Day One: Quebec City to Levis – 30km
Monday, June 3rd.
Sunny with clouds 20C
We arrived at Billy Bishop Airport with plenty of time to spare and it’s a good thing because I set off the explosive chemical detector. The three of us got separated in the security screening process and it was so much fun I decided to Exit the lounge and do the security screening again. Found Mom and Glor in a bit of a panic, they thought I had been taken away by security. The trip got a little better with some complimentary water, coffee and nuts. The flight was nice and short with a small snack and we got a great view coming into Quebec City.
After landing and claiming our bikes we set up shop outside to reassemble them. Met a local couple who were out for a bike ride and we chatted for quite awhile. They reconfirmed our route from the airport to the Pont du Quebec which would take us across the Saint Lawrence river. So we set off and were making good time when Mom noticed that one of her pedals was feeling funny.
We stopped to take a look and the pedal was crooked and cross threaded. After loosening it off all the remaining threads were shredded. A man had stopped to offer assistance and he tried a little duck tape to get the pedal snug. That didn’t really work. So as we have learned, if in doubt try a stick. We jammed one in and that got us going a little further until it broke so we put another one in. Eventually Mom got the hang of just pedaling with one foot.
After walking up a long hill we finally crested and were coasting down and across the bridge. It was a single narrow lane and soon a lineup of other cyclists had formed behind us. No photo op on this crossing. Once across we were in Levis. It was 6pm now so we decided to stop for groceries and try to find our hotel for the night. We all rolled over a big patch of broken beer bottles and sure enough Moms rear tire was flat. It was a quick change and we were back on the bikes in no time.
The sun was setting now and we had a picturesque view of Quebec.
Finally made our way up from the shore to where all the accommodations are and found Hotel Kennedy. At 9:20pm we were in the room and eating supper. A nice salad plate with crackers cheese and brown beans. We only pedaled 30km but all our adventures have left us a little tuckered out. In the morning we will see how long it will take to get the bike fixed up so we can carry on. Stay tuned for more…
Day Two: Levis to Montmagny – 64km
Tuesday, June 4th.
Sunny with clouds and a strong tailwind. 11C
First thing after breakfast we went to the bike shop to see if they could fix Mom’s bike. Yes they had the parts but it would take 2 hours to fix. Excellent. We walked back to the hotel and got back in bed.
After relaxing and reading up about our travels we packed up and checked out. Back to the bike shop and the bike was ready. Glor had her gears looked at too and a minor tune up was all that was needed.
Once we were all set and ready to roll again we rode back through town to where we would pick up the trail again. Two more bike shops and a bakery later we were sitting having lunch by the ferry dock in Levis. By 2:30pm we had gone only 4km. So now we were ready to roll.
Only 10km to go and we push hard into Montmagny. I have a slow leak in my rear tire at this point from more glass on the road and I have to stop three times to pump air into the tire. No real trouble finding a place to stay as we went straight to the Florimay where my Mom and I stayed a few years ago on our way from Quebec to Halifax.
Once we check in I patch the tire and then we walk down to the Maxi for groceries. It is 8:30pm at this point and we figure out that we are all craving a bbq chicken but they don’t sell them there. Across the street at IGA we score the last chicken! Combined with tomatoes, grapes, avocados, coleslaw, bread and butter we devour our supper back in the room.
Hockey is on en francais and we work on our respective journals and the blog. Another late night, it’s almost midnight and haven’t even showered yet. We all hope to get an early start in the morning, it would be nice to arrive at our destination before 5pm.
More to come…
Day 3: Montmagny to La Pocatiere 74km
Wednesday, June 5th.
Sunny and clear with a west wind. 15C
Woke up to a sunny morning and another continental breakfast. Mom and Glor were scolded for rummaging around in the kitchen looking for more plain oatmeal. You can’t leave these two alone for long. After eating we packed up and were on the road by 10am. Finally an early start. We rode for an hour or so before spotting a bakery coming into L’Islet.
I had just mentioned chocolate croissants and Boulangerie Gosselin delivered. One of the guys working asked where we were from and it turns out that he had spent nineteen years in Toronto. We took our treats down the road and found a small parkette across the street from the Musee Maritime du Quebec. We passed two couples on tandem bikes and then they passed us. This happened several times today.
Now we knew from a previous trip that there is a great bakery before La Pocatiere. Mom figures it is in the Village des Aulnaies. She’s been raving to Glor about their croissants and cookies. As we pass by this building up river I get hit with deja vu.
I remember the bakery she is talking about now. Situated by a stream, they have a water wheel and make their own flour. The place was really busy when we had gone there and had to eat outside on the steps. It can’t be that much farther to get there so we bypass a couple of potential food stops including Mamie’s Gourmet Patisserie. Now we’ve gone 50km at this point and must be getting close to it. Then up the road we see the dreaded sign, Rue Barre – DETOUR. We stop and talk to the Signal Man. “No way Through,” he says, “It’s only ten miles to go around.”
So it looks like lunch at the bakery will just be dessert. We stop and eat our leftover chicken, an avocado and some cheese we picked up along the way.
Well, by the time we go up over hwy 20 to Sainte Louise, then over and up and through…this is taking forever. We keep on pedaling, 60km, 65km. I notice two cyclists coming up fast from behind and I’m getting ready to take an action shot of them passing us. The guy pulls up beside me and says something in French. I don’t understand but he is holding up a grey jacket. Turns out that it is Glor’s and he found it on the road 2km back. He said he thought it was a dead racoon. Well we get chatting about La Pocatiere, the detour and the bakery. He tells us that because of the road work the bakery is closed all summer. So much for our lovely cookies. After the detour is over our motel is in sight. It is adjacent to a field with some horses grazing.
We check in at the Cap Martin and it’s only 4 o’clock. We relax for a bit and them ride into town on search of groceries. It’s much easier to pedal without our luggage, but all of our legs are tired. We are back in an hour and start prepping supper.
Lettuce, cucumber, carrots, cottage cheese and beans. Our new dinner wear is coming on handy.
It seems strange to be in bed before the sun has gone down but it has been a long day. We are all looking forward to getting into a good rhythm and tomorrow should be another great ride.
Next stop Riviere du Loup…
Day 4: La Pocatiere to Riviere du Loup 74km
Thursday, June 6th.
Sunny with a west wind. 17C
We ate our own breakfast this morning of yogurt and granola outside the motel, watching the horses frolicking. It was just after 10am when we left and we picked up the trail down by the water. Hoping to see the mirrored cubes by the tourist info center, we were surprised to learn that they were only a temporary installation. Another minor letdown. There was some graffiti there so I took a few pictures. We rode for awhile before stopping at a small store in Sainte Denis De la Bouteillerie for some fruit to snack on. We ate in front of the statue of Thomas Chapais, an historian, senator and politician from there.
With a little more fuel in our bellies we carried on heading for Kamouraska where we plan on procuring our picnic lunch. The goal is to have our picnic at a nearby micro brewery with a great view of the river. We climb a slight hill coming into Kamouraska and turn off of the highway to find this breathtaking view.
The road winds down to the water and we get our first taste of ocean air. Reaching the town center we are sad to see that the general store is closed. A few doors down we spot the cafe and go in to find some bread. Pricey croissants, but they’ll go nicely with the cheese, fruit and veggies we are carrying. Just after packing them in our bags we notice that next door is a Boulangerie. Darn!
We can’t resist a look and when we go in we realize that this is what we were really looking for. Olive bread and shortbread cookies and then we cut ourselves off. Outside in the parking lot a woman hears us talking in English and starts conversing. Four of them, sisters and friends are from St. Catherines, Ontario so we get chatting. Susan works in the cycle tourism industry and her sister lives in La Pocatiere. She questions us about our trip and experience, we exchange info and then we all carry on. Another great reason to travel. We are ready to eat now but it is a few more kms to Les Brasseries Breughel. It’s not long before we see the sign.
Set back from route 132, the micro brewery has a beautiful charm to it and we are eager to get our picnic started. One of the proprietors Marie gets us started with samples of smoked salmon and beer. Finally we decide and get settled out on the balcony.
We break out the olive bread, butter, avocado, tomato, cucumber, smoked salmon and the complimentary nuts, raisins and wasabi peas. The beer is delicious, Glor gas the rosee plum blonde and I have the brun forte. The view is more of the same, spectacular, and it takes a while for us to notice that we are being ravaged by black flies.
Once lunch is finished we quickly pack up and organize to leave, but not before one last photo.
Although we all felt like taking a nap we have 30km still to go. This is the hard part. I find its best to break it down into sections. The wind is still pushing us along but our legs are slow. More pedaling, more scenery, another town. 20km. Another climb, another descent, more cows and more horses. 10km. We bypass a big hill and take the low road which hugs the shore and is dotted with beach houses and mansions. We are getting close but we all groan when we see the sign Rue Barre – DETOUR…..
Yesterday was an exception, as a rule we don’t do detours. Mom is adamant that we are going through and gets the attention of one of the workers. Next thing we know, the dump truck pulls away, the excavator stops hacking at the sidewalk and we get a personal escort through the site.
He walks us through, moving this and that out of the way. We walk our bikes down the middle of what once was a road for nearly a kilometer. Home stretch, only 5km to go. Of course there is one more long and rolling climb and then we are in town. Down and around the corner and we are at Motel aux Vieux Piloteux.
It is 6:30pm and we are all ready to settle in for the night. We have leftovers to snack on and journals to write. There is a simmering sunset and we retire to discuss the next leg of our journey.
Tomorrow will be new for all of us. When my Mom and I rode from Quebec to Halifax We turned inland from Riviere du Loup. Now we will be continuing along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence. No more disappointment from unmet expectations. We’re just hoping that the hills aren’t as intense as everyone seems to suggest…
Day 5: Riviere du Loup to Trois Pistoles 58km
Friday, June 7th.
Cloudy with some sun. 17C.
All of us slept in a little today and it was just after 10am when we left the motel. We rode up to the IGA to complete our breakfast and pick up more food for our snacks. On our way out of town we spotted the Bis a Boulange bakery. We couldn’t resist.
We bought a few healthy cookies and a maple pastrie for good measure. We all realize the importance of keeping our strength up. We stopped on the far side of town at the bottom of a hill to eat our breakfast. After eating we powered up the hill only to notice that our bike lane ends. Perhaps we should have followed the Route Verte signs although they seemed to be pointing away from where we are headed. So we turn around and follow the signs down a steep and winding road towards the river. At the bottom, a beautiful bike path emerges that overlooks the Saint Lawrence.
The path leads to a residential street that unfortunately is a cul de sac. It was fun while it lasted. Back along the path, then we push our bikes up the steep and winding road, back to where we started. So we carry on our original route and sure enough our paved shoulder returns in no time. Finally, we are moving in the right direction. Several km later we reach Cacouna and make a quick stop at the post office.
Beginning to make up some time we have a great ride through the countryside with the river and the Laurentians in view. When we reach L’ Isle Verte we are ready to take a break. We snack by some rapids, but it’s not long before the black flies find us. Mom and Glor do their best to keep covered up.
After our break we attempt to take the bike path instead of following route 132. Only one U turn required, unfortunately it was after hiking up another steep hill. Our second try led us to a quiet country road which we followed for at least 10km. So quiet in fact that only one car passed us the whole time. Eventually we made our way back down past the new hwy 20 construction to the 132 which was laden with heavy traffic.
Only 10km to go. Just before Trois Pistoles we picked up the bike path again and it led us along a picturesque and somewhat circuitous route towards town. We came across a sign indicating the Fromagerie des Basque was 0.4km up a rocky slope. Again we pushed our bikes up a hill but this time it was worth it.
At the top we saw the back of the Motel Trois Pistoles and across the street was the cheese factory. We crossed over to a full parking lot and learned that the Fromagerie is open 24 hours. Awesome. Famished again at this point we had no trouble picking out some cheese, bread and smoked trout.
I kept watch over the bikes while Glor and Mom went over to the motel to investigate. Still on the outskirts of town it was not our first choice, but they returned jubilated with the key to room 25.
It didn’t take long to get settled and lay out our spread of food.
After eating it was only 5 o’clock so we relaxed for awhile. Mom and I took a stroll into town while Glor caught up with her people. There was not a lot to see in town although we spotted the hotel we were aiming for and we are thankfull we’re staying across from the cheese factory. On our walk back there was another gorgeous sunset happening.
Back in the room Glor already had the hockey game on and at the second intermission we all walked back over to the Fromagerie. Chocolate éclairs this time. The game is over, everyone is in bed and I am writing this post. Almost finished and ready to wake up to another day of unknown adventure.
Tomorrow should be interesting. We are heading for Rimouski, possibly the hilliest part of our trip. There is also a section of the trail that the National Geographic Society calls “The most beautiful bike path in the world.”
We will let you know what we think…
Day 6: Trois Pistoles to Rimouski 73km
Saturday, June 8th.
Rain and clouds with a north east wind. 11C.
Woke up to rain this morning for the first time on our trip. We bypassed the bakery on the way out of town for the first time too. Trying to get into a good rhythm. We knew we would be pedaling into the wind today so we powered up on oatmeal before we left.
Followed the the 132 for roughly 10km until be turned off in search of the aforementioned “Most beautiful bike path in the world.”
Now no words can really describe it and on this rain and fog filled day, no pictures can either. I will do my best.
None of us were certain exactly where where this portion of the trail started. After we veered off of the 132 we were on a gravel road that decended down towards the water. Quite lovely. We spent the next two hours climbing and diving up one side and down the other of varying heights of hills. The trees were green and the sky and water were grey. We met another rider going the opposite direction and stopped to chat for a bit. Eventually we climbed and crawled our way back within earshot of the highway. Then there was another route marker, maybe this was the trail?
We followed another gravel road for awhile before stopping for a snack. A sign had indicated a lookout in 7km so we were hopeful. Eventually we came to a yellow gate and a narrow, paved trail began. We went up and up and pushed our bikes higher, then we sailed down a steep slope. No sooner had we reached the bottom, we were climbing again. So steep that we would dismount and push our bikes up. There was a lookout marked 120m. Then we rode down and down and then up and up and walking again to the crest to another lookout. 180m. The path wound its way down again with slippery moss covering the pavement we had to be extremely cautious on our descents.
This up and down repeated nearly five times until we reached the lookout at 226m. There was a constructed stairway and viewing platform that hung out over the edge with treetops below and the tiny waves crashing ashore. We rode up one last little bit before a huge steep descent.
Signs marked Caution, next 100m 10% grade followed by Caution, next 100m 15% grade. We must have gone down for nearly fifteen minutes, braking the whole way. It was pretty incredible and entirely exhausting. This trail is more like a roller coaster than a bike path. At the bottom we exited a yellow gate, just as we entered and it was a short ride back up go the highway.
Now it’s almost 2 o’clock and we are exhausted from hiking and pushing our luggage up hills on our bikes. We still have 30km to ride to Rimouski and there is a pretty strong headwind. So yes the trail is beautiful, stunning to say the least. It might have made more if an impression with better weather, but it was like nothing else we had ever seen.
Back up at route 132 the wind was driving in our face and our legs were spent. We crawled along at 15 km/h with vehicle traffic rushing past. Getting to Rimouski seemed next to impossible. After an hour we stopped to refuel, eating what we had left for food. I thought it was funny that within one hour we went from the most beautiful bike path in the world to taking shelter from the wind by huddling behind the back of a gas station.
We got back on the road and set off. There were a few downhills on the way to Rimouski, but there were also ups as well. Amazingly we crawled into town and found our hotel and it was not yet 6 o’clock. Exhausted, but thrilled to be off our bikes we settled in and hung up some of our things to dry.
We decided to treat ourselves to some restaurant food tonight and it just so happens that there was a nice place nearby, some sort of bovine grill. The place was filled to capacity so we had to wait until 9pm to be seated. We killed sometime in the grocery store drooling over just about everything. It was well worth the wait. We all had burgers and fries if some sort and made our way back to our room. Thankfully we have a short ride planned for Sunday. 35km to Grand Metis. We could all use a break and the weather is supposed to be wet and windy again.
Day 7: Rimouski to Saint Flavie 36km
Sunday, June 9th.
Rain with a north east wind. 8C.
Knowing that we would awake to rain today we slept in a little and took our time packing up. We decided that after yesterday’s ride we shouldn’t attempt the 90km to Matane. Instead we would have a short day and rest our legs, knowing that the weather would be more in our favour on Monday.
The hotel provided breakfast, nothing too special and we supplied our own oatmeal and butter. We found a bike path right behind the hotel and it ran parallel to the busy 132. We followed it down to the water and through downtown. After we were moving for awhile we warmed up, so we stopped to adjust our layers of clothing.
It was nice following so close to the water and the smell of salt water was very refreshing. Slowly but surely we started getting wet. Shoes then gloves, but nothing to worry about. The sky looked like it wanted to break but the rain persisted. We thought about investigating alternative means of transportation to see the Gaspe and this looked like a possibility.
This is the Onondaga in Pointe au Pere. There is also a museum for the Empress of of Ireland and the second tallest light house in Canada there. We pedaled on. The next place we passed through was Sainte Luce which looked like a little beach resort with lots of cottages, shops and motels. We didn’t linger mostly due to the weather and we weren’t too far from our destination. Before long we were back on the 132 and after another 10km we arrived in Sainte Flavie.
We found a quaint motel on the 132 with a great view of the Saint Lawrence. Rita, the proprietor recommended a restaurant to eat at and gave us directions to the supermarket as well. The restaurant is called La Rose des Vents and the food was delicious. We all had seafood pasta and loved every bite. After supper we set off up the hill to find the IGA. We came across some interesting sights along the way including this Shepherd and his sheep.
We also passed the Mont Joli airport, a Fromagerie des Basques and numerous gas stations. After about 4km we found the IGA. We went in and picked up our breakfast and snacks for the road. On our way home we passed through this enchanted forest.
We finally made it back to the motel just in time to watch the sunset from our beds. We said good night to our bikes and laughed the night away and recounted the days events.
Tomorrow should be another interesting day and we are looking forward to sunshine and a south west wind!
Day 8: Saint Flavie to Matane 68km
Monday, June 10.
Sunny with a strong south west wind. 21C.
Today was a perfect day for riding. Warm, but not too warm and a tailwind one could only dream of. We all slept soundly last night and woke up to our amazing view of the Saint Lawrence. We were on the road by 9:30am and on our way towards Grand Metis. It was still cool out when we left but we soon warmed up and had to stop to shed some layers. This seemed like the perfect spot to do it.
Sailing along with the wind, we were in Metis sur Mer in no time. We figured we should just keep riding. 20km done already. The wind was so strong that we were traveling at 30km/h on the flats and faster going downhills. We were going faster uphill today than we were pedaling into the wind yesterday.
After 50km we stopped for a quick lunch. Grapes, cucumber, crackers and cheese. Oh no! We left our nice Trois Pistoles cheese in the fridge at the motel… Only 15km to go to Matane.
Once we reached Matane we did some scouting and found a nice motel on the east side of town and it was close to the grocery stores. We got directions to the laundromat and the bike shop. After dropping off our luggage we rode into town to do our errands and then picked up our supper on the way back.
There is a Patisserie next door to the Motel that was closed today, but it opens at 7am and we’ll be there waiting when they open. We are all ready for bed now and eager to set off early tomorrow as the wind is forecast to change direction later in the day.
Bon soir from Motel Campagnard.
Day 9: Matane to Cap Chat 77km
Tuesday, June 11th.
Sunny with a slight north east wind. 17C.
Up nice and early this morning, we were in and out of the Patisserie with some molasses cookies, and on the road by 9am. The day’s ride started out much like yesterday’s, but as we made our way east the hills seemed to get bigger. First rolling and then a few steep ones. We passed through Petite Matane and then Sainte Felicite before taking our first break.
Typically our morning breaks are quick. Firstly because we don’t want to sit for too long and secondly because the black flies find us and we have to keep moving. It never fails either that when we finish our break and start riding again, we always come across a beautiful spot with a picnic table or a bench. If we wait and look for a spot like that, one never appears.
The latter part of our morning seemed to be one hill after another, each one bigger than the next. It seems like we were spoiled yesterday with a relatively flat ride and that awesome tailwind. One good thing about going up a big hill, is coming down the other side.
Somehow we managed to climb the hills today without dismounting. We seem to inspire one another, so if one can do it we all can do it. When we find ourselves with energy to spare we stop and exercise our other muscles.
We made our final push into Cap Chat and found our way to Motel Nootka. We all basically collapsed inside the door and caught a quick nap. There was a tiny diner down the road where we went for dinner. Both Glor and Wendy were excited to finally be getting french onion soup. Unfortunately when the waitress came back she placed two orders of onion rings down on the table. Better luck next time.
Back in our room we did some planning of our upcoming itinerary. I took a walk over to the depaneur for some refreshments and returned via the beach.
There was a sneaky sunset that erupted into hot pink and smoldering red. We all got up out of bed to witness it. We are all working on our journals now and it will undoubtedly be an early night.
PS We have been without cellphone service for three days now and it is bound to continue. Seems like most places we stay in do have wifi so if you want to get in touch, don’t rely on phoning or texting.