Day 4 – Rimouski, Quebec – 53 miles / 85 km
The forecasters were right. I woke up with the sound of rain hitting the window. It looked like I was stuck in Trois-Pistoles for the day. Besides its interesting name, there is not much to do in this town so I decided to try out my new rain-suit. The manufacturer claims its 100% waterproof so I might as well take them up on their promise. When I was leaving the motel parking lot, someone else just pulled in on exactly the same blue V-Strom (even with identical luggage cases). His friend was a bit behind and must have been confused when he saw me leaving. Pretty funny but I guess you had to be there.
When I was on the road for about 30 minutes, I found out that (a) the manufacturer was right about their 100% waterproof claim, (b) my luggage cases are waterproof as well and (c) it is still not fun riding in the rain with a good suit. Because the rain was going to be there all day, I decided not to push any further and called it a day around noon. Rimouski is not a very interesting town but has many comfortable business hotels. Perfect for a day of napping, watching tv and enjoying the swimming pool. In the evening, the rain stopped and the salty fog rolled in from the river. The grey clouds were so low that it seemed you could almost touch them. I was hoping the weather would clear up by morning.
Day 5 – Gaspé, Quebec – 288 miles / 463 km
The next morning, the sun was peeking through the curtains with a promise of a beautiful day ahead. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was plentiful and at 9:30am, it was time to saddle up the bike and make my way east on the Gaspé peninsula. I was fooled by the warm sun when getting ready to ride so I had to stop after 10 minutes to put on some warmer riding gear. It was only 15C/59F so I was glad to have the warm gloves I purchased in Quebec city. Très bien.
Riding along the river, the northern coast slowly fades away in the far distance. As promised in my travel guide, the landscape started changing east of Matane. Rocky cliffs rise up from the gulf and the road is draped around them like garland around a christmas tree. The next 200 kms to Gaspé, the eastern tip of the peninsula, are truly spectacular. Long sweeping curves and breathtaking vistas. Need I say more?
Around 1:30pm, my stomach was calling for my attention so I stopped at a little bistro called “La Broue dans L’Toupet”. I have no idea what it means but it sounds pretty cool. One thing is for sure, they serve the best cappuccino and baguettes I have had in a long time. Pleasant French music was playing in the background and the bistro looks out over the gulf. Life is good in Quebec.
Continuing east, the landscape gets more dramatic until it climaxes in Parc National Forillon. Along the way, I came across a sign pointing to a historic lighthouse. Fortunately, the V-Strom is at home on all kinds of surfaces so the 10 kilometers on gravel road was no problem. It was already at the end of the afternoon so the place was deserted. Very nice to lay in the grass for a while and absorb the bright red color of the lighthouse against the green and blue of its surroundings.
This is the edge of The Appalachian mountain range which starts all the way south in northern Alabama. These mountains make their way north all the way up to Gaspé where they make their plunge into the ocean. Now that is a good size mountain range, eh? It was already getting late so time to find a motel. The sign of Motel Baie de Gaspé welcomed me and I stopped to inquire. I asked the friendly lady the now standard “Parlez-vous anglais?”. She shook her head, and mumbled something. Sounded something like “a leetle beet”.
She informed me the rate was CA$45 and asked if I wanted to see the room. I followed her and it turned out that the rooms were pretty nice so I said “C’est très bien!” with excitement in my voice. She looked at me, smiled and said “It’s only $40 for you because you’re such a nice young man”. “I know!!”, I said in a loud voice. Well, I didn’t really say that but I couldn’t agree with her more. My dinner was a bag of chips and a couple of Grolsch beers that I enjoyed sitting in front of my motel room. The setting sun turned the the bay deep red and birds were chirping their last songs for the day. I finished my beer and fell asleep peacefully as soon as I turned off the lights.
Day 6 – Moncton, New Brunswick – 439 miles / 707 km
The auberge next door served a simple, yet tasty breakfast of crepes, fresh fruit, orange juice and strong coffee. Perfect way to start the day for only six loonies (a loony is one dollar in Canadian). It was around 9:00 am when I turned my bike west and hit the road. The friendly motel lady waived goodbye when I left the parking lot. The scenery was still spectacular with rolling hills and twisty mountain roads waiting to be carved.
I chatted for a while with a fellow Strommer at a rest area. His English was as good as my French but we had a good time comparing bikes. “Ah, Corbin seat?”, he asked. Nope, Suzuki gel seat. I explained it was much more comfortable than his stock seat so he had to try it out himself. It’s a bit firmer but much more comfortable in the long run. It would have been impossible to do this trip with the stock seat.
The coastal road took me past Rocher Percé, a huge rock 500m long and 100m high. It’s one of Canada’s major natural phenomena’s so that makes it pretty busy in summer time. The rock rises straight up from the water and is quite an impressive sight. Even though it is very touristic spot, the town maintains a very relaxed feel and I could easily spend the day here. Strangely, the thing I remember most from Perce is not the rock but the smell of fresh-baked bread coming from the local boulanger on a side street.
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