Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 9ieme partie

I made it to this years conclusion of my adventure. Nope, not riding further east this year, maybe next year, hopefully next year!

Getting to my brother’s was the beginning of the end. The pleasure of spending time with family and loved ones surpassed the desire to log more lonely miles.

After Kitchener comes Montreal. I took the train so I would get there in time to meet my partner who was flying in. Such a breeze to take my bike on the train, no packing, no messing around, just roll to the station and hand them the bike.

Montreal is where I am from, it is where I started riding a bike, but also where Family and old friends are. I got picked up at the station by a great friend and riding partner and then treated to a great meal by his wife. As always my friend Caroline welcomed me into her home and had my room ready πŸ™‚

You know what’s even better then discovering new roads and trails? Sharing your familiar trails and points of interests with others. It was awesome to take Brad to my favorite coffee shop, ride the race course and through my old neighbourhoods.

My old (because I have been riding with him for a very long time) riding partner lead us out of Montreal and off we went towards Quebec City. This gentleman is over 70 years young and has always been an inspiration, Riding or running with him always makes me happy.

Just to make this last leg better I crossed path with another long time friend while riding the bike path in the middle of nowhere. I also got to spend a fun evening with great food and wine at my aunt and uncle’s.

Most people know that the province of Quebec has lots of bike paths, but seriously Montreal-Quebec away from cars was pretty amazing. We even found great coffee shops along the way

Riding past Quebec city has to be enjoyed as much as when I road through BC. I want to explore and discover new roads and areas, I seriously don’t want to ride on the highway head down just to make it to Signal hill.

I am now in Quebec City, spent the day reading a book on a park bench and chasing coffee shops. It’s really weird to not be riding a bike today, weird to wake up late and have anywhere to go. I could get used to this 😁

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 8ieme partie

Plans change and it’s ok! It’s actually great, keeps things interesting! I had mapped out my route looked at a bunch of maps and planned every day, but since leaving BC I haven’t followed much of that plan.

I decided to again change course and visit my brother. There is no point in visiting my country if I do not take time to see family! He lives in Kitchener, which means I get to take a ferry and even avoid some highway riding 😁

Since Sault Saint Marie there has been a lot of off highway options, secondary roads or trails following the highway. It’s been fun to vary the terrain and the scenery, it’s quite beautiful along the lake.

When I got up this morning and started pedalling, I got lost in thoughts and missed the side roads I wanted to take. The Great Lakes waterfront trail is a great alternative the highway, it’s mostly paved but sometimes gravel.

My course change takes me through Manitoulin Islands. Quite nice to explore an area I didn’t know existed. Such a rollercoaster of a road, such a beautiful scenery. I even found gravel and coffee shops πŸ™‚

I seem to be in road riding paradise! Like any good riding area there is a good coffee shop where you can meet other cyclists. It’s always fun to discuss routes and gear. My setup always seem to impress, I always like showing off my lightweight setup 😊

Some of the guys I met today were a group of 70+ year old friends on a 500km adventure, I seriously hope I can do the same when I hit that age.

A decommissioned railway starts pretty much as you leave the mainland an stops about 10km before Little river. Parts of it were flooded at the start, but everything else is rideable. The trail meanders along lakes, cottages and islands.

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Bikepacking, Canada

Solo

Am I there yet? I rode over 4000km, just a few hundred more to go πŸ™‚

Riding solo has it’s ups and downs, but so does the road!

I’ve been asked so many times “solo”? Yup! On my own. I’ve been asked as a single human and as a women.

I crossed path with a handful of other cyclists and half of them are on their own. Mostly men, but women too.

It’s difficult to do it alone, but it’s also sometimes better. I ride at my own pace, sleep where I want to sleep and eat what I want to eat.

But it’s lonely. It got tough when I got on the highway, when I stopped talking to the cows and waving to the farmers. Locals would ask me questions and show interest when I was on the roads less traveled, but on the highway it’s all about the destination and how fast we can get there.

I actually met a few people that I actually shared a meal with or a cup of tea. I would also have shared beers with another, but I am an old lady and like an early bedtime πŸ™‚

I actually got a ride yesterday, not because I was tired or hurting, no mechanical, just because I was bored and really happy to have company. A 71 year old gentleman (what an inspiration) is riding across the country with a friend driving the car and luggage and another lady friend (my age).I rode with the gentleman until he got into the support vehicle, then I got in with him. I cheated and saved 50km, but chatted, shared stories and laughed. The other lady friend is faster then he is and never gets into the support vehicle. I am so impressed of all the daily mileage she does and how strong she is.

It was great, it was awesome to have company and I am so so happy I cheated and got to get out of my head for a few hours!

Riding solo may be riskier, but not worse for a woman then a man. I know how to fix my bike, I have all the safety gear and I have loved ones following my dot on a map. Riding solo means spending more time in my head and thoughts, but also opens me to talking to others which I wouldn’t do if I was with someone else.

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 7ième partie

It’s all about the reward and the reward can be as stupid as a good coffee, a glass of wine or a not camping stop.

Most importantly coffee! Just knowing that a coffee shop is at the end of my ride motivates me to keep going. Just today, I had the choice of riding to waterfalls or get to the coffee shop before it closed, Coffee shop won! I got there 25min before closing and it was soooooooo…. good πŸ™‚ I can drive to the waterfalls some other time πŸ™„

I shorten my ride the other day, when an Airbnb host offered me to pitch my tent on his lakeside lot for free. I wouldn’t have accepted, but he checked out and @4:30 I didn’t feel like riding 20 more km to a campground on the side of the train tracks. It was also treated to a free dinner and great company for the evening, which is a lot better then deshydrated food solo on a picnic table.

After long days on the saddle, I am not too inclined to sleep on my thermarest, so cheap motels or hotels are my reward. It’s so nice to enjoy a hot shower and a quiet evening in a comfy bed.

Type of road is a huge factor. I prefer the path less traveled, but In Ontario I find myself stuck on the highway. I can log a lot of Kilometres, but I seriously dislike it. It’s surprisingly beautiful, but very stressful to coexist with trucks and cars.

I always set a target before I go to bed. I get up early enough to have time to get to the destination, but also get lost, explore or battle a head wind.

I also like to have extra time to stop at funny diners or recommended lunch spots along the way. Nothing better then a big plate of fries to help complete a 200km day!

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 6ieme partie

The wind, the sun, ouch! Now that I’ve been riding more road and more highway, I go through a lot more daily kms. But it is long and painful, especially when my audiobook ends with 100km to go. I started signing to my bad music repertoire to pass time

There is still a lot of history and things to see, as long as I stop focusing on the destination and enjoy the journey.

Detoured to a Moose mountain provincial park one night and enjoyed a lake side campsite and a break from the flat prairies.

I get so focused on the destination that I forget to eat and just push through. I can ride a day on a just good breakfast and snacks, but I pay for it the following day.

My gluten friendly McDonald’s breakfast

Arriving in Winnipeg, I decided to take a day off, day to relax, drink good coffee and erase a bit of my cyclist tan. The helmet design on my forehead is pretty impressive!

Forth Cafe

Little Sister coffee

I was so happy to meet with Vancouver friends here. Friendly faces good wine and beer made the tough day on the bike disappear. And as we all know hydration is very important πŸ™‚

I honestly dread Ontario, worried about all the distance to cover to get through it. The lack of good coffee shops along the way is also very sad. If anyone has any recommendations for coffee along highway 17 please let me know.

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Bikepacking, Canada

Get off the highway

Did you know the prairies were flat?

Did you know they were filled with lots of history? Towns that were founded due to mining or railway, now living mostly from agriculture.

Did you know lots of nice people live there? I didn’t ask for anyone to pose for me, but I really enjoyed talking with locals.

Did you know most secondary road is not paved and almost no one drives on them? When they do cross or pass me, they stop, move to the opposite and wave. Mostly bog pickups and farm tractors, everyone has been very nice, even apologetic if they thought they drove too close or too fast.

I detoured towards Gravelbourg just because I liked the name. They have a museum, grocery store, a field without toilets you can camp on, but most importantly they have a great coffee shop 😁. The cheap motels are basic and not cheap enough, but the coffee is great and the people are super friendly.

The problem with the prairies is that there are not many places to sit and relax for lunch between towns. There are also no rest areas or water water sources. So fill up your water bottles and be ready to have lunch sitting on the side of the road.

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 5ieme partie

I stopped following “the great trail” and planned my own route as soon as the trail headed north.

I know the scenery will be flatter and the exciting trails are a thing of the past, but I am hoping to discover cool areas in the prairies while also making some progress east.

Honestly it’s a lot of fun to get on the highway and use the tailwind to do some pretty high mileage. On the other hand it is great to ride through small towns and learn more about the history of our country. I am surprised to notice a few towns with a strong french heritage. It is also great to see how some towns evolved after the minings shut down, but sad to see some become ghost towns.

Getting off the highway also means avoiding Tim Horton’s and discover great coffee shops, quirky diners and chat with locals. It get lonely to ride for hours on my own, chatting with people along the way is fun, locals usually ask questions, but also love to share the knowledge of their home town.

I detoured from my eastbound direction to explore Cypress hills provincial park. Headwind asides, going there was the best ting I could have done. I never road 100km so slow (14km/h average), making my detour longer then I wanted, but it was well worth it. This park is an Oasis, just a beautiful area with lakes and hills in the middle of flatland Canada.

If you ever spend time in Southern Alberta bring your mountain bike or fat tire gravel bike and ride the trails, it’s just an amazing area.

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