For the past week or so I’ve been in Canada gaining weight…but all for a good cause – my mom’s 80th birthday. My hometown is Gaspé , Quebec, a place of immense beauty and, this summer, immensely crap weather. Being spoiled and softened by the eternal sun of Le Sud, I spent the first 4 days inside, hiding from the cold rain (how can 15 degrees be called ‘summer’?) and drowning my sorrows in micro-brewed beer and my sister’s yummy carrot cake. Luckily, I had good company (my entire family) and I still had a couple of holes on the belt to let out in case of a sudden outbreak of fatness.
Then, near the end of my trip, the sun came out and I took my older brother’s ancient Peugeot 10-speed out for a couple of rides.
Gaspé is, and always has been, a very isolated place. It is 1000 km from Montreal, the nearest big city, and right at the mouth of the mighty St. Lawrence River, on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also the end of the train line (one branch, at least) that crosses Canada. Here it is, the end.
The trail is part of the Route Verte, a trans-provincial cycling route that, based on the number of panniers I sighted on my way down and back, seems to be pretty popular.
Below is the Peugeot, bought in Germany many years ago. Although my brother claims to have ridden it a couple times, it was in total pristine condition, except for the tired tires that needed to be replaced and hubs that had to be re-packed with grease. It even had the protective plastic wrap on the fenders.
It was a surprisingly nice ride. The geometry on these older bikes is a tad more comfortable than the scrunchy speed machines of today and I had a really nice two days on the roads of Eastern Quebec. Of course there were challenges, like continuously trying to switch gears by pushing in my brake levers (for youngsters out there, in the old days, shifters were inconveniently placed on the down tube.) and trying in vain to get a comfortable position on the hoods. But all in all, I was really pleased with the ride.
This is the casse-croute (snack bar in Quebec French) and washroom/shower block at the beach.