TCC: Ottawa to Montreal Summary

The original goal of the trip was to go from Ottawa to Montreal using as much of the transcanada trail as possible over 4 days. Mostly this followed the Route Verte and uses two main trails:

We stayed in AirBnBs as much as possible. We took all-terrain bikes to handle everything from gravel to dirt paths to pavement.  Eric rode a Norco Search Tiagra with 35mm tires. I rode a Kona Roadhouse 2016 with 30mm tires. Most of the route could have been ridden easily with a road bike (preferably with 25mm or 27mm tires) with only a few exceptions on the Veloroute des Draveurs.  Attempting the actual TCC through the Gatineau park requires some much beefier if not a full-on suspension mountain bike.

In terms of additional equipment:

  • decent sized double rear panniers on both bikes
  • lots of tubes, an extra tire, and basic tools/equipment
  • garmin edge 510
  • camelbacks
  • emergency snacks which we didn’t use at all given that we found the stops relatively ample and well-timed
  • minimal cool or wet weather riding gear since the forecast was clearly for hot and dry weather
  • no paper maps since we were following very well marked trails including Route Verte; we also expected to have data coverage through much of the trip
  • end of day clothes, toiletries
  • two or three bike outfit kits each

The main take-aways from the trip were:

  • enter major cities on sunday mornings if possible:
    • the TCC trail markings often are the worst when you get into major cities and the trails start to mix with the in-city network OR there are gaps in the trails that force you onto roads. It is nice to be in low-traffic conditions on a sunday morning when this happens
  • trail quality is usually worse the farther you are from a major center
    • this definitely seems to be true with the TCC; supported by few local bikers, the trails are mostly borrowed from ATV and snowmobile clubs and are often not well maintained for biking
  • TCC requires patience
    • when things are darkest (usually in a marshy soft section), it is easy to bail on the trail — remember that things will always eventually get better and some perseverance may pay off
  • trials are often rewarded when you go out of your way
    • we were cursing being pulled way off the trail for some of our AirBnB stays, but it paid off in spades
  • my garmin does not generally find or take bike trails
    • really not a garmin expert, so this could be my own incompetence, but my garmin seems to not know that trails exist OR is unwilling to route me onto them
  • following google GPX tracks on my garmin is difficult
    • OTOH, google maps does a great job with using bike trails, but following these tracks (especially through cities) is challenging and annoying
  • camelbacks are not required but a good idea
    • on this particular trip, there is really no requirement for camelbaks but it sure makes it easier to avoid extra stops when you know you have a bit more range with your water supply
  • with a few diversions, could easily use a road bike
    • I was very happy with the bikes that we took, but it is worth noting that one could do pretty much all of this trip on a full-on road bike barring some sections of the Sentier des Draveurs which have been a bit tricky on a road tire
  • lots and lots of bathroom and picnic spots along the way which we didn’t use
    • this is especially true of the Petit Train; loads of stops with picnic tables and bathrooms, but they were rarely used. It is good to know they are there if you wanted to plan your trips around them