This campsite has an innovation of which I approve. Local French radio pumped into the washrooms. This morning as I did my three pieces of washing up and brossé mes dents I listened to some voice-crackingly emotional singing performances of what might actually be quite nice songs. It made me think about a conversation we had in Montreal about whether you can tell when a performer really feels what they're singing or playing. There's a quote that I've heard ascribed to both Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud (and I should add a 'sir' to both) but I think it sounds more like Gielgud. Giving advice to an aspiring actor, he said
"The most important thing is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you can't go wrong".
Today's Distance: 106 / 171
Time in saddle: 9h
Max/min temp: 40°/17°
Climb/descend: 1897 / 1650
Calories used: 5100
Cafe time: 2h 43
The Campground was quite idyllic this morning. I was by a river that feeds the St Lawrence, which was mirror-like and reflecting the rising sun. Fish flopped out from time to time, birds darted across and people slowly appeared from their varied homes. A fishing boat loaded up and putt-putted across the silvery water leaving a gentle wake which wobbled the ducks and rippled quietly against the rocks at the riverbank. The only sound I need to add to the picture is the crunch of my wheels on the gravel as I slipped away.
I stopped to see if Naheer and Kaitlin were awake, and they were just up and making breakfast. We chatted and promised to keep an eye out for each other, though it seems we'll just keep bumping into each other no matter what we do. I forgot to get another group photo, but took a quick farewell one from a distance and left this lovely marina.
The river was looking stunning in the morning sun, and at some points is so wide that you could mistake it for a large lake:
I made a startlingly discovery today about the settling of this area in years gone by – I believe there may have been people here from Highbury in North London, where I grew up, or possibly even Woolwich, down by the Thames to the east. The evidence is clear from this perfect phonetic spelling of a phrase that rang out every Saturday afternoon, in my local dialect of Norflunden: "Arsenault, Arsenault, Arsenault"
I'm following the Chemin du Roy which is basically the same road I started on all those miles ago on Lake Ontario.
The small villages couldn't be more different from Ontario; vast Catholic Churches appear as if from nowhere, shocking but very impressive and giving the area a feeling of solidity and community sometimes lacking with only malls and motels.
I met another guy from Wisconsin on the way today. His name was Joe and we shared eight Ortlieb panniers between us. His trip was taking him from Wisconsin to Key West via PEI! Since he had a selfie-stick, which he was very adept at using, we tried to set up a cycle-duo pannier-octet shot, but gave up as neither of us could see what the hell we were doing!
After a BLT and coffee 2nd breakfast/lunch in a cafe-bar 50km from my start today, I had a late dessert 50km later at a Restro-Terrace right beside the beautiful St Lawrence. Iced tea then a delicious cinnamon-apple crumble, or should that be 'pomme crumblé'? A sharp little espresso set me up for the last block of 50km which would take me to my campground just west of the City of Quebec. It didn't quite work out that way however…
As I rolled along I received a message from the management; the physical signs were good, the weather was very hot but set fair, we had time since it was an early start this morning, so they had decided to press on to Quebec City. A stop at Tim Horton's, where the wifi was once again unusable (my apology is being retracted as we speak) failed to provide info for accommodation so I crossed the street to McDonalds. Still no signal, but a guy saw me huffing and puffing and came over to offer assistance. He was a keen cyclist but had suffered with a bad back for years. He had data on his phone so offered very kindly to let me use it to book a hostel room for two nights just south of the city, convenient for the next stage on the other side of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent.
The route into town quickly revealed itself as a big-hills special, including one absolute doozey just after this old rail bridge:
I had a feeling as I looked up at this that I might be needing to climb to that height to access the road bridge. The hill around the corner was a wall, and coming as it did at around the hundred-mile mark, it floored me. After attempting the first hundred yards or so, I got off my bike, sweating and exhausted, for the first time this trip. I really enjoyed pushing the bike for a change, despite the damaged pride, then hopped back on as soon as the gradient dropped a bit. Oddly, my spirits lifted and I did the last five or six miles feeling great.
When I got here I couldn't have been more glad for the decision. André, the host, was the model of wordly-wise charm, and helped me with my heavy panniers (do I really carry all this stuff??) over to what turned out to be an entire house, or 'pavillion' as they call it, to myself. He sorted me out with beers, pizza ("Like they used to make them in the 70s!") and transport into old Quebec in the morning (gratuit). It reminded me of how much I love a great city hostel with all the activity, comfort, and the very antithesis of the corporate.
The 10-inch pizza pie, ordered by Andre.
A few signs from today
Good question. I can't help, I'm afraid.
I just like this one. No reason.
Ol' Buck Torn's back in town
The sweetcorn equivalent of a last chance saloon.
And finally, a What is it, Sam? Sam's possibly around at the moment so may even help: