Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our bikes were ready by 9:00AM so we went to pick them up after another of Christine and chef Thierry's famous, and beautifully presented Auberge la Sabline breakfasts (today omelette and yesterday waffle). As we rode off, we came to a fork in the route and GPS Garmin told us to go one way, but we decided to take the other route to follow the coast through Notre Dame du Portage as it had been recommended by the manager at Mange Grenouille (where we stayed on Wednesday in Le Bic). Interestingly, we were riding along and there she was with her boyfriend, riding the other way having borrowed bikes from the place they were staying for the weekend. We waved hello, and she said a few things, as we peddled by. A few meters later we decided we should have stopped, so we rode back and had a really nice conversation and exchanged emails! Julie also recommended a few other places ahead in our ride today, and they were great tips, as we had a yummy lunch of local product tapas at L'Amuse-Bouche in Kamouraska. Our ride today was really pleasant: We had a few nice chats with folks at rest stops, saw many gorgeous vistas, and the meals today were all fantastic - good quality ingredients, prepared and presented freshly and aesthetically. We stopped in at an Artisan in St. Jean Port Joli and selected some local woodcraft - B remembers being here when he was 14 with sisters J and C and Mom and Dad. As our accommodation tonight is at a farm mansion, Villa Marichon (9Kms after St. Jean Port Joli - uphill finishing with a 7% grade) we ate dinner before going the 9Kms. We are in a beautiful room looking to the west, with the sunset on farm fields and the St. Lawrence seaway, and with crickets chipping and nice cool air from the window.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Baby Beluga, Baby Beluga... now we have seen how your mamma & papas make you ;-) Today we also saw dolphins, minke whales, and grey seals. Our whale watching tour this morning (9:00 at the pier; 9:30-1:00 tour) included two unique sightings: Belugas mating in the wild, and dozens and dozens of grey seals (over 60) feeding on a sudden supply of fish, while four large minke whales surfaced in the near distance - B took some good photos of the sightings. Some of the sightings (Beluga dance & minki whales) were near Rivière-du-Loup, and some sightings (grey seals & more minki whales) were near the marine park Tadoussac. After a good stop at the marine park we headed back to Rivière-du-Loup and again saw minki whales, as well as dolphins. No blue whales on our trip today, however two were seen on a tour two days ago. We walked into town from the pier (5.2Km walk; cross-training B calls it) and picked up some things for dinner after checking on our bikes (they are replacing Y's chain, which has done over 4,000Kms & is a bit stretched). This evening, B worked on the blog sidebar topic regarding our bike gear. (N.B. & FYI: We would not replace our Brooks saddles for anything - we think - and Y thanks Jonathan & Stacy for pointing out why they like their Brooks saddles. They are burnished leather and so slide a bit; they conform to ones own form; they rest against the sit bones so do not compress other tender flesh; and they are solid, so all the energy of the leg push goes into the peddle, and is not absorbed by the cush of a soft seat. As with other types of bike seats, Brooks saddles are female and male versions.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Breakfast at Mange Grenouille was another treat! B had omelette and Y had florentine crêpe. We were also in for a treat with the beautiful and interesting ride, in part, again, right on the edge of the St. Lawrence seaway. Also, yeah, the wind was from the east, at our back, so we made quick work of the hills and sailed along the flattish bits and downhills! We've left our bikes in good hands overnight and tomorrow with the mechanics at Cyclo Expert in Rivière-du-Loup and will pick them up after our whale-watching tour tomorrow, or when they are ready. (N.B. & FYI: The ubiquitous element of roadside debris seems to be banana peels. There are lots of gloves, tire bits, rubber tie-downs, and occasional socks - including one quite nice looking pair of riding socks - as well as unfortunate little animals, 1/2 bottles of ice tea (:-), partial ice cream cones, and broken car parts or glass, but nothing beats out banana peels. Y has photographed some of the peels and proposed to B that maybe people who eat bananas are comfortable with littering, or that crows find no nutritional value in banana peels, as she has only seen one orange peel and one apple core and there have been 2-6 banana peels per day since leaving St. John's. B replied that it is more likely that banana peels are less aerodynamic than other tossed biodegradables - but of course!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Super fun day! The day of ascent up to Val Brillant on the Gaspe yesterday resulted in a glide down for the first quarter of our ride today, which took us to the St. Lawrence seaway. There were hilly moments, of course, which we are managing really well. The first glimpses of the St. Lawrence were thrilling! Then, the ~40K from Saint-Flavie to Rimouski was all along the estuary.  We stopped so Y could walk in the water and she found the qualities of the sand, water and beach debris (animal shells & carapaces, drift wood, kelp & seaweed) and structure (double sandbar, slope, gravel transition zone and sand zones) to be singularly similar to Cordova Bay beach. There were even two young boys playing "crocodile" in the warmed water between the two sandbars! The ride along the waterway was also similar to Cordova Bay, with properties that went right to the beach and a mix of high end homes and sea side cottages.  Such a beautiful place Québec! About 9Kms from the Mange Grenouille B&B in Le Bic, we were ascending a steep hill (as we usually seem to do near the end of each day of riding) and suddenly Y sensed that B was pushing her bike from behind, which he occassionally does do. But she looked ahead and saw that, indeed, B was up hill in front... so who was pushing her bike? Just then a giant bike with a giant rider in red and white spadex appeared on her left side and the rider smiled and asked what she was doing on such a steep hill with such a heavy load? Then suddenly Y's bike was light as a feather and she shifted up three gears and flew up the hill, all the while explaining to the "Ange-Velo" that we were on the ride from St. John's to Ottawa, to which he nodded admiration and zipped off ahead and out of view around a bend. We wondered if he was a famous Québec cyclist whom we should have known! We arrived at Mange Grenouille and were blown away at the uniqueness of the environment of the gardens and interior and then had, possible, the best meal we have ever eaten!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sue-pear day (super, with ~local pronunciation)! Super breakfast of Swiss apple omelette and warm well wishes from Nicole & Claude at Dans les Draps de Morphee. Super beautiful scenery (perhaps because it was so familiar, following a river valley most of the day, with lush forests and water gushing from rock walls at the roadside), super nice that it didn't rain, super long day, with almost 1Km climb over 116+Kms, with wind from the direction we were travelling (north) - the cool breeze was nice, however it made the climb a bit tougher. Super shoulders on the roadway, and rest stops, with benches, toilets (well, not all of them) and even people! Super quaint town we are staying - Val Brillant - and the Gite Grand-Père Nicole proprietors suggested we go to L'épicerie and pick up some supplies and they prepared a table and warmed our 2-person :-) tortèire, which was tasty with the salads we had also picked up. In the morning we went through Matapedia, which B remembers from his hitch-hike across Canada 38 years ago!  It was off-season when B was there and he camped three days and then decided to get a bus ticket to Quèbec City, due to no rides being had. Today we saw some of the covered bridges that B was hoping to see & at one of the bridges Y chatted with an elder fellow from New Hampshire who was in hip waders and headed down to one of his favourite fishing holes with a fly rod - we headed off just as the three-part, barbed fly started picking off bits of leaves from the bushes nearby where Y was sitting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Campbellton might well be the sister city to Campbell River. We were walking on the Old Campbellton Wharf and pier and Y commented on the similarity to Campbell River's waterfront walk and pier (then we noticed all the salmon references and read a panel that Campbellton celebrates the Atlantic Salmon).  There are some nice features to the town, which is now winding down from the summer season, due to the shift in the weather to more thunder showers and cooler weather (we still find it very warm, but not too hot).  We visited the city art gallery and the "Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site", and also found the very nice cafe that Mimi of Auberge d'Anjou in Petit Rocher told us has nice cappuccino - they also have very nice pannini! Today we started our photo book from the trip - with so many photos not in the blog - a very nice day off from riding.  Between now and our final day of riding we have two more days of rest, one in Riviere-du-Loup for a whale watching tour, and one in Québec to see the old town.

We are 1/2 way on our ride - the Maritime provinces and our interactions with Acadian culture are a set of great memories.  The next 1/2 of our ride is in Québec.  As the total ride is just over 2,000Kms, today we passed the 1,000Km distance. We've come to realize that our ride is not much different then a car tour, but at about 1/4 the speed.  It is a gentle roll-along, and not as arduous as we thought the peddling part might be. The great benefit of the bike is that we can stop on a bridge and look down at the nice streams or take a photo of a bird.  The final ride into Campbellton, on the edge of the Gaspé, was so beautiful, though there were some heavy showers en route (thank goodness for our Wet Coast Helly Hansens!).  The Dalhousie to Cambellton stretch was along the baie de Chaleur Bay, with interesting sea birds and views of the Gaspé. The Dans les draps de Morphée B&B is a beautiful residence, with huge rooms and wonderful colours and amenities - a great place to stay for an extra day, before our ride over the Gaspé and on to Rivière-du-Loup, three long rides in the upcoming days (19, 20, 21 August).