Friday, July 18, 2014

Jour 13 - Journée libre Gite du Mont Albert 18 Jul

After a good night's sleep at a quaint Auberge (Chez Bass) in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, we took it easy with a bit of shopping and picnic lunch. We (Hélène) mastered incorporating photos in each of the posts. We are still working on how to have the posts appear in the correct reverse chronological order. After lunch, we left for the comforts of the Gite du Mont Albert. The Gite is undergoing renovations and our room was done in 2013. After enjoying a malt beverage in the room, Hélène headed out for 60 laps in the salt water pool. It was after all a "Journé libre!" Neither of us did any laps, we just got hold of noodles and lazily floated in the pool. Next on the agenda was our 7 p.m. dinner reservation. We both had the "Médaillon de cerf, raviolis, poêlée de champignons, sauce au cumin et baies de genièvre et légumes du moment" and, naturally the dessert. The stay at the Gite was a most fitting way to end an outstanding vacation.

Hélène's dessert. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jour 12 - photos

Here are a few pictures from our last day of cycling.
Only one road...and yet we still look at the map!

The last big's all down hill from here.

A nice relaxing ride down....NOT!!!!!
We got'er done!

Jour 12 - New Richmond to Gite du Mont Albert 17 Jul

We left New Richmond before 8am this morning.  We realized that to reduce the time it takes to pack you get rid of the tent. We stopped on route to buy drinks and got onto Hwy 299. The sign read " Sainte Anne des Monts 145 km". With our stop 45 kms back, we had 100 km sto cycle (80 kms uphill and 20 kms downhill). We had our second stop for coffee 5 kms away at a fishing equipment store. We finally got serious about pedaling a good hour after we left. The route takes you along the Cascapédia River. It is a major salmon fishing river and you can see fishermen and fishing sites every 2 kms or so. The scenery is gorgeous.  We stopped twice to eat and use our water purification system on the river water. It was hot and humid and we had to keep hydrated. Without the purifier, we would have ran out of water.  After 7 hours and 20 minutes, we finally reached the top of Sterling Mountain at 533 meters. We were glad to start the 20 or so kilometers ride downhill.  At 5:30 we arrived at the start point and our very short Tour de la Gaspésie 2014 came to an end. We could have kept going for another couple of weeks. For our tremendous effort today an additional beer was authorized for all participants.  Tomorrow is a "Journée Libre". See previous posts for an understanding of a "Journée Libre".

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jour 11 - Paspebiac to New Richmond 16 Jul

If it is not the sun waking you at 4:30 it is the seabirds having a fight. After a good breakfast, we started to pack our gear. Packing got a lot quicker as the rain started within minutes we were soaked and it just kept on raining. We had awesome weather till then so we were due for a soaking.  Bikes all loaded we ever so slowly made our way to the nasty hill. A good's night rest made a world of difference.  We attacked that hill and were at the top in no time.  I got off the bike for a few minutes and it tipped over breaking my mirror. When you pack in a hurry, some things don't always go back where they should resulting in an unbalanced load. Rookie mistake won't happen again. Off we went to Tim Horton's for wi-fi and bitter coffee.

The weather held off nicely and off we went. The wind was once again to our back and it was an easy pedal. In St-Siméon Helene had a flat tire. We stopped at a "belvedère" by the sea and first had lunch then fixed the flat.  Doing it the other way makes for disgusting sandwiches. The Gatineau couple we had seen the day before happen to drive by and offered help.  Being two "Encadreurs" we were confident we had the situation under control.

Just before New Richmond, the skies turned black from a thunder storm. We quickly turned around and headed up the hill to a small cantine to wait out the downpour.  We got there just in time.  Finally in New Richmond we looked for a campground near Hwy 299.  We found a place located 6 kms past the grocery store.  Because there are no services on Hwy 299, we had to pick up enough food for 6 meals. This added nicely to our loaded bikes. At the campground, Helene noticed what looked like a big cottage with 2 doors. Turns out it was common use building for campers when it rains. The owner (a former cyclo touring) said we were welcome to use it and sleep inside.  He only offers this to cyclists (being soaking wet must have helped his decision).  By then, it had started to rain again.  For the same price as a campsite, we got to sleep inside! We look forward to using the his and hers bathrooms, running water, fridge, stereo and the huge deck. I am certain you all get the idea. Finally I am caught up on my blog posts.
Mileage 64.4 kms (

Okay I know how to do this...gimme a minute

In the foreground the old coffee maker and the soon to be new "European coffee maker"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jour 10 - Chandler to Paspebiac 15 Jul

Once again we left at 8 am with a most positive view of our short time in Chandler.  Scenery was less spectacular than previous days as we spent more time inland.  After a few 100 kms,  all trees and hills look the same no matter how you look at them. You would think having trees on either side of you would significantly cut down the wind but no. The winds were less but not much less. We are finding out to our great chagrin, that although people want to be helpful when they provide information they are often in error. Doesn't matter much if you are off 4/5 km to the next food store in a car but on a loaded touring bike it does.

The plan was to visit the historic cod processing site in Paspébiac and then off to New Carlisle 8 kms away. The visit was most interesting and we'll worth the 9% climb we would face to get back on Hwy132.  After the visit, we simply ran out of steam. Waiting for us as we were heading off the historic site was that couple from Gatineau we met the week before. They were now touring in their camper. They mentioned they had stayed at the campsite down the road. We decided to do the same. We had to get groceries and rode up the 9% hills without our luggage. The climb was excruciating. I don't think we would have made it up without pushing up the bikes. Those cold beers (we had more than the 2 beers I am medically encouraged to drink) on returning to the camping were simply marvelooouuus.  It was very windy and we had a great time putting up the tent. Another cyclist riding the same brand of bike as us pulled in and we had a great chat about Surly's. We cooked indoors as the winds were to much for our one burner to operate properly. 
We went to bed early and both passed out quickly. 

Mileage 66.5 kms (

Photo taken by colorful local character
Paspébiac Historic Site

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jour 9 - Perce to Chandler Addendum 14 Jul

Helene planning the next "Journee Libre"

Jour 9 - Perce to Chandler 14 Jul

We finally managed to hit the road at 8 am. The head winds off the water were brutal and we decided to stop every hour on the hour for 10 minutes. The 9 am break lasted 40 minutes as we took a little walk at Anse-au-Fils to check out the general store and the old factory. Ran into Christian, a kayaker who was camped on the shore. He had started from Trois - Pistoles and was on his way to New Brunswick to meet up with his girlfriend and kayak to NS.  He had two hand carved Aleutian Island paddles. I can see those on my to do list.
We cooked lunch at Grande-Vallée at the stop lights on the side of the road. We sure got some funny looks from folks in their cars. We stopped at a fish plant to see how they dry cod but it was too early in the fishing season. As we continued to peddle down hills because of the wind, we finally made it to Chandler. The lady at the Information kiosk was really switched on and told us of a short cut to our campsite that would save us 13 km. She pointed us to the closest food store and the route to get back to the short cut. She gave us a most favorable impression of Chandler. On the short cut over the barachois,  we noticed many panels lining the route. We got to cross the longest aluminium gangway (passerelle) in the world. At the campsite, we found out about a nice and affordable restaurant right there at the "Bourg de Pabos" that gave campers 10% off.
Before supper, we went back to view the panels. The panels covered the rise and eventual demise of the news paper industry in Chandler. At one point, most newspapers in North America were printed on paper from Chandler. Not sure who is the major employer in Chandler is now, but they sure are making themselves interesting to tourists. We plan on going back. The picture for Day 9 is taken at the Pabos restaurant. We were deciding whether or not to leave Chandler a day earlier because of the headwinds we had encountered. Those winds made climbing relatively smaller hills more difficult than the bigger ones on the North Shore. Reason being is that you can't coast downhill and you have to peddle to maintain a reasonable speed going down. With no wind going down hill we should have easily hit 35 km,  we peddled hard to reach 18-20 km.

Mileage 53 kms (

Daniel admiring Christian's hand carved Aleutian paddle
Helene preparing another roadside delight

A new friend after a day of cycling
Helene making her way on the world's longest aluminium footbridge (clear span of 62 meters)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jour 8 - Perce Village 13 Jul

Today we had no set agenda so on a whim, we went for a hike. We figured a trip to La Grotte and to a few lookouts on Mont Sainte Anne. Mont Sainte Anne has a huge rock face and appears almost flat at the top. It looks very much like a medieval castle. As you get from one lookout the view gets ever more breathtaking. From the top, you can see all the way back to the tip of Forillion park, 25 km away. We also got to see le Rocher Perce from every imaginable angle. On the way back, we saw la Maison du Pecheur, where plans for some of Quebec's and Canada's darkest times were conceived in the summer of 1969.

We stopped for ice cream.  I also discovered that "Journeé libre" (Free Day) should not in anyway be interpreted as a "Journée de Repos (Rest Day)" as noted on the detailed trip itinerary produced by my companion in crime!
Plan is to head out early tomorrow as we have found the winds to be calmer in the morning. We are also concerned about the rain forecast.

Mileage 12 kms (ascent 333m)  (
Le Rocher Percé as seen from the top of Mont Sainte Anne 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jour 7 - Perce Village 12 Jul

Started the day with a nice campsite breakfast and then off we went looking for an Internet cafe. We treated ourselves to a tasty americano coffee and a good two hours catching up on administration. Me on the blog and Hélène book keeping. Once the administration done, we got our boat tickets for an afternoon sail. We sailed around the Rocher Percé and Ile de Bonaventure.  It was most impressive to see some of the 200,000 birds who inhabit the island. We also saw many grey seals who also call the waters home. We landed on the island and hiked to the colony of Fou de Bassan.  They are the most populous on the island.  At the bird look out, you are mere inches from them and they are absolutely not bothered. We saw females on the nest sitting on their egg and others tending to their young chicks. The survival rate for young birds is less than 30% as many die taking that first leap of the cliffs. We also got to visit some homes that remained habited until 1971 when the park was created. The island and the Village of Percé where part of a once prosperous fishing economy. Unfortunately not much remains of those times past.

Mileage 0 kms

A few birds on Ile Bonaventure

Jour 6 - Gaspe to Perce 11 Jul

After a nice breakfast, we hit the road. First stop, the Armand Vaillancourt sculpture. Nice work but I did not find it as inspiring as "Le Drapeau Blanc". As usual, Hélène could not contain her emotions. We cycled an easy 10 km on the bike trail hoping to get back on Hwy 132. We ended up at a dead-end. We could either turn back or get on the railway tracks and cross the bridge. We chose the bridge. This little escapade across the estuary saved us a few kilometers and a few hills as well.
Head wind most of the way to Gaspé and incredible scenery. We got a nice and long view of the Rocher Percé as we cycled by the water. We stopped at an auberge looking for water and stayed for lunch. The place was very rustic and every inch covered with something. We got off the 132 and onto the alternate route to Gaspé. That added another 12 kms but it was easier to negotiate than a steep climb up a hill with crazy tourists looking at the Rocher and not the road. We stopped for a washroom break and ended up having two large bowls of ice cream.
Another 8 kms and we were home at the Camping du Village. You guessed it, the camping is located at the top of a hill and we have another small climb to our campsite. After shopping for supplies, Hélène cooked a nice supper (I drank beer) and settled in for the night. No mosquitoes.

Mileage 84 kms (

L'Eveil Collectif, Armand Vaillancourt

When the bicycle trail is just not exciting enough

A minimalist's nightmare

Our next challenge

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jour 5 - Parc Forillion to Gaspe 10 Jul

Instead of taking Hwy 132 and the brutal 14% climb, we bicycled back to l'Anse-au-Griffon to take La Route Verte. We ran into Mr Rochefort on the road and he gave us a toot and a wave. We also discovered a very nice little restaurant that for some reason seemed unknown to the tourist information folks. After a nice breakfast, we hit the bike trail that crosses the park. It was a nice and relatively easy 10 km with some hills, gorgeous scenery and folks on horses. On the other side, we got back to the 132 and the hills. We stopped for juice in Rose-Bridge at a stand ran by kids who were raising money. It was well worth the stop. We had a nice head wind all the way to Gaspé. As we neared Gaspé, we encountered more hills and the road was horrible and without a shoulder to ride on.
The hotel was awesome and as expected located at the top of a hill. A real bonus is that we could hit downtown Gaspé by walking down what had to be a 20% hill. It was work heading back to the hotel. We ran into 3 American cyclists who told us about a by-pass route in order to avoid the hill getting to Percé the next day.
We enjoyed an outside concert, had a lovely dinner and walked back up the hill to the hotel. Just before heading inside we turned to the water hoping to catch a glimpse of the sculpture by Armand Vaillancourt. Hélène booked us in a hotel within full view of the sculpture that so moves her! Incredible.

Mileage 53 kms (
What does it look like in winter
Our first multi-use path
Sharing the trail 
Raising funds for Montreal's Sainte Justine Hospital
Can you see it?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jour 4 - Parc Forillion 09 Jul

Today we headed off to the South side of the park to snorkel with baby seals. We were told that we can take a short cut by taking a walking trail that is easily manageable by bicycle. After pushing our bikes up the 800 m climb, we wondered when the biking part happens. Turns out that Hélène skied that very same climb during her ski trip here in 2013. The snorkeling was great and so was the boat ride. Arthur caused a lot of silt to flow into the Gulf so the water was pretty murky. We saw loads of common seals sunning themselves on the rocks and a few wandered into the water to check us out. They unfortunately kept their distance.
On the way back, we cycled part of the following day's route and were discouraged by the 14% climb facing us just a few minutes after leaving camp. A climb once you are warmed up is fine but brutal when just starting off. We decided to head to Gaspé the next day by taking La Route Verte. This meant more mileage but no crazy climb!
As we bicycled back, my only concern is how to cool the two beers waiting for us at the camp site. We put the beers in a creek and magic happened. Improvise, adapt and overcome.

Mileage on bikes 32 kms
Mileage on the trail pushing bikes 5 kms (
Easily negotiable by bike we were told

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jour 3 - Addendum

At l'Anse-au-Griffon we pulled into what we thought was the "dépanneur". It was a real garage with two work bays. It turns out that we missed the dépanneur located 2km behind us at the bottom of a hill. Hélène asked at the garage if someone could help us out (dépanner). A very kind gentleman, Mr Rochefort, who was getting his vehicle fixed offered to drive us to the dépanneur once the wheels were back on his vehicle. As we neared the depanneur it became obvious why we missed it. At the bottom of a steep hill (yes another one) and facing away from the main road. Loaded with even more stuff we headed out 16 km to Park Forillon, our home for the next two days.
Helene flashing her perpetual smile

Jour 3 - Grande-Vallee au Parc Forillion 8 Jul

Grande-Vallée au Parc Forillon, Camping des Rosiers (Secteur Nord)
Hills, hills and nothing but relentless hills. Enough said!

Mileage 92 kms, ascent: +1528 / - 1523 m (

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jour 2 - Dah blow out!

A few patches and it will be as good as new

Jour 2 - Mont St-Pierre to Grande Vallée (cont'd)

Fun came in as a 3 km ride up a 13% grade hill at a place called Ste-Madeleine de la riviere Madeleine. Things got more exciting when I had a rear tire blow out heading down an 11% hill. My rear tire was blown right off the rim. Helene was a ways down the road and heard the sound of the tube pop. No harm done fixed the wheel and off we went!
We finally made it to our camp ground and each enjoyed a cold beer and Doritos. As we sat down for supper, we were rudely interrupted by a couple of whales frolicking in the Gulf of St Lawrence!!

Mileage for the day 63kms, the last 20 kms being very challenging (
Can you see the whales?

Jour 2 - Mont St-Pierre to Grande Vallee 07 Jul

Another incredible day! We were just thrilled this morning to leave our new mosquito friends behind and hit the road. Sunny, not to warm and again a nice tail wind. The first 30 km we covered easily and would have been uneventful except for the rock slide. Riding your bike on the shoulder, you get to see just how big and how far the rocks travel down the cliff and on to the side and sometimes the road. As we went by, we could hear rocks fall as they came off the cliff face. Immediately, we accelarated to put space between us and the slide and quickly crossed the road to the other side.The rock slide went on long enough for Helene to dig out her camera from her bags and record part of it. Meanwhile on the road cars just drove by oblivious to what had just happened.
Before long we were climbing a small but nasty little hill at Bras d'Epee on our way to lunch. At lunch, we ran into another cycling couple from Gatineau who had left home on May 31st and cycled to Gaspesie. They were on the last bit of their trip and advised us that we would have loads of fun right after lunch. And fun we had!!!

Mileage  62.8 kms +1043 m / -1046 m (

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jour 1- Gite du Mont Albert to Mont St-Pierre 06 Jul

Le Drapeau Blanc, a work by Armand Vaillancourt
Today was simply incredible. We woke to a cloudy and windy day. We swung by the wharf in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and stumbled unto a sculpture by one of Helene's favourite artist, Armand Vaillancourt. The piece is called "Le Drapeau Blanc" and it is indeed an inspiring piece. It was assembled by Armand working with a group of 100 people including children.
From the wharf we drove 40 kms to le Gite du Mt Albert to drop off the car and ride back to the hotel and pick up our panniers and the tent. We left at 11:30 and got to our destination at 4 pm. On the way to Mont St-Pierre we must have seen close to 100 waterfalls. A lady in Marsoui told us there were normally about 5 or 6. They were probably due to Arthur that dumped tons of water on the Gaspésie. In Marsoui the river swelled and the trees it carried tore up the town's water in-take pipe and cause a sink hole that swallowed up a car. We were told that three homes were close to falling into the sink hole.
We fought off the off the mosquitoes as long as we could until we finally got to sleep.

Mileage 98 kms  (
Check the wind and yes, the waterfalls.

Yes the thumb works and kept on working for two weeks.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jour 0 - Gaspésie The Drive Up 05 Jul

We left Ottawa at 6:30 this morning and had an uneventful drive up. It was sunny until about noon then it clouded over, It started to rain before Mont-Joli and it has not stopped since. We ventured to the dock here at Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to watch the waves of the St Laurent to come crashing over land. We are told that the weather is to improve for tomorrow. Can't wait to find out exactly what that statement actually means.