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Old 02-07-06, 03:51 PM   #1
The Seldom Kill
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TransCanadians check in.

There are at least a small handful planning this journey this summer. How are your plans coming along so far?

At the moment I'm working on the first leg of my journey which is across Newfoundland from St Johns to Port Aux Basques. Mostly it looks like I'll be drafting artics on the TCH but I've found a non-trade road that heads south from Badger and past Red Indian Lake. It's supposed to be a private road but I'm waiting on information about access to this, hopefully there are no restrictions.

Ferry's to and from Newfoundland can be found here.

Other plans include a route through the Quebec forests from Roberval to Rouyan-Noranda and across the north of the praries through La Pas and Cold Lake towards Edmonton.
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Old 02-07-06, 05:35 PM   #2
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I've been from Saskatchewan west.
There's another option besides the TransCanada and the Yellowhead and that's heading due west out of Saskatoon thru Kerrobert, Lacombe and Rocky Mtn House onto the David Thompson Hwy.
Then head up to Jasper and over Yellowhead Pass. You miss Banff Townsite - yeah! - but get most of the Icefields Parkway. Nice towns, local & provincial parks for camping.
Best - J
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Old 02-07-06, 05:59 PM   #3
Nicholas Kokar
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Heading out mid-May, I'm coming up from Toronto-area onto the TCH and'll ride it (or thereabouts) through Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, then up into Jasper, down through Banff, and then down into Vancouver; the 17 > 16 > 93 > 1. Can't wait! :-D
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Old 02-07-06, 06:30 PM   #4
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I'll be starting a 4-month trek in May--California to Washington, DC--beginning in California, over the Sierra Mts., thru NV, UT, AZ (North Rim Grand Cyn), CO. Then up thru WY, ID, and MT. I'll be visiting friends in Eureka, MT, then head into British Columbia, Canada on Hwy 93 about the second week of July, making my way up to Golden and over to Lake Louise, Banff, Drumheller (Alberta), thru Saskatchewan and Manitoba, before ducking back into the U.S. at ND. I will definitely not be taking the TransCanada and will opt for the much more interesting rural back roads, staying mostly in town parks and with kind folks along the way. I've always had wonderful experiences touring in Canada. Not that the wind is always kind, but the people certainly are.

BTW, it's 73F degrees right now in Northern California, and I just returned from a great ride. It hurts so good!

Ready for May,

Ted Phelps
Central Valley, California
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Old 02-07-06, 10:04 PM   #5
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well, im heading out in mid may, going from hinton AB to Vancouver, the up to calgary > Edmonton > Regina > Winnipeg > Toronto > Ottawa > Quebec City > then after that its anyone guess where i go first. im thinking labrador and NFL, then down to PEI, across the confederation bridge and into NB and NS. I might have to catch a frighter in Montreal though, so im not sure yet. ill be playin it by ear.

steve
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Old 02-07-06, 10:31 PM   #6
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My hat's off to you! I thoroughly enjoyed my ride across Canada - I'm sure you all will too...

Coupla notes: If you're interested in bike trails in Quebec, I'd suggest you Google "La Route Verte" -- Quebec has some great bike trails, frequently they are former rail lines. And usually hills are cut down to a max of about 4%. I used the trail from Raymond to Quebec City, and from Riviere-du-Loup (don't miss the town "St. Louis du Ha!Ha!" ) to Edmunston, NB. La Route Verte has a fee for a year's membership of $10 (in 2003).

Also one of my favorite rides is from Jasper, AB to Banff - or vice versa - it's gotta be one of the most picturesque in Canada - though it can be very busy at times. At Lake Louise be sure to take the 1A highway to near Banff.

Also, Steve, please note that you cannot bike across the Confederation Bridge to PEI - They do provide a free shuttle, but you may have to wait for it for an hour. I took the shuttle, then biked around PEI, and eventually took the ferry off the south-east side to Caribou (Pictou) Nova Scotia.
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Old 02-07-06, 10:47 PM   #7
Michel Gagnon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
...At the moment I'm working on the first leg of my journey which is across Newfoundland from St Johns to Port Aux Basques. Mostly it looks like I'll be drafting artics on the TCH but I've found a non-trade road that heads south from Badger and past Red Indian Lake. It's supposed to be a private road but I'm waiting on information about access to this, hopefully there are no restrictions.
I think that's the road I travelled onto in 1985 or 1989. Although I went on my own, I travelled that stretch with a local guy in his 4 x 4. It's a road serving cottages all along the lake and a little bit beyond, followed by a short isolated stretch until you reach highway 480 (I think). It was rough, but passable. On a bike, I would say that it's material for 700x37 tire or mountain bike tires. Be aware that it is a very isolated road. You'll have major services in Gander, some food in Windsor-Grandfalls (away from TCH), but then you will be on your own until you reach Stephenville, which is a 20-km detour! The road along the lake is nice, but not breathtaking, and you'll be loosing some nice scenery on the TCH, and especially the stretch between Deer Lake and Corner Brook (use the old route, which is closer to the river), the side ride to Gros Morne (70 km each way; very tough but most worthed), the approach into Corner Brook and the side ride to Blow Me Down (highway 450 – very rugged, quite scenic and probably worthed, though I drove that one).

The TCH doesn't have that much traffic by mainland standards, and has full paved shoulders almost all its length, so it's not a problem to pedal it.

Other considerations in Nfld:

1. St. John's to Come By Chance. Highway 1 is very exposed "on top" of the scenery. Especially if you head westbound against the wind, use highway 60 to escape St. John's. A tour of the northern coves is very nice; the southern and southwestern coves have much more rugged weather, tiny trees and some riding there is worth the experience, but it's quickly tiring.

2. Side trip from Gander to Twillingate to Lewisporte is worthed.

3. From the train reports I read, it might be tempting to ride the Trans-Canada trail from Badger to Deer Lake. I once read a report of a cyclist that cycled through Canada on the T-C trail and found that section rough. It is used by a few motorised quads, which won't be any real competition. Inquire locally before you go and expect no services at all. Mind you, even on the TCH, there is a 100-120 km East of Deer Lake without services. A garage, restaurant and hotel that were there in 1981 and 1992 weren't there in 2004.

4. On the East Coast, from Stephenville to the Codroy Valley and Port-aux-Basques, it might be worthwile to use the coastal roads (403, 404,... 409) which are more scenic but dead ends, and hop on the Trans-Canada trail to bridge from one road to the other.

5. Bear in mind that seasons run late in Newfoundland. August is often the warmest month (i.e. 20˚C) and snow isn't rare inland in May. The forest road between Badger and Stephenville will either be snowy or muddy until the end of June.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
Other plans include a route through the Quebec forests from Roberval to Rouyan-Noranda and across the north of the praries through La Pas and Cold Lake towards Edmonton.
The "Northern Trans-Canada" (Montréal to Rouyn-Noranda and West) , as it is called, is a nice, but very desolate road. By using the road you suggest, you will ride away from all population centres, the St. Lawrence Valley, etc. I would suggest you ride North from Montréal using highway 117 or the very nice rail-to-trail Le Petit train du Nord. No food for 300 km north of Grand-Remous.

To ride the Northern route all the way, you could also use the ferry from St. Barbe (NFLD) to Blanc-Sablon (Québec) and take the Nordic Express Eastbound to Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Îles or Rimouski. Be aware that the Nordic Express sails once a week needs reservations (mostly Eastbound, I'm told) an starts sailing only in May or June when ice breaks. Since there is lots of traffic and not too many shoulders on the North Shore between Baie-Comeau and La Malbaie, riding that stretch on the south shore isn't a bad idea.

Then, if you want to go North, take a ferry from Rivière-du-Loup to Saint-Siméon, ride the coast to La Malbaie and Baie-Saint-Paul (highway 362 should be a scenic highlight), then highway 381 to La Baie-Saguenay (most rugged and simply gorgeous). It's West of the Lake St. John that you'll find it boring; 200 km of nothing until Chibougamau (no services either) and 400 km of gently rolling bogs (absolutely no services either, except maybe one service station at mid point). The Abitibi region has good services, but once you reach Ontario, and especially West of Kapuskasing or Timmins, services are minimal, with villages every 100 or 200 km until Geraldtown and Nipigon.
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Old 02-08-06, 01:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigGuy
Also, Steve, please note that you cannot bike across the Confederation Bridge to PEI - They do provide a free shuttle, but you may have to wait for it for an hour. I took the shuttle, then biked around PEI, and eventually took the ferry off the south-east side to Caribou (Pictou) Nova Scotia.
Thanks for the tip bigguy. Now i know.

steve
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Old 02-08-06, 02:46 PM   #9
The Seldom Kill
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Michel,

Thank for all of the advice, greatly appreciated.

I'm not too worried about getting away from services and am looking forward to some much needed isolation. I'm going to be carrying a small stove and food where required as well as doing some reading up on edible flora of Canada.

Can anyone advise on the cycling on Route 6 north out of Winnipeg?
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Old 02-08-06, 05:48 PM   #10
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I was lucky enough to ride Coast to Coast last year, and i envy anyone that is doing it this year! I'm sure i will do it again before I die. Anyways I am just here to pimp out a webpage I created that has links to all the online journals/blogs of ppl who have done the trip before. Journals were my main form of research before I left.

http://xcanada.roosmachine.com

roopurt
http://canada2005.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 02-08-06, 08:24 PM   #11
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Most of my trip is up in the air, except that I have a plane ticket from st.johns to Vancouver booked for the 9th of May. I have a friend in Portland Oregon that I may dip down to visit. Thats unclear, but I plan on getting to Lake louise, and after that I will try to stay south of calgary all the way to Regina, where I have another friend outside of the city. from there I plan to stay south of the TCH and find a way to bipass winnipeg. Fort Frances to Thunder Bay to marathon to wawa. North down the coast past Sault Ste Marie to Espanola where I drop North and take the ferry thats on the west side of Georgian Bay. Make my way to Listowel then down to London to visit friends, then head back Northeast·ish to Renfrew for more friends. I haven't decided on getting drunk in montreal yet. From that area I'll stick to the Saint Laurent, hopefully staying off the TCh. When I get up to Mont-Joli I'll start heading down and ride for Miramichi, where I have friends again. From there to moncton, and off to Saint John, and the ferry across to Nova Scotia. Make my way to Halifax to visit friend and then meander my way to the Sydney FErry and back to the Rock - newfoundland. Avoid gander, and do the trinity loops and end up at the gambo turnoff to the TCH. From there to the classic ending spot, st johns, and most likely cape spear. Thats mostly what I plan on doing, i think..
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Old 02-10-06, 02:18 PM   #12
The Seldom Kill
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A couple of days ago I sent an e-mail to the Quebec Tourist office asking about accessibility of the forest roads through the centre of the province.

Just now I've received a call from, and I quote, zee 'ead guy of cycling in all of Quebec. A very nice man who has said that I should stick to Le Route Verte as the forest roads are mainly dirt tracks for very big logging trucks who won't be expecting to see a cyclist that often.

He's going to see what information he can get for me for linking to that coming out of New Brunswick and into Ontario and send that to me next week. He also says that Le Route Verte is often better paved than the roads.

Sweet.
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Old 02-10-06, 02:51 PM   #13
Jerl
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went Vancouver to St John's two summers ago, can't wait to do it again...but not this summer.

enjoy it! I found that my plans took shape as the summer progressed. Here and there we met bikers and changed our plans to join them, and also got beta from riders going the other way.
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Old 02-10-06, 07:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveFox
well, im heading out in mid may, going from hinton AB to Vancouver, the up to calgary > Edmonton > Regina > Winnipeg > Toronto > Ottawa > Quebec City > then after that its anyone guess where i go first. im thinking labrador and NFL, then down to PEI, across the confederation bridge and into NB and NS. I might have to catch a frighter in Montreal though, so im not sure yet. ill be playin it by ear.

steve
I hope you keep us updated I would love to read your cross Canada journal.

Man am I envious.
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Old 02-10-06, 08:57 PM   #15
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i sure will keep everyone updated. ill be around the internet a lot, as ive got a lot of people that want me to visit, so ill be sending out emails and checkin mine fairly often.

steve
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Old 02-10-06, 11:47 PM   #16
Michel Gagnon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
A couple of days ago I sent an e-mail to the Quebec Tourist office asking about accessibility of the forest roads through the centre of the province.

No tourist office likes to send tourists (on bike or by car) on forest roads because many drivers have driven on nothing but Interstate highways. I haven't travelled on them lately, but when I was working in outlying regions I used them fairly often – by car, I should add.

Their main drawback is that they are gravel or dust roads with steep hills. Many of these roads are built for logging, but once an area is logged, there is much less traffic around. With a rearview mirror, your eyes and your ears, you'll be able to hear and watch traffic and move out when trucks arrive in either direction. And even if you were to move out of traffic each time a truck or car comes around, you'll be able to cycle between each vehicle for 5-10 minutes. My main worries would be long single-lane bridges, places with water on the road (there are forest roads "designed" like that), and especially the dust you will litterally breathe and eat! Still, you might be able to inquire locally and learn about the level of activity in a given area. One thing to watch on these forest roads are shift changes. People work on odd shifts (something like 7 days on, 7 days off). If the shifts change on Friday (example; inquire locally), you'll have lots of car drivers hurrying for their shift at the last moment and lots of car drivers hurrying back home after their week. And this is when you don't want to be on the road!

In some areas, there are forest roads which are used mostly to access fishing and hunting grounds. Those are often controlled by "ZECs" or (Zone d'exploitation contrôlée), which are sort of semi-private co-ops which charge access fees for non-club members. From what I'm aware of, access fees (by car) are typically 5 to 10 $ per day (and you still need your fishing license), which still makes it cheaper than access to a National Park. No idea whether you would have to pay for bike access.

I'm wondering where in Québec and Ontario you would want to use such forest routes and a few possibilites come to mind:
- Some back roads North of La Malbaie (via Rivière-Malbaie); not really forest roads, but nice territory.
- "Cutting through" from Saint-Urbain and the Parc des Grands-Jardins (i.e. highway 381) to the Réserve faunique des Laurentides (highway 175); expect many 20-25% grades there.
- Rding from Québec City to Rivière-à-Pierre (Route verte – see below), then to Hervé-Jonction and more or less alongside the CN track to Lac-à-Beauce (Carignan) or La Tuque.
– Riding from La Tuque to Sanmaur to Parent to Senneterre, although there are a few "missing links" in the gravel roads that more or less follow the CN track. Lots of native communities, and the sections I have done are scenic.
– Riding from Lebel-sur-Quévillon to Matagami (an easy road, actually), or from Chibougamau to Radisson (James Bay).
– Riding from Ville-Marie or Duparquet to North-Eastern Ontario (Timmins, Kapuskasing...) (boring).


As for the "Route verte", you have enough info from the website and by googling the individual trail names. Except for a turn by turn description (Needless IMHO), you won't get anything more in the Guide published by Vélo Québec... and the trailheads are usually very easy to find by inquiring locally or by looking at regional maps.

Generally speaking, I find the long off-road trails may be worthy, but the other parts of the "Route verte" often use regular roads and streets. What's worst is that they often apply bureaucratic selection criteria like the amount of car traffic, so they steer you away of nice streets to send you on a characterless side street (case in point, crossing Louiseville). Or they send you on a "nice" on-the-road bidirectional "bikeway" on one side of the street (see the lower illustration here for a typical Montréal situation).

However, three trails have some interesting characteristics if you happen to ride that way.

1. The Petit Témis, between Edmunston (N.B.) and Rivière-du-Loup, because it avoids the horribly congested highway 185. I would recommend either the trail or highway 287 (or 289?) through Pohénégamook, which is very scenic and has little traffic. Nice stone dust surface.

2. The trail from Québec City to Rivière-à-Pierre, which saves a few hills, but has an access fee. Nice stone dust surface.

3. The Petit Train du Nord, from Sainte-Thérèse and Saint-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier (access fee too), which saves the relatively safe but wide and characterless highway 117 and puts you very close to little rivers, lakes, creeks... As a bonus, you save quite a few hills between Saint-Jérôme and Labelle. Half in stone dust, half paved.


Finally, two sites come to mind:
Across Canada through the North;
Adam K.'s British Columbia's pages for an assessment of the roads in B.C. He also has a cross-Canada report, though through more "civilised" territory (and I don't like his route selection in Québec).
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