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|East of Hawkesbury|
I was up at 06:20. I had set my alarm, but there was no need. The noisy pipes served the same function. I hesitated and did not get out of bed until 06:40, but then I got moving quickly. Still, I was not dressed and packed and out of the room until 07:30. I carefully rolled the fully-loaded bike down the steep stairs, using the brakes to hold it back.
After buying a couple of bottles of water at the convenience store, I returned to Goodies for breakfast: 3 eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and coffee, all for $6
At 08:00 I was on my way. I trundled across the bridge and rode along Front Street (County 4) out the east end of town. I came to the expected 'Bay' street turnoff (County 24), which took me out along the river.
It was a bright, sunny morning, although quite nippy. As before, I had started out with both sweater and windbreaker. I would lose the sweater within half an hour and the windbreaker after a couple of hours. Along the water, I had great views. Fine, new, upper-middle class houses were perched along the cliff, in an unbroken line of half-acre properties. On the far side rose the hundred-meter escarpment, cloaked in forest. Along the base could be occasionally seen through the forest the cars on Route 148.
|L'Orignal: View Upriver||L'Orignal: View Across the River|
I came into the small town of L'Orignal, where I was overtaken by a cyclist riding a recumbent bike. We spoke briefly before he rode on. Otherwise the road was fairly quiet, with a car every couple of minutes. It was 08:40 when I got to L'Orignal.
|L'Orignal: Historic Courthouse|
I kept hearing this noise I could not place. As I got closer, it seemed like the roar of Niagara Falls, but I knew of no such waterway anywhere close. It turned out to be a gigantic steel mill, which seemed so incongruous out in the middle of the green farmland.
|L'Orignal: Incongruous Factory|
At 09:00, one hour into the day's riding, I was just past L'Orignal, about halfway between Pointe-au-Chene and the mouth of the Riviere Rouge on the other side. I stopped at a point where I had a great vista of the whole river gorge. I had gone 11km (=11+98.5=109.5) in the first hour. I called Sheryl and we talked. I tried to take some photos of the Rouge River mouth with my field glasses. Altogether my stop was about 10 minutes.
|Face à La Rouge: Closeup||Face à La Rouge: View Downriver|
|Face à La Rouge: View Upriver||Face à La Rouge: View Across|
As I continued along, a peninsula jutting out into the river formed a bay, which got narrower and narrower as I rode. On the water side was still an unbroken line of riverfront homes, while on the other side were farms. As I neared the head of bay, the water turned more and more brown. When I saw lilly pads, I knew I did not have far to go.
|View from Head of Bay|
The plan was to but north around the head of the bay and back to the river. Alas, the bridge over the marsh at the head of the bay was out. I rode down anyway, from 9:35-9:40. There was one worker at the bridge. Could I get across by bike? Well only if you promise to fish it out of the water by yourself. He then moved aside to show me the only crossing in place was a set of six-inch wide steel girders.
I had to follow the detour along Concession Road 4. It was a poorly paved road through the open farmland. There were no trees to offer any obstacle to the wind, which bore down heavily upon me. I was passed by an Amish farmer running his horse and buggy at a trot.
|Detour along Concession Road 4|
By 10:00, two hours into the day's riding, I had made it to the intersection of Concession #4 and County 15, which would take me back to the river at the town of Lefaivre (+13km=24+98.5=122.5). The turn to riding across the wind, and the better road made for an improvement. I also got some relief from the fact that I was following a gentle downhill into town.
|LaFaivre: Approaching Town on County 15||Gap in Hills on Quebec Side|
|Welcome to LaFaivre|
I got to Lefaivre first at 10:30, but then I road east to look at the ferry, and then west again, to return to the centre of town at 10:40. I then sat down on the town's one park bench, of which they were very proud (judging by the congratulatory plaque) and had a quick snack.
|LaFaivre: Ferry Crossing|
|Le Faivre to Wendover|
Heading west from Lefaivre, I was still high above the river and had a great view. There were no more homes at this point, just farms, and vast expanses of wide-open farmland.
|Road West of LaFaivre|
As I rode over a small, rocky ridge, I came upon the view of the Chateau Montebello. It was 11:00 when I reached the point across from the Chateau Montebello, three hours into the day's riding (+12km=36+98.5=134.5)
|Face au Chateau Montebello|
I plodded along, the wind becoming ever stronger and more of an obstacle. My view of the far shore of the river began to be cut off by a long peninsula or island attached to the Quebec side. I had wondered, as I had looked upriver, why the water on one side of the low island looked blue while on the other side it was brown. The main, blue channel became quite narrow at places. Almost always there was a constant stream of power boats heading up and down the river.
|End of Long Quebec Peninsula|
I came to the 'town' of Treadwell at 11:30. Treadwell consists of a church and a convenience store. I undertand there is a marina, but I did not take the detour to look. At Treadwell, I lost my main road (County 24) and was onto Concession #1, a road that was barely paved. The rough pavement only added to the discomfort of the wind. I began to enjoy the scenery less and less as my legs fought to keep me going.
|'Town' of Treadmill|
At Noon, after four hour's riding, I was at Route 21, the point where I would have to cut inland to cross over the obstacle of the South Nation River (+11km=47+98.5=145.5). It was time to call Sheryl. She was on the highway, nearly to Ottawa. I was no longer sure of when I would get to Ottawa. My initial thought that I would be there by Noon, and have time to ride around, had been dashed by the morning's progress. Besides the wind, it was just much further than I had thought.
|Hwy 17 Bridge|
I rode the short distance along Route 21, mercifully across the wind, and then had to take the Hwy 17 bridge over the South Nation River. Even for the short distance, the speed of the cars on Hwy 17 was a shock. On the far side, I immediately exited on Rue Principale, a country road leading to Wendover.
|South Nation River from Bridge|
Principale paralled Hwy 17, which I could often see clearly. First it went along the banks of the South Nation River, and then along the Ottawa. On the South Nation, I saw the stone pilings of a former bridge, probably a railroad bridge. I sense a story there. The tall water tower of Wendover had been a beacon for the last hour.
|Old Railway Bridge across South Nation River||View Downriver at Mouth of South Nation River|
I finally made it to Wendover at 12:45, where I descended to the wharf and took at ten minute lunch break, breaking out the last of my cheese and a good helping of grapes. I headed on my way at 12:55.
|Wendover: View Upriver at Docks||Wendover: View Downriver at Docks|
|Wendover & Rockland|
At 13:00, five hours into the ride, I was about 1km west of Wendover (+9km=56+98.5=154.5). The old road was quasi-residential. Along the river were many homes once again. Principale became 'Old Highway 17' and, at places, ran directly parallel to the new road.
|Along Hwy 17: The Old & The New|
There was some serious climbing, which brought me into the town of Clarence....
|Welcome to Clarence|
|Clarence: There was a ferry here!|
At 13:51, Old Highway 17 joined the new road.
|Welcome to Rockland: Along Hwy 17|
Highway 17 was very busy, with almost no shoulder. I coasted down into a vast valley, across an inlet, and then began slowly climbing up the other side. When the first exit for Rockland presented itself, I was glad to take it and get off the main road.
|Rockland: Mega-Construction||Rockland: Approaching Town Centre|
It was 14:00 when I came to the entrance to Rockland (+11km=67+98.5=165.5). Sheryl had phoned while I was still on Hwy 17 to tell me she was at her friend Pat's and was about to begin the massage. I had left my phone on since Noon so she could reach me.
|Rockland: Town Hall||Rockland: Church|
Hwy 17 went around Rockland in a bypass, but I took Boulevard Laurier right through the centre of town. I was at the town centre at 14:15 I stopped at a depanneur to buy two more bottles of water. I was charged tax, but there was little I could do about it. At 14:30 I was at the western end of town, where I was forced to rejoin Hwy 17.
Riverview from West of Town - At Hwy 17 Jct
|Rockland to Orleans|
A sign announced that Ottawa was still 39km away. At that point, I began to realize that I would not make it, for such would represent another 4 hours riding at the rate I was going.
I started down Hwy 17, which, despite being right alongside the river, was hell! I knew that 17 would become freeway at Orleans, but the cars already assumed it was so. There was no shoulder, so I had to ride on the white line. There was a steady stream of cars in both directions, so no one could swerve out to give me clearance. As it was, they zoomed past me at 100+km/hr, often with only a foot to spare. There was almost no break. There were always cars and trucks going by.
The river had flattened out at this point. The escarpment was gone from the Quebec side and the river was cut with low, marshy islands, into many glistening channels.
|Near Beckett's Creek on 'Old Montreal Road'
Parallel to Hwy 17
I was very happy to come to a turnoff to the left (quite a task in itself) for 'Old Montreal Road'. Although not marked so on my map, I surmised this was the road that paralleled Hwy 17. It was a relief being back onto a quiet, country road. Instead of going by the river, though, this road soon began a climb up into the highlands.
At 15:00 I had just come to the almost invisible hamlet of Becketts Creek (+8km=74+98.5=172.5). I could tell my progress was slowing considerably. Although I could still make it up the hills with little trouble, my strength in the face of the wind was fading fast. I began to seriously consider abandoning and set my sights on reaching Orleans. I was clearly hitting the wall!
I came into the trendy little town of Cumberland at 15:20. Hwy 17 ran, at this point, just one block to the north, and down the hill. I saw a bus stop sign, but did not immediately understand its significance: I was already within the Ottawa/Carleton Transporation zone.
|Welcome to Cumberland: Climbing the Hill!|
I stopped at a chip wagon outside of town and had half an order of chips before setting out once again at 15:30.
|Cumberland Main Street|
Outside of Cumberland, the road began to climb quite seriously. I lost all sight of the river and of Hwy 17. I could tell I was climbing to the top of a large rise and was hoping my efforts would be rewarded by a grand vista. I was not to be disappointed!
|West of Cumberland: View from Hill Top|
|West of Cumberland: Interesting Ruins|
At 16:00, I crested the rise and could see the skyline of distant Ottawa (+8km=82+98.5=180.5). With my field glasses, I could confirm the sighting of the Peace Tower. It seemed so close, and yet so distant. Below me was a vast valley. I could see Hwy 17 towards the river, now a full-fledged freeway. At the valley floor were several large warehouses and a wide boulevard, signs of impending urbanization. I heard loud music coming from not too far away.
|West of Cumberland: Ottawa in Sight!|
|Ottawa in Sight (Closeup)|
I coasted down the steep hill into the valley. It felt great! About three-quarters of the way down, I came upon 'Worship Fest', a city of tents. I stopped and spoke with the guard at the gate, who was directing traffic in and out. It was a giant weekend retreat for Christians of all denominations.
|Worship Fest (Closeup)|
At the foot of the valley, I crossed Trim Road, which was already a wide, urban boulevard, leading to homes atop the hill. My road, however, remained a quiet, two-laned road for a bit longer. It followed a ledge along the ridge, a bit above the floor of the valley. Below were warehouses and parking lots, while nestled into the cliff were a few, old farmhouses. Slowly, I began to make the climb to the top of the next ridge.
Falls East of Town on Old 17
Within sight of the crest, where I could see the road widened into a new, four-laned boulevard, I passed by this wonderful waterfall, hidden off in the trees. A tiny stream of water cascaded down steps made by the different layers of sedimenary rock. I did my best to get a photo, which was difficult as the trees were in the sun but the falls in the shadow.
Over the crest of the hill, I was into Orleans. I passed the big city mall and then the church at the centre of town. I was on the lookout for a place to stop and finally found a Mexicali Rosas restaurant with an outdoor terrace. I knew, at that point, that I was done.
It was 16:30 when I called it (+4km=86+98.5=184.5). I parked the bike and settled in to a beer and a big glass of water. I checked the map to be able to give Sheryl instructions and realized that she was on the FAR side of Ottawa. It would have taken me even longer. I was confident I could go no further.
I would eventually reach Sheryl at 17:00 and she would join me by 18:30. While waiting, I changed into my street clothes. I ended up having two beers, two bowls of corn chips, and a dinner of cheese enchiladas and beans.
We drove back home along Hwy 17 and got home around 22:00
Despite the wind and not making my destination, it was a good two days. I enjoyed it very much.
Roger Kenner Sept 1, 2003
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