Fingerbanging along the Gaspé peninsula PART ONE: Montreal to our great nation’s capital.

So it’s FINALLY spring here in Montréal.

Following last year’s sweaty winter under the Indian sun, this winter felt like an eternity (seriously, these are the scenes of our city from just last month). So in a world where shoulder season (apparently defined as travel period between peek and off-peek seasons; by this logic, I would consider the entire span of November-April as one long shoulder season) still means parkas and boots and sticky metro rides and all of that snow that you apparently just can’t ignore out of existence, I’ve had my fingers crossed that come April 1st I would not feel seasonally pressured to throw more money into our once novel transit system (ie BIKING WEATHER).

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Pre-season tune-ups

Now we’ve swapped snow clouds for rain clouds. BUT. Once upon a time it was warm and sunny and I was biking, biking, biking. Once upon a September 1st 2015, my now-partner (then almost-partner) set off with our bikes all packed, in the direction of the now near-mystical Gaspe. I had recently sold or packed away all of my worldly belongings, quit my job, and had a flight booked to Mumbai for October 1st, so I was feeling especially light and liberated.

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Like I said, light and liberated.

Our route basically took us along the south shore of the fleuve St Laurent.

(Bonus knowledge! A fleuve is not a rivière. A rivière flows into another river, while a fleuve flows right into the ocean or the sea.)

After leaving the island several hours post-sunrise, we crossed the same highway multiple times on these very safe and convenient ramp and stair combos.  Once we made our way inland, the 300km ride to Quebec City was exactly the melange of farmland and poutine that you might expect.

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HOLLA

The roads were pretty quiet, it was sunshiney and we had all of the choice campsites. Being that both my cycling partner and I prefer late mornings and lots of food stops, doing the 100km a day we needed to have us in Quebec City for the weekend was a bit of stretch. BUT WE DID IT. JUST IN TIME FOR PRIDE.

A note about cycling touring in Quebec: Like much of Canada, this province is huge and sparsely populated between cities (even the in-between towns are super sleepy). That said, as long as you’re not a complete asshole, the don’t ask, don’t tell mentality will ensure that you always have a decent campsite with a privacy and sometimes a view.

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Dismounting for passage to our private suite with a farmland view.

We arrived in Quebec just as the sun was setting on day three. After a little bit of navigation we found our wonderful Warm Shower hosts (as well as their adorable cats with leashes). If I remember correctly, they greeted us with the standard WS hospitality (beers and showers first, food and conversation later), and so kindly hosted us for the weekend, helped us with minor bike repairs and toured us around their beautiful city.

GUYS. Even if a tour along the Gaspé Peninsula seems like a stretch, definitely consider the Montreal-Quebec City mini-trip. It was flat, pretty quiet and scattered with bike lanes or wide shoulders along the way.

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Montreal to Quebec to Gaspe to Perce

 

Breathe in, breathe out.

Anyone who knows me a little more than a little knows that I have a very attainable dream of cycling from Montreal to Gaspésie.

The dream.
The dream.

Beautiful coastline cycling through some of Quebec’s most scenic spots. (Psst. I also heard whispers that there are tailwinds the whole way).

Magical, right?

Unfortunately my plans last summer were botched following a break-up and a real fear of setting out solo. On the bright side, it was replaced with this fabulous adventure to the far reaches of our east coast. This summer’s trip was also redirected following a long-distance relationship shuffle, and again I was stuck with the prospect of striking out on my own. I’m sure there’s a moral in here somewhere about trip-planning with lovers, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Then again, maybe not.

ANYWAY. That combined with THIS:

Yes, THAT'S a broken foot.
Yes, THAT’S a broken foot.

And I was all “Well to hell with any fun this summer.” So I applied for a Vipassana (because 100 hours of meditation and 10 days of silence is anything but fun). However, as you might be surprised to hear, Vipassana spots are booked solid until something like November, so that was a no-go.

So I did a lot of sitting, a lot of breathing and played a lot of chess.

But lo and behold the universe works in mysterious ways because my lovely sister (and newbie cyclist) was like:

“Let’s bike England.”

And I was all:

“When do we leave?”

Get ready England.
Get ready England.

Stay tuned for the adventures of Malorie and Audrey in Return to the motherland: Which way to the pub, mate?

***

**England is not by real-true definition our motherland, but we lived there long ago for some pretty formative years of our lives. We even developed accents and started using words like rubbish and fancies. We also have a squishy spot for British comedy**