Panorama Cycles Campout: A Field Guide to Camp Poutine
In August, a crew from Panorama Cycles set off on a group ride in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains to take full advantage of the last few days of summer. Find a trip report from Trevor Browne here, including a camp poutine recipe and some great photos by Jonathan B. Roy…
Words by Trevor Browne, photos by Jonathan B. Roy (@jonathanbroy)
“What’s for dinner?”
I thought the answer was going to be another bag of dehydrated and boring stew. But instead, the conversation went in a different, and very Quebecois, direction.
“Is there going to be a fire?”
“Of course, there is going to be a fire!”
“Then I suggest we make poutine with fire-roasted potatoes and sausages! Plus, don’t forget about breakfast. Everyone like eggs and bacon?”
This was bound to be more of an unusual overnight ride than I was used to. I tend to ride solo and on the light-and-fast side of things, but this sounded way better. Riding with people you have only met online can go different ways, but it opens you up to new perspectives and ways of doing things. The Panorama Cycles group ride was no different and was meant to introduce some of the ambassadors to one another beyond the Instagram friends that we already were. We were all seasoned cyclists, and we all came from very different backgrounds and approaches to biking. Some of the riders had toured around the world a few times with a camera in tow, some were gravel racers, others were veteran bikepackers, and some were even expedition experts. It was awesome to pull up and see how everyone had kitted out their bikes with their style of bags and gear. Some light and some not so light.
I arrived an hour late after missing the train to Val David, a small village in the Laurentian Mountains. But there was no complaining or begrudging. Everyone welcomed me with big smiles and cheers. But what I did miss out on was the packing of the food supplies to feed six very hungry cyclists. Five pounds of potatoes, three bags of squeaky cheese curds, two cans of gravy, a dozen merguez sausages, two sticks of butter, a handful of green onions, a few beers for an aperitif, and some eggs and bacon for the morning after. And, of course, coffee. If you’re wondering, yes, this did all fit onto their bikes. I was impressed, and I was getting hungry just thinking about the epic meal.
We headed off on our route that had been based on the Foret Ouareau Loop, with a bit of a remix done by one of the ambassadors, Marie-Pierre. It’s a challenging route, to say the least, but the ruggedness and beauty of the track were worth it. Easy rail trail turned into flowy gravel roads, and before we knew it, we were cruising along laughing and joking around. You wouldn’t have known that this was the first time a lot of us had met. Videos and photos were in tall order and reminded us to slow down and enjoy the last rays of the summer sun.
I was getting giddy as the day wore on. I love gravel, but I knew what lay ahead on the Ouareau trails. Steep and winding sandy doubletracks littered with baby head boulders appeared on the menu, and we were hungry for some adventure. We were in for a treat. Everyone was whooping and hollering as we tackled the hills. The golden hour had arrived as well, basking the surrounding land in stunning light. Just a few hike-a-bikes more and we would almost be at camp. Suddenly, we heard a big hiss. Sam opened his fork bags and found a can of dark stout beer that had crucified itself. We had a moment of silence, and quickly put it out of its misery with a few chugs.
With one more bridge to cross before camp, we stopped in the valley of the Beaulne River. Resting to enjoy the quiet gloaming light, we watched the sky fade from a violet purple and pink to bruised blue. It’s those quiet little moments of nature’s beauty that stick out most to me. We were all in awe. Eventually, we needed to answer the call of our rumbling stomachs, so we headed on. Camp needed to be made, and a grand buffet of poutine needed to be prepared.
Darkness started to fall as we reached camp. Everyone felt a little worse for wear. Again, no one complained, but instead, we all happily put on our headlamps and dispersed into teams of two to get things ready for the meal. A stubborn fire was made and water was hauled up from the nearby river. Potatoes were cut and plopped into pots. Beer was sipped. Eventually, sausages were grilled and gravy warmed. Dare I say a gourmet meal was being crafted, and we all happily came together to make it happen. The poutine was graciously served in everyone’s bowls, and a calm fell over everyone. We were happy and eventually satiated with a warm glow that only poutine can provide.
After a long and gentle sleep under a blanket of stars, we awoke to a lazy morning of coffee and slow-cooked breakfast on the fire. Camp was broken, bags packed (much lighter this time) and we were back in the saddle for another day of meandering on the backroads of Quebec. It was a bittersweet end once we all looped back to the start of our journey. I had only met these people a day before, and I was already sad to have to say goodbye. I have to give many thanks to Panorama Cycles’ owner, Simon, who had the vision of putting a diverse group of people together to help build a community of thankful, and hungry, cyclists.
Camp Poutine Recipe
– 3 bags of squeaky cheese curds
– 2 cans of gravy
– 12 merguez sausages
– a handful of green onions, finely chopped
– salt and pepper
– a few beers
Get a good fire going to build up some hot coals. In the meantime, chop up the potatoes into smaller cubes so they cook faster. Plop them into as many pots as you can scrounge up. Add a bit of water to parboil them over the fire. Once almost fork tender, drain off the water and add a few sticks of butter to fry up the potatoes. In the meantime, throw the sausages onto a grill over some low flames to crisp up nice and golden brown. Add the gravy to another pot and slowly heat on a stove if there isn’t enough room on the firepit. Once the potatoes and sausages are ready, divide them equally amongst the bowls. Top with sliced sausages, and cheese curds and pour the hot gravy over top. Garnish with green onions and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a well-chilled lager (hopefully not too shaken). Bon apetit!
Panorama Cycles Campout Route
The route was based on the Foret Ouareau Loop, with a bit of a remix. Find that full route guide linked in the Related Content grid below…
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