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.


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 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 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.