July 15, 2012

Tally Ho!

For the first week of our vacation
we got out of town
and into the country.
We headed to Quebec where,
just north of Montreal,
there is a wonderful trail 
that used to be the ski train to the mountains.
The trail has been open since 1996
and it is incredible.

What is also incredible is that I was riding this:

 This is my beloved Pashley Poppy
and it is completely inappropriate for this type of riding.
Why, you ask?
because it's a 3 speed
which means that it's slooooow
and when you have 59 km to cover in one day
your butt has to sit on that saddle for a loooong time.
So now I know
but in the meantime
I had to get from km 200 to km 0
so peddle I did.

Our first stop was in Nominingue
a lovely little place that no anglo, including us, could pronounce.
So you heard lots of attempts, which was kind of amusing.

But let me back up -
here's the way the vacation package worked.

At 7:30 a.m. we met the bus shuttle people at the St. Jerome train station.
This was km 0.

They tag your bag and attach your bikes to a nifty trailer.

Poppy's already loaded at this point. Can you see her? She's on the top.

ok- from here on out I will no longer talk about my bike as though she is my child. 
Or like she has a gender.

So you get on the bus and ride for about 2 hours to the top of the trail to Mont Laurier
(km 200)
then you get off the bus and get on your bike and start riding.
They didn't tell us which way to go, so of course we went the wrong way but we told ourselves that we just wanted to start at the true beginning of the trail...
yeah right. 
We just went the wrong damn way.
We did, however, get to see the Mont Laurier train station.
But I forgot to take it's picture.

(and in case you were worried, they take your luggage 
to your destinations each day so you don't have to carry anything)

We got going the right way shortly after swearing a bit
and hit the trail.

These were some of the sights that were seen:

so many rivers and lakes
and us with no bathing suits!
chimney left over from days of yore
I think there actually was still a motel up this path. It just doesn't look like it!

The downside of the first day of the trip was that the first 20 kms were pretty tough
and other than to gaze at pretty views, there weren't a lot of places to stop and buy food or water.
Ok - I don't think there were any places.

But eventually, we found the Do-Di Casse Croute
It was an oasis.

And after replenishing our electrolyte-depleted selves with a half liter of Powerade,
we opted for a healthy snack:

Oh sure, it looks gross
but it was oh-so good.

We stayed at the Chez Ignace at Lac Nominingue the first night.
(I didn't get a photo of the b & b because I was delusional with thirst and fatigue and frankly, didn't care what it looked like.)

We were treated to a gourmet dinner - you had 4 or 5 dishes to choose from for both the appetizer and main. 
Ignace is a self-taught chef.
He was very successful in his self-teaching.

This is where we stayed the second night
(my camera lens had a little sunscreen on it so the photo is a bit...foggy.)
It's the Auberge de la Voyageur in Mont Tremblant
Very cozy.
Since dinner was included, they gave us a voucher to an Italian restaurant in town.

Here are some other highlights along the way:

All the old train stations have been kept and restored into cafes, museums or shops
(or at the very least, bathrooms and water fountains)

more train stuff

We stayed at the Auberge de la Gare in Saint Adele the last night.

The innkeeper had a "terrasse" where you could do beer tastings.
He brings in beer made by a Belgian expat now living in Quebec.
(and they came in little trains!)

cat friends along the way

It was an amazing trip.
Here's the nitty-gritty -

The total cost was $345 per person.

That included:
 - the shuttle to the top of the trail
 - 3 nights accommodation
 - 3 dinners and 3 breakfasts (which were all very good
 - luggage transport from each destination (so you didn't have to cart it on your bike.)

The trail is 200 kms.
It's not super easy but it's not super hard, either. 
(Some parts are hard. One 8 km uphill stretch was hard. No question.)
We met one couple who were riding with their sons who were 8 and 10. I was impressed. They did it over 5 days to break it up more but those kids were troopers.
The breakdown of travel for us was - 
59 kms the first day (the first 20 kms were hard)
58 kms the second day
53 kms the third day (there was a lot of uphill that day. It was hard.)
33 kms the last day (the easiest. it  was almost all downhill)

I wouldn't advise riding a 3 speed but I don't think you have to have a really expensive bike. As long as you have a good saddle that's comfortable, you should be fine. 

Here is the company we booked with:

Here is the article from the Globe and Mail where we learned about the trail:

Other costs were:
- getting to Quebec/Montreal
 - one night's stay in a hotel before we started the bike trip. 
We stayed in St. Jerome at a Best Western. They had a room to store our bikes in which was secure.

We both loved it and other than sore butts and a few bumps and bruises, felt great at the end.
It was physically challenging but really rewarding and neither of us wanted it to end.
We have already started looking into similar trips - there are lots in the U.S. and in Ontario as well.

Best of all?
I was proud of us that we did it. 
It was not an easy vacation
but it was unforgettable.

Tally ho!

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Sounds unforgettable!!
What a great vacation!