A 2,800km Bike-and-Ski Traverse of the Entire Length of Quebec

On Feb. 1, Simon-Pierre Goneau and Samuel Lalande-Markon will embark on a 2,785km south-to-north traverse of Quebec.

The journey — dubbed the Expedition Transboréale 2023 — will begin on bicycle at Quebec’s southern border. It ends on skis at Wolstenholme Cape, the northern tip of Canada’s largest province.

Samuel Lalande-Markon (left) and Simon-Pierre Goneau (right). Photo: Expedition Transboréale 2023


“As a Quebecer, there is something fascinating about the Quebec territory,” Lalande-Markon told ExplorersWeb. “It is vast and largely unknown to the general public. It is not a territory [with] high mountain ranges, for example, but it has its own character, very northern and very rugged.”

The route

The wheeled portion of the trip passes through Montreal and turns northwest to Val-d’Or before heading directly north to Chisasibi. Lalande-Markon will be solo for this portion, as Goneau already cycled this route in 2020.

That journey was part of Goneau’s failed attempt to traverse Quebec from north to south entirely by bicycle. It ended when difficult conditions and pandemic-related worries combined to force an early bailout. For the record, Goneau “remains convinced that the portion north of Chisasibi could be ridden [in] good conditions.”

The route. Illustration: Expedition Transboréale 2023


Lalande-Markon, an experienced adventure cyclist, is applying the lessons learned from Goneau’s previous expedition to this year’s effort. For instance, his steel-framed fatbike has an internal, belt-driven Pinion gearbox. The belt is a rubber-and-carbon-composite material that should stand up to the corrosive conditions that plagued Goneau in 2020.

The bike route makes heavy use of the James Bay Road and a network of roads built and maintained by Hydro-Québec. Goneau will join Lalande-Markon in Chisasibi. Here, the two will strap on skis and follow a coastal route north along Hudson Bay. The pair will resupply four times at Inuit villages along the way.

“The [interactions] in the communities are part of our experience and we do not want to deprive ourselves of their conveniences,” Lalande-Markon noted.

The duo expects the journey to take about 100 days.

Lessons from the past

Simon-Pierre Goneau and Samuel Lalande-Markon are not the first to undertake a human-powered, south-to-north traverse of Quebec, though their route might be the longest such attempt.

The four-man 1980 expedition led by Andre Laperriere and Louis Craig took a more remote, shorter, inland route from Montreal to Ungava Bay. They skied and pulled sleds the entire way. A 2014 team later honored their expedition with a similar route.

“Although the destination was less northerly, the management of supplies was more complex. [The Laperriere/Craig] expedition has a legendary aura,” Lalande-Markon said. “Our conditions [on the coastal route] will be different. Probably faster for [skiing], but more exposed to the wind and also inhabited by polar bears.”

Simon-Pierre Goneau

Simon-Pierre Goneau. Photo: Simon-Pierre Goneau


“We anticipate a more difficult progression because…there are rocky ridges to cross,” the adventurer continued. “We expect to take more time to avoid damaging [our skis] on the rock.”

Between the two of them, Goneau and Lalande-Markon have a diverse resume of adventures in Quebec and elsewhere, including climbing, mountaineering, and multi-sport, long-distance journeys on bicycles, skis, and canoes. But extreme northern Quebec, known as Nunavik, will be the ultimate challenge.

“We did everything we could to be ready,” Lalande-Markon told ExplorersWeb.

Follow along with Simon-Pierre Goneau and Samuel Lalande-Markon here.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).