|Journal for 1-August-2004 : Lac Cameron|
A beautiful sunny day as we trundled through the leafy centre of the village over the cobble stone pedestrian crossings past the public hanging gardens by the facard of the old medi-evil church. With the French language signage this was pretty much what I imagine old France to be like (I'm sure I'll find out I'm wrong on this, again). Then a big ugly American pickup rolls past. This is Canada.
Brilliant riding on Le P'tite Train Du Nord Bike Path (Small train to the north bike path – I think). This is an excellent facility built on the foundation of an old railway route. It has a magical ashfelt surface ideal for cycling and, so it would seem, roller blading on. The surface was probably so good I'd go so far as to say it's probably the best road we've used in Canada. Headwind or not, we were able to hammer along in the shelter of the trees, confident in the knowledge this route stretched on for nearly 100km.
The route taken could not have been more beautiful, skirting every local lake and lined with trees. The few towns (very string word) we passed through seemed to jump out of the trees without the transition normally evident from a car road. This ribbon of tar had one just drawback, a toll to use it. We, and a lot of other people too, were happy to pay it. (Those of you who know me, and thus know how cheap I am will appreciate what high praise this is!)
After a morning of exchanging “Bonjour's” we were hit with “heay, those barkes ore well lorded”. Kieth and Sue were cycling this trail in both directions and making a full week long tour out of it. We (probably insultingly) asked of they were from America, probably because the initial use of the English Language, and what (after only 1 week in Quebec) seemed the strength of their accents. They are from Peterborough Ontario, only a few hundred Ks away. Kieth and Sue are very nice people and we enjoyed our break from cycling exchanging notes and photographs of each other standing together as a couple.
Businesses at La'Annonciation cater for the substantial tourist trade through the area. Most have frontages to the road, but many also attract the bulk of their customers by standing menus and bike racks at the edge of the path.
Just before Labelle we reached the unsealed part of the bike track. This was still a very good surface (for a dirt road), much better than the ice cracked parallel paved road, as we discovered the hard way.
We managed to play bike tag with our host on the last few Ks. We'd told him we would use the road rather than the unsealed part of the bike path, but changed our minds without realising he'd ridden out to meet us. Inevitably our paths crossed without crossing if you know what I mean, but he did managed to catch us just before we came across what looked to me like a genuine if just slightly unlikely sign:
We enjoyed a fantastic swim in the lake by a wonderful cottage. We are being hosted by my very good friend Jean-François Mezei for the next weeks or so, or at least until he has had so much of us he is no longer my very good friend.
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