Day 117 Richmond to Granby, Quebec - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 25, 2011

Day 117 Richmond to Granby, Quebec


We had fun sitting by the fire last night with Mathieu and Melina. We talked about their studies, Jack Layton and the new NDP MPs in Quebec, the perennial question of how the French possibly failed to blow Wolfe out of the water in 1659, and lots of other topics. We told them of how we had left Quebec after the October Crisis, and what things were like here at that time. Later I realized that such events were all from before these two were even born, making our tales history - even ancient history. Well, I guess that's what you get when you talk to an old Grampie.

Mel, our new mascot from Camping Melbourne. He was just sitting on a table looking forlorn. He still looks forlorn!
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We were up before everyone else, and headed out. We took route 243 and immediately got our wish for exciting hills and semi trailers. Just for good measure, we had a head wind thrown in too.

This is hilly country.
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Here are the hills we asked for!
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A few hills may be ok, but this is stupid!
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In Racine we found a Casse Croute (café) where the breakfast special offered two eggs, toast, coffee, cheese, and bacon/ham/sausage. Those meat choices were not choices, it came with them all! Now that the weather has turned rainy and a bit chilly, a special like that is most welcome.

The casse croute special had lots of meat/
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Just beyond the casse croute Mathieu and Melina caught up with us. After a brief chat they were off again, much faster than us. However, in a few minutes we caught them. Mathieu had a flat in his ultra thin racing bike tire. Mathieu and Melina were using their fast bikes rather than heavy workhorses, because their trip was only for a week. It was a fairly innocuous pebble that caused the flat. Fortunately they had a spare tire and tube on hand. They also had a large and heavy floor model pump, quite out of scale and weight from their other stuff. They said only this could achieve the 120 pound pressures needed in their tires. I think that was probably accurate, since our own much smaller pump has trouble reaching 85 pounds in our large Schwalbe 700x38 tires.

Mathieu and Melina with the flat in a front wheel.
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We had learned from Marius, who is watching the farm, that a pack of dogs attacked and killed all our sheep. By contrast, along the route we encountered a large flock guarded by two white dogs. Both dogs ran over as we passed, took up a defensive stance in front of the sheep and barked at us.

There were two of these white sheep protecting dogs in the field. Does anybody know the breed?
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Travelling through this countryside we find the tall spires of the churches are markers for the location of each town. This is like grain elevators in Saskatchewan or water towers in other places. The spires belong to catholic churches and are lovely, iconic objects. On the other hand, Scottish and Irish also settled this region and have their own churches. These by and large are boring.

We came to an (English) United Church. The design is so dead boring compared to the French ones.
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Valcourt was the home of J.A. Bombardier, inventor of the snowmobile. It still houses a large factory and also has a Bombardier museum. We detoured to have a look at it.

There are bike trails all over the place here
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This trail to Valcourt was really lovely.
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Fields and trees on the way to Valcourt.
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A mural on the wall of the city hall at Valcourt
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In Valcourt, passing the factory, I answered the UQs for two workers just going through the gates. we then followed signs to the museum, which has Bombadier's original garage/workshop built into it. So Canada has its own genius that worked out of a garage, like Jobs and Wozniak.

Bombardier's original garage
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The museum
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Inside the garage they have lots of the original equipment and also show a brief film that is excerpted from the mini series about Bombardier's life.

A scene from the ten minute movie
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One of the main features of the museum is a very extensive collection of original models. It is amazing that Mr. Bombardier kept some of these, and the restoration work is super. Have a look at them:

Many early snowmobile models were on display.
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This is probably the earlest "ski-doo"
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The company shows a remarkable sensitivity to the existence of its competitors, and displays a lot of models from other companies:

An abortive effort from Bolens. My brother worked for the company then and got a prototype model. It was really terrible with poor handling, and starting problems
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The Bombardier museum has a good selection of competitor's models.
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Some of the displayed competition was even from Norway
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The basic idea for this machine, just like for the automobile, find expression in a lot of ways. How about these two efforts:

A four engine high speed model
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This Bombardier looks like a a shuttle from the starship Enterprise
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We left the museum after absorbing only a small part of it. Still it was great to have been in this famous place.

Ste Anne de la Rochelle visible from its church in the distance
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Roadside shrines are not uncommon
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All day we had been putting shirt and jackets on and off as the sun came out, disappeared, and as a few sprinkles cooled us. Now, however, things began to look really dark.

The weather threatens
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Suddenly the clouds opened and literally within seconds huge drops filled the air and blasted off the pavement. I got my rain shell on fairly quickly, pulling the hood over my helmet. Dodie's was a bit buried and she got quickly soaked. We pedaled on through the deluge for a minute or two before there was a clap of thunder. Just as in Port Hope, this clap changed Dodie's behaviour. She suddenly veered down the driveway of a house and pulled into a garage in which two men were repairing their truck. She squeezed her bike between the truck and wall, and said "Bonjour!".

The men, clearly a father and his middle aged son, were pretty "cool" about it, though we now were positioned between them and their project. Of course we spoke to them, but we had a hard time. These were real Quebec rural folk and their accents were almost undecipherable. The man's son then appeared, so apparently we had three generations. Still communications were disconcertingly "low key". The men had little curiosity about how or why these two apparitions had materialized in front of their truck.

Outside the rain intensified, so clearly we would be there for a bit. I decided to ask if the men felt like trying to solder the popped off wire on my bike computer (after all, they were going to get nowhere with the truck.) so a soldering iron was fired up, and we had a crack at it. Probably for a lack of soldering flux we did not succeed. Oh well, the rain had stopped and we were off.

I wonder if at the supper table in the evening the three will wonder who those two weirdos really were, or if they will just carry on with thinking about bolting on the new fender. For our part, it was an impulsive interesting way to meet a local family!

The garage refuge
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We continued to head for Granby, via Waterloo.

There is lots of cyclist stuff in Waterloo
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There is a nice lake by Waterloo
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Cow crossing on the trail to Granby
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In Quebec the entrance to a trail at the point it crosses an auto road usually features lots of information
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This velogare in Granby has a Mcdonalds!
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and extensive bike rentals
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also lots of other services
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The trail from Waterloo to Granby was paved. But once again the skies opened and just absolutely poured on us. It was easy to go fast on this trail and fast we went! We decided to look for a motel, because even if it cleared up we were still thoroughly soaked. We did find a place, on Main Street (Rue Principal).

Our plan had been to go tomorrow to the Granby Zoo. However a web search reveals the admission to be $33 plus tax. Too high for us, despite the fame of the place. So it looks like we will shoot for Montreal. There is a choice of bike routes, but we think the trusty Route Verte, though longer, will be easiest. And as readers of this blog know well, if it's easy, we like it!

Today's ride: 85 km (53 miles)
Total: 6,803 km (4,225 miles)

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