Monday, October 16, 2006

Stanstead-to-Georgeville in Quebec's Eastern Townships

South of Magog is a little hidden corner of Quebec. Sandwiched between the Lake Memphremagog and the Autoroute 55, is the scenic little corner of quebec between the border town of Stanstead and the lakeside village of Georgeville is a hilly, under-developed place, full of great scenery including Fitch Bay.

The directions couldn't be easier, take the Eastern Townships autoroute past magog, go south on Autoroute 55, take the last exit before the USA at Stanstead, and park at the first church you see. Then ride the 247 north to Georgeville, and come back along the lake. Sweet and easy. Well, sweet anyway, there were tons of hills!!! Tons! I wasn't in a rush, and it was a great day for riding, temperatures around `0C, and not too windy at all. Montreal weather was rain, and up north was rain and snow. I made the right choice, thanks to checking the weather friday nite.

From stanstead you travel though the village, noting the new england architecture fromthe 1800s all along the main street here. THis was a big boom town 100 years ago. In a few miles you arrive at Beebe, home of two things othat make it famous: first is it's location, right on the US-Canada border. I don' tmean it's on one side of the border, it's on bith sides of the border! The street Canuas has one side in Canada and one side in the US, one side the cars have familiar quebec license plates, on the other side, the green Vernmont plates. I almost took a wrong turn and ended up south od the US customs. The dude from customs on the side street saw me turnaround without stopping, so he let me back in canada,. The guidebook I was using, took us on a brief detour here, which is why I was off the main road. This guidebook, "Circuits de Velo au coeur des plus belles villages du Quebec" had identified this particular ride as the only one rated "diciclut" in the whole book. Plus it was a place I really wanted to visit, having almost never been in this particular place before. It's serindipidous when the weather says go east, the guidebook says go east, and the place where you end ou in the east is so beautiful!. This guidebook specialised in rides in nice places, and I was happy the library has acquired it: I never sem to run out of new places to ride, Montreal is such a great starting point for bike or other outdoor adventures.

The other thing Beebe is famous for is granitew. Lots and lots of granite is found here. And lots andlots of granite carving, granite counter-making, toomstone making, and anything else granite is used for is made here! It's not often you see a mailbox held up by a three foot high carved granite dolphin! Even the park benches were granite. They have a lot of the stuff! I was on bike, so I didn't bring any home with me.

Leaving Beebe, you cross the rail-to-trail bike path "Tomifobia Nature Trail" which goes to/from Ayers Cliff about 20 km north. This is a great trail, I'll write up a blog entry about it soon).

Now we're in the beautiful open farm land of the townships, did I mention hilly? It is now hilly, seriously hilly. Always hilly. I had wanted the "difficile ride rating and I got what I paid for. I was relaxed, just doing the day cruising, I had no reason to race, it's late season, and I enjoyed the natcheral beauty of the area, of which there is plenty! After a while on the 247, I got to the scenic area of Fitch bay (before the village of Fitch Bay) where I could se the highway had bypassed the old covered bridge. I took abreak and checked out this covered bridge. Red-painted as all Quebec covered bridges are, it is a latice-type construction. It was called the Narrows bridge, as it crossed the narrows of Fitchbay permittong peole to avoid a looooong detaour back in the old days. Soon after this was the village of Fitch Bay, where I followed the 247 to Georgeville, but this did invlove a left turn. I have no recollection of this village except that I turned here! I was saving my camera battery, and this is why I have no pic to remind me. After some more hills, the views starting to be of across Lake Memphremagog: usually towards Owls Head. The views are good, and they were good for the next few hours!

I arrived in Georgeville, but I made a big mistake, I should have stopped to check it out, but someone had told me to check out Magoons point instead,a few miles further along. At Georgeville, the route of the bike circuit turns and heads south along the lake (at the general store). I followed this uphill, a woman in a CRV gave me a smile, which sustained me up the hill. She didn't give me a lift, which would have been even better! Not.

I followed this road, Magoon Point road, until it turned at Camber. Actually, thr road and bike route turned at Camber, but I continued don the Magoon Point road further, past the cul-de-sac (deead-end) sign, last where the road turned into a mountaion bike trail, past where it rose and drpped rapidly as it crossed a ridge, and as car as I could go before I got creeped out and figured it's never going to ever end! The map showed it as continuing witouht really "dedad-ending" but I decided to turn around, there could be bears, hunters, hunting bears, or irate super-rich landowners not willing to gcall 911 when they found my bear-eaten corpse. OK, I had some pessimistic deep woods fantasies. so after a klick of walking I u-turned and went back the proper way! I was defeated, but only because I was on a skinny tired road racing bike, this was a perfect mountain bike road At the other end I tried to backtrack in the forested Magoon road trail again, buit didn't try when I saw where it came out of the woods. At least I had some tranquil deep woods.

This road came out by the covered bridge again, and here I briefly rejoined the Rt 247 again. Then it was a turn back to the lakeside, on thw way to Cedarville road to Graniteville. When I reached the lake there was a park and a public dowk. The dock had a phone to call customs to check n! THe Lake Memphremagog crossed the border, so there's lots of boat traffic back and forth. There's even a 40 km long distance open water swim every year. I watched it once, it doesn't look like as much fun as biking the 40 km!!!

After leaving here the last section brings you back via a back road into Beebe again, this time past "the largest granite quarry in Canada" said the sign at the road side. I stopped and checked out the view. Big quarry. Lots of missing granite. It looked like good slickrock riding!

Then it was past the Tomifobia Nature Train again, I still had sunlight, so I figured I'd ride 30 minutes up, turn around and come back, and still get to the car with win a few minutes of sunset (a few minutes on either side of sunsrt!).

Riding the Tomifobia Nature Trail is really different than the road! For a start it is quiet and tranquil, it follows the Tomifobia river as it winds it's way to Ayers Cliff and Lake Massawippi. I crossed three railroad bridges before I turned around, it was quiet and peaceful, except for the too-playful puppy Jasmine of a pair ow women walking the trail,. These were the only peole I saw on it. It seemed to be paved in one part, and about to be paved after tat (south of Curtis road). I was surprised! But pavement really attracted the tourists, so it's inevitable that this tranquil beautiful trail becomes a zoo like the Estriade one day. I stopped at the momument for the two victims of a April 8 1895 train wreck. Then it was back to Beenbe, and back to the car, arriving a few minutes after dark. I changed and went to Millie's for supper. The Gazoo. did a feature on this place last summer, the focus being how surrised to find fine-dining in outoff-the-beaten-path Stanstead Quebec! They also mentined the good prices. I had: fennel salad, filet mignon with roasted vegetables (lots!), dessert wioce cream covered with fruit and hot chocolate sauce, plus two cappuccinnos... all for only $20 total. Twenty bucks! I was expecting about double that, but there it was, a bill for twenty bucks and a big full almost sore tummy.

Quoting Mister Burns... "Excellent."

I left the resto feeling very happy, both from the meal and the great day of riding, and immediately saw one more reason for joy: it was raining, and my day of cycling had baten the weather! Woohoo!

Summary: a great day, hills and great scenery on paved and dirt roads, with a great resto to end the day.


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