Biking Across Canada Day 52 — Louiseville to Quebec City: So Close and Yet So Far

My haul from the fromagerie. The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but the squeaky cheese curds get eaten.

Today was one of my best riding days yet. After struggling to make my destinations the past few days, I finally made it somewhere ahead of schedule. The little tune-up I did to my bike made a big difference, so now I don’t feel like I’m fighting my bike to make progress.

Louiseville’s church. The churches start to blend together after awhile.

I got up at dawn, packed my stuff on the bike, and headed for Quebec City. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it as I didn’t make to Trois-Rivieres as I’d hoped to yesterday, so that added another 40 km to my route today, but I was going to try anyways since I had friends waiting for me. I told them to expect me at sundown.

The road out of Louiseville was lovely.
The St. Lawrence is huge.
This is where I stopped to write my blog post. Pity they were closed.

The Chemin du Roy is full of nice, human touches. There are frequent signs telling you when to expect access to drinking water and toilets. They’ll also point out fresh produce and ice cream stands. Every small town has a park or two with public bathrooms and picnic tables, so this was the first day that I didn’t worry about where to find water. I didn’t have to stop at a coffee shop just to deal with my bodily functions, and it felt freeing. I don’t know why more places don’t do this, as I was able to stop and shop at a greater variety of places since I didn’t have to be so picky about whether they would have a bathroom and place to fill my water bottles. All those rest stops and picnic spots were packed full of people, so they’re obviously successful and popular.

Much better than signs for gasoline
One rest stop had a fence made of bicycle parts, which is like catnip for me and my camera.

In Trois-Rivieres I biked by the Motel le Marquis, where my wife and I stayed in 2010 after finding our planned campground closed for renovations. That’s where I memorized how to say “do you have a corkscrew?” but not “yes I would like wine glasses” and was unprepared for the flurry of followup questions. The dangers of only speaking a bit of the local language is you can quickly get way over your head.

Part of Quebec’s Bienvenue Cyclistes program, the motel offers secure indoor bike parking along with a pump and repair tools.
From our 2010 visit to the motel, when I thought you needed to wear a lot of specialized gear to go for long bike rides. Those blue panniers were a wedding present, and I’m still using them on this trip. I feel like I should have used a sepia filter on this picture.

I saw a lot of cyclists today. Turned out it was the day of the Grand Fondo Quebecor, a 120-km ride from Trois-Rivieres to Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures that attracts cyclists with a wide-range of abilities. I never saw the main peloton, but lots of solo or paired cyclists here and there. I also think there were a lot of people taking advantage of the sunny weather to go for a leisure ride.

Cheese stop!
Watching the ships pass through the channel reminded me of the Narrows in the Halifax Harbour

As I remembered, the ride was flat until I got to Quebec City. Last time I wasn’t in as good condition, and was suffering from a poorly-fitting saddle and shoes, so the hills were an unwelcome occurance. This time I was prepared. The hill at Cap-Rouge is still formidable, though. Last time we had to walk the tandem up, so I’m a little proud to have cycled all the way to the top.

I don’t have to ride up there, do I?
Yes, I do. Time for the granniest of granny gears

After Cap Rouge I followed the wonderful paved trail along la Promenade Samuel-De Champlain until my navigation devices told me I was only a few hundred metres from my friends’ house. Unfortunately those metres were vertical, with a cliff separating us, and Google Maps helpfully directing me to take my bike up the steep Cap-Blanc stairs. I found a detour through Old Quebec along Cote de la Montagne, the steepest street I’ve encountered yet. I “opted” to walk up that one. At the top I was close enough to the Chateau Frontenac that I popped over for a picture, then biked the rest of the way to my destination for the night. The tailwinds had been good to me, so I arrived at dinnertime instead of dusk, and my friends had pulled pork and Pernod waiting for me. I love visiting Quebec City, and try to come here every few years, so tomorrow is a rest day that I’m looking forward to.

la Promenade Samuel-De Champlain 
You don’t see streets like this everywhere

Today’s Distance: 181 km

Cumulative Distance: 6165 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle