If you’re looking for a leisurely long ride, put our weekend ride from Onoway to Thunder Lake and back on your calendar, July 25/26, 2015. We drive to Onoway on Saturday morning, then cycle approximately 75-80 K west and north at a relaxed pace, to the Thunder Lake Provincial Park campground, and camp overnight. On Sunday, we ride east to Barrhead and stop for breakfast, then south to Onoway, returning around 2 p.m. The ride is van-supported and the cost is $70. The coordinators organize the meals but volunteer help will be solicited. Any questions, email email@example.com.
Written by Dennis Nolan and edited by Doug Bezovie and Chris Chapman.
Eight riders participated in EBTC’s only self-supported overnight ride this year on August 7th and August 8th . It began and ended at Bonnie Doon Mall in Edmonton with the cyclists camping overnight at an acreage a few kilometres east of the Ukrainian Village on Hwy 16.
The ride was mostly a self-support bike tour, however because the ride coordinator was recovering from an illness, a support vehicle was used to transport food and water and the ride coordinator received assistance from his electric bicycle. Cyclists transported all their personal and camping gear themselves.
The ride started at a pleasant pace through the neighbourhoods east of Bonnie Doon. After a stop at Tim Horton’s in Sherwood Park, the riders began to separate into natural groups of faster and slower riders. The ride coordinator seemed to enjoy taking advantage of assistance from his electric bike by impressing a young (mid 30’s) independent female cyclist, wearing aerodynamic spandex and riding a super light-weight Trek race bike. There was “D” sitting in an upright position, loaded with heavy panniers, slowly peddling his huge, heavy, comfort bike as he passed this young beauty. The young lady, seeming not to bear being passed by this laden down rider, quickly overtook him but a short while later “D” passed her again and this time she drafter behind for a while. Finally, she pulled up beside “D” and they discussed things like where they were going. She was impressed with how well he was able to peddle his heavy clunker and never once did he let on that he had motorized assistance and neither did the rest of our group (the bike is very quiet and the motor cannot be heard running). In fact, members of our group went along, saying things like “Hey “D” your doing great” and ” you block so much wind you make a great drafting machine”. The young women turned off at the next intersection and it was proposed that she may be thinking “I had better get out more and I’d better get into better shape, I don’t know how that guy does it!”.
The ride continued to Waskahegan Staging Area at the Cooking Lake Blackfoot Grazing Reserve where the cyclists were treated to a smorgasbord lunch put on by one of the cyclists. The ride coordinator had promised that there wouldn’t be a single mosquito there and sure enough, there wasn’t. It turned out they were all married and unfortunately, somewhat hungry. Fortunately there were not as many out as had been seen in the previous weeks.
Back on the road again, the ride carried on past Elk Island National Park and the Ukrainian Village to the overnight stop where the cyclists were warmly greeted by their hosts with refreshments and a nicely mowed area to set up the tents.
A delightful Ukrainian supper of perogies, cabbage rolls, sausages, salad and dessert was prepared by the overnight hosts and it was enjoyed by all! The evening included lots of conversation, some wine, and some competitive games of cribbage. Soon after 10 pm it was dark and most people retired to their tents.
The next morning a huge pile of scramble eggs with fried pork, Bavarian sausages, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, and bananas was prepared and served by two more of the cyclists. It was a fantastic breakfast! The ride coordinator proposed that is why the club’s name is EBTC – the ‘Eating’ Bicycling and Touring Club!
After the big breakfast, cyclists packed up and some got dressed up in costume for the Ukrainian Festival held at the Ukrainian Village, where they were treated to a variety of cultural and musical sites and activities. Lunch consisted of another huge, mouth watering meal and at its completion the cyclists embarked on their smooth journey back to Bonnie Doon.
This, the only self-supported overnight ride of 2010, was enjoyed by all and is highly anticipated for next year!
This will not be a traditional trip report and you may notice is a couple of years late. The story of the story starts in 2009 after the Jasper to Banff ride that I was fortunate enough to be on. Al Carlson, the co-coordinator of the trip (along with Nadine Leenders) mentioned he was looking forward to my report. I didn’t recall agreeing to write one but Al swears I did. My best theory is that after riding up the Bow Summit I heard the question “Do you want oxygen?” when in fact Al was asking “Do you want to write the trip report?” So even after delaying, postponing, and general procrastinating Al has not been deterred in his quest to have a trip report written. So I struck a deal.
It is said a picture says a thousand words. This is fortunate because I have compiled a number photo albums telling the story of our adventures along the 2009 Jasper to Banff ride and also the 2010 Banff to Jasper ride. Al has allowed me to weasel out utilize the highly detailed photo albums as my trip reports for 2009 and 2010. Below you will find the links for each day of each trip along with my insightful commentary. Links to these can also be found in the Gallery section of the website.
- 2009 Jasper to Banff Day 1
- 2009 Jasper to Banff Day 2
- 2009 Jasper to Banff Day 3
- 2009 Jasper to Banff Day 4
- 2010 Banff to Jasper Day 1
- 2010 Banff to Jasper Day 2
- 2010 Banff to Jasper Day 3
- 2010 Banff to Jasper Day 4
These link to my Facebook galleries. Now you may be asking, “But I don’t have a Facebook account!” Do not fret. These are public links and anyone can look at them without being a Facebook member.
You may also ask, “But they block Facebook at work so how can I look at them?” The answer is simple. Talk to your IT professionals and tell them to get out of the 18th century and allow you to look at Facebook. Sorry but it takes me too much time to assemble these galleries to do so on multiple sites.
In conclusion, the Rockies contain some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and to be able to cycle through it with such a great group of people is one of life’s great experiences. After cycling it twice I can only say that if you ever have the opportunity to do so, TAKE IT!
April 14, 2011
By Peter Maser
It was a dark and stormy night (really, it was) as the members of Team GT 2008 pulled into the Banff Hostel, their spirits dampened by the heavy downpour that had followed them from Canmore.
It was, it seemed, an inauspicious start to the GT, usually held on the May long weekend but this year taking place on the Labour Day week-end.
Happily, it was not to be. The Cycling Gods smiled on us and the rain we had feared gave way to mostly sunny skies and that in turn produced an enjoyable ride. True, it was chilly in the mornings and the traffic was bad to severe at times, but everyone made it in safely. Some were sore, perhaps, but there were no injuries, no serious mechanical problems and apparently no serious hangovers.
A review of the highlights is in order:
- The trip was beautifully organized. Kudos to Gary and Ed.
- The meals were great — abundant, nourishing and creative.
- Ditto for the conversation, on the road, at day’s end, over meals, wherever.
- The leg from Castle Mountain Junction to Golden (day one) was notable for a gusty but superb descent over the new bridge that spans the Kicking Horse River. It was heartening to see, if only briefly, a fine example of bridge architecture, something that is in short supply in Canada (If you want great bridges, try Porto at the mouth of the Douro River in Portugal).
- Mary’s Motel in Golden is a cinder-block delight, a period piece of such hideous design and construction that it deserves to be treasured (those who remember classic movies like the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or the Creature from the Black Lagoon will understand).
- The parking lot at Mary’s Motel is in keeping with the motel itself, a vast and daunting expanse of asphalt that Team GT turned into a wine bar, reading room and dining hall. Who knew you could have so much fun in such emptiness?
- The leg from Golden to Radium (day two) was notable for its rolling terrain and a dead bear by the side of the road (remember, this is a highly subjective review).
- The leg from Radium to Castle Mountain Junction (day three) was notable for the climb out of Radium, a sometimes demanding ascent that had everyone sweating by the summit and the first rest stop. Because of the temperature (low) and the altitute (high), it didn’t take long for a chill to set in, driving a clutch of riders to seek shelter in the van. With the heater going full blast and so many bodies on board, the vehicle was soon like a sauna.
From the first rest stop to Castle Mountain Junction, the vehicle traffic on the highway grew steadily, to the point that some riders questioned whether it was too much, whether the Labour Day edition of the GT was something to be repeated or whether it should be relegated to the history books as a worthwhile but unsuccessful experiment. There was no answer to this question, but it will clearly provide fodder for discussion during the cold months ahead. Until next year, whatever the date, Vive le GT!
by Neil Armstrong
Ten enthusiastic riders met on May 6th at the Second Cup on 34th Avenue and Calgary Trail for our first pre-trip meeting for this adventurous trip. It’s an excellent meeting place and outside distractions were at a minimum. Jason went over the trip in detail and we were all very enthusiastic and couldn’t wait for the journey to begin. We later got another participant in our group, so we had a full van going down to Nakusp.
On May 15 we loaded up the van and we departed at 8:45 a.m. It was a good day for travel and the roads weren’t very busy. We made it to Cochrane, where we realized that one of the bikes was loose on the roof rack. Thankfully nothing was damaged and we continued on our drive after securing the bike. We arrived in Nakusp and checked in at the Kuskanax Lodge for the night. The next morning we rode to Summit Lake where it was so hot that I took a dip in the water while the group rested. Lunch was next on the agenda at New Denver Campground – an absolutely beautiful location with lots of camping enthusiasts, tons of trees and picnic areas.
OK, the hard work starts now! We had a difficult climb for about 18 km, but everybody made it with a great feeling of accomplishment ! The best part of the long climb was the downhill to Kaslo where we stayed that night. We all went to the famous JB’s Restaurant and had mouth watering fish and chips and later went to Ainsworth Hot Springs for some relaxation. We were all sleepy by the time we headed back to the motel. The next morning Jason prepared a delicious breakfast.
Day two of our trip was a little more relaxed. We were able to leave Kaslo at about 9 a.m. and 13 km later, Krystian had a flat. He was quite skilled in changing it and we were back on the road within 30 minutes. We headed out towards the beautiful Mirror Lake and then to JB Fletcher General Store, where there was a selection of the best ever ice cream, cold drinks and anything else we wanted. Whoever said there is no such thing as paradise has never been here. This incredible journey continued on to the comfortable Dancing Bear Inn hostel in Nelson, BC – it was perfect for our group.
For me, day three of our trip had a somewhat more serious tinge in the air. I knew there were some hills coming up so I made up my mind that I would do as much as I could with the “fun” gauge turned up to maximum. After a delicious breakfast of granola, bagels, yogurt, huge strawberries, watermelon and other good energy food, we left Nelson at 8 am. And proceeded towards Crescent Valley for a rest stop; then on to Winlaw for lunch and shopping at a very cool gift and book shop. Then the intensity became so thick you could cut it with a knife. The final stretch into New Denver had some very long, steep hills and it was very dry and hot; perhaps 34 degrees in some spots. Most of the group conquered the hill and rode triumphantly into New Denver. I also conquered the hill … only it was in an air conditioned van. We all won!
I am so grateful to have met such wonderful people because each of them – Christine, Marlaine, Jason, June, Karel, Scott, Brent, Krystian, Karen, and Sarah all offered their unique skills and talents that increased the quality of this trip, which by the way was awesome!
by Peggy Hurdle
In Front of the Highwood Inn near LongviewIt all started on the morning of Friday, August 3, when people started arriving, in the rain, at the Hurdles’. Spirits were high and anticipation great. This year instead of renting two large vans we used only one and the Hurdles’ VW Golf and utility trailer with space for four bikes and a ton of gear. After an hour of figuring out how to pack two tons of gear, we hit the road.
The trip to Lake Annette in Jasper was uneventful. We got ready to go and took an awful lot of pictures while the clouds rolled in. Finally we rolled out as the winds shifted around us. Don and John took off on a side trip that was supposed to be the 93A alternate route. We later heard it turned out to be the road to the sky tram, which is a bit steeper than the intended trip would have been!
The rest of us rolled on while the clouds encroached and the wind swirled until the inevitable happened. We got to test the rain gear for about half an hour before the showers ended. We made it to Athabasca Falls and found this year’s friendly hostel hosts who settled us in and read us their interpreta- tion of the hostel rules. John and Don got in about 5:30 and told their tale of woe. Mike and Bernice made a really good supper. Some of us sampled the “mountain rustic” shower … heat up the water on a camp stove, fill up a 20 litre water bag, hoist it up in a “shower stall” made out of tarps, and let ‘er rip! Rain came and went through the night. Morning came and we started off in the grey damp.
Day 2 was mostly about climbing Sunwapta Pass and gradually leaving the clouds behind. We hit the summit then experienced the thrill/terror of the descent. Rampart hostel came into view: more friendly hosts, a nice sauna, a supper made this time by the Hurdles and Wayne Grover and a really good sleep.
Day 3 was another climbing day: Bow Summit. Peyto Lake was as blue as ever. The ride to Louise was nice, the showers at the end of the day better. Another good supper compliments of Barb and Ed. Sleep came easiest to those with the coolest bunks. The Lake Louise Hostel needs to work on its ventilation in hot weather. A number of us remarked on the change we felt—almost sadness—when we left the mountains and the Icefield Parkway behind and fell into line on the TransCanada. The noise and the congestion were an unwelcome change from the heart of the mountains!
Day 4, Lake Louise to Canmore. When we got up it looked a little threatening but turned out clear and pleasantly warm. A tailwind pushed us downhill to Banff. The picnic spot at Cascade Pond, a real gem found a couple of weeks ago by Ernie Mah, was pleasant and easy to get to. After lunch, the tail windreally pushed us into Canmore at 40k or better most of the way.
Day 5, a rest day in Canmore where we all checked out ALL the bike shops. The main purchases were leg and arm warmers, which were saw a lot of use the next few days. Continuing with good eating, Tom and Karel prepared a lovely barbeque while Maria made a really nice salad to complement the supper.
On Day 6 we bade a rainy farewell to Canmore and headed for K Country. The Bow Valley Trail (1A) through Exshaw is quite scenic—probably even more so in sunshine! Judy at the Barrier Lake visitors centre took pity on us and allowed us to claim squatters’ rights in her fireplace area, while Mike and Bernice whipped up a gourmet lunch out on the sheltered deck. We made our way south into K Country and the Pocaterra Hut, where we fixed two flats in the parking lot. The Pocaterra Hut was familiar to all the skiers in the group and brought back many good memories. But—oops! The group campsite wasn’t near the Pocaterra Hut. Rick and company came back from the park office with the combination to the lock on the access road gate to the actual group campsite. Then the real fun began.
The Pocaterra group campsite is a pretty place with a nice big camp kitchen. But it’s at the end of a 2 km goat track! The Golf and trailer managed to make it up about 2/3 of the first hill, then stalled out as the buzzing front wheels created a shower of gravel. The joy of front-wheel drive! Meanwhile, about half the group had already walked, or ridden slowly, into the campsite. It took about an hour before things got straightened around and cyclists, Golf and trailer—which had been bulled up the hill by about a half dozen cyclists, reminiscent of those photos of soldiers pushing wheeled cannon up the hills in France—were finally reunited. Luckily, the downpour held off until nightfall when all the tents were up. Rick and Wayne’s beef stew warmed the cockles and soothed the ragged tempers. Rain on canvas lulled us to sleep.
Day 7 dawned thankfully dry. We rolled up wet tents, said a prayer for traction on the Golf, and made our way out the goat track to the main road. Fortunately for the cyclists, Don had found a ski trail running through the low country which avoided all the hills. Highwood Pass beckoned. We grunted up the pass—hey, piece of cake after Sunwapta, right?—and stopped for photos at the summit. At 2200 metres, it is the highest stretch of paved road in Canada. The rest stop was just over the sum- mit and gave everyone a good chance to layer up. Whoo, it’s friggin’ cold up there! Some of us felt sleet on our faces as we descended through the high country. The Cat Creek picnic area, our rest stop in the lower (and warmer!) country, has a delightful little trail leading up to a waterfall. An intrepid group of five, with Don in the lead, went exploring while the rest of the gang took off down the river. We found the Highwood Inn B&B late in the afternoon and got ourselves checked in and showered. What a place! Really comfortable and Chris was great. The Highwood Inn even had a movie theatre and fine rooms.
Day 8 took us to the Chain Lakes campground. We started off mid-morning surrounded by clouds and just missed a rain/hail storm. Supper was prepared by the Barb and Ed team and once again was very good. After supper we all sat around Peggy’s computer and looked at the pics that had been taken over the past few days. Quite a difference from our visit to Pocaterra. The main kitchen had everything including lights, heat and water.
Wind Turbine on Cowley Ridge near Pincher CreekDay 9, Chain Lakes to Pincher Creek. Some of the group saw a baby bear and wondered: “Where’s Momma? She can’t be far away.” We cycled up and down the Porcupine Hills, which felt like another mountain pass. Pincher Creek is where we saw the wind turbines for the first time. Very impressive! The wind was strong, but the wind on the following day was an eye opener. The Lundbreck Falls were very nice. This is where we all took lots of pics.
Day 10, Pincher Creek to Waterton. What a ride into Waterton! I never knew the wind could be so strong and in our face and warm all at once. We all (except Bob Atlee, whom we lost) grouped around for a very nice lunch. The mule deer in Waterton were very friendly. The day was sunny, warm, and lots of wind. The wind was the strongest and warmest that I (Peggy) had ever experienced. Waterton is a place we definitely need more time to explore.
Day 11, the trip home. We started off driving back to Pincher Creek where we had just cycled the day before. For the first time in over a week, we were in a motor vehicle instead of cycling, and it felt odd. I think everyone in the group really appreciated sitting in the car and taking it easy at least for a day. I bet the next day everyone got up in pouring rain, ate too much, got on their bikes and headed up the nearest, biggest hill they could find, into the wind. Am I right? The wrap-up potluck supper was held at the Hurdles’ on Saturday, August 18, for a good recap of the trip and a chance to share all the pics we’d taken during the trip. Having a computer along with us enabled us to review our pics every so often, which provided good humour to everyone. Our trip pics will soon be up on a website for everyone to enjoy, if they’re not already.
By Lois Knight
There were 8 unsuspecting souls who landed in France together but 8 did not arrive at the same time or even on the same day at their domicile called a “Gîte”. This trip is full of grandeur and wonder (I wonder if he went here or I wonder if she went downhill the wrong way for 10 km.?)
Our cozy group of 8 cycled their touches for 3 weeks in 3 different regions, Bordeaux, Provence, and Bourgogne (Burgundy). We seemed to divide into 3-4 groups naturally because there were two couples: John and Steph Blades, René and Gloria Sicotte, and four singles: EBTC President, Maureen Lanuke, our EBTC Touring Coordinator, Glenn White, Kathie Leitch, and myself, Lois Knight. The latter four often travelled together.
Below is a Legend that describes vocabulary terms and “transfer” routines. This information may give you a better sense of how our trip worked. After that I’ll give you the blurb about our time in Bordeaux. By then you’ll be tired of reading and I’ll be tired of writing, so I’ll leave the description of the other “two short legs” till the next issue.
Voyager: bike bag
Weigh-In: And I don’t mean Weight Watcher’s
TGV: France’s fastest train; up to speeds of 300 km’s/hr
SNCF: France’s other fast train
RER: Underground train that runs sometimes
Airline Security: Non-existent
Kangoo: Renault Kangoo, like a combination SUV/Van; our transport vehicle.
Watchdog: One watching for Kangoo to arrive while others peruse the town
GÎTE: Pronounced Jeat; rhymes with neat; B&B without the 2nd B and our home away from home.
2 Spits and a Nose Clean: fairly steep hill
Jesus, Mary Joseph Hill: really steep hill
E: Euros; 1 E = $Can1.66
Maureen, Glenn, and I met the others at the airport within the right amount of minutes to spare. The group picture was taken. Now came the time for the great Weigh-In. John and Lois were over. I don’t know by how much John was over. I was 18 lb. over! You’re allowed 70 lb. So I should have gone with my first premonition at Maureen’s place and removed stuff from my Voyageur. So from the Voyageur, I removed the stuffed pannier, the stuffed handlebar bag, a bike jacket and bike shoes, yes both stuffed. As Glenn quipped, “Lois tried to take 1/2 of Alberta with her.” All my excess luggage was placed in a plastic bag and checked in as baggage.
Before boarding M., G., and L. decided to have lunch. We split a large apple crumble 3 ways with 3 types of cream. We were in training for the Tour de France, after all! Kathie bought 4 more books. She already had two of them. The flight to T.O. was delayed 45 minutes. Other than that it was nondescript. The flight to Paris had less leg room than the previous flight! But some of us like Maureen, Glenn, René and Gloria managed some shut eye. Kathie and I spent time getting acquainted. Earlier, Maureen spilled the beans about Kathie being the silver medal winner of an Ironman competition 15 years ago. All right, I’m intimidated. Amongst many interesting aspects about Kathie, there was one surprising piece of information I was yet to learn about her and then I was even more intimidated. Upon arrival in Paris, Security waved us through customs as a unit unchecked. WE’VE ARRIVED!
It was around 10h00 Paris time, humid and 26 degrees. Our first frustration or laugh came when trying to figure out which level, then which hallway, then which platform we needed to catch the TGV to Libourne. And we had to lug our Voyageurs, bike boxes, Kathie’s handmade canvas bike bag, and all our other luggage down the stairs onto the tracks, up the stairs to the opposite platform. Poor Glenn, a good man, dragged that extra plastic bag of luggage of mine along with all his stuff to the “correct” platform. Gloria wished she hadn’t brought so much stuff, too. We needed to take a TGV to Libourne where Maureen and Glenn would then train it to Bordeaux to rent the Renault Kangoo. Then they would return to pick up our bikes first, then 1/2 of us, finally 1/2 of us again with our luggage thus leaving us lots a time to explore Libourne. However, part of our routine was to have at least one watchdog trading off every hour. The TGV from Paris to Libourne took 4/12 hr. It went fast but NOT 300 kph. Libourne was lovely.
The buildings were ancient and the people were friendly—sentiments to be oft repeated throughout our trip. In the evening while still waiting for M & G, we had just enough time to have a beer in the bar beside the train station near its closure time at 8h00—early closings!
We finally arrived at our Gîte Robineau in Caumont, Bordeaux May 2 at 22h30, but John and Steph elected to be the last ones transported so they along with M & G didn’t arrive until May 3rd at 02h00. There is no train to Caumont which is situated about 30 km from Libourne.
We slept in till around 10h30. It’s a rest day today. Hey! We’ve been in the sky and on the road for 2 days now, well 3. You wouldn’t believe this place. Our Gîte was in one word, beautiful! All the Gîtes we stayed in were as much a part of our experience as the cycling. In this Gîte, one huge bedroom could sleep 7. Actually this room reminded me of Wendy’s bedroom in Peter Pan with its open shutters by 3 large windows. There were other rooms and the couples each had their own. I slept in a hall space I modified with dividers, ’cause it had a cozy feeling. The Gîte was made of stone, of course, and the ultra modern kitchen and bathrooms f e a t u r e d a gorgeous blue stone with a finish so smooth that the stone felt soft. All of this was achieved with the stone going through 7 f i r i n g s , t h e proprietor stated. T h e h u g e bathroom had a bath that was to die for! Not only was it jetted but it had room for 2, maybe 3. Other features were a patio, lawn, pink flowers and an outdoor pool that none of us swam in. It had cooled down since our arrival. We always ate breakfast in and most lunches at a bakery (or two or three). Sorry ETBC’ers who go on the Pastry Caper Rides; we’re snobs now and will forever compare all Edmonton pastries to French ones!
In mid-afternoon we took the 7km bike ride into Sauveterre and had coffee. Most often our day trips would pass through there. While a few others were tasting at a winery, I happened upon a paved bike route that could take you to Bordeaux, a distance of only 55 km. On the map, the dotted line is the bike trail. The round trip from Caumont to Bordeaux would be 124 km; the last 7 km’s from Sauveterre to Caumont being a grade 5-6, maybe 7 for the last km.
We drove back into Sauveterre for dinner that first evening. For 10 Euros we had an all you can eat salad bar plus an entreé. The wine was “complimentary”. So after drinking one bottle of red, one of rosé, another bottle came our way due to this lovely Englishwoman who was on a walking tour called The Pilgrimage Walk. She had left her bottle after having only one glass. We asked the waitress to bring it over. Pas de probleme! Et voila! Coffee cost 2 E, though.
Now how does that washing machine work? It was an often repeated challenge in every Gîte.
Now on day 4 in Caumont, some of us cycled to La Réole which had easy rolling hills down, so you can guess the return trek had a few Jesus, Mary, Joseph hills. And we had had a beer or two in La Réole before embarking on the long 35 km uphill climb back. As Gloria put it, ”All the beer settled in my legs”. Meanwhile René and Glenn had taken a 90 km “not so Golden Triangle” route. It rained. It poured. About the hills, Glenn uttered, ”The hills were worth 3 spits and a nose clean.”
On day 5, most of us were cycling merrily along the previously mentioned bike trail ending at Bordeaux. It was an old railroad bed paved over. Meanwhile, Maureen and Glenn went to Libourne once more in an attempt to find a bike shop because Maureen’s derailleur, on her brand new Marinoni, “derailed into her wheel and refused to budge. Alas it was a holiday so they would have to return to Libourne tomorrow. Meanwhile the rest of us cycled along the bike trail enjoying its changing landscape. It had a 1/4 km concrete tunnel that you had to cycle through. The first 10 m were pitch and the rest just barely visible. There were lots of flowers en route, especially poppies. It was not busy but sometimes amusing moments occurred. There was a family whose grandfather was rolling down the path while sitting on a skateboard. We enjoyed lunch at Esprit, an ancient Railroad Station converted restaurant located by the side of the trail. Our waiter was “très charmant” and he insisted on delivering my coffee to the table on a sterling silver serving tray even though I had already purchased it at the counter.
Meanwhile Glenn, the speeding bullet, catches up to us on the bike path and he and Kathie continued onto Bordeaux. Kathie had fleetingly stated that she would like to return by Toulouse. Glenn informed her how far that would be but she replied, “It’s only two short Legs to Toulouse, let’s go that way!” and they both cracked up laughing because of its reference to Toulouse Lautrec, the short painter. This quip became the standard daily joke of the entire trip. That is when I learned that surprising piece of information about Kathie; she is 71 years old, in tremendous shape, and her cycling total for this day was an impressive 125 km. She has an unique sense of humour which delighted us all throughout the trip.
On the trail to Bordeaux John and Steph, Gloria and René and myself stopped in Creole and I tried to make a phone call home but had no luck figuring out the French phone card. Neither could Steph at first. Then we realized we had to scratch the card to get our ID #! They succeeded .I got the voice mail. After that, we reversed our direction along the bike path to return. By the time our little group got home. Isn’t that sweet? It’s home already, all but one of us did 84 km. I, on the other hand, was enjoying all those last 7 Jesus, Mary, Joseph hills, so much, I cycled 8 more of them. I took a wrong turn but found a beautiful area. By then I knew I was lost but I just didn’t care. Finally I reversed direction and found the correct Jesus, Mary, Joseph hill to our Gîte. The holiday today was Ascension Day. You’d think the Big Guy could’ve descended one more time and given directions! (Really a Kathie quip spoken earlier.) So I cycled 92 km. Now 92 km in Bordeaux is really more than 92 in Alberta because there are little to no flat areas in this Bordeaux region…sooooo, yeah—it takes longer. But it was so fun I didn’t care. Maureen was just about to get in the Kangoo to find me. Uh, oh, this is the first time but it won’t be the last!
Last day in Bordeaux
I stayed back at the Gîte to nurse a cold or allergy. Whatever it was, I felt lousy. Glenn and Maureen drove once again to Libourne and this time they had luck. Maureen’s derailleur got fixed, and they drove to Sauveterre where they began their cycle to Pijols and met up with the others at a place called Blasimon. Maureen was excited, biking at last! Once in Pijols, the group found a restaurant with entrée items in the 31€ range = $45 CDN. John and Maureen had a sandwich and the waiter was gracious about it. They drank free wine but had to pay 2€ for coffee. Same old story! Oh poor us. Free wine! Groups returned home via different routes. Gloria and René took high hills, John and Steph took low hills, Glenn and Maureen took off on yesterdays’ bike trails catching it at Frontenac or was that Kathie’s route or both. Most cycled 70 km. We formed a habit of cycling each other’s routes from the day before.
I made an oven baked omelette one morning; Glenn made spaghetti one evening; I heated it up another night. The other meals we had out at French mid-range restaurants, which were pricey Canadian $-wise.
As I was watching Day 12 of the Tour de France where the riders were just entering Provence, my heart practically took a leap. I cried, “I want to go back now, not in 24 years, nor even 24 hours, I want to go NOW!” It was on day 7 of our tour that we were en route from Caumont, Bordeaux to Banon, Provence. It would take me writing a novel to express all our delights and cover all our cycling paths and discoveries in this state of Provence. I would be remiss if I did not mention our sojourn into Avignon. Maureen and Glenn drove the Kangoo with our bikes from Bordeaux to Provence. Meanwhile we arrived in Avignon on a SNCF train. Although we did many watchdog shifts, we managed to enjoy some of the highlights this capital offered. John and Steph walked the Pont du Gard and The Palace of the Popes and returned singing, ”Sous le Pont, Avignon!” And Steph, the sweetheart, returned with a beautiful yellow rose for me because it was my anniversary!
Due to logistics, Glenn and Maureen arrived at the station much later than expected, and it was apparent that the last group would need to be picked up after midnight. So Kathie and I happily volunteered to stay overnight in the station’s hotel. Well! I won’t tell you everything about our stay but it’s safe to say we did it up right. We surfed the main drag, what I like to refer to as the Champs de Lyseés of Avignon, in search of treasures.
I think Kathie bought more silk pajamas. What was this outrageous woman up to? We wined and dined and took in a little jazz music. We checked out palatial buildings. We accidentally discovered one was the mayor’s residence when the mayor’s young son scooted our butts away. We ended our evening with a ride on a carousel. In Provence, we stayed in a more typical old stone house in the countryside 3.6 km from the small town of Banon. The whole Gite was cozy. Even the neighborhood moths enjoyed their stay with us. One moth in particular bonded to me as I was taking its picture earlier in the day. It was just leaving its chrysalis. It was huge, the largest moth all of us had ever seen and with its first journey free of the chrysalis, it decided to spend the night with me. It was midnight before I could get any sleep! Apparently all the bugs are large there!
Our rides throughout our 7 day stay followed the same pattern as before: what route one couple cycled one day another group followed the next day. John and Steph often were the leaders in sketching out long interesting routes. We cycled to such places as Simiane that had 10km hills and looked like the picture postcard towns you’ve seen with a fortress surrounding them. John and Steph saw castles somewhere and so did Glenn.
Throughout meals, a variety of one-liners entertained all. We had a short hobbit-like entranceway into the Gite that required René, and especially John, to bend their heads and shrink their bodies that set the stage for many a quip. For instance, René was preparing a chicken dish, Coq au Vin, when Glenn yelled at him to duck as he was about to enter the doorway. René misinterpreted and yelled back, “Chicken”. Then René immediately hit his head on the doorway.
Then Glenn said, “I told you to duck.” “I thought you were asking me what was for dinner,” replied René.
During dinner other quips followed:
Kathie: I sure enjoyed the ride to Simiane but that sure was a Jesus, Mary and Joseph hill on the way back
Glenn: That ride into Banon–How’s that for a Tuesday night sweat ride!
René: (singing) ‘swing lo, sweet chariot.
René’s voice had lost two octaves after having yelled many times at Gloria to stop at the laneway to our Gite. But she did not hear him and continued down the fast 9 Km. At about the 5 km mark, she heard him and slowly rode the 4 Km back to our Gite. Well, she avoided 5 Km of the ride back anyway.
The closest town, Banon, was charming and full of unexpected delights. The distance from our Gite was only 3.2 Km but the serious false flat lasted until the serious uphill entrance to the town. It seems that each town in France is known for something special. Banon is known throughout Provence (even Avignon) for its bookstore and goat cheese. At first I could not figure out how small towns could support such specialty stores. We learned it was citizens travelling to and fro from town to town to buy exactly this and that. Banon even had a couple of elite women’s clothing stores in which Kathie bought 2 pairs of silk pj’s. We often cycled through Banon on our way to anywhere else. We ate a couple of meals in Banon. We preferred the local pizzeria. We even added a Canadian $5 to the proprietor’s collection of bills that she had collected from various countries and placed on the back wall. I bet you couldn’t safely try that here!
We took in other sights as well. On one day Maureen, Glenn, Kathie, and I cycled to a place called Roustrel. There, Maureen, Glenn and Kathie took a 3-hour tour of the Ochre Quarries in Colorado National Park located near the city of Apt. I, on the other hand, cycled into Apt, a fair size wonderful city, the first of which reminded me of Québec City. Previously, Seth and John had cycled up and up to the l’observatoire of a village called St. Michel that looked over this entire area called the Luberon Valley.
But I digress. It was a great long day for me and I didn’t want it to end. I had climbed great heights and fraternized with the locals. I was feeling exhilarated so when Maureen and Glenn showed up in the Kangoo to pick me up, I wasn’t pleased but when I got back to the Gite, I was very pleased because John barbecued delicious long-John sausages and Gloria prepared a glorious salad. I was not to have such a good sausage again in France.
Much of our cycling seemed to be in preparation for doing the famous stage of the 2000 and 2002 Tour de France called Mount Ventoux. A couple of days before the Ventoux ascent, Maureen, René and Glenn cycled its sister. It was a more tiring ride because of the overall distance covered that day. Maureen wisely begged off doing Mt. Ventoux because of her recent surgery that required she rest after strenuous days. She was such a good sport about being our chauffeur instead. The grade for Mt. Ventoux’s 26 km is not bad, however, the last six km of this climb is the serious stuff with a steady increase in grade from 7 to 11%. Congrats go out to Glenn, John and René for reaching the top. Congrats go out to Steph, Gloria, and I for having the sense to stop at the 20 km mark to feast upon the gastronomic delights of the Chalet erected specifically for celebration.
Burgundy was the richest region in terms of how well-off the locals were and how well they liked to eat. In terms of scenery, it vied for supremacy with both Bordeaux and Provence. There were even more vineyards. We saw the introduction of mustard fields not unlike the canola fields of Alberta. The village of Romaine, where our Gite was located, was very picturesque and the home of many vineyards. Sure enough it was perched at the highest point of the hills leading to it. We often discussed which road was the least hilly. Our own body types seemed to win that argument. But at least, we all found a manageable way of returning to our Gite everyday. The first day we arrived, Maureen drove us up the fastest way with its 14- 16% grade. I panicked and phoned home and told my husband that there was no way I was leaving this Gite until it was time to go to Paris! But common sense prevailed and we were très glad to find 2 or 3 other more sensible 4-6% climbs to this Gite. The city of Beaune was our centre, just as Banon was to Provence and Sauveterre de Guyenne was to Bordeaux. But it was a much bigger place, therefore lots more shopping and sightseeing occurred. More about Beaune, later.
Burgundy is considered the gastronomic region of France. That being said, I had a terrible experience one evening with a pale steamed sausage, very pink inside. With one bite, I turfed it and the waitress was kind enough to offer me scalloped potatoes with cheese. I later learned from my husband, a chef, that mouton (sheep) is often in use in French cuisine. Mouton has a flavour foreign and foul to us. It was probably the culprit of my distaste. Anyway, everyone else was especially pleased with their meals, especially John. He ordered what he had researched, “oeufs de meurette”, that is, poached eggs in wine sauce. Well you might think, as the rest of us did, that this dish sounds awfully weird for supper but I had the opportunity a few days later to have the same dish in a town called Pommard and it was the best meal I had in France and certainly one of my best meals ever.
We had a wonderful meal out in Beaune one evening accompanied by lousy service. But we sat outside where we admired the Rolls Royces, Lambourghinis, Alfa Romeo’s, Jaguars and Mazeradis as they drove by.
Many days, many different trips! One day Maureen, Glenn, Kathie and I did this incredibly long and beautiful ride through a few places, including Nuits St. Georges, world renowned for its red wines. We climbed up these two ridges, you know the type, you come around a corner and see a peak pretty well deciding this must be the top only to find another ridge around the next corner and so forth. Well, multiply that by twelve and you’ve got the idea. At the top of our climb, our descent was so steep and winding we whizzed down it in a blur ending with our bodies just virtually a buzzin’.
Soon after that we bumped into Gloria and René who had cycled from the opposite. flatter approach. Now they had to climb. Later in the afternoon, while I went through Pommard, the others flagged down a bread truck in Cormont le Petit and found more than bread. You guessed it, pastries!
On one riding day we found another bike route, similar to the one we cycled in Bordeaux, but this one went for 80 Kms. It took us past wetlands, fields, but mostly along a beautiful canal. We watched boats and enjoyed talking with a few of the local fishers. We only cycled 22 Kms of it but Gloria and René returned another day to complete it and just loved it.
Now I must tell you about the very special kind of place that is St. Romaine. Known for its famous vignobles (vineyards) and its white wines, our street and the one behind it were solely owned by “vignerons” (wine growers). Upon our initial arrival, our Gite owner, the vigneron, Gilles Buisson, left us a bottle of his not-so-best white and tickets to the wine tasting to be held the following day. Well, I thought the wine tasting was from his vignoble only. But, no! The next morning a table set up at the bottom of the hill and for 5E you got 14 tastings, one red, one white from 7 different vignobles. The tastings were held at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. So we tasted before and after our day’s ride. Yeah, our ride was short, very short that day. The whites were tasty enough yet most of us were red wine drinkers.
Unfortunately the wines we enjoyed were not exported. A key factor, I learned, in any vigneron exporting is having the connections to importers/exporters in other countries. It is expensive and complicated and for this reason most of them sold locally. Only one vignoble exported to Canada, that of Gilles’ Brother, Christophe Buisson. He exported to Québec only because he had the necessary connections there.
During the wine tastings, a local priest was giving a tour of the church. Unlike other towns, the church here was built after the town. The church was built in the 13th century and the town was built in the 7th century. Not only had the Romans appeared earlier, the Gauls had too, on this very spot.
Our own palates refined as we continued to sample wines. Even cheap 3E or 4E wine was superior to what we usually find at home. Sometimes we would buy a more sophisticated bottle and attach it to our bikes for the journey back. On one such trip in the Bourgogne region, one (I will not name but he is a fine man) carried mine uphill back to the Gite. But it wasn’t full upon arrival. It was pretty funny. You had to be there. Apparently there were two selfproclaimed official tasters en route.
We cycled many 13 km downhill sojourns into Beaune. It was an excellent place to shop for souvenirs. Also it had a small history of wine museum called the Musée du Vin de Borgogne located in what was the former mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Maureen, Glenn and I toured it. Also, there was a magnificent medieval building called the Hôtel Dieu built as a charity hospital in 1443 whose roof was completely made of coloured glass tiles…gorgeous!
In a village or two beyond Beaune, we had our last dinner at a formal place called Le Diligence. There were 4 or 5 courses and the entrées were served by individual waiters standing behind each of us. Upon a signal from the head waiter, the wait staff removed the silver lids covering our plates in a grand gesture as they shouted in chorus, ”Voilà!” That sentiment sums up our cycling trip through France.
And then there was Paris. We stayed at the Hostel Le d’Artagnan just a few blocks from the nearest metro stop which took us to the Champs de Lysées within a few stops. We did the tourist thing, riding the double decker buses, walking by the Eiffel Tower and taking pictures of the Arch de Triomphe. I took in the Palace of Versailles. Even a few of us, whom I won’t name, took in a girlie show on our last evening. Don’t get excited. Nobody took their clothes off.
On behalf of all participants, I thank Maureen for the courage to organize a trip of this magnitude, for her exceptional organizational work prior to the trip, and her continued hard work and good spirits throughout the trip. I thank Glenn for his diligence in helping out where needed, in packing the Kangoo, driving it, and “in there like a dirty shirt attitude” 100% of the time. I thank all the guys for packing the bikes on that Kangoo and helping to put them back together at each Gite. I thank Kathie, John, Steph, René and Gloria for their friendly and helpful company throughout.
by Jasmine Hohenstein
It was on my first visit to Granby in the summer of 2003, that the idea popped into my head of organizing an EBTC bike trip to that area. In 2003, I had rented a bike and managed to put on about 800 km in eight days. I had been inspired by the beauty of the countryside, the friendliness of the people and the miles and miles of exceptional bike trails. I had to go back!
After months of planning and organizing, my little “dream” turned into reality, and 10 of us set out for a 9-day adventure of cycling in one of the most scenic areas of Quebec. We flew to Montreal, made our way to Granby (a short 120 km from the airport) and settled into a cozy bed and breakfast (B&B). We rented “comfort bikes” (hybrids) necessary for riding the various types of trails. For some of the group, the bikes took getting used to, for others (like myself) I felt right at home!
The Auberge Du Zoo B & B was our home away from home. Located in a quiet neighborhood next to Granby’s famous zoo, Claude was our host. He handed over his house to us – we had the use of it all (read on for Carol C’s explanation-suffice to say there was no roughing it!)
We spent our days exploring and cycling to our heart’s content in every direction. There was something new to see every day we were there. We were amazed at the hundreds of kilometres of bike trails, taking us through apple orchards, corn fields, scenic rural dairy farms, all along rivers, lakes and streams! Every day was an adventure!
The Granby Group wants to share our adventure with you. In this article, members of our group will share their experiences and their impressions of the Eastern Townships Of Quebec.
We hope you enjoy “the trip” as much as we did!
Day 1 – Saturday September 4, Getting there
by Carol Carlson
Jas enters the Edmonton International airport and heads to the Air Canada check-in area. Carol B joins her in line, followed by Al and Carol C. Soon Millie arrives and then Patti and Kathy. The Edmonton contingent of the Granby Group is all present and accounted for. (Marv is already in Quebec.)
Jas distributes the Quebec-Eastern Townships Tour manual, a coil bound book with everything anyone needs to know – maps, itineraries, tourist information, schedules, etc. We are all concerned that we will be tested on it so plan to study it during the flight. Right!!!
First question: Where’s the coffee? (It is 4:30 a.m. after all.) Although Jas can’t produce hot coffee on the spot, she does quickly remove a French press coffee carafe from her carry-on bag to assure all the caffeine addicts that a good cup of coffee would be available every morning in Granby. Among the items Jas has checked is a cardboard box filled with goodies, snacks, treats, decorations, prizes, frozen spinach dip, pasta and frozen pasta sauce for Sunday’s dinner.
A short flight later the group arrives in Calgary. “Where’s Mary?” is the question on everyone’s mind. Soon Jas spots her friend and introduces everyone. Six degrees of separation seems more fact than fiction with this group. Marv, Jas, Carol B, Millie, Al and Carol C, have all been on trips together before; Jas and Mary have been friends for years, Al and Bernard have been on the Golden Triangle trips both when Bernard lived here and after he moved to Montreal, Bernard and Millie both are from St. Paul, and, Patti and Kathy are related to Carol C’s best friend from grade school and she has known them for years. What a small world.
The trip to Montreal was uneventful if somewhat long. The passenger next to Jas was airsick and gets moved to another seat (but leaves his “baggie” behind); Kathy gets sent to her seat for blocking the aisle, Millie tries to sleep, and Al, being the only guy, keeps to himself.
We arrive in Montreal and have lunch while waiting for Marv’s flight from Quebec City where he has been “on business!” Within minutes of his arrival the taxi vans show up to transport us to Granby. The final member of the Granby Group, Bernard, will be arriving Monday morning from Montreal in a rental car which we will then have for the rest of the trip.
Less than an hour later we arrive at Auberge du Zoo, our home for the next eight days. Claude, the B&B proprietor and soon to be good friend to all, shows us around. The B&B is a large sprawling house which can sleep at least 20 people. Upstairs there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms. On the main floor there is a formal dining room, a den which later becomes the massage salon, the “Romance” bedroom, a large bathroom with a dressing room area, an informal eating area in the main kitchen, two more bedrooms, a TV lounge, another bathroom with a huge soaker tub, and a smaller kitchen (which is ours to use). Claude’s living quarters are downstairs where there is also another bedroom and bathroom. Outside on a covered patio, is a large lovely Jacuzzi which becomes a favorite place in the evening.
We all decide the 25 minute walk into town would be nice and to have dinner at an all-you-can-eat- buffet for $9.95. The food was great-pizza, pasta, fish, seafood, poutine, roast pork, etc., but the desserts were excellent, especially the cake soaked in maple syrup sauce and the soft ice cream!! The walk back home is greatly needed and on the way, we stop at Provigo (a grocery store) to pick up lunch provisions for the next couple of days. Back at the B&B, we all head off to our own rooms, unpack, and prepare for the first day of cycling.
Day 2 – Sunday September 5, L’Estriade (Granby, Bromont, Waterloo, Yamaska Park and home)
by Al Carlson
Up bright and early to be greeted by our host, Claude and his delightful girlfriend, Lise. We feasted on plate-sized crepes, French toast and fruit salad. As became the norm, Marv gave us a reading for the day, a story about three cyclists. Then Jas reviewed the day ahead, with a warning that our two leaders were both directionally challenged. After breakfast, we packed our own lunches.
Having packed our panniers, including two bottles of Claude’s special water (more on this later), we set out on a 25-minute hike down to the Velo Gare where our rental bikes were waiting for us. Claude offered a ride, but why waste a lovely morning by riding in a van?
Well, we found out panniers can be mighty heavy when you are walking. We hiked down the nice wide streets, past a lovely park and arrived at a canal with a bike path leading over to the Velo Gare, right next to a McDonald’s, with lots, and I mean lots, of cyclists coming and going. Young ones, old ones (older than me) and everything in between. I am sure it was a typical weekend morning. Across from the path, the canal connected to a beautiful lake with a fountain in the middle.
We all got fitted to our rental bikes, complete with pannier racks, stands (yes, even Millie), locks and spare tubes. The bikes were hybrids with 27 inch wheels, and 21 speeds. I am sure the tubes were never required. I only seem to remember one place where we saw any glass at all.
We headed down L’Estriade towards Bromont. The multi-use trail (walkers, cyclists and bladers) was a nice standard size paved path, which got wider in a regional park. The trail was well marked and easy to follow. Outside the park, the trail narrowed, and sometimes passing other cyclists was just like passing on a busy two lane highway. Not everyone wore helmets except the kids. There were parking lots at most places where the trail crossed a country road, filled with many cars with bike racks.
Bromont was off the bike path, and Marv was at the junction to ensure we did not get lost. Good thing because we headed on a gravel path, thru a camp ground, then onto the road along side lots of slow moving traffic heading in a different direction to us (later we found out all the traffic was because of a huge swap meet).
Over a bridge, up a small hill and into Bromont, a typical Quebec small town with a big church and old houses, a few restaurants, pubs, and shops, all in very nice shape, many renovated recently. We found the Chocolate Museum and a picnic table in the back garden for our lunch. The museum had a number of displays on the history of chocolate, and a store full of lots of sweet stuff to buy. We all knew this was a place worth coming back to see.
Back to the path, and on towards Waterloo. The path wound thru the countryside, with landscape that changed between fields, forest, rocks and lots of weeds with many colored flowers, a nightmare for any one with asthma. Waterloo (Capitale canadienne du velo) is a picturesque town built around a lake. The path winds thru town and we got some help from a local French-speaking cyclist, dressed in very traditional street clothes and no helmet.
We joined up with a cycle path on an old railway line with a crushed cinder surface called La Campagnarde and headed north. The path was very easy to ride on -there were road bikes with narrow tires. We came across a local mud bog. That amused us for a while, but Jas worried that one of the 4-wheelers would swing over towards us and jump out of the mud. Nobody turned over, but a few did get stuck.
When we reached Parc de la Yamaska, we opted to take the non-pay route back to Granby. The pay route winds thru the national (we say provincial) park, which we would take later on in the week. There was a rocky section, with a nice stream alongside, then a forest with large trees and sparse undergrowth, endings at a one km dam forming a large recreational lake, with a nice beach on the far side (the pay side). The path was now paved, and as we entered a regional park, the multi-use path widened as we headed back to Granby. There are a couple of optional routes, around a reservoir and wildlife preserve. This is a great place for cyclists – our circle route had bike paths heading off in all directions.
We began a tradition – ice cream and coffee before heading “home.” Carol B asked a very nice Francophone lady where to get coffee, and she gave us halting directions in a bit of English. We found the shop but decided to start with ice cream. We encountered the same lady who insisted on taking us to the coffee shop. It was “tres bien” as she said.
Carol C had a nice day, relaxing with coffee and her book down by lake. She had a nice lunch over looking the canal. She thought she would be in for a wonderful, relaxing week in rural Quebec. We were all so happy to be there in Quebec. Thank you, Jas and Marv.
Day 3 – Monday September 6, La Route des Champs (Granby to Marieville and return)
by Al Carlson
Today we must head across town to meet up with the path heading west, La Route des Champs, and after some discussion with Claude, we decide on the best streets to take. Al is appointed leader and we head off. At the first T intersection, he makes a wrong turn and when we reach the highway we stop to study the map. The highway would be very direct, but Jas remembers it has no shoulders. So we retreat, and take the windy route thru town. We stop a few times to have a group discussion about which way to go. We must ride a few km on another highway with a bit of shoulder but Claude’s directions are bang on, and soon we are on the bike path. Next time we come to Granby, the new section of path right into town will be complete.
This path is also what used to be rail line with crushed cinder, very straight and flat. Soon the forest opens up and we find an apple orchard on one side, and a vineyard on the other. The vineyard has a sign, “defense d’ ??” – “no trespassing,” but there are no signs or fence on the orchard side. We stop to take a few pictures, and some people pick apples. They are very good I am told.
At Saint-Cesaire, the path takes a jog around a dairy farm where the farmer didn’t want the path heading through his land. It was a nice place to stop and enjoy the country side, waiting for Bernard, who had just arrived from Montreal. Carol C, who now had Bernard’s rental car to drive, coordinated the connection via cell phone. Just across the bridge we find the info booth for this section of bike path. Residents must pay an annual fee of $10 to use the path, but we get a written note granting us free use (Thanks Jas).
On the path, we pass a huge country estate with a vast front lawn surrounded by forests of pine trees and a rocky creek. We almost ride past Rougemont, but we stop to chat with some cyclists, and, thanks to Bernard, we get instructions to head in to town. We encounter a garage sale, and with Jas along, we must stop. A few people find deals, but Millie couldn’t buy the lovely wooden desk she wanted.
We are in apple country, and want to find apple cider for lunch. Alongside an orchard are a few picnic tables so we stop for lunch. They have bottles of cider for sale and some home baked apple pie – incredible! More jars of goodies to increase the weight of luggage going home are purchased. We sampled the many varieties of apples and packed a few in our panniers. Carol C did find the cider which some enjoyed later in the hot tub.
We stopped at a bike roadside rest stop, right beside a farm field with a number of horses. Patty and Kathy rushed over to the horses, and offered them some of the apples we had packed away. Jas and Marv took off ahead to scout out a section of highway we would need to take in a few days. The rest of us headed into, Marieville, in search of coffee and ice cream. We returned via the same path to Granby, thoroughly in love with Quebec. We started to split into groups, with Patti, Kathy and Bernard cycling ahead of Mary, Millie, Carol and Al.
That evening, Marv served champagne to Millie and Carol B in the hot tub. Then Carol B had a massage in the spa, which Claude is trying to establish in his B&B. She was so relaxed, that she had a hard time staying awake for the Thai food dinner we ordered in off the French menu in the phone book.
Day 4 – Tuesday September 7, Vins et Petit Fruits, The Wine and Berry Route
by Jasmine Hohenstein
The weatherman had been threatening us for days rain rain and more rain. Every day I prayed for sunshine! PLEEZZZ, we need sunshine today — especially on this route through one of Quebec’s more famous rural areas. Today was no different than the previous ones, the weatherman was wrong, my prayers were answered and the sun shone on us once again! Wonderful!
Marvin (aka Werner) started the morning off with a joke. If it wasn’t funny, we called him Werner. That is another story! Breakfast was plentiful and delicious and if Marv didn’t get a chuckle out of us, Claude, our jovial host sure did! Claude always made sure our tummies were full before we left the house in the morning!
Off we went with our first stop in Farnham. This town was to become the favorite coffee stop for Patty and Kathy. The trail to Farnham is fine hard- packed crushed stone, easy to ride on with our bikes. I love this 25 km section of trail that takes you through farmland, cornfields, over small creeks and pastures dotted with grazing cattle or horses.
Leaving Farnham, our route was no longer “bike only” but country roads with very little traffic. We passed quaint gingerbread-type cottages and no nonsense farmyards, the smell of “you know what” permeating the country air! A smell I really don’t mind (in the country). As lunch time approached, we began searching for a scenic spot to park our bikes and our butts! We settled in nicely at a local farm/antique dealer along our route. We stopped and asked if it would be okay to picnic on the lawn. Not only was permission granted, we were given a warm and friendly welcome and chairs were summoned to make our lunchtime picnic more comfortable. Millie and Carol looked as if they never wanted to leave! But we had to move on, with wineries and other interesting places to visit. The flat roads became little hills and bigger hills but we peddled on.
We visited “The Goat People” a charming couple with a friendly farmyard filled with nattering billy goats and products like face cream to make you look younger, shampoos, soaps lotions and potions! Our panniers were getting heavier all the time (our wallets lighter)! At the apple orchard roadside fruit and beverage stand, the house specialty seemed to be apple ice wine and apple ciders. The proprietors, we named them Bill and Bob, looked as though they had never missed a meal in their lives! They had a dry sense of humor and after numerous tasting of apple beverages and complimentary apples, reminded us that we should walk our bikes off the property carefully just in case someone accidentally fell off and intended to sue them. With all these stops, we were not making much progress and not one stop yet to a winery!
“Rides Like The Wind” (AKA Marv/Werner) jumped on his bike and zipped down the road like greased lightning. I tried to keep up, the others were trailing behind and soon we had passed every winery without as much as a glance! What was Werner thinking? I finally was able to catch up to tell him that on this wine-route tour, some of us never stepped foot into a winery, how were we going to explain that to the folks back home? Never mind, we just kept riding!
Meanwhile, Millie and Carol had made the decision to rendezvous with Carol C and cut some of the bike km so there would be more time to taste wine. Cell phones are great, when they work and it was today that they were not working as they should. Poor Carol C was “out there somewhere” looking for the girls, and the girls were “somewhere out there” waiting for a ride! Eventually they were able to “connect” and they found each other! I think Carol and Millie made the most of the wineries!
The small villages and town we passed through were quaint and colorful and by now we were making our way back to Farnham. Some had gone on ahead, they had maps, we had cell phones. Marv and I found the bike maps for this route were dreadful! Things were just not the way they seemed, and we were just not in the places we thought we should be in. Two directionally challenged trip coordinators and, before we knew it, we were really wondering where we were! We never stressed. We knew we could always ask, but we were on “less traveled” roads. It did not take long before a helpful motorist came to our rescue. Without Bernard, we hoped our good Samaritan spoke English. We were relieved to know that he did and knew where we were. When he asked where we were from and we told him Edmonton, he kept repeating ED-monton over and over again, ED-monton and wondered how we got there.
We were pretty worn out after our 110 KM wine route adventure and the hot tub was nothing less than fabulous! But the best was yet to come! It was BBQ night at the Auberge Du Zoo. After all of that riding, The Granby Group could have eaten a cow. Carol C and Al put on a delicious spread of everything one would find at a BBQ plus more!
And so we finished off the evening reminiscing about the memorable day we all had cycling.
Day 5 – Wednesday September 8, … The Chambly Canal Route
by Kathy Gingras
It started out the same way that it had every morning, a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, French toast with real Quebec maple syrup (of course), eggs and coffee. It seemed to be a lazy morning, maybe it was just me but it was beginning to feel like our lives in Granby were our actual lives…as though we could spend all day out on our bikes, eating wonderful food, enjoying amazing scenery and not even giving it a second thought! As usual we discussed the many riding options for the day and agreed to meet out front at 9 am.
defining characteristics. First (and perhaps most importantly!) it was Marvin’s birthday, a truly wonderful way to spend a birthday ☺. Secondly, the route we were taking headed back to Farnham, the suspected town of Patti’s cell phone, lost the day before. Once in Farnham, Patti and I quickly headed back to the quaint coffee shop that the two of us and Bernard had visited the day before.
We thought perhaps Patti had left her phone at the cafe as we had dashed out in a caffeinated frenzy the day before and did not check to see if we had left anything behind. Unfortunately the phone was not there, however the helpful owner offered to call Patti’s cell number and see if anyone would answer.
This way if they only spoke French, she could talk for us, as neither Patti or I can speak any French. To our surprise someone answered! It turned out that Raymond, a resident of Granby, had spotted Patti’s phone on the road and picked it up. Raymond had been answering Patti’s cell phone each time it rang in hopes of finding out who and where was the owner. To our great amusement, Patti’s office had called in hopes of reaching her and instead got Raymond who was a Francophone.. Then Patti’s husband called who also got Raymond. It was a little confusing! Needless to say, everything turned out fine and Patti got her cell phone back.
The group headed off from Farnham towards Chambly, stopping in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to meet up with Millie and have lunch. Realizing that we were a little short on time – there was a long way to go – we ate our sandwiches quickly and headed out alongside the beautiful canal, passing boats and locks on the way. Chambly is a charming town with a grand church and a delicious chocolate shop. Once in Chambly, Bernard, Patti and I started searching for a place to get a nice coffee (coffee seemed to be a theme for the three of us).
We rode around Chambly and to our despair could not spot a cafe that was open. Our caffeine craving was calling us back to a spot that Patti had sighted on the way to Chambly. So the three of us left the group and backtracked to the cafe, deciding that we would meet everyone at the departure time after we had our coffee. Somehow we ended up missing the meeting time and the group had started back to Granby. Bernard’s cell phone was put to good use so that Marvin and Jasmine could give us directions to connect with the right path.
The ride back from Chambly was long… beautiful of course, but it felt like each kilometre was equivalent to 10. What really kept me going was the positive atmosphere of the group. Oh, and Marvin’s quirky chalk messages on the path. Marvin and Jasmine, who were ahead, had written delightful chalk messages on our path, helpful notes like “Only 200 km left to go!” at one point I thought they must be serious as I had no concept of how far we actually had left to go. But beginning to know Marvin a little bit better, I quickly surmised that he was pulling our leg! We had only about 12 km left at that point. Before we knew it, we had returned to our B&B.
Dinner was Quebec poutine (French fries, cheese curds and gravy) and birthday cake for Marvin. It was a completely deserving dinner after cycling a wonderful 120 km.
Day 6 – Thursday September 9, … Montreal for some
by Mary Macieyowski
As a new member to the EBTC, I was thrilled to be a part of this outstanding trip made even more special by the wonderful company.
After a few hundred kilometers on the bike, Hurricane Frances gave us a welcome reprieve. With the downpour, we would have a day to do as much or as little as possible.
Patti, Kathy and I decided to go on a Montreal shopping adventure. Bus service is limited out of Granby but off we went. We caught the subway to McGill underground shopping as recommended and first stop was a caffeine fix.
There were so many shops, so little time. We surfaced on to St. Catherine’s briefly during a dry moment. And then, more shops. Patti was most successful, even getting a purse with a look-a-like picture of her beloved Henri, her Yorkshire terrier, on it. We were not counting on a delayed subway train and so, despite heroic attempts, ie. running in the rain and a cab ride to the bus station during rush hour, we missed our bus.
After some negotiation, we had a pricey cab ride back to the B & B. Millie and Carol B. had outdone themselves with a Mexican theme night dinner, complete with décor. A superb meal it was and we went to bed stuffed.
Day 7 – Friday September 10, … Magog to North Hatley
by Carol Benoit
After a day of rain-induced rest (much enjoyed by various limbs and body parts), we started out again, more bright and more early than before.
Our B&B host, Claude, as well as Carol C. drove us to Magog. We started here, rather than an earlier starting location because it was still spitting a bit upon waking up.
Marv and Jasmine headed out to cycle through the Parc national de Mont-Orford. The rest of us were intent on reaching North Hatley for lunch.
We headed out eagerly, cycling along the shore of Lake Memphremagog. A brief stop to remove some outerwear and Al, Millie and I promptly lost our fellow riders. So, we consulted our maps, got two false starts (one of them being a hill we didn’t need to climb!), and then were on our way.
The cycling trail – amazing – as they all were on this trip. With a bit of dampness in the air, but the sun breaking through the clouds, we cycled through fields and then in to the forest. We met no one on the trail, except two parks workers in a truck who told us, in excellent English, that we couldn’t get to North Hatley the way we were going (we were heading north while our destination was south). But, we consulted the three different maps we had and Al was sure there was a way, so Millie and I kept pedaling in agreement.
At various times, we saw 4 sets of cycling tracks in the somewhat damp trail, so assumed that the four in front of us (Mary, Patti, Kathy and Bernard) were off on the wrong direction too. It didn’t really matter – we were touring the Eastern Townships.
We toured the west and most of the north of Lac Magog through forest, eventually arriving at Rock Forest. From here, there was a different view of the lake, covered in fog, surrounded by magnificent homes and acres of green lawn.
We were just a few kilometres from Sherbrooke when the trail we were on intersected with another. We met up with a local woman who had planned to cycle to North Hatley on this new route, so we followed. Up, down, gentle twists and turns past fields, forest, camp grounds, picnic areas and homes. There was even a place where we had to get off our bikes to travel through a cattle gate.
North Hatley!! If you’ve ever been to the Maritimes, you’ll appreciate the view we had and the sights we enjoyed; blue water, houses along the shore line, quaint shops, friendly people. It was surprisingly, a pre-dominantly English-speaking community.
Al spotted the bikes of the four who had traveled before us, so we stopped for lunch at the same spot. (We had packed our own lunch — but this was an opportunity to sit in the sunshine, on a deck, being served a wonderful lunch from a combination restaurant/art gallery & so we happily ignored our brown lunch bags.) Millie was ecstatic over her coffee/chocolate beverage while the desserts indescribably good.
We were happy to have Mary join the three of us for the return home. Thank heavens we’d had a good lunch – we needed the energy for the towering hills. The countryside was again through farms, and we had plenty of time to look while catching our breath at the top of each steep grade. Just like the morning, lots of stops for pictures too; old churches, breath-taking panoramas and maple leaf colours.
We were touring, so got a bit behind and the rest of the group was waiting eagerly for us in Magog for our host to help transport our bicycles back to Granby.
Another day that will long be remembered.
By Jasmine Hohenstein
When I mentioned to friends and family that I would be preparing myself for a 3-day bike trip from Jasper to Mt Robson and back with the Edmonton Bike and Touring Club, they all looked at me and asked what it was I did for fun? They all had “that look” …you know the one that seems to ask the question…are you crazy? Others asked if there wasn’t a bus we could charter for that kind of a trip? Oh those non-cyclists!
The 3-day, 260 km bike trip was meticulously planned and organized by Millie and Al Schietzsch. We dropped of our bikes the day before take off, making the loading up of the rest of the gear on the day of departure that much easier and faster. Our two rental vans left Edmonton at 5 PM sharp with the 17 of us nicely tucked away inside along with all the luggage and the loads of food and SNACKS (there were LOTS of snacks)!
Carol and Jan — our faithful drivers
Without them the trip would never have been possible. Unfortunately, our van was hit by a careless young driver from out-of-province in Edson, but nobody was hurt and the damage to our van was minimal. After a 2-hour delay dealing with police and paperwork, we were on our way again to catch up with the rest of our group at the Jasper Hostel. With our unexpected delay and the late hour, Millie made sure our beds were made up. We were able to hit the sack once we got there. Millie’s best efforts couldn’t stop some of the hostel guests from nonstop snoring for most of the night …those dorms! Earplugs are a MUST on these trips!
After what seemed to be a very short night, there was a mouthwatering breakfast cooked by Al and Dan. Yes…..men CAN cook! We dug into stacks of French toast with blueberry sauce, sausages and heaps of fresh fruit. With our bellies filled, our spirits high and the sun shining in a cloudless sky, we prepared ourselves and our bikes for the 100 Km road trip to Mt Robson. Tires were filled, water bottles topped up, cameras loaded with film. With last words of direction and advice from Millie, we all zoomed down that road from the hostel to the highway. The sky .. the mountains….the company…PERFECT!
On the road, everyone spread out and rode at their own pace. Every turn in the road was a reward with a more breathtaking view of the Rockies. I found it hard not to stop every five minutes to take pictures and give my new video camera a workout. At the rate I was taking pictures and video, it would take me days to get to Mt Robson! I reminded myself that it wasn’t a race, and I would eventually catch up to the rest of the group. Stopping to smell the flowers, enjoy the views, savor the sights and surroundings is so much easier in a biker than riding in a car. You get so much more out of the day!
As we toured, our drivers Jan and Carol always ensured we were looked after on the road and food-wise. There were food stops all along the way. Nobody could complain about going hungry! The stops were always at scenic points and to enjoy the food in such beautiful surroundings!
The day got warmer and the sun was hot on our backs as we rolled into full view of Mt. Robson. There she was in all her splendor: tall, majestic, surrounded by beautiful blue cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine. What a rare occurrence to see her like this! It couldn’t get any better! We enjoyed another picnic with more snacks, and ice cold cokes and ice cream from the store. We then travelled the road a few more kilometers to our comfortable cabins.
Another delicious gourmet meal was created in less than ideal cooking conditions. We ate outside under a clear sky and, although most of us had just recently met, it was like being with old friends! We shared the highlights of our day and the adventures we had. Some of us stayed back at the cabins talking while others went to Valemont to view the salmon going upstream in the river. Their hopes of seeing the spectacular determination of this fish species was a disappointment as no live fish were to be seen! I think most everyone fell into bed and slept like logs after the full day we had!
The next morning we woke to another beautiful sunny day in the mountains. There were a few chuckles at breakfast when Dan arrived partially clad in a toga. Some of us almost missed breakfast since we had no idea when breakfast would be!
After eating, we headed back to Jasper. This time I promised myself to really take in every view, stop for those memorable pictures and take a bit more time to just enjoy every vista. How often do we get such a chance in life to be so close to nature and be able to see it in slow motion on a bike…… I was loving every minute of this trip! Once we got back to the Jasper area, we took a little detour into town, to sit in the sun and enjoy a cold drink and do some serious people watching.
Back to the hostel we rode…the last challenge of the day looming before us…THAT ROAD! Those who know where the hostel is in Jasper will know THAT ROAD …it was A BIG CHALLENGE for me! It took all I had plus more to make it up THAT ROAD without dropping into the ditch huffing and puffing with my heart in my throat…that is some long grueling climb! But I made it! The kitchen at the hostel by this time was a beehive of activity with a good part of our group getting things ready for supper. Carol and Kim had planned a feast for us, and after all was said and done, not only were we stuffed with fajitas with every imaginable filling and trimming, but other hostel members had the privilege of sampling the wonderful food as well! They had cooked for an army! We ventured back into Jasper for a few hours to wander and enjoy the town. Some of our group shopped as others walked around town or enjoyed a java at one of the numerous coffee spots. Back at the hostel, there was not a lot of convincing for some of the group to go to bed. Others still sat in the common area socializing for a while longer.
Breakfast the next morning was another big event. This time Marv and I had a go at whipping up a meal for our hungry group. It did not take long to satisfy them all with stacks of banana pancakes and rhubarb sauce and Mexican eggs in soft tortillas and salsa. A good hearty breakfast gets those “motors” going! We packed up all the gear, fixed a few flat tires in the blazing early morning sunshine, and soon we were all zooming down that hostel road again (down is much easier than up!).
We had another opportunity to stroll the streets of Jasper or stop for a quick coffee. A few of us took the opportunity to head towards the beautiful Jasper Park Lodge to savor a French press coffee out on the deck overlooking the tranquil lake with Mt Edith Cavell in the distance! We basked in the warm sunshine drinking our coffee and reminiscing about the weekend. The moment ended all too soon! We had to ensure we made it to the meeting point on time. We hopped on our bikes, racing down the road to catch up!
At the bottom of the Miette Road, the vans were waiting. We relished the hearty delicious lunch (especially the chocolate cake). The trip was slowly coming to an end…I didn’t want it to! Soon we were all packed up and ready to go and once again headed home to the big city to our routine day-to-day lives!
Hire a bus? You have got to be kidding….!
By Gary Garrison
A report on the Group of Eight Oregon Tour, August 8 to 24, 2003
Why would anyone ride in a van with seven strangers for 30 hours—each way, through burning forests and inhaling wood smoke much of the time—just to ride a bicycle? As if that weren’t enough of a trial, everyone on the trip had to pair up and sleep in tents for 13 nights. We had to break camp 11 mornings. Every day we each prepared a meal, washed dishes, and even had to take a shower. We guys humoured the ladies and went along with the shower bit, but I had to wonder: is daily showering a punishment imposed on EBTC road trips where women are in the majority?
We all like bicycling, of course, or we wouldn’t belong to EBTC, and so we thoroughly enjoyed hammering up those steep, rough, coastal mountains and working up a good sweat—which we weren’t even allowed to keep! But that ghastly tailwind! That thing was humming along at over 30 miles an hour a lot of the time—that’s 50 in Canadian—and depriving us of good cardiovascular exercise. And those long, steep descents at speeds up to 76k an hour! I thought we were supposed to be pedaling, not coasting—or was this the real, hidden meaning of the Oregon “coast” tour? Besides that, most of the way we had a paved shoulder segregating cyclists from logging trucks and RVs—as if we were wimps and couldn’t handle cycling in traffic! They even had signal lights in the tunnels so motorists knew when cyclists were in there.
We averaged about 80 kilometers of cycling a day, but we could have covered a lot more territory if the women hadn’t messed everything up. On behalf of the ladies, on the first day Maureen announced that we were on vacation and were going to stop at every lighthouse, store, seal, viewpoint, cliff, store, sea lion, rock, wave, bird, store, blackberry bush, sand dune, and beach we saw along the way. So every day we trudged along behind Maureen. And even though we were all adults, we all had maps, we could all read maps, and none of us would think of leaving others behind, she made us all stop frequently to be sure everyone stayed together and didn’t make any wrong turns. But the third day out, we showed her: the seven of us split off into six different groups.
Bad enough that we had to stop at myrtlewood craft shops, souvenir stores, and ice cream parlors all along the way. Every other day the women spent up to two hours shopping for groceries when we could have been cycling. How long would it have taken to fill up a cart with meat, potatoes, beer, and chips? Weren’t the guys on vacation too? And after a few days, the women announced that we couldn’t afford any more El Sabroso Salsita taco chips—which, by the way, you can’t get in Canada. What good was shopping to us guys after that? How’s a guy supposed to sweat without salt? That’s even harder than making bricks without straw!
The women did some other puzzling things too. The second day on the road, Maureen was cut off by a truck turning in front of her, and she started talking out loud to herself about the Tillamook cheese factory we were going to tour that day. She shrieked something that sounded like “Cheese is nice!” in an angry, clipped tone of voice, almost a curse. For several days, every time she had trouble getting her new Look shoes to lock onto her pedals, she repeated the same phrase. She only stopped talking about that cheese after Stew cleaned the pinesap out of her cleats. The cheese was good, but was there some weird hormone in it that made her act like this?
Irene acted like she was getting addicted to lighthouses. Was she afraid of the dark? She had to stop at every lighthouse and had to have her picture taken in front it. Besides that, she injured her knee early in the trip, and nothing seemed to help until she bought herself a new, blue, flowered jersey. Then she practically flew up those hills, and her knee didn’t hurt anymore. What was that jersey made of anyway? Then, near the end of the trip, she secretly “rescued” the sacred taco chip from my trunk bag, breaking my heart and Stew’s. We were so upset at the loss that we had to gorge ourselves with other chips and nearly OD’d on salt. Luckily, overcome with pity and remorse, two days later she confessed to the deed and restored the chip to its rightful place of honour.
Angela was addicted to “expresso” shops and ice cream parlors, both of which happen to be as numerous in Oregon as seagulls. She even found one place in Cannon Beach where she got an “expresso” milkshake she insisted was worth every penny of the $5 US she spent on it. I think she needs a new watch, though, because she was 10 minutes late rejoining the group every time we stopped the van during our long drive back to Edmonton. She probably needs a new camera too, after all the film she cranked through hers. Speaking of Cannon Beach, Debby parks the van in a no parking zone, a cop starts writing her a ticket, and she sweet-talks him out of it! Not only that, but then the guy hangs out with us for over half an hour and fills us in on all the local lore. I think she did something similar with the U.S. border guard who simply waved us through, no ID check, no questions asked.
She pulled that same female charm thing on a struggling firewood vendor and ended up with $30 of wood for $5, and then again she got $40 of fresh crabs and tuna for almost nothing just for pleading poverty to a fisherman. Our last day driving to Oregon, she found another bargain; fortunately, Stew and I were able to talk her out of frying up some “free” seabirds she found at our first saltwater beach lunch spot, south of Seattle. She claimed they were free-roaming, public chickens. We forgave her, though. She was obviously still seeing the dozens of deer eyes glowing in the headlights from the long drive the night before.November 2003
If it hadn’t been for Frankie, whom we adopted as a part-time honorary guy, we guys would have been totally in the dark about what was going on. Not that she was able to explain the other women’s bizarre behaviour, but she could translate some of the lingo into terms we could understand and she at least pretended to listen to us. As well, her extraordinary culinary and laundering talent was the perfect match for Stew, who had noticeable deficiencies in both areas. And, she was such a great sport and team player that she laughed at everybody’s jokes, no matter how bad they were.
Since nobody else would listen to us, Stew and I spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas for new labour-saving, time-conserving, wealth-generating inventions (See attached.) and trying to laugh our way through all the female-inflicted pain and suffering. And I’m not sure about Sam. A lot of the time he kept to himself, but you never knew when he was going to surprise you with a risque joke or an unusual perspective on things. You know, I’ve seen little bottles in liquor stores called Silent Sam, but I doubt they come out at night like our Sam did. He must’ve stored up what he had to say during the day, because he was busy letting it out both ends at night. (What was in that chili anyway?) It’s a wonder Stew ever got any sleep. But Sam’s experience driving on the crazy expressways of Montreal long ago saved our bacon on Interstate 5 around Seattle and brought us safely home to Edmonton from Rocky.
As for me, I just kept to myself, noted everything in my journal, and pretended to go along, knowing that when the trip was over, in writing this report I would have the power to add or subtract events from the trip, to change people’s characters, and even to alter the itinerary if I felt like it. On the other hand, maybe this really was the most enjoyable tour of the year with the most eye-popping scenery, the fastest descents, the strongest tailwinds, and the most delightful group of cyclists (and driver) ever assembled by EBTC. But what do I know? I have more experience studying fiction than bicycle touring.