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5 Days in Gaspé

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Mtl_Biker, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Hi Folks,

    I'm leaving Montreal about 9:30 this morning, heading to Gaspé for what might be the last multi-day bike trip of the year. Woke up to 5C temperatures, and it's supposed to be down just below freezing along the shore in the Gaspé.

    The plan's to head to the Parc National du Bic (just before Rimouski) and camp there tonight. This is the last weekend that most parks and campgrounds will be open, so I'm going to try to take advantage of that.

    Then tomorrow I'll head around the Peninsula in a clockwise direction, and will either camp or stay in a motel somewhere on the far north side. Maybe around Grande-Vallée. I'm going to make lots of stops to take photos and will be taking it pretty easy without putting in long days in the saddle. My only really firm plan is to have a seafood lunch in Percé and then spend Sunday night at the Riotel Bonaventure hotel, a place I've enjoyed several times in the past. From there I'll ride that terrific road through the Parc National de la Gaspésie and probably camp Monday night halfway back to Montreal.

    I hope to have wifi along the route so I can upload photos, etc.
    #1
  2. Piki42

    Piki42 Been here awhile

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    You'll love it. I just did 7 days around the peninsula in late September. Was freezing at times but it was one of the best experiences of my life so far.

    Just watch out for the wind - it may be very rough and below freezing at certain points, so be careful.

    Look forward to hearing about your trip! I need to post up my report soon
    #2
  3. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Late September must have been warmer than now. I've got all my Merino wool long underwear on, heated jacket, gloves and grips, wind shell under jacket, etc. And I'm just comfortable. As long as I'm riding that is. It's real cold when I stop and the heated gear gets turned off.

    Good and bad news about riding here at this time of year... Good news is that almost all the tourists are gone. Bad news is that many restaurants and campgrounds are closed for the season.

    But I wouldn't trade this for anything.


    #3
  4. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Yesterday was a long (and COLD) day. For some reason I'd been reluctant to put on my heated gear, until I finally couldn't take it any more and had to stop to do so.

    Went through some rain near Quebec City and at Montmagny I got off the main highway (20) and switched to the smaller and more scenic Route 132.

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    I stopped in La Pocatière to look at the St Lawrence River.

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    My goal was to make it to the Parc National du Bic to camp for the night. It was really cold and getting dark when I arrived there, and I was surprised and disappointed that it was going to cost about $40 to camp there for one night. Not because the campsite was that expensive, but in addition to the site fee, I had to buy a park pass to allow me to get to the site. This place is really a "destination" and people go there to enjoy the park for a few days, hiking and kayaking. It's not really all that suitable for someone who only wants a place to pitch a tent for a night. Plus, I really didn't feel like a freeze-dried dinner, and there was nothing within about 15 km of the park that I could go and have a good meal and good beer at. The park people did recommend another campground much closer to Rimouski and I headed that way.

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    (I took that photo this morning.)

    The campground was really very nice, and only cost $21. Plus they had a good hot shower (coin operated) and everything was spotlessly clean.

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    For dinner last night I rode into Rimouski (about 10 minutes) and found a very nice little "bistro" where I enjoyed a delicious burger and fries and a couple of glasses of local beer. Snuggled in my tent by 9:30 pm and slept like a baby.

    It's real cold this morning (5C) and I'm not near enough to the water to really feel the cold and wind. So I took it easy, taking my time to pack up and write this short report. I'm going to have to wear all my gear today to keep warm.

    My goal today is to head east along the north shore of the Gaspé Peninsula. Where I'll stay tonight I don't know... maybe camp somewhere or stay in motel if anything is still open.
    #4
  5. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    It was quite cold when I left the campsite this morning and I got back onto the bigger highway 20 for a faster run to Mont-Joli. The more scenic route along 132 from Rimouski to Mont-Joli is a bit boring (and I've done it plenty of times) and I was more anxious to spend the time exploring between Mont-Joli and wherever I'd end up for the night.

    The sky was bright and it looked like I wouldn't have any rain for a change.

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    Continuing on I hugged the shore, taking whatever little roads I could find to get even closer to the water. Metis-sur-mer was quite lovely and there were lots of what I'd call “estates” on the water, but most of them had tall hedges and/or walls, preventing a view of the water. Only some sections opened up and indeed the view was great. It got me thinking of those wealthy people probably thinking they didn't want others to enjoy “their” view, and thus put up those high walls.

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    My first destination was Cap Chat where there's a terrific little bistro restaurant called Valmont. I've been there maybe 4 times in the past and I was looking forward to one of their lobster club sandwiches and a local micro-brew beer.
    Valmont lived up to my expectations and the food, beer and service were all excellent.

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    And their free WiFi allowed me to make a Skype phone call back to my office to make sure everything was alright. I was going to snap a photo of the place before leaving but when I went outside the wind was so strong and so cold, that I instantly forgot about that as I quickly started up and plugged in my heated gear. But trust me, it's worth the visit.

    The roads were really nice and the views pretty darn good too.

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    Almost every little community had an old church, showing how much influence the Catholic Church had had on rural Quebec.

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    Back in August I rode around Newfoundland for a few days and camped one night at Gros Morne National Park. What a surprise to pass through a community in the Gaspé called “Gros Morne”! They even had painted their name on a rock high above the community.

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    I ran into some road construction where they had single-lane traffic with a traffic light controlling which direction would move and when. Some of these were counting down from 300 seconds!!! And after sitting through two of these with no oncoming traffic appearing, on the third I was VERY tempted to just ride through even though my side had a red light. I was just about to do that when a truck appeared coming my way. Good thing I hadn't attempted it and then I sat through the remaining 200+ seconds somewhat patiently.

    I'd been hopeful that I wouldn't get any rain and was seriously thinking of camping again, but then I got a bit of a sprinkle. Not a downpour but enough to make the road a bit slippery and coat my visor. I hoped I'd still be able to camp somewhere for the night. I was surprised at how many campgrounds there were – I hadn't really noticed them on my other trips, maybe because I wasn't camping then. Only problem was that just about all of them were already closed for the season. But still I hoped I'd come across one that was still open.

    I remembered BikerAl's ride report (She Rides Canada) where she'd found a nice little motel with attached restaurant and I thought it might be around Grande-Vallée. But I had no cell service nor any WiFi and I couldn't check the report to find out exactly where it was or what it was called.

    The rain started more seriously. So much that I started wondering if my heated Gerbing leather gloves would be affected and I might be electrocuted. But I didn't want to stop and dig out my waterproof over-gloves. It looked like camping was going to be out of the question. I kept hoping that around the next bend either the rain would stop or I'd find a nice motel and restaurant.

    As luck would have it, before I got soaked right through, I found L'Étoile du Nord Restaurant-Motel in Pointe-à-la-Frégate. And that's where I am now.

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    The motel/restaurant doesn't have much visibility from the street so you have to watch for the sign. Here's your sign: :)

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    I had a great beer in my room while catching up on my email.

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    I seem to be the only person staying at the motel but they were expecting about 10 people to come to the restaurant for dinner. When I went to the dining room they were there, but a table had been reserved for me. I enjoyed another local beer and an appetizer of escargots and then some crab legs. Followed by a chocolate-something desert. All was delicious.

    I asked about breakfast, and they replied that since it was really off-season they didn't really want to get up early and make breakfast for just one person, but that if I could wait until 10am, they were expecting a group then and would be glad to make me breakfast. When I said that would be too late for me, they (with some reluctance) said that if I really wanted, they could offer me breakfast at 8am, but not earlier. And it seemed to me that they really didn't want to get up that early. Guess I'll just make myself some great espressos in my room before heading out. I plan a seafood lunch in Percé tomorrow anyway, so maybe I'll be able to hold out that long. If not, I've got a few energy bars in my tank bag.
    #5
  6. Piki42

    Piki42 Been here awhile

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    Man, you're making me miss the gaspesie so much...it'll be interesting to see what Perce and the interior looks like this time of year.
    #6
  7. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    Oh j aimerais bien etre la en ce moment.
    #7
  8. The Haymaker

    The Haymaker Testing Newtons Laws......

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    Following.
    #8
  9. divimon2000

    divimon2000 Been here awhile

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    Nice. The only way to see Gaspe is early June or now. Hope it warms up for you.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #9
  10. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    It looks wonderful! Fall colors out in full, great twisty roads, almost no tourist traffic. The Gaspé Peninsula really rivals the Cabot Trail, other than for the language difference. All that's needed here is a rustic campground like Meat Cove (maybe it's here and I just haven't found it yet).


    #10
  11. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Salut Jean-Francois!

    Yeah, I wish you were along too! It would be fun to do this ride with someone else.

    I stopped this morning at the lighthouse at Cap-des-Rosières to take a few photos and another rider pulled in. Louis was riding a Tiger 800XC and was doing the loop counter-clockwise. He seems like a real adventure rider and has done the Trans-Lab and also Alaska. His bike was beautifully set up for touring. And he's from MONTREAL! He was complaining that it's always so tough to get people to ride with because they always wimp out at the last moment. Same problem I have. So we might get together for a ride sometime and it would be great if you come along too.

    There will be a photo of Louis and I at the lighthouse in my trip update a little later tonight.

    Cheers!

    #11
  12. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Great! Welcome!

    #12
  13. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Thanks. Today was quite a bit warmer and while I was wearing my heated gear, it was turned off for most of the day or at least on the lowest setting.

    It's really nice not to have to fight tourists and motorhomes on these wonderful roads. Only down-side is that so many places (hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, etc.) are already closed for the season.


    #13
  14. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    I was again lazy this morning and didn’t wake up until about 8am. And since I’m on a mini-holiday, I didn’t feel guilty either.

    Since there wasn’t any breakfast to be had at the motel, I decided to brew myself a few great espresso coffees. I set up my camping stove on the edge of the bathtub, boiled some water and used my Handpresso to make my coffee. If you don’t know what that is, and like a good shot of espresso, you really should check it out. The last page of my Trans-Lab trip report has a gear review post, and I give details of it there. (Link in my signature.)

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    I packed up my gear and strapped it onto the bike and headed on. The section of road from there to Cap-des-Rosières is probably one of the best of the entire perimeter of the Peninsula. Other than the two inner roads that is: One through the Parc National de la Gaspésie (Route 299) and Route 198 from Murdocville to Gaspé. I really enjoyed the road and especially so since it appeared that I had it all to myself. There was hardly any traffic at all.

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    At Cap-des-Rosières I stopped briefly at the lighthouse to stretch and take a few photos. It had been pretty warm riding, but here the wind was bitterly cold and I really didn’t even want to remove my helmet. Can you tell how cold I was?

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    I took a few photos and then just before heading back out another rider pulled in. Louis was on a beautiful Triumph Tiger 800XC, all decked out in heavy-duty touring gear. He was doing the Peninsula in a counter—clockwise direction and I was doing it clockwise. It was just a chance meeting, but he left Montreal Friday morning as I did, and he was going to be back late Monday night. I was going to stretch my return out to Tuesday afternoon.

    Anyway, Louis has done the Trans-Lab Highway and also Alaska. He seemed like a hardy adventurer and I was happy to meet a fellow Montrealer who I might be able to ride with. He complained (as I do) about the difficulty of finding someone to ride with, as others often wimp out at the last minute.

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    I continued on, skirting Forillon Park, and still it seemed that I had the roads all to myself. The scenery was beautiful and the roads were a lot of fun.

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    Coming into Percé with the famous rock and Ile Bonaventure (world’s largest Gannet colony) in the distance:

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    I made it to Percé by about 1:00 o’clock and was surprised at how empty it was. Most of the tourist shops were closed and I was surprised by that. It was a Sunday after all, and a long weekend at that. They should have been open at least for this last long weekend of the year.

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    They say an army moves on its stomach (or something like that). I certainly look forward to eating well after many hours riding, and a good beer doesn’t hurt either. I had a terrific lunch at the Maison du Pêcheur… a smoked salmon appetizer and then a lobster sandwich. Expensive but really very delicious.

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    After lunch, I headed towards my destination: The Riotel Bonaventure hotel in Bonaventure. I’d stayed there before, maybe 4 or 5 times, but the last time was over 3 years ago. I was happy to see they still remembered me and greeted me warmly. They gave me a terrific room but with only one wee problem. Not a single available AC power outlet other than for in the bathroom. How a hotel doesn’t make provision for travelers with at least one gadget that needs charging is beyond me. And I unfortunately have a BUNCH of stuff that needs charging… iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, 3 cameras. Good thing I’m not listening to music in my Sena headset while riding or that would need charging too.

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    I had a great dinner, a great beer and yes, a great desert too. And now I’m back in my room planning tomorrow’s ride.
    #14
  15. Motoriley

    Motoriley Still riding like crap after all these years.

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    Hey Eldor. Glad to see you having another fun ride.
    #15
  16. Reaver

    Reaver How Did I Get Here?

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    I'm still getting to your PM, sorry!
    #16
  17. Piki42

    Piki42 Been here awhile

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    Hey man, are you ok? Hope you made it home ok and are just too busy for an update
    #17
  18. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    After a truly wonderful sleep, I woke up to the gentle sound of ocean waves lapping along the shore. Very peaceful, and oh so soothing. The beds in the Riotel Bonaventure are absolutely superb! I should try to find out what they are and get some for myself. And maybe also add a recording of waves lapping on the shore. :)

    It looked like it was going to be a beautiful morning! Clear blue sky... it was great to be alive!

    I had coffee in my room before packing up and got on the road at 8:45 am. It wasn't as cold this morning (yet!) as it had been the day before but I put on my heated gear just in case.

    I headed west along the shore towards Richmond.

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    There were three options I was considering. Two actually, because the third option I really didn't want to take. That would be the more direct route along 132 through Amqui up to Mont-Joli. Not only had I done it several times before, but I had never really enjoyed it. Too many tourists, too many motorhomes and EVERY time I took that route there was at least one cop standing almost hidden in the trees with speed radar. Really takes the fun out of it. And since it's the most common route into the Gaspé it sees a lot more traffic than other options.

    Google Maps suggested that the best route to Quebec City (which I was thinking of heading to) was straight west across the 17 to the Trans Canada (#2) and up to Rivière-du-Loup. I had never done that route before so it held some appeal for me.

    But as I passed through New Richmond and approached route 299, I decided to again take that route through the Parc National de la Gaspèsie. The road is superb to ride and with it being off-season there weren't going to be many, if any, tourists with motorhomes to get around.

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    Besides, I was looking forward to another great lunch at the Valmont Bistro Bar in Cap Chat. On Saturday I'd had the best lobster sandwich of the trip there, and I wanted another!

    As I rode along the 299, it got colder and colder, and the thermometer on the bike showed 0.5C (it might have actually been lower, but I didn't actually see it). My heated jacket, gloves and grips kept me quite comfortable. But I'd recently installed a Sparkbright Eclipse LED voltage monitor on the bike, and while it was mostly showing an all-is-well green light, I thought at a couple of points that it had showed a warning red light. Wasn't quite sure though. Until at one moment the red light came on and stayed on for about 10 seconds before turning back to green. This was at a steady 4,000 rpm, with no changes to what electronics I had turned on. That worried me, and I watched the light quite closely for the next little while and sure enough it turned to red again. And then back to green.

    I then got scared. If the alternator (or stator) crapped out on me, the bike wouldn't run, no matter how strong the battery was. Was this a sign of impending doom? I turned off the heated grips, jacket and gloves and promptly froze. I kept on as long as I could stand the cold and then turned the gloves (only) on. Better. When the light stayed in the green, I turned on the jacket also. Still green. And eventually the grips felt like I was holding onto frozen popsicles and I had to turn those back on too.

    Still the light stayed green. And it stayed green all the way to the Valmont in Cap Chat.

    On my Saturday report I forgot to take a photo of the Valmont, so here it is now:

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    After another terrific lunch (lobster sandwich and local microbrew beer again) I continued on westward.

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    The headwind was so strong that it almost knocked me over a few times and I watched my fuel consumption get worse and worse. I'd managed to get the best economy ever over the previous days... 3.79 litres/100km (for you metrically challenged, that's 62.1 miles per US gallon) to now 5.12 l/100km or 45.9 mpg. But it seemed to be getting warmer and I no longer needed the grips on and even reduced the power to the jacket and gloves to the minimum. And from there on the only time I'd see the LED glow red was with the heated gear on and at idle like at a stop. So I started instantly disconnecting the plug to the heat when I'd slow to idle, and I had no further problems.

    I was playing it by ear... maybe I'd ride all the way to Quebec City for the night or find a motel or campground somewhere before that. It all depended on how I would fee after several more hours riding and of course the weather.

    About an hour and half before Quebec City I stopped at a rest area and called the Hotel des Coutellier on rue St-Paul in Old Quebec City. I'd stayed there not too long ago and found the hotel to be one of the most comfortable and romantic I'd ever been in. This time though I was alone and opted for a "standard" room.

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    I've got to tell you, that "standard" room was a heck of a lot nicer than the deluxe rooms in most other hotels! I cannot rave highly enough about this great place. And it's a tremendous reward after a long day of riding in the cold!

    Here's what the hotel looked like from the outside:

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    Quebec City is really a wonderful place... if you haven't been there, I strongly suggest it's worth a visit. And if you're lucky enough to visit with someone special, it's probably among the most romantic places in all North America. The warm French charm, old cobblestone streets, quaint litte shops, museums, fantastic restaurants, all combine to make this a must-visit kind of place.

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    Tuesday morning I awoke to a delicious continental breakfast delivered to my door and I slowly packed up and got ready to return to the real world of working for a living. I left Quebec City about 9:30 am, and was back in my office, working, by 1 pm. I took the highway (20) all the way home which afforded no photo opportunities, just boring slab riding. Part way back to Montreal it got so warm that I had to stop at the side of the road and remove the heated jacket liner and change to gloves that weren't quite so warm. By the time I got back to my office the temperature had climbed to 25.5C. From a low of only 7C when I left Quebec City.

    On another note, there are two routes from Montreal to Quebec City: We call them the north route (Hwy 40) and the south route (Hwy 20). It's commonly believed that there are more police radar traps along the north route than the south route. On this trip however the police presence with radar along the south route was the highest I've ever seen. On the way to Quebec City on Friday I counted EIGHT speed traps.

    And on the way back on Tuesday morning I counted SEVEN. Maybe there was some kind of blitz on because of the long Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend, but this was very unusual. I wonder how many (if any) there were along the north route. And when I met Louis at the lighthouse on Sunday, he too mentioned the number of police he'd seen.

    And so finished our last Canadian long weekend of the season. SIGH As long as there isn't any snow or ice on the roads, I'll continue riding until our snow tire law kicks in on December 15th and puts an end to the season. But it's unlikely there will be any more longer trips for me this year.
    #18
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  19. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Thanks for checking on me. Just posted the last update to the trip report. Yes, I got back to my office Tuesday afternoon and promptly had a bunch of fires to put out and didn't end up getting home until quite late. Then I was just too tired to finalize my notes and post them. So here they are!

    Cheers!

    #19
  20. Piki42

    Piki42 Been here awhile

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    Incredible pics once again! I'm already planning out my trip for next year - this time via the North shore and the ferry crossing!
    #20