Monthly Archives: October 2012

Change to the trip plans

Following our October trip Julie and I have been rethinking certain aspects of the trip. Originally the plan was to leave on April 20th and head toward the maritimes.

This date was planned based on when I can get time off from work, as my return date had no flexibility at all. Sometimes the plans look so good that you forget to take into account certain aspects. One important consideration is the weather. I am not sure if we thought it might be ok to bike through potential cold and rainy days, but the trip in October was a bit of a wake-up call for both of us. Having gotten drenched for an entire week and dealing with cold conditions we needed to go back to the planning board.

As I said my return date is not flexible so we came to the decision to start the trip a bit later, on May 17th (Friday prior to May long weekend). We will be flying to Victoria, BC and cycling home, 5500km over 2 months. The Eastern portion from Montreal to St-John’s Nfld will be completed at a later date, but is still for sure part of the long term plan.

Besides the weather as a consideration, we also realized that many campgrounds do not open until may long weekend, or thereabout. On the October trip we spend a combination of 4 nights in hotel / b&b, 1 night with family and only 2 nights camping. As the trip is being done on a budget, if we end up staying at hotels because of being drenched and freezing, we re going to blow through our budget in no time at all. We need to focus on camping as many nights as possible. It is also a huge part of the experience as well, living close to nature.

Now we are only 7 months from departure. To be exact we have 207 days until departure!
I will need to go back and rework a few dates but below is the proposed revised travel schedule for next summer.

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Day 8 – Rougemont to HOME!

Title 2: Thinking about trading the bikes in for a canoe or scuba gear with this weather.

This one picks up from where I ended the day 7 post. As you may recall our narrator was fearing for his life with 4-wheelses zipping inches from his head…

After some hours of restless tossing and turning, and add to that the torrential rainfall that started and was hammering down on the tent, I wanted to get out and on the road as soon as possible. At 5am the forecast was for the rain to taper by 8am, so we slowly packed up what we could. Well guess what? The rain didnt subside and it was freezing outside. We were packed and growing restless, the only thing left to do was to pack the tent up. Well wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we started to collapse the tent the rain intensified to the point where it was filling up the tent and made it weigh a ton. We dragged it to the gazebo and packed it up the best possible despite the circumstances. With all the water I am sure the tent weighed double for the ride home.

So we decide to just face the weather and start biking. At this point we were about 25km to Chambly, where we planned to stop at Tim Horton’s for breakfast. From there we had 35km to get home on a familiar path.

Let me tell you that first 25km was pure hell. within 5 minutes we were both completely soaked through, with swiming pools in our shoes and soaked to the bone despite the rain gear. it was raining and blowing into our faces, so even despite keeping my head low I had to keep a free hand to wipe my eyes as i was having a really hard time seeing. Picture having to squeegee the rain from your eyes like windshield wipers. Then do that on the side of highway with transports flying past. Good wholesome fun!

We finally fight the weather to Chambly and stop for breakfast at Tim Horton! I had wanted to do that since we left, so I got my egg “Timatin” a hot chocolate and a triple chocolate muffin. Julie and I sat at a table and there was a massive puddle forming around us.

Finally the rain was subsiding into a semi-tolerable drizzle, though once you are wet and the cold sets in, muscles are less efficient, as is the tolerance. It was a quiet ride back from Chambly, we kept our heads down and pedaled. As the city came in to view I got excited and I think the pace increased. All I wanted to do is get my soggy ass home, peel out of the wet layers and have a hot shower.

 

All told the trip was 662.08 km over 7 days of cycling, 1 day off. 2 nights camping, 1 night in a B&B, 3 nights in hotels and 1 at my parents place.

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Day 7 – Rock Forest to Rougemont

Title 2: What is that funny glowing orb in the sky?

Title 3: Redneck 4-wheelers.

After a wonderful evening with my parents last night it was time to start the journey back home. From their place in Rock Forest it is about 160km home. As we wanted a shorted day for Saturday Julie and I decided to push as far as we can for day 7.

As we were leaving we were greeted by this strange warming sensation and a glowing orb in the sky peeking through the clouds. Julie correctly identified it  as the sun, though at first I was skeptical since I had not seen this in so long. We made really good time traveling to Magog, due to the nicer weather and less winds. It is important to note that the Eastern Townships are really hilly, so as you can imagine our day was mostly climbing through rolling hills. Road conditions were good and we took a break in one of my favorite rest stops on this bike route (we have done this route 3 times now). Fall colors were beautiful and this view is always breathtaking!

Better pics to follow, phone pics dont do this justice.

The ride went mainly well, we did hit some construction and one spot was kinda cool, we had a pick-up truck escort through a construction zone, so we just tucked in and biked behind the truck. I had never seen that before.

In Granby we got delayed for almost an hour, Julie got a flat back tire, so we had to find a spot to stop and change the tube. There was a big piece of wire stuck through the tire that I had to fight out. In doing this also I noticed some cracking of the tire and this makes me realize that it is likely time to change all of our tires as they now have about 5000-6000km on them, and I want to have fresh tires leaving for cross Canada.

Back on the road and the tiredness sets in, wind was picking up again and we were for sure ready to sleep. Oddly enough the path follows the highway and it is heavily populated. This made it hard to find a camp spot, and we didnt want to risk trespassing to camp out. We finally settled on camping next to a closed tourist stop. There was a gazebo for cooking and eating and a porta-pottie. We tucked in behind a hedge right on the side of the path, had supper and set up to camp.

This was all fine and dandy till the sun went down and the rednecks came out. Despite HUGE signs posted prohibiting 4-wheelers, what do we hear barreling down the path? a BUNCH of 4-wheelers. I am convinced the first few didnt eve notice our tent, but a couple slowed down and lit up our tent like day with those halogen lights. To be fair some were respectful slowing down as they got close to us, but I am convinced a few were taking turns to see how close they could come to the front of our tent. In the morning I noted tire tracks within inches of our tent. This “fun” went on until about 1am, but after that I was too worked up and couldnt sleep.

All in all a bad end to a nice day 😦

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Day 6 – Victoriaville to Rock Forest

Title 2: Was the person who designated these trails whacked on bath salts?

So the day began early in Victoriaville as we hoped to get to my parents places early. We left in  misty conditions which rapidly turned into rainy and windy nastiness. Suffice to say that would have been bad enough, but nooooooooo….. trails were worse than the weather!

We started with packed gravel trails which when dry are tolerable, but with a fully loaded touring bike in the rain they are slippery. Then the trail turns into loose gravel which is even more insane. Then things get even worse and the trail, which I should add is the Route Verte #1 looks more like a challenging trail even for a 4-wheeler… add the rain and the recipe makes 2 grumpy cyclists travelling at 10kmph.

Hours later emerge from the hell hopeful for some paved roads. Well we got that for 1km. All up a steep hill. Next turn onto an old country gravel road. This again was a bike route and it was a 10% downgrade… that we were expected tks climb. Long walk later and we have to contend with 2 long hilly regional roads with tons of traffic.

At least after that we arrived at my parents house and were welcomed with a warm shower cold beer and good company. We had a great supper, shared an amazing bottle of wine, and all got off to bed early. Thanks again to my awesome parents for their hospitality (and Buddy too for dog snuggles and kisses).

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Day 5- Quebec City to Victoriaville.

Title 2: fog and farmlands

He day started early after a mediocre sleep. I am not sure if it was because I didnt set an alarm or just weird sleep cycle but I was awake from 2 am to 5 am.

We departed at 8 after checking out and ordering a set of king size down pillows for home. Man were they ever  comfortable!

As we were close to the bridge it was fast to get there with morning traffic, but MAN was it foggy. So surreeal crossing the bridge (walking) in this:

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After the foggy crossing we were able to get right on track on a very peaceful path that bought us through 70km or farmlands and forests. Really not much to report but that.

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Here is Julie on one of our stops.

That night we stayed in a dumpy hotel to avoid a $100 fine for camping along the trail. The place advertised online and out front on 1/2 of their sign sauna and hot tub… and we were excited for this… so we ask… and it had been broken and out of service for almost 2years!!!
After an awful supper of poutine (over deep fried crinkle freezer fries) and a vegetarian pita (picture a salad mix with lettuce, cabbage and green peppers in a pita with tzaziki sauce). Epic gross.

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Day 4 – Quebec city day off

Title 2: long walks and tourist traps

So today was our day off in Quebec city. After a weird sleep, in what should  be a good bed (I found it too soft) but the pillows and duvet are awesome. So much so that I am ordring a complete set. But I digress.

We decided to go visit old Quebec, and perhaps foolishly to walk there from our hotel. The 10+ km walk was tough for sore legs, and until we passed the planes of Abraham the walk was really boring. It was fun to see the views and the old buildings, Julie took some photos but I didn’t take many today.

As our legs were getting tired we stopped for a refreshment and overpriced nachos at Saint-Patrick’s pub. After fighting wasps for our beer we grabbed a cab back.

To fully appreciate our cab ride, you will have to have seen the movie “Taxi”. Julie also related our ride to “the Transporter”. This driver was rocking his Chrysler 300 Hemi through traffic like no one’s business. Thankfully he was a good driver, but man he rolled. $29 cab ride later and we were back to the hotel.

I fear that I don’t have a very positive impression of this city. Every place that Julie and I ate we felt snobbed. Granted we were not wearing fancy clothes as we didn’t have much room to pack, but we felt like we were looked down on everywhere. It was like our tourist dollars.were not wanted ( except for the gratuities, which were actually on the bills as a “suggested amount usually 20-25%!!!
Besides that as vegetarians we have a harder time finding things to eat. I have to honestly say that we have not had one satisfying meal here. Most meals were mediocre, and very small portion to cost. Maybe.as hungry cyclists we expect more but meals in the $60 range for both of us and the  we leave starving needing go go buy snacks…

Anyhow tomorrow we are back knowledge the road, camping out tomorrow night, finally making a meal in the camping stove! This should leave us near Victorville and one day from my parents place 🙂

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Day 3 – St-Anne-de-la-Perade to Quebec City

Title 2: thanks for the tailwind
Title 3: construction pain in the ass

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First up is a quick photo of the historic B&B that Julie and I stayed at last night. As you can see it is finally not raining! In the evening it poured rain and didn’t stop until the early morning.
I slept so-so as we had to share a double bed and we are used to a king… but I got some rest for a new day of cycling.

With the wind at our backs and no rain things rolled much better today. As you may recall yesterday we biked at a max of 15kmph. Today we were at a minimum of 20+ except for hills. Many times we were laughing at biking double yesterday’s speed.

Lots of beautiful scenery today as well! Beautiful fall colors, cows, horses, deer, sheep and amazing skylines. I took a picture below but not sure how well it turned out.

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Here is another picture of the route we have been following for 3 days.

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The King’s highway and route verte 5

In St-Augustine we got really frustrated by tons of construction and a 20km detour when we were so close to destination. Not so much the distance but the detour down a dangerous route beside a highway already under construction and reduced to one lane. Some fast cycling and weaving pylons to avoid the big rigs and we were back on track. Again more construction in QC city bike paths meant more detours.
We hit an insane hill in town whos name alludes me but it was steep, no shoulder and heavy traffic. It was a slow walk up that one, but back on track we moved faster than traffic which was awesome!
Our hotel where we will stay for the next 2 nights is really nice. I write this mashed into a down filled bed.

Tomorrow we will not be cycling but enjoying being tourists in this historic city. Stories and photos tomorrow 🙂

I forgot one funny story yesterday… we were just arrived at the b&b and wanted to make tuna sandwiches. I forgot our bag with cutlery and the only thing I could find to mix the mayo and tuna was a toothbrush handle. I will never look at my toothbrush the same again…

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Day 2 – Louiseville to Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade

Title 2: Really weather is that necessary? Really??

What is there to say about today? Well remember yesterday when I was talking about the wind and the rain? Today was worse.
Way worse.
It was one of those days where you keep asking yourself why you’re doing this. Why didn’t I just stay home, stay dry, make other plans.

Here is the short summary of today: rain, wind, bike, rain, wind, bike…..

Trois Rivieres was interesting some very historic buildings, but winding to get through. I realize that I mainly kept my head down to fight the wind, so I probably missed a lot.

We did take one photo today, but not on my camera. It is the most dangerous cycling surface ever. This bridge was iron and a honeycomb surface, slick with rain, and slippery as hell. We ended up walking the bridge and holding up traffic. Pics to follow.

We ended up almost blind in the rain, drenched to the bone, but hit a little town and found a nice bed and breakfast to weather the storm and spend the night. As I write this it is pouring rain and the forecast is for 20-25mm rain overnight. Add time that wind warning of up to 90km gusts we did well not camping.

Tomorrow we will have breakfast here and hit the road. We have 80km to Quebec city then the rest of tomorrow off and Tuesday to explore the city. The weather is meant to improve in the short term, but I am concerned about the rest of the trip at this point.

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