Monday, July 14, 2014

Montreal-Quebec-Nova Scotia Day 5. Montreal to Saint-Sulpice (80 km)

The trek has begun! I actually started late, at 9 am, because it took a while to pack and repack so I could get all my stuff into the saddle bags and basket. I was doing great until I figured I had to stop at the supermarket to buy food for a couple of days (a very simple menu of oatmeal for the mornings, a couple of apples for today’s lunch, two packs of pasta, and a can of tuna and a can of ham to tidy me over the next couple of days.

My plan was to ride a comparatively short distance to the bridge that could take me to the Parc national des Isles de Boucherville, which includes all of an island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River. Alas, I went round and round, misled by kind but misinformed Montrealites, until finally one of them explained to me that the bridge was not a bridge but a tunnel, and bicycles were not allowed. If I wanted to get to the park I would have to go back to Montreal to cross to the other shore of the river, and from there I “might” be able to cross. The “might” did it for me, so with tears in my eyes I retook the main trail north, toward Quebec City, with the idea of doing no more than 50 km this day.

I have a series of maps I had downloaded from Velo Quebec, where presumably the campgrounds along the route are clearly identified. Right! The “campground” I was headed for ended being a hotel (friendly to cyclists, but not a campground). I was at 60 km according to my odometer, but I was told there was an actual campground 10 km down the road. By this time I was getting tired (actually, my derrier was starting to ask for me to stop), but I figured I could push for another 10 km. So I did, and I got to the campground (by now the odometer read 70 km), and a very nice lady was ready to welcome me, but then I explained that I didn’t have a tent but a hammock. “Desole!” she said with genuine regret, “but we don’t have any place where two trees are close enough together.” Silly me; a hammock might be the best option if you are cycling through the Rockies, where there is dense forest all around. Here by a large river trees are found, to be sure, but they dot the landscape here and there, surrounded by a lot of rushes. Campgrounds further challenge the tree offerings by opening ground for campers and tents. Rats! The lady suggested I could push forward another 10 km, because she thought there was another campground at the next city.

What to do? I could push forward another 10 km and try my luck, or I could go back 10 km to the hotel I had seen. Prudence is the best part of valor, so I turned around, and by the click of 80 km in the odometer I got to the hotel, to spend the night in luxury (it plays havoc on the travel budget, however, because hotels are pretty expensive in Canada).

So, on top of carrying a lot of stuff (including a useless hammock), I am going to have to buy a tent in Trois-Riviers, a 100 km from here. Since I want to ride no more than 50 km per day that still leaves one night in between when I will have to improvise. Never a dull moment when in a biking adventure J

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