St-Michel-des-Saints almost-Century ride
If we had left before noon...
We would have had the time for another 15 km for the full-century ride, but since sunset arrives on a fixed-schedule, we decided getting back to the car in daylight was the better idea.
The ride: St-Jean-de-Matha... north to St-Michel-des-Saints. 65 km each way, with a side trip after St-Zenon to see if chemin champagne was paved all the way (it wasn't).
We started on the Rt 131, then turned in to Lac Noire to skip the Rt 131 hill and then across the Rt 131 and we climbed our favorite hill, on rang Ste-Catherine also known as the back road to Ste-Emilie de l'Energie. We didn't pause too long at the top for the amazing view of the St-Emilie valley, just kept going.. and going... and going!
Rejoining the Rt 131 at Ste-Emilie de l'Energie we headed directly north. The worst road shoulders on the ride are here, but within a mile good shoulders reappear and pretty much remain excellent for the next 49 km to St-Michel-des-Saints.
This is the really scenic section, first is waterfalls, then riverside riding, then narrow valley, then big valley at St-Zenon. Check the views BEHIND the church in St-Zenon.
Then it is 16 km to St-Michel-des-Saints, the turnaround point, but first we explore rang Champagne, which on google is a loop backroad loop to St-Michel-des-Saints. Except it turns to nasty dirt road after 8 km. Backtrack!
Time seemed short, so we try hard to get to St-Michel des Saints before 6 pm. and almost make it. With a turnaround time that would make a nascar pit-crew proud, we were in and out of the town in a flash, stopping only for a pile of edibles and drinkables.
We hoped to be back at St-Emilie by 8 and the car by around 8:45... would we make it? We tried hard, and w didn't stop the whole way back. St-Zenon flashed by, the narrow valley zoomed by (it was downhill!), the waterfalls section flashed by, we were at St-Emilie at 8:04, and then stayed on the Rt 131 all the way back to St-Jean de Matha. Whew!
The return leg of the ride was nonstop for 2.5 hours, happily with significant sections of downhill. Then we finally reached St-Jean de Matha, five minutes after the sun had left the sky. Then we had a beer, because we had earned a beer.
Ride stats are 24.1 km/h average speed, 146 km distance, 65 km each way excluding our little detour.
This ride could be done in a shorter version by riding the most-scenic section of Ste-Emilie de l'Energie to Ste-Zenon.
This is one of the best rides we have done in this region. Scenic, good distance, good roads, long sections without development... a great ride.
Here's the bikely map of the route (link)