Cycling friendly but not so friendly Quebecians
The standard of Canadian generosity and friendliness has dropped markedly in Quebec. In the province that has delivered cycle trails which are totally bike friendly, the people seem blind and deaf to the waves and “bonjours” I fire randomly. Even fellow riders avert their attention as I pass. Maybe it is just the recognition that I am English speaking and represent a potential difficult conversation. In every other province every road sign is meticulously duplicated in both English and French. In Quebec there is just French.
The generosity of my friend Alex and wife Marion in Ottawa more than compensated. A few days recharging beside their balcony side lake in the central city refreshed mind and body. Marion's late night tour of the city revealed tree lined waterways and some classic architecture. A city with a good feel in the heart.
The ride down the Ottawa River followed one of the “route vertes” a network of green safe cycle trails throughout the province. Signage that connected every diversion with clarity (apart from a major miss in the middle of Montreal which saw me sail past the major junction to Route Verte 5 eastward).
I emerged into downtown Montreal through archways of green forest and back streets. A long day's pleasant ride but sadly lacking the planning I needed to find a place to sleep. Darkness descending, motels full for the long Labour day weekend. I killed time with the necessary chore of eating. The city was fully dark and just as busy when I finished. A lady outside one of the full hotels took charge and directed me to the only cycle-range accomodation in the area. I arrived, heart sinking when I saw the style of the place, no way my rest day budget would squeeze a room here. No choice, so an enforced night of 5 star luxury, damn.
Exit from Montreal in cold wet backlash from hurricane Harvey. Cycle trails lead me perfectly through the maze, until this uneasy feeling that it was a long time between the familiar green “Route Verte” signs. Emergency extract of the iPad, the cycle trail I was on should intersect downriver with the eastward route. In the end a painless extract from the big city.
Cycle touring works much better through the back country small town routes I have been following. Small town folk also have more time, to talk, to help.
The ride down the Saint Laurence has been picturesque. Classic waterside cottages, old farms and limited traffic. An emergency repair of my front suspension fork required a long French/sign language conversation with an elderly bike mechanic. No bolts with thread small enough for the repair. Then the eureka moment matching the threat on the end of a spoke for a number eight wire repair.
From here, after extracting myself from Quebec City, I will cross to the south bank of the Saint Laurence to head to New Brunswick.
Alex drops me at the start of Route Verte 1 in Ottawa
Looking back at the Ottawa skyline
Down the Ottawa River
Onto the giant Saint Laurence
Saint Laurence riverside country
Heading into Trois Rivierres
Les grand Maisons sur la rivierre
Every small village has its classic church...
...and old classic barns
...and classic cottages