Mid Season Moto Adventure - exploring Québec on two wheels
After a winter of training and a spring block heavy with travel and Women's World Tour Races, I set the bike aside for a few days - it was time to give the body a break. Easier said than done when you love riding. Fortunately, the "Other Bike", a Yamaha FZ-07 was there to fill my Fuji SL's place.
I bought a jerrycan, found an affordable Air BnB cottage in a place I'd never heard of and left home. Northbound from Montréal, I passed through Tremblant without stopping and headed to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. After years of hearing legendary bike stories, tales of great athletes, impressive industry, spectacular landscapes and magical lives lived, I had to discover the region for myself.
A lakeside cottage in Rouyn, near Parc Aiguebelle was home for the first night. So impressed with the little place and still in awe from the sights I had seen on the first day, I decided to stay an extra day and do my own Tour of Abitibi before moving onward.
I visited :
Malartic - Where I lost my earring. Darn.
Val d'Or - Where I knew there were plenty of mine mills to be climbed all over
Amos - Where I had coffee and picked up some Rain-X
Taschereau - A beautiful little town
La Sarre - Where I found a St. André arch...he's my guy
Preissac - Reminded me of Norway, where I raced the 2017 World Championships with the Canadian National Team last September
Sanneterre - I found a pair of rubber-dipped gloves on the road that saved me for the next two rainy, cold days.
The next leg of the trip was the most epic: going into '"uncharted territory". This is what I bought the jerrycan for. I headed north, north, north amongs trees, logging sites, trees, and trees towards the Baie James region. I didn't have to empty the can though - one of two gas stations along the way was open in tiny Waswanipi. I must have chatted with 5 different people as I tanked up, had a snack, and added on an extra layer of clothes under my rain gear. A bit cold and wet, the conversations warmed me and fueled my heart for the day's final leg to Chibougamau.
When I was cold, and tired, yet satisifed and excited about my day. The prospect of a good night's sleep felt well-earned, the same way it does after a solid training day.
In the morning, I fueld up the moto at a Nutrinor station and rode Southbound. It was 3 degrees and rainy. Riding in the rain is dangerous as is, but cold temperataures mean that the tire compound is hard and less grippy than in more clement conditions. Caution was imperative.
I was going towards "lands" I'd discovered and fallen in love with over the past half-decade. Being reunited with previous "new discoveries" in Lac St. Jean was more bittersweet than I expected. I had missed visiting here, and I knew I couldn't stay for long. Had I been more of a soda fan,I would have downed a can of Red Champagne (Dolbeau's specialty) to celebrate, but I went with chocolate made by the Pères Trappistes instead.
The drive down the Saguenay Fjord was spectacular. I didn't dare stop for pictures at the most beautiful points. I didn't want to break the flow, the vibe... There is something to be said about remembering each view with our own memory and our own heart, That takes focus, but focus that's worth the effort...
To cross over the Sagueny river where it meets the St. Lawrence, I had to take a ferry. Parked next to an 18-wheeler, I felt like an audacious and adventurous mouse beside an elephant as we propelled forward through the water, south west-bound from Tadoussac.
Not long after, I arrived at a small Bed and Breakfast (Gite Le Volier) ran by Huguette in St. Siméon. She was hosting a French couple that was supposed to be camping. They had changed their minds when the weather turned cold and wet. Not everybody finds rubbe-dipped goves along their route... fortunately I hadn't minded riding in the rain for the last two days! The only rain gear I was missing was shoe covers however, so my boots were soaked through. With no newspaper in sight, I stuffed them with washclothes to dry for the morning. It worked.
With dry boots on my feet in the morning, I left after a breakfast of eggs, french toast made with love, Hugette's famous homemade jams (I read all about them on her B&B reviews online!), and just enough coffee...
The final day of the trip took me along the St. Lawerence river, through the rolling roads of Charlevoix, and with a little detour around Malbaie, where the G7 Summit was being held. Roads were blocked off to anyone without creditation. That was okay with me, I just wanted to ride! The joys of having a cyclist heart... you know what I mean!
A loop around the beautiful island of Ile d'Orléans where the scenery left nothing to be desired and a stop in my "hometown" of Trois-Rivières was a perfect and meaninful way to write the final chapters of the adventure. Special places that I was happy to return to contrasted well with the thrilling new discoveries that I had made in the earlier legs.
I was happy to feel glad to arrive back in Montréal where I live. The adventure was a success. I knew because I felt it in my heart. Satisfied, happy, rested, and excited to start back training. I hadn't missed my Fuji SL bicycle as much as I had thought, but I was so glad to be reunited...
If there's a perfect way to take a mid-season break from training and racing, I am pretty sure that I just found it. I love Québec, I love riding, I love exploring, and I love meeting new people. I'm already dreaming up the next trip. Maybe on the Fuji, maybe on the Yamaha... Want to join?