I slept well last night and started the day with a great(!) breakfast this morning. This B+B really delivered breakfast 'as you like' (rough translation from the french!). I said I liked everything and lots of it and that is what I got; ham, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and pancakes (crepes really, and excellent). A great way to begin the day.
I headed up the St. Lawrence into a 25 mph or so headwind. Not fun. Then, only three miles up the road, the shoulder went away. Not fun since the road was narrow and the traffic was pretty heavy. I even got chased by a, very dumb, dog while riding in moderate traffic with no shoulder. I assume this dog was just a visitor, and I hope he survived the visit. I continued to press on, and even enjoyed some of the times when the road had a shoulder or I was able to go off on a side road, but it was not good riding. I had to work hard to average 10 mph into that wind. Traffic, including large trucks, was having to squeeze by me. The shoulder, while sometime paved, was also sometime a soft sand and gravel mix that was hard to control the bike in. Riding the 'white line' with traffic roaring by a foot away, bad headwinds, and only a few inch wide 'safe' path, is not good riding. Moreover the weather forecast called for rain.
I rarely quit something I've started, but the thought of doing this kind of riding for days was appalling. I decided to check out my alternatives at the next tourist information center. That was in Rimouski, about 20 miles (and two hours of hard riding) from where I started. Rimouski is the 'big city' in this part of Quebec. A neat place with a really beautiful 'sea shore' on the St. Lawrence, which was dotted with whitecaps on the waves from the wind.
I stopped at a Subway for lunch and was delighted to find that the person who helped me knew enough English to almost (I said no mayonnaise, but got mayonnaise) get my order correct. I must admit to some language frustration. Folks in Quebec speak french. If they know some English, they often won't use it, when a non-french speaking person tries to communicate. I like to talk to people. In Quebec I could talk to very few people. This did contribute to my decision to not continue my ride through Quebec.
At the tourist information center, the staff person suggested I take the bus. She also called the bus (Orleans's Express) station to get the price for me, went over the bus schedule, found where I could get a box ( a block away) for my bike, and delivered the box to the bus station on her lunch hour. This is pretty exceptional service! I had the same kind of service from the staff at the bus station and, later, from the bus driver. It is hard not to like a culture that is so kind and helpful. I had (and needed) a lot of help this day. I got it, very graciously, from a number of people. Maybe I better try to learn french! And yes, the food was, by far, the best food of my trip.
I went to the tourist information center a little after noon. At 1:30 PM my bike and I were on the express bus to Montreal. Amazing. The bus ride was interesting, although not as much fun as bicycling. I watched the road checking for shoulders and traffic. There were few sections with good shoulders and the traffic was always heavy. We also rode through several periods of rain and one long section under construction. To be fair, after a few hundred kilometers, the bus and most of the traffic, moved to autoroute 20. The road along the coast looked like really nice riding in the section just downriver from Quebec City.
At about 9 PM I was in downtown Montreal with my bike put back together. I had a couple of problems: I didn't know where to go for the night or how to ride out of Montreal in the morning. So, as I have learned to do while touring; I asked for help. I asked the bus driver where I should stay. He recommended one of the hotels near the bus station. Then I asked him about riding out of Montreal. He said it would be much easier if I were 'on the south shore' and volunteered to take me and my bike to a motel on the other side of the river! I loaded my bike back into the bus, we drove the bus to its overnight yard, and we loaded my bike and luggage into his, very nice, van. Then he drove me about 5 miles across the river and left me at a nice, and, by Montreal standards, reasonably priced motel. His name is J.P. and he is, like so many folks I met in Quebec, a fine fellow. Maybe I will try to learn french.