Gaspésiens all know about “la Madeleine”, a six-kilometre hill outside the little village of Rivière-Madeleine. And when you say, “Yes, I’ve climbed la Madeleine,” they compliment you on your physical fitness and eye you as if you are a deranged masochist.
La Madeleine is the first in a series of dizzying rises and descents between Rivière-Madeleine and Forillon National Park. It’s the longest of these hills, but not the most agonizing. Cyclotourists who have previously circled the Gaspé Peninsula in a clockwise direction know from experience that when they leave Rivière-Madeleine, they’re in for two days of hell — or pleasure, depending on their outlook — and that the second day will be even harder than the first. Between Saint-Yvon and Capdes-Rosiers at the eastern end of Highway 132, the succession of hills seems endless.