For 44 days we have followed the coastline. Always we have been cycling with a big body of water on our right. That was the whole point of the Grand Gaspé Cycling Tour, to travel the rim of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, and get our fill of coastal views. The sandy beaches, fishing harbors, soaring cliffs, lighthouses and deep blue waters have delighted us for over six weeks. But today we bid them all farewell, as we turned south from Quebec City and head inland. Back to our starting point in New Hampshire.
It also means leaving Route 132. We cycled 650 miles on the same road, first heading East along Chaleur Bay. When we rounded the point at Gaspé, it became 132 West and took us all the way to Quebec City. It was one of the best roads of the trip, with smooth pavement and wide shoulders. Good thing, as there were no alternatives.
This is a virtual as well as a literal turning point in this trip. We've completed the portion that was our primary focus. And while the remainder of Quebec province and the length of New Hampshire will be interesting cycling territory in their own right, I can't help but see this leg as little more than our road home.
I'm already feeling resistant to the idea of completing our trip. I'm not quite ready to give up the mantle of Long Distance Cyclists. Already I'm growing nostalgic about the challenges of the big hills, the thrill of camping at the top of a cliff and completing a long day of cycling feeling tired but so very satisfied. We will just have to savor these last few hundred miles.
Today's journey took us along the Chaudière River. It is a large river that winds it's way through rich farmland. Having the river at our side seemed like an aid to wean us from the big water. We were able to follow small local roads, devoid of traffic that provided a silent trip through the countryside. Staying in the river's valley kept the hills to a minimum, and we enjoyed a chilly but helpful tailwind (for a change!). While the weather forecast called for the skies to clear, most of the day we seemed to be outpacing the front that delivered the sunny weather. It finally caught up to us by mid-afternoon, and we enjoyed the warmth of the sun as we rode.
Near the end of the day, we reached Notre-Dame-des-Pins where there is a beautiful covered bridge. It is the second longest bridge of its kind in Canada, and better yet, a bike path traveled right through it! The paved trail continued for the remainder of our day's ride, and brought us right into Saint-Georges with more modern but elaborate bridges. It also passed by a Chocolaterie where we reinstated our afternoon ice cream stop!
The elements all combined to make this a very easy ride today. We both agreed we could have gone much farther. Funny, that we could cycle 54 miles and think little of it. But it's time to slow down and make the most of our last remaining days of cycling. We've bid farewell to the seacoast. We're just not ready to say goodbye to cycling quite yet.