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|Trip Plan: Day 8: May 27|
I was up for 06:00, to be down for breakfast at 07:00. (I had made arrangements with my hosts to get an early start on the day.). My blood sugar was at 6.1, finally within the green. By 07:00, all was packed and I had carried all my bags downstairs and had stacked them by the door. Breakfast, and good conversation, was from 07:00 to 08:00. I was served the usual of Eggs, potatoes, coutons, toast and coffee.
|Roger at Gite in La Tuque|
It had been raining all night and the streets were wet, but when I set out at 08:00 there was a momentary 'éclairci'. I even saw a rainbow! [I had seen on the weather channel that there were two storms, one coming from the Atlantic and the other coming down from the Northwest. I guess this was the breather between them.]
|La Tuque: Railway Station in the Morning Sun|
After taking some morning pics around town, I rode south and out of town along Hwy 155. The built-up area of La Tuque continued with me for some time.
|Riding out of La Tuque|
|La Tuque Street Map|
At 08:20, I was at km marker 113 of Hwy 155.
It was 09:04, and just past my brief stop at the entrance to Chutes de la petite rivière Bostonnais, when I got to km marker 103. A mileage sign at that point indicated that Grande Mere was 110km away. I surmised, then, that I would have to continue 7km past the end of Hwy 155 before I reaching my destination.
|Starting out on a Rainy Morning|
|Chutes de la petit rivière Bostonnais|
|Aerial Photo of Waterfall|
Despite all my earlier worries about the Lac-Saint-Jean to La Tuque segment of the ride, the link from La Tuque to Grande-Mere would actually end up being my most difficult of the whole trip. Leaving at 08:00, I would not arrive in Grand-Mere until 19:30, almost 12 hours later! What I had feared for the day before (and why I had left at 07:00), ended up happening this day. The biggest problem would be the constant head wind coming up the canyon of the Saint-Maurice. I do not have much luck with canyons. [See the Matapedia Ride of the year before.] At many of the downhill sections, I could not coast, but had to work hard at proceeding, sometimes even in my hill-climbing gears.
|La Tuque to Grand-Mere Map|
|La Rivière St-Maurice from the high Road|
|Along Route 155: The St-Maurice|
|Along Route 155: Looking Back on La Tuque|
|Along Route 155: The Highway and Mist-Shrouded Mountains|
|Along Route 155: Cliffs Above|
|Along Route 155: Everpresent Water - Through the Trees|
Near Carignan, at 9:04 and at mileage marker 103, I was about an hour our of La Tuque and had travelled around 12km. The river turned as the wide valley narrowed into a slender gorge and I lost sight of distant La Tuque. My brief sunny period of the morning was coming to an end, as the mist rolled down off the hills and the clouds closed in on me.
I would reach km 100 at 9:17, about 13 minutes later. Three kilometres in thirteen minutes was not bad. I was making roughly 12-13km per hour. Although the valley would be beautiful, I was surprised that the road certainly had so many serious ups and downs. At many turns of the river, the road would climb up sharply to cross over the point, to come down then on the far side.
|Along Route 155: The Gorge Narrows; The Skies Darken; The Last of the Sunshine|
|Along Route 155: Scenic Highway|
|Along Route 155: Cliffs Across the River|
|Along Route 155: Rounding the Bend|
|Along Route 155: High Cliffs|
|Along Route 155: The River Ahead|
|Along Route 155: Road & River Together|
At 10:00, I was at km 90 and near Crique-Clair, at one of the points where the road climbed up and over the point as the river changed direction back towards an eastward slant. In 42 minutes, I had traversed 10km, for a speed of just over 14km/hr.
The clouds had closed in and there was a light rain which would be with me for the next 30km or so.
|Along Route 155: Shallows in the River|
|Along St-Maurice: The Current Picks up Approaching the Narrows|
|Along Route 155: The Bridge at Rivière aux Rats|
At 10:45, I was at km 80, just past Rivière aux Rats and crossing into the region of Mekinac. I had covered 10km in 45 minutes, just slightly slower than in in the second hour.
At certain sections, I would see traces of old former roadway. At a curve in the river, I would come upon you another sharp climb and descent.
|Along Route 155: The Old Highway Below|
|Along Route 155: The Cliffs Recede|
|Along Route 155: The River Widens|
|Closeup of the Climb Ahead|
|Welcome to Mekinac|
|Looking back on River & Road from Beyond the Rise|
|Along Route 155: Looking Ahead to the Cliffs|
At 11:35, I was at km 70 and approaching Grande-Anse. It had taken me 50 minutes to cover the previous 10km, slower yet than in each of the previous two hours. I was now averaging only 12km/hr.
The mist would soon close in and it would get quite rainy. Out of the otherwise wilderness, I would come upon a house nestled below the cliffs on my side and a small settlement on the far side.
|Along Route 155: Misty Weather|
|Along Route 155: Home Beneath the Cliffs|
|Along Route 155: Dark Rain Approaching|
|Along Route 155: The Road in the Rain|
|Along Route 155: Through the Gorge in the Rain|
|Along Route 155: The River Below|
|Along Route 155: The River Ahead|
|Along Route 155: Wide Shoulders on the Highway along the River|
|Along Route 155: The River Ahead|
|Along Route 155: Small Settlement on the Far Side|
At 12:25, I was at km 60, just past Grande-Anse. Once more it had taken me 50 minutes to cover 10 km, for an average speed of 12km/hr.
|Welcome to Rivière Matawin|
|Along Route 155: High Climb|
|Along Route 155: Through the Gorge|
|Along Route 155: Descent to the Bridge at Rivière Metawin|
|Along Route 155: The Rivière Metawin Joins the St.-Maurice|
|Along Route 155: The Bridge at Rivière Metawin|
At 13:12, I was at km 50. It had only taken me 47 minutes to cover the previous 10km, for a slight increase in average speed, and this despite the long climb.
I stopped at Rivière Metawin for a hot lunch of soup and a western sandwich, and a welcome respite from the rain. All totalled, there would be three separate bouts of rain. I was stopped for lunch from 13:40 to 14:10, about half an hour.
Metawin, Lunch: soup & western sandwich
At 14:45, I was at km 40. Discounting the half hour I had spent for lunch, it had still taken me 63 minutes to travel 10 km; I was now averaging less than 10 km/hr. The headwind was growing stronger and was especially bad after the canyon and road turned east for a 15km stretch.
|Along Route 155: The River Rumbles On|
|Along Route 155: Looking Back on River Rounding Point and Turning Eastward|
|Along Route 155: Looking Ahead at River & Road|
At 15:33, I was at km 30, near the town line of Saint-Roch-de-Mekinac. I was making a bit better time, as I had covered the 10km in only 48km. The centre of town was still about 7km away and I would not reach it until 16:17.
|Welcome to St-Roch-de-Mekinac|
|Along Route 155: Bridge over a Triburary on the Way into Town|
|Along Route 155: The River Widens into Lake|
At 16:17, I came to the centre of the town of Saint-Roch-de-Mekinac, where Route 159 comes down from the mountains to join the main highway. There was a small municipal park by the river, where I stopped for some refreshment and to examine a most peculiar boat that was tied up at the wharf. I was now clearly at the head of the navigable lake, formed behind the dam at Grane-Mère. I stopped for about 15 minutes.
|Along Route 155: Stop at Picnic Ground|
|Along Route 155: Boat at Picnic Ground|
At 16:37, I was at km 20. Not counting my stop in town, it had taken me about 45 minutes to descend the 10km. Now that I was riding along the more open sections by the reservoir, there was nothing to stop the wind, which pressed against me with a fierce vengeance and whipped up whitecaps on the open water.
Most of the road had good, paved shoulders, but some of the older sections, as it cut around cliffs, did not. At one such spot, as I heard a truck approach from behind and saw the blind curve ahead of me, I left the pavement to ride on the shoulder so that the truck could pass. Only the shoulder turned out to be soft sand! My front wheel dug itself into the sand and the bike came to an abrupt halt. It was painful as my crotch came slamming into the post.
Somewhat south of Saint-Roch-de-Mekinac I came upon a point where the river turned a bit. Up ahead I could see that the road made quite a climb, but to my right was a smaller road. Did it go around the point at river level? Could I avoid the hill? I tried to asked quite a young boy who was playing along the side road whether the road went through. He said no, but I was not totally sure he understood my question, or even knew the answer. I was tempted to try it anyway, but finally I thought better of it and resigned myself to sloggin up the hill. It as a good choice, for the road never did join up at the other side.
|Along Route 155: Which Way? Does it go through?|
|Along Route 155: Looking Back Down the Hill from the top|
|Along Route 155: The River Through the Trees|
|Along Route 155: View down the Gorge|
|Along Route 155: Along the Open Lake|
I came to a point where the road made an inside curve across a small tributary canyon before rounding yet another point. There the old road could clearly be seen hugging what was once the former shoreline. There was an old bridge, a waterfall dropping into a pool behind the bridge and bare cliffs covered with graffitti. I took a detour back along the old road to explore for a few minutes.
|Approaching Les Piles|
|Excerpt from Aerial Photo of Les Piles|
|Along Route 155: Bridge on the Old Road|
|Along Route 155: Following the Old Road|
|Along Route 155: Grafitti along the Highway|
|Along Route 155: The First Waterfall|
|Along Route 155: The Second Waterfall and Pool|
|Along Route 155: Looking Back on the Corner|
As the road rounded the point, it hugged the base of the tall cliffs. Despite how little room there was, someone had managed to build a house.
|Along Route 155: House under the Cliff|
Coming around the corner, I could see clearly up ahead to a sharp narrowing of the already narrow canyon.
|Along Route 155: Looking Ahead to the Narrows|
Across the river was the first settlement of any size I had seen on the far side: Saint-Jean-des-Piles.
|Along Route 155: Looking across to Saint-Jean-des-Piles.|
I soon came to a like settlement on my side of the river: Grandes-Piles.
|Welcome to Grandes-Piles|
|Aerial Photo of Les Piles|
At 17:33, I was in the town of Grand-Piles and at km marker 10 of the highway. Across the river from the sister town of Saint-Jean-des-Piles. Here the lake narrowed as it headed into the gorge above the dam. The road would leave the river at this point.
I stopped at a phone booth and called Sheryl to tell her I was still two hours out. Then I called the B&B, to tell them the same story: That I was in Grand Piles; I was still coming; The wind was in my face and it would take me two hours to cover the remaining 20km. I guess I must have sounded desperate, for a while later the B&B innkeeper would pass by in his van and offer me a ride on in. What a nice gesture! I graciously declined, though. I had ridden so far already, I figured I wanted to have the satisfaction of completing the ride on my own.After I had placed the two calls, I stopped into a small restaurant for a hot cup of coffee before proceeding.
Grand Piles, Coffee
|Shawinigan Area Map|
|Shawinigan Area Map|
I was on my way again at 18:00. Coming out of Grand Piles, there was one last serious climb, as the road left the gorge of the Saint-Maurice. Then the roadway cut across an ininteresting plain. Along my left, I could see the clearing of the forest that would soon be the extension of the Hwy 55 freeway. This was a most boring stretch of road, which I thought would never end. It was along here that the B&B innkeeper caught up with me.
At long last, at 18:30, I rounded a curve and came upon a traffic light. I was at km 1 of Hwy 155, essentially the end of the road. Ahead it would become the Autoroute 55 freeway. I had travelled the entire length of Hwy 55 over the past three days.
A short extension shunted local traffic over to Hwy 153 in Saint-George, which I reached at 18:40. Once I got onto Hwy 153, I was once again riding in the direction I wanted to go. I passed through Saint-Georges on Hwy 153, which served as the town's main street. Then I passed over the Garneau Yard of the CN, where my train had stopped a week earlier. While I had now crossed to the south side of the tracks, I would soon pass under them again on my way to the Grand-Mere bridge bridge. I was too caught up in the flow of traffic to stop for a photo of the old iron overpass, under which the narrow road dove as if through a tunnel. At that point, there was no longer any shoulder and I was riding in with the cars in a lane too narrow for them to pass.
The big Grand-Mere bridge, massive, metal suspension bridge built in 1929, crossed the Saint-Maurice River just upstream of the dam. The sidewalk was too narrow to ride across, and there were too many cars on the narrow roadway, so I dismounted and walked my bike over to Grand-Mere.
|Along Route 155: The End of Route 155 at Km 1|
|Along Route 153 in Saint-Georges|
|Over the Railyard at Garneau|
|The Bridge at Grand-Mère|
By the time I was walking across the bridge, the cold and wet of the dreary day was beginning to get to me. I was tired from nearly 11 hours of cycling. Still, I took a moment to stop and explore my surroundings. Looking north from the bridge, I could see the new highway bridge of the freeway. Looking to the south, I could see the lip of the dam.
|From the Bridge at Grand-Mère: Looking North to Freeway Bridge|
|From the Bridge at Grand-Mère: Looking South to Dam|
|Grande Mère: The Dam at Grande Mère (1 week earlier)|
|[See Unmarked Version]|
At the Grand-Mere side side of the bridge, I was presented with a fairly steep climb. Along some of it I had to ride on the sidewalk, as I was facing oncoming traffic as I climbed up first 2e avenue and then 5e Avenue. (Thought town, 6e Avenue was one-way westward and 5e Avenue was one-way eastward .) The B&B was 5e Avenue, just below downtown.
When I arrived at 19:10, the same kindly gentleman was waiting patiently for me. It was a kind of strange B&B, an old house nestled into the hillside along with all the other old houses of Grand-Mere along 5e Avenue. My room was in the basement, down narrow steps with a low ceiling. There were two rooms in the basement, with a shared bathroom, but I would be alone that night.
|Grand-Mère: B & B|
|Qtourist Guide 2005 B&B|
Friday, May 27: La Tuque to Grand-Mere: ~100km Lodging in Grand-Mere: Gite au Petit-Louis 201, 5e Avenue 819-538-2741
|[See Original Document]|
After a bath and change, I was ready to head on out in search of supper. The restaurant suggested by the innkeeper was only a block away and was just perfect for my needs. It was a kind of upscale pizzeria, where I would have supper from 20:00 to 21:10. I consumed a whole 10" pizza and Caesar salad and two beers.
Grand-Mere, Restaurant Bruno: 10" pizza/ Caesar salad/ 2xbeer
My cell phone had service again, so I called Sheryl after supper and we talked for a long time. Upon leaving the restaurant and returning to the B&B, I chatted with the innkeeper and his wife for some time as they watched television. At length, I retired for the evening.