30 KMs along highway 105 with harrowingly narrow sections and high speed cars and trucks. I had a massive headwind and it made for a hostile ride to Wakefield. I regretted my decision on the route, but it was the most direct line home.
Once in Wakefield I stopped at the Ma-Boule ice-cream shop for a sugar fill and water. While sitting on their lawn chairs I saw a friend ride by. I yelled out his name, but he was long gone. I then texted him and called him, but his phone was on silent mode buried deep in his pocket. I had a wishful thought that he could help me ride home by protecting me from the wind.
The route (not the official LDW route) from Wakefield to Ottawa is about 45 KMs and hugs the Gatineau River on an old road that merges with a converted rail line. The route is beautiful and popular with local cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. Along the converted rail line my chamois began irritating my behind. I stopped to apply more anti-friction cream, but I had mistakenly not cleaned my cycling shorts well enough the night before. Chris Isaak’s lyrics from Wicked Game kept rolling through my mind, except I changed the chorus to “my ass is on fire and no one can save me butt cream. It’s strange what desire will make foolish cyclists do.”
I eventually made it home and was so happy to see my family. I cleaned up and joined them for a wonderful dinner. On the side I kept checking Strava for David’s ride. I was curious to know how the rest of his ride went. His ride on Strava eventually popped up and I was relieved to see he made it. The next day I kept watching his social media feeds and Strava for any updates and to learn how the last segment of the ride unfolded. Turns out, the fifth day was probably the most epic day on the LDW. The route from Mont Sainte Marie back to our official starting point in Ottawa is 192 KMs with over 2800 metres of climbing through very technical trails in the Gatineau Park. David had to bypass a black bear and fireworks, but he made it. I was so happy for him.
To read the full story visit this link.