Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Montreal to Lac-Saint-Jean by Train
& Return to Montreal via the Mauricie

Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2008

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Lac Saint-Jean Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Conception & Planning

Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
Lac Saint-Jean Text
[See Original Page]



It's hard to recollect when exactly the plan came to me. It started with a vague desire to one day cycle around Lac Saint-Jean along the Véloroute and, as a separate idea, to descend the canyon of the Mauricie. Both of these ideas had been spawn when I first saw the area on our car trip of 200. [Read about this trip.]

Then it came to pass during the Winter of 2005 that I would be forced to take off two weeks of vacation before May 31, in order to comply with new interpretations of the rules at work. In past years, as during our Vancouver trip in 2000, we would have taken advantage of this windfall to take a vacation together. This time, however, student strikes at my wife's workplace meant that her session was to be extended on into June; there was no way she could get the time off. I was left pondering how benefit from my time off, without wasting it away. The thought of a bicycle tour immediately came to mind.

Slowly, the Lac Saint-Jean idea entered my mind. I knew that wherever I went, it would have to be by public transportation; I could not leave my wife without the vehicle for two weeks. Taking the bus is not conducive to touring, as they will only carry bikes as cargo, all packed up. I needed some place I could reach by train. A bit of research soon showed me that I could reach both Lac Saint-Jean and La Tugue, at the top of the Mauricie Canyon by train. Both of these trip destinations moved upwards on the list.

(CAA-2005-Geo Map)
Planning Map: Lac Saint Jean
Map of the Lac Saint-Jean Area.

The more I thought about it, the more the Lac Saint-Jean idea appealed to me. I could take the train up there, ride around the lake, and then return by train. I was sad to let the Mauricie idea go, but I could not see the Mauricie descent taking more than a day or two, which did not fit into my plans for a longer riding experience. The idea began to nag me... Why could not I fit the two together, into one ride?

I pondered the problem for many weeks. My recollection of the drive between La Tuque and Lac Saint-Jean was that it was all forest and quite emtpy of human habitation. The map showed me that the distance as 134km, and this through the mountains! It was a distance far further than I could envisage doing in one day. I began to speak about this dilemma at get-togethers with friends, and Sheryl humoured me silently.

Click to Enlarge (CAA-2005-Geo Map)
Planning Map: Lac Saint Jean to La Tuque
Map of Highway connection between Lac Saint Jean and La Tuque


The breakthrough came when I came upon a reference, I no longer remember where, of the possibility of getting lodging at a monastery located at Lac Bouchette. This was 17km closer to La Tuque, and reduced the day-long ride to less that 120km. While still quite an undertaking, this at last seemed do-able. The project began to gel in my mind and I began careful planning.

(Period Web Site: 2005)
Lac Bouchette Lodging



I went to the CAA and Quebec Tourist Offices and got the latest guides and maps and studied the route carefully, noting also the train schedules and calculating how long it would take me to travel from town to town. Since late May was still far too early for camping at such a northern locale, I knew I would have to stay in B&B's. My daily rides would, therefore, be somewhat dictated by the availability of lodging.

Click to Enlarge (CAA-2005-Geo Map)
Planning Map: Lac Saint Jean
Detailed Map of Lac Saint-Jean Area


The days I set aside for the ride, to maximize the effect of long weekends, were May 20 through May 29:

  • Day One, Friday, May 20, would see me spending the entire day on the train, ending up in Jonquière, where there were 6 B&B's.
  • Day Two, Saturday, May 21, would see me riding around 50km, from Jonquière to Alma, where there were also 6 B&Bs.
  • Day Three, Sunday, May 22, would see me riding around 75km, from Alma to Peribonka. Unfortunately, there was only one B&B in Peribonka. If I could not stay there, where was was about 10km closer to Alma, in Saint-Monique.
  • Day Four, Monday, May 23, I would ridge from Peribonka to Saint-Felicien, a distance of 90km. There were ten B&Bs to choose from in Saint-Felicien. If I had to start in Saint-Monique, it would be over 100km.
  • Day Five, Tuesday, May 24, I would ridge from Saint-Felicien to either Roberval or Chambord, depending on lodging. Roberval had 3 B&Bs and Chambord had two.
  • Day Six, Wednesday, May 25, would see me riding only about 20 km, but this would be straight up the side of the mountains forming a wall to the west of Lac Saint-Jean. Lodging at the monastery was key to my plan.

    Period Document
    Trip Planning


    Click to Enlarge (CAA-2005-Geo Map)
    Planning Map: La Tuque to Berthierville
    Map of La Tuque to Berthierville Connections


  • Day Seven, Thursday, May 26, would be the tough day: 100+ km through the mountains separating Lac Bouchette and La Tuque. I knew this would be a test! Once in La Tuque, I had the choice of 2 B&B's.
  • Day Eight, Friday, May 27, I would descend the canyon from La Tuque to Grand-Mère, where there were many lodgings.
  • Day Nine, Saturday, May 28, I would ride from Grand-Mère to Berthierville. I had ridden half of this route the Summer before.
  • Day Ten, Sunday, May 29, I would ride home form Berthierville. I had ridden this stretch back in 1990.

    The plans hinged greatly on the availability of lodging, especially at the key point which was the monastery at Lac Bouchette. If I could not stay overnight there, the whole plan would come unhinged. I was anxious to begin making reservations. I was not sure, for example, how many of the B&B's would even be taking reservations for so early in the season. (This fear turned out to be unfounded, however, as Lac Saint-Jean was already crawling with tourists in late May, as I was to discover.)

    I could not begin making reservations until I sold the whole idea of the trip to Sheryl. She had heard me talking about it with friends for months and continued to respond, "We have to talk!". She was very unhappy with the idea of my going so far away. She liked the idea of my not being more than one hour or 100km away, though I pointed out that on several trips I had gotten up to three hours or 300km away. Here I would be a long day's drive away at the furthest distance. We sat down and I went over the plans and the maps with her. She was not happy, but finally relented and gave her qualified blessing.

    Period Document
    Sheryl's Best Wishes
    Private note containing my wife Sheryl's best wishes for the trip.


    I set out the very next day to secure my reservations. First was the monastery at Lac Bouchette. I was more than relieved to secure my room with no problem. Next I made my train reservations, double-checking that they would, indeed, take my bike on board. Finally, I sat down with the Quebec Tourist Guide and began filling in the B&B blanks. One-by-one everything fell into place. Peribonka was the toughest, as there was only one B&B and they were not sure, at first, that they would be open. I did not make any reservations for Berthierville, as I knew there were plenty of places and I thought it was possible that, once I was that close, and it being the weekend, Sheryl might drive out to meet me.

    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Jonquiere B&B


    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Alma B&B


    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Peribonka B&B
    [Qtourist Guide 2005 B&B]


    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Saint-Felicien B&B


    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Chambord B&B


    Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
    Ls Tuque B&B


    This was the working document that I took with me. (Note that the Berthierville reservation was only filled in later.)

    Period Document
    Trip Planning


    Period Document
    Trip Planning


    Period Document
    Trip Planning


    This was the document I left with Sheryl, giving her all the particulars.

    Trip Plan:  May 05
    Thursday, May 19
    -Deliver bike to Via Rail:  $15 + tax
    -Must pick up ticket first
    -Tools to remove pedals & turn handlebars
    -Baggage open 07:00 to 23:00
    Friday, May 20
    -Train boards: 07:45
    -Arrives in Jonquiere at 17:52
    -$ 50.61   Reservation # B1V914
    Lodging in Jonquiere:
    Gite du Marquis
    2317, rue Vailloncourt
    re:  Yvon Bilodeau  ($50 cash)
    Saturday, May 21:  Jonquiere to Alma:  ~ 50km
    Lodging in Alma:
    Gite Almatoit
    755, rue Price
    re:  Jean-Guy Girard ($50) 
    Sunday, May 22:  Alma to Peribonka: ~ 75km
    Lodging in Peribonka
    Aubergite au Petit Bonheur
    374, rue Plante
    re: "Carol"  $40
    Monday, May 23:  Peribonka to Saint-Felicien:  ~ 90km
    Lodging in Saint-Felicien
    Gite a fleur d'eau
    1016, Boul. Sacre-Coeur
    re: "Claudette"  $60
    Tuesday, May 24:  Saint-Felicien to Chambord: ~ 60km
    Lodging in Chambord
    Gite Centre de sante de lac Saint-Jean
    1859, rue Principale
    re: Celine Tremblay  $37
    Wednesday, May 25:  Chambord to Lac Bouchette: ~30km + along lake in am
    Lodging in Lac Bouchette
    Ermitage Saint-Antoine
    re:  ??  reserved w MasterCard
    Supper: 17:00-18:30
    Bfast: a partir de -07:30
    Thursday, May 26:  Lac Bouchette to La Tuque:  ~100km
    Lodging in La Tuque
    Gite aux trois pignons
    643, rue Roy
    re: Sylvie et Sylvius  $57
    Friday, May 27:  La Tuque to Grand-Mere:  ~100km
    Lodging in Grand-Mere:
    Gite au Petit-Louis
    201, 5e Avenue
    Saturday, May 28:  Grand-Mere to Berthierville:  ~ 75km
    Lodging not reserved yet
    Sunday, May 29:  Berthierville Home:  ~75km

    Getting Ready

    All the plans and reservations were in place by late April. Sheryl was still concerned for me and made it her mission to see to it that I had the best equipment. We took a drive one day up to Laval, for me to get some proper cycling shoes from a big cycling store that is located up there. I got the shoes, but was also looking for new paniers, which they did not have. A drive a bit further up the road brought us to a second shop, where they had the right kind of paniers. The owner was so nice and friendly, that talking soon turned into buying and I had a brand-new bicycle. Sheryl was a big disappointed when the cycling expert concurred with me that I should not take a new, untested bike on such a long ride away from possible support. I would make the trip with my old bike, but would use the new paniers.

    I picked up my train ticket on Tuesday, May 17

    Via Rail to Jonquiere 17-May

    On the 18th, we did some final shopping, to get ready.

    McWhiine Cycle: Pedal Wrench 18-May
    Provigo: Zip Lock Bags 18-May
    Can Tire: Bungie Cords & handle 18-May

    After buying the pedal wrench, I practiced taking the pedals off and putting them back on. I would not make the same mistake I had made in 1993: I put grease on the threads before putting the pedals back on.

    On Thursday morning, the 19th, we dropped off my bicycle at Central Station.

    Via Rail: Bike Transport 19-May

    Prepared by Roger Kenner
    August, 2008. lite-version: October, 2008