So I am now passing from Ontario into Quebec and French Canada. Unfortunately my French isn’t much good any more making things slightly more interesting as in some of the more rural areas their English is even worse! Makes for some interesting conversations with lots of hand gestures and pointing!
Tweed to Perth – 110km (23rd August 2017)
The day started with breakfast with Brian and Laura before we headed our separate ways.
I was back on the Trans Canadian Trail as it seemed good at this point but I hadn’t anticipated that yesterdays storm would have brought down so many branch’s and even trees, after 10km I had to switch to the roads to avoid some complete blockages. Most of the time not much of interest actually happened as I just pottered along the tree and lake bordered trail but I did see my first wild turtle, it was ninja stealthy and I nearly mistook it for one of the many rocks on the trail!
As the day wore on the trail got more broken, on long days like this it becomes hard as just trying to keep focused on staying on the bike as the larger stones move out from under my skinny wheels with a pop kicks wheels out all over the place. Its quite good fun though!
Perth to Ottawa – 92km (24th August 2017)
I was back on the highway most of the day but there was very little to see, days seem to blend now as the scenery doesn’t change that much, at times it feels like I am just munching out miles.
As ever as I got in towards town I started to get lost, I had a nice chat with a lady who has done similar trips herself up until a few years back, she was now in her 70’s!
First impressions of Ottawa was it was quite nice with some big gothic style buildings, most of which are government buildings.
I finally found the hostel and checked in and this one was an interesting one… its in a prison! As I checked in I was told the hostel had organised a night out at the local comedy club so I signed up to go along.
The doors in this place are heavy and thankfully an Italian chap, Alessandro, gave me a hand with my panniers up to my room, he also had just got to town and was heading to the comedy later. Getting to my private room I was slightly surprise at the size of the cell, it was tiny with only just enough room for the bed which my panniers had to go under!
So of to the comedy club we went and a good laugh was had, I cant remember the name of the acts but its the first comedy club that I have been to that was worth the money. Afterwards Alessandro, Tracy (an fun American chap), Serena (a lovely Italian lady) and an Aussie lass (who’s name has escaped me at the sec) went for one or two (rea 4+) drinks.
Ottawa – 0km (25th August 2017)
This morning I took the tour of the prison, learning its grisly history including the hundreds of bodies that were discovered in the court yard and potentially hundreds more that were under the carpark. The prison was closed in the ’70’s due to its medieval practices and the appalling breach’s in human rights, and the hostel opened there just 6 months later!
After the tour a few of us went to look round the city, Alessandro was in a bit of a mess from the night before which entertained me!
In the evening we had all signed up for a pub crawl, I had to behave as I was back on the bike but we had a good time, especially in the bar that we had been to the night before as it seemed to be “the place to be”.
Ottawa to Voyager Provincial Park – 115km (26th August 2017)
I didn’t get lost leaving the city!!!!!!!!! erm yea… might be too excited by that….
Once out of the city I was back on the trails, they really do all the same! These trails were better maintained and the going was smooth. The trails are mainly old rail tracks so the going is flat and straight so quick.
After about 80km I pulled up to the provincial park for the night, it wasn’t the best I have been to, just an overpriced campsite in the woods.
Voyager Provincial Park to Montreal – 93km (27th August 2017)
I’m starting to struggle to get up in the mornings, even when in a tent.
After about 10km on the road I came across a couple of tourers on the side of the road, one of them had a bad knee so was waiting to get picked up, they were only doing a couple of days so they weren’t too far out, I cycled on to the next town with the other one, Eric, before stopping and getting some much needed breakfast. Eric went on but I was likely to catch him later.
I caught up with Eric as I was on the way into Montreal…. you guessed it, I was looking at a map of where I was supposed to go. Eric was going the same way so I cycled with him getting information on everywhere that we passed through which was nice and meant I wasn’t getting lost!
I got to the hostel about 17:00 and got some food there before heading for a walk about the local area to get my bearings… and some more food. I got my first experience of the locals speaking solely French… this could get interesting, to say my French is rusty is being very, very kind….
Montreal – 0km (28th August 2017)
I was looking forward to Montreal as everyone says how nice it is, but I have to say I was slightly disappointed. I maybe its just that I had such a good time in Ottawa a few days ago, or that the language barrier had impacted me more than I realised but I just couldn’t get the feel for the city. I visited the area’s that people rave about and was just slightly underwhelmed. Having a rest day was good though and I put the bike into a shop for a check over.
Montreal to Granby – 82km (29th August 2017)
*sigh* I hate riding in cities…. I got lost, detoured, sent all over the place! Eventually I escaped and was back on the trails following Le Rue Vert. This route goes from Montreal all the way to Quebec so I would follow this for the next few days.
For some reason, even thought I had had a rest day my legs were tired and my head just wasn’t in the game. everything felt slow and sluggish and my right knee had started to play up again. For those that don’t know, my knees have been playing up on and off since I was about 16 so I know when they need to rest and when the pain will disappear.
The trail was the same as ever quite samey but its nice not to be on the roads.
Granby to Danville – 96km (30th August 2017)
Much to my regret I left the trails for a while today, I was greeted instead by gravel roads that were far more hilly and the gravel was tougher to ride on than the grit of the trails, that probably doesn’t really make sense but the bigger the stones the tougher on both the concentration, body and a bigger chance of something going wrong with the bike. This all means that going was slower.
On one of the gravel roads I had a particularly fun encounter with a dog that forced me to dismount and face it down, its not the first time but this one seemed quite determined to get to me! I find this quite entertaining as I have covered nearly 7000km through areas containing some of the most dangerous land predators and haven’t had an issue but come across the domestic dog and they will nearly always chase!
Danville to Quebec City – 150km (31st August 2017)
I started the day tired and it didn’t get much better, the first 40km dragged and I couldn’t get my head into the ride. I had made plans to meet up with some of the guy I had met on the road in Quebec but the last two days hadn’t been as far as I had planned so I had to make up the distance today, by 13:00 I felt like I had enough but had only covered about 40km. I had been in contact with the Nic (one of the cycle crew) and this gave me the drive to push on, after I had taken on some food (bag of crisps (1000cal) and some fruit juice (another 1000cals)) I was feeling better and started to push on, maybe I was low on energy.
As I crossed the bridge from Levi to Quebec I was already starting to see some of the beauty of the city with gothic structure of Le Château Frontenac looking over the town. I was slightly surprised by the almost militaristic feel of the city, I had no idea what to expect to be honest but the gothic structures, the sheer cliffs, city walls and Citadelle were a surprise.
Half hour after checking in I met up with Nic and had a few beers, it was a good night and great to catch up with him and his girlfriend, I hope to keep in contact with them and see them again some time down the line.
Quebec City – 0km (1st and 2nd October 2017)
I have had couple of days resting and catching up with some of my buddies from on the road in Quebec. The city is probably the prettiest I have seen in Canada so far with quaint rough stone cottages, imposing gothic towers and monolithic fortifications.
The city was first settled in 1535 and is one of the oldest cities in North America. Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist,
Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist.
French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort at the site in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in spring 1536. He came back in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement. This first settlement was abandoned less than one year after its foundation, in the summer 1542, due in large part to the hostility of the natives combined with the harsh living conditions during winter.
Quebec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and diplomat on 3 July 1608, and at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona. Champlain, also, served as its administrator for the rest of his life.
Quebec City was the headquarters of many raids against New England during the four French and Indian Wars. In the last war, the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759 and held until the end of the war in 1763. It was the site of three battles in which British troops under General James Wolfe defeated the French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on 13 September 1759 and shortly thereafter took the city; and the final Battle of Sainte-Foy, a French victory (28 April 1760). France ceded New France, including the city, to Britain in 1763.
So that’s the boring history bit, on the Friday I met up with MJ and one of her friends and went to the Circus Crepuscule, its one of the free performances put on by the city every year and this local troop are pretty good! After the show we headed for a drink and a “beaver tail” (a dough strip with topping, its nice!) the rest of the time was looking round the city and eating.