Segment 11 - Quebec City to St. Louis de Kent
The best part of our rest day was the sun which began to shine as we left the residence to resume our eastbound trek. Otherwise, the Laval experience came up somewhat short. That thought was quick to leave our minds with the beautiful day, “old town” scenery, and downhill ride, which took Mike, Mary, Myra, Louise, Joyce and me to the ferry. The ferry conveyed us to Levis on the south shore. Then, we enjoyed a great bike path to #132, which we’d ride for most of the day. Our group lunched at TH in Montmagny. Our second food break came when we stopped mid-afternoon at the “renowned” restaurant, La Roche a Veillon.
Well sated, we departed. Eventually, cue sheet directions pointed us onto a stone rail trail, a pleasant ride for fifteen of the remaining twenty-two kilometres, with the St. Lawrence close to our left. Heavy clouds and rain were menacingly crossing the river toward us. Seldom have I seen Joyce bike so efficiently fast. The storm instead dumped on a town to the east of us, La Pocatiere.
It had been a great day, 20*C, cloudy bright with tailwinds, so we couldn’t complain about the headwinds when we reversed direction to follow Riviere Ouelle into camp, or the steady uphill to our campsite. The hard, hour-long rain, which started after supper at 9 o’clock, did nothing to hamper a good sleep.
Friday, 16 August was to be a quick day, the only major stop being for soup and bagel at Tim Horton’s in Riviere du Loup, where Michel joined us into camp. Other quick stops satisfied our thirst and hunger when necessary. Arriving in Trois Pistoles, the mention of a bakery on the day’s cue sheet had us searching enthusiastically. Finally, we patronized the right location only to learn that the establishment had changed name and ownership. No concern! The apple pie and coffee “hit the spot” and boosted our spirits and energy into camp. Our 3:50 arrival allowed us showers and laundry before supper. We retreated to our tent by 7:30 due to an invasion of mosquitoes. Diary entries and reading ended the day by 8:45.
For the second morning in a row, Joyce and I departed camp efficiently by 7:33. Soon on the route, Mike and Danny joined us to enjoy another day along the shores of the St. Lawrence passing through beautiful, small towns, St. Simon, Rimouski, St. Luce, and Metis-sur-Mer, among others. The route was as picturesque as any during our Tour. A memorable day! It started with coffee and toast for Joyce and me at an “auberge”. The $16.00 bill still stings. The four of us stopped a couple kilometres down the road at a well-stocked bakery, which we should rather have patronized in the first place. Mike didn’t make it outside before he was taste testing his purchase. Pictures, at opportune times, also retarded our progress. Many of our Tour group, who were also stopping at various points of interest, leapfrogged with us during the day. Of note was the Rimouski waterfront, the Onondaga sub, and the Empress of Ireland Memorial.
Sinking of the Empress of Ireland
It took just 14 minutes for the St. Lawrence River to swallow the Canadian Pacific’s RMS Empress of Ireland in the pre-dawn of May 29, 1914. The disaster claimed 1,012 lives. More passengers, but less crew, perished in this tragedy than in the infamous Titanic sinking of 1912, and the catastrophe ranks as Canada’s worst maritime disaster.
The Empress’s sinking is one of a triumvirate of ocean liner disasters between 1912 and 1915 that took over 3,700 souls. The other two ships were the Titanic and Lusitania, and the stories of their losses are well known. The Empress of Ireland was a monument to Edwardian splendour. The first class accommodations included a library stocked with 650 volumes, a café, a music room, and a smoking room. The dining room featured leather upholstery, handmade woodwork, sculpted ceilings, cut-glass fixtures, and an atrium that went up two levels to the music room. (excerpt of Encyclopedia Titanica)
It was tough not stopping, again, in the Riviera-like St. Luce, the main street and cafes bustling with tourist activity. The town was a treat to traverse.
Most rivers I’ve seen in my day have not been particularly big. The St. Lawrence is huge. The mountains on the north side were barely discernible over the expanse close to the end of the day. We turned south onto route #297 to leave its influence to tackle a number of hills to ascend the spine of the Gaspe Peninsula. Several, tough climbs remained on our way into camp. Beautifully situated on Lac de St. Damase, our campsite provided a great view by which to cook and enjoy supper. Loons would serenade us to sleep. But, annoying karaoke revellers, somewhere in the camp, did their best to interrupt the serenity and our sleep until a complaint closed them down.
The loons called again to awaken us early on a sunny 18 August. After preparing, eating, and cleaning up after a pancake breakfast, we had only one supper / breakfast responsibility left during the Tour. And, with but twelve days remaining, thoughts occasionally seeped into our minds that a super summer would soon be ending, regretfully.
Our day southbound would complete our journey across the base of the Gaspe Peninsula. Leaving the picturesque St. Lawrence River area yesterday had me wondering what to expect in the way of scenery today. Canada would not disappoint!
Our destination was Sugarloaf Provincial Park near Atholville, New Brunswick, our seventh province. The day began with a downhill, but the headwind had us pedalling. In Amqui, we refreshed with a coffee and muffin at McDonalds. From there, only a brief lunch stop in Causapscal interrupted our day’s journey past lakes and along Riviere Matapedia, world renowned for its fly fishing, until the covered bridge at Routierville. A prolonged stop with others allowed for some necessary photographs. Our riding group changed regularly for the remainder of the day. About five kilometres from camp, a large contingent of our group patronized the Dairy Queen for a pre-supper dessert. A good supper in a fine park with great facilities ended a good day.
The tour group decided on a later breakfast due to the time change, a decision welcomed by most. After arising at 6:35 on Monday, 19 August, we enjoyed another pancake breakfast at 7:15. Hopping on the saddle by 8:15 am. was still an efficient start to the day. Only moments from camp, six of us stopped at the “big salmon” in Campbellton for an obvious photo op.
And, not far down the road, many of us stopped at Timmy’s in Dalhousie for coffee and the customary, cycling vices. Good thing since we had a monstrous hill out of town. It was short, steep, . . . . ., and breathtaking. Our reward for that accomplishment was relatively flat terrain and . . . pitter patter. We donned our rain coats, but only temporarily since the sun would soon come out producing a humid day into camp. The day was so short, I went blasting by the campground entrance only to have Joyce hailing me to come back. It was only 2:41 pm., unusual, with only 97.8k registering on my bike computer. Camp and the afternoon were peaceful, the scenery, impressive. The good thoughts of our next rest day a day hence were tempered by tomorrow’s 150k day.
So tough! It was so tough to arise the next morning due to the relaxed afternoon of the previous day. Up at 5:55 am., the stunning sunrise, provoked the suspicion that “a beautiful sunrise in the morning, a sailor’s warning”, had me wondering. We left Murraywood Campground at 7:13 after breakfast. Finally, after two months, our departures were becoming efficient regularly.
South of Bathurst, my suspicion was realized. The raincoats went on. A misty rain wet us and the roads. In Alardville, many of us congregated to hover over a problem with Becky’s bike. It was beyond a “side of the road” repair, so Becky arranged for the truck to transport her and Clarke to Miramichi for professional attention. We needed no convincing to sit down with them for a coffee and another breakfast at the neighbouring restaurant. Once done, Joyce and I set off in a light rain, leaving Becky and Clarke to await the arrival of the truck.
Another fifty kilometres and we were approaching the bridge into Miramichi. The day had become cloudy bright. With dry pavement, a slight downward slope, and a tailwind, for miles, we cruised along at 35 to 42 kilometres per hour. Cycling ecstasy! Did I mention the storm following us?
Our rapturous ride was fleeting. Once at the bridge, with the easterly cross-wind, high traffic volume, and high, narrow sidewalk, dismounting and walking the 1.4k over the bridge was prudent. We biked around Miramichi for a short while, indulged in some baking badness, then pushed on. At the edge of town, Michel and Jacques caught up with us to escort us the remaining 54k into camp. A supper of spaghetti and lobster was a fine conclusion to the day and a super start to our rest day reprieve. Again, millions of mossies drove us to the tent by 8 o’clock.
Segment Table 11 – Quebec City to St. Louis de Kent, NB
|Location / Date||Time camp to camp||Time on bike||Max. speed||Avg. speed||Distance||Trip to date|
|Riviere Ouelle / 15Aug||10:00||6:47||46.6||21.2||144.4||5580.6|
|Trois Pistoles / 16Aug||8:23||5:50||49.0||21.0||122.6||5703.2|
|St. Damase / 17Aug||8:57||6:22||51.4||21.1||134.6||5837.8|
|Atholville, NB / 18Aug||9:30||6:45||53.7||20.9||141.3||5979.1|
|Petit Rocher / 19August||4:26||6:26||48.2||22.0||97.8||6076.9|
|St. Louis du Kent / 20Aug||10:42||7:37||50.4||20.1||153.3||6230.2|