Thu Jul 4, 2002 - Montréal (109km)
Today was a much cooler day than yesterday, thank god! By much cooler, I mean it was only 30 instead of 35! As we discovered, we can sucessfully bike in 30 degree weather without having to stop for long periods of time, but 35, as yesterday proved, is too much!
The trip to Montréal was a quick one - it was only about 60km to get on the island. The terrain was mostly flat, with a few gentle hills. We acted on an idea sugessted to us in Trenton, and went to the grocery store to get a pre-made meal for lunch. Great idea! Good food, and really cheap.. We'll have to keep doing that!
Well, since we are now in the land of french, a couple of things have changed. EVERYONE looks at my bank card (President's Choice Financial) with a highly confused look, whereupon I must immedietly repeat "Interac, Interac" until they finally understand. The obviously don't have PC out here, and my card just throws everyone for a loop! It's kinf of amusing.. :) The other main change is that I can no longer read. Well, I can read most of the signs, but I can't pick up a newspaper in Tim Hortons and catch up on world events - I have to browse the pictures, and get the general gist of the article with my rudimentary grade 9 french. It's pretty fun! I asked someone today how to tell people I want my food "to go".. It's "pour emporter". Good thing to know (grin)!
We ended staying at Ian's ex-co-worker's sister's place (got that?). It's a twisted story, involving a few contacts not working out, but once again, people's hospitality saves us!
Fri Jul 5, 2002 - Rest in Montréal
Well, we were just off for 5 days, but we have to stop and see Montréal! I love this town! The bike paths here are amazing (not as good as Calgary's, but still quite good) and the atmosphere is by far the best. Such a lively town - always something happening!
I got my rear wheel rebuilt again (it started self destructing in a serious way), and lucked out with the bike shop - ABC Cycle is the place to go if you need anything in Montreal. Very knowledgeable, very competent. I was highly impressed.
Tomorrow we are off to enter what I consider "the eastern half" of the country. I've only been past Montréal once, as far as I remember! Fun stuff!
Sat Jul 6, 2002 - St. Barthelemy (128km)
Rest day syndrome set in today, and my muscles aren't feeling the best. I'll never figure out why I feel worse after resting? Perhaps more stretching is in order.. :) Anyways, today was a decent day overall - it wasn't too hot for once!! The temperature has cooled off, and the sky was overcast so we didn't have to deal with the direct sun. Quebec continues to be wonderful for bike paths - almost every road we have been travelling on has a nice wide shoulder made for biking on. If not that, than a small shoulder. Make me happy!
One of the many things you see in Quèbec is the number of MASSIVE churches. Every town has a large chruch, no matter how small the town. Nice churches, I'm sure! The route we took brought us up the Richelieu river (on Hwy 133). This was the first time I have seen a well used river! There were houses all along the river - making great use of the waterfront property. This is in contrast to the northeast shore of Lake Ontario, which is totally unused outside of towns. We took a ferry across the St. Lawrence river, and saw some people having fun flying around in hanglider/fan contraptions (pictures!).
Eventually arriving at a campsite in St. Barthelemy, we discover that campgrounds in Quebec are different than the rest of the country. They are resort style! With many, many sites, and lots of things to do - dancing, swimming, movies, volleyball, whatever you want! Good for vacations, but not good for us, who just want to sleep! We also ran into a woman who was biking from Montreal --> Quebec City for a vacation - first time taking such a trip.
Sun Jul 7, 2002 - Portneuf (130km)
Another day, another 130km! Pretty uneventful day today, to be honest! We ended up in another "resort" campground in the town of Portneuf - only about 60km away from Quebec City. We didn't feel up to going all the way today, but figured we may as well go the majority of the way. We ran into our bicyclist friend at a rest stop, but that was the last we saw of her. She wasn't planning on going as far as we were today. There are a lot of cyclists on the roads here though! Ian & I are loving the nice shoulders on the roads. Oh - less and less people speak english - it's a good thing my fast-food french is coming along (grin)!
Mon Jul 8, 2002 - Québec
It's a good thing we only had 60km to go today. When I woke up, my allergies were killing me! I don't know why, because the night before, they had been better than they had for a while. It was a VERY hazy day - looked like it was very hot, and very humid. It was humid, but it didn't seem to be all that hot! I was confused why it was so hazy and humid. We were both having a bit of a hard time. We stopped at a grocery store and I noticed a headline in a newspaper: "QUEBEC FUMEE". After scanning the article with my limited french, I could tell there were some serious forest fires going on, and the reason for all the haze we were in was the smoke trail! Ahh! It all made sense suddenly! The haze was thick enough we couldn't see across the river.
Otherwise, we had a big debate about where to stay that night, and ended up going to Laval University to try and find a room in residence. This worked out quite well, and sets us up for a rest day tomorrow!
Tue Jul 9, 2002 - Rest Day in Quebec
Last night we went and saw Men In Black II, which turned out ot be ok, but not nearly as good as the original. It took us a while to make sure the movie was going to be in english! This morning, after waking up and listening to 4 (yes FOUR) absolutely hilarious messages on my voice mail that were left by Downs the previous night (thanks Downs - they were truely funny!), Ian and I got on our way to downtown to be tourists once again! We both have seen Quebec City a few times, so we didn't do too much but walk around and see the sights. Finding food in Quebec for cheap prices is hard! Back to Laval for some bike repair, and sleep.
Wed Jul 10, 2002 - St. Jean-Port-Joli (118km)
What a day!! Today was my best day of the trip, as of yet. Everything was great, and it all added up to make a great day! For starters, my body was very happy bicycling. I felt great all day, and no muscle soreness! We also had a few interesting encounters.
First: The Quebec bridge is a rickety structure that scares me! I don't know who designed it, but I see why it was the worst engineering accident around. It was scary to be on - felt very unsafe (hence the "no trucks" sign before the bridge). It was good to be off the thing!
Second: Witnessing, and almost causing a traffic accident. Fortunately nobody was hurt! Two bad drivers combine to make an accident, basically. I was going through a green light, and a pick-up truck was coming the other way, wanting to turn left. He had a red left turn light, but this didn't stop him! He noticed me, and stopped in the middle of the opposite lane (my lane). Ian follwed through behind me, and the truck still sat there, illegally in the middle of the intersection. A white civic in our lane then decided to hit the truck! I don't know how he didn't see the truck, but he tried to stop in time, but didn't! I think both of them didn't see us, and the civic thought the truck would be through the intersection before we got there... Man! Ian & I stuck around until the cops showed up, and gave our statement (which ended up being "the light was green").
Third: We ran into a guy who is walking from Oshawa to P.E.I. in protest of foster care file security. He said he was walking 10-18hours a day! Man.. That's a lot of time!
Fourth: The campsite at St. Jean-Port-Joli is a dream. It is by far the best site we have been at, and we both loved it a LOT! Too bad we have to move on...
Thu Jul 11, 2002 - Riviere-Du-Loup (96km)
A short day in terms of distance, but another good one! We met up with my parents, who brought us juice and cookies! They are on thier own trip, exploring the maritimes. They told us that in a 30km stretch of road, they passed 14 diffreent sets of cyclists before finding us! Lots of people cycling around now - quite the contrast from the first half of the trip!
The scenery is once again, beautiful! I now have a top three in terms of sights: the Rockies, North Shore of Lake Superior, and the St. Lawrence, around Riviere-Du-Loup. It is really, really beautiful here!! The river is getting very wide now - wide enough that t's hard to comprehend how wide it is. You can see the hills (mountains!) on the other side, but the shore is too distant (20-30km away). The bike shoulder vanished on the road we were on, unfortunately - they haven't built it out this far.
We decided to take a shorter day today, as there are no convient campsites within biking distance after Riviere-Du-Loup. The site we piked was funny! All gravel, but they had these circular patches of soft grass to set tents on. We ended up having a really good chat with two other pairs of cyclists who stayed at the same site! One pair (Lisa & Werner) were biking from Montreal, around the Hwy 132 loop (Gaspé penninsula) and back. The other pair (David & Kathy) were doing the cross canada trip, same as us! They were from the north shore of St. Lawrence, somewhere. Nice people - we had a fun couple of hours swapping stories & trading tips and tricks.
Fri Jul 12, 2002 - Sayabec (190km!!)
We woke up to a strong wind, that appeared to be going in the exact right direction! So after taking the tent down, eating breakfast and saying goodbye to our new friends, we set out. Quickly determining that the wind was in the exact right direction! Perect 100% tailwind! Whoo hoo!!! So we went 190km, our longest day by far. The day can be broken in two: the first 140km, and the remaining 50km. The fist 140km included the following:
- Fast, faster, fastest!!! Wow! This one stretch of road, I was crusing at 45-50km/h without any effort, and then there was a hill downwards at a 9% grade. I hit 84km/h!! On my bike! Oh my god, what a rush!! It was insane, it was fast, and it was easily one of the most exciting moments of this trip! That speed is crazy - I don't think I want to go any faster than that - let alone do that speed again!
- Good and bad roads. So many potholes that you simply can't avoid them! Our wheels took some punishment that they didn't need.
- Hitting 100km at 1:59pm - th earliest we have done such a thing (old record was 2:08pm, the day we went to Wawa).
- A pair of cyclists that kept up to us, despite having just started out from Quebec City! The wind helped, I'm sure. They kept popping up after we had been taking rest breaks for 30mins or so.. :)
The second half was just as fun, but much different. Ian called it an "adventure":
- Persuading Ian that we should go further than 140km, despite the fact that the nearest campsite was another 40km away.
- The weather turning to rain and cold! We got soaking wet! We found a not-very-nice looking campsite 20km in, but figured we'd keep going since we were wet already.
- The campsite being 10km further away than I thought! We were tired, and at 185km when I figured this out. Getting to the campsite involved climbing a massive hill that we didn't want to climb. Oh well, we did anyways!
The guy who owned the campiste asks "Where did you come from?". We reply "Riviere-Du-Loup". With eyes wide, he replies: "On your bike?!!? Go to sleep!!!!". Made me feel good (grin).