Sojourners by Bike ~ Day 5

20 Sep

Day 5:  Sorel-Tracy to Trois-Rivières – 54 miles

Today brought something I have been looking forward to – cloud cover and a little cooler temperature.  My skin needed both.


Looking out the window of our hotel room you could see the St. Lawrence river.  We would be following the St. Lawrence as we headed toward and into Quebec City.

St. Lawrence River from Auberge de la Rive

We rode just a short way before we caught a ferry to take us across the St. Lawrence.  We loaded our bikes and went to the top so we could enjoy the nice view and take pictures.

Deena & Suzy, waiting our turn to board.
Squaring our bikes away.
Mark was the only one of us to take off his helmet – never know about rough water.

Today was the best I had felt all week and I was looking forward to the ride – from the description furnished it sounded like it would be a scenic day of riding.  Plus, I was excited that we were going to be riding on the Route Verte.

I had read about the Route Verte before coming on the tour.  The Route Verte is a 4,000 km plus, network of bike ways – bike paths, shared marked roadways, paved shoulders, etc.  What a resource!  It is the largest network of bike paths/roadways in North America, I can’t imagine there are too many anywhere that are as extensive.

Route Verte 5 sign

The other noteworthy road we would be riding was the Le Chemin du Roy (Kings Road).  We learned from Montreal Mark (aka Headmaster Mark 🙂 that it was the first road between Montreal and Quebec City, built in the 1700’s.  Mark was a wealth of information about Quebec, particularly the history of Quebec’s attempts to gain independence from Canada.

Shortly after leaving the ferry we were riding once again in bucolic (great word, Joshua) surroundings following the Chemin du Roy & Route Verte 5 signs.  There were several turns in quick succession, the group had split into a few smaller groups and we were all visiting and looking at one cute/quaint house after another.

I love this one!

Before long, Navigator Mark (aka the hubs) said to me that we were going the wrong way.  I didn’t normally pay a lot of attention to the detailed play by play of our daily route (since Navigator Mark was usually close by), but I had noticed that we hadn’t made a turn in awhile and according to the directions and the mileage, we should have.  I swear he has built in GPS (he does in fact own 2 GPS devices, plus has it on his phone), anyway, when he said we were headed in the wrong direction I stopped too.

He had noticed that there was someone outside at one of the houses we passed so he headed back there to get directions.  Joni, Don and Barbara were nearby so they waited too while Mark was attempting to get directions from this very nice French (only) speaking gentleman and his equally nice French (only) speaking wife.

  Parlez-vous Francais?  Parlez-vous Anglais?

Who knew that 9th grade French would come in handy 40+ years later.  Between words and gestures Mark established we had indeed missed our turn and needed to backtrack one mile.

The five of us turned around and headed back and sure enough the road we were looking for was right where it should be, we made a left and got back on track.  We couldn’t remember for sure who was in front of us, but hoped they too would realize they were headed in the wrong direction and turn around.

Before long, Joshua came by in the van and we were able to tell him about the other group.

We continued on in what was a perfect bike riding day.  Cool temperatures, heavy clouds with an occasional sprinkle and light winds.  Perfect.

To make it even better we had beaucoup bucolic scenery!  Gorgeous stuff.

We took our time, stopped along the way to take a few pictures and stopped at a neat looking general store in the middle of nowhere.

A bucolic cemetery –
Look at that cloud cover!
General store – Quebec style

We went inside, I needed to visit “the big girl’s room” and thought for sure they would have one.  In another conversation with a French only speaking Quebecer, Navigator/9th grade French Mark managed to get that there was a bathroom just down the road.  I thought it was odd they didn’t have one, but guessed that it was just for employees and that there was a gas station or something down the road for sweaty people on bikes.

Don & Barbara stopped too (notice the old gramophones)
Part General Store – part Museum

We bought a few things, including a mango slushy type drink and headed outside to quickly finish our drinks and find that bathroom!

After several miles of riding and not seeing any other stores or gas stations, it hit us that what she must have said was – there was a bathroom around the back of the store!  I really need to learn survival French!

We rode on looking at the bucolic beauty around us and my personal search for a place to take, in the words of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, a “naturale break”.

This was the best day of riding we had thus far – it was beautiful, cool, cloudy and virtually, no wind.

We rode on until we came to our “lunch stop” town – Louiseville.  Joshua and Mark had recommended a a couple of places, we saw Sojourn bikes at one so we parked our bikes and went inside (bathroom – yay!).  I had crepes and the best cappuccino of our entire trip – and I had many.  It was so delicious and pretty I took a picture.

A perfect cappuccino

While at lunch we met two men that were American expats.  One had moved to Quebec in the late 1950’s, the other didn’t say, but told us he was a master wood carver (Roger Desjardins) and gave us two small replicas of the ducks he carves and paints.  A woman from Louiseville that was also a cyclist asked us about our trip and wished us luck.  Nice people in Quebec.

Cathedral in Louiseville/Sojourn photo

We took off with Patty and Dick (aka Richard) and talked as we covered the miles.  Patty has done numerous bike tours across the country – she gave me some ideas for future tours.  One of the things that was enjoyable about this tour, is that between riding and dining we had a chance to talk and get to know everyone in the group – including Joshua and Mark, the tour leaders.  It was a very congenial group -and reconfirmed what I have found while biking over the years – people that ride bikes are almost always friendly and fun people!

At the 40 mile point some of the group took the van to our hotel in Trois-Rivières, others rode on.  There was a lookout area to see the St. Lawrence – it was very wide at this location.

Pointe-du-lac/Google Earth photo (Claude Mongrain)

We passed the candy factory, Les Bonbon, considered stopping, but didn’t.  Although we had taken our time and enjoyed the sights along the way, at some point most rides you get to the stage where you just want to get to where you are going so you can stop and get off the bike.  The fact that I passed a candy factory and didn’t stop, is testament that I was at that point.

We got into Trois-Rivières and followed the Route Verte 5 signs on the sidewalk/bikepath.  I
t was a busy area – the busiest we had been in thus far.  There were lots of turns, stop lights and stop signs to negotiate as we made our way the the Hotel Gouverneur.

It was fun riding, I felt good, especially considering we were near the end of a 54 mile day.  Mark, Joni and I meandered about Trois following the signs.  We pedaled fast to get through the tunnel with no cars which was near the hotel.  Once we saw the Ursulines Monastery we knew we were close.  A quick stop to take a picture of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and on to the hotel.

La Cathedrale Notre Dame du Cap

Another great day of riding.  We put away our bikes, relaxed for a little, cleaned up, then off to dinner at Bistro L’Ancetre just a few blocks away.

Bistro L’ Ancetre (Wikipedia)

By the time we left the restaurant it was raining, the forecast for Day 6 – our ride into Quebec City – called for a 90% chance of rain – our longest day on the bike – and it might be rainy.  Ugh.  I went to sleep expecting to wake up to rain, but remembering how inaccurate most weather forecasts are, gave me peace of mind and I slept well.

For the day, I rode 54 miles, avg. speed of 12.8, avg. heart rate 97 – proof it was a leisurely day of riding.

Read on: Sojourners by Bike ~ Day 6 (Part I) 

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