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 🙂

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

Mon grand sentier part 4

What am I doing? What’s with trying to go fast and get somewhere quickly? Time to take a step back and smell the roses.

Canada is a big country, how can I expect the trails to be the same throughout? In the tradition of over planning and overdoing everything, I may have planned too much time on the saddle to keep it fun.

I did my homework, looked at elevation, terrain, distances between campsites and hotels. I looked at the overall elevation gain, but not at every peak!

It’s great to log 100+ km rides, but when the terrain is more difficult, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for exploration and fun trail discovery. The last 2 days were hard, I lost track of the exploration and discovery part of my journey.

Heading to Fernie, I had to get on the highway because of trail closure and then missed the next fun off road section. I ended up pushing it to get to Fernie fast, missing out on lots of amazing off roading and beautiful scenery.

Before I ended up on the highway, I had ridden rail grade gravel, followed by fun and flowy trails. I can only imagine how much fun the trails I missed would have been. Chatted with local people, encountered deers and scared a bunch of cows, before I had to coexist with all the pick ups heading to Alberta after enjoying Canada day long weekend.

So I decided to stay an extra night in Fernie and explore some of the trails I missed and their famous mountain bike trail network.

Smiles for miles!

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Bikepacking, Canada

Mon grand sentier part 2

There is no reason to be scared, or are there? The trail is official, the government advertises it as complete, what am I afraid of? Not afraid, but just on the edge and trying to take good reasonable decisions. I carry way too much food and water, have clothes for all conditions and I packed a safety blanket and first aid kit.

I have already done a few bonus climbs (oups!) taking wrong turns, but nothing too bad. I had to check and recheck Garmin, Google, Trailforks, “the great trait” app a few times and always found my way. The trail is well marked, but the grades and level of difficulty are not that well advertised. I will shorten some planned days to make up for some varying trail conditions and take the time to enjoy them more.

I almost road off the trail into the river today (oups!). I was enjoying the reward of that 70km rail grade climb and going pretty fast downhill when the trail disappeared into the river. Trails have suffered this winter, there are a lot of land slides, rock slides and some flooded area.

I got to log in 2 days in a row of more then 130km on mostly trails with lots of climbing. It’s fun to vary the terrain and difficulty. The shorter more technical days were a different kind of fun and I would go back to redo these trails anytime.

Now that I am sitting in my hotel room and reflecting on the last few days, I realize how lucky I am to get to ride to all these remote places and enjoy all that amazing scenery.

Thank god for hotels and hot tubs! Don’t get me wrong, I like camping, but I love hoteling! After riding 130km of Gravel 2 days in a row, I think I deserve a bit of luxury 🙂

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Follow the path

Euro velo routes are…..very different from one to another, from a region to another, sometimes marked, sometimes paved, sometimes inexistant,…

Today was a fun one, I am quite happy, because I actually thought it was going to be a boring day. The plan was take it easy, follow another canal, try to avoid the rain and get to my second to last hotel before the final destination.

Everything went according to plan, the canal was there, the rain was blown away by that insane wind and I made it to destination.

The canal du midi is a well known popular touristic destination, a huge project that was created over 300 years ago. I was actually excited to see it, until I saw it… I am pretty sure it is impressive somewhere, but not the section I rode. The bike path that follows it is also mediocre, but I liked it a lot 🙂  A pavement bike path along a canal is pretty uneventful, but a wet and muddy path is pretty awesome and challenging to navigate with a loaded bike.

Maybe they read my blog or it’s just to prove me wrong, but I met some nice cyclotourers today. Nice couple of teachers who quit their jobs and tour Europe. I was envious of their situation, but he was envious of my lightweight setup 🙂 They did not enjoy the mud/rock bike path at all!

A stop in Narbonne for a quick tourist tour and an awesome coffee/lunch break before heading to my hotel in a kinda abandoned off season beach town. The 20km of gravel and dirt to get to the hotel was just awesome, music on, no one in sight, it was awesome! Quite happy I didn’t take the road bike on this adventure.

I’ve enjoyed finishing my days early and visiting the cities, but Narbonne may have been my last city visit before Girona. The pedestrian areas and the patio dinning will have to wait until I reach my final destination.

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