Photos and Text by Taavi Rutishauser
After doing overnighters and a few weekend bikepacking trips to train myself and test my setup, it was time to do a longer trip, but where? I’ve had Anticosti Island on my mind for a while, wondering if it could be that epic bikepacking ride I’ve been searching for. Sure like most bikepackers I drooled over the thoughts of riding the Colorado Trail or the Great Divide, but with all the wilderness available to us in Quebec I just knew there had to be that one special place where not many bikepackers have been, a place with great potential to become a bikepacking mecca, right in my backyard. With that in mind, and a roundtrip boat ride ticket in hand, I loaded the bags on my Panorama Chic Chocs fatbike and hit the road to ANTICOSTI ISLAND!!
After driving 1000 km, I finally arrive in Rivière-Au-Tonnerre, a small village on Quebec’s Côte-Nord. That’s where my boat, the Express Anticosti, is waiting to bring me to Anticosti Island. I meet the captain, who tells me that the boat ride is delayed because of high winds. So with 2 days to wait, and with great advices from friendly locals, me and my bike set off to go explore the region. Logging roads, rivers and falls, ATV trails, and nice wild camping spots on the sea side.
Wednesday morning 6am, I load my 65lbs fatbike on the Express Anticosti and off we go! 3 hours later, we arrive in Port Menier, Anticosti’s only town. After a quick stop to get information, I head to the campground where I meet a bikepacking couple who tells me a group of Scouts is looking for someone to share a rental pickup truck. The Scouts and I agree to meet the next morning in town and drive together into Sépaq territory. Meanwhile, I spend the rest of the day exploring the western point.
Next morning, I head to Sépaq’s welcome center to pay in advance for all my camping and Park fees. There I meet my Scouts and we load the Panorama in the pickup’s bed and off we go! By taking this lift, I save myself the section of the Trans-Anticosti hwy where the logging transport traffic is the heaviest and I can catch up on my 2 days lost because of the boat. The scouts drop me at the entrance of the Sépaq, where I jump on the bike and start pedaling towards Wilcox Campground at least 60km ahead. I stop at Sépaq’s chalet in Macdonald, where I discover they have a nice fancy restaurant. I spoil myself with some seafood, taking a break from freeze dried food, before heading back on the Trans-Anticosti hwy towards the Wilcox Campground. An amazing view and hot showers sure are appreciated after a day pedaling the dusty Trans-Anticosti. Drivers here are extremely courteous with cyclists, especially the truck drivers, who almost come to a complete stop when they see cyclists!!
Wilcox Campground will be my home for a few nights, while I explore the trails and canyons in Anticosti National Park. My first plans before arriving in Anticosti was to ride around the island only on beaches, but I quickly realized by talking with locals that no way was I going to do that in less than 2 weeks. So I decided to take my time and spend this trip riding the northern part and western point, one day at the time. It was my first long bike trip after all!
I rode the Canyon de l’Observation along with the Sentiers des Falaises which offers an amazing view on the canyon and trails to ride. Then it was time to head to the Canyon de la Vauréal, with the goal to ride my fatbike down in the canyon and to the bottom of the Vauréal falls, an adventure usually done by foot! That was a brutal but mesmerizing experience, riding huge rock gardens, crossing the river many times all along the way to the falls through the canyon. And finally, going around the last corner. Then voilà, the falls!! Just wow! I did it, 25% hike a bike but made it to the falls! What a feeling to stand at the bottom of the falls, surrounded by the canyon! I walked on the way back to enjoy the scenery, and rode back to Wilcox Campground for a good night sleep after 90km .
After my first week camping, and 2 straight days of rain in a one person tent eating freeze dried food, I decided I needed to get back west to Port Menier and spend the 2nd week exploring the western point or the Residents sector as they call it. Riding solo was starting to affect my mental state, and add fatigue to that so it was best for me to head west. Once back in Port Menier, I was able to buy some fresh food, fruits and eat a real good breakfast. My Panorama fatbike setup was a hit with ATV/Motocross riding locals, and they opened up to me about great trails to ride.
The canyons were amazing, but I knew that I would find what I came for in the western point. And I found it indeed! Riding the rocky beaches at low tide from l’Anse Aux Fraises all the way back to Port Menier, I was in heaven! Except for that last bay which was a smelly algue swamp mixed with deep salty mud, but made it through! Absolutely amazed by my Panorama’s ability to go through stuff I never thought I’d cross!
After a few days of going all around the western point, and again some advice from locals, I go big for my last bike riding day. I leave Port Menier, entering a ATV trail that brought me all the way to the sea, through thick forest, swamps, and cool rocky descents down to the beach. I arrive in Petit Makasti bay, under a hot sun and nobody around me except dozens of deers sleeping or walking on the beach. I follow the beach along a few lagoons, with forest on my left and the blue sea on my right. I ride past the Chute à Boulay and onto a dirt road that brings me down to Baie Ste Claire, where early settlers used to live. So much history around here on the western point, you can feel it! I ride the rocky road past the Calou shipwreck, one of Anticosti’s many shipwrecks, to the Auberge de la pointe ouest, where you can camp and have access to the showers. Following the advice of a local adventure guide, I take an old trail that brings me along the coast to l’Anse aux Fraises. From there I ride back to the logging road and back to my campground in Port Menier to end this epic day with 65km of pure happiness!!
After 2 days relaxing in Port Menier, washing the bike and spending time with my local friends, I load the Panorama back on the Express Anticosti boat for the return ride to Rivière-au-tonnerre on a calm sea and whales all around us. I know I found my bikepacking playground and will be back very soon to explore the parts I haven’t seen yet! And bringing fellow bikepackers along with me this time!
- Distance: +/-375km
- No. of nights: 8
- Terrain types: Logging roads, singletracks, beaches, rock gardens, swamp.
- Bike: Panorama Chic-Chocs fatbike
- Day and night clothes
- Tent / Sleeping bag and pad
- Water filter
- Camp stove and gaz
- Spare tire and inner tube
- 1st aid kit
- Distance Instructions
Altitude VS Distance
- Distance Instructions
Altitude VS Distance
- Distance Instructions
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PartsThru axle for the rear wheel. Bolt-on type (no lever), install with 6mm hex key.45$ (CAD)
- Chic-Chocs: For 12x197mm hub. 220mm axle length. Thread pitch of 1.5.
- Torngat: For 12x197mm hub. 229mm axle length. Thread pitch of 1.5.
- Anticosti: For 12x142mm hub. 174mm axle length. Thread pitch of 1.75.
- Katahdin: For 12x142mm hub. 171mm axle length. Thread pitch of 1.5.
ClothingSlow Travel is the state of mind we approach during bike journeys. It is taking the time to live each experience in its entirety, focusing on quality rather than quantity.
- 100% Cotton
- Printed by hand in Montreal
Fatbikes***The Torngat will be back in stock in early fall 2021 with an updated geometry and equipped with 27.5″ wheels. Be the first informed of the availability by subscribing to the newsletter. Any questions, please contact us.*** Isolated in northern Quebec, located in the Arctic Cordillera, the Torngats Mountains are frequented only by those who have the real will to face the elements of nature. We do not get there by chance. It is a mythical place that imposes respect. An highly inspiring destination for the Torngat fatbike! We have included in this bike the features needed to make it completely versatile. Among other things, the frame is belt-drive compatible, it has an access for a dropper seatpost and is equipped with horizontal rear wheel dropouts. The Reynolds 725 high-grade steel tubing frame and the light, stiff carbon fiber fork accommodate the largest 26" tires available, as well as the 27.5 x 4.5". High performance and durable components from Race Face and a 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle group complete this machine. All you have to do is leave the house, get on the bike and explore the territory that is still unknown to you!1,349$ – 2,399$ (CAD)
Fatbikes*** The complete inventory was sold out within days of the announcement of the bike in fall 2020. We plan to offer the Chic-Chocs again towards the end of summer 2021. The best way to stay informed of the availability is to subscribe to the newsletter. If you have any questions, please contact us. *** Opportunities for adventure are infinite with such a versatile bike. Let the Chic-Chocs fatbike take you to the mountains, rivers or beaches you’ve always wanted to discover. At 29 lbs and equipped with tubeless 27.5” x 4.5” tires, this is a seriously fun bike to ride on newly discovered sandy, rocky or snowy paths. You’re into bikepacking? We’ll get along pretty well! In addition to 3 water bottle mounts, top tube bag mount and anything cage mounts on the fork, everything is ready for you to install a rear rack (if you prefer this setup versus minimalist frame bags). That way you can carry your skis to get to this remote backcountry spot, or bring some extras on your trip for a memorable night around a campfire. Your friends will thank you!3,899$ (CAD)
Gravel Bikes***The Katahdin will be back in stock in Spring 2021 with a redesigned frame and a full GRX 600 2x11 groupset. Be the first informed of the availability by subscribing to the newsletter. Any questions, please contact us.*** We love to say that the Katahdin is our cottage bike. You'll guess that this gravel bike is really in its element in the countryside, perfect for all types of roads and paths that can be found out there. An industry first, the adventure composite laminate incorporates an advanced material, XANTU.LAYR ™, to make the Katahdin rock-solid. Learn more about this technology here. The curvy surfaces of the bike have become a canva for the very talented duo of Vancouver-based artists Pellvetica. They sign the visual of the frame, and thus give the soul to this amazing product. A 1x SRAM Apex group, WTB i23 Wheels, Easton EA50AX handlebar and a ton of frame and fork mounts for your short or long outings, makes the Katahdin so much versatile. Note that the cottage is unfortunately not included with the purchase of the bike 😉2,049$ – 3,199$ (CAD)
ClothingWhy stick to the already known paths! #Backcountrycycling has become over time the mojo of Panorama Cycles. Make it yours with this unique cap!
- 100% Cotton
- Leather adjustment strap
PartsAlways a good idea to have a spare derailleur hanger when venturing a little further than usual...30$ (CAD)
Clothing"S24O" (aka Sub 24h Overnighter) is, in the jargon of the bikepacker, an adventure of less than 24 hours including an overnight stay. The definition of micro-adventure!30$ (CAD)