Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tremblant - Rouge river ride

Haut Laurentians - Riviere Rouge ride

A late season ride can be problematic, the weather can change from sunny and summery to cold and raining and snowing, and if that's on Friday, a day when when desire and optimism can be easily thwarted, how do you plan saturday? By obeying the weather forecast that says saturday is sunny.

I got in the car quite a bit later than usual, although my crack-of-noon departure reputation is intact. I drove north and saw snow-covered hillsides. I hoped the road I was planning to ride was going to paved and dry. SInce this was yet another "new ride" I can never be sure if or what I will encounter. And it looked kind of wet looking. But I soom discovered that all the roads on the ride were paved.

The planned ride was taken from the Randonnees des Reve guidebook, it is a two day ride, and I rode the day-two part, or at least I planned to do as much as I could do before the setting sun provided a conclusion to the day's distance.

I parked the car at the Tourist Information Office for Tremblant, right beside the Rt 117, and just a few feet off the highway. It was well marked and the ride actually indicated to start here. I consulted with the nice lady in the office, and got ready to depart. At 1:44 pm I was on the road. OK, I know this is late for a 78+ km ride. Very late. But the loop was sort three-lobed and I could bail and head back to the car at the 1/3 or 2/3 distance point.

First I headed towards Brebeuf, along the not-recommended highway because the tourist office lady said there were no paved shoulder. But I noticed... newly paved shoulders. (Woohoo!) New roads or newly paved roads often include this essential ingredient to a good bike ride. I rolled along, and as I passed one road on the right, I noticed it reminded me of the name of the first turn in the guidebook's ride description. I stopped and checked the guide. Yessirree, I was supposed to turn here, and so I did. (I had some spectacular missed turns earlier this year and since itr was late season, I didn't want to sleep under a bridge somewhere cuz I was lost and the sun had set) The route was now on the day's objective: a ride along both sides of the Rouge river, which I had hoped was scenic, even spectacular. It was... Jackpot!

This road rolled along until reaching the village of La Conception, which was the northern turnaround point of the rouger river loop. Just before the town the side road I was on joined a main road, and went past the Montagne d'Argent campground. This is just over the hill from the Montagne d'argent climbing area. I had climbed here once a couple of years ago. Hey, I knew where I was, not often the case on a new ride. But I am beginning to fill in the gaps in my northern-roads knowledge.

Soon I was entering the town of La Conception. I went into the town and explored it's "river cruise" bridge. The old bridge in the town was bypassed by new highway bridges at either end, so they transformed (rebuilt with what looked like hand-hewn timbers) the in-village bridge into a gigantic covered pedestrian bridge, with stairs going to the water in midriver for... river cruises! Yes, the easy way to see the river, with a booze cruise. There was also a great river-boat sculpture beside the bridge.

I left town heading back south, almost forgetting to turn at the chemin des Ormes (ok, I forgot, but quickly noticed my error), and this road did quite a bit of winding up and down hills. At one point the pavement was not quite, oh, modern, but this was the only bad asphalt all day. Up and down, scenic splendor everywhere, with empty roads and sunshine. What luck after yesterday's first snow of the season.

Soon Brebeuf was reached, and I turned towards Huberdeau, along chemin de lac Loutres. The lake, when finally reached, had a little tourist stop, but no services. Services were a bit further at the village of Huberdeau, a few km after the actual turning-back-north point of the ride. Very close after that was the village of Arundel, where I had been early last summer when I rode part of the corridor aerobique. (actually on the corridor aerobique ride I took a side trail that brought me into huberdeau too, which was my first revelation of "Hey, I was here before from the other direction!") .

At Arundel I got some food and drink at the general store, noticing the huge collection of pig-related doodads on the wall. It was cool but nice riding weather around 6 degrees C. I was warm and comfy all day (neoprene booties are great) but in the general store there were big front windows and I stayed inside while I snacked and absorbed some preheated solar energy.

Then it was back on the bike, back to Huberdeau, and back along the road to Lac Loutres until I reached the side road I had whizzed by on my descent into Huberdeau. (I did notice it on the downhill, and was not, repeat not lost) This road took me along the west side of the riviere Rouge, and it was magnificio! The sun was setting so I was riding in deep valley shade, but just across the opposite riverbank was in bright golden late afternoon sunlight. With the foliage gone from most trees, I had great views across the river and the hills beyond.

This took me back to Brebeuf, at which point I could either continue with the original route on the map, or, since it was 5:30 pm, with a 6 pm sunset and 30 km left on the original route... decide it was time to bail and head home. Easy choice: I headed back to the car, but did take a slight detour so I could cross the covered bridge the tourist lady told me about before I started the days adventure. Riding along the sun occasionally poked out from some clouds and bathed my in warm golden light. I was felling belesed with such a fine day to ride. After I crossed the covered bridge I was on the 327 and into St-Jovite by a slightly different and only slightly longer route than the "direct" route back. The covered bridge was cool, and in a short time, behind me was a pink sunset. Yes, glorious sunset, but I wasn't home yet, even though I knew it was close, there was no clue quite how far (except I knew it was not far) until I topped the final hill and could see i was about to enter St-Jovite.

I got back to the car at 6:07, with 78 km ridden. The route was 79 km, but with my extra section to Arundel, I had missed out on the last third of the route. I guess there's always next year.

End-note: always carry spare car keys in case the ones you have disappear during supper.... like mine did! Lucky for me there was a bus to Montreal from St-Jovite at 9:30 pm (location: restaruant daisy a hundred metres south of the Tim Hortons at the southern entrance to St-Jovite. I came back the next day with my spare key, and all was well, and actually I wish I could take the bus on all my rides, driving everywhere is useful, but leaving the driving to someone else is great too.


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