Wednesday, September 5, 2012

QC-MTL, Day 2: Saint-Alban to Trois-Riviéres

> forward to day 3
Still sunny after crawling out of the tent. It wouldn't last for long.
During the night the rain had been coming and going but by the time we got up it wasn't raining. We had our usual campground breakfast, oatmeal and Starbucks Via coffee, and then started packing up. While putting away the tent a slow drizzle started again and by the time we rode over to the campground office the drizzle had turned into a veritable downpour. It looked grey and rainy all around but we decided to see if we could wait it out in a pavilion next to the office. Well, the downpour changed in intensity but never really stopped and after 40 minutes we decided that we had to get going anyway. We donned our shoe covers, the biketopus put on her rain jacket (I didn't bother with the jacket because it was pretty warm), and off we went.

Packed up and ready to go.

Waiting for the rain to end--unsuccessfully.

We followed the Sainte-Anne river downstream on one of the nicest roads of the trip. As it often seems to be the case in Quebec, there is one road on each side of the river, one being a busy highway, the other one being a rarely used country road. We could ride side-by-side for pretty much all the way back to the Saint-Lawrence, rarely encountered cars, and enjoyed the slight downhill. After a while even the rain stopped.
Mural depicting the ice fishing town.

Tommy cod info center in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade
By the time we reached Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, we had already done 30 km and it was high time for a second breakfast. We stopped at the Centre Thématique sur le Poulasson. Poulasson, or tommy cod in English, is a small fish found in the Saint Lawrence and some coastal waters in the north east of America, and Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade is known to be the "tommy cod capital of the world." In winter the Sainte-Anne river freezes over and a whole little ice fishing town is created on the ice, complete with play grounds, shops, restaurants, and heated cabins for fishing.
I wonder if they were able to set up the village in the last, very mild winter...

Sainte-Anne river near its mouth
Horrible one-lane metal grate bridge
From Sainte-Anne to Trois-Riviéres our route would stay close to the shores of the Saint Lawrence, following Route 138. A few kilometers down the road we encountered a long and narrow steel grate deck bridge. Riding on steel grate sucks, and having to do it on a long and narrow bridge sucks even more. Fortunately, traffic was light and we both made it across safely but pleasant it was not.
Break in Le Bas-de-Champlain

Wolfgang on the Saint Lawrence
Our tentative plan was to stop somewhere near Trois-Riviéres, either in a motel in town or on a campground a little further upriver. The decision between campground or hotel was greatly facilitated by another big downpour we encountered while entering Trois-Riviéres: Camping in the rain didn't seem like all that much fun, and we were also starting to get tired. Our first impression of Trois-Riviéres wasn't all that great. After riding through endless suburbs, we crossed two of the trois riviéres on a crappy sidewalk and then continued through what seemed to be a big brownfield redevelopment. Once it's finished it will probably be nice but for now we weren't impressed. The rest of the way through town didn't get any better: outdated bike infrastructure on busy roads all the way.

Finally we reached the outskirts of town near the approach to the Laviolette Bridge, the only bridge crossing the Saint-Lawrence between Quebec and Montreal (you can't ride across by bike but there is a shuttle service for cyclists). All of the cheap hotels were located in a typical highway-strip-mall environment. We had checked room availability via the internet earlier the day and thus we very surprised when the first hotels we checked were both fully booked. There was only one other hotel out there, a Super 8 that was listed as a bike-friendly hotel in our Route Verte guide, and there we were told that there was some big Catholic event was currently going on and they had only one vacant room left. Unfortunately, that room was the "executive suite" for 200 dollars per night. Riding through the rain and city had used up a lot of our physical and mental resources and we decided to just suck it up and pay. 80 km was enough for the day.

Our oversized executive suite...
The room was gigantic -- big enough to spread out our tent for drying -- and had its own hot tub. We picked up dinner at a nearby supermarket, did some laundry, and after a hot tub session quickly fell asleep.
...which, despite its size, we quickly were able to mess up entirely.

> forward to day 3

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