Tour De Gaspesie 2017
7 am came early on Saturday when it was time to drive up to Campbellton, New Brunswick for the start of our 7 day adventure and tour around Gaspesie peninsula just over the bridge in Quebec. We camped at Le Maison Vert that first night and got an early start on Sunday morning, heading out around 7:30. Sunday was thrilling and exciting. The scenery was stunning and the roads were wide, flat and well paved. We stopped about every 20 miles to drink coffee and eat croissants. My kind of bike ride. We rode into New Carlisle that afternoon, covering around 95 miles and climbed a total of about 2200 feet. Our campsite this night was on a beach- beautiful.
Day 2 we headed out of New Carlisle, did a little derailleur adjustment on one of the bikes and were on our way. More gorgeous scenery- wildflowers, ocean, little towns. Every little town had its own little church with a silver steeple and roof. I wish I had counted how many we saw- it must have been 100. By the end of this day we had reached Perce, a small tourist “city”. It was about the size of Damariscotta. This was the first time we saw any rain but it was worth it. We had already arrived and set up camp- up on a hill overlooking the water and Perce Rock. We went to dinner at a fantastic restaurant and watched it rain. By the time we were finished, the rain had stopped and there was a rainbow over the famous rock. We had covered 64 miles and 2600 feet of climbing. This was also the first time we had felt like we were climbing- a couple of hills up into the town.
Another blue-sky sunrise on day 3 woke us up. The legs were tired but willing, the saddle sores becoming more angry. Any positive energy I woke with disappeared quickly as we rode out of town and were greeted by a 16% grade climb right away. This was a challenging day of riding for me. It wasn’t the longest day in miles but it seemed like the longest day of riding. The best part about this day was the last 20 miles- a long, flat, fast road that ran right along the coast-totally worth the suffer fest. We covered about 78 miles and climbed 4600 feet. I was wrecked. Our campsite on this night was in the woods and very private. We did laundry and went to bed. Before going to sleep, I threw myself a pity party and thought long and hard about riding in the SAG wagon the next day. Fortunately, I decided against it.
The 74 mile ride on day 4 was definitely the toughest but also the most rewarding. As we were riding toward this stretch, at each stop the people would tell us about how huge and horrible the hills were. As we left a town call “Big Valley” a resident yelled out, “GOOD LUCK!” and we knew we were screwed. Turns out, they were not wrong. The hills were intense (5800 feet of them), but the views were amazing. It took me a long time but I got it done. I’m so grateful that I decided to ride this day because it ended up being my favorite day. I did the thing that I thought I could not. The camp site started out great but then the wind began to howl and didn’t let up until about 4:30am. It was a restless night for me after an exhausting day of riding.
Day 5 was our “short day” thank goodness. I was beyond tired. The running joke was: you may have a problem if your short day is 50 miles. This was our second run-in with some rain. We were lucky though. We were just starting to get really wet when we found a Tim Horton’s. We enjoyed coffee and donuts until the rain passed and made it to Cap Chat for lunch. The campground was beautiful again- across the street from the beach this time. One of the riders had ancestors from this area so it was fun for him to look around and talk to the locals.
Our second longest day was day 6. We rode 90 miles with 4000 feet of climbing. I remember thinking that the trip was closer to over than beginning and had mixed feelings about that. This was the day that we took the left-hand turn to go through the mountains, back to the beginning. There was a strong cross/head wind but the road was fantastic. It ran along a river and by the time we had made it to mile 40 we couldn’t believe our luck at the lack of climbing. We had expected more through this area. We needn’t have worried because that is when it picked up. It seems strange that we felt like we were climbing to the top of the world but it was only 1600 feet which was our highest point. Up down, up down, up down… When we arrived, the campground had a pool, which we enjoyed. It felt really good to be weightless for a while.
Bittersweet day 7 consisted of a mostly flat 64 miles back to where we started. While we rode a friend asked if I had cried at the finish of the Ironman and I said that, yes actually, I cry at the end of sprint triathlons. She asked if I was going to cry when we were done with this ride and I guessed that I would not. Not only was I exhausted and ready to not ride my bike for a couple of days, I was looking forward to going home. Also, I had barely trained for this-hadn’t invested a lot of time preparing, so I thought I would be fine. Unbeknownst to us, the family that had served as our SAG were waiting for us with air horns, signs, and leis to greet us when we got back. I cried.
Overall, this experience was one of the most incredible and amazing that I have had. It was challenging and enjoyable. The company could not have been better. I could have done without the saddle sores, but I guess I’m a real cyclist now that I have them.