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Charlevoix Bikepacking

Part of Quebec Bikepacking Traverse segment IV

Texte et photos par Marie-Pierre Savard


A week later in the Maritimes, here's a recap of my bikepacking vacation in Charlevoix, at the end of June 2022, split into 2 "small" rides!

It all started with three days, accompanied by Marie-Hélène Blouin, Marc Morin, Dialec Tron, and Kryshnå Martineau, from the Parc National des Grands-Jardins. The goal? To ride a part of Segment IV of the Québec Bikepacking Traverse in the ZEC des Martres, then return via the Réserve Faunique des Laurentides and the Grands-Jardins! (110 kilometers in 3 days, 2 nights, 2074 meters of elevation gain, 81% unpaved)

*Details of the camping and road conditions directly on the tracks (POI)*

Right from the first kilometers in the ZEC des Martres, we start cursing because of a climb on a snowmobile trail resembling a "rocky stream"! After that, no time to catch our breath, we continue with an ascent to 990 meters altitude, to the top of a quartz quarry (luckily it was closed, otherwise, we would have had to backtrack to the start.) Admittedly, it was a kind of lunar and unreal landscape, where we felt like we were riding on Himalayan salt, but unfortunately, I cannot recommend this dangerous and forbidden section! In short, it was a lot of trouble (plus the mosquitoes) for the first 17 kilometers of the route! So much so, that we slept around kilometer 22.

On day two, there were about ten difficult kilometers on 4X4 trails, uphill, but otherwise, nothing too extreme, although it remains autonomous bikepacking in a remote region, on roads not always well mapped! Then, on the last day, we were finally able to increase our km/h average on nicer, less rugged roads, via the Réserve Faunique des Laurentides and the Grands-Jardins. For the smoothness of the last 35 kilometers, I would not do this loop in the reverse direction!

On this route, very little cell reception, no possible resupply points (except at Camping Arthabaska, 10 km from the finish), but many places to find water and pitch a tent. The Parc des Grands-Jardins alone is a beautiful place to get started with gravel biking, with most of the roads being more sandy than rocky or rugged (and three campgrounds)!

Then, since I had some free time left, I decided to return to Quebec City solo, starting from the Grands-Jardins, on Route 60 from east to west, then via Route 17 of the Réserve faunique des Laurentides, up to L'Étape. (174 kilometers, 2 days, two nights, 1226m of elevation gain, 33% unpaved).

After 4 days in the woods, I treated myself to a big luxury: camping + hot shower + chicken leg + beer + ice cream at L'Étape! The next day, I headed back to Quebec City, via the 175. I wasn't very excited about the idea of a paved road, but from the first kilometers, I loved it. Wide shoulder, in good condition, tailwind, and especially, it's downhill to Quebec City! Arriving in Stoneham, I took Boul. Talbot, a few gravel roads, and the Corridor des Cheminots all the way to my destination.

Unfortunately, once at the Quebec City bus terminal, the process of transporting a bike remains complex, expensive ($23 with box and bike), and not accommodating... In 2022, one should be able to put the bike "as is" on a bus, from any stop and at any time. (Orléans Express, cyclists should also be able to take the bus outside of the working hours of Expedibus...) Once again, my Panorama Cycles Taïga EXP carried me safely and comfortably on these paths, sometimes extreme, but mostly very varied! Considering these conditions, I wouldn't have gone with another bike, even though I did a hundred kilometers on paved road and nearly half of the route could well be done with a more standard gravel bike.


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