Follow the adventures of Bryan Thorp as he lives his dream of riding across Canada from coast to coast.
Day 58 - Aug 9 - Sun
Carillon, QC - Longueuil, QC - 105km
Well, no rain last night, and no condensation on the tent, either! I broke camp around 09:00 after cooking some oatmeal. About 2km down the road from the Carillon campground, I came upon the historic locks of Carillon. I'd actually never been to this part of Quebec before, so this was all new to me. I took some photos and then reluctantly moved on - I really would've like to have explored the area a bit more. :-(
Another 3 - 4km later, I came across a restaurant in Sainte-Andre-d'Argenteuil that was serving breakfast. So, I popped in and fortunately, I remember enough French to order brekky, as the waitress didn't know English. Of course, one always speaks the local language 1st, and usually, the locals will switch to English when they see you're 'struggling'. Anyhow, no pancakes here, but they do have crepes, which is close enough for me today. I order a banana and chocolate crepe! It was as good as it sounds; and the crepe was actually pretty thick, enough to be of pancake thickness; lucky for me and my appetite, it would've been almost 10" or more in diameter (sorry, can't be metric all the time!). Not only did it have sliced bananas and chocolate syrup, but it came with slices of 3 different kinds of melons plus a few grapes and blueberries! That was just awesome and with coffee and a tip, the bill was barely $10. I voted this as my best restaurant brekky to date on this tour! Delicious!
I continued on Hwy 344 and La Rue Verte, which has perhaps 1.5m shoulders which is fine on these not so busy roads. Quebec's done a great job with La Rue Verte, which was realized in the early '80s after I left. Having said that, Quebec's roads have nothing on BC's - it's just that BC doesn't market their roads as bike friendly.
I enter the aboriginal reserve of Kanesatake First Nation (Mohawk). As soon as I enter, there is a whole, strip of 20 - 30 'shacks' selling mostly tobacco. I've never in my life stopped at one of these smoke shacks, and don't recall so many in one strip in BC. Anyhow, I actually stopped at the 1st one. I saw the lady clerk in the door way, and saw that they advertised free coffee, so I asked the lady if I could have a coffee even if I didn't buy anything. She said sure. So, I poured myself a large coffee and in between customers, we chatted. I was there about 20 minutes and I was astounded at how much cash changed hands here. I figure she sold $600 of tobacco in that time period! The lady clerk explained to me that the police were constantly harassing the Mohawks and intercepting their tobacco shipments, so the Mohawks didn't have a good relationship with the police. I didn't ask but I assume the QPP (Quebec Provincial Police) didn't have any authority on an aboriginal reserve, but could intercept unauthorized shipments of tobacco on public roads. The lady clerk was very friendly and open and I really enjoyed my conversation with her.
On the road again, I eventually get to Oka, QC. I think many Canadians who are 40 years or older will remember the blockades the Mohawks put up on the highway here in 1990 - I don't recall the trigger for that confrontation, but it was nasty. The Canadian military was called in - the QPP and RCMP were having problems handling this issue, and the Canadian Armed Forces were called in. A very famous photograph was taken of a Mohawk verbally abusing a Canadian soldier who staunchly ignored the abuse.
At Oka, I find the ferry for Hudson, QC, across the Ottawa River. It runs back and forth all day long and costs me a piddling $2. The ride is about 10 minutes on a little ferry that holds perhaps 20 cars and has no shelter (e.g., cafeteria). Once in Hudson, I head back onto La Rue Verte heading towards Vadreuil-Dorion, and it's, not long before I've crossed the 2 bridges to the Island of Montreal - y'all knew that Montreal was on an island, right?!. I don't know how I would've made it this far without the km-by-km directions from www.hedley.com, as I'd never ridden west of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue when I lived in QC.
Ste-Anne was packed with people strolling the sidewalks. Awesome! I continued on Lakeshore drive thru Baie-D'Urfe, Beaconsfield, Pointe-Claire, Dorval and into Lachine. At Lachine, we're basically following the historic Lachine Canal, opened in 1824, the precursor to the St. Lawrence Seaway. The canal is still in use for pleasure boats. The bike paths have been exceptional since I got on the island and this particular path goes right into Old Montreal, which I cycle thru to get to the Jacques Cartier bridge. I would venture to say, in the little cycling I've done in Montreal so far, that Montreal has a vastly superior bike path network than Vancouver. There're tons of cyclists here of all kinds from roadies to kiddies on training wheels. I even saw one other touring cyclist. Some of these people are really moving, too, well over 30km/h - risky with so many little ones around, IMO. Also, Quebec cyclists have a complete disregard for stop signs. I saw a whole peloton of roadies blast thru a 4-way stop at 30km/h while motorists waited for them to pass thru! I feel kinda dorky doing my California stops (almost stopping, no foot on the pavement).
Since I was on time for my 19:00 arrival in Longueuil, I stopped for a leisurely lunch in English-speaking Beaconsfield. Eventually, I reach the Jacques Catier Bridge. The last time I rode this bridge in the 70's, there were holes in the sidewalk and one could see thru to the river below! They've since rebuilt the sidewalk, which was quite busy with cyclists. They also had 'suicide' bars along the entire sidewalk of the bridge. This is something that could be done for the Patullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey, BC, as suicides are relatively common on that bridge.
I find my way to the house I'm staying at in Longueuil. The house belongs to the mother of my old college friend Pierre, who hasn't lived there since May this year. She is currently hospitalized and will not be returning home, as she will need long term care. My friend Pierre very generously offered the house for my use while I took 4 days off in Montreal. Thanks Pierre! It's great being back 'home' in Montreal and Quebec, where I lived for 17 years! Hopefully my French is up to snuff.
Days 59-64 - Aug 10-15 - Mon-Sat
Well, the further east I go, the older the cities get, and the more fun it gets, in the context of history, architecture and things to do. When I lived in Montreal, I didn't really really appreciate the city - after all, I grew up there so it was essentially status quo as far as I was concerned. Montreal had Expo '67 and the the '76 Olympics, which took 30 years to pay off. That explains why I'm not a fan of having the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, although I do enjoy watching the Olympics - I just don't want to pay billions of dollars for them. Vancouver's Expo '86 certainly put Vancouver on the world map, so why do we need to do any more?
On Monday, my 1st rest day in Montreal, I found my way from Longueuil, on the south shore of Montreal, to Atwater Metro. The Metro is the rubber-tired subway, modeled after Paris' and built for Expo '67. Atwater Metro is the station I used to get off at when I went to Dawson College. My plan for today was to stretch the legs and get some walking in, so I walked all the way down Ste. Catherine St. and looked out for some of my old haunts and other Montreal places. The Atwater Mall is still there, where I used to eat donuts on the basement level. The Montreal Forum, where I've watched the Boston Bruins play the Montreal Habs (Canadians) in a playoff series, has moved to the Bell Centre and is no longer there. Toe Blake's Tavern, where my Dad bought me my 1st 'official' beer, is gone. The Ogilvy department store bag piper now does his 'run' at 11:00 instead of 17:00, so I missed him today. The Rising Sun nightclub, where I've seen blues acts such as Son Seals and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee is no longer there. Simpson's department store is long gone but, of course, the Bay [Hudson's Bay Company] is still there. HBC is North America's oldest incorporated business - established in 1670; indeed it's one of the world's oldest corporations! I digress... back to my old haunts: a lot of changes happen when one is gone for a whole generation! Ste. Catherine St. is still Ste. Catherine St.: packed with people, lots of very different stores from sex boutiques to staid, old Ogilvy's.
In the 'old days,' three's be traffic jams at 3 in the morning - I didn't have the opportunity to see if that still happens. I even can't remember the last time I stayed up that late!! Eventually, I grabbed a shuttle bus to pick up Susan at the airport. On Tuesday, Susan and I headed out to Sherbrooke, QC to visit with an old college friend of mine, Pierre and his wife, Francine. We, the males that is, smoked an Cohiba cigar that Pierre had saved for such a occasion, drank some brandy and watched the meteorites flash across the sky. We stayed overnight and the next day we drove out to see the Gorge Bridge in Coaticook; its claim to fame is the longest foot suspension bridge in the world. Souris, MB also has a 'world' claim with its bridge. I wonder if the Capilano Suspension bridge in North Vancouver has a 'world' claim, too?We had an awesome maple taffy ice cream at Coaticook Dairies - much better than the one we get in New Westminster.
We then drove 'home' to Montreal and I picked up a chain for my bike as it was time to replace it. Thank you to Pierre and Francine for their awesome generosity and friendship! Susan extended her stay an extra day as it was becoming apparent that we'd not included enough time to do sight-seeing in Montreal. On Thursday, Susan and I checked out the old Atwater and Jean Talon Markets. I remember going to the Atwater Market over 40 years ago and eating french fries (a treat, as my Mom didn't usually buy junk food). We then visited with another old friend of mine, Pat and his wife Mary. Pat lives fairly close to where I met him as a computer operator at the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (PSBGM) in the '70s. The PSBGM is now the English School Board. I played a game of Monopoly with Pat and Mary's 2 girls, Natacha and Annick, and I lost! It was enough to make me cry, as I hate losing! ;-)
Mary cooked us all a huge meal and made an awesome apple crisp desert and a fruitcake. She packed up some for Susan and I to take home, and I even ended up bringing some on tour a few days later. Thanks Pat, Mary, Natacha and Annick - it was great to see you guys again!
On Friday, we put the day aside for ourselves and explored old Montreal. Since I left Montreal a generation ago, a new museum called Pointe-a-Calliere has opened. It is built right above a number of archaeological sites, including the birthplace of Montreal, the city's 1st Catholic cemetery, and lots more. It's well worth the visit. You can also go to the roof of the building for a great view of old Montreal and the harbour. We saw Montreal's oldest building, the old Sulpician Seminary (1684), the oldest street (St. Paul), City Hall, where French President General de Gualle uttered his famous "Vive le Quebec Libre" in 1967, Bonsecours Market, the amazing Notre-Dame Basilica and so on.
On Saturday, Susan and I explored Longueuil a bit and then I drove Susan to the airport for her flight home. I returned to Longueuil and replaced my chain and made sure my machine was shipshape for the rest of the trip, which would resume tomorrow am. After visiting with old friends and Susan for the week, I found the sudden void a little depressing, but I knew I'd be OK in a day or two.
Day 65 - Aug 16 - Sun
Longueuil, QC - Berthierville, QC - 99km
For my first day back on the road, I left sometime before 10:00. I made my way over to the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and rode into Montreal and then followed Sherbroooke St. all the way to the east end of the island. That was around 25km right there and I'm barely out of Montreal. Thankfully, I'm doing few large cities on this tour. I crossed a second bridge to the city of Repentigny, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river. Boy, it was smoking hot - up to 35C but I've had those temperatures a few times on this tour with no problems.
The issue in Quebec is the heavy duty humidity, I''m guessing well over 85% as I recall from the newscasts I saw. That makes the effective temperature well over 40C. My knees felt achey today, probably the worst on this tour yet and I'm not sure what caused it. I've not done anything different than I've ever done and certainly I probably took it easier than usual. It's bad enough that had to I stop every 5km to rest toward the end of the day.
Another anomaly is that my average heart rate for the day was 132 bpm versus the usual 110 - 115bpm. At one point my heart rate stayed above 150bpm for at least 1/2 hour, and I wasn't even climbing hills! Although I thought I drank a lot of fluids, I apparently didn't. The headache was likely due to dehydration.
Around 17:00, a thundershower broke out, and even though I knew it would be gone within a 1/2 hour, it was the final 'straw' and I got a motel room in Berthierville on the river bank of the St. Lawrence. Thundershower or not, under the circumstances, i.e., not feeling well, I likely would've got a motel room. FWIW, I did not see 1 campground beside the road or within a click or two of the road I was on. I'm chalking up the day's 'results'/feelings as humidity-related. If that's true, then the symptoms should gradually disappear over the next few days as my body acclimatizes itself to the humidity.
A point of 'interest': The motel had mirrors on the ceiling over the bed PLUS beside the bed. That's another first for me. And no one to share it with! :-( I sure enjoyed the air-conditioning, though. So, we can now say: "You know you're in Quebec when... the motels have mirrors on the ceiling". For the record, communities that I rode through, mostly following La Rue Verte, were: Longueuil, Montreal, Repentigny, L'Assomption, Saint-Sulpice, Lavaltrie, Lanoraie, and Berthierville.
Day 66 - Aug 17 - Mon
Berthierville, QC - Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade, QC - 133km
I ate breakfast from my stash and hit the road by 07:15. I've decided that with Quebec's early sunsets, I've got to make an effort to get on the road earlier than I have been. I went through tiny towns on back roads of La Route Verte that could be out of a Hollywood movie: beautiful, old homes, many made of stone with metal roofs and the classic Quebec-style full-width porch, with large, mature trees on their property. Some of the towns were founded in the mid-1600's; Trois-Rivieres is celebrating it's 375th year - that means it was founded in 1634, which is even before Montreal was founded (1642). Of course, each town seems to try to outdo each other with their churches. Trois Rivieres has a huge beauty that I stopped at, called Notre-Dame-du-Cap. Words can't describe it but I will add my photos to the blog eventually.
The original stone parish church was opened in 1720, and it is the oldest intact church in Canada. The newer basilica is what caught my eye: opened in 1964, after 9 years of construction, it rivals Notre-Dame Basilica for size in Montreal, and perhaps as a modern beauty! I don't have Notre-Dame Basilica's numbers at hand, but Notre-Dame-du-Cap seats almost 1,700 people, it's dome soars 38m, and it's organ has almost 6,000 pipes, arranged in the shape of a maple leaf, especially notable for a Quebec choice, in my opinion.
I'm always amazed at the size of churches that relatively small towns can build! I found out later that Notre-Dame-du-Cap also runs it's own hotel of > 100 rooms "at a reasonable price". Too bad I wasn't staying overnight in Trois-Rivieres. While lunching and admiring Notre-Dame-du-Cap, one of the priests came along to say ¨hello¨... at least, I think he was a priest, I'm really not up to speed on my terminology in this area; he told me that another Vancouver cyclist was a few benches over. I'd seen the cyclist arrive, but I haven't been as outgoing in Quebec as I usually am due to my lack of expertise in French.
So, I went over to introduce myself. He was Mark from North Vancouver. We only chatted a few minutes as he was hell-bent for Quebec City, which was over 140km away. Since it was past 15:00, there was no way he'd make it in this hot weather, in my opinion. Mark left Vancouver in mid-July, took the southern route - the Crowsnest Highway - through BC, and took the train through some of Manitoba and Ontario, as he was worried about the roads there. He was also doing motels all the way across to Newfoundland. He had to be home by Labour Day, thus the rush.
My knees were a lot less achey today, than yesterday, so that was a good sign. I perceived a lack of energy even before I'd done 20km, but somehow managed over 120km for the day, so that was an improvement. My highest average heart rate today was on the last segment of 49km, at 126bpm. The rest of the day was from an average of 114 to 120bpm... So, my body's adapting to the humidity. The average temperature was about 32C, with a high of 34/36C. It was 29C at 10:00! As I write this, the TV shows 24C for nearby Trois-Rivieres, with a relative humidity of 89% giving an effective temperature of 34!!! Smokin'!!!
In Trois-Rivieres while crossing from the south to the north shore of the St. Maurice River, a police car pulled me over and told me to ride on the bridge's sidewalk. That's another first for me! The signage definitely wasn't clear to me that I should ride on the sidewalk. No ticket - not that I'd hand over my MOTOR vehicle license when I'm riding a bicycle. I wouldn't want any points on my MOTOR vehicle license record. My ICBC work mates can ignore that last statement. ;-)
No campgrounds in this area again, so another cheap motel room (< $50) in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade. Sainte-Anne also has a big church, but not quite on the scale as Notre-Dame-du-Cap, but worth stopping to gawk at and take a digital impression. Communities that I rode through today were: Berthierville, Saint-Barthelemy, Maskinonge, Loiusville, Yamachiche, Trois-Rivieres, Champlain, Batiscan and Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade.
Day 67 - Aug 18 - Tue
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade, QC - Quebec City, QC - 110km
I woke up and had an omelette at the restaurant next to the motel. I was on the road by 08:15, a bit later than planned. La Rue Verte continues to be a great little road. I have missed some direction signs here and there over the last 3 days, or they are badly placed or missing, but I've always found my way back on track.
The route winds its way thru small towns, where one can discover amazing churches, old homes, beautiful scenery and even depanneurs (convenience stores)! Quebec addressed one of my main complaints with Saskatchewan and Manitoba: frequent rest areas. On La Rue Verte they are about 50km apart and include sheltered picnic tables, toilets and drinking water. Very nice! A view usually comes with the package. :-) The only deficiency I've noticed so far is the lack of campgrounds along La Rue Verte. In fact, I saw my first today, but it wasn't useful to me at 10 in the morning. So far, I'd rank Quebec as the number 1 cycling province, with BC coming hot on its heels at a close second. Quebec's great for short distance, credit-card touring (motels, B&Bs, etc.) while BC best accommodates the long-distance, self-sustained (camping) bicycle tourer.
The weather continued to be sunny mostly and very humid. The heavens opened up ferociously while I was inside the tourist info in Quebec City so I dodged that rainfall but I did get rained on a bit later. The thundershowers came and went.
My heart rate is pretty well back to normal, but my strength isn't quite there yet. In fact, I had to walk my bike up a steep 15% hill about 10km before Quebec City. That's a 1st for me! Indeed, I did 525m of climbing today, compared to less than 100m the previous 2 days, so the hills are definitely back and some of them are pretty steep, albeit short.
I ran into Mark at the hostel - he's the guy I met a few days ago, who was hellbent on making it to Quebec City, which was 140km away when I met him originally in Notre-Dame-du-Cap and the time was 15:00. Well, he proved me wrong: he did make it that night but arrived at 11:00 - he did 2.5 hours of night riding on the highway! That's more of a risk than I'd take! Communities that I rode through today were: Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade, Grondins, Deschambault, Portneuf, Cap Sante, Donnacona, Neuville, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Quebec City.
Day 68 - Aug 19 - Wed
Quebec City, QC - Riviere-Ouelle, QC = 140km
Well, I don't care for hostels too much. It was only $27 for the nite which is dirt cheap considering the location - right in the old town amongst all the tourists and near the train station. However, I shared a room with 5 other guys and I had a top bunk. I didn''t fall asleep easily last night. On the plus side, I didn't have to get up and go to the bathroom down the hall. It was pretty warm and sticky that night; hostels don't have air-conditioning. I'd rather have a cheap motel room than be in a hostel, but I wouldn't find a motel anywhere near the hostel's location.
I don't plan to stay at any more hostels on this tour. Last night I met Mike, a 20-year old living in Halifax who was riding his bike from his parents' town of Collingwood, ON. He was heading to Halifax, where he now lived and went to school. We agreed to leave together and see how it goes. I wasn't too optimistic about keeping up with someone almost 1/3 my age, plus someone with lighter load. But, the temperature was a few degrees cooler than the prior 3 days, and more importantly, the humidity was dramatically less. So, I had a good riding day and had little problem keeping up. Whew!
We stopped at the occasional church or rest area and took a photo or two. One of the screws on Mike's rack came out and I came to the rescue with a few Zip ties to hold it in place. I'm closing in on 7,000 total kms and I have yet to experience a problem with my bike! It's definitely priceless, as the MasterCard commercial says, having a rock solid piece of equipment. Every partner I've had on this tour has had some sort of issue with his bike. I still dread my 1st flat, though. Around 17:00 both Mike and I were starting to fade - 455m of climbing during the day didn't help much but we persevered until we got to the campsite at Riviere-Ouelle, which cost $28 for the 2 of us. We setup our tents, ate and showered. It was a hard day of cycling for me but I was certainly thankful the humidity was at a more reasonable level. Since the shoulder on Hwy 132 was so good, we didn't meander off the Hwy when La Rue Verte did. Communities that I rode through today were: Quebec City, Levis, Beauport, St-Michel-de-Belchasse, St-Vallier, Berthier-sur-Mer, Montmagny, Cap-St-Ignace, L'Islet-Sur-Mer, St-Jean-Port-Joli, St-Roch-des-Aulnaies and Riviere-Ouelle.
Day 69 - Aug 20 - Thu
Riviere-Ouelle, QC - Bic Provincial Park, QC = 158km
Mike and I woke up about 6:30 so we could get an 8 o'clock start. We cooked our breakfasts - oatmeal for me - and then broke camp. However, Mike was concerned about his rear tire which wouldn't hold the maximum pressure, so he decided to replace the tube before leaving. The new tube wasn't much better. Perhaps it was his pump? So, we tried my pump and we were able to get the tire to his required psi. We finally hit the road and cranked out around 45km before we stopped at a depanneur for pop and pop tarts.
Now that we're right along the shore of the St. Lawrence River, there were plenty of fish mongers along the route. As usual in Quebec, there's also all kinds of ice cream stores, poutine stores, restaurants and Quebec fast food chains, e.g., La Belle Province, dotting the landscape long the roads. Quebeckers definitely like to get out of the house. In fact, there's plenty of people hanging out on their porches just watching the world go by. I'm always waving or shouting out "Bonjour!" to them and they respond likewise.
The weather had cooled down significantly to an average of about 26 in the am, and even cooler in the afternoon, with the average being 23. There is little noticeable humidity any more, which is truly a blessing for my body. My only issue today is some muscle soreness in my legs due to pushing it a bit harder than normal. It's also day 5 since my last rest day, so it's my experience that I start to fade on this day, but muscle soreness I don't normally experience at this stage of the game. That's what happens when I'm challenged by 20 year olds! I can now tell the wife my performance is as good as a 20 year olds. ;-)
The hills are still there on this day: 510m of climbing today. Obviously, Mike and I continue to partner and I'll probably go down into New Brunswick with Mike as far as I can before heading for PEI. We've make a good team so far. Around 18:30, we reach our campsite: Bic Provincial Park. I walked almost 1km to use the public pay phone to call home and check the posted weather (I don't think I've run into 1 provincial or national park anywhere in Canada that has wi-fi - isn't it time they got with the program?).
Back to our weather forecast: Uh ooh: 90% probability of precipitation tomorrow. Will we get soaked overnight? Communities that we rode through today were: Riviere-Ouelle, St-Denis, Kamouaska, St-Germain, St-Andre, Notre-Dame-Du-Portage, St-Patrice, St-Georges-de-Cacouna, L'Isle Verte, Riviere-Trois-Pistoles, Trois-Pistoles, St-Simon, St-Fabien-sur-Mer and Bic Provincial Park. Point of interest: It's amazing to a BCer like myself how many people smoke in Quebec. I understand a provincial 'No smoking' law was passed in 2008 to much dissent, but even today, I see smoking in restaurants.
Day 70 - Aug 21 - Fri
Bic Provincial Park, QC - Causapscal, QC - 147km
Mike opened the flap of my tent and woke me up at 06:15. Sheesh, I thought I was supposed to be on vacation! The night before, we had discussed the 90% probability of rain and figured if one of us got up earlier than 06:30 and it wasn't raining we'd consider packing up our tents. Although I woke numerous times before 06:30, I couldn't drag myself out to check the weather. It wasn't raining but it sure looked imminent. I'd dodged another bullet!
We packed up our tents and cooked our breakfasts and hit the road around 08:00. The rain came down heavily, perhaps a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10, about 10km into our day's ride. It turned into a driving rain - right into our faces - for the next 2 hours. We crawled along in that wind and rain at an average 18km/h until we found a Tim Horton's for lunch. This was day 6 for me and typically either my performance totally tanks or it improves compared to day 5. This morning, it tanked. With my legs still sore, even after an Ibuprofen, and 2 hours of driving rain in my face, and a nice, fat credit card very handy, those motels along the St. Lawrence looked very nice and cosy, indeed.
I had fallen behind Mike quite a bit by this point, but found him waiting for me at St-Flavie. His fingers were cold from the rain and he couldn't operate his shifters to get up the hill towards Mont-Joli, so he ended up walking up the hill! The temperature had dropped to an amazing low of 14, at least compared to the recent mid-30s from 6 days ago! My computer said that the average temperature for the day was 18C, which is pretty well my ideal riding temperature.
Anyhow, Mike and I had earlier agreed on a lunch spot about 30km away from St-Flavie, but Mike was also 'feeling it' and suggested Mont-Joli - which was only 4km away - as our new lunch spot. I was going to tell him that I was going to get a motel in St-Flavie, but decided to give lunch a try and see if time out of the saddle and a meal would revitalize me. I dragged my butt UP those 4km. Mike had earlier warned me that the road from St-Flavie, the one that heads south to New Brunswick, 'gets hilly'. OK, so my performance had tanked and we had something like 100km of hills to ride? Ha! At the end of the day, we had actually climbed 785m! That was a pretty good accomplishment for 2 guys who would rather be in a motel.
At Timmy's, I got a large sandwich/coffee/donut combo, plus ate 2 pop tarts. I was reborn! In fact, I did fine for the rest of the day, but Mike started to suffer. So, with the odd rest stop and a simple 2-bike peloton we worked as a team and made it to Causapscal, QC where we had a motel room waiting for us. After the 2 hours of rain the morning, the only other rain we encountered was during the last 5km to the motel, which we arrived at at 18:45, well before what I would call an 'early' sunset of 19:39. I found the motel a tad expensive at $72 but we had little choice as we had made the reservation over 3 hours earlier. I soaked my sore legs in the large tub at the motel. Nice!
As I mentioned before, as soon as we left the banks of the St, Lawrence and headed south toward New Brunswick, the hills came back. The scenery is now more BC-like, although the hills obviously aren't long pulls on mountain roads. However, they do provide a very nice challenge and I enjoyed that challenge, although I would've preferred to do it just on an unloaded touring bike. Communities that we rode through today were: Bic Provincial Park, Rimouski, Ste-Luce-Sur-Mer, Ste-Flavie, Mint-Joli, Ste-Angele-de-Merici, St-Moise, Sayabec, Amqui and Causapscal. Interesting number: I am just shy of 7,000 total km at the end of this day.
Day 71 - Aug 22 - Sat
Causapscal, QC - rest day
I didn't really sleep in on my rest day, curiously. In a motel, I tend to wake up when it gets light out, so on this day I woke up about 06:00. Since Mike was still asleep, I just turned on the TV - muted - and surfed. Mike woke up an hour later, and we went across the street and had breakfast, which was cheap enough, but not the greatest around. It was an omellete for me, which wasn't too fluffy. I can't find the traditional English-Canadian pancakes in Quebec. Perhaps my performance issues are actually pancake withdrawal symptoms? ;-)
We then walked for about 1/2 hour into town and visited the tourist info, where I got a time slice of Internet access. The town of Causapscal seems to be known for its Atlantic salmon run. We saw and took pictures of a fly fisherman in the Matapedia River, which runs thru town. Mike remarked on all the pickup trucks in town and I told him it was nothing compared to Alberta and Saskatchewan towns where there was an oil boom happening!
We then did some groceries, buying salmon to cook in our kitchenette room, and the walked back to the motel. We ate lunch and then veg'ed out for the rest of the afternoon. One thing that's struck me about the difference between Quebec and New Brunswick is that NB doesn't have all the little restaurants, ice cream bars and other food shacks all over the place as Quebec has. Quebeckers seem to love to get out of the house and have a bite and socialize. As soon as one crosses the border into NB, all those food shacks disappear! Curious!
Day 72 - Aug 23 - Sun
Causapscal, QC - Jacquet River, NB - 149km
Mike and I woke up at the agreed upon time of 05:30 because the time would advance 1 hour when we cross the border into New Brunswick today. We departed the motel in Causapscal shortly after 07:00. The ride from Causapscal to Matapedia was very beautiful. Mike said it was the best scenery of his ride. For me, the scenery was reminiscent of BC: hills (read 'mountains' for BC) surrounded by mist, a river beside the road, greenery and evergreens all around, and a wet road. I think the St. Lawrence riverside scenery was just as nice as these hills, though.
The 57km ride to Matapedia was relatively desolate, but there were still restaurants here and there even though the map showed nothing for 57km - a very big stretch for Quebec. Suddenly, we reached Matapedia, QC and a few clicks later we cross a bridge into NB. Mike's knees were aching in the morning but now mine are bothering me and Mike's are fine! We agreed to dial back our pace a bit, as it appears we're pushing too hard.
We've been watching and enquiring about the progress of Hurricane Bill for the last few days. As it turns out, it does not come,into northern New Brunswick and indeed, we have no rain at all this day. It must've rained last night as the road was wet until we got to Matapedia but then the humidity is quite high again and nothing seems to be drying.
We cross into NB and now, I'm 4 hours ahead of Vancouver. Who can I call and wake up? ;-) BTW, NB is province #7 for me! Eventually, we roll into Campbellton, which has an ugly smoke stack right in the middle of the city. It's noisy and spewing something out, although I don't recall smelling anything unusual. I don't like to say negative stuff about any town/city, but I wasn't impressed by Campbellton. Perhaps we rolled through the wrong part of town but I can't think of any reason to go back there.
We stopped to top up some groceries in a Sobey's and boy, did they have the A/C cranked up in that store! It's the coldest store I've been in! We stopped at Subway to get a lunch and liquid sugar then moved on to Dalhousie, perhaps 20km down the highway.
Dalhousie was even more depressing and ugly than Campbellton! Yuch! The highway diverted us to the city's waterfront on the bay which had virtually nothing to offer except a Timmy's, a liquor store, a bank or two and a number of ugly derelict buildings. The highway then took us right back to where we had diverted - almost - but with a brutal 3 - 4 block climb. Neither Mike nor I could do the climb so we walked up the hill. Someone in a Dilbert cube at the NB Highways Office has a nasty sense of humour. :-( And I've, got a voodoo doll with their name on it.... ;-)
Finally, we exit Dalhousie and ride about 40km to our campground at Jacquet River, NB. My knees ached badly during the ride and my performance tanked,yet again. I think this time it is the heavy humidity again plus the heavy lunch. It's not fun riding in that condition and I hope it goes away soon. The campground is right on the bay, and technically Atlantic seawater is there, so 'technically' I've now done coast-to-coast! We bought some wood and marshmallows to cook and burnt some 'mallows. That's the 1st time I've had 'mallows on this tour. Mike and I agree to 'sleep in' tomorrow to at least 07:00 to see if that helps our bodies for tomorrow's ride. Communities that we rode through today were: Causapscal, QC, Mann Settlement, Matapedia, Tide Head, NB, Campbellton, Dalhousie, Charlo, New Mills, Nash Creek and Jacquet River.