Day 115 St. Agapit to Victoriaville, Quebec: Cadillac of Bike Paths - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 23, 2011

Day 115 St. Agapit to Victoriaville, Quebec: Cadillac of Bike Paths


It did not actually rain in the night but we still were glad we set up under a gazebo. We did repeatedly wake up in the night thinking it was pouring, but it was only the loud babbling of our nearby brook.

Yesterday in the grocery store Dodie suggested we buy a couple of cranberry bread rolls for use at breakfast. I objected, demanding (and getting) donuts, ((most of which got eaten right away). So Dodie bought only one bread roll. In the morning, as predicted, I was begging for some of her roll. Yes, in the end she did share!

Mine all mine, and no photos!
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We continued along the "linear park" for the entire day (and there are even one or two more days of it left!). As we cycled along, we were amazed by the quality of what has been created here. There are rest stops, covered tables, flush toilets, indoor spaces with tables and power, "Route Verte" colour themed bridges, signage of all types by the ton, and more, all along and at insanely frequent intervals. This is without doubt the premier bike path we know of anywhere. Plus, it is only a small part of the "Route Verte" network covering the province. The whole thing is mind boggling in how wonderful it is. Skip Manitoba, skip Ontario, and come here for any cycling vacation!

Have a look at some of the stuff:

The trail offers gazebos, garbage cans, recycling, and flowers
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and flush toilets too
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Cyclist road crossing signals
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Distance markers!
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Tons and tons of signage
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How cool is this!
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In places, one stop like this every km.
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More signs!
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Oh, oh, the rules. They do say no camping. The fine is $30, less than the cost of a campsite in an Ontario provincial park!
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Signs for food services
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The station at St. Agapit - a "velogare" or cycle station.
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Johansen's of Mullan, Idaho --> look at this. In the St. Agapit station, aside from restrooms and a room with a table and power, was a weaving studio:

The weaving studio
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all the looms are local
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Looms
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Looms!
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The boutique selling the woven products
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The trail continued, with signage pointing out bike shops, with nature notes, and with local history reviews.

This sign also points to a bike shop
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The history of St Agapit
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Here is what the "velogare" looked like in 1978!
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Looking at the map of Quebec, you immediately notice that aside from the scattered English based town names, most are named for (often obscure) saints. I commented to Dodie that there sure are a lot of saints. She noted that since each day of the calendar year is one saint's day, there is a minimum of 360 of them. This explains why the citizens of St Agapit were celebrating in this photo - it was their saint's day.

Saints Day procession
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Here too is the story of the Grand Trunk railroad, the source of this great rail trail.

The story of the Grand Trunk railroad
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As we cruised along, we ran through the last of the scones.

We eat the last of the scones sent along by Francois and Odette
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Farm country
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Farm country. In this section the trail is right beside the highway, but mostly it is secluded in the woods.
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Each "county" has its own cycle paths map. This one shows our path cutting straight though the region.

The bike path streaks across the region
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It changes names as it enters different counties
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We continue to document the infrastructure on the trail. It's easy to get used to such great stuff, but really, this is very rare in long distance cycling.

This sign shows rest stops .7 km apart!
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Maintenance is meticulous
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Another "velogare"
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Beautiful stop follows beautiful stop
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Another angle on this one
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Gardens on this trail are nicer than any we managed at home
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This on trail toilet works from a well pump that you crank yourself
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Another station
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More farmland to look at
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A detour because a trail bridge burned down. There were scads of signs along the detour. Because you were being sent a bit out into traffic, the friendly warning "Be careful!"
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The detour was the super safe road at the right.
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We passed Plessisville, the home of Citadelle maple syrup.
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This stop has a demo train car.
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We found blackberries by the trail side
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We encountered these cyclists with a BoB. They were doing the same circle tour as us - Mtl to Quebec by the North Shore and back via Sherbrooke on the South shore
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It turns out the trail is patrolled. Far from a "policeman" though, Real, the patroller we met was a soft spoken 69 year old. Last week he completed the circuit of Lake Ontario, and he does the trail patrol here (just the Victoriaville to Plessisville section) about three or four times per month. He carries medical supplies and bike repair tools, as well as a cell phone.

We also met Real Bibeau, a volunteer trail patroller. Here I jabber away with him in French.
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Real guided us into Victoriaville and showed us to our chosen motel.
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We found motels in Victoriaville to be very costly. But, we had received a message that Avi wanted to talk to us on Skype, so that was our excuse to check in and find wifi.

We are doing better and better with French and yattered away with the lady at the desk for quite a while. She spoke good English, but was very welcoming of our efforts. As cyclists, the trail also makes us feel welcome here, so overall we feel super welcome. A small bit of cycling icing - the TV news from Montreal reported that in Montreal they have experimentally installed a "bike box", which is a green painted area in front of the automobile stop line at an intersection, where cyclists may wait in relative safety for the light. I think the light too is programmed to get the cyclists going first. Cool!

Dodie's bike enjoys the luxury motel room.
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Tomorrow, after our motel breakfast, we will find the wonderful trail again and head for Sherbrooke.

Today's ride: 84 km (52 miles)
Total: 6,658 km (4,135 miles)

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