Old Quebec City to Oshawa

After a great weekend in Old Quebec City we packed up the Vulcan and prepared for the 800km trip home. Instead of splitting the trip up, as we did on the way in, we decided to just zip back in one very long day.qbc-2

Now, I love Google Maps. But it doesn’t always give the best route. It may give the fastest, but not the best. In this case, it gave us a complicated route out of Quebec City and back to Route 20 – which turns in to the 401 in Ontario. I asked the lady at the hotel office what was the best way and she suggested Boulevard Champlain. That was the best advice I’d been given that weekend.

Boulevard Champlain was the nicest stretch we drove the entire trip. It’s a beautifully maintained, twisting two lane along the St. Lawrence. There was no traffic and a spectacular view as we cruised along.

After that, it was a long ride through Quebec, especially in Montreal where traffic and construction slowed us right down. Someone later told me, ‘If you can drive in Quebec you can drive anywhere,’ but I didn’t find it particularly difficult or dangerous. The condition of the road left something to be desired…

We were making great time as we approached Ontario when suddenly Route 20 came to a standstill. It took a long time to move a little distance, and an hour or so later we discovered that construction brought the highway to one lane. Again, a major east-west route brought to one lane during a long weekend. Unbelievable.

It was great pulling in to Oshawa, 11 hours later, and jumping in to the pool. We were both tired and sore but happy to be home.


Cornwall to Old Quebec City

It was raining slightly as we left Cornwall around 10 am. We knew we had to keep ahead of the storm so we set off at a good pace to make it to our hotel in Old Quebec City dry and in the early afternoon.

It wasn’t long before we crossed the border in to Quebec. You know right away because of the change in quality of the road – suddenly the dull, straight lanes of the 401 become the dull, straight, bumpy lanes of Route 20. That, and the signs are now only in french.

One of the highlights (for me) of this ride was the Louis H Lafontaine Tunnel in Montreal. I was not ready fTHX 1138or that at all – suddenly I felt like I was in “THX 1138“. It was a nice change. Traffic, however, was horrendous.

There was not much else noteworthy until we arrived in Quebec City. The route given us from Google Maps had us come in on Route 73 and Route 175 into the city, where traffic slowed us right down. However, as I learned when we left, there is a much nicer route along the Saint Lawrence River that avoids most all of the traffic as well …

Pulling in to Old Quebec City is an amazing sight. You enter under the old walls and feel like you’ve been transported to the 18th century. The narrow cobblestoned streets aren’t very bike friendly, but it is a trip everyone in Canada should take at least once in their lifetime. We stayed in the “Hotel du Vieux Quebec”, only a few blocks from the Chateau Frontenac. While it was a nice hotel and ideally situated, the price was such that I wished I’d spent one or two nights in the Chateau and the others in a cheapie a little further away.

Regardless, we parked the bike and walked everywhere for those four days, and we had an amazing time.

Toronto to Cornwall

This past long weekend I decided to take my girlfriend to Old Quebec City for the weekend. We packed up the bike on Thursday morning and by 11 am we were on the road.

Thinking the 800 kms to Quebec City a bit too much for one day we decided to stop in Cornwall where I have family. Initially I thought I’d take the 401 east to Belleville then switch to Hwy 2, which is a much more scenic route. When we did get on Hwy 2 the road was long, straight, and slower. So after a little ways we decided, in the interest of hastiness, to get back on the 4o1.

Big mistake. The moment we hit Kingston, construction brought the 401 to one lane and a stand still. Someone on a Kawi Ninja came slowly cruising up between all the traffic and then tucked in behind me. He lasted about 5 minutes before impatience got the better of him and he continued along the dotted line. While it was a tempting move I don’t agree with breaking the rules of the road to skip traffic – I think it is this kind of behaviour that gives bikers a bad rep in the eyes of other drivers.

So my patience held and we waited out the traffic – but it was not soon after my patience would be tested again.

Not half an hour later I was astonished to see it again: Construction ahead, 401 reduced to one lane. Unbelievable, I thought. A long weekend and they have one of the largest and busiest highways in the world reduced to one lane twice in a 100 km stretch. Now my arm really began to feel the burn from constantly using the clutch.quebec-4

At the next service centre you could sense the anger amongst those drivers stopped for their Tim Hortons coffee. One lady even turned to us and said, “Wasn’t that ridiculous? And now they have that stupid law that you can’t smoke with kids in the car! Unbelievable!”

Beyond that the trip was quick and relatively painless. The 401 is great for getting east or west quick, but not much else. The scenery is mediocre and the roads not stimulating from a drivers perspective. We were happy to get to Cornwall and enjoy several bottles of wine and beer with family.