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  1. #1
    Lana123
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    Gaspe - circle of outer end July 2011

    My husband and I are planning to tour a circle route of the outer part of the Gaspe peninsula this coming July. A lot of posts seem to assume that travel will be by train but we are driving up from the Boston area and figure to find a friendly hotel in St. Anne des Monts that will let us leave our car for a week. (recommendations?) Then we figure to take Route 132 heading east and follow the coast and then head back to the car on Route 299 leaving the hills for last. My questions are: 1. Is clockwise the best direction given the winds there? 2. What is the condition of the road on Rt. 299? 3. I see others posting that one can camp on the river bank and that there isn't anything on Rt 299, but it seem that if one starts at the southern end one day one can make it to the campground in the park at Gite du Mont Albert, about 62 miles. Not that I am adverse to the riverbank but just curious. 4. Are there bears and are they dangerous? I assume not on the inhabited coast but what about on that stretch through the woods? 5. Any particular recommendations for stops? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lana123 View Post
    we are driving up from the Boston area and figure to find a friendly hotel in St. Anne des Monts that will let us leave our car for a week. (recommendations?)
    I left my car at a B&B just east of Ste-Anne-des-Monts. I don't remember the name. The tourist info told me it was ok. I went there, knocked on the door, got in and there were nobody around. I left my car, did my tour and the car was still there a week later with the grass cut around it. I never saw any of the owner or staff.

    1. Is clockwise the best direction given the winds there?
    Yes. You'll still get headwinds on the bay side but they aren't as bad as on the St-Lawrence coast.

    2. What is the condition of the road on Rt. 299?
    Very good except for some short stretches between New Richmond and the first village and the downhill before the park. The pavement surface is somewhat rough but free of cracks and potholes. My trip was in 2003 but there's so little trafic that I doubt the conditions have detoriated much.

    3. I see others posting that one can camp on the river bank and that there isn't anything on Rt 299, but it seem that if one starts at the southern end one day one can make it to the campground in the park at Gite du Mont Albert, about 62 miles. Not that I am adverse to the riverbank but just curious.
    There is a restaurant/campground where the 299 leaves the Cascapedia river, just before a major hill. There used to be a motel but it burned down. The place seems to gather to workers.

    4. Are there bears and are they dangerous? I assume not on the inhabited coast but what about on that stretch through the woods?
    There are bears and they're as dangerous as other bears. I've only seen them in Forillon park though.

    5. Any particular recommendations for stops?
    Forillon park is really nice. The park is separated in two by a kick-ass hill. if the weather is nice, I'd stay at Cap-des-Rosiers campsite and wake insanely early for the sunrise on the cliffs and a walk to the Mt St-Alban tower. Maybe visit the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse then move camp to the other side (Petit Gaspé), have a nap and ride on the park's road in the evening. I suggest stopping at the park's entrance just after Rivière-au-Renard to check for campsites. I was totally spent and they kept the last campsite in the whole park for me. Watch the water for seals and whales.

    A trip to Bonaventure island is a must. On the island, I prefer going straight to the bird colony, then turn right and walk the shore clockwise.

    There's a neat campsite before Percé. The Indian head campsite. You can't miss it with all the cheezy ads on the roads. The owner is an american who loves the place so he moved there. He has a little guide about the Percé area. It helps avoiding some of the tourist traps (Percé is very, very touristy). I followed his recommendation for a breakfast at Café Couleur in Barachois. The waffles with wild berries were great. The café is filled with art work made by the staff. It only opened at 9am.

    http://www.borealphoto.com/Cycling/Gaspesie
    For hiking in Gaspésie park (not with cleated shoes ):
    http://www.borealphoto.com/Hiking/Pa.../4489527_Dkks9
    http://www.borealphoto.com/gallery/4489622_ZKRFM

    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  3. #3
    Lana123
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    Wow, thanks Eric for the prompt and helpful information. Love the picture you included, very inspirational. Now I just have to do a lot of riding before July.

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    A good portion of your route is part of the Route Verte. There is a good deal of information available on their maps and guide book, which we found quite helpful during our tours in Quebec.

    http://www.routeverte.com/rv/index20...?code=gaspesie

    Jim

  5. #5
    djb
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    Lana, my very first fully loaded bike tour was the Gaspe penninsula, maybe 91?

    -yes, go clockwise as the prevailing winds come down the St Lawrence and out to sea. I have quite clear memories of seeing some people going the other way and feeling really really sorry for the poor buggers with an all day headwind...
    -sorry, didnt take the 299, but I did take some other inner penninsula roads and these, as well as some sections that you will be going through after St Anne des Monts, have some steep sections and are quite hard work.

    **on this trip, because of the steepness of the hills, i learned teh hard way of taking too much stuff on my bike (and not having low enough gearing), so without being alarmist about this, do get in shape before hand and do watch your total loaded weight. Without knowing what sort of shape you and your husband are in, and what touring experience you have, I would strongly suggest doing some shakedown short 2 day or whatever tours just to see if you suddenly go " holy crap, this is waaaaaay too heavy" and thus can perhaps cut stuff out that is perhaps not really needed. (I know all of this is completely subjective, loaded weight, what is "necessary" or not, what is a "steep" hill for you or for me--but if you havent toured before, be wary of how much you carry, as this area is not flat by any any means.
    -I would also strongly strongly suggest a good mirror. Route 132 is THE only road out there, and Gaspe is a big tourist spot, so this means lots of cars, RVs etc going along a 2 lane road by the coast, with tourists gawking at the sights. Again, not to be alarmist, but do be aware of this and a mirror can help a great deal.

    All in all, this is a very pretty area, worth a trip, but it aint an easy one, so do put in miles beforehand and make sure that your bikes have a low of at least a 21-22 gear inch low gear (if you are fully loaded) Do as much hill training as you can, even better, with weight on your bike, so that the tough parts wont be as tough if you havent prepared for them.

    I dont want to be discouraging, but its worth it that you know a bit of how it is tough beforehand. I was a bit naive and as I said, overloaded, so parts of it were a real bear. Speaking of bears, bears are bears and you must follow normal safe camping procedures here as in any wilderness setting-no food in tent especially. But all in all, bears are nearly always as scared of us as we are of them, so common sense with food and not leaving interesting smelling things around your campsite will be fine.

    what sort of bikes are you using, and what sort of gear are you taking?

    cheers

    ps, if you look at the map, there is a section of the 132 that goes inland a bit and finishes at Grand Vallee- I am pretty sure that this is a part with pretty damn steep sections, plus I think the end of this was where on a big downhill I scared myself getting up to about 55mph-my bike was so heavy it really got going....
    Last edited by djb; 02-12-11 at 10:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Lana123
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    DJB,
    THanks for all the warnings. I think we will be ok. We did 2,000 miles in 1982 (NY to South Dakota), then 3 weeks in Nova Scotia in 1985 then had kids and last year did a week in the Finger Lakes on a supported tour but carried most of our own stuff to see if we still could and still wanted to. Then we did a couple of days on Martha's Vineyard then we did the first fulled self supported two day in Massachusetts then we did some days on the outer banks of North Carolina where we learned about the power of tailwinds and the misery of headwinds.
    So I think we have the experience. As for bikes, we NEVER travel w/o mirrors and I don't really understand why anyone who isn't racing would. My husband just had a touring bike custom made for him with disc brakes and I have a Specialized Tricross comp because it fits me and gives me the ability to attached stuff unlike a road bike. The Finger Lakes did tell me that I need to change my granny gear and plan to do that just as soon as the snow melts. I can't recall what gearing ratios we have but my hubby is good at that and I am good am planning and speak some French. Thanks for the info.

  7. #7
    djb
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    good to see you are experienced bikers. I have a Tricross Sport as well (like it a lot, fits me very well also) and the Canadian versions came with a long cage RD and a 11-32 rear cassette, so its not too bad for steep hills. I too would change the granny to a smaller one if I were to travel with all my stuff in hilly areas. I am fairly certain that the Comp has a tighter rear cassette (just looked it up, yup its a 12-27 and probably with the stock rear derailleur you wouldnt be able to go bigger teeth than that, but I do very much suggest looking into a smaller granny on your double front chainring---AND keeping your carrying weight down, taking advantage of the chivalry of your husband to carry more stuff than you)

    *if you will be carrying lots of stuff (front and rear panniers etc) it would be remiss of me not to say that even if you change your granny gear from a 34 to a 30, with the stock 12-27 gear rear cassette, it still will be geared too high. This depends entirely on how much weight you will be carrying.

    perhaps Erick L can give another opinion. I know that I had a 28 tooth granny, with a 30 tooth rear cassette, and with the (too much) weight I had on my bike it was tough going at times. This was why I changed my granny to a 24 tooth later for when I toured in the Pyrenees mountains in France and Spain. Feel free to ask about gearing questions from you or your husband.

    You know, its funny to think that it has been 20 years since I did that trip. You should be able to find lots of planning info for campgrounds, B+Bs, etc as well as reading online accounts of people who have ridden it more recently than I did (which would be handy for getting recent suggestions of campsites, etc from actual bikers--you might try looking at the website CrazyGuyOnaBike, is set up for people to post their trip experiences, there might be Gaspe stories)

    It will be of help to have some French, but as I said, it is a popular destination for tourism, so it should be alright. Will be fun for you to practice though--as in all parts of the world, people always appreciate when someone makes an effort with their language.

    all the best with the planning and researching (and I dont know about you, but nothing like a set "plan" to get one out regularly and train to get into better shape, its great for getting our keesters out there, great incentive!)
    David
    Last edited by djb; 02-14-11 at 10:21 AM.

  8. #8
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I had a 22T front and 28T rear. I wasn't a very good cyclist at the time and carried heavy equipment. I did fin, never walked (hate pushing a bike) but at the end of the worst day, I was turning the cranks a few times followed by some cruising until I couldn't go any further and began eating honey by the spoon on the side of the road. I had never been so tired in my life.

    The hills aren't the biggest or longest but they just keep coming. Between Manche D'Épée and Anse-aux-Griffon, you basically go up at 10% for a kilometer, sweat like a pig, then go down into a village and freeze because of the sea air. Then up again, down, up... Then you have occasionnal hill that's longer and steeper, like in Ste-Madeleine.

    The road should be very good. There are shoulders most of the way, sometimes as wide as a car lane. During my trip, they were repaving parts with shoulders. Most hills have two lanes going up and a shoulder going down so there's plenty of room. The only really bad part is entering Gaspé but it doesn't last long.

    It's a classic vacation and bike touring destination in Quebec and the region is beautiful. I worked in Gaspé as a replacement and loved it so much I told my boss I'd take a paycut to work there permanently.

    Another nice spot: Just before crossing the Darmouth river, there's a small road following the river leading to a salmon hole. You can see them in the clear water or when they jump the small waterfall. You could probably wild camp in the area. The road turns to dirt but was smooth. Here's it is on a map. Be careful if you go walk on the rocks with cleated shoes.



    Another neat spot is in Barachois/Coin-du-Banc before Percé. It's 3km of gravel to some falls and swimming holes into crystal clear water, or a walking trail along the Portage river (Emerald river for locals) from the highway 132. On a map. You could wild camp there too. In fact, some guys were camping when I took those photos:



    I've heard good things about a campsite a little up the Bonaventure river. It's tents only. The river itself also has crystal clear water. I stayed in town at the pack-like-sardines campground. The beach is beautiful though.

    There may be places where the Route Verte wants you to go off highway 132. I would ignore those indications. Sometimes, it just makes you cross a village on quieter streets but you can also miss the heart of a place.

    In Forillon...

    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  9. #9
    djb
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    Erick, cool photos and great recommendations (t'es pas mal bilingue!)

    *boring technical alert, alert, alert! (bear with me, not as interesting as Erick's photos)

    take a peek at this neat website page that allows you to plunk in your bikes wheelsize and gears, and then figures out your gearing. I am personally used to using the option of "gear inches" and not the default "gear ratios". In any case, without caring what a "gear inch" is, you can use it to compare bikes and peoples recommendations for gearing for touring (as I said, weight on bike, terrain, plays a big part in what is "ok" for an average biker)

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/index.html

    Ericks bike with a 22 granny and a 28Tooth rear (I assumed his bike has 700c wheels) gives a low of 21 gear inches. This is what my touring bike has after I changed my granny from a 28tooth to a 24 tooth (with the 30 tooth largest rear gear on the rear cassette) When I biked the Pyrenees, 21 gear inches was good to have at times (before I had about 25 gear inches)-same going down the west coast of Oregon+California and I was glad to have gotten a lower gear. I think in the Pyrenees and Pacific Coast I had about 40lbs on the bike.

    Lana, your bike as it is now (if it has the 48-34 double chainring up front, and 12-27 rear cassette) has a low of 33.7
    If you changed your granny to a 30, it would be 29.7
    My Tricross Sport has a low of 25 (I bike in Vermont sometimes and if I have one pannier with days stuff in it, I am perfectly fine with this gearing, two panniers would be ok too I think)
    but I know that with a load of stuff on my bike (tent, cooking stuff, the whole shebang) I would want around 21 for sure (if you look up and read about gearing, this is a commonly held suggestion for loaded in hilly terrain)

    so I guess it comes down to how much stuff you and your husband are planning to carry.
    Apologies if a sleeping pill affect kicked in.....

  10. #10
    Lana123
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    Thanks for all this info. July still seems very far away as we have some other trips in the meantime but it is a good reminder to get my bike over to the store for new gearing. That sheldonbrown website makes my head hurt and since my dear engineer husband can do that stuff in his sleep I don't really need to understand it. Funny how when we were in our early 20's I never really gave the gearing a second thought. Just got on the bike and cranked. I think I had a Univega but don't recall more than that. Anyway, I will probably be carrying about 27-32 pounds varying as the stores of food and liquid go up and down. I am very impressed by all the detail you all are giving me. Here's another question. I have an old bike rain poncho that I basically like and definitely prefer to a jacket and pants. They don't seem to make these anymore. Any suggestions on where to find one? I will post a new thread in another forum on this too.

  11. #11
    Lana123
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    Ok. So I took my bike in and found that if I wanted to change the rear cassette to get bigger than 27 I would also need to change the derailleur which I did when I bought the bike to upgrade the brakes. So instead they suggested changing the small front chain ring to a 24 from a 30 so I think that takes me now to a gear ratio of 23 from 28. I will give this a whirl on some practice runs later this spring in Vermont and see. If that doesn't do it then I'll have to also change the rear set up. BTW, I have three rings up front.

  12. #12
    djb
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    hi again, for a bike poncho, there was someone who brought it up on this forum and there were some suggestions of available bike ponchos. I'm sure that you could find the thread perhaps by searching using "rain poncho". I think there were ones available in the US but I forget. Good luck looking for them, there surely must be some sold still.

    The small front chain ring gearing change sounds like that would work well, it should be a rather reasonably priced change as well, and I would hope it is enough so you do not have to do more. As you say, Vermont rides are an excellent place to see how it feels, given the hills they have there.

    With friends who live right near the Quebec Vermont border, we do day rides from their place into Vermont and go around the Enosburg Falls area (ish). Vermont is such a pretty place to ride in, nice roads, lovely lovely scenery, and I like the ups and downs. The road surfaces are usually quite nice too, and it makes for really pleasant rides past dairy farms and the mountains all around (covered bridges are fun too).

    With a new 24 tooth granny, you will find that when you downshift from the 39 tooth middle chainring to the new 24 tooth granny, the shift to lower gearing will be a bigger step or jump than when you had the 30 tooth granny gear. But if you can do some Vermont rides on hills with weight similar to what you are planning to carry for the Gaspe trip, you will have at least have a better idea of how it feels for you and if it is worth it. (I personally feel it is waaay more important to err on the low gearing side, even if you dont use them that often, if at the end of a long touring day when you are pooped, have more weight on your bike from perhaps buying groceries--and THEN there's a steep bugger of a hill before the campground, THATS when one is glad to have lower gearing)

    salut de Montreal again.
    cheers

  13. #13
    Macro Geek
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    Hi Lana,

    If you hang around this forum long enough, you will discover that there are ongoing debates about what constitutes "ideal" gearing when touring in hilly territory. There are essentially two camps:

    1. Avoid super low gearing: There is a point of diminishing returns. If you go too low, you may not be able to stay upright while pedaling.

    2. Go for broke: Install the lowest gearing that your bicycle can accommodate. Using superlow granny gears will allow you to climb extremely steep hills in relative comfort.

    My experience is that there is no such thing as too low; and that it is better to sacrifice the high-end than the low end. My current setup, which goes down to 22/34T works beautifully 99.9% of the time. Shifting is fine. The middle range, where I spent most of my time, is very good, and I rarely wish for something higher than my maximum. I can only recall three hills I had to walk up. My riding companion on one of those trips, who has even lower gearing than I do, glided up one of those slopes!

    If I were redesigning my drivetrain, I would consider a 20-36-46T (or 48T) in front and 12-36T in back.
    Last edited by acantor; 02-22-11 at 09:26 AM.

  14. #14
    Lana123
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    As I said to my husband, I will be up hill slowly but I will have enough left to keep going. I'm in the 2nd camp. I rode on a trainer yesterday and tried that 24 tooth gear ring for the first time just to see how it shifts back up. I think it will be ok with a little practice. It will be a while yet before I ride outside but I am hopeful this gearing will get me what I need. Thanks for the input. Now my 19 year old daughter wants to come to Gaspe which she told me only after I sold the Trek 520 I had had for years since she said she would never ride it.

  15. #15
    djb
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    re: about having "enough left to keep going"-- you know, I have always found with biking, or even cross country skiing (I used to do something called the Canadian Ski Marathon, a 2 day ski event) that for all day-long outdoor activities, a big hard outburst of work (to really exert to get up a hill lets say on a heavy bike with not low enough gearing, or to up your speed a lot in X-C skiing) takes a LOT out of you. Being able to keep within a comfortable "output" really makes a difference over a whole day. Yes, we get stronger as we do more of whatever sport, but keeping "within" a range of output that is good for you makes a real difference for ones endurance, and that is why I encourage lower gearing for touring with bags (and kitchen sink metaphorically) in really hilly terrain.

    What I personally found with the 24 granny for shifting, was that one has to be more deliberate and slower, but all in all it can work ok. When on the middle chain ring, when I would get down to 2nd or 1st gear , and then shift to the small granny up front, I found that I would usually shift up a few gears at back--not ideal, but it works and my knees appreciated always having lower gearing.

    (I want to be riding a bike until God knows when, so I listen to my knees and take care of them so they are still working for hopefully another 25-30 years and I can still bike)

    re: selling your Trek--DOH! as a parent of a teenager, and one upcoming to a teenager, I share the "smacking of your forehead". Joking aside, thats bad timing.....
    Hope you can work something out bikewise for her, I think it would be great to share a trip like that. I hope to with my kids one day (again, not a big interest at this point from my son, but maybe later with my younger daughter)

    well, in the meantime, school break is starting this week, so we will be downhill skiing together at least.

    cheers again.

  16. #16
    Stoker's View seenloitering's Avatar
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    This might help too: Canadian Climate Data.

  17. #17
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    Some camping gear suppliers still produce rain ponchos. http://www.campmor.com/
    Another company is Exped, a swiss firm that makes tents and sleeping bags. I own one of their tents - very high quality.
    http://www.exped.com/exped/web/exped_homepage_na.nsf. There is at least one other I know of but can't think of their name just now.

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