I'm planning to cycle Canada this July. My rough plan is to start in St John's and bike to Montreal or Ottawa. It'll be my first time biking Canada and I still have a few questions, maybe someone here can help me?
1. Maps: I couldn't find any good maps yet. Is there anything you recommend?
2. Direction: Is there any reason to cycle the other way (starting in Montreal cycling to St John's)?
3. I'm a bit afraid it might be all flat and therefore kind of boring... What about that?
Of course, I'm also happy if you share any other information about cycling Canada!
1. there are different maps for the various regions that you'd find yourself in. Nova Scotia's biking map is included here
Cape Breton Highlands are world renowned for their scenery and 1 of the top ten cycling destinations in the world. Not boring, mountains, not hills to be experienced.
New Brunswick you really only need road maps, I'd highly recommend the secondary roads for your travel.
The only thing about Newfoundland is that once you fly in, you'll soon be on a ferry ride to get to the mainland.
Prince Edward Island is another location that's connected to the mainland by Confederation Bridge (13 km long), they've got shuttle services.
Once in Quebec the Route Verte maps are great, lots of information.
2. Direction: we've done from Toronto- Montreal, Ottawa-Montreal, Riviere du Loup to Quebec City and back.
I'd recommend a west-east route for the prevailing winds would generally be at your back.
3. hills/flat/boring...see #1 Most of the Atlantic Provinces have hills, you'll not be bored. Tired but not bored.
FYI we've spent 3 weeks cycling the Danube River, now thats flat...
Are you starting in St. John's Newfoundland, or St. John New Brunswick? (Note the difference in spelling of the city name.)
1. I rather like topographical maps issued by the canadian governement, but you need lots of them to get enough detail. Whenever touring abroad, I've used standard road maps for each province/state, which give almost enough detail. I'm not aware of cycling-specific maps for that large area. Google maps is one obvious answer, but if you are like me, you won't have any device with you that will help. I prefer paper maps myself.
2. Direction: Prevailing headwinds is the most obvious answer, although this isn't as important a factor in the area you are cycling. It is a much more important factor from Calgary to Montreal. There are very consistent headwinds from the west.
3. That all depends on your reference. If you are from Western Australia, anything will seem interesting (or wet). If you are from Nepal, everything will seem boring. I've travelled both and found both very interesting. Oh, you're from Switzerland, it might be boring. :D People asked if I was bored cycling from Calgary to Winnipeg, but I found it quite impressive in its own way. I've cycled from Vancouver to Montreal two decades ago and loved it. My wife and I plan to finish off that trip from Montreal out to St. John's with the kids at some point. We plan to do it west to east.
If you cycle your originally planned direction, tell us what the route was like when you get to Ottawa and stay with us. If you do the other way around, we can discuss your planned route before you start. :)
For another reference, here is trip log of a couple of friends of mine who cycled around the world starting in Ottawa, going east: http://goingeast.ca/blog/2008/07/07/we-left-home-finally/
Beware that North America is pretty backwards when it comes to public transit supporing touring cyclists. Europe and Australiasia are much better prepared to accomodate touring cyclists. You'll need boxes to transport bicycles locally.
Hi Richard, hi Norm
thank you ever so much for you quick and very helpful information!
I'll decide by the end of the week but I think I'm gonna change my initial plan and cycle from west to east. I'm actually heading for st Johns New Brunswick, I don't think I'd make it to Newfoundland in the time.
Richard, thank you so much for offering to stay with you! However, I'm probably going to fly to Montreal and start from there. However, starting from Ottawa would only be about 200km more, so I should think about that, since I really liked the city. I'll definetely keep your offer in mind and would love to somehow meet you and your family!
Like you, I prefer printed maps, since they offer a good overview and don't rund out of battery...
Norm, thank you for telling me I won't be bored ;-)! So I'm looking forward to my trip even more.
Thank you both again for your help! (and please excuse my poor english)
Route Vert(Quebec) has a printed map book, i bought it in 2011 when touring in the area.
Thank you! What was your route?
If you like hills, in Quebec, ride the north shore of the St Lawrence river (stay on the 138 east of Quebec City instead of crossing south to take the 132) to Charlevoix region and take the ferry to Trois-Pistoles, then ride around the Gaspe Peninsula. You'll have awesome views in Charlevoix and Gaspe Peninsula. From Gaspe Peninsula, you can then follow the east coast of New Brunswick. I'm actually planning to do this (the Gaspe and NB part) in July.
Also, I can host you in Quebec City if you'd like.
I'm back :-)
First of all, thank you again for your information!
In Quebec, I mostly followed la Route Verte. I found it was easy to find with lots of signs. I liked it as long as it followed the Highway 132. I enjoyed seeing the river most of the time (I crossed to the south shore in Quebec City, didn't feel like doing too many hills in the heat;-) ), I just love water.
When it leaves the 132, it is a bit of a surprise... After Trois Pistoles, it takes you away from the 132, because there's no major highway, so all the traffic is on the 132. However, it was a terrible road with lots of small turns, steep up- and downhills and all this on gravel. Once on this road, I only wanted to get back on the 132. Which wasn't possible until I finally came to a crossroad.
In two Tourist Information Offices I told the staff about my experience and found out that I was not the only one... another biker told me she's had some similiar experiences with la Route Verte going down to Edmonston.
I cycled through the Matépedia Valley, unfortunately it was raining very bad most of the day, but when the sun came out I could see the beauty of the valley.
I crossed to NB in Pointe-à-la-Croix.
I liked the landscape in NB. However, I didn't enjoy NB as much as Quebec, mainly because of the weather: I often had really bad headwinds and quite a bit of rain. But I was impressed that I could bike on any highway!!! :-) I really enjoyed the route from Moncton to Saint John, nice hills (not too steep, not too flat), good roads, not too much traffic.
I camped on private ground most of the time and got to stay with three warmshowers, all of them very kind and great experiences. In Ottawa, Montreal, Miramichi, Cambpellton and Saint John I stayed in hostels. Miramichi was horrible, do not go there!!! The others were all very nice places.
Unfortunately I didn't have the time to see hopewell Rocks and the Fundy beaches and I'm sure there are many other beautiful places in NB, so I am hoping to be back some day!