May 16, 2007

Ottawa, Gatineau park and a broken car

Two years ago, I rode from Montreal to Ottawa and back. I had a great time in Gatineau park and Ottawa and wanted to spend more time there instead of "in-between" so I put the bike in the car trunk and left. The weather was beautiful and I had a big grin on my face. I also brought the heavy photo gear, hoping to photograph some wildlife in Plaisance and Gatineau park.

I only made it to Plaisance... and I was lucky to be back!

I'll spare you the bad part. The only good part was this photograph I made just before the car refused to start for the second time:
Now, about the MTL - Ottawa ride. With some riding around Gatineau park, it anounted to 500km of easy cycling. It makes an excellent good 5-6 day trip.

The Quebec route is on highway 344 and 148. The 344 is quiet and has a shoulder except between St-André and Grenville. The 148 has moderate trafic but a decent shoulder. There are many campgrounds. At least one in Oka park, just outside Montreal, in Carillon on highway 344, another on the shore of Rouge river on highway 148 and in Plaisance park. Plaisance has a few bike trails and walking path. If you're into birds, I suggest getting up early in Plaisance to explore some of the paths. Oh, if you're staying in any Sepaq campground, don't forget quarters for the showers. That's the greedy Sepaq for you.

The Ontario side takes a bunch of small, usually quiet roads, which can be a bit confusing at times. Brian Hedney has it in detail here, or if you're coming from Montreal, you can check Michel Gagnon's site. It's mainly farmland and there aren't many campgrounds. There's on a bit off the main road east of Lefaivre. It's more like a small community with people spending their summer in trailers that have grown roots. The staff is extremely friendly. I arrived there after dark and they were very helpful. 12$ in 2005. It also has a restaurant. I saw another campground in Orignal, and one can stay in Voyageur park as well.

Whatever route you take, make sure you take a full day to ride in Gatineau park and Ottawa's extensive bike path network. Gatineau park is hilly but the road are simply fabulous. There are so many cyclists the drivers are very courteous. If I could choose where I live based on the quality of cycling, I'd choose Ottawa-Gatineau. The only problem with Gatineau park are the campgrounds, located on the northen end of the park. One has to ride a good distance and out of the park just to get there. I didn't know that and ended up stealth camping in the southern part of the park. Two deers woke me up in the morning.

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