Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ste-Martine > Elgin & Dundee - another Chateauguay Valley Southwest Quebec extravaganza ride

There is no better place in Quebec with such a huge selection of high quality intermediate rides

(Ride map: click here)

A good bakery is pretty much mandatory to a good bike ride.

I went back to Elgin Bakery yesterday and unlike last week when I had to add clothing and put on every piece of clothes I had with me, this week it was "take it off!" Sunny and warm. This time I rode the first half of ride with the wind, and came back against the wind, and as it turned out, the daylight.

I started ride a bit farther away, parking in Ste-Martine (which was my original plan for last two weeks also but I had copped out to park at Ste-Clothilde & a shorter ride) 

Some numbers

1:00 pm bike ride start from Ste-Martine

3:23 pm the well-hidden Elgin Bakery              

That is 50 km super-direct, with a nice tailwind. TOok the straight line route, on super nice roads. I got passed by a super fast old dude.

On Friday the bakery closes 6 pm, so no race to get here unlike last week.
I had two complete complete coffee+snack mini meals in a row, when she gave me the bill she totally forgot I had had the first one!

4:15 pm Leave bakery (at road)

Decision required: turn around now, or go west a bit more before turning around. Well, it's not yet 5 pm, so go west old man!

I went quite a bit farther west, as it turned out, which was good because beautiful roads & first green field of 2016, but bad because daylight is finite. I was within a couple of miles of my Mom's birthplace on the ancestral farm on Carr Front road, which google calls (incorrectly) Carrefour road. LOL!

Super fast old dude passes me again! I suspect he's doing laps on a circuit of his own creation. He does not slow down to chat.

5:00 pm Turnaround point further west at edge of Dundee township.
(unfortunately, still outside Dundee township geographic limit, doh! Need an earlier start time than 1pm)

The turnaround point, when set ambitiously distant & far from the car (as in today) can arouse feeling of what if I don't make it? It's cold at night! I try to quell such anxiety by making a serious effort to pedal fastly. Which I did quite consistently for the next 3 hours and 45 minutes! Hey, I'm surprised too that I could maintain this pace for so long!

5:05 Uh-oh - First obstacle to the return-ride plan: the chosen return road has bridge out & freshly rebuilt dirt road, happily I don't have to walk any of it & bike & I survive

7:14 arrive at Franklin, where compass veers northeast to Ste-Martine and direction is downhill

I knew that the sunset was close, and that car was not. 7:14 is late. Ste-Martine is still far. So I was now racing the sun and not for first place. There was no doubt or denial about this.  

Who won? Me or the sun?

Sunset: 7:32
Ste-Martine at car: 8:47 pm. 

A lot of this was quite well lit post sunset gloom, but then it did get actually dark. Luckily I had chosen quiet roads with minimal car traffic & I have lights on my bike basically permanently.

Riding time (guess which direction had higher motivation levels, & also triple caffeinated)
Distance west (63 km) 4 hours
Distance east (75 km) 3:30

You can see from the map the route I took, as well as in yellow the route I had planned to take. Mid ride I decided to go further west, because riding with a tailwind on a warm spring day is a joy to be extended as far as possible. This meant coming back I had to take a shorter route (necessity!), on roads which I am familiar with but had avoided due to they were in poor condition - surprise: they have been very nicely re-paved since last time. I am happy to renew my riding on that section of "the rock" road. This also made the after sunset section of the ride less of a "to be survived" section and more of a "to be enjoyed."

I include a real old map, I was riding across "Blueberry plains" but managed this week to avoid "The Wilderness."

Look closely, this week I avoided "The Wilderness"

Yellow sections was the planned route, Red is the ride I actually did.

Duck in the duck spa.

Elgin Bakery, a true "hidden jewel" of the region

Where bakery is located is the only still-snowy part of ride.

Cows in their natural habitat.

Super fast dude passed me twice!

First green field of 2016!

ride had this unpaved, recently repaired road, not ideal for bikes but rideable

The glorious Pont Percy, Quebec's oldest covered bridge

From here I know I will ALWAYS be able to get back to the car, no matter if daylight or not.

Sunset: 7:23 pm. Still one hour of riding to go.

8:30 pm: bike path, a mere 10 minutes before back at car in Ste-Martine, but maybe I should have started ride at 12 pm, not 1 pm!

Conclusion: an excellent ride with many possibilities to do shorter version of the ride.