An update on the last few days is needed. Haven’t written much because it was really worrying what was happening with Friedel’s ankles, so much so we thought the trip might be over at one point.
After reaching Quebec City, we spent two nights in the area, one at a B&B in Cap Rouge and then the next day moving 15km into the city itself to stay at another at a little hotel just behind the Chateau Frontenac, which was surprisingly cheap ($94) for its location.
Friedel’s ankles continued to hurt, but she thought they were improving and so on Sunday morning we headed out again. Took the ferry across to Levis ($5.20/2 bikes) and then picked up the Route Verte, which is a dedicated path for cyclists, walkers and rollerbladers, of which there were quite a few on a Sunday.
It wasn’t long though before Friedel was in real pain again and we really didn’t enjoy any of the magnificent scenery as it really hurt with every stroke. There is a saying “it shouldn’t hurt to cycle” and Friedel knew she had to stop, but we didn’t see any campgrounds so we pushed on for 50km, until we finally reached one just outside Montmagny. We decided the best thing would be to go to the local hospital the next morning to get a diagnosis and then decide what to do.
It wasn’t good news.
The doctor said Friedel had tendinitis in both ankles and that the cause of this could be anything from too much activity too soon to a body that just wasn’t meant for the repetitive activity of cycling. He wrote out a prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and said a few days of rest were needed. We were both gutted at the idea of not being able to continue, but again Friedel thought her heels were feeling slightly better and so after getting the drugs and lunch at our first Tim Hortons (a real sign of home!) we decided either stubbornly or stupidly – maybe both – to carry on slowly.
Amazingly, the ankles have held out and we are hopeful taking this as a sign that we just did too much, too soon. They are still not quite right, but so much better than before and not really painful. So we rolled on, out of the cornfields and into hillier and more forested terrain as we approached Riviere du Loup. Now, instead of water mills to grind flour, we saw wood sculpturers en masse and galleries filled with oil paintings.
We have been amazed by the scenery throughout this trip and there is no doubt this is another beautiful part of the world with the river flowing right by so many doorsteps, it’s not hard to see where the artists get their inspiration.
It’s also a place where people are very proud of their heritage and we visited a few museums, including one on wood carvers and how they do their work (Musee des Anciens Canadiens near Saint Jean Port Joli) and another on one of the fathers of confederation, Jean Charles Chapais, near Saint Denis.
Monday night was spent at a campground in Saint Jean Port Joli (about 50km done that day) and Tuesday night we spent in a fantastic B&B in Kamouraska, Auberge des Iles, as there were no campsites to be found (covered about 55km).
We have seen really very little in the way of spots where you could do some wild camping. Pretty much the whole coastline is taken up by houses or open fields. Perhaps if we got off the beaten track we would find a place, but with my ankles we are just sticking to the main route. There is no energy in them for “extra” kilometers.
The B&B proved to be a good choice. It wasn’t too expensive ($76/night including tax and breakfast) and the dinner we had there was excellent. Andrew had a greek salad and pizza and I had a salad followed by a salmon and shrimp plate. Our meal came with a fantastic loaf of bread, fresh from the oven, and really we feasted that night! It was a nice change from meals on our campstove, which have been good but fairly simple, limited mostly to couscous or pasta with some sort of packaged sauce.
The next morning we were up and out the door by about 9am for our last day alongside the St Lawrence. Just a few kilometers down the road, we met a fascinating man. We’d spotted him from some distance back, cycling slowly along, and it wasn’t long before we were alongside him. He had a simple CCM mountain bike, a couple back panniers and a strange parcel on one side of the bike, along with a Quebec flag and a sign that read “dieu vous benisse”. We said ‘bonjour’ and he said ‘hello’ so we rolled along with him for a few kilometers to find out what he was doing.
He was Richard, and amazingly had been cycling 6 months out of the year for the past 12 years. He funded his trips not by working, he said, but by playing Christian hymns and songs on his trumpet for donations. Friedel asked him if he would do an interview with her and he kindly obliged, so we talked by the side of the 132 and even had a trumpet concert over the fields leading to the river. You can read more about Richard and his mission.
After about an hour with Richard, we headed back on the road, stopping briefly at a local brasserie to sample their wares. Before long we were in Riviere du Loup, stopped for provisions at the IGA and then carried on, over a huge hill, to the rail trail. We’re about 16km in on the trail now, which runs 130km from Riviere du Loup to Edmunston.
The first part is all uphill, but never at a grade of more than 4 percent, and in another 30km or so it’ll be all downhill to Edmunston! They have water along the route, signs to local shops and even a few wild camping spots so it’s all very well signed and thought out for cyclists.