Route Verte 1: Oka to Montreal

66 km 5 hrs

It rained last night, sometimes heavily. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a steady rain, rather it rained in bouts on and off. Every time the rain picked up, it woke me up. Adding to the rain, Scott seemed to be paranoid about animals getting into our gear. He kept hearing them and shouting “Hey” or “Who’s there?”, which kept waking me up. Eventually, I dug out some earplugs and that helped with sleep.

Scott says:

In my own defense, I’m sure I was hearing snuffling outside the tent at various points during the night, and all our panniers were in the vestibule.

The morning was beautiful and reminded me why I like camping. I made Scott get up and help with moving the fly to a line so that it could dry out before we needed to leave. He then climbed back into the tent to read the paper we had bought yesterday, while I enjoyed a cup of tea and did some writing. It is the peaceful mornings sitting at a picnic table with my tea/coffee and either a book or some writing that I enjoy the most. I hope we find more opportunities for that restful time.

Drying out

I missed the pathway on the way to the bathroom, which meant I had to walk the long way along the roadway. I was rewarded with a nice view of a pileated woodpecker munching away at a dead tree. I only wish I had a camera with me!

Since we were not anticipating a long day, we had a lazy morning and allowed the time necessary for our tent and tarp to dry out.

We followed the Route Verte from Oka into Montreal. It was very well signed in most places. In some spots they had both painting on the road and signs indicating where to go. The Route Verte was very reminiscent of the Waterfront trail through the Toronto area, except with much better signage! The path was quite relaxing and enjoyable until we entered Laval.

Excellent signs

Becky crossing the bridge to Laval.

In Laval the path alternated between dedicated bike path and a dedicated lane on the road. The issue with the dedicated lane on the road was that cars did not necessary look before they entered it. There were several times when people drove up from a side street and did not even look before they entered the main road. There were also times when people went to pull around someone making a left. They would pull into the bike lane without checking for oncoming bikes. It meant that we had to be riding defensively even though we were on dedicated bike paths.

The north-south bike path on Laval was great though – it mostly went along the Metro line, so there were very few cross-streets, and had been very recently paved. (From the Route Verte mapbook we were expecting gravel)

When we reached the Island of Montreal the path was again partly on-road, but more comfortable. When the dedicated bike path was part of a road, they put up barriers that prevented cars from driving into the path. That certainly made it less stressful.

We stayed at our friend Kirstin’s place in Outremont, and we had a fair ride from the bike path to get there. This was during rush-hour, so we were both stressed about it. We were shocked at how easy and pleasant it was. Drivers gave us a wide berth, and the traffic wasn’t too heavy, even on Jean-Talon and Cote de Neige.

We found the drivers in Laval to be much worse than those in Montreal proper. I think it helped that there were a lot of lights, so cars were never able to move fast.

Kirsten had a late-afternoon appointment, so we didn’t want to arrive too early, but we drastically underestimated the distance we were taking on the bike path – it was almost 30 km further than going by road. This meant we got to Kirstin’s much later than anticipated. At 7pm, we reach Kirstin’s place , which is a flat on the third floor – lots of gear to haul up four flights of stairs! Scott hauled the bikes up and Kirstin and I lugged the gear. We had a lovely visit and slept well. Thanks Kirstin!

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