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

Mission accomplie!

21 days

6 countries

2000.59km

17565m of elevation gain

93 hours 19 minutes

3 flat tires

21 croissants

Too much chocolate

Plenty of coffee and wine

The first plan was to follow Eurovelo route 5 and get To Florence, but plans change. The Eurovelo route is not easy to follow and I got to the mountains at the same time as the snow. I explored Switzerland and France instead and had a great time! I discovered so many cities, saw so many ruines, monuments and castles from different eras and met some very nice humans.

The las few days of my adventure were flat and short, so I was happy to see mountains yesterday. I noticed the Pyrenees as I was approaching my last French lodging, but soon after, the clouds rolled in and swallowed them. The worse rainfall they had seen fell that day, lucky for me, I got there just before all hell broke loose.

My last day was another short one. It was a great day! I had another great french breakfast (yogourt and croissant) and left for Girona.

As soon as I left France, a heavy rainfall started and stayed on me for a good 45min, enough to create pools in my shoes. I really didn’t mind, I wasn’t going to stop to put shoe covers on, rubber globes or leg warmers, I think I even smiled! I wasn’t going to get off my bike today.

I was a girl on a mission. I ate my croissant while I was riding through Figueres, only stopped for 2 pictures and had no choice but to stop and lube my chain (every pedal stroke sounded like pure torture).

My bike is getting a well deserved tune up before I get to take it out for the world renowned riding Girona has to offer.

Time to leave the nomadic lifestyle behind and enjoy some greatly anticipated company, as well as more good food and coffee.

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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 πŸ™‚Β  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 πŸ™‚ 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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Bikepacking

Bikepacking vs cyclotourism

I am snobbed by the cyclo tourists people. No smile, hello, hallo or bonjour! The ebike and road bike people always wave back or smile, but not the cyclotourists.

Why? I am that different. I carry all the necessary stuff on my bike to camp (before I shipped it all back) ride, fix and maintain the bike, survive.

Is it because I am flying by too fast? Going further? Smiling more? Eating while I ride? Listening to music? Because I suffer less?

So bikepacking means I can ride my favorite bike, the best bike for the job, climb steep hills and ride on rough terrain. My bike is also light weight even fully loaded.

My bike is a cyclocross (goes everywhere) carbon fibre (comfortable and stiffer, more efficient) with hydraulic disc brakes (it stops when needed).

I carry only what is needed. I do my laundry in the shower every night, layer clothing for the different temperatures and bring pieces that can be used on and off the bike.

Why do Cyclotouring people need so much stuff?

There are little luxuries that I carry and add unnecessary weight, but after a day on the saddle, they are essential. My wool sweater, real lady bra and a book. I could live without them, but seriously…it’s a vacation not a torture fest!

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

I lost it!

I lost a jacket

I lost the nail clipper

I lost a hair band

I lost my way (a few times)

I lost my mind!

Bike paths are easy, safe and enjoyable! After many 100km of following canals and rivers, they get boring! I did what I thought I would never do, turned the music on on my phone… You know these annoying people riding with their speaker on their bike, the ones sharing their music while you are having a peaceful ride, I became that person today! If you know me, you may know that my music selection is less than desirable πŸ™‚ and I shared it with the few french humans I passes today πŸ™‚

I am following the Euro Velo route 17 right now. It is mostly well marked, but for whatever sanity I have left, I take different roads every once in a while to change it up. This way I get to climbs some hills, ride through villages, drink more coffees and eat more pastries!

I am amazed at all the beauty and all the history. Wherever I look, there is a castle, a sculpture, rampart, … Some are abandoned, some are museums, some are part of a working farm, factory or a house.

I have been riding for 2 weeks now and road more than 1500km. I found that music keeps me focused and make me forget about the many solo hours to come.

The music and my little bell way also have scared a scary stray dog while on a remote section of the route

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Un temps de canard

Leaving Switzerland, I left the mountains behind. Still in the alp region, but to reach Spain, the best option is following the Rhone. Looking at the surrounding mountains and the occasional abandoned rampart or castle from far below. Easy bike paths, rolling hills on quiet roads and cheaper coffee.

The weather has been quite nice so far, it got very chilly at times, but mostly dry. Today was my first really really wet day. Overshoes, nitrile gloves under wool ones, rain jacket I was ready. My computer was also securely packed in it’s waterproof “ziplock” bag. I chose the faster route to Lyon and headed out.

Fastest means trails, dirt, unpaved roads πŸ™‚ it was a lot of fun! Until I missed a turn, got lost and later flatted 3 times.

I wanted to get to Lyon early enough to do some touristy exploring and I did. A much needed hot shower, laundry and I was out hunting for a good coffee. Lyon is great! Nice city, amazing architecture, awesome vibe and great coffee πŸ™‚

the sun should be out tomorrow for another mellow ride. Hopefully everything dries before I leave in the morning.

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

I eat hills for breakfast!

Not sure why, but the only bikes I crossed path with were electric!

I left the beautiful city of Lucerne on a glorious morning, to attack some hills and explores Switzerland’s countryside. I followed a Switzerland bike route the entire day, no need to look at my phone or GPS.

My day was spent with the company of cows, goats and sheeps and barely any humans. Almost no engine sounds, just the cow bells and my heavy breathing. The route uses mostly bike paths (gravel and paved) and small barely used roads. There were 2 good climbs that day and I was prepared for them. I really enjoyed these tough kilometres!

The following day I decided to keep following the same road. It was so well marked the previous day, that I decided to not even map it out. From their little elevation chart, it looked like mostly downhill, NOT! I kept passing signs letting me know if a pass was open, some others with “ACHTUNG” a high percentage and many km. It was tough! More then I was mentally prepared for.

I made it! Taking layers off for climbing, just to get dressed again later. Making sure I ate and hydrated as much as I could.

I passed some ski villages and made sure to stop and have a good meal. Not sure what I ate, the lady just showed me a plate and told that’s what was for lunch today(in a mix of French/English/German).

Ended my day in Montreux, with a stupidly insane 40km downhill. Nice city in a wonderful wine region, on lake LΓ©man.

My hotel had a hot tub and I spent a good part of the evening in it πŸ™‚

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