First Plessisville/Appalache/l'Erable ride of 2016
Parking the car in Plesisville and riding south in the hills of the Appalache/L'Erable region is a late summer favorite.
Here you will find the perfect combination of hills and country roads and enough asphalt to keep a road bike happy.
Saturday bike ride was roughly a standard loop except I made the first hour easy flats instead of attack the wall. The first climb was out of Lyster instead of climbing the wall on the way to St Pierre Baptiste.
The main challenge is to do the first big hill out of the st-Laurence valley into the Appalachian hills, Once you're in the hills you've passed the first-hill test and your climbing ability is probably ok for the rest of the ride. If not, the bike path goes along the flats and the Centre du Quebec bike tourist map has many easy hill-free bike circuits for you to ride.
Route Verte bike path - sure it's easy and it's rock dust but it is a nice flat warm up for the first 30 minutes of the day and there are toilets.
ZigZag to Rang 11 for the first climb - I took the bikepath but turned off before Lyster (which is the simple-directions-option) because 30 minutes was enough rock dust bike path for the day. I had to make some successful guesses to get to Rang 11 and except for a bit of gravel road this worked perfectly.
This variation on the direct start (i.e. via either St-Pierre-Baptiste or Ste-Sophie) is because I wanted easy start and also because for several years my favorite route which takes the road between St-Pierre-Baptiste and Inverness has been under construction and no one could tell me if it is finally finished and repaved, although asphalt pavement seems really optional around this region.
So this route avoided a lot of nice roads around Inverness, but that was probably ok because it is the weekend of the Festival de Boeuf d'Inverness and roads near Inverness were crazy busy. Serindipity!
East of Inverness is Chutes Lysander Falls park. Visiting this park and seeing the Lysander waterfalls is always a highlight of this ride. It did not disappoint. It is the first rest stop of the ride and as an expert in bike ride rest stop location and quality, this is a good one.
Then it is turn south towards St-Jacques-de-Leeds, along a nicely pastoral road with some repaving but also a not-yet-repaved part. Still it is a nice road to bike on. It gets hilly around Leeds, and after Leeds too in a big way.
At Leeds you have an option to add a long loop south to Thetford and back (back several different north-south axis option) but I didn't do these, I just turned and went in direction of Kinnear's Mills meaning a huge climb up out of Leeds. Several micropauses later I got to the top of the climb and there is a very dynamic descent. This is on good roads. You turn of the descent long before it is over because you need to go west and there is a perfect little road to do this on. It is one of those "I wish this little road went on forever" type roads. It arrives a t T-intersection where you can go south to village of historic Kinnear's Mills or turn right and do long climb up to the top of the regions most magnificent hill.
You have to do this climb no matter if you visit the village or not and today it was turn and start the climb. And what a climb! Up, and up, and up, and when you get to the top you can see Quebec City and beyond to Cap Tourmente! This is"The View" of the ride. Seating and nice historical context informational panels is provided.
Historical meaning what? Large parts of this ride are on "chemins decouverte Craig & Gosford" which are two versions of the first road from Quebec City to the USA way back in the day before there was a road connecting Quebec City to Sherbrooke and then to Vermont and eventually Boston. The governor of Quebec said build a road. So first Chemin Craig was built, stangely going up over the top of the bigggest hill in the region and not around the biggest hill in the region, Hard for horses and stagecoaches but great for biking. Because it was essentially impossible to use in bad weather or winter, the second version, Chemin Gosford was built a few years later. These roads also allowed the wave of British Isles immigration to enter this region, build farms, discover that rocky Appalachian terrain made terrible farming, and move west to Ontario and it's nicer soil and warmer temperatures. Which explains the many english-named towns (and ghost towns!) but generally with no english residents.
But I digress. Let's get back to this hill: it's a hell of a hill, we came up from the east side which is uphill but overall a good climb long and not too hard (except a couple of places, but like I say, very doable).
The west side of this hill, which we will now descend, is something else entirely. It goes straight down. (Or straight up, if you choose to climb from the western side). On the CFM scale of hill climbs (not thew UCI's mysterious hill climb category system which over-hypes easy hills based on distance instead of difficulty) this one is a hors categorie climb. For my english readers that means it is so steep and direct it is off the charts, and may cause severe mental as well as physical distress to the rider trying to climb it. HeeHeeHee. Or to descend it!
So at the top before the descent there are several things to verify: clothes zipped up, brakes functional, gears set up for high speed, pedestrians and bystanders warned of impending sonic boom as cyclist breaks the sound barrier on the descent.
In a nutshell, as I told two bystanders as I started (launched!) the descent: "80, sans pedalé" (without pedaling).
There are techniques to top speed descending, and several are in play on this one. Pedaling is not required. Woohoo speed is reached and surpassed and then TSo is reached (Top speed, observed).
The fun continues even as the road returns to normal. There is a nice secluded cemetery rest stop (sign says "Chapel") halfway to St-Jean-de-Brébeuf. There are two kinds of rest stop: scenic view rest-stop and peaceful quiet rest stop where you could take a nap on the grass. This rest stop is of the nap-taking variety.
Back on the bike the road drops down into St-Jean-de-Brébeuf, which requires you to descend while braking, hard because steep curvy and stop sign at the bottom!
There is a gas station grocery store with porch here to restock on water and carbs. This road has lots of rest stops, with a few more good ones to come at several old ex-english-population churches and cemeteries at towns that no longer exist.
This region's English, Scotish and Irish heritage was documented in a Montreal Gazette feature article The Celtic Way (la Voie Celtique) a few years ago (back when the Gazette was a much better newspaper than the right-wing bourgeoisie propaganda rag it is become today).