Sojourners by Bike ~ Day 3

18 Sep

~The daily account of a 6 day Bike Tour from Burlington, Vermont to Quebec City, Canada~
Loop Ride from Saint- Jean – sur – Richelieu – 58 miles

Today, we had the extra bonus of not having to pack up all of our stuff – we were staying at the Auberge Harris for two nights.  A big deal, let me tell you.
On typical days, we had to have our luggage down and meet for breakfast at 8am.  We would meet for our morning pre-ride briefing – describing where the most bucolic parts of the ride would be that day – about 8:45am.  We would get on the road, generally around 9:15am.  There was a lot to do to get a group of our size and our stuff, plus our bikes and needs for the ride (energy drinks, bars, and god knows what else) together each day.  The phrase herding cats comes to mind.  Kudos to Joshua and Mark for making everything but the pedaling – painless.

Back to the ride.  Today was a loop ride, we left the Auberge and returned to the Auberge 58 miles/6 hours later.

Madame Boutin, Auberge Harris
The morning ride was very pleasant as most of it was off road on cinder bike path; once we were out of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.  The temperatures were mild and a good part of the bike path, Le Monterigiade, was shaded.  It reminded me, in parts, of the Katy Trail.

From Google Earth (Michel Rochette)
Le Monterigiade bike path.
We rode easily along the path which passed through lots of farmland – i.e., more cornfields.  We did enjoy the shade and the quiet of the trail.
Are we in Kansas?

Every day the van, driven by whichever of the guys not on the bike with us, would stop so we could refuel.  It was always nice to see the van waiting.

Time to refuel.
A highlight of the day was lunch – actually a highlight nearly every day was lunch.  Lunch was "on our own" today which meant Mark and Joshua didn’t have to prepare it and we would just eat where ever we chose.  They had recommended a small cafe in St. Cesaire where we stopped for lunch.We rode into St. Cesaire looking for a small cafe called, "P Munier & Fille" – a bakery that served sandwiches and espresso.  Several of us stopped on the main street to figure out where the bakery was.  Much discussion and looking around ensued – still not seeing it – several minutes later someone recognized that lo and behold we were standing maybe 100 feet from it!  It was so funny!  We have come to refer to those types of moments as a "bike coma".

Notice the name prominently displayed.
A seriously hungry group. 

This was a very small place and we completely overwhelmed them.  Except for Mark (Montreal Mark) and Joshua our French was pretty limited, as was the proprietor’s English, so it took awhile to order and get our food.

It was worth the wait – not your run-of-the-mill ham sandwich – it was delicious.  Better yet, look at this picture of Mark eyeing his ham sandwich adoringly.

A happy and satisfied crew. (Sojourn photo)

It was another hot day and part of the crew decided to skip the Michel Jodoin Cidrerie, but about half the group rode on.  The miles just before the Cidrerie were hilly – my Garmin Edge said we climbed 1,019 feet Day 3 – most of that was in the miles to and from the Cidrerie.  The wind was also picking up, unfortunately for us it was a headwind.  The miles of apple orchards were beautiful.

Apple Orchard of Michel Jodoin

Once we got to the Cidrerie Michel Jodoin, we parked our bikes and walked inside to the coldest air I had felt in forever.  I was happy – restrooms with running water and air conditioning – what more could you ask for.  Maybe a little cold cider?

Betty and the bikes.

We toured the area where the apple ciders and spirits are made then lined up for the tasting.  Let’s face it, that’s why we were there.

Michel Jodoin Winery
The apples they use to make some of their products were beautiful.  I can’t recall the name of them, but they were even red on the inside.
Apple from MJ Orchard

The sparkling rose’ cider was excellent, my favorite that we tried.  The Michel Jodoin story is impressive and if interested, you can read about it on their website Cidrerie Michel Jodoin.

We left the cool and dark of Michel Jodoin’s and walked out into a bright, hot oven.  A few of the group took the van back to the Auberge Harris, a few of us headed back on our bikes.  Betty was not happy.

The hills we climbed to get to the Cidrerie we had to climb again.  Hot, windy and hilly – three words cyclists hate to hear – much less do.  The hilly section ended quickly but the heat and wind continued.  We rode through flat farmland with nothing to block the wind.  Did I mention that the roads were terrible.

Many in the group would later say this was the hardest day.  There were lots of turns, we were either going into the wind or with a crosswind.  Never a tailwind.  If there had been a tailwind we would have flown – but it was not to be.

Mark and I ended up by ourselves and even though we had filled our bottles up at the Cidrerie, we were quickly emptying them.  We rode slowly and on the rare occasion we saw shade we would stop for a few minutes.  It was brutal.

Miles later, looking up the road we saw what appeared to be a mirage – the Sojourn van.  Lucky for us it was no mirage, it was Joshua and he had ICE COLD WATER.  He had dropped the group off at the Auberge and then came back to make sure we were okay and refill our bottles with ICE COLD WATER.  What a guy!

He sympathetically cursed the headwinds with us, asked us if we wanted a lift then went off to find the others.

Refueled we were ready to take the heat and wind back on.  The views started to improve as we rode through the Chambly Basin and then along the Chambly Canal.

I was too tired and too focused on getting to the Auberge as quickly as I could (imagining the taste of that ice cold beer) to stop and take any pictures as we rode along the canal.  It was beautiful!  The canal, beautiful homes and magnificently paved (and wide) bike path was like something out of a cyclist’s dream.  It was simply gorgeous.

We rode alongside the Chambly Canal for around 10 miles then caught the bike path in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu for a few miles and back to the Auberge.

As we were getting off the bikes (Betty was dusty and tired) we caught a glimpse of the group that had either ridden back directly from lunch or taken the van back from the Cidrerie, at the pool looking cool and refreshed.  We cursed them under our breath and went inside in search of Madame Boutin and her cold beer!

For the day, I rode 58 miles, avg. speed 12.3.

Read On:  Sojourners by Bike – Day 4 

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