Day Sixteen.

St. Jean-Port-Joli to Trois Pistoles.

Sunrise on the Fleuve

Sunrise on the Fleuve

Awoke to sunlight spilling over the cliff. It was a sunny-but-chilly morning, around 61 degrees. Packed up camp, ate a small breakfast (bagel + mineola) and was out on the road before seven.

Route 132 was very quiet and I was reminded that mornings had always been the best parts of the trip, whether I rode through farmland in the sun or mountains in the fog, the main thing is that it’s just you, the wind in your ears and the bike silently slipping by while everyone else is asleep.

A popular spot to sleep.  Just after dawn.

A popular spot to sleep. Just after dawn.

After 12 or so miles I stopped at a Tim Horton’s for coffee and a donut. I don’t know wy, but the Québecoise really love their Tim Horton’s. They’re everywhere, and they are always busy. The coffee kicked in and the 80 or so miles from yesterday that I had been feeling all morning melted away. I was flying and kept up my usual pace from La Pocatiere through Riviere Ouelle, Saint Denis, Kamouraska, and Saint André.

Kamouraska

Kamouraska

Moose Crossing

Moose Crossing

Somewhere north of Riviere-Du-Loup

Somewhere east of Riviere-Du-Loup

The terrain here was spectacular. The mountains had been relatively distant in Chaudiere-Appalaches where I’d been the past two days. Now that I moved into Bas-St. Laurent, the mountains were directly to my right, the water to my left. And there was no gradual ascent- the plains butt right up against the cliffs and individual mountains rise out of the flat ground.

Off the beaten path.

Off the beaten path.

I was flagging as I pulled into Riviere-Du-Loup at 1pm, having about 60 miles on the odometer. That’s pretty good so I treated myself to yet another breuvage at Tim Horton’s and chilled for a couple hours.

The town was pretty suburban – your typical chain stores abound. I find these midsized towns are the worst to visit, but at least it’s easy to find supplies.

After picking up some edibles at IGA (not Maxi! Maxi sucks… no pret-a-manger.) I was feeling strong enough to do what I planned on being the last ten miles. I was planning on camping outside Cacouna, the next town over.

That’s not how things turned out though. Almost immediately outside Riviere-Du-Loup there was a flag-man. The road was torn up. He stopped traffic and I waited. After a couple minutes a tall guy with a loaded cycle pulls up next to me and says something in French. I reply in English and he translates – ‘The wind is nice.’ Which I notice is true, we’ve got a good tailwind. So we chat for awhile… (we’re being held an inordinately long time by the flagman.) His name is Herve, this is his first time in Québec too (He’s from Switzerland, the french part) and he’s going to Gaspé and back.

Finally the flagman gives us the go-ahead. The road is rough. Gravel and dirt, a little hairy but no worse than sections of the Route. I say, ‘That wasn’t so bad’ and part ways with Herve.

Trois Pistoles

Trois Pistoles

About half a mile down the road I see Herve walk his bike over some wet cement. The road is completely blocked to cars now and the only way through for us is through the active construction zone. We walk about 100 yards through the zone, past bulldozers and dump trucks… at times we’re forced to cut through people’s yards. Finally we clear the zone. Herve says, ‘Not so bad, eh?’ and waves goodbye.

The tailwind is so strong and I’m making great mileage without much effort. I decide to push on to the camp site at Trois Pistoles. By the time I pull in I have 95 miles on the odometer and 8 hours cycle time. That’s definitely a personal record.

Ready to camp.

Ready to camp.

I’m also dog-tired and tomorrow is going to be a lot of climbing, so bon soir, mes amis.

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