Day 12 – South Hero Island, VT to Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu – 68 miles
Beautiful bright blue skies and fluffy clouds as we left our Warm Showers host and headed up South Hero Island to the Canadian border. Gertrude the cat even came off the deck to bid us farewell. The islands are pretty flat, but each one has a center spine that we had to ride over – not a big deal, just a single shift or two. We had a few starts and stops as a paving crew was laying down a new to coat of asphalt. It was great riding on the new section – like butter!
There are beautiful views of open field, orchards and old homesteads on the ride through the Hero islands. We even took a slight reroute to ride near the water of Champlain. Shawn was loving the lilacs that are just blooming, and very plentiful on the islands. We could usually smell them from the road but one time we were able to ride the very edge of the road and Shawn leaned right to get her face right into lilacs blooming on the side of the road. Sometimes we stop & smell the flowers & sometimes we smell them from the bike!
We made a stop at “Hero’s Welcome” a “we’ve got everything” kind of store on North Hero Island. Carol, last nights host told us we could get a “frilly” coffee drink there – and we did! We were making such good progress at this point 15 miles in just over an hour that we decided to call our WS host for tonight and tell him we were going to press on. Oddly enough, as we were eating at Hero’s Welcome, he walked in & got talking to us & then we all realized we had just spoken on the phone! Nice guy – gave us some route ideas for Quebec. It’s a small Northeast Kingdom! That’s how Vermonters refer to the northern tip of Vermont.
After our snack we pushed northward. Great day for riding, cool and no wind. This is the first day we have had flats that stretch for miles and miles. Flat land! Haven’t seen this kind of riding at all on this trip! Felt good to just ride in the big ring all day! It’s so nice for getting into a rhythm on the bike. After averaging about 10.5 mph in the hills, we can pretty much consistently hold 15 mph or more here. Our mileage will be heading up for the next few weeks!
We made our Canadian border crossing at a tiny border crossing just south of Noyan, Quebec. No problems, just a few questions. I guess the border guard figured if we were bringing anything illegal into Canada, we would not have too much of it! He did ask how long we would be in the country. Hmmm we had not thought much about that, we finally blurted out 2 weeks, and we feel that is pretty doable, and that should keep us in line with our projection to be in west Michigan by mid-June.
Just north of the border is a Fromagerie! (Remember Quebec’s language is French!) Fromagerie Kaiser is a wonderful cheese-maker! We sampled a few cheeses and bought some of everything we sampled. They were sold out of baguettes so we just got some crackers. We spent a good amount of time and phone battery life trying to get the data plan working for our Canadian phone plan. Had to give up on it & look for a Telus store in our overnight town. So we had to be more selective with pics after that.
Our glorious morning gave way to a rather warm afternoon! Most days we’ve ridden most of the day in long sleeves but today we were in short sleeves. We made our way up the east shore of the Richelieu River on flat, quiet farm roads. Before too long, we came to a town. We spotted some brand new picnic tables in the shade next to a small restaurant. It was so inviting after riding in the sun – a great rest stop! We ordered a petit Poutine & orange crush, managing quite well with our very rudimentary French. When she told us how much, Jim just handed her a twenty, so we didn’t have to figure out French numbers (we can count to 10 in French.)
After the snack & shady rest, we pressed on. The road was rather busy but not bad. We rode on a few clicks and suddenly, what were we seeing? We could hardly believe our eyes! Another Muffler man!!! Well, that was sure a fun surprise for these two weary cyclists! We were glad we still had some battery life & we took pics. After that we ride in with renewed enthusiasm!
We got to Iberville & followed the cycling cue sheet from a pamphlet from Auberge Harris hotel. We saw that it said there was a small footbridge on the cue sheet and when we got to it, there was yellow tape on the trail – maybe caution tape? Too advanced for our French skills! We think it was for high water, as we had to walk thru a bit to get to the footbridge. We walked the bike around the yellow tape and up the stairs (it had a bike wheel rail), down the other side, hopped on and rode to the big bridge across the Richelieu River. We ended up walking across the big bridge (Although it took an elbow rub on the guard rail to convince Jim to walk the bike) – we’re a rather wide load compared with the other riders & pedestrians.
We found our way to our hotel, took showers & then Jim set out to find some food & suitable beverages to supplement our cheese & ramen noodles. Any pairing suggestions? Jim’s adventure to find food turned into a long walk! The hotel receptionist was pretty positive about a close grocery store, but none were to be found on foot. Jim had to settle for a gas station convenience store for the meal pairing if the night. Thankfully they had a fine selection of canned beer and coolers – a perfect pairing for a hotel bed picnic!
Our WS hosts, Carol & Roland
More construction – but at least we didn’t have to ride on rocks!
Lots of neat stone buildings!
Bonjour! Quebec, Canada!