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15km – Arrival at Quebec

Posted September 9th, 2006

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated ** WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *After 4 days of cycling, we have made it to Quebec city. We were lucky to have fine weather most of the way, which made the aching muscles a little easier to bear. There is no doubt our bodies are going through a bit of adjustment! Mostly we feel pretty good, helped by the wonderful food we have been eating along the way, although Friedel has been having a bit of grief from her ankles, of all things. Hopefully a day of rest in Quebec city will sort that out. We uploaded a few photos and have even managed to caption most of them.

90km Batiscan – Cap Rouge, Quebec City

Posted September 8th, 2006

Another day where we really pushed our limits, from the flats of Batiscan, over rolling hills of apple orchards and up some steep climbs on the approach to Quebec. The endless fields of corn are now behind us, in favour of the historic city of Quebec.

We didn’t quite make it into the heart of the city, choosing instead to stay at a B&B just on the city limits. Friedel’s ankles were really giving her grief and so we thought it best to stop and give them a rest. Not surprising to have a bit of pain, considering we were on the road for nearly 5 hours today over some quite big hills. Thankfully the wind on our backs helped us out early on in the day.

Aside from the ankles, the rest of our muscles seem to be settling in okay, getting used to the idea that they are going to be tested for a while yet!

We are meeting some really lovely people on our trip. Today we stopped at a farm stand to buy a couple apples for a snack and the owner gave them to us, saying her husband was a cyclist and so she always gave out apples free to passing cyclists.

The scenery is very beautiful as well, with lots of little historic villages and views of the St. Lawrence river. We’ll likely spend Saturday in Quebec, and then carry on across the river to Levis and towards Riviere du Loup on Sunday.

80km Louiseville – Batiscan Marina

Posted September 7th, 2006

Today was our “ouch” day. We knew it was coming, even though we hoped it wouldn’t, and today it hit. Every muscle ached. Our legs felt like lead. It took what seemed like ages to go a few kilometers. Despite the pain, it was a good excuse to make plenty of stops and that is probably what got us so far! We had thought to stop at Champlain, about 50km along, but between stopping for ice cream and a tour of an old water mill along with a good tailwind in the afternoon, we made it all of 80km. Nearly twice as far as we thought we’d make early in the day! Tonight we’re camping at a little site by a marina, made all the better for its restaurant where we were able to get our first beer since hitting the road. And it’s the cheapest place we’ve found so far, at only $15. We’re now only about 96km from Quebec city, where we’re looking forward to a rest day and a nice meal.

63.9km, St Roch sur Richelieu – Louiseville

Posted September 6th, 2006

Up early the next day, through more fields of corn!Between a late start and headwinds most of the day, we didn’t get as far as we’d have liked. We decided it would be a good idea to reorganise our panniers and write down what was in each one, to save us from rooting around each time we wanted something, so that took quite a while and we didn’t hit the road until about 10am. The bikes handle much better though, no more wobbling at slow speeds, so it was definitely worth the effort to rebalance them and it’s also saved much hassle when looking for our kit!

We are learning about cycle touring, slowly, but we’re learning. Much of the scenery today was uneventful. None of the beautiful little towns we saw yesterday, although plenty of corn fields to look at, farm shops for yummy local corn, apples, peaches and other goodies and the roads remained in fairly good shape. We were glad for the good roads and fairly flat landscape as fatigue from yesterday and the winds made the going tough.

After taking a ferry from Sorel to the other side of the St. Lawrence, we continued along the 138. There was always a good shoulder on the road, even if the cars sometimes came a bit close, but really no camping sites until the latter half of the day. We’d picked up a free camping guide though at a tourist office in Sorel so we knew we’d have a place to stay in Louiseville, a busy little town not far from Trois Rivieres.

Once there we stopped and got some groceries for supper, and Andrew talked to a local guy about poutine — fries with gravy and cheese curds, a real Quebec treat. He was amazed we liked it and, in a very thick Quebec accent we’re hearing a lot of, said tourists often found it strange. He also asked if Andrew was from France (!) because of his accent.

Tonight we’re camping just outside the town, by a river. A bit chilly but not too bad. In a few more days, we’ll probably have cause to drag out a few more layers at night, although the days are still a very pleasant 20 degrees or so and it’s been sunny so far.

70km, St Bruno de Montraville – St Roch de Richelieu

Posted September 5th, 2006

Andrew, Friedel and our gracious host and tour guide, MichaelStarted the day off fairly late, around 11am, after spending a night with the Bourdan family in St. Bruno. What great hosts they were, Michael, his wife Dianne and daughter Mariane. They picked us up from the Montreal airport the day before, fed us a wonderful supper, gave us a warm place to sleep off our jetlag. You really couldn’t ask for a better way to start the trip.

We’d put the bikes back together the night before (took us about an hour, less than half the time we took to tear them apart and box them) so in the morning we just needed to index the gears and make sure everything was tight. We set off, led by Michael, for the town of Mont Saint Hilaire, where Friedel had an appointment to meet the owner of a chocolate shop, Martine Crowin.

After a fantastic tour, interview and much tasting of some amazing Belgian chocolates, La Cabosse d’Or, Michael left us to go back home, while we grabbed some goodies for lunch. Munched on a baguette, cheese and meat on the banks of the Richelieu river, in the town of Beloeil.

Friedel and a local character, who stopped by to tell us about the cycle paths in the area and his time in the warThere a local man came to talk to us, and told us all about how he had been in Britain during the war as an engineer, testing the bombs before the planes carried them to Germany. He was 85 and had just celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary. By this time it was about 2:30pm.

We carried on up the 223, which was in very good shape, had a bike lane much of the way and was dotted with little villages and huge churches. Around 5:30pm we hoped to find a camping spot we’d heard of but it wasn’t where we expected. We asked a local and got a bit worried when he said there was nothing around for miles, but shortly afterwards we asked someone else who pointed us to a campsite just up the road. A bit pricey at $28, but that’s what you get as a tent in an RV park. They don’t really do unserviced sites and with our water bottles empty and no woodland around, we weren’t in a place to try wild camping.

We’re assured there are plenty of spots on the other side of the St Lawrence, where we’re heading for today, so fingers crossed we’ll have no trouble tonight.