Saturday, September 22, 2012

QC-MTL, Day 3: Trois-Riviéres to Lanoraie

< back to day 2 > forward to day 4
After a good night's sleep in our our executive suite, we made good use of the included breakfast. I had a bunch of bagels with jam and the biketopus had a big serving of fresh waffles. We probably overdid it a bit and thus started our ride pretty slowly. Fortunately, getting out of Trois-Riviéres was much more pleasant than getting in. The weather was pleasant and for the first 10 km we were on fairly quiet road before meeting up with Route 138 once more. In contrast to other days, 138 did not run near the Saint Lawrence but further north; the road closest to the river was Autoroute 40.

Second breakfast in Yamachiche

We made a second breakfast stop after 20 km at a playground in Yamachiche. Once we got out of town, the Route Verte would depart from Route 138 and for the most of the day we'd ride away from highway shoulders. Instead we'd be on gorgeous country roads: barely any car traffic and a picturesque, pastoral scenery. The downside of these quiet roads was that there wasn't much in terms of eating or drinking. We should have stopped in Louiseville, one of the few real towns in the area, but by the time we rode through it was still a bit early for lunch. We were counting on a lunch stop in the next town, Maskinongé, another 10 km down the road, but this turned out to be not such a good idea. Maskinongé was a small village with a big church but not much else. The only lunch option was a depanneur which fortunately had a little pizza counter in the back. Watched by Our-Lady-of-Something we a poutine lunch and a Pepsi.
Our-Lady-of-??? watching over our lunch

The stretch from Maskinongé to Berthierville was the highlight of the day: once again we were on lovely country roads, but this time the roads were literally covered with thousands and thousands of butterflies. We're no butterfly experts, but I think they were Atlantis Fritillary. And yes, they just hung out on and next to the road, flying up and around you once you got near. We had never experienced anything like that and it felt almost surreal. Near Berthierville we got back to the 138 which was being repaved. A nice flagger told us that we should just ride through on the side while the cars still had to wait.
You can't see them, but the butterflies were everywhere

Once we got into Berthierville we took a long break at the Metro supermarket and considered the options for the day. After our bad experience with the hotel on the previous day, we had already booked a campground in Lanoraie in the morning. According to Google Maps the campground would be only about 10 more kilometers and it was only 3 pm. As a nice addition to an already nice day I therefore suggested taking a little detour Sorel-Tracy. Sorel-Tracy is a fairly unattractive industrial town on the south shore of the Saint-Lawrence, but going there involves a nice ferry ride.
The ferry is the only crossing of the St. Lawrence between Trois-Riviére and Montreal

We decided to go for it, and the ferry ride was indeed nice. Three big ships were anchored in the river, waiting to dock at one of the factories, and a fourth one was tugged back out from there. Sorel-Tracy was as boring as I remembered it from an earlier ride and after a short break in a park on the river we took the ferry back. In Berthierville we stopped again at the Metro and stocked up on grillables for dinner. My GPS had run out of battery and I didn't want to bother with exchanging for what I thought would be only 10 kilometers on Route 138.

Wolfgang parked on the ferry
Well, 10 kilometers we rode, and the house numbers were in the right range. We knew that the campground's address was 600-something Grande Côte, but nothing resembling a campground appeared. Since we weren't 100% certain about the house number we just kept going a little further but once we got into the 800s we realized that something was wrong. We checked again on the Iphone, and yes, we had already gone past the red dot that supposedly was the campground. Looking at the address, though, it dawned on me what had gone wrong: we and the red dot were on Grande-Côte Est whereas I was fairly sure that I had entered Grande-Côte Ouest on Google Maps. And indeed, looking at the camping guide confirmed that Camping Chez Denise was at 568 Grande-Côte Ouest, i.e. another 10 km down the road. It appears that the Iphone map app doesn't know how to deal with spelled-out French street names and interprets Ouest as (maybe a typo of) Est. Sigh. We were both pretty tired at this point, having already had our longest day with almost 90 km. Well, there wasn't much we could do other than ride on. And eventually we arrived at Chez Denise.

Our awesome camp site at Chez Denise
Our problems weren't quite over yet, as, contrary to what we thought they had told us on the phone, they didn't accept debit or credit cards and we had run out of cash. Oh well, the next ATM was only 5 km away and so I quickly went back there while the biketopus set up our tent. And what a camp site we had! While the rest of the campground wasn't anything out of the ordinarzy and all occupied by RVs and trailers, Chez Denise had one tent-only site. You walked down a flight of stairs and then were pretty much on the shore of the Saint-Lawrence! No neighbors and a beautiful view of the river which was quietly flowing in the warm light of the setting sun. And a nice porch swing for our tired selves. A good end to our longest day of the ride.

> forward to day 4


  1. Really enjoying these posts! Look forward to new ones.

    Regarding the Route Verte and all this "Cyclist Approved Camping", do any of the campgrounds have policies where they don't turn away cyclists? Or is it if they're full, they're full?

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the report!

      We did have the official Route Verte guide with us. The problem is that is has practically no campgrounds listed -- all the accommodations are hotels and B&Bs, often pretty expensive ones at that. The only time we stayed in a "Bienvenue cyclistes" place was the Super-8 in Trois-Riviéres. We did get the impression that the person at the front desk was especially nice to us and gave us quite a bit of discount on the still expensive last remaining room.

      I'm not sure how regular campgrounds handle the issue. The campground on day 1 was practically empty; and on day 3 we had booked in advance. I could imagine that in many cases they'll find a little corner for you and your tent.

    2. It's interesting that they would "forget" about camping, as I feel that a majority of folks who bike tour camp. Are they going by the outmoded definition of "bike touring", where camping was eschewed? Or, are they trying to aim for a more monied demographic?

    3. Also, while the idea/execution of the Route Verte was mostly good in my experience, the info/literature/web stuff (and their customer service) left something to be desired. When I planned my trip to Montreal in 2007, the routing on the website was pretty vague so I emailed the organization. They told me the only thing they could send me was a guidebook in French for $20. I asked if they had smaller maps for different regions, and they said "no". And when I finally got into Quebec and visited info centres, whaddya know? Plenty of free Route Verte maps for different regions of Quebec!

    4. Yeah, I'm not a fan of Velo Quebec either. We're currently members (mostly because of the discount for signing up for the Tour de l"Ile) but won't renew next year. In preparation for this tour we went to the Maison Cycliste, which is like their HQ in Montreal and asked if they had a campground guide. The dude working at the counter looked at us as if we had insulted him just replied with "No, we don't." And that was that.

      Their guidebook is nonetheless useful for planning. They list the available services along the way and provide distances from one town to the next. I think that's worth the 20 bucks or however much it costs.

    5. Oh, and about the camping: I'm not sure what's going on there. We very rarely encountered fully loaded cyclists on the whole trip. It almost all day riders or credit card tourers (the two groups being hard to distinguish from each other). So maybe there's not much demand. I can also imagine that the campgrounds don't see cyclists as a huge market, and since I suspect that hotel and campground owners have to be in order to be included in the guide (I could be wrong about this) they maybe don't consider it to be worth it.

      The freely available Quebec campground guide did the job for us.

    6. Oh, I don't doubt that the guidebook would be useful. I just felt it would be overkill for what I wanted to do: US border to Montreal, not much over 100km, then the Montreal-Quebec City connection. (Turned out I didn't do it.) If I was doing more of a province spanning ride, or planned on coming back soon to do more stuff, then the guide would be useful. It would also be much more useful if it was in English!