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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(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Lac Saint-Jean Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Day 7: Lac Bouchette to La Tuque
Thursday, May 26, 2005


Picture Key
Original Photos
Period Documents
My photos, other times
Other, modern sources
[Read More] about the Picture Key.

 

Period Document Composite
Trip Plan: Day 7: May 26

 

Early Morning

I was up the next morning at 05:00 and all packed and ready to go by 05:55. I carried my bags outside and mounted my bike in the cool, morning air. At least it was to be a sunny day. God had heard my plea that it not rain on the day of my marathon ride. Rain had been the forecast for Thursday. My blood sugar that morning was 6.6.

Only one or two guests were about as I rode back down the road towards the causeway. My legs were still pretty cold so I encountered difficulties as I had to climb up the steep slope at the far side of the causeqay, from the town proper up to the highway above. Since it was too early for cars on the city streets, I was able to zig-zag my way up the steep incline.

The restaurant La Quebecoise was pretty crowded for 06:00 in the morning. I took a seat at the counter and had a hearty breakfast: The usual of eggs, sausage, potatoes, toast of pain-menage and coffee. ($6.50).
Lac Bouchette, La Quebecoise, Bfast

Starting Out

I set out on the day's voyage at 06:40. The high road continued along the edge of Lac Bouchette. Ten minutes along, I came to a mileage sign: La Tuque - 109km. The road then began climbing up a long slope away from the valley of the lake.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Starting out in the Morning

 

Quebec Official Road Map
Lac Bouchette to La Tuque Map
Lac Bouchette to La Tuque Map

 

By 07:40, I was passing by the hamlet of Lac des Commissaires, the last civilization I would see for some time. Climbing out of Lac des Commissaires, I faced a long, long hill as the road turned away from the lake. I came to the summit at 08:ll, with 93km left to go to La Tuque. A sign at the summit warned that the next gas would 91km away.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Starting the Long Climb up from the Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Looking Back Down the Hill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Distant Lac-des-Commissaires

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Approaching the Summit and Into the Wilderness

 

Though technically I was over the summit, for I could see that the streams were all running in the same direction I was travelling rather than against me, I would still face lots and lots of uphill grades.

Many had warned me of the lack of paved shoulders along Route 155, but it was really not so bad. Only about half the time did the road not have paved shoulders. Any place where they had put in new road - for example on the double passing lane of hills - there was a paved shoulder. There was always a wide, gravel shoulder.

The big double-trailer transports were scarce early in the morning, but by 09:00 they had become pretty regular. Usually they would pass in clusters of two or three. Often, in contrast, there would be five or more minutes with no cars at all!

I learned to live with the big transports. One had to put one's self in the position of the driver and see the road through their eyes: If the road ahead were clear, they would pass in the far lane with lots of room to spare. When I would hear them coming, and estimated them to be 200-300 metres behind me, I would look ahead. If cars were coming, or if there were a blind curve or the crest of a hill, then I would know they could not pass safely. And, of course, they could not stop or even slow their heavy rigs down. At this point, I would have to leave the pavement and ride over onto the far side of the gravel shoulder. Such events only occurred perhaps fifteen to twenty times during the whole day. Regular cars and SUVs had plenty of room to pass me, even when there was oncoming traffic, though some did not like it and blasted their horns at me.

Before proceeding on from the summit, I stopped and changed out of my cold weather gear; the hot sun was beating down and the chill of the early morn had been dispersed. Chaning gear made for a long, ten-minute stop (06:40-08:10: 1h30 cycling; 08:10-08:20: 0h10 stopped). I took off my nylon leggings and put sun screen on my knees. I doffed the large sweater and windbreaker and kept only my shirt. All these clothes, along with my rain shoes, I kept in the front paniers. In this way, I could leave the yellow rain covers in place over my rear paniers. The bright yellow covers made me much more visible.

I discovered that my new, rear paniers leaned in much more than had the old ones. My makeshift tool to keep them from getting caught in the spokes still worked, but I had to keep adjusting it. I knew I would have to manufacture something new for my new bike, something rigid.


 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Looking Back down the Lonely Highway

 

At 09:18, I stopped for a photo near an unknown lake (lac-Pekam (?)) at 85km from La Tuque.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Stopping by an Unknown Lake

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Entering La Mauricie

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Passing by Lac Écarté
Road to Kiskissink (on the rail line)

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Passing by Lac-de-la-Carpe

 

At 10:00, I stopped for a five-minute rest and a snack of trail mix at Lac-de-la-Carpe in Zec Borgia. I was at km marker 185, but I had learned they were +16km than the distance to La Tuque (minus 100). La Tuque would be around 69km away.

Lac-de-la-Carpe: Trail Mix Snack
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Stop along Lac-de-la-Carpe

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Powerlines past Lac-de-la-Carpe
[See Powerlines on Trace]

 

At 11:00, I was at km 172 (58km to La Tuque).

At 11:30, I was about half way, at km 165 (49km to La Tuque).

A long climb began at km 160, which ended at 11:50. The climb brought out the sweat in me and I encountered my first black flies, clustering around my face. I could not ride fast enough on the uphill to get away from them. Thankfully, as I would zoom down the far slope, I would lose my complement of black flies. [When the hated head winds would come up, at least they would bring the benefit of relief from the black flies.]

The long climb was followed by a marvellous and long 6km descent. The road descended into a narrow river valley, the river itself running alongside to my left. When I stopped at the bottom of the run, I was at km 154 (38km to La Tuque) and it was only 12:05.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Looking back on the Long Climb

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Near the Crest

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Beginning the Descent

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Beginning the Descent

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Passing a Beaver Dam

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Along the La Bostonnais River

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Fast Flowing Water, Moving in Same Same Direction as I

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Descent into the Canyon

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Multi-Coloured Hillside at Rest Stop

 

Lunch was from 12:05 to 12:20, about 15 minutes. The sky was beginning to cloud over, but I could not complain about the sunny skies I had enjoyed thus far. For lunch, I had the two muffins which Claudette had given me. I added to these a hearty serving of trail mix and lots and lots of water. I enjoyed all this while sitting by the bridge over a small creek, a tributary to the river I was following, listening to the soft, gentle sound of the flowing water. When traffic was not passing, all was very quiet and peaceful.

Along La Bostonnais: Lunch Stop by the River
Muffins and Trail Mix
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Creek at Rest Stop

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Rest Stop

 

Rolling on down the road afterwards, I came to an official 'halte routiere' at 12:40, at the junction of a road off to Lac-Edouard, one of the lakes I had passed while travelling up by train. I stopped for five minutes at the 'halte'.

La Tuque was posted as being 34km distant and the roadside mileage markers showed km 150. I realized that this difference of 116 km represented the distance I would face the next day, in descending from La Tuque to Grand Mere. It would actually be a greater distance than the one I was facing this day. I hoped that it would be flatter and more downhill. [In fact, if would not be flat and there would be a pronounced headwind!]

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Mileage Sign at Lac-Edouard Junction

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Rivière La Bostonnais

 

La Bostonnais: Civilisation

At 13:10, I came to the La Bostonnais line at km 145 (29 km to La Tuque). I pondered why the article would be 'La', while the name was masculine ('Bostonnais' rather than 'Bostonnaise'. I realized there must be a word missing and wondered what it was. [I learned later that it was 'riviere', as in 'La riviere Bostonnais' or 'La Bostonnais'].

By 13:30 and km 140 (26km to go), I became conscious of an ever-increasing number of transport trucks. I was also beginning to encounter an ever-increasing headwind.

From 13:40 to 13:50, I had to stop and prop the bike up while I rigged for rain; it had become quite dark and I was already feeling raindrops. Stopping my rig out on the highway was not easy. I always had to find something to lean the bike up against. In a pinch a sign post would do, but quite often these sign posts were not accessible from the shoulder, being on the other side of an uncrossable ditch. Roadside railings or a bridge railing served much better, when I could find them.

Rigging for rain meant changing from my good cycling shoes into my light, canvas tennis shoes and making sure the former were well wrapped in impermeable zip-lock bags. I had to take off and similarly encapsulate in zip-lock bags any jackets, shirts or sweaters I was wearing. Now that my rear paniers were sealed in all-day rain-covering, all these things I took off had to be stowed in the front paniers. Once set for rain, I had to use my yellow rain poncho for warmth, even if it was not raining.

At 14:00, I encountered the first of two covered bridges over La Bostonnais. By this time, houses had begun to sprout up on both side of the road and I knew I was no longer in the wilderness. I stopped to explore this first historic, wooden bridge for about 5 minutes, as it was right by the road. (14:05)

At 14:30, I came to the town of La Bostonnais itself. To visit the second covered bridge and to see the town itself, I would have had to leave the main road and travel more than a quarter-kilometre to my left. I decided to give them a pass. The town's presence on the main road was limited to a gas station and restaurant, but I gave them a pass too. I felt I was already too close to La Tuque to stop.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Welcome to La Bostonnais

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Continued Descent

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Symbolic Well
(Fish Hatchery:
Ensemination)

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Covered Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Covered Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: View Downriver from Covered Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Passing Town & Covered Bridge #2

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Ostentatious Chimney

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Bostonnais: Lake View

 

La Tuque

The main road crossed over La Bostonnais and then began to climb up over the ridge and away from the river's valley. This rise offered some impressive views back on the river. The road then curved around a huge, mountainaous outcropping which towered hundreds of metres over my head. When I came around the bend, I was able to see the great reservoir of the Saint-Maurice River, stetching away to the north of me.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along La Bostonnais: Welcome to La Tuque!

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: More Descent

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Rapides of La Bostonnais

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: A Calmer Bostonnais

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Along Route 155: Tall Hillsides

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Approaching the Mill

 

(Ville de La Tuque)
Entry into La Tuque
La Tuque Street Map

 

The road became thick with traffic as it descended the hill and came out into La Tuque proper. There was a huge pulp & paper factory to my right, separated from the road by a deep depression filled with houses and light industry. I saw a couple of roadside signs indicated the direction of my intended B&B (arrows pointing forward), but they vanished at the key moment. The directions I had been given, "Turn right at the first traffic light and then it's just before the tracks", became inoperative: There would be many traffic lights and two sets of railroad tracks!

At length, I came to the point along the main road where a sign for Centre-Ville pointed to the right. I turned and followed Rue Saint-Joseph towards downtown. A few blocks further along, I came to the first set of railroad tracks. I could see the train station down along the tracks. It was 15:20 and I had arrived!

I felt a great sense of relief and accomplishment and I thanked the Lord! The Lac-Saint-Jean to La Tuque stretch had worried me greatly. I quickly found that my cell phone was useless, though I saw many residents successfully using their own cell phones and I was to see a Roger's ATT office on the town's main street. I found a pay phone and called and left a message with Sheryl that I had arrived.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
Welcome to La Tuque II

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: View Back North along the Valley

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: View South over Town

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Closer View of Mill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Railroad Station from Saint-Louis Street

 

La Tuque Afternoon Rideabout

I figured that if I cycled around enough, I would eventually locate La Gite des trois pignons, my B&B for the evening. After all, the town was not that large. I took out my trip-plan portfolio and looked up the street name, Rue Roy, so that I could be on the lookout for it as I rode around town.

(Ville de La Tuque)
La Tuque Rideabout
La Tuque Street Map

 

As I followed the main street westward across the narrow downtown, I came to a street where Hwy 155 turned left, to the south, to go down Rue Commerciale (Main Street). I kept going straight and came out at a second set of tracks. This spur led directly to the large factory I had see on the way into town and which formed the back of downtown. Beyond these tracks was a quaint, old neighbourhood stately English-style homes, much like Montreal West. These homes were perched on along the rim of a cliff, with the gorge of the Saint-Maurice dimly visible beyond. At the corner was an old, Anglican church. I turned left and followed the old-time street until I came to an open schoolyard which would give me direct access to the lip of the gorge itself. I filed this observation for future use.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Looking back towards Downtown from Saint-Maurice Street
at Second Railway Crossing

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Old Anglican Church

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Old Anglican Church
Still an English Presence

 

At the end of the tiny, tree-lined residential street, cut off from downtown by the railroad tracks, I turned left and re-crossed the tracks. I cut back across downtown along Rue Saint-François, about two blocks further south from where I had just been. I crossed the main-line tracks about a block below the train station, and could see up to where I had stopped earlier to make my phone call. A couple of blocks further on, I came upon Rue Roy. My B&B was only a few houses down from the corner.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: B & B

 

Since it was only 16:00, I deemed it too early to drop in. I did an about face, returning to the street I had been riding on (Saint-François) and continuing eastward until I reached Hwy 155 northbound once more.

Hwy 155 makes follows the shape of a big box as it moves through La Tuque: Northbound, it is shunted to the right and then the left. Southbound, as well. I rode back up northward as far as Saint-Joseph once again and then rode back across downtown to the corner by the cliff where sat the old, Anglican Church. My mission was to locate the dam on the Saint-Maurice which stood between the vast reservoir to the north and the deep gorge behind the town. (This dam had been my goal during my drive about town in 2002, but I never found it.)

From the same corner, I rode in the opposite direction from where I had ridden earlier, along the tiny Beckler Street and past mostly old, English-style houses and gardens that lined the lop of the gorge. Eventually I came to a dead end.

(Bibliothèque Nationale du Quebec)
La Tuque Dam and Approach

 

As I returned along Beckler Street, I spied through the trees about 10 metres away to my left a bright, yellow school bus driving down some road in the opposite direction. Searching my way, I finally found the access to the parallel road, beginning at the factory parking lot. This tiny road took me around behind the towering hill against which the factory had been built. I came upon a spectacular, and strangely artificial, waterfall. I wondered how so much water could come from such a tiny hillside, and then surmised it must have been effluent from the pulp & paper factory, piped to the top of the cascade, so as to fall over the rocks and be purified.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Rocky Discharge

 

Beyond the falls, the road started downhill. Did I really want to descend, for it would only mean climbing back up again? I was about to turn around when I caught a glimpse of the river through the trees and saw the sort of floating barrier one might find just upriver from a dam. "The dam must be down there," I thought. I followed the road about 30 metres further on, down the hill and around a concealing curve, until I came up a spectacular single lane, metal suspension bridge. It was via this bridge that the tiny road crossed a narrow point in the Saint-Maurice River. Although the road seemed forgotten, with poor pavement on my side and only a dirt track on the other, it was very busy. Quite a number of cars passed as I was stopped to take photos, both of the bridge itself and of the vast reservoir upriver. Downriver, though, the dam remained hidden form my sight.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: The Dam from Above

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: The Hidden Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: The Reservoir of the Mauricie above La Tuque

 

As I returned, I cut back over to the quiet street through the old, English neighbourhood, the street along the gorge. At the junction was a vast, open expanse of parkland next to an historic house, now the home of the Knights of Columbus.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: Historic Building

 

Back at the familiar schoolyard, I cut over to the very lip of the gorge, but the angle was wrong and I could not see the dam. I supposed that in order to see the dam from below a long detour through the part of town below the gorge would be necessary. I did not feel like investing that much time and energy, for any descent would engender a necessary climb back up.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: View over Gorge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050526)
La Tuque: View over Gorge

 

La Tuque Evening

Click to Enlarge (Period Document)
Lodging: Day 7

Instead, I headed back to the B&B. It was now 17:30 and closer to a reasonable arrival time. I found Sylvie out back, painting her garden fence. I greeted her and she knew me by name. I extended to her the greetings that Céline and Gilles had sent. As we talked, her voice and manner of speaking reminded me of my friend Anne Yaxley, only in French. She showed me my room, which was quite nice. Although the bath was shared, I was alone and so had the whole place to myself. I took off my bike paniers and left Sylvie to have her husband stow the bike when he got home.


Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
La Tuque B&B
[Qtourist Guide 2005 B&B]

 

Thursday, May 26:  Lac Bouchette to La Tuque:  ~100km

Lodging in La Tuque
Gite aux trois pignons
643, rue Roy
819-523-3042
re: Sylvie et Sylvius  $57
[See Original Document]

 

La Tuque, B&B

I took a bath and got dressed in my street clothes for the evening: jeans, shirt and sweater. I would head out on food looking for a place to eat. The two recommended restaurants were right on the corner, but I walked on. I wanted a place by the town's phone booth, so that I could call Sheryl. Although La Tuque had seemed to me a bit of a depressed area economically, there was no shortage of restaurants. In my two-block walk along by the train station, I passed at least four restaurants and all were packed!

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050527)
La Tuque: Railway Station

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050527)
La Tuque: Restaurant

 

Across from the phone booth was an old style restaurant, à la 1950s. The parking lot was underneath an overhanging terrace. I tried calling Sheryl before supper, but did not reach her, so I crossed over to the restaurant where I got a nice booth by the window. I had the evening's special: A full meal consisting of soup, salad, pasta with meat sauce and desert (iced cream - on special request.) I was a bit concerned when I found the remnants of a French fry in my salad; I was hoping I had not gotten a second-hand salad. Anyway, the meal was nice.

La Tuque, Restaurant Scarpino,
Period Document
Supper-La Tuque

 

It was dusk as I left. I was successful this time in reaching Sheryl and we talked for a few minutes. Then I stopped into the IGA along the way and picked up a couple of bottles of water for the morrow and then I continued on back to the B&B.

La Tuque, IGA, Water

Upon my return, Svlvie and Sylvius were now both painting the back fence. I chatted with them for a while and they warned me that Grand Mere was actually quite a ways and that it was not as flat as I had expected, "...Y a de belles cotes a surmonter."

I finally went up to my room and watched some TV. The weather channel announced rain, all night and for the next several days. What bad luck! At least I had had a few days of sunshine and, most importantly, sunshine for my crossing of the mountains. (For rain had been announced for this day, Thursday, as well.) I saw that we had had much more sunshine than they had had in southern Quebec. The cold temperature had kept the normally voracious bugs at bay. I watched some TV show and then retired around 22:00.

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On to Day Eight
Prepared by Roger Kenner
September, 2008. lite-version: November, 2008