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What 4-Days of Biking Canada’s 280km Chemin Du Roy Can Teach You About Life

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Like going to the best cafe in a new city for the first time and smelling those freshly baked croissants and spotting that giant cappuccino brimming with promise, once we caught a whiff nothing could hold us back from sinking our teeth into the oldest road in North America, Le Chemin du Roy.

Chemin de Roy biking, paillard croissants, paillard quebec city, french pastries, cup of coffee, cappuccino and croissantConstruction on “The King’s Road” started in 1731 and was completed in 1737, at 24-feet wide and over 280 kilometers long, the Chemin du Roy became the longest road in existence north of Rio Grande. Beginning in Repentigny and extending eastward towards Quebec City, this historic road runs along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, most of which now follows along the present-day Quebec Route 138.

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1. Adventuring is not all fun and games.

Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canadaSure we’re not stuck in an office, we have no one to answer to and the projects we work on are all self-motivated for the most part, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes we choose to do things that make us feel under qualified, over worked and exhausted beyond the point of repair. In fact, it’s rare that we choose to do an adventure that is “easy” anymore because we’ve come to realize that without a challenge, the amount of learning and personal growth is limited, and where’s the fun in that?!

2. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.
lights will guide you home, girl in hat, girl with tattooWhen deciding to bike the Chemin du Roy we knew nothing about the route, the area or how on earth we were going to do this thing. With minimal (English) resources online, we decided to take it to the streets and stop in local bike shops in Quebec City to get some more detailed answers to our questions. What we learned from the locals saved us the pain of learning hard lessons in an even harder way. The most important thing we learned? That riding from Quebec City to Montreal was NOT the way to go, unless we wanted to be riding the “false flat” uphill the entire way! No thank you.

Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canadaWith that lesson in hand we made arrangements to park our van in Montreal (we found a free, secure street outside the city) and start our route from there. We also learned that upon completing the Chemin du Roy that we could take the VIA Rail Trail from Quebec City back to Montreal with our bikes (additional $25). Tip: Book your train tickets online in advance, what we paid $30 for was $90 at the gate! Yikes and thank yoooou locals.

Chemin de Roy camping, where to camp along the chemin du roy, biking the chemin du royAnother way talking to strangers benefitted us? Free camping and new friends. After biking XYZ miles each day we would usually die out somewhere in the middle of nowhere, so what then?! Instead of being constrained by a motel or campsite reservation, we decided to intuitively knock on doors of houses that had an RV simply because of the fact that they were more likely to understand our way of life.The result: Success. We never had to seek out a 2nd door to knock on and we were always met with kindness and a level of generosity that far exceeded anything we had ever hoped for.

3. Every problem has a solution, you just need to want to solve it.

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Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canada4. It is always worth taking the time to stop and admire the world around you.

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chemin du roy, laundry line, black and white laundry line

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Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canada, flowers and cows5. Bitter (cold) moments can reap sweet rewards.

Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canada, biking in the rainDay 1: 30 miles, Day 2: 70 miles. At this point, it was day 3, we had camped 2 nights in a row and regardless of how tired our bones and muscles were we HAD TO ride at least 40 miles if we didn’t want ride another brutal 12-hours and 70 miles on our 4th and final day. We had reserved a hotel (shower time!) and made reservations at the famous Chateau Frontenac for Saturday night (food!) and nothing was going to keep us from making it back in time… not even the frigid, relentless rain that we awoke to at 7am on that fateful 3rd day. We covered our packs, put on our ponchos (and plastic bag mittens) and rode as beastly as we could, until I started to cry. Yep, that’s what happens when I’m cold and wet, it’s something I have no control over and no matter how much exposure therapy I get, I still cry.

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6. As long as you can breathe you can pretty much make it through anything.

Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canadaThree days down and one more day to go, we had come to the conclusion that the Chemin du Roy was a relatively flat trail with a few gentle ascents every so often, something we had become very thankful for given the distance we were covering and the loads we were carrying. Well, as with most adventures, we were in for a surprise. It wasn’t until the last day, when our muscles were nearly spent, that we were faced with steep, winding roads and undulating hills that seemed to try and drag us backwards with every strained, pedal stroke we struggled to pump out. Inching our way up in 1st gear, the temptation to get off our bikes and walk was strong, but the desire to reach our destination was stronger, and we knew that if we just kept breathing and if we just kept moving forward, no matter how slow, victory would soon be ours.

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Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, oldest road in north america, best bike rides in canada, bike riding in canada, bike tour of canada, biking from quebec city to montreal, how to bike the chemin du roy, how long is the chemin du roy,, long distance bike trip canadaAs we sat in our tent taking refuge from the black flies, boiling water for our freeze dried meal, reflecting on the 100+ miles we had managed to pack into our back pockets, we had an epiphany. One of the reasons we love committing to adventures as challenging as this, ironically, is because of the immense joy we are gifted with once it’s over. Starting something for the satisfaction of finishing… it’s a funny thought isn’t it? But anything that you find worth starting, whether it’s an art project, a business endeavor, a marathon, a relationship or a bike ride, it deserves being seen through to the end. Learn lessons, make memories, laugh, cry and seize EVERY day!

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Chemin de Roy, biking the entire chemin du roy, dinner at chateau frontenac, mr and mrs adventure, romantic quebec city, chateau frontenac180 miles… 180 miles?! Done. No more bike seats, no more backpacks, no more pedaling… could it really be true!? After biking the entire “King’s Road” we were in need of a royal celebration, and what could be more fitting then to celebrate our victory at a castle!

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Chateau frontenac, best food in quebec city, restaurant at chateau frontenac, fairmont chateau frontenac, champlain restaurant at chateau frontenac, best restaurant in quebec cityThe Chateau Frontenac, opened in 1893, is recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world. Perched atop a tall cape overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, the iconic Chateau was the perfect place to enjoy a much deserved bottle of wine and an absolutely unforgettable meal after a journey as royally challenging as ours.

Chateau frontenac, best food in quebec city, restaurant at chateau frontenac, fairmont chateau frontenac, champlain restaurant at chateau frontenac, best restaurant in quebec cityAa yes, cozy seats, a beautifully decorated roof over our heads and a wonderful waiter named Marc to take care of us. We went with the “Culinary Escape” package for two, a gourmet, five-course experience in which their award winning Chef, Stéphane Modat, prepares a meal of the restaurant’s favorite dishes and those still in the creation process. Anything worth starting is definitely worth finishing especially when you have an ending such as this:

Chateau frontenac, best food in quebec city, restaurant at chateau frontenac, fairmont chateau frontenac, champlain restaurant at chateau frontenac, best restaurant in quebec city, romantic meal quebec, best restaurant in canadaPerfectly baked, soft, warm bread rolls with sea salted butter to start, followed by the freshest Atlantic salmon tataki to set our palettes right. Our main course was the most tender roasted veal loin and for dessert we were blessed with the “All Chocolate,” which was exactly that…

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Chateau frontenac, best food in quebec city, restaurant at chateau frontenac, fairmont chateau frontenac, champlain restaurant at chateau frontenac, best restaurant in quebec city, romantic meal quebec, best restaurant in canadaThat night we went home comforted by the fact that we had one more epic adventure, and the many lessons that came along with it, behind us. The most unforgettable memories seem to be accompanied by trying circumstances, wonderful company, delicious food and of course, a happy ending. Our photo with the refreshingly personable and extremely talented Chef Modat below:

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    clielee

    September 18, 2015

    So glad I found this post! I’m also planning on doing the Chemin du roy at the end of September, but booked my flights in reverse (into QC, out of Montreal). In your opinion is the false flat really that bad /should I suck up the flight change fees and reverse it? Also how were the paths? I’m debating bringing my hybrid bike or renting a road bike depending on whether they are all paved or some gravel areas. Thanks!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      September 18, 2015

      How exciting! I’m glad you found us because we literally were able to find NOTHING online or even in person when we asked the locals prior to leaving. We didn’t notice the false flat one bit, the only thing we noticed was the intense up (and down) hill climb on our last day headed towards QC. You’ll overcome this on your first day so it could actually be of benefit! We totally recommend a road bike, unless your hybrid is really light, our mountain bikes were so heavy they only made it harder. You’d enjoy it a bit more I think if you were on a fast, lightweight bike. It was mostly roads, shoulders and sidewalks, so road bike all the way 🙂 Let us know how it is and if you learn any new tips! Have a fun and safe trip!

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