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June 29th, St. Jerome to Trois Rivieres, 93 miles

Quebec! First full day cycling through Quebec. Actually the province feels much like eastern Ontario except almost all signage is French, there are some very pretty churches and the roads are a little better.

I find it a little more difficult to communicate. Not much left from high school French. However, most of the conversations are pretty simple. Typically I want to exchange $ for something tangible. With a few key words, some gestures and a smile we get by without having to resort to too much English (which folks sometimes switch to after struggling a bit). It does mean that instead of having conversations about the area we're talking more simple things such as whether toast should be made with white or wheat bread.

Left St. Jerome just as the sun was coming up. First miles were some nice rural areas. A lot of corn in this area. Most of it is just knee high, but some is shorter. Also some hay and barns with fans and dairy cattle.

Half the towns seem to be named "Saint...". Many towns have a large catholic church which is one of the more prominent features. Substitute the church steeples with grain silos and this area would look a lot like Saskatechwan. I also noticed several religious statues out by the roadway.

Quiet roads until past Laurentides. There was a brief expressway by St. Esprit. Shortly thereafter stopped for breakfast at St. Alexis and mile 27. A little busier after that, particularly in the stretch from Joliette to Berthierville.

At Berthierville I was back to the St. Lawrence river. There was a ferry here to the other side, but I figured I'd catch a bridge later. The road parallels the major freeway #40 which is nice in diverting truck traffic. Had a nice tailwind through this area that blew me to 68 miles before lunch at Louiseville. After this the road went right along the water. Lots of nice vacation homes and boats.

Found out that bicycles were not allowed on the bridge here. Would need to wait until Quebec City before crossing. Stopped for the day in Trois Rivieres. Nice tailwinds and not a particularly difficult day.

June 30th, Trois Rivieres to Levis, 90 miles

Warm sunny day and a slight tailwind makes for another pleasant day of cycling. Got the routine down by now. Crossed downtown Trois Rivieres in the early morning. After that a combination of farmland and riverfront along the way. The first forty miles continued absolutely flat with some slight hills after that.

Today's ride is a bit of a repeat. In 1985 I cycled 1200 miles in a week (eight days cycling + one rest day) from Boston to Montreal to Quebec to Riviere du Loup to Holton to Boston. I occasionally recall places I've seen before. This trip is at a more relaxed pace.

More nice churches in the small towns. They weren't all catholic as I noticed signs for both a Presbyterian and an Anglican church today. Also passed by several religious icons.

Breakfast at mile 27 in Batiscan. Know enough French to get breakfast without much trouble. Bluffs appear along the riverside at Grondines and there is even a hill or two to climb. Outside Donnacona I stop in a tourist info center to get exact details of getting across the St. Lawrence. Shortly thereafter lunch in Neuville. Been seeing many more bicycles out on the road here.

Crossing the St. Lawrence is a bit of a chore. I initially followed side roads through Cap Rouge. These have several steep hills to climb and descend. At mile 83 is the bridge. There is a large suspension bridge on #73 and a canteliever bridge right next to it. Apparently the world's longest span for a canteliever bridge. I walked my bicycle on the sidewalk across the canteliever bridge. The sidewalk is a bit narrow and very high across the river. I'm happy to get across after a mile or so. (Back in '85 I cycled across the suspension bridge at 5am. Almost prefer doing that then walking that narrow sidewalk).

Once on the other side cycled a busy road over to Levis for an end to the day. In the late afternoon I walked down to the ferry (about two miles) and went across to Quebec City. Quebec City is one of my favorite cities. Played tourist for the afternoon before taking the ferry back and walking back to the hotel.

The June total is 2665 miles cycled for a cumulative total of 4602.

July 1st, Levis to Kamouraska, 90 miles

Happy birthday Canada! Today marks the 130th anniversary of the confederation of English speaking colonies and French speaking colonies that created Canada. Today the continuance of that confederation is a very controversial issue in Quebec. The last referendum on Quebec independence in 1995 was narrowly defeated 51% to 49%. The ensuing rounds are being played out in Canada's courts and parliament.

Canada Day in Quebec was very subdued. I saw no large displays of Canadian flags, parades or any other indication this was a holiday. Banks and post offices were closed but that was about it. Conversely, while Quebec provincial flags outnumbered Canadian flags about 2:1, I also didn't see any large protest signs or displays of Quebec nationalism. One person flying half a Canadian flag and that was about it.

Quebec is a name derived from "where the river narrows". Today as I cycled away from the city, I saw the reverse, a gradually widening river estuary. At the same time, the flat lands along the river narrowed as the northern reaches of the Appalachian mountains came closer to the river. Luckily, while there were some low bluffs to climb and descend, the route remained mostly flat. Some tailwinds in the morning and then variable winds in the afternoon.

Another beautiful morning cycling along. The road slowly climbed over a low hill and then narrowed to one lane each way as I left Levis behind. Several nice small towns along the river: Beaumont, St. Michel and St. Valier. At Berthier-sur-mer, the next town, I noticed a house that had prominently displayed #325. A short while later, I saw another #325 and thought, "oops, that can't be a house number". Apparently, Berthier celebrated its 325th anniversary on June 29th. I saw at least thirty displays of #325, many with a boating theme and some with year 1672 so it was easier to figure out.

After Berthier I stopped at mile 34 for breakfast. Five miles down the road, in Cap-St. Ignace, I started seeing #325 displays again. Many of these had a farm/plow theme. Apparently, this town also was celebrating the 325th anniversary. It was almost as if Cap St. Ignace and Berthier had an outdoor decoration contest with Montmagny in between with nothing. In the afternoon, I saw one more town, Rivier-Ouelle, which also celebrated its 325th.

There were several more small towns along the river banks. The town of St. Jean-Port Joli claims more artisans, sculptors and wood carvers than any other place. I saw many outdoor displays and some pretty nice pieces along the road. After passing through St. Jean, it was time for lunch at mile 65.

After lunch it was a bit hot and humid. The road also went over a few hills near La Pocatiere as the Appalachians narrowed the flat area along the river. There were also several open areas with slight cross winds. Passed through towns of Rivier-Ouelle and St. Denis before deciding to stop for the day in Kamouraska. A good days ride, and this would get me the right time for a mail drop tomorrow.

Kamouraska is home of Rene Chalout who designed the Quebec flag. Also at this point along the estuary, there are tides twice a day. Not officially ocean yet, but slowly getting closer.

July 2nd, Kamouraska to Rimouski, 94 miles

Today a continued nice ride along the St. Lawrence. Some headwinds, but nothing too bad. Traffic on #132 was very light as I started out. Cycled without interruption through several small towns to Rivier-Du-Loup at mile 26 where I stopped for breakfast.

After breakfast, located the post office and waited for it to open. Picked up my mail drop. In retrospect, these maildrops haven't worked as well as expected. Mail between Canada and the USA appears abnormally slow (~ten days) as compared to mail within the USA. Even mail sent "express" encounters the same delays. I certain not having the correct postal code hurts. If I do this again, I'll might try picking mail drops at "border towns", but on the US side, e.g. Sault Ste. Marie.

The terrain continues right along the St. Lawrence. Some areas with farms and some without. Also a number of salt water marshes and corresponding parks. This crane marked the entrance of one of those parks.

Outside Rivier-Du-Loup, had about ten miles before #132 joined with #20. Unfortunately the next 45 miles had sporadic shoulders, some sections of six-foot shoulders but also many without any shoulder at all. The transports were obnoxious and I was forced off the road at least five times. Better safe than splattered.

Lunch in Trois Pistoles. I don't think the buffet lunch was planned for cyclists who had cycled 56 miles before lunch! After lunch traffic was a little lighter, but to compensate the headwinds a little more. Still made it to St. Simon without much trouble. A beautiful church here.

From St. Simon the region immediately along the river was a sequence of high bluffs. The road actually went in the valley immediately behind these bluffs. A lot more trees, but also enough room in the valley for one row of farms, a highway and a railroad. After St. Fabian, a nice provincial park followed by a split in the road. Scenic route was #132 into Rimouski. Trucks and other traffic got one last stretch of #20. Made it to Rimouski by late afternoon. A little harder with wind, but still not too bad.

July 3rd, Rimouski to Amqui, 66 miles

Headwinds today with some rain. Knew this nice weather would have to stop sometime. Apparently a front moving through. The first twenty miles went from Rimouski along the St. Lawrence to Mont Joli. The road went right along the water. Lots of small cottages, motels along the way. Small ocean waves and signs for seafood (fruits-sur-mer), so the estuary must be considered ocean by now. The headwinds were occasionally strong.

Breakfast at Mont Joli. At this point, my route left the St. Lawrence behind and climbed across the penninsula towards New Brunswick. The climb out of Mont Joli was a bit inconsistent. Some small steep hills, some longer climbs and also several descents. The road shoulders were often narrow. Twenty miles from Mont Joli, at St. Moise one reaches the upper reaches of the Matapedia valley. From here the river drains southward across the peninsula.

I continue to be impressed by the huge churches in these small villages. In the middle of villages with two story houses frequently there is a huge hundred foot church. Clearly the center of town. The landscape had rolling hills with some farms and many trees. The extra trees helped cut the headwinds somewhat.

Made it to Sayabec for lunch. This town was at north shore of Lac Matepedia. After lunch cycled to Amqui before stopping. The last few miles before reaching town it started raining fairly hard.

July 4th, Amqui to Campbellton, 63 miles

A somewhat shorter day today. Though a lot of headwinds and rain. The front was passing through so I encountered intermittent periods of heavy and light rain. Fortunately it kept changing.

Light rain and headwinds starting from Amqui. Enough to stop at Causapscal for breakfast. Today's route followed the Matapedia River down to the sea. Two themes for today would be salmon and timber. Several sawmills and many trucks particularly in the Amqui/Causapscal area. From Lac ou Salmon all the way downriver there were small numbered river access points (numbers going at least as high as 65). Apparently licenses were sold for particular locations. I saw at least a dozen hardy souls anchored in the river in their boats fishing for Atlantic salmon.

After Causapscal, there weren't any more farms. It was mostly river with a few small towns of Ste Florence and Routhierville. Several covered bridges along the way including this one at Routhierville. Beautiful and scenic river from there on down. Unfortunately it rained pretty hard as I neared Matapedia. I dripped into the salmon license office before stopping in a cafe for lunch.

After Matapedia, I crossed a bridge over to New Brunswick. I was now in the maritime provinces. Hooray! This had been my original goal, though now that I had some more time I had adjusted things to try for St. John's. I cycled along the south shore with a surprising number of hills. English text on the signs again.

Made my way into Campbellton. Met briefly with an owner of the Extreme Velo bicycle store. They were having a bicycle festival in town to celebrate mountain biking. They were promoting Campbellton as an excellent area for "eco-tourism". Nice to be able to speak english again. Also in Campbellton, I met Nancy and Shelley, two educators from Alberta whose trip I had also seen on the web. They were doing well and going a little further that day. I decided I'd stop and make it a day in Campbellton. Stopped briefly in the tourist office before finding a place for the evening.

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