Archive for the ‘Quebec’ Category

Forgotten “Om”, oh my!

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

The day started unhurriedly, which was nice. I really enjoyed the peace of the wilderness campsite. Our morning yoga practice was the first sign that things were not going to be great today. I forgot the “Om”! I often am surprised at how well our morning chanting of “Om” is a measure of how in sync we are with one another. If we are totally out of tune then our decisions may not be aligned, if one starts before the other, then our timing is likely to be out of sync. Forgetting all together is a sign that we are not hearing one another … and that was how the day began, with me forgetting the “Om”.

The ride to Riviere-du-Loup seemed more painful than it should have been. We were eager to get moving, but I was in need of frequent stops. Just before entering Riviere-du-Loup, Scott says “let’s make this a quick stop”. I was starving, so I wanted to stop for lunch, but I didn’t say anything. It felt too soon to stop as we wanted to get within a short ride (50 km ish) of Rimouski today. We also needed a grocery store stop, as we were out of fruit and had nothing for supper.

As we entered town, things got confusing quickly. There were no signs indicating which way we should go, and the roads got big (multi-lanes in each direction). We didn’t want to end up on an expressway. We ended up on the 132 for a short distance, then turned and headed to a grocery store. At the grocery store, I sent Scott in (rather than me), as he wanted to the stop to be quick and I am not that quick at groceries. I also felt like he wasn’t really listening to me today, so rather than deal with him thinking we needed to move faster, I figured I’d do the waiting and let him to the shopping. He came out of the grocery store with a desire to have lunch there
(he was tempted by the rotisserie chicken). So, we moved to a bench and some shade and I sent Scott back into the grocery store to get lunch. After what seemed like forever, he came back with lunch for him and nothing for me! We clearly did not communicate that one well. I ended up going in and getting pretty much the same thing he had. Not exactly an efficient stop!

Shortly after lunch, we were back on the road. I started to get a really bad headache. I was hoping we would come across a picnic table in the shade somewhere, and I could take a couple of Tylenol and nap for 20 minutes before continuing. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen .. there was no shade to found and no picnic tables either.

We followed the 132 for a while rather than the Route Verte to avoid hills. There was more traffic after Riviere-du-Loup because Highway 20 ends; however, with more traffic came better roads and wider shoulders. So although it wasn’t as interesting riding, it was definitely comfortable and efficient.

After arriving in Trois Pistoles, I noticed my thighs were red and sore. I had put sunscreen on, so I didn’t think it was a burn. Scott said it looked more like a rash. I figure that something I ate has caused an allergic reaction of some kind (or sensitivity). I was quite unhappy with that, had a headache still, and was feeling uncomfortable. We looked into a hotel rather than camping, but couldn’t find anything that looked reasonable, and the weather was nice. In the end, we ended up camping at the municipal campground which was quite beautiful (another nice wooded campsite).

Pulling into the campsite, Scott made a comment that made me realize that he was under an incorrect assumption. He thought the boat was leaving on Monday, and so we needed to get to Rimouski early in the day Sunday to get some of our chores done. Actually, the boat leaves on Tuesday, so by getting to Rimouski on Sunday, we have all day Monday to do chores and relax.

Scott says:

After Riviere du Loup, the Route Verte takes all kinds of back roads and gravel pathways, but after the first bit we stuck to the highway. The wide shoulders were great – very comfortable riding despite cars and truck passing at 100+ kph. We’re definitely stronger on hills now…

The only gravel section we did was in L’estuaire – a combination of foot paths and gravel roads. It was quite a neat area, and would be fun to ride further. On one section, grass had overgrown the wheel ruts to the point where riding was getting dicey, then we ran into some serious birders on the path. That was a good hint to turn around and strike back for the highway.

Elevation Profile

Oh the scent of the ocean!

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Today was a long day, as we really needed to get closer to Rimouski. Our hope was to make it to Riviere-du-Loup, but there was just no way I could push another 35 km. I was tired at 70km and ready to stop, but there were no campgrounds. In the end, I’m glad we pushed and got here, as it puts us in much better shape to get to Rimouski without needing to rush too much (only 120km to Rimouski and 2 days). It is really difficult to work on “slowing down” when you have to get someplace in time for a ferry reservation!

As we rode today, the terrain changed. It is definitely getting hillier. We avoided the Route Verte in several places and stuck to the much flatter 132. Hills that have a grade over 10% can be a really challenge on our bikes, so we much prefer to avoid them if we can. The 132 is rather quiet in this area, so it is a nice more direct route.

The St. Laurence is tidal here, and you can smell the ocean. Between the ocean smells, the every green trees, and the hills in the background, it reminds me of home (northern BC), only at home the hills are mountains with snow on top.

The campground is on a knoll between the highway and the St. Laurence. Fortunately, our campsite is on the highway side of the hill, and not down or up too much of a hill! It is a beautiful walk through the woods to get to the washrooms and showers.

I realized today that if we hang out our cotton stuff (which is mostly my pajamas) and our sleeping bag liners they smell much better and need to be laundered less frequently. Since they don’t really get dirty, this is convenient as we can’t go laundry that often. We will start hanging them out in the morning while we have breakfast and in the evening while we have dinner.

A corollary to this is that when we setup the line, we also have a place to hang our food. Hanging the food rather than keeping it in the vestibule of the tent allows us both to sleep better at night. I’ve also taken the precaution of ensure that all food is in at least one zip lock bag, so there should be few if any smells from the bags. This seems to be enough to keep away raccoons, skunks, and squirrels, so far anyways.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.048 km 40m 13s 14.99 km/h 10.048 km 40m 13s 14.99 km/h
10.002 km 45m 55s 13.07 km/h 20.049 km 1h 26m 08s 13.97 km/h
9.958 km 2h 22m 18s 4.20 km/h 30.008 km 3h 48m 26s 7.88 km/h
10.005 km 50m 30s 11.89 km/h 40.012 km 4h 38m 56s 8.61 km/h
9.992 km 48m 06s 12.46 km/h 50.005 km 5h 27m 02s 9.17 km/h
10.045 km 53m 53s 11.18 km/h 60.049 km 6h 20m 55s 9.46 km/h
9.984 km 47m 50s 12.52 km/h 70.034 km 7h 08m 45s 9.80 km/h
6.820 km 32m 32s 12.58 km/h 76.853 km 7h 41m 17s 10.00 km/h

Feeling strong

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

74 km, 4 hours
Quebec to Montmangy

It was a delightful day to ride and we are feeling strong. We started off slowly, making our way through the cycle paths of Quebec City to the old city, where we stopped for a wonderful exotic lunch (Scott ordered the Tilapia, I ordered the duo of sausages with couscous). Both were delicious.

My appetite kicked into high gear yesterday and hasn’t stopped. I seem to be eating like someone who is cycling for 5+ hours a day! I also took iron this morning, realizing that the last few days I’ve had a slight sore throat and for me that is a sign that I need to be taking an iron supplement. I just need to learn to remember on the initial onset of the sore throat rather than 2 days later, d’oh!

We took the ferry across from Quebec City to Levis. It was neat, in that 50% of the car deck was allocated to bicycle racks. The boat had maybe 6 cars on it, but at least 40 bicycles! It certain was a more pleasant way to cross than riding over a large bridge.

After crossing the climb out of Levis was also quite nice. The path had a grade of about 2-3% most of the time, so it was a pleasant ride.
We are staying at an RV park again tonight. It is a nice municipal camp ground, and they had a special price for touring cyclists. It is only $16 a night – our cheapest pay-camping so far. We set up right in the middle of the field (near the cooking shelter), so we felt like all eyes were on us throughout the evening. Once it got dark we realized we’d set the tent up right underneath the light .. Oops .. I slid it back a bit to be in the shade of a tree.

Scott says:

The bike path along Blvd Champlain was surprisingly busy for a weekday morning – it was crowded enough that we had trouble passing people at times, which was great to see! Lots of cyclists, inline skaters and pedestrians. Our lunch was on Rue du Petit-Champlain, below the old city. It’s a lovely little pedestrian street with lots of touristy shops (and tourists), and had a good lunch as well as got to people-watch. Lots of people intrigued with our bikes, which were parked across the street, but in view. I didn’t get any pictures of the people taking pictures of our loaded touring bikes, but there were a few. I did get a chance to play with light and colour in some of my pictures during lunch, which was amusing. Some of the pictures don’t look half bad – at least by my standards.

Our break for lunch was after only about 10km, so I was worried we wouldn’t get anywhere today, but I tried not to worry about it, and after lunch we made good time to Montagny. The bike path in Levis was nice, and since it was on an old rail line, quite flat – the tailwind helped too.

Elevation Profile

Hills and Sun

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

60.4 km in 4h25

We made it to Quebec City, or at least to the suburbs after a relaxing morning in the campsite. Becky spent some time writing, and I read and relaxed. This meant we didn’t get a very early start, we began riding shortly after 11 am.

As we approached Quebec the hills increased. We had noticed the introduction of a few hills yesterday about 10km outside of Portneuf. Totally was mostly hilly with a couple pretty brutal hills. One was at least a 15% grade (shortly after it hit 15% Becky started walking her bike and was no longer moving fast enough for her GPS to register the grade). This made for some beautiful vistas across the St. Lawrence. The light wasn’t great, so I didn’t stop to take pictures, which I now regret. I need to remember the saying “the best pictures are the ones you actually take”.

We only stopped briefly for lunch (hummus and pita for Scott, bagel and almond butter for Becky), but it started to rain (mostly just spitting). It is unpleasant to sit in the rain, so we got back on our bikes and rode. It didn’t rain for long, and only spat a couple more times during the day. Not enough to worry about getting wet or putting on wet weather gear.

By the time we reached the Quebec City suburbs, we were both beat, although Becky admitted it more readily than I did. We stopped in Cap Rouge below the long rail trestle for a second lunch and rest, before tackling the monster climb up Chemin Ste. Foy.

More French is coming back to us, and we are able to function most of the time in broken French, although we do need to regress to English now and then. By the time we reached the Info Centre at the Pont Pierre Laporte (across the St. Lawrence), we were tired enough that our French was pretty limited, but Becky managed to get us a lovely (and inexpensive) room in a nearby B&B with a combination of French and English. Our bikes are settled in the garage for the night, and we have a large, quiet room.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.032 km 40m 08s 15.00 km/h 10.032 km 40m 08s 15.00 km/h
9.994 km 48m 54s 12.26 km/h 20.026 km 1h 29m 02s 13.50 km/h
9.983 km 1h 09m 55s 8.57 km/h 30.009 km 2h 38m 57s 11.33 km/h
10.002 km 47m 19s 12.68 km/h 40.011 km 3h 26m 16s 11.64 km/h
10.004 km 1h 01m 56s 9.69 km/h 50.015 km 4h 28m 12s 11.19 km/h
9.383 km 2h 32m 53s 3.68 km/h 59.398 km 7h 01m 05s 8.46 km/h


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

88 km, 5 hours

It is a beautiful day. Our ride today takes us along the St. Laurence river coastline.

It seem to take forever to get out of Trois-Rivieres / Cap-de-la-Madeleine this morning. The campsite wasn’t that close to the Route Verte and the Route Verte takes you through many twists and turns as you navigate across the city. At one point, it brought us to a beautiful Basilica. We took a brief break there, and Scott took many pictures. I was intrigued by the kiosk outside that had 1/2 information booth and the other 1/2 for blessings (with a priest sitting inside watching the world go by). I thought about asking for a blessing, but wasn’t sure it was appropriate, given that I am not catholic. Personally, I think we could never have too many blessing.

We tried to stop at the library in Champlain to do an Internet update; however, it was only open on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

By lunch time, it looked like we had caught up to some nasty rain / storm clouds. We had been watching them all morning. At 1 pm, I decided we need to eat and take cover, in case the storm clouds let loose. We had a lovely lunch and break at Bastican. The rain clouds blew right over us. We are getting much better at ordering our meals in French. I was even able to specify that I did not want lettuce or mustard on my hamburger!

In Sainte-Anne-del-la-Perade, I decided it was too early to stop at the grocery store, figuring that we could wait and their would be one closer to our nights stop. We did stop at the Subway to do an Internet update. We discovered that “Access Quebec” wifi is not free; however, the fee was not unreasonable and we needed to order some shorts and get a few emails sent. We are finding it difficult to get wifi or any type of Internet access in Quebec.

After our stop to do Internet stuff, it was already 4pm and we had over 35 km to cover before reaching Portneuf, where we intended to stay the night. We still needed to do a grocery store stop, as our food supplies were pretty sparse (although, we had enough food, such that we would not be stuck with nothing).

I had expected their to be a grocery store of some kind in Donnacona, as it is listed in larger print on our CAA map. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Donnacona appeared mostly abandoned (it was eerie at first, as we entered a well-kept town at 5:30pm with not a single person to be seen). Eventually, we did pass people and several restaurants, but no grocery store.

In the end, there was no grocery store in Deschambault* or in Portneuf. With a little bit of searching, and Becky asking someone about 50m before a sign, we found the Depanneur (corner store). It had enough of what we needed for a lovely dinner and breakfast :).

All is well in Portneuf, Quebec.

* I realized on Wednesay that I had been confusing Portneuf and Neuville. Donnaconna did indeed have a grocery store; however, it was 15 km East of Portneuf! Oops.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.053 km 51m 24s 11.73 km/h 10.053 km 51m 24s 11.73 km/h
9.994 km 57m 50s 10.37 km/h 20.047 km 1h 49m 14s 11.01 km/h
10.028 km 33m 38s 17.89 km/h 30.075 km 2h 22m 52s 12.63 km/h
9.958 km 1h 47m 57s 5.53 km/h 40.033 km 4h 10m 49s 9.58 km/h
10.032 km 2h 02m 34s 4.91 km/h 50.064 km 6h 13m 23s 8.04 km/h
9.963 km 27m 34s 21.68 km/h 60.027 km 6h 40m 57s 8.98 km/h
10.009 km 31m 03s 19.34 km/h 70.036 km 7h 12m 00s 9.73 km/h
10.000 km 56m 46s 10.57 km/h 80.036 km 8h 08m 46s 9.83 km/h
2.107 km 16m 05s 7.86 km/h 82.144 km 8h 24m 51s 9.76 km/h

Amazing Coincidences

Monday, July 14th, 2008

125 km average 19.4 kph

Today was an excellent day for riding, and we took full advantage of it. Well-rested, we were up shortly before 6am, and on the road by 8 – beating our previous “record” by almost two hours. The terrain was mostly flat, and we had a tailwind, so were moving along well. When we stopped for a snack, a couple on a tandem pulled up shortly afterward. They were Bob and Linda up from Iowa for a two-week tour around the Route Verte between Montreal and Quebec City. They were only going a bit faster than we were, so we joined them, and spent the rest of the day chatting and laughing.

Linda is the Executive Director for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Iowa, and Bob is active in bicycle advocacy and has written a guide on bicycle touring in Iowa, so they had lots of stories. I hope when we’re in our 60s we’re as active as they are! They are doing more mileage per day than we are, and manage to carry about half as much – perhaps something we can learn from… Their daughter Jess is a Unitarian-Universalist minister’s wife in New Mexico, which is a neat connection too.

Just after we finished shopping for dinner at the IGA in Trois Rivieres we had the shock of our lives. A VW van, plastered with stickers and towing a big trailer pulled up beside us, and a woman was hanging out the passenger window shrieking! After we got over our shock, we realized it was the Flatt family, friends from New Brunswick. Sharon recognized our bikes, and was screaming in surprise and shock. They had just pulled off Highway 40 to get gas and fill up their water jug so a few minutes earlier or later and we would have missed them. We weren’t expecting to see them until we got to Fredericton in September!

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.079 km 28m 55s 20.91 km/h 10.079 km 28m 55s 20.91 km/h
10.001 km 44m 12s 13.58 km/h 20.079 km 1h 13m 07s 16.48 km/h
9.925 km 26m 18s 22.64 km/h 30.005 km 1h 39m 25s 18.11 km/h
10.027 km 35m 22s 17.01 km/h 40.032 km 2h 14m 47s 17.82 km/h
9.993 km 41m 31s 14.44 km/h 50.025 km 2h 56m 18s 17.02 km/h
10.034 km 1h 43m 55s 5.79 km/h 60.059 km 4h 40m 13s 12.86 km/h
9.987 km 27m 04s 22.14 km/h 70.046 km 5h 07m 17s 13.68 km/h
9.982 km 31m 48s 18.83 km/h 80.028 km 5h 39m 05s 14.16 km/h
10.068 km 57m 03s 10.59 km/h 90.096 km 6h 36m 08s 13.65 km/h
9.908 km 42m 18s 14.05 km/h 100.004 km 7h 18m 26s 13.69 km/h
10.015 km 49m 57s 12.03 km/h 110.019 km 8h 08m 23s 13.52 km/h
9.989 km 1h 12m 08s 8.31 km/h 120.008 km 9h 20m 31s 12.85 km/h
4.310 km 29m 47s 8.68 km/h 124.318 km 9h 50m 18s 12.64 km/h

Wetter than necessary

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

20 km around Repentigny

Despite the fact we stayed in Repentigny today, we probably got as wet or wetter than we would have riding.

We went out shortly before noon to check out the bike shops and get some more groceries, and ended up riding through some of the heaviest rainfall all day. According to the radar, both of the big nasty cloud formations missed us, one to the north and one to the south, but we definitely got hit with a small one!

The bike shop trip was necessary because we’ve changed our 44-tooth front chain rings for 36-tooth chain rings to allow us to spin faster when climbing hills. (And hopefully not get off and walk as often on the really steep ones). This takes our granny gear down to 17.2 gear-inches from 21.3, which is nice. If you don’t know what gear-inches are, you probably don’t care, but if you’re curious there’s a good explanation by the late Sheldon Brown, as well as a calculator for both Rohloff hubs and normal gearing.

Unfortunately, changing the it required some additional spacers between the chain-ring and the pant-protector rings. This meant at least one of the bolts holding the rings to the crank was marginal (only two or three threads of contact between the bolt and the nut), and I stripped it yesterday while tightening things. I don’t have a spare, and neither of the bike shops had a replacement, so my fallback will be to remove one of the pant-protector rings.

(This would be much clearer with pictures, but it’s time for bed).

Otherwise it has been a day of cooking good meals, relaxing, bike maintenance and geotagging of photos. Now it’s just a matter of organizing and uploading the photos. (We do have a few more than just the ones posted so far).

Rain rain go away

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

With rain and a forecast that calls for 20-30 mm over the next few hours, we decided that we would stay here for one more night. It would be nice to be on the road again; however, our plan for the next night is to camp, and camping in a downpour is really no fun. The alternative is to ride and get a hotel up the road, that would likely be more expensive and not necessarily as nice. So, we’ll stay one more night, relax, and work out some glitches with our photo upload process.

Tomorrow, we’ll try to for a century (100 km) to Trois Rivieres.

Rest Day in Repentigny

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

We spent a relaxing day at Au Doc Motel, with beautiful weather and a nice location right on the St. Lawrence. It was a good opportunity to relax, cook using a real stove (although the burners are quite weak), and practice our French. We successfully got directions to the IGA, bought groceries, and had a couple of stilted conversations about our bikes, which is better than I had expected we would do. My French is still very limited, but it’s not as dreadful as I had feared.

The room was far enough from the road that we didn’t hear any road noise. We didn’t even hear the kids from the baseball team in the adjoining rooms! It was a great location for a rest day, and we had a lovely dinner at a picnic table overlooking the river.

View from our window.

Becky trying to call mom and dad using Skype.

Becky has recalculated how far we need to go and the amount of time we have. It looks like we’ll try and adjust our reservation again to pick up the boat in Rimouski rather than Sept-Iles. It means another 11 hours on the boat, but that should be fun too. It would allow us 3 days of down time, where we are limited to 1 hour walks or bike rides when the boat is at dock. Getting to Sept-Iles was going to be a real stretch, since it’s another 350 km, on top of the 550 km to Quebec City. Our original plan had us covering a lot of ground to get to the ferry on July 24. After leaving three days later than planned, it is definitely too much.

Becky says:

The weather is perfect for riding, and we aren’t. We really badly needed a rest day, to recover our mental health more so than our bodies. We haven’t been pushing, but that is partially because we haven’t been feeling physically up to it (at least I have not been). I’m really hoping that a day off to relax and re-organize a few things will help my mental health as well as my physical health.

I need to get over the idea of spending money on a hotel for a rest day. It does seem kind of wrong, but then again, it is necessary. When we are not feeling 100%, we need to splurge a little on comfortable accommodations.

In the early evening, I went for a swim in the pool (while the kids from the baseball team were out for supper). I was reminded that an important part of this adventure is about learning how to slow down. We need to learn how to relax and escape the “go-go-go” world that we have been in for the last 20+ years. Part of what I am seeking is an ability to live life at a slower pace. I just need to remind myself of that occasionally!

Route Verte 5: Montreal to Repentigny

Friday, July 11th, 2008

55 km 3 hours, 45 minutes.Again, we departed late, shortly after noon. We had a nice breakfast at a local $2 special greasy spoon. It provided a nice opportunity to visit with Kirstin prior to leaving.

We made our way to the bike path and followed it into downtown Montreal. Again, the drivers were very nice, keeping well back and passing slowly as we made our way down to the Lachine Canal path.

Throughout the day, my GPS started to randomly turn off. I’m not sure why this is happening. I did a firmware upgrade before we left with the theory that the new firmware draws less on the battery. I haven’t noticed a significant difference. I’m going to have to email Garmin to see what’s up (I have a Garmin Edge 305).

It seem to take forever to ride across the Island of Montreal. The path was nice, but I wasn’t feeling great. Shortly after we started riding, I began to feel queasy. I didn’t have any appetite. When we stopped for lunch, it was very difficult to find something appetizing. Eventually I settled for a couple of croissants, an orange, and a V8. Scott had a Big Mac meal for lunch, and wasn’t feeling much better.

At one point, we lost the path and ended up riding on Notre-Dame, which was a little busy. It wasn’t difficult, but also wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as following a path. At one point a girl fell (she was looking back at us) and her chain fell off. Scott stopped to see if she was OK. We then asked her where the trail was. She didn’t speak much English, so the request was made in a combination of broken French and English. She fixed her chain and guided us to the pathway .. I’m so glad she had to stop or we would likely have not found the pathway for quite some time.

Neither of us were feeling great, so perhaps it was something we ate. In any case, we knew we were not going to be riding for too much longer. We decided to call a motel in Repentigny, just off the Island of Montreal, and make a reservation. It being a Friday, we were concerned we would find anything. We wanted a room for 2 nights; however, they were booked on Saturday, so we reserved the room they had available for the one night.

When we arrived at the motel, they had had a cancellation, and so had a room for two night; however, it was a suite. For an extra $10 per night we got a large room with a kitchen. I took a look and was delighted. We found a nice place to stay for two nights … It had laundry and Internet although we need to go to the patio to check it.

I’ll be happy for the break …

Scott says:

It was neat to ride through some areas of Montreal I’ve never seen before. The Lachine Canal path was particularly nice, and had some impressive-looking loft conversions on the North side. They looked quite new, and were among many nice looking condos. I would have liked to spend a bit more time in Montreal as a tourist, but we can always do that when we get back.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.042 km 46m 17s 13.02 km/h 10.042 km 46m 17s 13.02 km/h
9.982 km 1h 14m 44s 8.01 km/h 20.024 km 2h 01m 01s 9.93 km/h
10.016 km 1h 55m 30s 5.20 km/h 30.041 km 3h 56m 31s 7.62 km/h
10.008 km 47m 55s 12.53 km/h 40.049 km 4h 44m 26s 8.45 km/h
10.003 km 36m 35s 16.41 km/h 50.051 km 5h 21m 01s 9.35 km/h
2.975 km 9m 40s 18.47 km/h 53.026 km 5h 30m 41s 9.62 km/h