Road Trip – August 2019

Day 3: Belleville to Harrowsmith 72km

Friday, August 23

Sunny with cloudy patches. 25C N wind

Mission accomplished!

After another fairly serious day of riding we ended up at our desired location – Gino’s Pizza in Harrowsmith.

After sunrise in Belleville I went back to bed!

We travelled on the road from Belleville to Napanee and then to Strathcona to the beginning / end of the Cataraqui Rail Trail. Our final 25 kilometres were spent riding along through sun dappled forests and alongside sunny farmer’s fields. There were a few rough patches of loose gravel but that only makes us work up an even more intense appetite.

Many breaks was the strategy we employed.

In Harrowsmith we were picked up by my Dad and we were greeted by the dogs too once we arrived back at the cottage. Swimming ensued! We are very fortunate to have such a generous and available support crew.

Road Trip – August 2019

Day 2: Cobourg to Belleville 82km

Thursday, August 22

Sunny with some clouds. 25C NW wind

It was really a great day of riding today. We rode from town to town in manageable spurts. The wind at our backs helped us up the gently rolling hills and we were able to coast down them pretty quickly.

From Cobourg we went through Grafton, Colborne, Brighton, Trenton and then Belleville. We rode exclusively along Hwy 2 even when the waterfront trail signs directed us otherwise. This strategy minimized our mileage and maximized our stamina. Before we knew it we had arrived and it didn’t feel like we pedaled another 80 kilometres.

Our food rations were basically depleted when we arrived at the hotel so we rode a short distance to the grocery store to stock up. If soups have defined our cold weather trips, frozen desserts might define this one…

Road Trip – August 2019

Day 1: Ajax to Cobourg 85km

Wednesday, August 21

Sunny, hot and humid with a nice SW wind.

With only a week to spare and the end of August approaching, my Mom and I decided to take a few days to ride our bikes from Ajax to the cottage in Kingston. My Dad and the dogs (and Duncan) are there already so we’d have a welcome wagon waiting and eventually a ride home.

So the road trip begins! We are getting more crafty on our trips like today when we hopped on the GO train in Whitby and rode it one stop to Oshawa which saved us riding between 5 and 10km. This so called savings we planned on spending later in the day – which we did when we rode the final 10km from Port Hope to Cobourg.

The weather was quite warm and the humidity was thick. There was a lovely tailwind that helped to push us along and when we were near Lake Ontario we could feel the cool water on the breeze.

We stopped for many snacks along the way including two separate lunches.

At this picnic stop at Bond Head we did cucumber facials to help cool down.

The waterfront trail has some very beautiful parts to it as it stretches along the North shore of the lake. We have ridden this route before so it is not as mind blowing as the first experience. That being said it was so hot today that I kept my camera packed while we rode and I didn’t take any pictures of the beautiful scenery we saw.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 7: Stoney Creek to Hamilton to Aldershot 57km

Aldershot to Ajax by train

Total trip distance: 351km

Monday, May 20

Cloudy and cool 15C Strong N wind

The wind was howling from the west when we woke up and we knew this would affect our riding today. We were still uncertain where we would end up but we knew that we needed to get to Hamilton. We followed a bike route through the city and into to downtown and then to McMaster University. From there we decided to ride up through the Dundas Valley on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail. On a previous trip we had pedaled this section only going down the escarpment.

Being a holiday there were a lot of other people out on the trail which was nice for a change. Once we reached the top of the valley we were exposed to the west wind again. This prompted another change in plans.

We decided at this point to turn around and ride back down the trail into Hamilton and then carry on toward the Aldershot GO Train station where we started our cycling six days prior. This way we’d be riding with the wind, a nice way to conclude our Golden Horseshoe tour. One last hiccup had us hauling our bikes up 165 steps to reach the bridge on York Boulevard that would take us over the water toward Burlington.

When we arrived at the train station we purchased our tickets and then the train arrived. We got on board, secured our bikes and set out our picnic lunch. 2 hours later we arrived in Ajax and rode the remaining 6km home with the wind at our backs.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 6: St Catharines to Stoney Creek (Greenbelt Trail) 60km

Sunday, May 19

Mostly sunny, hot and cold 27 / 15C SE wind

Today we navigated our way out of St Catharines along the Greenbelt Trail. This trail runs parallel to the Waterfront Trail but instead of following the waterfront it runs along the top of the Niagara Escarpment as hwy 81.

Riding on the road was a nice change for us and because it was Sunday the vehicle traffic seemed light. We stopped along the way in Jordan and Beamsville for snacks and to fill our water bottles.

The weather was strange too. An incoming weather system was pushing warm, humid air into the region but because we were so close to Lake Ontario there was a cold damp wind blowing. As we climbed up the Escarpment out of Jordan we hit the warm air mass and instantly started sweating. It was hot in the sun and the air was thick and sticky with humidity. A little further along as we descended a bit we pedaled into a mass of cool, damp air. Instantly it got cold. It was a drastic change in temperature and for us it meant coats on – coats off.

Nearing Stoney Creek we had a spectacular view of Hamilton and the Golden Horseshoe in general. Our route had us riding past Devils Punch Bowl Conservation Area before we turned onto Centennial Parkway and zoomed all the way down “the mountain” to our hotel at the bottom. Familiar territory but we went to a different grocery store for supper. We also bought extra food because of the Victoria Day holiday tomorrow.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 5: Fort Erie – Niagara Falls – St Catharines 59km

Saturday, May 18

Partly sunny. Warm / cool mix. 14C NE wind

There was bright blue sky this morning when we pulled back the curtains in our room. My Mom suggested going for a walk to wake up so we took a quick tour of the surrounding neighbourhood before we ate breakfast. We saw a sign for a garage sale but we didn’t actually come across it.

Yesterday at the Bulk Barn we picked up yummy additives for our instant oatmeal (dates, coconut and ground flax) and so today we were both eagerly anticipating our first meal. We used the microwave in the room to hand craft our oatmeal and I made a cup of green tea for the road. Today was our earliest start so far, we pulled out of the motel parking lot at 9:30am.

It was a short ride to Mather’s Circle where we picked up the trail after leaving it yesterday. We passed under the Peace Bridge and followed the Niagara River north.

There were several other groups of cyclists out too and we waved and nodded as we rode along. The Niagara Parkway Trail is paved and parallels the road which fronts houses along the way. Big houses, small ones and in between too. New ones, older ones, modern and modest as well. It occurred to me that for all the mega mansions I’ve seen, I’ve never seen anyone sitting around in their expensive patio furniture enjoying their exclusive view – ever.

The city of Niagara Falls appeared in the distance as a staccato of glassy hotel spires. The mist from the falls could be seen from quite a distance too. As we got closer the river got quicker and more energetic and then we could hear the sound of the falling water roar.

We stopped for lunch by a row of magnolia trees in full bloom and as expected the place was busy with other tourists.

After we ate we made our way into the throngs of people and parked ourselves in the mist with a spectacular view of the falls. We were planning on staying up road and decided we would go and check into our room before venturing out again to see more sights.

At the motel we were quoted an expensive rate so we changed our minds, deciding instead to ride on. Thinking ahead as we do sometimes we ended up back in St Catharines in familiar territory. Upon arriving we were again quoted an unreasonable price for a room, but due to circumstances we couldn’t mitigate we checked in to stay. This is the same place we stayed a few nights ago and we walked to the same bakery and grocery store where we bought an entirely different supper. I guess we’re not going to Fallsview after all.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 4: Port Colborne to Fort Erie 40km

Friday, May 17

Sunny and warm 20C / Cloudy and cool 10C with a gentle SW wind

Today we slept in and admired the nice curtains in our motel room. We decided to have somewhat of a rest day today, aiming for nearby Fort Erie. There were a few shops in Port Colborne we wanted to see as well as the historic downtown. When we left the motel at 11am we took a short ride east of town, then south to the rail trail and eventually circled back into town by Sugarloaf Harbour. We locked up the bikes and then started exploring downtown on foot.

As we made our way north toward the bakeries and bookshop we’d seen yesterday we realized how far away they actually were. Too far to walk considering we still had to ride to Fort Erie and we hadn’t even had lunch yet. So we decided that we didn’t really need to see the bakeries and bookshop and made our way back to where our bikes were parked. Then we rode over the canal on the bridge and stopped at the start of the Friendship Trail where we had a trailside picnic lunch. It was cold when the sun disappeared behind the clouds with a cool, damp Lake breeze coming off Lake Erie. When the sun peeked out it was almost hot and we’d have to unzip jackets and take off our gloves.

Once we started riding toward Fort Erie along the Friendship Trail it was a lovely ride. The trail was paved and we’ll signed with road crossings and maps. With the wind pushing us along we made our way eastward. The trail eventually emerged from fields and farmland to a view of the sandy beaches of the lake. We passed by cottages and lake front homes before the Buffalo skyline came into view.

Then we saw the old fort of Fort Erie and peace bridge. At Mather’s Arch we stopped to get our bearings.

From there it was just a short distance to our accommodations for the night. All of the usual amenities are nearby too. Home sweet home..

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 3: St. Catharines to Port Colborne (The Welland Canal) 50km

After breakfast and a quick trip to the Niagara Outlet Mall we retraced our route to the Welland Canal Parkway Trail at the QEW overpass.

During our lunch break at Lock#3 we saw the memorial to commemorate the workers who were killed constructing the canal.

We got to watch a lake freighter traversing the lock and watched in amazement how such a huge vessel can be piloted so precisely.

It was a lovely ride south along the canal even though the wind suddenly switched from a tailwind to a headwind in a matter of minutes. Clouds had been building too and finally it started to rain. We only suffered about a hundred drops and then it stopped. It was warm enough that we dried off in no time.

We stopped for another snack near Welland and then made our final push to Port Colborne. Remnants of the regions industrial past were evident all along our route but especially prominent was the old Robin Hood flour silos.

Riding through Port Colborne on our way to the motel we saw several points of interest that we will explore in the morning. We could see the luminous sign of the grocery store from the motel and after checking in we made a b-line to the store and ordered our supper.

Our evening was spent discussing and planning the next leg of our trip. Details to come…

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 2: Stoney Creek to St. Catherines 54km

Wednesday, May 15

Sunny and warm with an afternoon thunderstorm. Light West wind.

Neither of us trusted the forecast we saw this morning when we got out of bed. Sunny skies and double digit temperatures. I actually put on Sun screen, but had my feather vest in my hands as we checked out because it couldn’t possibly be warmer than 10C. It was and I reluctantly tucked my vest into my pannier before riding away from the hotel.

Once we had picked up the waterfront trail again it only took a few minutes of pedalling for both of us to request a stop to take off more clothes. This time it was my sweater that got stuffed in alongside my feather vest. Every now and then there was a gush of cool air off of Lake Ontario, but generally it was a lovely, warm Spring morning.

Riding with the wind at our backs we sailed through Grimsby and past Lincoln. Pretty soon 2 hours had gone by and I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of anything. I started to pay attention and to wonder what I might document for today’s ride. I had noticed several Magnolia trees spectacularly in full bloom, but didn’t want to break our rhythm to stop for pictures. It was when we rode alongside an apple orchard bursting with puffy, pink blooms that I tried to snap a few pictures while rolling past at 25km/h. By the time I opened up my phone – ignored several push notifications, closed the map App and initiated the camera – we had pretty much passed the cotton candy colured orchard and it’s diverging linear rows of trees. I was a little disappointed but vowed to pay more attention to the passing beauty even if it meant not having pictures to prove it.

Soon after the orchard we stopped for a roadside picnic. Our pantry was not overflowing after our triple supper yesterday but we did have a small piece of cheese, a small piece of cucumber, half an apple and 6 grapes each to tide us over. Our rest stop would have been shady had the leaves on the tree been out, but since they weren’t, we were still in partial sun. After our quick snack we continued on, riding mostly along the North service road alongside the QEW.

2 cyclists approached from behind and the second one pulled up alongside for a rolling Q&A. His name is Jerry, a local out for a ride. He queried about us, our departure point and destination. He ended up inadvertently escorting us into Port Dalhousie all the while directing us along the best possible route. He also dropped back to visit with my Mom and he didn’t hesitate to wave cars past as they qued up behind him. By the time he rode off without us we were in St. Catherines.

It didn’t take us long to find somewhere to stay and it didn’t take us long for us to find some more food to eat. A little local bakery / deli had our mouths watering and provided the inspiration for our dinner this day. The regular grocery store is where we stocked up on the essential items like fruit and vegetables. It poured rain while were shopping and the rain stopped while we walked back to our room. It rained again while we were eating with some rumbling thunder and a flash or two of lightening.

Once again we have eaten most of the food before I could photograph it. Will try again tomorrow.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 1: Ajax to Aldershot to Stoney Creek 32km

Tuesday, May 14

Cool and cloudy with a light North wind. 11C

The weather wasn’t nearly as inviting as it should be at this time of year in Southern Ontario but cloudy and cool are actually perfect conditions to cycle in. You get to wear most of your clothes instead of sunscreen and no sweat means no laundry generally speaking.

My Mom and I left my parents place in Ajax just before 10am and rode our bikes 5km to the Ajax GO Train station. We had enough time to purchase our tickets and haul our bikes down the stairs, under the tracks to the elevator and up to the westbound platform. Once we boarded the train we had 2 hours to sit back and look out the window. At Union station in Toronto most of the other passengers got off the train and a whole new bunch got on. We passed through Oakville and Burlington and then Aldershot – the end of the line.

Once we got back on the bikes it was a short ride down to the waterfront where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Carrying on along the Waterfront Trail we crossed over the Burlington canal just in time to watch the lift bridge opening for a passing ship. Though the lake looked calm, every now and then a big swell would crash against the breakwall sending a big plume of spray skyward.

This time of year is when the lake bugs hatch in full force and we had our bug nets and bandannas ready for the occasion. The trail along Hamilton Beach is a wide, paved pathway and the riding was so nice that we overshot our turnoff to Stoney Creek by a few kilometres. Once we turned back we were off the trail and riding under the QEW into the Power Centre where our accommodations for the night are located.

After settling in to our room and stowing our bikes we set off on foot to see the sights. Actually, we went straight to the grocery store to satiate our foodly desires! Back in our room we had a three course supper. Veggies and dip, soup and then crackers and cheese. After supper the sun came out and we’ve been staring out the window watching all the people come and go and wondering what kind of food they may have purchased..

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 16: Saint-Faustin to Saint-Jérôme 68km

Our final day. Trip total 699km

Tuesday, November 6

Cool and wet. Lots of rain. 6C SE wind

After consulting numerous sources for a drier weather forecast they all seemed to reach the same conclusion. Today was to be WET.

Leaving the motel in Saint-Faustin the skies were certainly grey, but it was only sprinkling rain as we rode up the highway to rejoin the trail. There was a strong SE wind, precisely the direction we were heading. After reaching the trail we were sheltered from the wind but because we were at the summit of the trail – nearly 400 metres above sea level – there was still some wet snow covering our path. Some of f it was easy to ride over and some of it wasn’t. There was one stretch where we walked the bikes for nearly a kilometre. This actually helped to warm us up a bit.

It rained all day. Even though we’ve had about two weeks to practise dressing for cold and wet, our layers and rain gear were no match for the persistent precipitation that pelted our persons. It was too wet to take pictures with my phone and I also had plastic bags over my gloves to keep my hands warm. If a picture paints a thousand words, then hopefully some words can help to paint a picture.

It rained so much today that I hardly had to sip from my water bottle. There was constantly water on my face, dripping into my mouth. My mitts ended up with water in the bottom of them. My shoes were soaked. My rain pants slowly started leaking. Cool rain running down my legs. My wool touque kept the rain at bay but eventually my neck warmer let a few drops seep through back behind my ears.

By the time we arrived at the car rental place in Saint-Jérôme we absolutely dripping wet – all over their floors and counter top. After loading the bikes into the back of the SUV we got changed into dry clothes and hit the road. It was a treat being dry and warm again. We stopped for food at the last grocery store before the Ontario border for roast pork and maple – cheddar cheese. We are staying in Kingston tonight, near where we started our trip 16 days ago.

My Mom summed up our day and our trip with a limerick:

There once were two people on bikes.

They loved to pedal – but yikes.

They pedaled in rain and

they pedaled in snow

Those crazy two people on bikes.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 15: Riviere Rouge to Saint-Faustin 65km

Monday, November 6

Cloudy and cold with a bit of snow and rain. 2C SE wind

After yesterday’s beautiful sunshine today’s silver skies were a reminder that it actually is November. At least the day started out dry.

We noticed brand new trail signs along our route today as we retraced our route down the Petit Train du Nord. Past Lac Mercer, Mont Tremblant and Saint-Jovite.

The snow started again after lunch as we pedaled toward the summit of the trail. We persevered uphill and stopped for a photo-op overlooking the quarry.

Our final push has us sailing along Hwy 117 for just over a kilometre to our motel in Saint-Faustin. We have 3 small suppers planned for the rest of the day; soup, burgers and fries and beans with toast. Looks like tomorrow might be our final day of riding and it is forecast to be a wet one! Stay tuned..

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 14: Mont Laurier to Riviere Rouge 77km

Sunday, November 5

Sunny and cold. 4C W wind

The weather was great for riding today. It seemed like we hadn’t seen sunshine in a week!

Before we left Mont Laurier I realized that we were missing something. Our mascot and travelling buddy Lambie was nowhere to be found! We looked under the beds, unpacked all our bags and still couldn’t find her. Ironically she was last seen during our picnic lunch on the side of the trail near Guenette. It was there where I took some pictures of her tucked into the back pocket of my pannier which I posted as part of our day’s adventure riding toward Mont Laurier on Friday. After her photo shoot, once we started riding again, we rode through several really bumpy sections of the trail. This is where we figured she might be.

Both of us scoured the trail with our eyes as we rode barely paying any attention to the scenery which is pretty nice on this stretch of trail. Hoping we’d find her either on the trail or along side it we remembered the time that we found Gloria’s green jacket 13 miles from Washington DC. We considered that someone may have found her and taken her home. I even entertained the notion that perhaps we had inadvertently reunited her with whomever lost her in British Columbia in the first place… so as we were riding, scanning the trail ahead of us, I spotted something pink in a tree to the right of the trail. It was Lambie! We were so relieved. We left a thank you note – with a link to the blog – hanging on the branch where they left her.

The remainder of our ride today was much more relaxing and we were able to soak in all of the sunny scenery.

For lunch we made a picnic at a table in the sun.

In the afternoon we saw more people on the trail than we have in the the last week. Once we arrived in Riviere Rouge at the Bar-Resto-Pub Motel we unloaded our bags and pedalled to the IGA. The sun was setting behind the hills in the west as we made our way home.

Another great supper in our room and we have been planning the final days of our ride back to Montreal.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 13: Mont Laurier – rest day

Saturday, November 4

Cloudy with some rain and some snow. 2C W wind.

Today was our rest day after completing our trek up Le Petit Train du Nord. There was also rain, wind and snow forecast so it was an easy decision to stay put. Although we did quite a bit of lazing around in bed, we also went out and explored the town a few times. Before breakfast we walked over to La Muffinerie and bought a fresh baguette and a peanut butter cookie, both of which were for later.

After breakfast in our room we went out again. This time we found the new trail head for our route that we missed yesterday because of a detour.

We also wandered around in the local mall and found a great deal on new cycling mitts. After a little bit of grocery shopping it was time for lunch so back to our room we went. An afternoon hockey game on TV was a great way to pass some time too. Later in the afternoon we walked to the fromagerie and then to a different grocery store for a few more bits. Thankfully all of the stores are quite close so we haven’t actually been that active on our rest day.

We have tonight’s supper all planned out as well as tomorrow’s ride. Here is a picture of us heating our soup in the staff kitchen..

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 12: Nominingue to Mont Laurier 57km

Friday, November 2

Cool and cloudy with a hint of rain. 4C NE wind.

We slept soundly and we slept in! Our room was nice and warm and the beds were very comfortable. Being the only guests we also had the breakfast room to ourselves to enjoy our porridge. We toasted our leftover bread and ate it with peanut butter and jam. After checking out we spent quite awhile on the front porch getting our layers of clothing – plastic bags to cover our gloves – just right.

It must have rained overnight because the roads were wet. We could see tiny ripples in the puddles so we were prepared for more rain. Our route today started off with a 20km uphill climb, albeit a gradual one. Pedalling uphill keeps us warm in this weather and we had to stop twice to undo zippers and remove layers. After reaching Lac-Saguay it was all downhill!

The final 33 kilometres were a treat and we sailed along at top speed. Near Guenette we stopped for a snack in the caboose shaped rest stop, one of many along Le Petit Train du Nord.

What we anticipated being a gruelling ride in the rain turned out to be fast paced, dry and fairly effortless.

Coming into Mont Laurier there was a detour with only 2 kilometres to go. Unfortunately we ended up having to ride on the main road / highway to get to our hotel. Our hotel, fortunately, is surrounded by grocery stores, bakeries and a cheese shop!

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 11: Labelle to Nominingue 39km

Thursday, November 1

Overcast. 5C

Cell block 7 is the nickname we gave our room in Labelle. Although it was warm and fairly clean we were excited to get going in the morning. We ate our leftover yogurt and I made tea from the hot water tap, then after packing, we fastened the padlock and checked out.

There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but thankfully it didn’t materialize and we enjoyed a dry day of pedalling. The section of the Petit Train du Nord we rode along today was paved which also was a bonus.

After our picnic lunch in Riviere Rouge we spotted some deer enjoying their lunch.

The final leg of our journey today had us arriving in Nominingue by 1 o’clock and we had two hours to kill before we were able to check in to the L’Auberge de la Vieille Gare. We took a walk around the small town and discovered a small grocery store and half a dozen hair salons. I was expecting to see everyone in town sporting a fancy hairdo, but a lot of people were wearing hats.

Upon checking in we were treated like royalty. I even had my luggage carried upstairs to our room. We are the only guests staying here tonight and rumour has it that we are the last people cycling on Le Petit Train.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 10: Saint-Faustin to Labelle 41km

Wednesday, October 31

Cold with wet snow, freezing rain and rain… 1C

Snow was falling when we looked out our windows this morning and we weren’t sure if that was better than the rain that was forecast for later in the day.

After a short ride through town to the the trail we had a 12km descent to Sainte-Jovite. Unfortunately because of the slush and ice pellets on the asphalt we had to go quite slowly and almost froze because we couldn’t even pedal our bikes. In Saint-Jovite we parked our bikes and hiked into the village for some shopping and to warm up our bones.

We visited our favourite little fromagerie and a bakery we had been in before. After we ate lunch we were back on the bikes and were able to pedal again as the trail was clear and we were going uphill again. This helped us keep warm in the cold rain.

In Labelle we stopped to find somewhere to spend the night. After almost having to ride to another town, we lucked out and found a place to stay. There is a restaurant upstairs and the food was just what we needed.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 9: Sainte-Adele to Saint-Faustin-Lac Carre 47km

Tuesday, October 30

Cold, cloudy, flurries and sunny breaks. 2C

The first 2.5km of our ride today was down steep roads back on to the Petit Train du Nord. The following 45.5km was spent climbing uphill towards Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. At least half of our route today was on snow covered trails which made the uphill trek even tougher.

While we were still full of energy we attacked the trail, emerging from this underpass for our mid morning snack.

The patches of powder blue sky were slowly swallowed up by clouds and the distant hills seemed to disintegrate.

I’ve never seen so many Tamarack trees before. Their golden boughs lined the trail and their fallen needles fought with the snow to see who would carpet the ground first.

They would each have their turn…

Other highlights of our stimulating and strenuous afternoon…

When we finally arrived in Saint-Faustin we were starving and ventured out for our supper. After an hour and walking 5 kilometres we arrived at our room with dessert, soup and burgers!

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 8: Blainville to Sainte-Adele 46km

Monday, October 29

Cloudy,cool and misty. 2C

It was 9:30am when we left the hotel in Blainville and found our way back to the trail. There was snow still on the ground and on the rooftops but it actually seemed a little warmer than yesterday. The misty clouds added a slightly mysterious feel to our ride through the woods and we encountered a downed tree across the path.

Both of us were soaking in the natural surroundings and marvelling at the incredible bicycle infrastructure that exists here. Sometimes it gets confusing riding through towns because there are too many bike paths, but they are typically very well signed. Arriving in Saint-Jérôme at mile zero of the Petit Train du Nord is the perfect example. Roads, train tracks, both bicycle lanes and paths as well as sidewalks all mesh together in a seemingly flawless way.

Our lunch stop today was beside the Riviere du Nord and we set our places on a snow-topped table.

The afternoon presented us with another challenge. We encountered a sign that said PISTE FERMEE – AUCUN ACCES – TRAVEAUX EN COUR.

We were pretty sure what it meant, but didn’t really want to detour onto the HWY so we came up with our own interpretation… Something about the Ski Farm called Aucun Acces to Work on our Hearts… It was really funny at the time and kept us chatting and laughing until we came across the truck and the workers cutting down trees by the trail. We finessed our way past and promised that we wouldn’t be back. We rode away without trying out our funny translation on the guy.

Nearing Sainte-Adele we had to leave the trail and ride into town. As it turns out our motel is at the top of a huge hill (small mountain), but the intense climb was worth it. Our room is very nice, spacious and warm, and it is located near the IGA and a boulangerie, it has a microwave – not all rooms do – and we’re going to get to see the hockey game tonight. Win, win, win, win, win!

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 7: Montreal to Blainville 35km

Sunday, October 28

Cold and wet with some snow. 0C little wind

Our plan for today was to take the Orange line Metro from Mont Royal station over to De la Concorde station in Laval and then take our bikes on La Route Verte #2 heading toward Saint Jerome. After breakfast we executed our plan almost perfectly.

Cold rain turned to wet snow before our eyes as we rode to Mont Royal station. We hauled our fully loaded bikes down the escalator and conversed our way through the turnstile, each of us with a one way ticket. Bikes are supposed to go on the first train car and we obliged. Several stations later we reemerged and were welcomed with the same sloppy weather we had left behind.

The bike path passes directly past the station and would take us exactly where we were headed today. Helpful signs directed us through subdivisions, towns, industrial lands and natural areas, allowing us to really enjoy the ride.

The cold wet weather enabled us to test and perfect our cold, wet weather wardrobes and both of us arrived at our destination in Blainville surprisingly dry.

Hotel check in, supermarket check out. Succulent salad and superb soup. Dishes, hot showers, hand wash laundry, journals, feet up. I think we might be hungry again.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 6: Cornwall, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec – by car

Saturday, October 27

Cool, cloudy and windy. 3C strong NE wind

We knew the wind wouldn’t be in our favour today and we’re pretty sure it is going to rain later – possibly snow – and all night and tomorrow. So after investigating taking the train to Montreal with no positive results we resorted to renting a car.

After breakfast we walked to the car rental place in Cornwall and got to experience the cold, north wind face to face. Once we were behind the wheel we whipped back to the motel and loaded our bikes in the back.

The drive to Montreal went smoothly due to my Mom’s excellent navigation skills and with only one stop at favourite bakery of ours in Coteau du Lac the drive took no time at all. We made a picnic in the car once we got off of the hwy.

We are staying at a place on the Plateau near Mont Royal. We have nicknamed it our hovel as it is a sprawling, two room unit partially underground and it is quite cozy and warm although a little dingy. After checking in and unpacking we took a walking hike up Mont Royal.

At the top we reprised our selfie in the fog from our last visit here.

When we got back to the bottom we were bombarded by snowflakes. It was time to prepare our supper and we had another delicious soup and salad supper with a side of quiche.

The room also has 2 TVs and we are watching hockey and baseball simultaneously. Tomorrow we are aiming for the trail head of the Petite Train du Nord in Saint Jerome.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 5: Morrisburg to Cornwall 50km

Friday, October 26

Sunny and fresh. 4C Light W wind.

I checked the weather from bed on my phone and it said “minus 5 degrees with Freezing Fog”. Freezing Fog! I think it was hunger that motivated us to get up more than anything else. We lazed around the room eating and packing until it was time to leave.

Once we stepped outside the sun was shining and warm on our skin. There was no fog in sight freezing or otherwise. After a short stretch of riding along Hwy 2 we arrived at the Upper Canada Village. The rest of our ride today was on mostly paved trails which was a nice change.

Beyond the village the trail passes through some beautiful wooded areas. Dry leaves littered the trail and crisply crackled underneath our bikes. Sunlight filtered through the diminishing canopy of the forest and a quiet breeze pulled ambivalent, golden leaves back down toward the ground.

Its days like this that come to mind when thinking of Fall riding. The rest of our ride was pretty impressive too as we rolled over the Long Sault Parkway and then into Cornwall via Power Dam Rd. After visiting the train station and then checking in to our room, we did our usual afternoon activity and went shopping for dinner. Soup and salad anyone?

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 4: Johnstown to Morrisburg 32km

Thursday, October, 25

Mostly cloudy and pretty cool. 3C NW wind.

Our early morning forecast involved poking our heads out the door and there might have been a sighting of tiny white flakes falling from the sky.

Back inside our room we bundled up as we ate our steaming porridge. Once we were ready to leave we pulled on our hats, pulled up our socks and put on our gloves. Thankfully the breeze today was a gentle crosswind and at times actually helped us along.

When we arrived in Iroquois we had the good fortune to meet the owner of the purple moose on hwy 2 and also of Ross Video. He pointed us toward town which features Ontario’s first strip mall. Once we got there we found a hot mac’n cheese for lunch and froze our buns off eating it outside.

To warm up we got back on our bikes and continued riding east to Morrisburg. We knew that the McIntosh Country Inn was on the far side of town so we rode straight there. Tip toeing in on our frozen toes we managed to secure a room for the night. While checking in I was recruited to photograph a group of quilters who are spending the week together at the McIntosh. After a couple of pictures on a couple of ipads and a couple of cellphones, we were warmed up and had made some friends.

The quilters have a conference room for themselves to work away in and after we settled in our room we stopped by to see them for a visit. We marvelled at their camaraderie and I think they marvelled at our adventures.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 3: Brockville to Johnstown 42km

Wednesday, October 24

Mostly sunny with a cool breeze. 8C NW wind.

After yesterday’s tiring ride into the wind we decided to take it easy today and aim for nearby Johnstown. After our Super 8 breakfast we rode our bikes – without our luggage – back to downtown Brockville to do some sight seeing.

Having missed seeing most of the waterfront yesterday, we started exploring there. We saw the Tall Ships Landing and the Aquatarium from the outside. We also stopped by the Railway Tunnel which was locked up, but about to receive a Halloween makeover. The fellow waiting outside assured us that we could take a look inside around 11am. That sounded like a great idea so we rode back to the motel to pick up our bags and then back downtown to the tunnel entrance for 11am.

The tunnel is impressive! With LED lighting running the entire length of the tunnel the historic features of its construction are literally illuminated. There are also speakers playing music and information boards stationed throughout. Definitely worth a visit!

It was getting close to lunchtime so we cut our conversation short with the locals and found our way to the grocery store. There was a park bench nearby that was sheltered from the wind and partially draped in sunlight.

Around 1 o’clock we figured it was time to actually leave Brockville and we began our ride east towards Johnstown. After riding for about an hour we arrived in Prescott. Again we had to seek out a grocery store to pick up our supper as Johnstown doesn’t have any shops. On our way from Prescott we came across a bakery/brewery/distillery and had to stop. Surprisingly we left with only a couple of sweets.

Finally we arrived at the Bridgwaters Inn. We felt like we were home as we have stayed here before.

Another super soup supper is on the menu.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 2: Gananoque to Brockville 56km

Tuesday, October 23

Sunny and cool with an afternoon shower. 10C NE wind

The weather forecast we expected today was rain so both of us stayed in bed until almost 9:30am. After we pulled back the curtains there was a cloudy sky with a smattering of clear blue patches. By the time we had prepared our porridge in the microwave the sky had completely cleared.

Before we left the motel we put sun screen on. The worst thing about today’s ride was the headwind. Pedalling was quite brisk and both of us had gloves on. When we stopped in the sun it seemed a lot warmer.

Our ride today followed the 1000 Islands Parkway. The bicycle trail parallels the road and is paved. The route has small rolling hills and we worked up a sweat on the way up and flirted with freezing on the way down.

Having pedaled this route in Spring 2017 it was interesting to see the same sights in Autumn.

As the rain clouds reeled us in from behind, Brockville finally emerged. We arrived downtown and found the bike shop, a thrift store and drugstore where we bought soup for part of our supper. It started to sprinkle rain on our way east as we made the last push to our motel.

Having sort of skipped lunch we were both starving. It didn’t take long to settle in and start their feast.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 1: Kingston to Gananoque 44km

Monday, October 22

Partly cloudy finishing with rain. 8C SW wind.

Today was the first day of our Fall bike trip which is taking place a little later in the season than usual this year.

My Mom and I drove from Ajax to the Kingston cottage in the morning, stopping in Harrowsmith for pizza for lunch. After we ate we loaded up our bikes and said farewell to both the car and the cottage.

The cool weather was perfect for testing out all of the various outerwear we brought with us. Hats, headbands, gloves, wrist warmers, necks, vests, jackets and shoes. Both of us were pretty happy with our clothing options. After riding for about an hour at Kingston Mills it started to rain. This was another great opportunity to test out our cool weather gear.

It wasn’t until we made it to Gananoque that we needed to put on our rain jackets. By this time we were on foot, waking through the Downtown. The bakery closed one minute before we got there, but we did find the batteries for my odometre at Mega Dollar. Our last stop was the grocery store where we bought some soup to prepare back at the motel.

Our room has lots of hooks to hang things from and we made good use of them with all of our wet and damp gear.

Both of us are looking forward to fine tuning our packing. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and I think we’ll be trying out our rain pants.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 25: Winnipeg to Toronto by plane

Friday, May 25

Sunny, hot and humid. 31C
Our flight was scheduled for 3:45pm so we had some time to kill today. After breakfast we returned the rental car and then finished our packing. We had arranged a late checkout time so we decided to take a walk through the neighbourhood which consists of other hotels and big box store plazas. Each place we popped into was air conditioned so that was nice and we finished off at the grocery store to buy a few more items for our pantry. We ate lunch in our room before heading downstairs to catch the airport shuttle. 

At the airport we spent some time people watching after we checked our bikes and bags. Then we ate another snack before passing through security. On the other side we found a nice leather live seat with a view of the runways and proceeded to watch the planes come and go. Eventually it was time to proceed to our gate and board the plane.

The flight was only two hours in duration and we followed our progress on my phone. I’m always inspired by being above the clouds. 

The landing was successful as was our pick up by my Father. We arrived home to my parents house just after 8pm, concluding another bicycle adventure.  Piece by piece we are working towards cycling across Canada.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 24: Winnipeg 

Thursday, May 24

Sunny and hot with building clouds. 30C 

Our last full day in Winnipeg was a busy one. Sightseeing and a few errands had us driving all over the city which was a nice way to get a feel for it. Considering it was so hot again today it was a pleasure to be in a fully air conditioned environment. In the morning we took a tour of the mint.

We also visited the Exchange District, Whiteout Way, Portage & Main as well as the areas of  North End, West End, Tuxedo, River Heights and St James to name a few.

Later in the afternoon we caught up with family friends who own and operate The Real Escape escape rooms and we had a great visit and tour.

After dinner in our room we packed up our bikes in boxes in anticipation of our departure tomorrow afternoon.  Finally there was a little rain here in the evening, only the second time it’s rained on our whole trip. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 23: in Winnipeg 

Wednesday, May 23

Mostly sunny and hot. SE wind. 30C 
Looks like the bikes have been retired now as the temperature out here is hot! After breakfast at the hotel with no cereal and no bowls we brought our own and enjoyed some complimentary milk.

We took a short walk to the local car rental company and then spent the day driving around with the windows down and the air conditioning cranked up. Our first stop was the small village of Brunkild which was the summer stomping grounds for one of my brothers.

Next was a visit to the Cottage Bakery in Winnipeg and then lunch by the Assiniboine River downtown. It was so hot outside that even then shade was almost unbearable. 

Then we drove over to The Forks, passing the Human Rights Museum on the way.

After 3pm we checked into our hotel room and dropped off the bikes. Then we drove to a bike shop to pickup 2 empty bike boxes for our flight home on Friday.  Then we went to the grocery store in search of our supper ingredients and then back to our room to relax in its cool confines.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 22: Portage la Prairie to Headingley 78km

Tuesday, May 22

Sunny with the odd cloud. South wind. 29C
With another hot day in the forecast we tried to get an early start but both of us were content to lie in bed for awhile in the morning.  By the time we made it down to the breakfast room and ate it was after 8am already. Our route out of Portage was quite nice, pedalling alongside Crescent Lake and the island park.

Before long we were riding down the on ramp of the trans Canada heading east. Shade has been very hard to come by along the highway,  but when we spot it, we stop to enjoy it.

The wind was even more annoying today than yesterday.  It was just strong enough to keep from getting any real speed built up so it was a constant struggle to keep our pace up. Like yesterday’s ride we took a lot of breaks. After 20km then almost every 10km after that just to drink water, eat some food or just stretch out a bit. The temperature climbed all afternoon and it was close to 30C after we stopped for lunch behind a Tim Hortons. 

Slowly but surely we were getting closer to our destination.  Winnipeg is within reach!

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 21: Carberry to Portage la Prairie 78km

Monday, May 21 – Victoria Day 

Sunny and warm with a south wind. 26C 
Our beds at the Robin’s Nest motel were surprisingly comfortable so we didn’t get up as early as we’d planned. Hoping to beat the heat, by the time we ate our cereal and hit the road it was almost 9 o’clock. Like yesterday, the south wind almost seemed like a headwind although it was really another crosswind. We also encountered a few gentle hills on our ride today which broke the otherwise flat monotony. 

The kilometres didn’t come easy today and break by break and snack by snack we inched our way across the map. Shade was hard to come by. We contemplated stopping underneath this lonely big tree, however the grave marker and it’s proximity to the busy highway changed our minds.

After almost 4 hours of toiling along we arrived in Portage. Being a holiday today we weren’t sure if the grocery stores would be open but alas they were and we were excited. After hunkering down at the motel restaurant yesterday we were eager to fix one of our juicy jumbo salads for dinner. The walk to the grocery store in the hot sun was the last thing we wanted to do, but it was so worth it once dinner was served.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 20: Brandon to Carberry 52km

Sunday, May 20

Sunny and warm with a south wind. 25C 

First thing in the morning we drove our rental van back to the enterprise and then pedaled our bikes back to the hotel where we had breakfast. We could see smoke still coming from the huge fire in downtown Brandon the day before. 

Once we left the hotel we started off on the trans Canada heading east. The wind was blowing from the south which created a crosswind for us which neither helped nor hindered our progress. After one or two short breaks along the way we arrived at the Robin’s Nest motel in Carberry just after noon.

Our room wasn’t quite ready for us so we sat down in the adjoining restaurant and had breakfast for lunch. After we ate we walked over to our room and put our feet up in bed and watched a hockey game on TV. When that was over we walked back to the restaurant for a light supper – burgers and some of the best coleslaw I’ve ever had – and ultimately we passed on pie for dessert.  Back to bed and another hockey game on TV. Other than our earlier bike ride it was a supremely lazy day.

The general serenity was broken just before 11pm when a few other guests showed up at the motel including someone with 2 yappy dogs. Thankfully the drone of our uncontrollable air conditioner deftly drowned them out.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 19: Dauphin to Brandon by car.

Riding Mountain National Park 8km

Saturday, May 19

Sunny and cool with a light wind. 20C 
Our beds lastnight were less than comfortable although because we were so tired we didn’t notice until morning. We tuned in the Royal wedding and I watched with one eye open from under the covers. Once we did get up we ate cereal in our room and then took a quick tour of downtown Dauphin before driving back into Riding Mountain. 

There is so much to see and do in the park that we decided to spend the day again. It started with a short hike at Beach Ridges where aspen trees towered overhead. 

Then we walked the loop at Kippan’s Mill and then a midmorning snack at Moon Lake.

After that we drove through the Bison enclosure near Lake Audy. We did see some bison from quite a distance but we still wanted to do some riding so we continued on to the Strathclair trail and got our bikes ready to ride. There were people biking and horseback riding as well as a couple on bikes. The trail was grassy again and went on for miles. 

We only rode a short distance before we had an option to take the Central trail which follows the fence line of the Bison enclosure. We rode about 4km before deciding to turn around and shortly after that we spotted a mother bear and her three cubs. She scooted them up a tree (see picture below)  and they turned around to stare us down! We took off in a hurry.

When we got back to the van we had a picnic lunch before driving back through the Bison enclosure.  Mom spotted one very close by and we waited while he slowly grazed his way towards us. We spent several minutes just watching and he didn’t seem to care in the least.

Finally on our way back to Wassagaming Mom spotted a moose in the woods by the side of the road. Again we watched for several minutes while it munched its way back into the forest. Can you spot it?

Then we had to drive back to Brandon where we will set off on our bikes again in the morning. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 18: Brandon to Dauphin by car &

Riding Mountain National Park 22km 

Friday, May 18

Rain then sun. Strong NE wind. 15C 

After a few errands in Brandon we drove north for an hour or two to Riding Mountain National Park. The town of Wassagaming is situated at the south entrance of the park and we started poking around there. At first we had planned to drive around and try to figure out what we we do in the park on Saturday, but after talking to one of the park staff we were inspired to do a short bike ride.

So we unloaded there bikes from our rental van, packed some food and set off pedalling out of Wassagaming and on to the highway which runs through the park. Within a few kilometres we arrived at the trailhead for Grey Owl’s cabin. The trail is 9km each way and begins with a lovely wooded trail which eventually turns into a hilly grass trail before getting a little rougher with Rick, roots and soft gravel.

5km in we decided to lock up the bikes and hike the rest. It was nice to exercise our legs in a different way. We decided on the term bi-hiking or b’hiking. We seemed to walk forever and came across all sorts of evidence of wildlife like this bear paw print.

Finally we arrived at Grey Owl’s cabin…

It was a 40 minute hike back to our bikes and then another 11km back to the van. Then it was time to drive the 70km north through the park to Dauphin. Half the drive was spent going up and up and up. Just after we crested there was a spot to stop so we did just that and took in the view from the red chairs.

We were a little hasty checking in to our motel in Dauphin. The price is right but that is about all. At least the grocery store is across the street..

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 17: in and around Brandon 17km

Thursday, May 17

Cool, cloudy with rain and a hail storm. Strong east wind. 10C 

With another strong east wind blowing today we found ourselves in a bit of a holding pattern here in Brandon. The wind is way to strong to keep riding east so we decided to spend the day touring around the city before picking up our next rental car after 5pm.

When we checked out and left the motel this morning an immediate hailstorm followed by rain descended on us. It lasted just long enough to get us pretty wet and cold. We did find a nice warm bakery to spend some time in and then we had a picnic at a nearby grocery store. 

We spent some time downtown but the wind and the cool weather made outdoor sightseeing less than ideal. Eventually we ended up back at our same motel where we’ll spend another night. Our car was ready to pick up after 5pm and we decided that hearty soup would be on the menu tonight. 

We have big plans for our road trip tomorrow so stay tuned!

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 16: Verdin to Brandon by bus

Wednesday, May 16

Mostly sunny and a fierce east wind. 16C
Our one hundred kilometre ride yesterday was our strategy to avoid riding into today’s extreme east wind which was 40km/h gusting to 60. Originally we planned on renting a car today but Verdin has no such services. Plan B was to catch the greyhound bus at 4pm.

We spent most of the morning working on this plan which included talking to the local ticket agent to find out what we’d have to do with our bikes to bring them along. Turns out we needed boxes to put them in so we dumpster dived the Home hardware’s cardboard bin for a selection of boxes and bought a few rolls of packing tape. Then we dropped the cardboard off at the bus depot and then walked back to our hotel for lunch and a late check out. Back at the depot we pieced together a bunch of cardboard into makeshift boxes and then taped them up tight to travel. Shortly thereafter the bus arrived and we got settled on board with a dozen or so others who were on a much longer journey than our 75km trip.

Within no time we were dropped off in downtown Brandon and we were glad not to be travelling any further by bus. Reassembling the bike took a few minutes and then we were on our way to the Redwood Motel.

Check in, walk to the grocery store,  back for supper by 8pm and before we knew it it was bedtime! We looked online into renting a car and that may prove to be more challenging than we thought… 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 15: Whitewood to Verdin 115km

Tuesday, May 15

Hot and sunny with a wild west wind. 30C

We accidentally got up two hours early this morning and were at the breakfast buffet at 6am. Needless to say we got an early start and had pedaled to Moosomin by 9am. Originally this was going to be our destination for the day but the way the wind was blowing we decided to pedal all the way to Verdin. 

Neither of us had pedaled in such a strong wind and what started out as a crosswind ended up as a straight tailwind by the latter half of the day. Dust was blowing everywhere and it was 30C by mid afternoon. At least it was a dry heat with next to no humidity. 

At the Manitoba border we stopped for a photo and then huddled behind some bushes for shelter and shade while we had a snack. With a little perseverance we coasted into Verdin at 25km/h and stopped at the first hotel we saw. It is a pretty nice place and we feel like we’ve earned a little luxury. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 14: Grenfell to Whitewood 53km

Monday, May 14

Sunny and warm with an east wind.  23C 
Today’s ride was a little different than our previous rides because we were pedalling into the wind. Although we didn’t have to ride very far we probably spent twice as much energy doing it.

We did get an early start this morning and we stopped in Broadview for lunch. After visiting the bakery there we sat down at a picnic table in a park to eat.

This rest stop was a nice change from resting at their side of the road and with the warmer temperatures it was nice to have a bit of shade as well. When we continued our ride after lunch the wind seemed to switch and started blowing from the north. This crosswind helped us along a little bit on our last 25km into Whitewood. 

Our room in the Inn is very spacious and there is an indoor pool although it is not open yet. Town is only a short walk away so we picked up our supper at the grocery store shortly after we checked in. I was offered a part time job as a roughneck after I helped an older fellow put his walker in the back seat of his car. That might be fun to try for a day, but unfortunately we are riding out of town in the morning. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 13: Indian Head to Grenfell 66km

Sunday, May 13

Sunny and hot with a west wind. 26C 

This morning we met our neighbour Bob Pittuck who is travelling by bicycle from Calgary to Oshawa. He is also a Canadian Hall of Fame Bowler! We could have chatted for much longer, but we all needed to get going on our way. 
First stop for us was a short side trip to the Historic Bell Barn just north of Indian Head. The circular structure has 39 single stalls for horses.

Breakfast was served back at the motel and after we ate our cereal it was time to start riding east. The sun was scorching before noon and we were glad to have a nice breeze to pedal with. There is a lot of time to look around while riding a bike and some of the exciting scenes we saw were freight trains…

And fields of course.

Underneath a grain storage silo we found lovely shade to rest in before continuing on to Wolseley where we had a snack to keep our strength up. 

The final 24km to Grenfell was tougher because the temperature was rising quickly. Both of us were thankful to be off the road when we got there and our room for the night was as cool as ice.

We found out from the innkeeper that the CO OP grocery store was closed today,  but luckily we were carrying enough food for lunch. We got cleaned up and spent an hour relaxing in our room before heading out for supper at Vicki’s restaurant. The laundromat is next door to the restaurant which is next door to the gas station so we ran a load of laundry while we ate. After supper we were full and our clothes were clean and we walked back across the street to our room.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 12: Regina to Indian Head 70km

Saturday, May 12

Sunny and warm with a fair West wind. 20C 
The hotel breakfast consisted of a piece of raisin toast with butter and a quick cup of coffee. By 8:30am we were on our way. After pedaling 20km we stopped for another breakfast in the ditch at Balgonie and ate our cereal. 

The wind was blowing nicely from behind us and the traffic was light. At Qu’Appelle we turned of the highway and rode a kilometre or two to town into the wind. A short tour of the grocery store yielded only a tomato. We weren’t sure what we were looking for and we were already carrying quite a bit of food for lunch. So back to the hwy we went. 

The ride today seemed fairly flat although we could see for miles as we crested a ridge west of Indian Head.

We were pleasantly surprised when we reached the Sunshine Motel. Not much to look at from the outside but the the rooms are really nice on the inside.

We ate lunch on our porch in the shade and then took a walk into the historic downtown to see what we could see and visit the bakery. We also stopped by the library where there was a book sale and got chatting with several people inside. On the way back to our motel we had a great view of the old and the new grain elevators.

Our homemade dinner was delicious as usual and we managed to stay awake to watch the sun set. 

The weather forecast sounds good for the morning and the temperature is supposed to rise so we plan on getting an early start to the day.

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 11: back to Regina by car

Friday, May 11

Cloudy with some sun. 10C SE wind.

After a restful night we packed the car one more time and set off on the trans Canada towards Regina. It was fun to retrace the route we pedaled several days ago although the scenery goes by much faster in a car.

We did some scouting before we returned the rental car and then had a short ride to our hotel on the east side of Regina. Then we took a walk through “new town” including a tour of Costco, Winners, Bulk Barn and the Superstore for our supper.

Back in our room after we ate we worked on some modifications on our bikes. In the morning we are continuing our ride east towards Winnipeg. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 10: In Moose Jaw 

Thursday, May 10

Cloudy and cool with an east wind. 10C 

With another day with a strong east wind we thought we’d spend the day sight seeing in Moose Jaw. In the morning we went down to the Tunnels of Moose Jaw and went on both of the guided tours. One was about Al Capone’s time in the city during prohibition and the other tour was an account of early Chinese immigrants in Canada and the struggles and immense discrimination they faced at the end of the 19th century. They were both very interested and we would highly recommend them if you find yourself in Moose Jaw. 

After lunch we walked to the bakery which had us going on the bridge over the rail yard which I thought was pretty impressive. 

After our snack in the bakery – fresh maple dip donuts –  we walked over the new pedestrian suspension bridge on the trans Canada Trail. We did a few more errands as we passed back through downtown and walked through Crescent Park on the way back to our room.

Another delicious meal in our room was followed by a relaxing evening with our feet up watching the hockey game. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 9: Chamberlain to Moose Jaw 58km 

Sunny and cool with a serious North wind. 10C

Sadly we did not do any shots during our stay at Shots on Eleven but it was a perfect place to put our heads down for the night. 

As was forecast the wind was blowing from the north today and we were heading south. Once we started riding we turned onto hwy 2 and started pedaling. The wind was wild!

There was a big downhill into the Qu’ Appelle river valley and a big up on the other side. I got to try out all of the gears on my new bike. 

After a quick snack at the Side of the road near Tuxford we carried on to Moose Jaw where we were four days ago. We rented another car in the afternoon and then drove to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park to see if we could see some bison. If you look closely in the picture you might see a few at the top of the ridge. 

Tommorow we plan on doing some sightseeing in Moose Jaw before carrying on..

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 8: Lumsden to Chamberlain 61km 

Overcast, 16C with a Southeast wind.

Neither of us were in a rush to get out of bed today and we enjoyed sleeping in. Once we did get up we ate cereal in our room as we got our things organized. When we left the hotel and Lumsden itself, we were greeted with a nice climb up out of the valley on Hwy 11.

As we had hoped, the wind was with us today with a strong SE breeze.

This made today’s ride even more enjoyable. It still took us several hours to reach our destination of Chamberlain, passing through Disley, Bethune and Findlater along the way. We are staying at the hotel above the bar called “Shotz on 11” , and our room is nice, just not very big.

Once we arrived and relaxed for a bit we walked through town under a light rain. Chamberlain sits atop a valley and at the edge of someone’s property we had a pretty good view.

With shared bathrooms down the hall – although we seem to be the only guests here – I noticed the sunset on the way back to the room after my shower. 

Both of us are getting used to the pedaling and to packing our bags on this trip, which usually does take several days to get the hang of..

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 7: Regina to Lumsden 49km

Monday, May 7

Partly cloudy and very warm 26C. NE wind. 

Today we changed our plan slightly. Instead of continuing eastward we decided to let the wind choose our direction. So with a east wind we headed west. We spent the first part of the morning riding through Wascana park, slowly making our way out of the city. 

In search of a bathroom we came across the RCMP Heritage Centre but they were not open yet. After our photo op we spotted a gas station down the street. 

The next leg of our route heading north out of Regina involved gravel roads and construction sites…

The pedaling wasn’t easy despite having the wind helping us along in places. After a few breaks we arrived outside Lumsden with a great view of the Qu’Appelle River Valley. 

There was a surprisingly steep hill into town. We found a picnic table by the river where we ate lunch and rested our legs while we waited to check into our room. After lunch we toured the bakery, the grocery store and the rest of the small town. By dinner time we had everything all figured out and picked up our supplies in record time. One of the highlights of biking all day is relaxing afterwards and that is exactly what we did. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 6: Moose Jaw to Regina 77km 

Sunday,  May 6

Sunny and warm. 26C 

Both of us were excited to get on the bikes today and without our trusty vehicle we didn’t have much choice. With another warm day instore we decided to get an early start. 

It was 8am when we left downtown Moose Jaw and our motel was on the trans Canada so all we had to do was ride east. After almost two hours of riding we stopped at a gas station for a break and a snack. After that we felt a little more energized and the wind seemed to be helping us along. 

Our route, not surprisingly, was relatively flat. Compared to some of the inspiring landscapes we’d seen in the past few days, today’s was fairly typical. Farms, fields and big skies. Plus the sporadic pulse of passing traffic. 

We could see Regina on the horizon,  but it took us almost two more hours to actually arrive there. As with most of our bike trips we encountered construction, but this time it was smooth sailing. 

 It was hot by this point in the day and we were both relieved to be off the road by 2 o’clock. We found our room and our supper and retired for the day. Hopefully our legs will appreciate the rest. 

Spring 2018 Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 5: Sightseeing in Southwest Saskatchewan 

Sunny and warm. 25C 

From Swift Current heading east we saw ice covering part of Reed Lake. It’s been above 20C for the past week!

Then in Chaplin we saw what looked like a ski hill…

Turns out it was a salt mine.

We had a lovely drive south to Coronach and stopped for a roadside picnic along the way in the Cactus Hills.

From Coronach we eventually found Castle Butte after getting turned around in Big Beaver.

Castle Butte – a rock formation composed of sandstone, clay and coal – is an important landmark in  the low lying transportation route called Big Muddy. It is also one of Saskatchewan’s seven wonders.

And our last sight to see for the day was Roleau aka Dog River from the TV show Corner Gas.

The tour around town is self guided, but it was quite interesting. 

When we finally arrived back in Moose Jaw we found a place to stay and then dropped off our rental Jeep. We are officially biking in the morning! 

Spring 2018: Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 4: From Swift Current by car…

The Great Sandhills

With a few more sights to see before we begin cycling east, we packed a lunch and hopped in the Jeep to go see some of the Great Sandhills. Unlike anything I expected to see in Saskatchewan,  the sand hills seem to appear from nowhere. 

A top of one hill is a makeshift shrine of a man and his boots. A rancher of the area with a passion for the land started this boot – archway before he passed away 10 years ago.

In some places all you could see was sand and sky and the smell of sage lingered in the wind.

Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park 

After our picnic at the Sandhills we retraced our morning route before turning off on a dirt road to wind our way to the historic river crossing. 

We drove past here yesterday but didn’t quite have time to stop so I was excited to get a chance to stop to look around. 

We hiked a trail around the landing and we saw the hills around the river up close. There were Cacti growing in the grass as well as remnants of indigenous camp rings and wheel ruts from settlers wagons.

The landscape was simply stunning and left a lasting impression on us. That impression stayed with us until we returned back to Swift Current where we found a tick at the dinner table. We promptly went into tick removal mode and both came out clean.

Another inspiring day.

Spring 2018: Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 3: Saskatoon to Swift Current by car

Thursday, May 3rd

Sunny, warm and Windy W, 22C

Although we flew into Saskatoon we actually had planned to do some sightseeing in the southwest corner of the province. We thought about riding our bikes to get there, but with today’s strong west wind, plan B went into effect. 

So we rented 4 wheels and hit the road arriving in Swift Current in time for supper.

Before we picked up the Jeep in Saskatoon this afternoon we walked downtown to the bike shop one last time for a few bits. Then we walked back to the hotel to check out for 11am. After that we took another ride along the river until it was time to pick up our ride.

We stopped for a roadside picnic west of Saskatoon and then drove on through Biggar, Rosetown and Kyle. The landscape was so open and beautiful, especially crossing over the river at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.

During supper in our room at the Safari motel we began hatching more plans…

Spring 2018: Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 2: In and around Saskatoon 37km

Tuesday, May 2. Sunny and warm again. 20C 
Since neither of us really did much riding this Spring we are training for this trip as we go. By slowly increasing increasing our distances we figure that we can actually do this!

Breakfast at the hotel was typical, but the bacon was nice and crispy. After we ate we hopped on the bikes and rode downtown to Riversdale to check out the farmers market and pre-scout our lunch. Wandering around the neighbourhood we found a nice bike shop which we hung out in for a while. We also saw some unique street furniture including vintage tree well grate covers and a bike pump stand.

Our lunch inspiration held up and the smoked salmon and German dill potato salad was delicious. We ate on a bench in the sun. Afterwards we walked around downtown and the elm lined streets reminded us of Vienna. 

Back on the bikes and back to the river trail. We decided to stretch out some other muscles.

North of the city is an important indigenous site called Wanuskewin Heritage Site. Located on the banks of Opimihaw Creek and the South Saskatchewan River it has been a gathering site and bison kill area for thousands of years. Our visit there was short but the ride was nice. We got a little taste of what riding into the wind might be like.

Navigating back to our hotel was also interesting. We left the trail to find a new grocery store and on the way back we had to portage over train tracks and traverse a busy commercial strip through the parking lots.

In just over 24 hours we have seen quite a bit of city. Tommorow we do plan on leaving Saskatoon although it may not be by bike! Stay tuned…

Spring 2018: Saskatoon to Winnipeg 

Day 1: Around Saskatoon 26km

Tuesday, May 1

Sunny and warm 20C

We spent the previous night getting organized and packing our bikes into boxes. Alarms went off at 5am this morning and we were on the road by 6 on our way to the airport. Dad dropped us off on time and after we checked our bikes we had time to eat breakfast. 

We finished our cereal with a great view of the ever – lengthening security lineup. When we were finished eating we wandered down to the other end of the terminal where there was no lineup and breezed through the screening in moments. Then we proceeded to wait near our gate for the boarding to take place.  Our flight actually left half an hour ahead of schedule and both of us caught up on some sleep during the 3hour flight.

Arriving in Saskatoon was a very pleasant airport experience where everything was easy and everybody was friendly and helpful. Our bikes went back together just like clockwork and our hotel for the next 2 nights was only 3 kms away. Pedalling there took 10 minutes. We didn’t expect to still have our cucumber and sliced peppers as we thought they wouldn’t have passed the security screening, but since they did, we ate them for lunch with our leftover bread from yesterday. 

In the afternoon we took our bikes out to explore the city without most of our overflowing luggage. We found our way to the Meewasin trail along the river and rode upstream to the southern edge of Saskatoon and then crossed over the circle road bridge and rode up the other side of the river through the University of Saskatchewan.  The sunshine, fresh air and the pedalling was making us tired and hungry again so we crossed back across the river on a rail trestle with a pedestrian walkway just as a freight train went rumbling past. We retraced our earlier approach through Woodlawn cemetery and then wound our way through the dust clouds and the dirt roads and in between the concrete barriers back to our hotel on the busy street.

Before we got too lazy we changed clothes and then walked to the nearby grocery store for our supper. Both of us were craving some juicy kind of salad and within no time were back in our room eating in bed. With the time change here the hockey game starts early but the sun is still out. Both of us are going to sleep well tonight. 

August in the Ottawa Valley (6 in the 613) 198km 

Day 6: Kemptville to Merrickville 22km

Saturday, August 19

Partly cloudy. 23C
This was the final day of our 6 in the 613 trip. We checked out of the hotel after breakfast and drove to Duncan’s place in Kemptville. From there he showed us a shortcut out to the road. 

The riding was great today and although our route to Merrickville was on the road the traffic was light. 

We caught several glimpses of the Rideau River and stopped for a snack at Burritts Lock where the locks were just about to open. 

Our final leg into Merrickville was a pleasant ride and a great time way to conclude the cycling part of our adventure. Duncan’s wife Suzanne drove our van to meet us for lunch and then we drove her and Duncan home afterwards. 

Don and I were dropped off at the Kingston cottage and Wendy, Glor and Yvonne carried on westward. Plans are already afoot for next year’s 6 trip. 

August in the Ottawa Valley (6in the 613)

Day 5: In and around Ottawa 38km

Friday,  August 18

Cloudy with drizzle. Afternoon rain and finally some sun.

The weather wasn’t as bad as was forecast today so we decided to do some more riding. We took the van to Dick Bell Park on the Ottawa River. Unloaded the bikes and got our rain gear handy.

It was a 15km ride from there to Parliament Hill plus a few more for detours, construction and walking. We ended up in the Byward Market for sandwiches and a selection of fabulous pattiseries. Once we were recharged and recalibrated we rode across the Alexandra Bridge to Jacques Cartier Park to see the Mosaic Canada exhibit.  It was incredible – mixing sculpture with horticulture – even with the sudden down pour of rain.

After seeing the exhibit we made our way back through Gatineau and crossed back over the river on the Pont du Portage. It was a good ride back to where we parked the van and seemed to take no time at all.

We had a short layover at the hotel before going out for supper to a really delicious BBQ joint nearby in Kanata. After getting back to the hotel I’m pretty sure everyone is lazily lounging in their rooms. Another great day.

August in the Ottawa Valley (6 in the 613)

Day 4: Bristol to Quyon QC 27km

Driver: James

Thursday,  August 17

Sunny, 28C
I volunteered to drive the van today and helped everyone get ready for the road. After everyone left I figured I had at least an hour to get to the ferry dock in Quyon, which we thought was a little over 10km from Pine Lodge. Once I left the lodge I took the scenic route through Norway Bay and then ended up on some gravel roads. At one point I thought I might have gotten turned around somehow, but eventually I came across the highway. 

Quyon wasn’t that far after all and when I got to the ferry I enjoyed the strong cell signal and posted the pictures from the previous day’s blog.  Wondering what to do next I checked the bike route and discovered that it was almost 20km. That meant that I wouldn’t be expecting everyone for a little while longer. So I got my bike off of the  rack and got ready to ride out to meet them. After pedaling 5km up and out of town along La Route Verte I saw them approaching. 

I joined up with the pack and we rode back to the van. Moments later the ferry was coming in so we got ready to cross. Once we were on the other side I parked the van and we all loaded our bikes in and onto the van. It was time for lunch. 

We found some good food in Carp at a cafe and a pizza place. After lunch we drove to the Diefenbunker for a tour of the cold war museum.

The bunker was very interesting. Definitely worth checking out.

Next it was time to check into the hotel and get cleaned up before driving to chez Nye’s Bill and Liz’s) for a swim and a BBQ. 

We were a little late getting there, but are hosts were gracious. The pool was lovely and the food was delicious. After dinner we had great conversation.  All in all it was a wonderful visit.

August in the Ottawa River Valley (6 in the 613)

Day 3: Fort Coulonge QC to the Pine Lodge, Bristol QC: 50km

Wednesday, August 16

Sunny and warm. 27C 

Yvonne and Glor volunteered to be the drivers today, so after breakfast at the hotel they drove us back to the trail access in Fort Coulonge where we left off yesterday. It didn’t take long to unload the four bikes and then we were on our way. 

The trail was paved to begin with which was great to start on, but soon turned back to gravel dust. Then it got a little soft in places and began to ascend. We carried on. 

We kept in touch with our drivers throughout the morning by text and tracked each other’s progress. At our preplanned lunch stop we were pedalling in a good rhythm so we decided to keep riding for another half hour. There were many rest stops along the way – complete with benches, tables and bathrooms – and the one we chose for lunch was in full sun. 

During lunch we learned of a bakery in the next town so we were eager to stop there for dessert. After that we only had a short distance to ride on the trail before turning off and heading south along the road to the Pine Lodge Resort. 

We knew that our cabins for the night would be rustic, but we didn’t realized that they hadn’t been maintained since 1940 when they were built. Now this is possibly overstating their condition, although rotten deck boards in one, a hole in the bathroom floor in another and a screen door hanging off its hinges is just describing how we found them. Thankfully the cabins are nestled amidst a towering pine forest and the lodge at the resort has several amenities including a golf course – where Yvonne and Glor played 9 holes while the four of us were completing our ride. We are also situated very close to the beach and we took full advantage of it when we all reunited. 

And the water was quite warm albeit a little shallow. 

After playing in the water we were invited back to Don and Duncan’s for pre-dinner cocktails. More good times ensued. 

Then all of us made our way up to the main lodge for dinner. The building is still impressive and it must have been something else back in the day. There is a player piano and a jukebox which we were all looking forward to hearing, but unfortunately it was broken. Dinner was alright and the service too. Again it was eight o’clock by the time we had finished eating and someone suggested playing cards. Someone suggested a quick walk to the beach and someone suggested having a fire. We accomplished 2 of the 3 suggestions leaving the card game for another night. 

The campfire started without a hitch and then “Party Don” pulled out his party-phone full of funny jokes. He had all of us in stitches including himself after a few of them. I think we’ll all be feeling our stomach muscles in the morning from laughing moreso than our legs from riding. This will definitely be a memorable day.

August in the Ottawa River Valley (6 in the 613 for the 150)

Pembroke to Fort Coulonge: 47km

Tuesday,  August 15

Hazy with sun and some clouds. 26C

It took us a little longer to get organized today than I thought it might, but after our continental breakfast we headed to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for our picnic lunch. Not much was calling out in the store so we also stopped at Tim H’s. Back at the motel we were ready to get riding. Don was driving the van today – which would ultimately meet us in Fort Coulonge – but would ride back from there to meet us along our route. So the 5 of us set off on our bikes and he drove past and down the road. 
We pedaled along the highway a short distance to the bridge that crosses over the Ottawa River and into Quebec, onto L’Isle-aux-Allumettes. There was a quiet road to ride on there and we followed it along for over 20km before arriving in Waltham for our lunch stop. Don was right on schedule, coming from the other direction. 

After a lovely and buggy lunch at a covered picnic table it was time to finish our ride. The rest of our journey was along a rail trail in Route Verte Cycloparc PPJ. The trail was in pretty good shape and we saw some wildlife and some great views of Lac Coulonge. 

Riding along the shore…

Once we arrived at the van in Fort Coulonge we loaded up the bikes. Next on our agenda was a trip to Coulange Falls Aerial Park. We went to see les chutes and ended up on the zip-line!

Here is Glor hanging around over the gorge..

And Don running up the plank on our second crossing. 

After that we did a walking tour of the old log driving route and got a spectacular view of the falls.

By this time we were getting hungry again and ended up at Finnigan’s restaurant for round two. Everyone was satisfied and tired from our exciting day of adventure. Oh look, it’s bedtime… 

August in the Ottawa River Valley (6 in the 613 for the 150)

Ajax to Kingston to Kemptville to Pembroke – by car

In and around Pembroke by bike: 14km

Monday,  August 14

Sunny with some clouds. 25C
Glor, Yvonne and myself met at my parent’s place in Ajax on Sunday night.  We had a big drive ahead of us on Monday so after we spent a little while getting caught up, it was off to bed.
In the morning we were all eager to get going. After breakfast we left the house and made a quick stop at the Kingston cottage and then the Glenburnie grocery store for a picnic lunch. Then we drove another 2 hours to Kemptville where we picked up Duncan and his bike. 

Then more driving,  past Ottawa and on to Pembroke where we’ll be starting our journey along the Ottawa River.  We took a short ride through town to stretch our legs and then made our way back where we stopped at Finnegan’s for supper. 

Everyone was satisfied with their menu choices and we had a great time recounting our travels today. We spent several hours working on a crossword puzzle during the drive and we think we answered it correctly along with a ton of laughs.

We have adjoining rooms in the motel so getting organized in the morning should be a piece of cake. Will keep you posted… 

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City to Montreal: 1,318km

Day 26: Repentigny to Ajax by car

Friday, May 12

Sunny with some cloud. 16C. 

As it turns out, yesterday’s ride would be our final full day of riding on our Spring journey. After pedalling a total of 1318km our bike trip was almost complete.

After looking at the train schedules last night in bed we discovered that the train to Toronto with a baggage car for our bikes left way too early today for us to catch it and we would have to wait until Saturday which meant spending another night in Montreal. We weighed the pros and cons, the dollars and cents and ended up deciding to rent a car instead. 

So when we checked out of our lovely little motel in Repentigny we rode the 7km to the car rental place and picked up our ride back to Ajax. After stocking up on maple flavoured yogurt we set off and thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the car for the 6 hour drive home. We stopped for a picnic lunch and again in Napanee to visit Len’s Bakery. We were back in Ajax in time for a late supper.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City to Montreal 

Day 25: Trois-Rivières to Repentigny 101km

Thursday, May 11

Cloudy, sunny, cloudy, sunny with a strong NE wind. 13C.

It was cool and wet out this morning, but by the time we were leaving the hotel the light rain had seemed to stop. We kept our rain ponchos handy to appease the rain God’s and set off on our way. Riding west out of Trois-Rivières was busy, but we had a bike lane to ride in and just before we connected with hwy 138 we came across a bakery.

The highway runs inland away from the Saint Lawrence and the wind today created the best possible tailwind we could have hoped for. We blew through Yamachiche and into Louiseville where we had our mid-morning snack.

Between there and Berthierville we sailed along without really having to even pedal the bikes. The sun came out and it was almost warm outside.

We had planned to stay in or near Berthierville for the night, but it was just after noon so we chose to keep riding. Another picnic, this time it was lunch in front of the grocery store and we were fueled up for another jaunt.

We witnessed more flooding along the way and this stretch of hwy 138 was mere inches away from being washed out. The wind was creating whitecaps on the flooded fields and we were thankful that we could get past.

The last 40km took us through Lanoraie, Lavaltrie and Saint-Sulpice before the wind gusts put us down on the edge of Repentigny at the door step of a lovely motel. Walking distance to the IGA (ee-g-ah) we had our supper in our sacs and back to our room by 6 o’clock. Being so close to Montreal now, we checked the train schedule for Friday and it is not ideal. Looks like we might have a change of plans.

Spring 2017 –  Ajax to Quebec City to Montreal 

Day 24: Deschambault to Trois-Rivières 72km

Wednesday, May 10

Mostly cloudy with a sunny break. E wind. 8C.

We were up and out of our hotel in Deschambault after a quick breakfast of toast and a muffin. 9am is our earliest departure time yet. The riding was easy again with no headwind and eventually we had a gentle east wind guiding us along. We tried racing a freighter upstream, but we ended up having to pedal up a hill.

When we crossed the Ottawa River over a week ago the water was quite high, but there hadn’t been any flooding yet. Today we saw first hand how the river simply overflowed near Saint-Anne-de-la-Perade. Even some of the fields on the north side of the highway were flooded too.

After stopping at a local fromagerie we stopped for our morning snack where Riviere Sainte-Anne empties into the Saint Lawrence. 

In Champlain we had another flat tire on Mom’s bike, this time on the front, so after our lunch we put in a new tube. We also crossed paths with our travelling buddy again and have named him simply – bike man. 

Our final 20km into Cap-de-la-Madeleine and then Trois-Rivières was fairly uneventful although we got a pretty good tour of downtown Trois-Rivières while searching for a place to spend the night. We weighed our options carefully and after pedalling across town, found the right spot for us. One of our main demands was having a microwave oven in the room. Where we are staying is also close to the grocery stores and a great bike shop where Mom got new tires.

Curry was on the menu tonight after 4 nights of cold plate salads and it hit the spot. 2 hockey games on tonight so we also got microwave popcorn. Let the games begin.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City to Montreal 

Day 23: Quebec City to Deschambault 68km

Tuesday, May 9

Cloudy with some sun and a light E wind. 10C. 

Today we started the final leg of our Spring ride, Quebec City to Montreal. Our hotel was right on the route so when we left this morning we just turned left and started riding west. There was very little wind today and it was blowing from the east. We couldn’t be happier. 

We are now following Route 5 of La Route Verte along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. The route is predominantly along La Chemin Roy and hwy 138 although there were a few stretches that were not on the road including this steep trek down through the woods to a flight of steps.

There were smooth rolling hills following the shoreline and each little climb was complimented by a swift descent. 

We had a little bike trouble with a pesky, slow leak in Mom’s rear tire. After just pumping it up a few times it was clear that we needed another solution.  Instead of breaking for lunch we stopped again to swap front and rear tires with a new tube in the back and the patched tube in the front. That seemed to work, but parked on someone’s front lawn is not the most ideal place to snack. So we rode on and found a nice spot by the river in Neuville to have our lunch.

It was cold by the water, but we could actually feel warmth from the sun which at this point was only thinly veiled by clouds. 

In Donnacona we stopped at the grocery store to get our supper as our hotel tonight is in between towns. We almost picked up a travelling buddy on a bike who seemed to be following us everywhere. After our stop to shop we thought we had left him behind.

Pedalling through Deschambault with was established in 1680, the road narrows and is flanked closely by small and colourful structures. I was too busy taking it in to notice the boulangerie. Only 2km from our destination we saw our buddy riding up ahead,  his fully loaded bicycle was easy to spot. We actually pulled over and pedaled back to a nearby rest stop to ensure we didn’t end up with a house guest for the night. It was nearly 5 o’clock when we pulled up to our hotel and as always it was a sight for sore eyes.

After a delicious salad supper we were spurned with analog TV. No hockey game tonight we figured until we discovered the miracle of WIFI. Huddled in bed wishing we had Zoomies we ate dessert and watched the game. 

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 22: In and around Quebec City 29km

Monday, May 8

Cloudy with some rain and a SW wind. 7C. 

After our relaxing day of rest both of us were looking forward to doing some riding around the city. It was cold and rainy outside and that dampened our enthusiasm a bit, but we decided to go out after breakfast anyway. From our hotel in the western neighbourhood of Saint-Foy we can see both bridges over the Saint Lawrence River.

We rode east along Chemin St-Louis towards downtown and then along Rue Grand-Allee before turning north into Montcalm.

On the north side of the city we found the bike trail along the Saint-Charles River and followed that downstream to the Vieux-Port.

From there the old city was in sight and we stopped for our mid morning snack to look around before carrying on. 

As we headed west back towards Saint-Foy we were pedalling into the wind. We have almost gotten used to riding into a headwind, but not quite.

We pushed our bikes up a steep hill to get back to our neighbourhood and then stopped at the local bakery for our reward. It was another low-key afternoon and we did some planning for the final leg of our journey. Stay tuned. 

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 21: Quebec City Rest Day 0km

Sunday, May 7

Cloudy with rain and a touch of sun. SW wind. 9C. 

Finally a day of rest. Aside from a quick walk to the grocery store – we got absolutely soaked on the way back from a burst of heavy rain – hanging up all of our wet clothes and changing a flat tire, we had a supremely lazy day in our modern looking hotel room. We even have a view of the Saint Lawrence River. 

This is what the room looked like when we arrived… 

And after we settled in…

Other than eating a lot, watching hockey on TV and enjoying a lengthy afternoon nap, we did pretty much nothing all day and it felt great.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 20: Lyster to Quebec City 65km 

Saturday, May 6

Cloudy with spurts of rain and a relentless E wind.

With all the talk of rain over the weekend – it rained heavily overnight –  we just assumed that we’d get a bit wet today. So leaving our lovely cabin in Lyster was bittersweet. After our oatmeal we quickly packed up and were pedalling away by 9:30am, one of our earliest starts yet. We rode the short distance back to the trail and immediately slowed to a crawl on the rain-soaked gravel path. Time for plan B.

Plan B is the hwy, so we pedaled back into town and follow the highway out the other side. After a few minutes, anticipating an eastward turn, we realize with some help from google that we are going the wrong way.  It was a little confusing because hwy 116 winds through town, but we figured it out before travelling too far in the wrong direction. So back into the wind we pedal, a sure sign we are heading east. We pass the trail again and continue along the road until we come to a manned barricade.

Every trip we take we inevitably come across some sort of detour or road closure and our motto is “we don’t do detours.” Here in Lyster today there is a CBC film crew shooting a comedy/discovery show featuring the town and we are told that we cannot get through. Now for Plan C.

Plan C is to take the detour so we check google maps and the next nearest way around is a whole country concession west, then another north and then another east for a total of 5km or so, putting us back on the other side of the film shoot. The wind is already howling from the east and we’ve already been pedalling back and forth in the tiny town of Lyster for twenty minutes. We confer, deciding that we don’t do detours and we ride back to the flagger at the gate. We plead our case and he refuses us passage saying if we wait for a little while that we’ll be able to pass when the film crew breaks.

So we pull up behind the crowd on the sidewalk and watch and wait. The crew is filming and it appears like the camera is pointed right in our direction. I wasn’t sure if the rest of the crowd were extras or spectators, but we were the only ones wearing bright yellow jackets, bike helmets, ear covers and sunglasses. I started to wonder if we were crashing their set? Well, after a few minutes, before I thought to take a picture, we were offered passage by what looked to be the guy in charge. I think some of the nuance of the conversation was lost in translation but we took our cue and pedaled through as the crowd parted. As we escaped their street-scene set the comedic, big band music continued to blare. We made it through and down the street. Then we turned east, into the wind. 

As I mentioned before, the wind was relentless today, even pedalling on the smooth surface of the highway, we just couldn’t get up to our normal cruising speed. The traffic wasn’t terrible, but it made for an overall unpleasant experience.  At least we were approaching the end of our journey to Quebec. We tried the trail again for a bit, then the road again. At one point we rode along the trail where it was paved and then got off when it turned back to gravel. After passing through Saint-Etienne de Lauzon we intersected the Route 1 trail again and it was paved.

After following the trail for awhile we saw signs for the Parc des Chutes de Chaudiere and although we were exhausted, decided to make a quick side trip to see the falls.

Les chutes were even more raging today with all of the recent rain and the spray in the air was threatening to get us wet. The wind was blowing so hard that whitecaps were forming on the surface of the river, seeming to push the water upstream.

Back into the wind we rode for our final push to Le Pont du Quebec. The signs at the bridge suggest you walk your bike and that is exactly what we did.

The walkway is narrow and the wind was whipping so fiercely that it almost undressed us on our crossing. I was tempted to stop for a photo or two,  but I didn’t want my camera/phone pulled from my grip into the Saint Lawrence River. 

After crossing, our hotel was nearby and we checked in and flopped onto our respective beds. After 5 hours of pedalling – not including breaks – we had arrived. It was a short walk to the nearby grocery store followed by supper in bed. Tomorrow we are taking a day off.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 19: Victoriaville to Lyster 49km 

Friday, May 5

Cloudy with light rain showers and a slight E wind. 9C.

Both of us woke up today eager for breakfast. The hotel had a very nice dining room and a better than average spread of food. With rain on the way we didn’t delay and were on the road before 10 o’clock. We found the trail with no difficulty and set off on Route 1.

The trail surface was in good condition and the trail itself was straight like an arrow. 

In Princeville we went under an overpass covered in graffiti and stopped to take some pictures with my SLR – film camera. Hopefully there will be some interesting results. 

Knowing that there was an IGA in Plessisville, we stopped to shop for our supper. Soup is on the menu again because it is cold and wet outside and we also know that our cabin in Lyster comes with a microwave. We were already carrying our lunch and stopped at noon for a trailside picnic.

As usual the final 20km was a struggle.  The trail surface seemed slower, like little hands were grabbing our wheels, preventing us from getting any speed. Turns out we were also gradually climbing and so we felt almost powerless. After a few short breaks we were almost in Lyster. The last few kilometres went by fast as the rain started to intensify a bit. We found the cabins were we are scheduled to stay and were pleasantly surprised with both the location –  right by the river – and the interior. 

We have the large cabin which is beautifully appointed including a full kitchen, sitting room and separate bedroom. It was a lot more than we were expecting. 

After a short walk to the nearby marche we were back in the cabin with everything we needed by 4 o’clock. We spent a few minutes ridding the place of some unwanted guests and an hour or so planning our weekend accommodations including tomorrow’s approach into Quebec City.

Ladybug infestation!

Supper was as exciting as we’d hoped it would be including our leftover bread from Boulangerie Montagne. It was hard to stay awake after we ate, but we lasted until 10 o’clock. We’ll be sad to leave our cabin in the morning, but a weekend in Quebec City sounds like fun too.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 18: Richmond to Victoriaville 55km

Thursday, May 4

Sunny with a mild SW wind. 15C. 

Morning came quick after our long ride and Kate supper yesterday.  After a short walk, we ate the last of our yogurt and granola in our room before packing up for our departure. 

Because the trail was in such rough shape yesterday we have opted to stick to the road today. We wound through town and picked up hwy 116 which had us pedalling up and out of Richmond. Ultimately our ride up and out of the Saint-Francois River valley was a 4km climb which left us huffing, puffing and stopped to peel off a few layers of clothing. The next few kilometres weren’t as steep of a climb as we seemed to plateau before cresting at the summit.

There before us was an absolutely spectacular view of the countryside. Rolling hills, distant farms and fields upon fields almost as far as we could see. Each field a finger, interlocking like hands on a lap. The pine and spruce trees blue in the distance, covering the hilltops like woolen caps. 

The view was certainly worthy of photographing, but our descent started unexpectedly and within no time we were freewheeling down through the valley at 50km/h. For 5km we plunged lower and lower all the while soaking in the serene vista. At the bottom we pulled off the highway at a trail access point with wide eyes and wild grins. The cruel climb to start our day now seemed completely worthwhile. 

From there we followed the flat trail into Danville where we stopped at the tourist information centre for a map and a chat. Then we ate our lunch at a picnic table in the shade. 

Despite our rough ride on the trail yesterday we decided to give Route 1 another chance.  The surface of the trail is much better in the section we are riding today and after our massive climb this morning we are quite happy pedalling along on the old rail bed.

Next was Warwick and then the final 20km into Victoriaville. When we arrived in the city we stopped just in time to recalibrate our directions and then left the trail to find our hotel. 

We got checked in early compared to yesterday and got directions to a bakery a little ways away. Once we settled in to our room we put on our walking shoes and dress up clothes and went out in search of the bakery and our supper. Long story short, after walking 7km we arrived back at the hotel with two full shopping bags of foodstuffs. We spent the next few hours eating and are already looking forward to the hotel breakfast in the morning.  Sweet dreams. 

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 17: Magog to Richmond 82km

Wednesday,  May 3

Sun, cloud, rain with a SW wind. 8C.

The day started with some bike maintenance – cleaning our chains – after yesterday’s gritty ride.

Our ride started with us navigating out of Magog  along the trail “La Montagnarde” and we climbed up and up for awhile. 

We did come down there other side and luckily someone else had already cleared the path.

There was smoke on the water by Lac Magog, although it was just a nearby resident burning some brush.

Approaching Sherbrooke we passed another “chute” along the Magog River.

Our modest picnic by Lac des Nations. Crispbread, Camembert, apples and peanut butter. It was chilly in the wind.

After finding our route out of Sherbrooke we pedaled on Hwy 143. It wasn’t very scenic, but it was direct. From Windsor we found Route 1 of La Route Verte and started the final 20km of our ride. The trail was rough, soft, wet, slow and flooded out in parts.

We carried on anyways and it took forever to get even 5km.

When we could, we got back on the road and pushed the final distance.  It was after 5pm when we arrived in Richmond and we stopped at the grocery store on the way to our beds. Tonight we are staying in the old train station and it is pretty interesting both inside and out.

With hardly anytime to unwind, it is bedtime again. Maybe tomorrow will be a shorter ride?

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 16: Grandby to Magog 65km

Tuesday, May 2

Cloudy with some sun and sprinkles of rain. 16C.

The overnight rain stopped like clockwork by 8 o’clock this morning. After a short walk around the neighbourhood we were back at the hotel for breakfast. It took us a little longer to pack up our stuff this morning because just about everything we were carrying was unpacked and hanging up to dry lastnight. Once we checked out – leaving a trail of sand and grit in our wake – we found our way back to the Route Verte #1. After riding through some light industrial, we found ourselves cruising down a lovely tree covered trail.

We stopped in at the tourist info centre and picked up a couple of maps and then carried on out of town. Mont Bromont in the distance was an indication of what was in store. 

Thankfully the rail trail has a gentle incline although we were ascending for close to 30km until we reached Waterloo. Lunch was next on our list, but the tourist office was closed so we went into town in search of a bathroom. We ended up going into what we thought was a coffee shop, but it was actually a fast food restaurant and I ended up with a hot dog with coleslaw on top. Not a bad surprise. We ate lunch under a gazebo at the Town square and there was a fleeting rain shower. 

After lunch the rain stopped and we started our journey again. Our trail turned to gravel and then threw us a few hills. Then we were spat out onto a road with a few more hills. Approaching another steep up a sign pointed us left avoiding the hill but forcing us onto a wet dirt road. Half sinking in the soft surface we climbed and bombed several hills. This route we nicknamed Peanut Butter Road. Once we got unstuck we had a great view.

Thankfully we were able to divert to hwy 112 before reaching Eastman and it was paved with pretty good shoulders to ride on. Again we stopped at the info centre for maps, water and a photo.

The final 15km to Magog were fairly fast along the highway with a few ups and several big downs. Without much trouble we found the motel we had chosen,  the grocery store and the way out of town tomorrow.  We are curious how our legs will feel in the morning. 

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 15: Chambly to Granby 49km

Monday, May 1

Rainy with an E wind. 12C. 

The rain started overnight and was coming down when we peeked out the window this morning.  We stayed in bed a little while longer until it was really time to get up. No microwave, kettle or coffee maker so no oatmeal this morning.  The tap water was pretty hot so I made a cup of tea in a tupperware container. After we got the bikes out of the garage we loaded our bags under cover in front of the motel.

Once we hit the road we crossed over the Richelieu River and found our way through town onto the bike path. La Route des Champs is a regional velo route that branches off from La Route Verte’s Route 1. It started off as crushed gravel and despite being a bit soggy from all of the recent rain, it was in fairly good condition. It made for a messy ride and we were both wet from the waist down in no time. On the outskirts of Marieville we spotted the Tigre Geant and stopped for breakfast in the parking lot after buying some granola there.

When we picked up the trail again on the other side of town we could see it going straight away into the distance. 

After 15km of pedalling uphill, into the wind, in the rain on soggy gravel we were elated when in the middle of a farmers field the trail  turned to asphalt. The pedalling was still challenging as we approached Mont Yamaska in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford. After cresting the low rise we seemed to descend slightly towards Granby. When we passed through the tunnel we knew we were just about there.

In Grandby we slogged our soggy selves into the hotel lobby and negotiated a room for the night. In the room we draped our wet stuff off of every conceivable surface and turned the bathroom into a drying room by cranking up the thermostat. 

The rain held off for a bit while we walked to the nearby grocery store. Soup is on the menu tonight and we plan on using our microwave to the fullest. A lot more rain is expected overnight, but the sun is rumoured to reappear by morning.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 14: Montreal to Chambly 44km

Sunday, April 30

Cloudy with afternoon showers and an E wind. 7C. 

Yesterday while planning the rest of trip we decided to change our route a bit. We are going to ride to Quebec City by way of the Eastern Townships instead of following along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence.

 So today instead of heading north out of Montreal we turned south and then crossed the Pont de la Concorde onto Ile Sainte Helene. 

In hindsight it was fun navigating our way across to Longueuil, but at the time it was taxing.

We pedaled past what was part of the Olympic village – Habitat – and around the island before crossing onto Ile Notre-Dame. We got to ride on part of the Formula One race track and after a few quick turnarounds we made it to Longueuil. 

Lost in Longueuil. Trying to find our way onto the correct velo route that would take us to Chambly we seemed to get stuck in a particular subdivision going round and round the same streets. With a little perseverance we finally escaped and made it across town and back onto route 1 of La Route Verte. 

We had our mid – morning snack at 1:30pm in a park on the route. It started to rain so we put on our rain gear to finish our ride to Chambly. Before arriving in town we pedaled along a lovely, treelined street. 

We found the motel, and even though we are paying more for less than we did in downtown Montreal on a Saturday night, we are thankful to be off the road for the day. We walked over to the Maxi grocery store to see what would be for supper. Judging by the amount of people shopping there and the amount of stuff they were buying, we thought that maybe we missed the news about the coming apocalypse. Down the street at the Metro it was similar,  like people only shop on Sundays here. Weird.

It didn’t stop us from procuring another delicious meal. We are eager to get going in the morning and the rain in the forecast will only inspire a nice warm supper tomorrow night.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 13: Coteau du Lac to Montreal 77km

Saturday,  April 29

Sunny with a very strong WSW wind. 18C.

Last night our neighbours at the motel weren’t “the clomps” after all,  they were “the romps” and their lovers quarrel went on until well after midnight. We got to sleep eventually, but probably didn’t get as much as we should have.

In the morning we said au revoir to Motel des Erables and set sail for Vaudreil. The wind pushed us along down the long straight pathway along the canal. There were lots of other people walking and cycling the trail on this beautiful Saturday morning.  

Since spring has sprung all sorts of animals and critters have come to life including the frogs who were singing away as we passed this soggy pond.

Approaching Vaudreil our path veered northwest and we got a taste of the wind we had been pedalling with. In town we turned east again and crossed the Ottawa River before stopping for our morning snack in a mall parking lot with a pile of dirty, stubborn snow melting in it.

From here on out we pedaled almost exclusively on bicycle paths heading into Montreal. When we were on the road we had our own lanes and the drivers really give way to cyclists. The cycling infrastructure in Quebec has always impressed me with both its practicality and its design – like this curly q down ramp from a bridge over a canal.

I also love the state of mind that comes from a strong cycling culture. These signs were posted along a residential street that was teeming with people on bikes.

The wind was so strong today that the waves were lapping up onto the shore. We almost stopped at this little green space,  but the wind was just too much.

The wild wind in combination with the high water levels resulted in our pathway being flooded out in a couple of spots.

The last several kilometres into the city centre were crawling with people. The nice weather seemed to have brought everybody out in one way or another and navigating through them all was challenging. As we approached the old city the business was compounded by the wandering tourists who don’t quite know how to stay off of the cycle-paths. We were patient, but were running out of steam. We found our little hotel with little trouble and got settled in. 

After a quick trip to the nearby grocery store we prepared our supper and ate. I slipped into a post-meal coma and woke up refreshed, but still exhausted. We spent the evening relaxing and discussing the plan for our next few days. Sounds like we’ll be doing it a little differently than we had originally planned. Stay tuned.

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 12: Cornwall to Coteau du Lac 69km

Friday, April 28

Sunny with a strong SW wind. 19C.

A tailwind had been forecast for today and they were correct. For only the second day of our trip we would be pedalling with a tailwind. 

Once we left the motel we rode into the wind on the trail west to the edge of down before turning south and down along Cornwall’s waterfront. 

The trail is in great shape and passes by a power dam, the International Seaway bridge, the Downtown, Saint Lawrence College, a sportsplex, a theatre and the marina. There are other trails splintering off here and there too. 

We covered a lot of ground with the wind at our backs today and after riding 20km we stopped in a park parking lot for our morning snack. 

With the weather warming up over the last several days we have been watching the leaves slowly start to emerge in the woods.

It was nice to refuel, but the pedalling came easy today. We were travelling twice as fast as we had been on most of this trip.

After 50km we stopped for lunch on the Quebec border. We did start to tire so we decided not to push ourselves too much. We chatted with a group of cyclists heading to Montreal from Toronto and then let pass us on their way. After 2pm the roads got busy and we got off them. 

Our motel for tonight is quaint and not quite the quiet luxury of last night’s room. It is nestled alongside Hwy 20, our refrigerator makes strange noises and the clomps might be staying next door.

We found our first boulangerie which was exciting and bought quiche for supper and made a salad too. 

We are fairly resourcful while travelling. We have carry out own dishes, cutlery, sink and soap. Tonight we improvised a dish rack. 

Friday night in Coteau du Lac!

Spring 2017 – Ajax to Quebec City 

Day 11: Morrisburg to Cornwall 45km

Thursday, April 27

Fog then sun and humidity with an E wind. 27C.

Every trip we do we come up with a motto and for this trip it might be ” In to the Wind!” Heavy fog rolled in off the lake overnight as warm air from the south blew over the cold water of the Saint Lawrence. It was still cool when we left Morrisburg,  but as the temperature warmed up the fog lifted.
Because we were riding into the wind again, we decided to break our distance into sections of 10km. This strategy made the riding easier and some great scenery and some sunshine helped too. 

The first ten took us from Morrisburg to the Chrysler Farm battlefield memorial. 

The second ten kilometres took us through Upper Canada Village which wasn’t open for the season yet and then along a beautiful trail through the woods.

The whole time we were almost always within view of the water.

Such a nice change from riding along the highway. 

At twenty kilometres we stopped for our morning snack in a campground and then the next ten kilometres were pedalling along the Saint Lawrence Sea-way. We still struggled into the wind, but the sunshine kept us distracted enough that we just kept pedalling along.

Finally the last leg of our journey was a paved bike path running parallel to highway 2 that took us right into Cornwall. We have stayed here before so we’re familiar with where we were going. After we checked in we ate lunch in our room and then relaxed for awhile.  

When it was time to go out for dinner we walked over to the grocery store only to find that it was closed for good. Gone. After asking around we were directed to another store further away and by the time we stopped and walked back to our room 2 hours had gone by. It was also 27C by this time so we were hot, tired and hungry. 

Not to worry, we had a fabulous two course meal with two baseball games and two hockey games. Not only do we know how to eat, we know how to rest.