Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Week 8 Saint Felicite to Salmon Beach (754 km)

This weeks update is beamed to you live from Tim Hortons in Miramichi, New Brunswick. It's currently raining sideways so I'm sheltering here until it gets a little nicer out there. Or until they run out of donuts, whichever comes first. 

So this weeks big decision was to Gaspe or not to Gaspe. Hmmm. The Gaspe Peninsula is a remote part of eastern Quebec, and supposedly one of the top ten cycling destinations in Canada. However, the weather was starting to turn and I'm all too aware that at some point I need to come home and face the music (finish that phd, get a job, behave like a grown up, etc etc). This little diversion would add an extra 700 km to my route and take around a week to complete. I sat on a bench at the crossroads weighing my options. Consulting my little book from Jen, the next quote said this: 

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by." - Robert Frost

Well that seemed pretty clear. I had the wind at my back and the sun on my face.  Decision made, while there's money in the bank, ride on. Jens fault really.

I didn't regret it, the road stayed close to the sea, winding through little fishing villages in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains. Pretty cool. I was invited to spent my first night in Gaspe in the loft of a barn, which turned out to be a luxury penthouse by my standards. The next day though those mountains become more than a shadow. Way more. These were some of the steepest grades I've climbed on this trip, and I think the gasping peninsula is probably a more appropriate name. These were back to back climbs of 15% minimum. I wasn't sure if my chain or my knees were going to give up first. As I struggled up towards the top of the steepest summit, an car slowed down beside me. It was an old French man who shadowed me all the way to the top, honking and shouting "ALLEZ ALLEZ, ON Y VA!!" until I got to the top and collapsed in a sweaty puddle. Then started on the next one. Ooof. As I got around the headland, the hills gave way to blasting wind and the locals developed an accent so incomprehensible I could no longer tell whether they were speaking in English or French. I finally hit some easier ground on the south side of the peninsula, in the form of a Tim Hortons where had my first donut in 3 days. I told you it was tough going. As I was leaving I ran into Yan and Wilson the dog, who were touring the peninsula together by bike and trailer. They were good company, so I spent my last days in Quebec with these two, culminating in far too many pints of stout in a microbrewery which lead to camping in the pub car park. Winning.

Saint Felicite to Mont Saint Pierre - 119 km
Mont Sant Pierre to L'Anse a Valleau - 110 km
L'Anse a Valleau to Saint George a Malbaie - 118 km
Saint George to Saint Godefroi - 128 km
Saint Godefroi to Saint Omer - 92 km
Saint Omer to Charlo - 87 km
Charlo to Salmon Beach - 99 km

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