Zero in Saint-Quentin
Never Standing Again Camp #2
ECT miles: 0
Total miles: still 2437.5
Elevation change: none
The rest that we needed, the rest we deserved, on the perfect zero day. Even with our impending and inflexible start date in Quebec rapidly approaching, it was clear to both SpiceRack and me that we were in desperate need of a full recovery day. The unforgiving surfaces of the dirt and paved roads had worn us down to a degree that neither of us had expected or experienced before, even during long stretches of road walking on the CDT. We had reached a physical tipping point, and needed to rebalance our stress/recovery tug-of-war if we wanted to move forward sustainably. Fortunately, our shortcut had bought us some breathing room, and this combined with the rainy forecast gave us all the logical justification we needed to spend another night in Saint-Quentin. Eat, relax, eat, relax, repeat.
The dark shades kept me blissfully asleep deep into the morning. Spice was awake and tapping on her phone by the time I stirred at 9am, and she was hungry and eager to get up and moving towards food. I was right with her as my hunger came roaring back to life. We emptied her pack, put on our warm clothes and stepped outside to meet the very day that we had chosen to avoid as much as possible.
Timmy’s (what we call Tim Horton’s) was busy on this Saturday morning, so we were happy to wait a while for our hash browns and coffee. The incongruous swirls of local culture were a joy to witness from our corner of the bustling cafe, and distracted us enough to miss Spice’s name when it was called. It was bizarre to witness a mustachioed cowboy in plaid and denim, straight from an image of the American heartland, sidle from his pickup to a group of similarly macho gentlemen and begin speaking in French. Enthralled as we were, it wasn’t until much later that we realized that someone else took our drinks and food. That was alright, we ordered again and resumed our observations. This time we corralled our breakfast, and stepped out into the light rain to find even more food for the hours and days ahead.
We staggered to the Coop, which was our best resupply stop of the IAT so far. Aside from some seriously green bananas, the store had everything we needed, and more, to fuel us through the rest of our rest day and to Kedgwick, less than a day north. My legs started to loosen up on the walk back to the motel and my feet had regained their cushion, but there was no denying that another night of rest would do them good. Spice’s recovery was paying dividends as well, if a little bit behind my own, and I was excited for us to recapture the feeling of confident strength, to thrive instead of survive.
Back in our room, we settled in to ignore the outside world for as long as possible, until checkout tomorrow. We soaked our weary muscles in a tub of epsom salt, gorged on bagels, guacamole, bruschetta, and coffee, and made deep inroads into season two of Love Is Blind. Culinary and entertainment excellence. Finally, we sat quietly, doing phone chores, never far from our next bowl of cereal or microwaved biscuit. The rain thickened outside, making us feel extra cozy and smart for being here instead of out there. And then, all too soon, the day was done. Where exactly the time went was hard to pin down, but I knew that I felt both relaxed and satisfied. The weather looked iffy again tomorrow, but I wasn’t worried about it just yet. With fresh legs, we would have a fresh start, and that’s what this zero was all about. A chance to push the reset button. Blisters toughened, legs loosened, feet unstumped, nutrients absorbed. Check, check, check, check.