Sep 12, 2006

Saguenay by bike, Big Agnes and Nalgene

Saguenay fjordI did a 5 day trip in the Saguenay region of Quebec last week. The route takes two highways, one of each side of the Saguenay river. Unfortunately, the roads are rarely close to the river itself. Quite understandable since the Saguenay is a huge river with high cliffs one either sides, forming a fjord. There are whales in it, at least at the mouth where it meets with the even bigger St-Lawrence river.

Photos are posted here: Saguenay tour photos

The route is nice. Some locals want to make an official bike route that would gather to hills enthusiasts. I wish them luck. Most of the route doesn't have shoulders but the traffic is light. Shoulders are well placed though. Most serious climbs have them, as do the inside of curves, as well as some long stretches on the north side.

There are several roads leading to small communities on the Saguenay shore. Every one of these villages is a spectacular site. On the south shore, a road lead to the Saguenay park. There's hiking to do, as well as kayaking.

Tadoussac ferry

Haven't bike much this year. I broke the 1000km mark during the trip. Very little considering the 7000km I did last year. I'm in bad shape and it showed on the hills. I carried hiking shoes and a daypack, hoping to do some hiking in the Saguenay. For a while in the first two days, I thought I wouldn't make it to the park in time and I'd have to stick to the road. Well, I made it so I didn't carry that stuff for nothing. The park is great. I will to od the long trail someday.

I tried a couple new things on my trip. First, a Big Agnes Air-Core insulated matress. It's 2½ inch thick, yet it packs smaller and weighs the same (a little less?) than the smallest Therm-a-Rest. It feels a bit like a pool matress when it's not fully inflated. It's not self-infating but it only takes a minute or two to inflate. I'm never going back to a Therm-a-Rest!

The other product is a Nalgene OTG bottle. I tried it after a recommendation made by a member. No need to add much as the description on the Nalgene site is quite accurate. One thing I liked is its ability to withstand high temperature, meaning you can pour boiling water in it and it won't melt. I wish they made a tall 1-liter and a small 500ml with a tight small handle that would fit under the downtube. (most bottles rub on the fender). The handle would turn it into a cup.


Gordon Harris said...

Hi, Erick--we want to ride Rt. 381 along Grands-jardins next summer, but it sounds really steep. Would you do it again? How was the traffic and the road conditions?

Unknown said...

Hello Gordon,

It's very steep indeed. It begins almost at sea level to 896 meters in about 45km with 15%, 19% and 16% of 2km each. The slopes are much gentler southbound but I prefer going north. If you go south, watch the last 15%, it has a very sharp turn at the bottom. 90° I think, if not more.

No shoulders except between the 138 and St-Urbain. Theres'a shoulder on the 138 from Baie-St-Paul to the junction. I was there on a week-end. A few cars going to the park, then barely any traffic until Ferland-Boileau. It's a very isolated road. I would definatly do it again. Actually, I'm thinking of doing a 4-5 days tour in Charlevoix, although probably not on the 381 (been there many times by car, biked once entirely and once to Grands-Jardins park). The whole region has similar hills. I want to ride the 2km 20% going to the île-aux-Coudres ferry I missed (old road).