|Day 3 & 4|
I had a nice refreshing and sunny morning ride back into town for breakfast. The same strong easterly breeze was still at my back and the weather reports promised clear weather until Monday (and rain thereafter). After breakfast and a visit to the hardware store for some gear (I was still having problems with that stupid air mattress pump.), I finally set out at 10:15.
My goal that day was Mont St. Pierre, which was only 60km away. The distance I could travel, it was turning out, was being set more by the availability of campgrounds than by anything else. I was sure I could go further than 60km, but not all the way to the following campground.
|Day 3: Ste. Anne to Monts to Marsoui|
|La Tourelle: Looking back on Ste. Anne|
|Ste. Anne des Monts: Detail|
To landward, the distant blue peaks of the mountain range had been getting closer and closer as I went along. Ahead, in the distance, I had been watching the point where they would meet the water and I was not looking forward to what I knew I would find when I got there. Then I had a pleasant surprise.
Just past Ruisseau Castor [Beaver Brook], There was a small climb, followed by the road suddenly dropping right down to the level of sea. I mean right on the sea! The road was built on a bed of rocks right at the water's edge. Looking over the sea wall to the left, the breakers broke right against the edge of the roadbed, some twenty feet down. To the right, huge cliffs towered hundreds of feet straight up. The road itself was absolutely flat, a wonderful change from what I had been riding on. This section of road had a large, wide paved shoulder for cyclists to ride on, well out of the way of traffic. It was a great section. With the strong wind behind me, I sped along. I think that if I had stopped pedalling all together, I would still have been propelled forward.
I stopped soon to this rest area where there was a waterfall cascading down from the cliff and running under the highway. There was a pathway leading down through the sea wall to the water itself. It was low tide, so I climbed out on the rocks.
I imagined, and it was later confirmed in conversations with locals, that this nice road would not be so nice in the wintertime. I was told it is a "killer stretch". The thunderously high winter waves, driven by storms, spray right up onto the road, which were often covered with ice. Avalanches fall down from the clifftop, smothering drivers and cutting off traffic for days. Still, for me in the Summertime, the road was very nice. I was going to get quite spoiled over the next day's cycling, only to be rudely awakened later on.
|The Stretch along the Seaside|
|Looking East and Forward||Looking West and Backward|
|Cap aux Renard|
|Looking East at the road to come||Looking West at the road done|
At Cap-au-Renard [Fox Cape] the good life ended for a brief moment, as I had a long climb up over the point, but then I had a nice long ride down. The road then continued along the seaside as before.
|Looking West: Detail|
|Looking East: Detail|
By 12:15 I was at La Martre [Marten], where there was a famous lighthouse. I stopped again for a few minutes by a waterfall cascading down from the clifftop. It was a most interesting sight for through such a long fall, most of the water was lost to mist and did not reach the ground. A perpetual rainbow could be seen when looking up at the clifftop from below.
|The Light at La Martre||Detail|
By 12:45 I had reached the quaint little town of Marsoui, nestled far back into a narrow, but deep cove, sheltered by the cliffs.
See the Notes on Marsoui for more background.
|The road near Marsoui: Looking East||Over the hump at Marsoui: Looking West|
|La Couqerie de Marsoui|
|Looking West: Detail|
|Day 3: Marsoui to Mont St. Pierre|
It was an hour later that I stopped again, at the "halte routière" [roadside stop] following the climb up to Le Petit Cap [Small Cape] from Rivière-à-Claude [Claude's River]. The road had continued along the cliff's base, pretty much as before.
|The Road between Marsoui and Mont. St. Pierre|
I had passed a couple of fellow cyclists, but they did not seem very friendly. In fact, they seemed downright hostile. One of my reasons for stopping was that I wanted them back ahead of me (since they were moving faster than I). I did not want to meet up with them out alone on the highway.
I passed the town of Ruisseau-à-Rebours [Backwards Creek], which had featured in a famous French Canadian short story I had read in college, a story by Felix Leclerc. The town was a dissappointment.
|Mont St. Pierre|
|The "mountain" and Eastward||The West end of the Cove|
|Festival du Vol Libre|
|Mont St. Pierre: Campground|
|Campground at Mont St. Pierre||The Kenner camp: See Red Tent|
|Camping du Pont|
I learned that Mont St. Pierre was famous the world over as a hang gliding site. People were at the festival from all over the world. The actual launchings were early in the morning, so I had missed them for that day, but the town was full of bars and nightclubs where all the hang gliders and their followers were hanging out and discussing the next day's launch.
The town covered the back of a small, tight cove, with large mountains at either end. Mont St. Pierre ended in a sheer cliff, jutting right out over the water and the strong breezes apparently created lots of updrafts, making it perfect for the hang gliders.
|Hang gliding at Mont St. Pierre||The Rules|
After getting my tent set up, which was quite an art in the strong wind, I set out on foot to explore the town. Right by the campround was a river, which met the sea just beyond the highway bridge. I took off my shoes and got my feet wet. The water was freezing! The ocean water temperature was actually colder than the ice-cold mountain stream. I did not play for long.
|Mont St Pierre|
At the very centre of town was what looked like one of the most popular watering holes. The bar had a terrace which was filled with leather-jacketed bikers. As the forty or so bikers drank beer, their shining choppers lined up along the road, I could see that the throng of women and children playing directly in front of them, at the beach, was part of the same tribe. This somehow drew me, I don't know why, and I later had supper at the same place.
At the west end of town there was an interesting set up to allow beginners to have a go at hang gliding. A cable stretched from a perch about two hundred feet up the side of the mountain. The hang glider attached to this cable and beginners could slide down to the bottom. Sadly, it was closed for the evening. I visited the market and stocked up on foodstuffs, then wandered back through town to the campsite.
|Mont St. Pierre: Beach walkabout|
Armed now with binoculars and camera, I began a second walk, this time along the beach. It was now early evening and I was joined by throngs of others, entire families, out for an evening stroll. There were no more bathing suits though, for it had begun to get downright chilly. I got back to my end of town just as the sun was setting out over the sea, a beautiful sight.
|Sunset at Mont St. Pierre|
|Sunset at Mont St. Pierre|
I got to be early, but it was hard to get to sleep. It was Friday night and the little town was partying hard. Then later, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the wind flapping every conceivable loose part of my tent and tent cover.
[On to Day 4]