All posts by Alex Laird

Day 4: Friday August 9th

Today we woke up to beautiful sunshine.  A lot of things were wet from the night before, but today  was sunshine.  The weather appears to be  very changeable here.  Hopefully we can get in a ride today without getting wet.

Today we are hugging the south coast of the Saint Lawrence going through beautiful farm land and small villages. 

wheat fields along the Saint Lawrence

Most of the villages had their beautiful churches; both large and small.

Fortunately we did get in a full day of riding without any rain.  We did about 85 kilometres  and got into camp by two.  We did have a few sprinkles and a lot of wind while setting up the tents.  But that soon blew over only to return with vengeance during dinner.  But we had good shelter so it is all good.  Now if we could just get rid of the mosquitoes. 


Day 3: Thursday August 8th

-by Christine Scott

We learned in the evening from a local rider who came over to our camp site to say hello that we had ridden the first 86 km of our tour on the first day of rain in a month. And how it rained! Torrential at the beginning of the day while we were still gratefully inside having breakfast at Hotel Hospitalite and then again when we arrived at the camp site. Thanks to leader Bruce’s good canopy purchases we did however have shelter, both for our kitchen and for eating. And in true CCCTS spirit we managed to keep smiling… well at least mostly😏

Riding the Route Verte east we passed through a number of small and very picturesque villages each one with its dominant church spire. We were often along the water’s edge and riding through fertile farm land and cattle pastures. Pleasant riding with relatively little traffic.

As I write this blog entry I am thankful that I am now in my tent as the thunder rolls and the torrential rain begins again.

Let’s hope it gets it over with overnight so that we can enjoy a dryer day tomorrow!

Day 2: Wednesday, August 7th

Today was a free day in Quebec City.  Several people took the ferry across the river and road their bikes up to the waterfalls above Quebec City.  I also took the ferry across the river, but spent the day wandering around Quebec City.  Others spent the day shopping for supplies and other preparations for the tour.

Quebec City really is a quite impressive sight from the ferry.

Of course the first thing to do is climb to the highest point in town.  There is a very nice wooden pathway up the face of the cliff from old town to the Citadel.

The Citadel is still an active military installation.  It has considerable historical importance.  It guards the approach from the plains of Abraham and was the site of the decisive battle in the seven years war when France last Canada to the British. 

Main entrance to the citadel

From the Citadel everything is downhill.  I spent the afternoon wandering around the old town.


Quebec National Assembly
An brick ball sculpture – very unique

Day 1: Tuesday, August 6th

Here we are in Quebec City preparing for the tour of the Gaspe peninsula.  Actually we are in the outskirts of Quebec City in the town of Levis.  We are at the Hotel Hospitality.  Today was for preparation.  People are still coming into town, setting up bike, etc.

This is somewhat different type of tour for us.  I don’t believe that we have done a remote start camping tour.  So we don’t have access to all of the club camping gear that is kept in Vancouver.  Some was shipped out from Vancouver, but a lot was purchased locally.  Bruce and his helpers spent most of the day provisioning and setting up the truck to our standard configuration.

We had our usual happy hour at 5:00.   A few people were new, but most were familiar faces.  We learned that Rick had to cancel at the last minute, so we are down to 15.  Also we have 3 more that have not arrived yet.  But it looks like it is going to be a good group.

Tomorrow is a free day to explore the site of Quebec City

2019 Gaspe Peninsula

The 2019 Gaspe Peninsula tour will be starting on Tuesday, August 6th. This will be a 24 day tour with 19 riding day. The total cycling distance should be about 1360 kilometers with an elevation gain of 10,256 metres, for an average of 71.6 kilometres / 540 metres per day. For more details see the ride description.

Tour participants are:

  • Carol Crane
  • Bruce Daykin – leader
  • Garry Esau
  • Holly Evans
  • Peter Haggerty
  • Barbara Hall
  • Ken Levine
  • Don Mais
  • Doris Maron
  • Max McClanahan
  • Richard Morris
  • Christine Scott
  • Jacob Van Der Heide
  • Colleen Vanderheide
  • Ed Weymouth
  • Dianne White

We will try to get something posted for every day of the tour. Given internet connectivity issues there may be significant lag before a blog entry get posted.

It should be a good adventure. Hopefully you will enjoy following along as we go via this blog.

-Max McClanahan

C stands for China.

What an interesting and sensational area Yunnan is!  Clean air, good pavement, careful motorists sharing the roads with everything else. It’s an economy moved by trucking whether gravel, bricks, fuel, or produce, huge trucks like twenty wheelers grinding up steep hills with water dripping onto the wheel hubs for cooling and making the pavement wet on uphills. Two stroke engines on small farm trucks stutter loudly by on the back roads. Scooters in the city are required to be electric to reduce pollution but took some increased alertness on our part when shifting our line. They come from behind, beside and at us on either right or left!

Every thing here is in almost unfathomable numbers, be it animal, vegetable or mineral. 

Some impressions: Cocks crowing at all hours, everywhere, chickens at every house in the countryside, the cheeping of chicks behind walls as we cycle past, the evening siren of cicadas, culverts and concrete, mobile cement mixers at endless building sites, cinder block creation and construction, chewing into mountain and hillsides to truck the soil to cities and lowlands, industrious people all with a task, many with smartphones as they walk in town or drive by on scooters.  Many video us as we roll by or come over for selfies with cyclists. Banana trees cover vast mountain sides and are brought out to the roadsides for boxing, where long trucks deliver the cardboard and then haul off them to markets.  Tea terraces cover whole valleys, and hillsides, as well as rubber trees. The valley bottoms are covered with small fields growing produce, divided by earthen or concrete berms and often irrigated by springs. Ginseng grows on high hillsides under cover of black shade cloth. Again, it is boggling to consider the toil needed to prepare the ground, plant, tend and harvest all this, often by hand with spades, rototillers, or using water buffalo or cows to plow. It seems one must consider the sheer numbers of people here who work to feed themselves.

And the food!  Every supper we enjoyed at least eight dishes prepared differently through the trip, and dried red chilies are a feature of the region, till many of us requested a decrease for our unaccustomed palates. Chopstick skills improved.  Eight of us sat at three round tables with a rotating lazy Susan, on tiny stools for lunches or outdoors. 

The plazas are alive in the evening with dancers, children out with parents, people exercising at public equipment, shopping and strolling along the swept and landscaped walks. We saw much attention paid to beautifying the cities, but the countryside is lagging behind in terms of sanitation and infrastructure. There is so much to do and the country is so huge! We resigned ourselves to squatting toilets and carrying tissues and hand sanitizer… Three cyclists went down with varying injuries with only one unable to continue riding but choosing to stay with the tour and enjoy the experience. 

From Larry Wilson:

The cycling tour is over today. What a trip it has been, with our guides, our drivers all attentive to our needs, and our group of twenty two riders a compatible lot. Thanks, Jude and Max, for leading us to this memorable adventure. 

Pu’er to Dadugang, a small village – March 8 – 74 kms

Second last ride day. 

Nice 500 meter descent out of overcast Pu’er. Many groups of teenage students were walking down the road at 09:15 – a good choice for exercise, allowing some socializing before starting classes. Bernie engaged them and had some fun. There were many tree nurseries where even seemingly ancient trees had brick surrounds that were puzzling. It’s not like one could move and replant these.  The construction continues at a rapid pace – two arches of semi- completed tunnel were seen high above, then multiple enormous stanchions are rising to complete a bridge to completely eliminate descending into the valley.  Many were delighted to chat through Yang Yang with a group of four Chinese cyclists on loaded electric bikes. 

There was some directional confusion at this Y junction, the rain started and not everyone had their rain gear so the fast riders added an extra ten kms and cycled without their rain gear till they caught up to the vans.  There was a long section of road winding through mixed forest that was similar to Highway 7 on the north side of the Fraser Valley, running parallel to the four lane divided highway. Similar except for the bamboo…  Sadly, no animals were spotted except for the first dead dog on the road. Lots of birdsongs though. 

Several members took the van due to GI issues and more elected to stay dry and get warm. 
The 500 km ascent was on wet road with cloud rolling in to drop the temperature to 13°. Lovely riding.  Did I mention we were riding in rain?

We were all happy to shower and change before gathering nearby the hotel for some egg fried rice, soup and beer. Or tea. 

Daheishan today to Jiangcheng

The beds were like planks again but not everyone noticed. Pork or vegetable steamed buns and noodles were eaten at low street tables next to school kids wearing backpacks and having their noodles for breakfast. Lots of photos were taken by delighted locals and us. 

It’s been interesting to see the changes in the women’s clothing as we move through the mountains, from elaborate embroidery to rich velvets and long red fringes hanging from the hats. 
62 km technical ride today with an 18 km uphill on gravel, averaging 6%… some elected to leapfrog that and take the van, and some rode the whole route in temps climbing to 24° and higher. 

Some riders reported seeing a man singeing hair off a dog on the road out of Daheishan- sounded really cruel till I realized it was meat prep like plucking a chicken.  Dogs are pets here as well as food. 

Starting up on the gravel we looked down on a river that flows to the Mekong. The houses are built on the road but clinging to a cliff, often ‘single wide’ or one room in depth.  The trees planted on the hillside are rubber trees. Not fat trunks as I always imagined them to be, but tall, white and stately. 

Just when we climb so high and deep into wild jungle we come upon cinderblock homes and roosters crowing and farm equipment, men and women carrying hoes on their shoulders as they walk to their terraces or small roadside plots. 

We are getting into tea growing country. One woman was tending 3×4’ screens of black fibre that we cleverly realized was drying tea leaves. The parallel curves of the green tea bushes around the steep hillsides are lovely. 

Our second police check point near the top of the ride went well with some jocularity between our Chinese speakers Larry and Yang Yang, and the young smartly dressed police. 

Then it was mostly downhill on the always snaking S curves, past almost continuous shops, storage huts, construction materials, fields, cliffs, lush green growth – you get the picture. 
Gasoline price here is 6.94 ¥/L. 
Filling one van cost 365.11 for 52.61 L

Some ride stats from Max:

  • 61.0 kilometres
  • 1554 meters elevation gain
  • 946 meters elevation loss

Day four, MiLe to Tonghai

More climbing today, 95 kms and over 940 meters ascent ahead. Misty out of MiLe. 

We stopped for oranges. The vans are kept stocked with fruits and snacks. 

This fieldwork continues forever. Never gets boring. We say Ni hao and they say Hello to people walking along the road or standing at a shop watching our progress. 

Big fast descent in late afternoon and we are waved to stop – cyclist down. Terry Chalmers slipped on some gravel on a tight turn and needed to go to hospital for X-rays and wound care.  The service was efficient and affordable. 

Doctors, Terry, guide Wen Chun in back, nurse Barb and Larry
Terry cracked some ribs, fractured a clavicle and lost some skin but was a trooper through it all. She thought of going home as unable to ride, but she and Max decided she could enjoy the rest of the journey. 

3rd cycling day, Luoping to MiLe, approx. 60 kms


Due to rain we elected to take the vans a little further before starting the ride, and the roads were dry. These highways are remarkable. Six lanes are separated by a  thirty foot wide landscaped median, bordered by equally wide landscaped parkways. Watering is done with hoses by many gardeners.
Barb Mathias went down on a polished cement driveway lip, got a few abrasions and a hematoma on her shin. Still cycled.  Nice landscaping!
Lunch was delicious and this chef was fun to watch. 
One of the paparazzi.
Lots of ascending and descending through to MiLe, and the spa at the hotel was popular.


Second cycling day


75 km cycle from Shizong to Luoping with the highlight being the vast Karst rapeseed fields.  Rapeseed or canola is grown widely here and was in bloom.
Meet Peggy, Larry’s dog that joined our group. She rides in the basket or in the van, and is allowed in restaurants, stores and hotels. Because it’s China, Larry says.
Five of us are cycling on Larry’s custom bamboo bikes. Disc brakes, comfortable ride.
The countryside is covered with fields, all planted, diked, irrigated. It’s difficult to grasp the industry of these farmers. I think it’s the difference between 37 million and 1.5 billion people.
Atop the hill over the Luoping karsts. Those clouds rolled in and suddenly we could see our breath it was so cold. 
Warming up over some delicious food.

First cycling day and visiting the UNESCO Stone Forest of Shilin

We drove out of Kunming and found the karst area hugely popular and wonderful, with great infrastructure and people moving. 

Onto our bikes for 50 kms. We make a crowd, with 22 riders and three cycling guides, two support vans and one bike truck. That’s leader Larry Adamson filling us in. 

Farming covers the countryside. The cornstalks are piled high by the roadside but the purpose of this remains a mystery. China has invested in clean energy and we saw wind generation. 

Talk about being novel. Smartphones are seen everywhere here, we are videoed along the road, through towns and villages, and in the restaurants. 

The owners and the chef wanted photos. Good natured fun. 

Culture familiarization 101

Some call it Culture Shock. Leader Larry, and English speaking guides Wen Chun and Yang Yang explain what they can to 22 people who are rarely facing the same way or can’t always hear. 
It is another novelty to have a westerner speaking fluent Chinese. We are functionally illiterate and unable to communicate anything at all, thus we depend mightily on our guides. 
Before we ventured out on our city tour in Kunming, Larry sketched road rules. 

People and goods are on the move here in numbers we can barely fathom. City roads are wide with motor cycle lanes carrying mandatory electric scooters suddenly appearing beside, in front of and on either left or right, carrying cargo, families, without helmets, talking on cellphones. Pedestrians often prefer this lane too, as well as hand carts and the street sweepers clearing leaves and debris using hand tied palm branch brooms. Add to this mélange that vehicles turning right into the Main Street consider they have the right of way, so do not pause or check left. Volume and this seeming chaos dictates caution and traffic moves carefully. So it somehow works. Western Cyclists become wary and aware during our orientation to the roads here. 

Roads and highways are awesomely wide and landscaped, traffic lights occasional, light posts are artistic, sidewalks are twenty feet wide. Both are lined by tall trees and mass plantings of colourful bushes. 

Cars in the city must be no older than ten years, and the preferred choices are SUVs, white, black or grey. Imported Luxury cars are taxed at 300% higher rates, but there are lots seen. 

Oh, and parking is taken wherever one can find it, on either side. 

It is baffling and appreciated to find order in seeming chaos… Drivers have been considerate as we weave through the streets in our long line, drawing attention, smiles, thumbs up, and smartphone videos.