Monday, September 19, 2011

Montreal to Ottawa - Part 4

L'Orignal to Pointe Calumet - 50 miles

Sunday morning Jacques had left us Google directions for where we wanted to pick up the Hudson/Oka ferry, but still remain on the quieter side of the Ottawa River. Along with the printed directions was a tenting fee of 30.00 - which is a fair price - though we recall Jacques saying our stay was free. Had I known, I would've taken advantage of a shower instead of a towel bath. In the future we should clarify any hospitality. As it was, we were very happy tenting, the price was less than the municipal campground, and Jacques' companionship made up for any miscommunication. I imagine we might have been the first campers.

La Tourelle d'Argent Bed & Breakfast

La Tourelle d'Argent Bed & Breakfast

On the left is Jacques & Chantal's lovely home.
For the first 30K (or "clicks" as the Canadians like to call kilometers) the directions were easy to follow. It was a very cool morning and we happily cruised, slowly at first to warm up our muscles, constantly heading eastward. My lips were chapped and both my husband and I had sunburns from 6-8 hours of daily exposure - we clearly underestimated the sun's intensity. We shook our heads at the incredible luck with weather. 

En route to recommended Goodies restaurant, we passed Jacques and his cycling group heading in the opposite direction. It was fun to raise hands and yell out "hello" and "bonjour". Jacques rides on Wednesdays and Sundays with area cycling enthusiasts.

As the route headed inland the Google directions became sketchy. We relied on our instinct and turned into Voyageur Provincial Park, reviewed directions with the booth attendant, and made our way in and out without a wrong turn. We turned onto a dirt path which headed towards a large dam that crosses the Ottawa River. We pushed our loads through a rough patch but otherwise quickly regained the pavement. Thereafter we relied more on other maps and a general sense of town names and the eventual ferry crossing.

East of busy Rigaud a little park decorated with bikes stands at one end of a gravel rail trail. 

The bumps in the road every 15 feet jolted me and I complained, lifting myself from the seat with each "thump". When you travel for miles each day, good asphalt becomes of increasing importance. I have narrower tires on the Miyata than my hubby does on his Bridgestone, so I presume his riding was smoother. Fortunately, after 5 miles, we spied our turn off for Choisy and Hudson.

We cruised along side the river again, on narrow but blissfully quiet roads. Groups of bicyclers passed. Huge trees hugged the roads while iron fences enclosed long well-kept driveways. Entering Hudson Heights was a pleasure, with quaint touristy ice cream shops, restaurants, brick homes, and lots of shade. After a few more "clicks" we stood behind a long line of autos waiting at the terminal.

I cruised to the attendant and discovered that bikes board first so we pulled forward and watched the ducks scamper away from the incoming ferry boat.

Some bike love aboard the crossing with Oka's church slowly appearing on the horizon.

An easy six miles brought us back to our car. 

Tanned feet from my cycling sandals.

Things we learned:
  • Weather is an important factor
  • Have an alternative - our plan was to drive to Ottawa and spend time there, with bikes in tow of course.
  • Bring sunscreen, even in September
  • My Miyata worked out well on this flatter route
  • The Miyata was a fast compromise to keep up with my husband, the Trek would've made me too slow
  • My rear panniers were ungainly stuffed, I want to devise better load capacity for the front rack
  • We now have a wonderful collection of Ontario maps, even a bike map that shows a rail trail going eastward from Ottawa - have to check that out at a later time.
  • Ottawa is an impressive, clean city - I have to return!

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