Biking Across Canada Day 55 — Saint-Andre to Mont-Joli: Bring on a Brand New Renaissance

I'm three pistols strong today.

Well, Tom Thompson came paddling past
I’m pretty sure it was him
And he spoke so softly in accordance
To the growing of the dim
He said, “Bring on a brand new renaissance
‘Cause I think I’m ready
Well, I’ve been shaking all night long
But my hands are steady”

The Tragically Hip, Three Pistols

I feel like I have my bicycling mojo back. After some slow progress in southern Ontario and the outskirts of Montreal, I’m feeling good on the bike and ready and eager to crush out some mileage. It’s good to be back.

Sunrise outside Saint-Andre-de-Kamouraska.

Being closer to the eastern edge of the time zone means early sunrises are back, which I like as it gives me the chance to do some early riding before most people are awake. So a 5:30 wakeup meant I was on the road at 6:15. The Saint Lawrence has many beautiful places to stop, so less than an hour later I had my feet up on a rock watching the water go by as I ate some snacks.

At Riviere-du-Loup I stopped for groceries and a quick hike to the lookout. Later I passed through L’Isle-Verte where a plaque told the brief history of the five bridges built over the river. My favourite was reading of the 1850 wooden bridge located near the falls and its poetic end. “Unfortunately, it was carried away like a wisp of straw during the ice break-up of 1895.”

A typical grocery-store purchase. I ate almost all of this today.
Riviere-du-Loup lookout
The River Verte

After lunch I biked through Trois-Pistoles, which I mainly know from the Tragically Hip song. They’ve sung about a lot of places in Canada that have made me want to see them, and this song combines things I studied in high school (the Group of Seven and Shakespearean tragedy) in a way that made me curious to finally see this place. I didn’t really have any expectations for it to meet, but there was a neat horse sculpture outside a big church, so thumbs up, I guess?

The afternoon brought me through Parc National Du Bic, with a mix of challenging paved hills along the shore, and challenging gravel hills through the woods. A park ranger told me they have bicycle-specific campsites, so this is a place I’d like to return to.

That’s the national park up ahead.
There were some steep climbs to be had here.
Someone in the town of Le Bic has a garden with an incredible view.

I’d originally planned on camping just west of Rimouski, but when I arrived I wasn’t done riding for the day, so I pushed ahead. Rimouski has a lovely promenade de la mer that separated the cars, bikes, and pedestrians from each other, and would change the pavement whenever there was a chance for the different modes to mix.

I thought the digital tide marker was a nice touch.
The paving stones were a tactile reminder to cyclists to slow down for pedestrians crossing.

At Pointe-au-Pere I avoided a proposed shortcut, and I’m glad I did as I stumbled upon a historic maritime site with a lighthouse from 1909 and a submarine.

If I translated correctly, this is the second-oldest lighthouse in Canada.
Mermaid selfie

Then it was a fast ride along a quiet road full of cyclists. I latched onto another rider and we sped along the waterfront until it was time for him to turn around. At Sainte-Flavie it was time to bid the seaway adieu as I turned inland to cut across the Gaspesie. I didn’t manage to go swimming in the Saint Lawrence, so I made sure to do some quick wading here.

To quote Frog and Toad, it was a fine, fast ride.
It was a treat to smell the ocean again.
Where I went wading.

The camping options weren’t great here, but I found a cheap room in a former domitory attached to the church to stay in. I’ve learned that having a bed is a great motivator to do extra distance, so now I’m about 40 km ahead of schedule. Mojo!

My room still has the original furniture—notice the cross on the wardrobe.

Today’s distance: 177 km

Cumulative distance: 6512 km

Look a that descent at 110 km, and the fine, fast ride from 140–170 km.

John Kyle @JohnKyle