Quebec City to Boston

 

Fall 2016

 

Denis Kertz, ©2016

 

Day 1: Sun, Sep 04, 2016 - Naperville, IL to Quebec City, Quebec [17.0, 1:57, 8.7 mph, +713’, -765']

My friend Dave picked me up at 6 am and drove me to Midway Airport for my 9:05 am Porter Airlines flight to Quebec City that was scheduled to arrive at 2:05 pm with a connection through Toronto, Porter's hub.

We arrived at the airport at 6:45 and I carried my duffel bag, rear panniers strapped together as a unit, and my bicycle box along with one of my front panniers that I used as a carry on to the porter station.  There was no one there and I was the only one in line although a few others showed up within about 10 minutes.  I had pre-paid for my bags including my bike since I saved $10 per bag by pre-paying.  The bike was treated as a third bag but it also incurred a $50 handling fee.

The big deal with this flight that made it rather stressful was there was a 55 minute layover in Toronto which ordinarily would have been fine.  However, I didn't realize when I made the reservation that I would have to clear customs in Toronto in time to catch my flight to Quebec City.  Had I realized that initially I would have booked an American flight since it connected through Philadelphia which meant customs would have been at the end of the flight in Quebec City.  In this case if I didn't clear customs in time the next Porter flight wasn't until 6 pm.

When I discussed this with Porter previously they said 50 minutes was the minimum time they required for customs and they wouldn't sell a ticket without that minimum time.  The Porter agent I spoke with thought the 55 minutes would be okay but that was easy for her to say.  As it was, it would have cost over $300 to cancel and book something else so I reluctantly stayed with the Porter flight.

The good news was the ticket agent explained the customs procedure and I learned that I would clear customs first and then collect my baggage.  I thought the reverse was true and I could just see waiting a long time for my baggage with the clock ticking.

Still it wasn't the most comfortable flight with customs looming.  I also was assigned the second last row which meant every one else would beat me to the customs line.  As it turned out the flight was full and on time, touching down at 11:38 am but having to wait a few minutes to get to the terminal.

The customs line moved pretty fast and it didn't take long to get through.  Baggage was longer and oversize baggage like a bike box is always the last to be delivered.  I was the last passenger out of the baggage area but felt pretty comfortable at that point.  However, I had to re-check my luggage and the bike box wouldn't fit in the security x-ray machine so the security guy had to open the box to inspect the bike.  Presumably, I could have taken off but I hung around to make sure the box got closed properly.  Then there weren't any signs that I saw to direct me to my connecting flight's gate.  I had to ask and by the time I got on the plane there was only about 10 minutes left.  I'm pretty sure I was the last one on the plane.

But I was relieved to have customs behind me and the flight to Quebec City was relaxing.  Again the flight was almost full.  Both flights were on Bombadier Q400 turbo-props manufactured in Toronto and carried 76 passengers.  On the second leg I actually had an empty seat next to me, one of the few on the flight.  Interestingly, both flights made announcements in English and French but the Quebec flight made the announcement first in French and then repeated in English whereas the Toronto flight was the reverse.

When I reached Quebec City I had a decision to make that I had been wrestling with.  That was whether to ride from the airport to my free stay at the Marriott downtown, or take a taxi.  I ended up deciding it would be more adventurous to ride and it was.

I had my baggage by 2:30 and was ready to ride by 3:45, which was pretty good.  However, I didn't know exactly how to get to the Marriott.  In theory it was straightforward – ride out of the airport, head south to the bridge over the St. Lawrence River, take the path along the river to downtown, find the Marriott.  In practice it wasn't so simple.

I got directions from a couple of airport guys that got me out of the airport and heading south and I figured I could find the rest of the way the way I usually do – ask strangers.  But I quickly found out this trip was going to be different.  I asked a cyclist about directions and immediately realized she only spoke French, or conveniently pretended to not know English.  I apologized and she seemed to understand that.

Of course, I had my trusty GPS but I didn't have the mount attached to my aero bars.  So I kept my GPS in my pocket but that made it difficult to watch it.  I was pretty sure I was headed in the right direction but I needed to figure out where to get off since the road eventually turned into a freeway.  I had several false starts but finally managed to hook up with the road along the river and there was a bike path along side.

It was pleasant riding along the river and a lot of other folks had the same idea since it was a nice sunny day with pleasant temperatures on a Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend.  Then the real fun began – finding the Marriott.  I should have marked the location in my GPS ahead of time.  However, when I tried to input the address – 850 Place D'Youville – the Garmin map didn't recognize it.  I also did a search for lodging and didn't see a Marriott.  I later learned it was erroneously listed as a Courtyard.

When I reached the downtown along the shore, I asked a cab driver since I was pretty sure he would know where the Marriott was.  He told me the road to take but wasn't too sure it would work because it was up a steep hill and I was on a bicycle.  I managed to get up most of the way but finally had to get off and push.  Without a loaded bike I could have made it and probably after a week or so of conditioning I could have made it loaded.

That only got me so far and I still had no idea where the Marriott was and my GPS was no help.  Finally, I figured I could ask at a hotel.  At the first one the guy didn't know but he looked up the address and gave me a map and I thought I was home free.  However, either he told me the wrong direction to turn or I turned in the opposite direction of what he said.  In any event, I got more lost.

Then I stopped at another hotel and got another map and that finally got me to the Marriott.  At 6:45, three hours after setting off and covering 17 miles.  It was an adventure.  But I did get to ride along the river and I did get to see the famous downtown which was crawling with people.

After I checked in I showered and then ate at the hotel.  It might have been interesting to wander around downtown but given the crowds I wasn't in the mood and I had to re-pack my panniers for tomorrow.

I had a good burger and fries at the Marriott but it cost $24 which was more like $18US with the favorable exchange rate.  But it did the trick and got me back up to my room to work on my bike.

In addition to re-packing the bike, I also switched brake pads.  I was never happy in the past with my cantilever braking power for touring – loaded touring requires serious braking capability on steep downhills – so this year I installed a set of inexpensive low profile v-brakes.  They were a big improvement riding around home and I decided to improve them further by replacing the pads with Kool Stop pads which are supposed to be the best pads.  However, these pads proved to be rather spongy and I regretted the switch.  Fortunately, I brought the old pads along and I switched back to them.

At the end of the day I was exhausted but happy that everything ended well when I had visions of how it could have been a bad day.

Day 2: Mon, Sep 05, 2016 - Quebec City to St-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec [62.2, 5:59, 10.4 mph, +1,366’, -1,319']

I got up shortly after 7 and walked down to breakfast, not expecting much.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a buffet setup since it didn't look like they were setup for a buffet.  It wasn't a great buffet – there was no oatmeal or any kind of pancakes/French toast – but it had the most important thing – quantity.

After breakfast I completed packing up and left around 9, which was pretty good for the first morning.  Before I left I asked the concierge if there was any place to buy a cheap cell phone.  I had a pay-as-you-go tracfone but it didn’t have service in Canada.  He made a few phone calls but got no answer, most likely because today was Labor Day Monday which was also a holiday in Canada as well as in the US.

It would have been interesting to take a day to explore the old city in Quebec’s second-largest French speaking city, Montreal being the largest.  Officially the city’s name is Quebec but it is usually called Quebec City to distinguish it from the province of Quebec.  It has a population of 540,994 with a metro population of 806,400.  Its name is derived from the Algonquin word Kebec, meaning “where the river narrows”.

My plan was to take the Levi Ferry across the St Lawrence River and it wasn't far away.  Nevertheless I still had to navigate the unpredictable streets that twisted and turned every which way.  I was able to handle this only because I had the downtown map but it was still a challenge.  I ended up descending down the same hill I tried to climb up yesterday.  At the bottom I picked up the same bike path and it took me right to the ferry.

There were a lot of cyclists on the ferry that cost me $3.75 with the bike.  It only took 10-15 minutes to make the actual crossing.  Looking back there was a spectacular view of the Quebec City skyline highlighted by the view of Château Frontenac, considered the most photographed hotel in the world.  At the other side there was the LRV path along the river that saved having to climb the big hill to get to Highway 132 that runs all along the river to Gaspe.  There were a lot of cyclists out and some roller bladers too as well as joggers.

I saw a number of other touring cyclists with most of them coming from the other direction.  Most likely they spent the weekend touring the Gaspe or some part of it.  Most of them only had rear panniers and nothing else so they were probably credit card touring.

There weren't many services along the way.  Initially there were scattered houses along the road that eventually disappeared and then some farms.  There was one place that I thought was a food mart but it was a service station with a small grocery store.  I managed to get a cold drink and a pastry there.

After 10 km the bike path ended and the LRV merged with Highway 132.  The highway had a good shoulder so riding was fine if a little busy at times.  For one short stretch the bike path re-appeared and then routed through a small town before re-joining 132.

Around 2:30 I rode into the first real town – Montmagny.  It had a typical food mart where I got a cold drink and a sandwich.  Then I rode on to St-Jean-Port-Joli where I arrived around 5 pm after 100 km.  I found a campground in town where I got a tent site for $19.  The hostess tried to explain eating options with her very limited English but it was sufficient for my purposes.

After cleaning up I walked a short way back into town at a popular restaurant that looked full.  However, there was a counter and I was able to get a 9” pizza there.  It was fairly decent but not completely filling.  So, on the walk back to the campground I stopped at a grocery store that I stumbled across on my walk into town.  I picked up some groceries along with a Gatorade and a sandwich.  I finished off the sandwich and drink as darkness descended.

A nice first full day of riding without a lot of climbing.  Switching my brakes back to their original pads worked great and my low profile v-brakes were a good addition to my touring setup.

Day 3: Tue, Sep 06, 2016 - St-Jean-Port-Joli to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec [66.5, 6:24, 10.4 mph, +1,275’, -1,219']

I was up at 6 and figured leaving by 7 should be okay and anything earlier would be too early for breakfast.  There was a cafe across the street from where I ate last night but there was no sign of life or business hours.  A guy was sweeping outside where I ate last night so I went back there.  However, they didn't open until 7:30 so I had to wait about 10 minutes.

Since there was nothing like pancakes on the menu I had a ham and cheese omelet which was okay.  While I was eating, I noticed kids showing up close to 8 when the school next door apparently opened.  They all had back packs and some were quite large.  One poor little girl had a huge back pack that was bigger than her torso.  Somehow something was wrong here.

I left shortly after 8 with my goal of making Riviere-du-Loup, 100 km away.  It was a fairly easy ride with no real climbing and some tailwind in the afternoon.  Initially, the road was near the river and there were some nice river views.  The land was flat and there were lots of farms, most with at least two silos and some with as many as four.

After a while the road crossed over 20, which wasn't good since that took the road away from the river.  Then there were some short stretches where the shoulder disappeared, but there wasn't much traffic to cause a real concern.

As I crossed a bridge coming into one small town I was confused with signage that showed LRV left and right.  So I took a right turn but checked my GPS after a bit and confirmed I should have stayed straight.  When I retraced my route I saw the same LRV sign which was obviously intended for traffic approaching from my return direction but the sign was turned enough that it could be seen from my initial direction.

Just across the road was what looked like a food store.  I went in and found what I thought was milk but the cashier confirmed it wasn't.  When I stepped outside I met Nigel, another touring cyclist who had just stopped.  He was a Canadian riding across Canada starting from Vancouver so he was nearing the end of his ride after 2.5 months.  We chatted a bit and were heading the same way.  We might have ridden together except he was half my age, had a lighter bike, and had ridden for over two months so there was no way I could have kept up with him.

I took off and not too much later Nigel whizzed by.  A little while later I was surprised to find a small food store in a small town.  Nigel was already there and finishing up his lunch.  I went inside to get some real milk for my second breakfast.  When I came out Nigel was just pedaling away, never to be seen again.

I made good time and when I neared Riviere-du-Loup I found a side road that went through a small village so I took that road.  It avoided some traffic and some climbing and was a nice diversion before it rejoined Highway 132.  The road was next to the river and there was a string of small, modest homes lining the river side through the village.  This was nice to see since in the US these modest homes would have been torn down and replaced with mansions for the wealthy.

I reached Riviere-du-Loup at 3 pm and immediately stopped for a cold drink.  Then just up the road was an information place where I learned there were 2 campgrounds down by the river.  I checked the closest one out first and it was basically a parking lot for RVs.  So I moved on to the other one and it was a municipal campground with about a half dozen tent sites carved in the trees.  The hostess asked if steps were okay and I unthinkingly said no problem.  So she gave me a site with a river view which wasn't great since the river was blocked by a fence and some trees.  Still it was much better than a parking lot.  I also discovered the steps were the entrance to my camp site and it would have been difficult to lift my loaded bicycle up the steps to get to the site.  Fortunately, the site next to me didn’t have steps so I was able to wheel my bicycle through that site and up a little incline to get to my site.

After cleaning up I started walking around to find food.  I ended up at a Chinese place and a heaping plate of food that was great on quantity but so-so taste-wise.  I scouted a few places on my return for breakfast and only a Tim Horton's looked like a possible choice.

A nice day with great weather that may only last another day before rain comes into the picture.  However, there was a bad ending to the day.  The campground had WiFi so I tried to check my email and discovered I couldn't sign in.  I had this problem last week and I had to work with the WideOpenWest support to reset the passwords for my 3 email accounts.  That solved the problem then but this looked like a repetition of the same problem so I was not happy.  I sent a terse message to the support channel and asked them to fix this immediately.  With my inoperative cell phone I really needed email access.

Day 4: Wed, Sep 07, 2016 - Riviere-du-Loup to Rimauski, Quebec [69.5, 6:17, 11.0 mph, +1,715’, -1,693']

I was up at my usual time and packed up and rode the short distance to a Tim Horton's.  There was another regular restaurant in a motel that was closer but when I checked its menu last night it was very expensive so I didn't bother with it.  I had what was effectively an Egg McMuffin breakfast except with bacon rather than Canadian bacon.  Strange.  You would have thought Canadian bacon would have been high on the list.  And maybe it was and I just can't read French.  I added a muffin later and that was good enough to get me going.

I left town about 7:45 but didn't get very far before I noticed my front wheel acting funny.  I looked down and saw the front tire was going flat.  I pulled the front tube out but couldn't find anything wrong.  This tube was an extra thick tube for preventing flats and I noticed it had a patch from last year's tour.  I also noticed the patch was ballooning some so I guessed the patch was the culprit.  I didn't want to gamble on replacing the patch so I just installed a new tube and rode on.

It was a nice weather day again although a little too warm and then it clouded up later.  But it was pretty windy already in the morning so I was moving pretty good.  For touring around the Gaspe Peninsula the recommendation is to ride in the direction I was headed due to favorable wind conditions.

I stopped after just about an hour for my second breakfast.  I was still okay but I found a place where I could get milk and I figured I better take advantage of that.  I also found several food marts along the way today which was unusual.  Then I noticed a lot more traffic than usual.  Eventually I realized that the expressway had disappeared for a while and all the traffic was on 132 and the food marts accommodated this traffic.

In the afternoon the clouds started moving in from the east and by mid-afternoon they started blocking the sun and the temperature got noticeably cooler, which was good.  There were a few hills later in the day but nothing major.

It was a little over 100 km to Rimauksi and that was my destination for the day.  There was some rain in the picture for later in the day and tomorrow so I wasn't sure if I wanted to camp or get a motel.  There was one campground in the city area and it was not near services so that wasn't appealing.  I looked for motels on the way into the city and found one that looked like a modest motel.  I was surprised to learn the rate was $78 not including taxes.

So I continued on downtown and stopped at the Information Center.  I learned motels were expensive and the place I checked out was better than anything downtown.  So I turned around and got a motel for $94 with taxes that wasn’t quite so bad when taking the favorable exchange rate into account.

This motel wasn't a great location but it was close to a grocery store and I did my first real food shopping, which meant my bike was going to be heavier.  There wasn't much around for eating but there was a nearby Tim Horton's where I had a pretty decent chipotle chicken wrap with potato wedges.  While I was eating it started raining, mostly a hard drizzle.  So my motel choice looked like a good choice.

When I got back to the motel I settled down to check out my flat tire.  As I expected, the problem was the old patch had gone bad.  So I scraped the patch off and put a longer patch on.  I was sure that would do the trick but the tire went flat within an hour.  So I scraped that patch off and put another long patch on wrapped around the tube and that didn't work either.  I concluded at that point that the tube was not patchable and I tossed it.  I put on an older tube that had 3 patches on it so I would still have one good tube.

Then I addressed my email problem.  If my cell phone was working I probably would have called WideOpenWest and given them another chance to fix the problem.  However, I had decided the solution to my problem was to create a Google email account.  I just wasn't confident that WideOpenWest knew what they were doing and I wasn't in any position to hassle with this.  So I added a Google email to my existing Google account and sent out a test mail that appeared to work. 

Then I sent WideOpenWest another message that they needed to fix the problem ASAP or I was just going to drop my email account with them.  In a way this was a good thing.  I had been with WideOpenWest for years and was satisfied until this year when suddenly I was paying 50% more per month than a year ago.  However, I was reluctant to change internet/cable provider because of my email tie.  With the email disconnect, I would be much freer to investigate other options.

I did have one other near disaster.  After one of my stops I took off and was surprised to see water on my right and that the wind direction had reversed.  Then I realized I had turned around and headed in the wrong direction.  I made a note that I should always be looking for the water to be on my left.

Day 5: Thu, Sep 08, 2016 – Rimauski to Sainte-Flavie, Quebec [21.4, 2:23, 9.0 mph, +534’, -637']

It was drizzling in the morning so I was undecided about what to do.  I walked across the street to the Tim Horton's for breakfast.  When I returned to my room I checked my bad tube and decided to put a patch where the water test showed it was leaking.

Then I noticed it wasn't raining and took that as an omen that I should hit the road.  From the radar picture it looked like there might be a window in the morning with little rain and I hoped this was the window.  Of course, by the time I was packed up and leaving it was drizzling lightly.

On every tour I always forget something and I finally figured out what it was this time.  Since the weather looked dreary I decided to turn on my rear tail light and discovered I didn't have one.  However, there were two bicycle shops on the main street downtown so I stopped at the first bicycle shop and bought a rear blinkie and an extra tube.

Then I took off on 132 which was four lanes with virtually no shoulder.  It had started drizzling harder so I stopped to put on my rain jacket.  Then I noticed a cyclist on the other side of the street and realized there was a bike path.  That made riding much nicer.  At times the bike path disappeared but the LRV stayed on a side road that paralleled the main highway.

It started raining harder and I stopped to put on my rain pants.  After 25 km the side road ended and I rejoined the main highway.  I also noticed that now I had a headwind.  When the weather is good the wind is normally a tailwind but when the weather is bad the wind switches direction.  This made riding somewhat harder and I was slogging along at about 12 kph.

My goal was to make Sainte-Flavie which I reached after 35 km.  I stopped at a motel that Google listed as $49 but it was actually $63 plus tax, about $20 cheaper than where I was staying in Rimouski.  Just before I stopped at this motel a touring cyclist on a recumbent went racing by.  I guessed he wasn’t going to let the rain and wind bother him.

After cleaning up I walked the short distance to the main part of town and had a good fish and chips dinner.  Back at the motel I inflated my re-patched tube and the water test looked good but then a short while later the tube was flat.  So I finally gave up and tossed the tube.

It was nice to get out of town and make a little progress despite the weather.  Tomorrow the rain is supposed to end fairly early and that should make the 40 km ride to Matane fairly easy.

Day 6: Fri, Sep 09, 2016 - Sainte-Flavie to Matane, Quebec [44.5, 4:16, 10.4 mph, +1,691’, -899']

There were no good breakfast options in town that I was aware of so I had breakfast in my room using my powdered milk.  I checked the weather and there was no rain in the forecast but it was noticeably cooler.  At first I did the Celsius to Fahrenheit calculation conversion wrong and I thought it was 40F but it was really 50F which was much better.

I left around 8:30 with a strong tailwind.  The motel had a weather vane with a seagull made of cloth or something tied to the top of an aerial.  The seagull was whipping in the wind, fortunately in the direction I was going.  I was comfortable in my tights but wore my light jacket for the first time.

The goal for the day was Matane, about 60 km away.  There wasn't much in the way of services along the way.  Even though it wasn't raining there was still water on the road and the big trucks caused some spray as they sped along the road.  There was a fair amount of traffic since 132 was the only through road now that the expressway was gone.

Around 10 I noticed a building by a sign that advertised cabins and a smaller sign that said cuisinette.  I probably wouldn't have bothered to stop but there were a couple of parked cars so I took a look and discovered a small cafe where a couple was having breakfast.  So I stopped and had a good, basic bacon/potatoes/eggs/toast breakfast for $9, the best breakfast value of the trip.  The menu was in French but it was fairly easy to guess what the food was plus the waitress knew some basic English.  The menu also had crepes and I wondered if that meant pancakes but the waitress confirmed these were crepes.

When I left the cafe the weather was somewhat better.  It was a little warmer and the clouds had lifted enough that I could see the river.  The road was also dry so trucks didn't cause any spray.

The road was now along the river the rest of the way to Matane.  There was another restaurant down the road a bit and a food mart but nothing else.  So I was kind of lucky to find the cafe.

I arrived in Matane around 1 pm.  There was a campground at the very edge of town but no food services nearby so I rode into town to see what I might find.  I stopped at a food mart for a sandwich and then rode on until I found the Visitor Center.  I learned the other campground near town was closed for the season and motels were $70 and up.

I retreated back towards the campground and stopped to check out a motel that had a sign for $50 rooms and discovered it was closed.  So I stopped at a food mart and picked up a couple of pepperoni calzones that would take care of my food for the evening.

At the campground I paid $21 for a tent site but the proprietor offered to let me use their indoor pavilion which offered protection from the weather.  That turned out to be a great idea.  It was almost as good as a motel room for $21.

At first I thought that it was a good thing my tent was free standing then I realized there was no need to bother with a tent.  A tent only offered some additional privacy but privacy wasn't really an issue.  So I settled into my luxurious digs which gave me a number of options.  There were several rocking chairs for comfort and desk-like chairs for my laptop.  There was also a sofa that looked like it would work as a bed as well.

An easy day with only 60 km to Matane.  The weather cleared up through the day and the sun even peaked through a little in late afternoon.  However, there was more forecast for rain for Saturday night into Sunday.  It looked like Sunday could be a layover day.

Day 7: Sat, Sep 10, 2016 – Matane to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Quebec [69.0, 6:55, 10.0 mph, +2,351’, -2,339']

I slept well in my sofa bed so this pavilion spot worked well.  After packing up I rode down the road a little ways to a motel that had a restaurant.  At first I thought the place was closed but then I saw the cars on the side where the restaurant was.  With the French menu I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get but I think I got their big breakfast with a little bit of everything.  Only problem was I asked for scrambled eggs and got sunny side up.  I thought the waitress understood what I meant when I said scrambled so maybe she just made a mistake.  Anyway, it was a good breakfast.  Others must have liked the place too because the place was filling up as I ate.

After breakfast I turned off 132 towards the river so I could take the quieter road along the river.  I was just in time to see the Matane ferry taking off.

The goal for the day was Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, about 90 km from the west end of town.  This was a perfect French town name.  It had Sainte in it and 4 hyphens.  My elevation profile promised some climbing for the day and after about 25 km that was confirmed when I saw some headlands for the first time.  This was the most scenic day so far.  None of the climbs were too bad, being less than about 0.5 km and one climb that was longer but not that steep.

There weren't many services along the way with just a couple of small towns.  Just after 11 I found a food mart in Les Mechins so I stopped for my second breakfast.  This place was popular with the 4-wheel terrains and I talked with a couple of guys from Montreal who had just started their vacation.

When I left the food mart I rode just a short way and realized I didn't know what direction I was headed.  I had to think whether the food mart was on the right or left side.  After thinking about it I was pretty sure it was on the right side and I had turned the bike around when I stopped so I was headed in the wrong directions.  After reversing I confirmed my suspicion when I saw the water was now on the left side.

As I got closer to Cap-Chat, I saw what was probably a rare sight.  There was a wind farm with at least 50 wind turbines with the rare part being that none of the turbines were spinning.  That's when I realized this was a really calm day.

I reached the 4-hyphen town around 2 pm and stopped at the Information Center.  I was undecided between a campground and a relatively inexpensive place I found via Google maps.  The problem was although the weather for the day was about ideal – sunny but not too warm – it was projected to start raining overnight into Sunday and Sunday looked questionable for riding.  I thought it might be okay to camp overnight and switch to a motel in the morning depending on the weather. However, the posted weather forecast at the Information Center said it was supposed to get very windy overnight with gusts up to 35 mph.  That convinced me I didn't want to camp overnight.

However, Google maps had identified a place with $45 rooms and the lady at the center confirmed the place and identified its location.  When I got to the place I discovered they didn't take new arrivals until 4 pm so I rode back into town for a bite to eat.  I ate at a place that advertised pizza and had a decent 9” pepperoni pizza.  While downtown I also checked out another place Google identified for $63.  I had to ask the Information Center for directions and found a place that looked like a house with rooms upstairs for rent.  In any event no room was available.

So I rode back to the place that was really a hostel but with private rooms.  I got a room with a shared bathroom and kitchen for $50 cash.  If I had wanted to pay with a credit card it would have cost $59 so cash was an easy decision.  The room was big enough for my bike but they didn't allow bikes in the room so I unloaded my panniers and put the bike in a locked storage shed.

Given the weather forecast, I was pretty sure I would be staying an extra day and my cash was depleted so I walked downtown to get more cash.  The worst part about this place was it was at least a mile from downtown and maybe 1.5 miles so it was a bit of a hike.  When I got downtown I stopped at a food mart and found their ATM machine wasn't working.  I stopped at another food mart and they didn't have an ATM machine.  Then I realized I had walked by a grocery store and was sure they would have one but they didn't.  At that point I was getting pretty worried and pretty tired of walking around.  I asked the checkout woman and she point at a blue building across the street and said what sounded like “for sure.”  Not convinced I walked towards what looked like a closed building and then discovered it was a bank.  So I got my cash, ate a breakfast burrito, and bought a couple of things at the grocery store.

By the time I got back to the room I was pretty tired.  My room was fine, bigger than I expected – it actually had two beds.  The strange thing was the place was downstairs and it was dark with automatic light sensors.  You just had to trust the lights were going to come on.  The rooms themselves were set up in a corridor that looked like a dormitory.  I pretty much had the place to myself.  There were two couples who cooked in the kitchen but I didn’t see anyone else outside of the kitchen.

A day with just about ideal riding temperature and some climbing with an uncertain day ahead.

Day 8: Sun, Sep 11, 2016 - Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Quebec - layover

When I got up the weather wasn't nearly as bad as it was forecasted to be.  It was very windy but was not raining.  The Sun even shone a bit.  So I was somewhat conflicted about laying over for the day.  The biggest issue was that Wed/Thu was forecasted for bad weather and riding today would have worked out much better schedule wise given the Wed/Thu forecast.  In the end I opted to stay.  The wind would have been a strong cross wind blowing me into traffic.  I also had ridden every day for a week although Wed I only rode in the morning.  So it was a reasonable time to rest, particularly with some challenging climbing coming up ahead.

I paid $50 cash for another night and then walked downtown for breakfast.  Interestingly, I walked past the impressive two-steeple church but no one was around on a Sunday morning.  I stopped at the Tim Horton's for breakfast.  The young lady who took my order knew some English so ordering was easy.

The place was nearly packed and there was a steady stream of customers.  Very few of the customers were young which made me wonder if the youngsters didn't like Tim Horton's or if they mostly left town after completing their schooling to find jobs and excitement.  Around 9 it started raining hard and the rain was going sideways with the strong wind.  It would have been very unpleasant riding for about an hour and I was very glad I wasn't riding at that point.  After an hour the rain mostly stopped but not the wind.  I had another coffee and a muffin to basically kill time.

Then I grabbed a couple of sandwiches at a food mart so I wouldn't have to walk back to town again.  It was obvious there were few people staying at this hostel and it appeared one couple was leaving when I got back.  I took the opportunity to do a load of laundry which was convenient at the hostel.

My Flip Chromebook with an ARM processor wasn't handling audio so I spent a considerable amount of time googling for solutions but nothing worked.  It wasn't a big issue but would have been nice to get fixed.  I worried mostly that I could mess up the PC by trying to fix the audio and that would have been a disaster.

Since I spent my time inside it was hard to know how bad the weather was.  By late afternoon the sun was shining but the wind was still very brisk.  Possibly if I had waited until after the morning rain it might not have been so bad riding.

I spent the rest of the day reading and browsing the Internet.  One good thing about this area is that everybody has WiFi, even the campgrounds.

Day 9: Mon, Sep 12, 2016 - Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Grande-Vallee, Quebec [72.0, 6:28, 11.1 mph, +4,470’, -4,350']

I decided to eat breakfast at the hostel rather than backtrack into town so I had my cereal and a breakfast burrito.  I had told the proprietress that I would want to pick up my bike out of storage around 7 which wasn't a problem for her since she had to be up to open the kitchen at 6 am.

I loaded up my gear and left around 7:30.  There was a car in the parking lot so I guessed there was a couple who stayed overnight.

The sun was shining in the morning but the wind was still very strong, between 20-40 kph but it was from the west so it was a great tailwind.  The day was very scenic with the road hugging the coast and next to steep hills with many signs warning of falling rock.  There were two sailing ships with double masts out on the river and we pretty well matched speeds for most of the morning.

At one point I caught up with a woman touring on a loaded recumbent.  She was so slow I sailed past her, waving a hand in greeting as she said something in French.  I quickly put a lot of distance between us and didn't expect to see her again.

Since I already had my cereal breakfast I was looking for a real breakfast somewhere along the way.  There were several small towns with no restaurants.  Then there were several small towns in four different coves along the way and I found a restaurant open in Mont Sainte-Pierre.  I had a nice ham omelet with potatoes and coffee and the woman knew enough English to decipher the French menu for me.  I was the only one in the restaurant until a young couple stopped later.  I think they only stopped because the woman had a cold and wanted some tea to help alleviate her symptoms.

I had a leisurely breakfast because I expected to make Grande-Vallee in plenty of time with the tailwind and it didn't look like there was any place further to go for the day.  When I started riding again I saw the woman cyclist ahead.  Obviously, she had caught up while I enjoyed my leisurely breakfast.  Again, I zipped past her with a wave.  I did notice she had a flag and it looked like it said Education something.  So I guessed she was touring for a cause.

After putting considerable distance between us and not expecting to see her again, a while later I saw in my rear view mirror that she was about to catch up with me.  However, I was going up a slight hill and recumbents are noted for not climbing well and I put some more distance between us.  Then I saw her catching up again.  I guessed she had decided to try to catch me but every time she came close a hill knocked her back a ways.  And she probably wore herself out trying to catch up with me since I didn't see her again.  Maybe I shouldn't have been so difficult to catch?

These “cover” towns were kind of neat scenery, nestled in the cove with surrounding hills, and especially Mont Sainte-Pierre where I stopped.  After that the road just hugged the coast and I was pretty well flying with the aid of the strong tailwind.  But I knew that would not last because there was a big climb before reaching Grande-Vallee.

When I saw a turnoff to Cape Madelaine with a lighthouse, I took the turn off because it had a great view of the beach and the town below and it was a chance for a snack and a short rest before tackling the big climb.

The big climb was about 5 km long but the hard part was 1.5 km with a slope between 9-12% so that part was a major climb.  There was also a fairly steep climb near the top.  But overall the 5 km had enough break in it that it wasn't that bad.  I did make one stop up the steep section but that was to take a photo looking back towards the lighthouse in the distance.  It would have been a crime to skip the photo just so I could say I made the climb without stopping, which I would have otherwise.

Then just before Grande-Vallee there was a park on the hill before the descent to town that had an awesome view of the town and the bay with the town's church steeple pointing to the sky,

My original plan was to stay at a campground on the other side of town that was 1-2 km from downtown although there appeared to be a restaurant right near the campground.  However, the wind was still very strong while I had expected it to be dying down over the course of the afternoon.  So I opted for a motel and more nearby services.

I got a room for $70, which was more like $55 US.  The receptionist knew just a little English but was able to point out a couple of food options within easy walking distance.  After cleaning up I walked up the street and the only thing I found was a grocery store and that might have been what the receptionist meant when she pantomimed putting food in her mouth.  I picked up a few things and dropped them off in my room, which was much larger that I expected, especially for a modest motel.

Then I walked to the hotel that was on a side street and had a restaurant.  I wasn't too keen on the hotel because I figured it would be more upscale and expensive than I wanted.  I was fortunate that the waitress spoke very good English and she started explaining the French menu to me.  I wasn't too thrilled until she showed me they had pizza that was reasonably priced so I had yet another 9” pepperoni pizza which was the best one yet.

It was also nice to be able to carry on a little conversation as well.  Turns out the waitress's sister had been in town and left yesterday, Sunday, to drive back to Montreal.  She told her sister that driving in yesterday's strong wind was white knuckle driving.  Given that I can only imagine what it would have been like trying to cycling in that weather.  It was also good that I stopped at this hotel restaurant because I learned it wasn't open for breakfast but the restaurant across from the campground on the other side of town was open.

Later I checked and the big hill today is almost certainly the biggest hill I have to climb in Canada.  These hills around the Gaspe Peninsula have some reputation and there was the thought I might have to walk some of the hills, so that doesn't look to be the case.  However, tomorrow, while it has smaller climbs, has a number of climbs and the total climbing will be more and may well be the hardest riding day of this tour.

There was one near disaster on the day.  When barreling down a steep hill, I try to take the driving lane rather than the shoulder since the lane is generally in better condition and safer for high speed.  Today, while racing down a hill in the lane, I noticed just in time that there was a 4x4 board laying across the road.  I saw it in just enough time to veer onto the shoulder and avoid what would have been a certain disaster.

The weather forecast continues to be vexing.  It is supposed to rain all day Wednesday so it looks like I will need to hole up for another day after tomorrow.  That affects how far I want to go tomorrow since I want to be in a good place for laying over.  That looks like Riviere-au-Renard.

Day 10: Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Grande-Vallee to Cap-des-Rosiers, Quebec [56.5, 6:55, 8.2 mph, +4,762’, -4,742']

The hotel waitress told me the restaurant up the road was open at 6 for breakfast but I wasn't totally convinced so I timed my leaving to get there right around 7.  I was also curious why this restaurant was located on the edge of town.  When I got there I understood why – it was part of a motel complex.  I had a decent omelet breakfast but not as big a meal as I would have liked for what promised to be a hard day with lots of climbing.

Starting right out the road served notice that it would be an up and down day.  There were virtually no flat spots.  There were also no food services until Riviere-au-Renard that I found.

The interesting scenery was the little towns.  The road would approach from a hill, descend to the town, and then climb back out.  After about 35 km the road headed inland for about 17 km before returning to the coast.  I finally gave up on finding a food mart along the way and stopped at a municipal park at noon for my second breakfast.

When I reached Riviere-au-Renard, I passed on a grocery store and never found a food mart.  Since tomorrow looked like a likely layover day again, my goal for the day was get as close to the south side of Forillon National Park as possible with a motel.  From Riviere-au-Renard, there were 3 possible options along the north shore.  I ended up at the last option – Cap-des-Rosiers, the site of a lighthouse and the turn to head to the south side of Forillon.  I would have preferred to continue to the other side but I worried that places could be closed for the season and then I would be stuck.

While riding down the north coast of the park there was an Information Center.  I was about to pass it by but thought maybe they could reassure me about what was still open.  So I cut across a lawn to get to the information building when I suddenly had a sharp pain in my foot.  I thought I had picked up a sticker and when I removed my sandal my first impression was a cocklebur but then I saw it was a bee stuck between my toes.  I brushed it off but had a good sting.  The last time I got stung on a tour I had an allergic reaction but had been stung since without any problem.  Nevertheless I kept a close watch on my body but after about 10 minutes the pain went away and the sting only caused some swelling in my middle toe and surrounding foot.

I ended up at Cap-des-Rosiers, a known quantity.  I got a motel for $82 and it had a restaurant with limited hours.  There was another motel in town but it had no restaurant.  There was also a fast food place near the lighthouse but it was either closed for the season or at least during the week.  The motel's restaurant didn't open for dinner until 5:30 so I had a couple of hours to kill and I munched on some of the food in my panniers to hold me over.  I was at the restaurant at 5:30 and had lasagna on its limited menu.

I had thought yesterday's big climb would be harder than anything today but some of the hills were rather difficult.  Fortunately, the steep parts were relatively short but I spent a lot of time in my lowest gear.  I concluded that yesterday's big climb was aided by the strong tailwind.  There was a tailwind today but not nearly as strong as yesterday.

Day 11: Wed, Sep 14, 2016 - Cap-des-Rosiers, Quebec - layover

It wasn't raining when I got up in the morning but it looked like it could at any time.  At 7:45 I walked to the cafe when breakfast started and lasted until 10 am.  The only breakfast item on the menu was a continental breakfast that apparently normally cost $10 but only $5 for motel customers.  It was a good breakfast with bagels, muffins, cereal, and a variety of other breads.

Around 10 I asked to stay another night but my room was already reserved.  However, the manager offered the room next door for the same price.  The only real difference was it had twin beds and that was fine by me.  The manager also included the $5 breakfast at my request.  Then I had to wait until the current occupants of my new room left and the maid service prepared the room.

I took that opportunity to do a walk along the coast on a hard packed gravel road.  I got some more close up views of the steep cliffs along the north shoreline as well many birds on the beach.  Around 11 it was starting to sprinkle so I decided to head back.  It was good timing because it was drizzling steadily by the time I got back.  My new room was also made up so it took about 10 minutes to do the switch.

One good thing about the new room was it had better chairs.  The old room had sumptuous leather chairs that were too low for typing on my laptop on the table in the room.  The new chairs were simply folding chairs but were much more suitable for working with my laptop.

I spent the afternoon taking a nap, lubricating my bicycle chain, and browsing the Internet.  It didn't look like it ever rained that much but it was kind of miserable weather.  If I had just wanted to get from point A to point B it was rideable.  However, my plan was to visit Cap-Gaspe at the south eastern tip of Forillon National Park.  So I really wanted a day with good visibility.

It was interesting that my motel appeared to be nearly or completely full last night.  Part of the attraction was no doubt the national park.  The other was the lighthouse that was Canada's tallest lighthouse at 112 feet tall and situated at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

This Gaspe area also has some notable World War II German U-Boat history.  The Germans sunk a number of ships in 1942 and some more in 1944.  The Canadians were ill-prepared for the U-Boat invasion.  Some folks apparently believe that the U-Boats even made their way up the St Lawrence to Quebec City and beyond.  However, my browsing didn't indicate that level of penetration.  A lot of the activity was around Nova Scotia which was the kick off point for travel across the Atlantic.

My toe that got stung yesterday was uglier looking today but it was a minor annoyance.

Day 12: Thu, Sep 15, 2016 - Cap-des-Rosiers to Gaspe, Quebec [49.8, 5:40, 8.8 mph, +3,187’, -3,170']

The weather was much better in the morning with the sun reflecting off of the steep Forillon cliffs.  I got everything packed up so I was ready to go as soon as I was done with my continental breakfast at 7:45.  I got my fill of cereal, oatmeal, and various bread foods.

It was about 8:30 when I left.  Today I got to see the reason for all the dump trucks I saw the other day while riding east from Riviere-au-Renard to here.  There was road construction right at my motel and a couple of other places later on.  The motel proprietor told me they were re-routing the road through the park to be closer to the park entrance in the hope of enticing more visitors.

I had to take a couple of detours and then make my way through a 1 km one-way section.  The flag person didn't know English but we quickly agree with sign language that I would just proceed and hang along the edge of the road and that worked fine.  There was a steep 1 km hill to climb and then I was on the other side of the park.

When I reached the end of the road I turned east and took the park entrance and paid my $4.90 senior fee and continued on.  My main goal for the day was to hike to the Cap Gaspe Lighthouse which was at the end of a 3.5 mile long peninsula and about ¾ mile wide.  I rode southeast 6 miles until I reached the end of the road and the parking lot where I locked my bike and started hiking.  Right away I noticed there were a lot of kids and it looked like there was a school outing.  Earlier I saw a couple of school buses parked at another view area.  I guessed they dropped the kids off and moved to the parking lot to wait until it was time to pick them up again.

It was a relatively easy hike on a gravel trail that I realized I could have ridden and saved time.  At the end of the trail there was a steep climb to the lighthouse and I doubt I could have ridden that.  Supporting that idea, there was a bicycle rack at the base of the hill.

There were a lot of kids at the lighthouse but I still managed to get some kid-free photos.  This lighthouse wasn't the tallest but it was perched on top of a fairly high hill.  After a quick snack I headed back.  Along the way I picked up a hiking trail that paralleled the gravel trail.  This offered some coastline views with small coves and laminated rocks.  Had I ridden my bike I would have missed this.

Back at the parking lot a teenager from Trois-Rivieres – French for three rivers and sometimes called Three Rivers – queried me about my touring.  She was impressed that I had ridden from Quebec City because the bike looked pretty heavy (it was).

Returning back to the main road and riding west was slower because now the wind was a headwind.  At Cap-aux-Os there was a campground and a motel which I had considered riding to the other day.  It was a small motel so there could have been a problem with availability.  However, there was a small store that would have been nice to have and I stopped to pick up a few things and have my second breakfast.  Surprisingly, the store didn't have milk but it had muscle milk. I tried that and hoped it would add some muscles...

It was slow going the rest of the way west until 132 cut across the bay and headed southeast to Gaspe.  There was a motel/campground about 4 km outside of Gaspe that I considered but I needed to get to town to get some cash.  Once I rode on I saw it was going to be difficult to convince myself to come back.  There was a fairly big hill and then the rest of the way had a poor shoulder, rather narrow and somewhat cracked up with some gravel sprinkled in for good measure.

When I got to town I stopped at a food mart but it didn't have a cash machine.  However, the cashier pointed to a bank across the street and I took care of that.  Then I came back to the food mart and picked up food for the evening.  I expected to camp at another campground outside of town. 

On my way I had to cross to the other side of town on a bridge and then finally I saw an Information Center sign.  I stopped to verify that the campground around the bay was still open.  Then the hostess gave me directions to the LRV and how to exit it after 10 km.

It was nice to ride the trail.  However, after 10 km I was confused about the directions.  After pedaling around I dug out my GPS and discovered it knew about the campground and that got me to the place although my GPS said it was on the right up ahead when it was on the left.

When I told the camp host I was from Chicago he promised me I wouldn't get shot, having just heard about another Chicago homicide in the city's year of violence.  I got a site for $28 plus $2 for Internet access, the most expensive of the trip and the first time I had to pay for Internet access.

Then I set up camp, cleaned up, and settled in for the night with temperatures expected to drop to the high 30Fs.

It was a good day with a successful hike on a nice day.  I would have liked to spend more time in the park but there were only two more good days after this day and then rain was predicted.  So I figured I needed to try to make as much distance as I could today and the next 2 days.

Day 13: Fri, Sep 16, 2016 – Gaspe to Perce, Quebec [42.7, 4:54, 8.7 mph, +2,285’, -2,131']

It cooled off considerably overnight but that made it good sleeping weather.  On the other hand, my tent got quite wet from condensation.

There was a restaurant 4 km down the road open for breakfast at 7 so that was my target.  But I missed that by quite a bit and didn't get there until about 7:45.  However, the menu showed something I hadn't seen before on this trip – pancakes.  I asked the waitress how big they were and she didn't show them as being particularly big but I ordered them anyway.  It took quite a while for my order to arrive but the wait was worth it.  The pancakes were large and good.  Other than for the buffet breakfast in Quebec City, this was the first time I felt I had a real breakfast for touring.

I left right around 8:30 with my goal to make Chandler or as close as I could.  The camp host was surprised yesterday when I said I wasn't stopping at Perce but I wanted to take advantage of the good weather for the next two days.

There was one steep climb early and the rest of the way was up and down until two big climbs approaching Perce.  The road headed southeast which paralleled the southern coast of Forillon NP so I had some views of the park.  Eventually I even was able to see the lighthouse at the tip of the park.

As the day wore on I started rethinking my plan to just pass through Perce.  The two big attractions in Perce were the split rock which gave the town its name (Perce = pierced) and Bonaventure Island that had the largest colony of gannets in North America.  I eventually decided I should try to see the island although there were a number of views of the famous Rock along the way.

Around noon I finally came upon a food mart so I stopped for my second breakfast.  I was at the point where I was starting the traversal around the bay to Perce.  Yesterday the camp host suggested a way to shave 11 km off the route by following the train track that cut across the bay.  However, after I told him how much my bicycle weighed, he said that wasn't such a good idea since it involved some hiking.

So I continued around the bay and as I was coming around the other side I saw a LRV sign and took that.  That routed me to the railroad tracks and then crossed it, where a vehicle couldn't cross, turned south and re-connected with 132.  Then the climbing began.  I thought it was just two climbs but the first climb was really a series of climbs.  Then there was the second climb that led to a screaming descent into town.  The downhill sign warned of a 17% grade and it was pretty steep.  I could possibly have broken my bicycle speed record except I eased down the initial part of the hill to take some photos of Perce, the town, the Perce Rock, and Bonaventure Island.  Then I cut loose and hit 70 kph, which was 20 over the 50 kph speed limit.

I immediately made a bee line to where I guessed the boat excursions were and guessed right.  I signed up for basically an hour cruise around the rock and the island for $30.  I thought the time was later than it was but I was there just before 2 pm and had just minutes to lock up my bike and grab a few things, and run down to the boat, the last one to get on.

I enjoyed the trip.  First we skirted around the rock and then headed to the island, which is home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world with 47,800 pairs recorded in 2011.  On the back side of the island, there were gannets in every nook and cranny of the steep rock face which offered protection from predators.  That alone made the trip worthwhile.  Then we docked at the front of the island where folks could get off and hike on the island and return later.  We had 12-15 on our boat but enough people were waiting at the dock to return that the boat, which could handle about 80 people, was nearly filled.

Back in town just after 3, I stopped at the Information Center and discovered there were a number of camping options.  I chose one just down the street and was surprised that there was no charge for tent camping or a shower.  At first I thought the camp host was jerking my leg since I expected to pay something in the $20-25 range.  So I lucked out with a free night.  The tent sites were in an open area with picnic tables which was fine by me.  There was no one else in the area either.  On the down side, I didn’t know how to connect to the Internet.  When I went back to the office the office was closed.  Somehow I didn’t feel like I could complain with a free camp site.

The other good thing was the campground was right near downtown so after cleaning up I headed out for dinner.  It was a luxury to have many choices.  Restaurants were obviously very competitive and virtually all the restaurants had menus posted outside.  So it was nice to just browse the menus.  I had kind of decided on fish and chips but was surprised that they were so expensive, as much as $26.  I expected fish to be relatively inexpensive in this area.  Eventually I found a fast food place with fish and chips for $17.  This was my kind of place.  I ordered at the counter and my meal was in front of me almost before I could sit down.  The fish and chips were perfectly fine.

Then I walked back to the campground and checked out the menus for breakfast in the morning.  It was clear I would have several options and I found a couple listing pancakes.  Interestingly, my breakfast bill in the morning listed my meal as crepes.  I had asked a waitress early in the trip if crepes might be pancakes but she indicated they were thin and that suggested to me they were crepes as I expected crepes to be.  Now I wasn't so sure anymore.

So this turned out to be a good day starting with a good breakfast and ending with an interesting boat excursion and a free campground.  On the negative side, I discovered I had a broken spoke on my front wheel.  I had noticed before that it looked like there was a little wobble in my front wheel.  I had also heard some pinging sounds at times and I guessed that was the loose spoke.  So I eventually needed to find a bike shop to replace the spoke but this wasn't an emergency.  Possibly Chandler may have a bike shop.

Day 14: Sat, Sep 17, 2016 – Perce to Port-Daniel-Gascons, Quebec [53.0, 6:15, 8.5 mph, +2,188’, -2,215']

I did a better job of packing this morning and making it to the restaurant I had picked for breakfast at 7 am.  However, I didn't do so well on selecting my breakfast.  I picked the 3 pancakes and got 3 crepes, rolled up like burritos.  All these restaurants in Perce showed both the French and the English menus.  So I guess I can't count on getting pancakes when the menu says pancakes.  The crepes were actually pretty good, just not filling enough.

I left town on an overcast morning wondering about the weather with rain predicted starting on Sunday.  It was a bit of a climb leaving town but the route was reasonably flat with no significant climbing until the end of the day.  There were nice views along the way as the road mostly hugged the coast.

Just before I got to Grande-Riviere I stopped for my second breakfast at a small store.  I also remembered that Gaspésie Tourism had sent me a booklet for cycling the Gaspe and it had a list of bicycle shops.  So I checked and saw that Grande-Riviere had a bike shop, which surprised me, and Chandler had two bike shops, although I didn't realize until later that the Chandler shops were for bike rentals.

So as I rode through Grande-Riviere I kept an eye out for a bicycle shop and when I spotted a sign for some kind of sporting goods I figured that must be it.  It was just off the main road so I stopped and asked if they could replace a broken spoke.  Only the head guy knew some English so communication was a little difficult but they understood the loose spoke when I showed it to them.  They told me to bring the bike around to the side where we removed the wheel and took it downstairs to the shop area.  Then the mechanic had difficulty finding the right length spoke.  Finally, he took a long spoke, cut off the threaded end, and tried to re-thread it with a threader but that didn't work.  Finally, he checked a rim that was laying around and it had the right length spoke so he removed one and used it.  This wasn't the best approach because you never know how the hook end of the spoke is going to sit in the hole of the new rim but that was the best that could be done under the circumstances.

Since the mechanic was removing the tire and tube I had him replace the tube as well.  It only had 3 patches but one patch was just on the opposite side from the tube valve so I was a little uneasy about that.  This also allowed me to send a few more bucks their way for attending to this right away.

This whole process would have been somewhat easier if we had a common language but we managed to work through it.  It ended up costing me $22 which was perfectly acceptable to me for a fair amount of time spent on replacing the spoke and getting a new tube as well.

This bike repair took close to an hour but it was nice to have the spoke replaced.  It was a 36-spoke wheel so I most likely could have ridden the rest of the tour with 35 spokes but this was just safer.

The next real town down the road was Chandler which had kind of been my goal yesterday until I decided I shouldn't just pass through Perce without stopping.  Just on the west side of town I almost missed the LRV before doubling back and picking it up.  This not only got me off the main road but the main road went around the bay and this LRV cut across the bay, saving 4 miles.  The LRV followed the railroad track across a bridge, using a bike/pedestrian bridge.

About halfway between Chandler and Port-Daniel-Gascons, the road headed inland for the only real hills of the day.  There was a couple of short stretches where I used my lowest gear but these were rather modest hills compared to other hills on the trip.

When I got to Port-Daniel-Gascons I had to decide how much further to go.  It was 3:30 and I could ride another two hours but it wasn't clear I would end up in a good place.  So I was happy to see a sign for an Information Center but it was closed and there was what looked like a motorcycle rally party in its parking lot.  That had me worried that everything could be booked up but that wasn't the case.

I rode down the road a short ways and saw a motel and stopped at a food mart.  I asked about services and it appeared there was just this motel and one earlier a little off the road.  I somehow expected more in the town.  I also didn't get any idea it was worth continuing on so I ended up with an $82 motel room.

Conveniently, there was a restaurant just across the road where I had another fish and chips dinner that was a little better than last night.  I was the only customer around 5 pm and checked later and only saw a few cars so I might have been a big revenue booster for the night.

The big issue now was the weather.  Rain was predicted for several days now so I couldn't just take a day off and wait for the weather to clear up.  It looked like I was going to have to do some riding in the rain.  At this point I was 2 good days away from completing my Gaspésie tour at Campbelton, New Brunswick, but it might take 3 days to get the effect of two good days.  At least I got two good days for the Forillon and Perce visits.

Day 15: Sun, Sep 18, 2016 - Port-Daniel-Gascons to Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec [71.7, 7:25, 9.6 mph, +2,541’, -2,483']

I got up once in the night it was raining steadily.  When I got up in the morning the rain was stopped.  The weather forecast looked better with 25% chance of rain.  I ate breakfast in my room and then left around 8.  It was in the mid/upper 50Fs with some misting.

There was a moderate climb leaving town and then only a couple of moderate climbs the rest of the day.  I didn't know how far I was going to get but I hoped to reach at least New Richmond and ideally Carleton-su-Mer.  If I could reach Carleton I would be in position to reach New Brunswick tomorrow.

Even though it wasn't misting very much I eventually got fairly wet wearing my windbreaker jacket.  One of the good things about the Gaspésie is there are a number of municipal parks with restrooms.  I stopped at one and decided to try something different.  I was wearing a long-sleeved nylon shirt that didn't seem to work well in wet weather.  The sleeves would get wet and clingy and cause discomfort.  Before I left for this trip I bought a North Face FlashDry long-sleeved jersey, thinking it would be better for rainy weather.  I decided now was the time to find out.  I put it on instead of my nylon shirt and also put on my rain jacket.  The good thing about my rain jacket was it had 14 inch underarm zippers that provided ventilation.  The combination worked much better and I was much more comfortable the rest of the way.

Yesterday the question at the end of the day was whether I should push on further than Port Daniels.    There were a couple of campgrounds along the way but I didn't want to camp in the rain and I wasn't sure how far New Carlisle was.  Today I rode into Paspebiac and hoped to find breakfast there.  It wasn't looking good for a while but then I found my friend Tim Horton at the far end of town and ate there.

Turns out Paspebiac and New Carlisle form kind of a metro area.  Just past the Tim Horton's I found a motel which I could have made yesterday had I known.  That would have put me about 25 km further along than Port Daniel.  And there were more motels in New Carlisle a little further along.

After riding through the metro area the road improved.  Before the metro area the shoulder had been grafted on to the side of the road after the fact.  It was somewhat uneven and less than ideal.  After the metro area the wide, smooth shoulder returned and riding was much better.

Since leaving the weather had improved and the low clouds lifted enough to see the water and the misting had stopped.  There was virtually no headwind and I churned out the kilometers.  By 1 pm there were some blue sky but then the clouds took over again although they didn't look threatening.

I reach New Richmond by 3 pm and it was clear then that Carleton-sur-Mer was reachable.  The clouds cleared up again and more blue sky returned for the rest of the way.

There was a little climbing to get over the headlands to reach Carleton on the other side.  Then I began looking for motels as I rode through town and kept looking.  I couldn't imagine there wouldn't be anything but I had to go to the other end of town to find something.  What I found first was some kind of convention/resort center and I didn't fancy that.  After inquiring I found I only had to go a little further to find a somewhat reasonable motel for $89 but I had to pay cash.  The motel actually had an ATM machine right next to the check-in desk.  Earlier I had picked up cash at a bank in Paspebiac so I was okay but the motel took almost half of my cash.

After settling in I walked back towards town and found a restaurant with a Chinese buffet.  Naturally I went for that and had a filling meal.  It was appropriate that on my longest riding day I would also have me longest meal.

Back at the motel I found things weren't so great.  The mini-fridge didn't seem to be working and I had to turn the cold up to the highest level.  Then it was hot in the room.  I turned down the thermostat as low as it would go to no effect.  The motel guy checked that I had set the thermostat low and that there was no heat generated.  Then he pulled out a long wooden vent below the window to let cooler air in.  Since the door also had a screen door, I opened the main door to let additional cool air in.  And finally when working on my PC the desk lamp just went out.

Still, I was generally happy with the day.  The weather never got worse than it was in the morning and I reached Carleton-sur-Mer which put me within fairly easy reach of New Brunswick tomorrow.

Day 16: Mon, Sep 19, 2016 - Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec to Campbellton, NB [36.7, 3:34, 10.2 mph, +613’, -878']

With the window venting, the room was passable for sleeping but I never used any covers.  In the morning it was drizzling when I walked over to the office for the continental breakfast.  Usually there is a spread and you just pick and choose what you want but not in this case.  The motel host brought coffee and the cook asked if I wanted toast (yes).  Then I saw someone else eating something out of a bowl so I asked if there was cereal or oatmeal and I got a bowl of oatmeal.  Actually I got a large bowl that was about a third filled with oatmeal.  I would have been disappointed except my large meal last night meant I didn't need as much food as normal.

When I left around 8 it was still drizzling and harder than yesterday morning.  So I wore my rain jacket and pants and was okay.  This was a carbon copy of yesterday morning – drizzle and fog – and I hoped the rest of the day would follow yesterday's pattern.  Unfortunately, it didn't and the drizzle was harder and stayed most of the morning.

There were some modest hills as the road headed inland around a peninsula but nothing difficult.  With limited visibility the ride wasn't very exciting other than it was only about 60 km to Campbellton.  I hoped to find breakfast along the way, mainly to get some respite from the drizzle but that was not to be.  Around 11 I stopped at a food mart and had a chocolate milk and muffin.  At this place there was a guy hanging around and I thought he was looking for a ride or something.  Instead, he was the attendant for servicing cars.  Apparently, Quebec does not allow people to fill their own cars with gas and an attendant is required.

When I left I only had about an hour of riding left.  One thing that helped was the wind was from the east, the opposite of the norm, and so I had some tailwind.  This got me to the Quebec/New Brunswick boundary just before noon.  I had to ride a bridge across the bay.  There was a walkway that I used since there was no shoulder on the road but it was a bit tedious.  It was wide enough but there was about an 8 inch drop-off from the walkway to the road, which wouldn't have been pleasant if I rode off the walkway.  So I had to concentrate very carefully to not wander left or to wander right and bounce off the fence and veer off the walkway.

Once on the other side it was just a little loop under the bridge to the Information Center.  I had been thinking for a day or two that I would prefer skipping the ride across New Brunswick to St. Leonard.  There was no train and bussing wasn't really an option since there was no direct route.  If I had wanted to bus I would have had to take an 11 hour circuitous route to get there for a 150 mile route.

I got the idea that maybe I could rent a car one-way and the receptionist at the Information Center called Enterprise Car Rental.  That would have been possible except all the cars were reserved for today and tomorrow and there was a waiting list.  That was a disappointment since I could have hopped into a car and been in St. Leonard by late afternoon.

There were 3 motels in Campbellton – Quality Inn, Super 8, Comfort Inn – and nothing was going to be cheap.  However, the Information Center had a coupon card good for $20 off so that made Super 8 the easy choice and it was easy to get to.  I got a nice room for a little less than $100.

I had some hassle getting WiFi working since the Super 8 had one of these deals where you start your browser and get directed to a Super 8 login page.  This doesn't work so well for my chromebook with Ubuntu installed on top of the Chrome OS so it took some fiddling to get Internet access.

Once I got access I decided to try to reserve a car to St Leonard for tomorrow.  I ended up with a reservation for tomorrow but to Grand Falls which was about 20 km south of St. Leonard.  I don't know if the choice of Grand Falls made the difference but somehow I got a reservation and got email confirmation.  I just hoped this was a real reservation and I wouldn't show up in the morning and be told no car was available.

Then I headed out to eat.  The Super 8 had discounts with several local restaurants and Pizza Delight was one of them.  I ordered a 15 inch pepperoni pizza and it was easily the best of the trip.  I didn't expect to eat it all and boxed up 3 pieces for later.  Speaking of later, I was surprised to find that New Brunswick was on a different time zone, one hour later.

Back at the ranch I checked out maps to see how to modify my routing from Grand Falls which had a border crossing.  It wasn't that much different than St. Leonard but I had to be sure I knew where to drop off the car and how to get to the border crossing.

Tomorrow's weather forecast for Campbellton was for misting in the morning and 60% chance of rain in late afternoon and evening.  Then the weather forecast looked good for the rest of the week.  So driving to Grand Falls tomorrow may avoid some rain and be a good time to not be riding.

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2016. All rights reserved.