Saturday, November 14, 2015

I have perfected the best southern Quebec road-bike ride, with various distance options.

I have found the perfect road bike ride. It is not a hilly mountain ride, because that's a different thing. It's not just lowland flats, because that's boring. This ride combines scenic rural country road riding with a moderate hill climb in the middle, all of it on great roads: quiet with few cars, always scenic with mix of forests and farm fields, and almost always on good to very good quality asphalt.

The itinerary is

Section 1 : St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to top of Covey Hill

St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to new bridge on Covey Hill (above town of Franklin Centre)

St-Bernard-de-Lacolle /piste cyclable la paysan bike path /Chemin Hebert/Country roads near St-Chrysostome, Havelock, Franklin and finally chemin Brooks to top of Covey Hill. On a clear day Chemin Brooks has a view of Montreal from 80 km away. We stop at the bridge because it is scenic and a zen spot.

The Covey Hill bridge is the turnaround point - or the start for all longer-ride tours to the west
This bridge is where all the ride options start. You can return back to the start (by a the same route or a slightly different route), or head further west for whatever distance you want to ride or extra time you have in the day before sunset. Sunset time and remaining daylight is the constraint you need to decide what to do here.

The return from Covey Hill to St-Bernard-de-Lacolle via Chemin Moore 

This section of the ride takes a slightly different route from the route we took to get here.

I use a different route to make the start of the ride a bit easier and less complicated and since it's on a bike path you can chat with buddies a bit more comfortable than on a road. The return simply takes a series of perfect roads for road-biking, including the funfest Chemin Moore. This direction also exploits the downhill trend of the landscape so it is speedy. Pure gravy!

All the optional circuits to the west will return to the Covey Hill bridge and will use the Chemin Moore route back to St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

Section 2: West between Franklin/Covey Hill and Powerscourt

There's a bunch of excellent options in this section. Riding around Rockburn and Powerscourt is road bike paradise. In Powerscourt is QUebec's oldest covered bridge, built in 1863. It crosses the Chateauguay River. This region is called the Chateauguay Valley and don't you forget it!

Rockburn loop

This option adds one hour. It pure bike-ride perfection. Highly recommended. Either direction is good, I like clockwise. You could do even it both ways because it is that good. I usually do this version of the ride because I have just enough time extra to still get back in time for supper. So I often say to buddies, we can do this little extra section, one hour, and it's great riding." Then next time they tell me that want to do it again, so I know it's good. 

There is a restaurant in Rockburn.  Because this ride avoids towns and civilization, this is a chance for food without having to take a detour into a village.

Powerscourt allez-retour direct
Go west (one hour) direct out-and-back to Powerscourt & Quebec's oldest covered bridge.

You will be riding on First Concession. A few hundred metres south of here is the border with the USofA.  It is a another great road for road-bike riding. No I am not bullshitting. THis ride overflows with great road-bike roads.

This version goes straight and does not use the Rockburn Loop (Although I suggest including the clockwise direction of the loop on the retour/return leg of the ride because it's a free downhill, and it's really good riding.

Powerscourt plus Rockburn Loop
Go west (2 hours) hour direct out-and-back to Powerscourt  This version includes doing both directions of the Rockburn Loop separately on the allez and the retour parts of the ride.

Franklin > Montée Rockburn, Athelstan, Powerscourt

Franklin > Montée Rockburn, Athelstan, Elgin, Powerscourt

Franklin > Montée Rockburn, Chemin Gore, Gilmore Bridge, Elgin, Powerscourt

We'll finish this later. It's time to go outside.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Fast pedaling workout aka High Rpm Cadence Intervals

Pedaling cadence rpm is one of those things that separates the pros from the slows.

High rpm spin-the-pedals is always preferred to low rpm push-the-pedals.

Fast pedaling at high rpm = low effort.

Slow pedaling at low rpm = high effort & poor form.

Here is a cadence interval workout I like a lot.

I like it a lot because it works. The more you do it the easier it is to bike. This makes biking easier. So either easier, or faster, or more fun, or all of these together. Caution: may cause jubilant glee.

Training to spin over 110 makes regular 90-100 rpm cadence sweet and easy, and gives me plenty of headroom for accelerational requirements.

Having good high rpm cadence capabilities is a skill the debutants definitely do not inherently possess and I would say it is as fundamental as correct bike position, map reading skills, flat changing skills, road safety skills, and a positive and welcoming attitude about impending uphills.

I like that this provides a training to support the constant changes in pedaling speed and effort arising from wind, gravity, shifting and other fun factors.

I love to watch Colorado high speed road bike youtube videos because watching high speed road riding inspires high speed pedaling.

This workout will make bike riding easier, therefore more fun, with greater potential to put the pedal down and go faster when needed.

Which means have more fun!

Print me! Ride me!

Don't forget to use good form. Good form is everything.

These things will address good form. Always use good form.
  • No bouncing up and down.
  • Keep your weight on the seat.
  • Watts set watts or power below your cardio overload level. This is NOT about pushing hard.
  • Headband, bike gloves, towel, lip stuff, and water nearby. 
  • Put a powerful fan in front of you. You will sweat. (with big fan wearing bike shades for eye protection is useful)
  • Use fast-beat tunes
  • Fast Colorado mountains road-bike videos on youtube
  • Rest the next day, no back to back hard sessions! 
It's a long time until summer returns:
  • November - the less less said about n-v-m--r the better!
  • December - perform sacred snow dance to make snow fall from sky in large quantity
  • January - snowshoe and cross country ski - woohoo
  • February - snowshoe and cross country ski - woohoo
  • March - snowshoe and ski road trip to Charlevoix & Saguenay
  • March - late winter road bike rides near ormstown if dry weather
  • April - road bike rides near Ormstown, mtn bike on road around lac Brome lake & Wotton
  • May - everything turns green and warm temperatures arrive
  • June - It's starting to look a lot like summer!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Lacolle to Powerscourt ride along US Border via Franklin & Covey Hill

(Letter to a friend format)

Well I had also had significant winds in the consistently 30 & gusting to 40 km range all day, and in the they're out to get me dept, they were NE winds. So riding Lacolle to Powerscourt I had a fabulous great amazing best first half to a ride possible. Then it was turn around time and what was joy and happiness became energy depleting relentless obstacle. 

I got the first 80 km to powerscourt done 4 hours total time including a Pont Barré that was really Barré and so I had to explore crossing options in some detail and ultimately stepped over widely-spaced stones through a pretty good current. Using the bike with brakes held on helps stabilize when making the big steps between rocks (and they we all big steps between rocks!!). I lost a water bottle there because stupidity. This was the closed road (bridge closed) to Havelock which means that geographically the next step could only be to climb Covey hill the HARD way, from the east and it's a mega hill, 30-40 km tailwinds assisted fersure here. Then from the crest of the road's highest point it was downhill and tail wind 30 km all the way to Powerscourt. It went fast!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I got to powerscourt at 1 pm and doing the math I had to turnaround here because return leg (although a shorter route) would be slowed by wind.  As a result I got home to Montreal at 7:20 for the 7:30 chicken roti pickup right on time, so this turnaround point plan worked exquisitely well. This is the deal with this ride, turn around at whatever point will result in correct return home deadline. Still gave me time for beer/n/chips when finished which if I had continued into Elgin would have been eliminated and it's a feature of this ride to be relished and with a hard return section, anticipated with pavlovian intensity.

Arriving back at the car, I didn't stop, I just kept going on the bike path! Because I battled headwind for 4.5 hours all the way back I went past the car a kilometer in order to turn around in a klick or two so I would then have tailwind and finish the ride with a little less survived the Somme feeling and get a tiny taste of tailwind to end the day. Ok, fine.  But when I mapped the ride when I got home it turns out my total distance was 158.5 Km or 99 miles, meaning I should have done 2 km not 1 km extra into the wind and I would have had 100 miles! Doh!  

It was also a cold day, the first one of the season - but I have figured out how to completely cover the exposed flesh and that wasn't a problem. I have new neoprene booties to wear over my shoes, and shopping early meant large (technically xxl) is in stock.  I wore a liner glove-cycling glove-fleece glove on top combination which worked quite well in combating my cold-finger problem.

So a good road ride uses up all your energy. The quality of "good" can be calibrated by identifying at what point the energy reserves are depleted, versus where on the ride the energy depletion occurred. For this ride, the energy reserve depletion point (ERDP, also known as the point where you learn you are not actually in the shape you dreamed you were in) was at the 75% of ride point, so the final downhill 1/4 of the ride (usually on a good day with the wind but today aggressively against the wind) was a challenge, but it has downhillish tendencies and this characteristic to the ride is a life saver. Both for me and most buddies who had their edrp long ago earlier in the ride.  When I did this ride two weeks ago I rocked this section at top speed, so what a difference wind direction makes to my perception of my self-greatness!

Good things
got an early start, on bike 9 am
great tailwind for 4 hours
did Covey Hill the hard way (first time since Dominic ride a few years ago)
Didn't get me or bike wet during Pont Barré stream crossing
Low car traffic (as expected and usual)
Almost no noisy motorcycles
Got some apples and juice at Stevenson's in Rockburn
Easy drive both ways
Did not forget any cold weather gear
These roads are perfect for biking in every way
Amazing view of big mountains in eastern townships and Vermont from middle hard covey hill climb
My explorations zigzagging during first 1/4 of ride has developed nicely into a new & favored version of the ride
Chicken roti with pumpkin for supper - a favorite post-ride supper,

Bad things
wind on the return leg of ride
did not get to elgin bakery within time limits of ride. Need 8 am start or less time-wasting zigzag route for first 1/4 of ride
I could be both stronger and have better endurance
forgot camera, although this does speed up the ride a lot.
Winter's coming!

Post ride advice: Recommendation: Chicken Roti at Caraibe Delite on ave du Parc. Spread the one-person size cup of hot sauce on the top of the roti. Mmmmm good.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New bridge on Sentier du Paysan bike path - Muddy detour gone forever!

Depuis l’article GeoPleinair sur le Sentier du Paysan dans 2012, il a construit des aires de repose, et mieux, il a construire a nouveau pont a Rang 2 a Ste-Clotilde. Le détour de boue est fini pour tout temps.

Yellow: new bridge replaces the obvious detour
Green: a fun variation with good scenic and asphalt qualities
Red: how to get to/from Ste-Chrysostome from western end of bike path

Another fine bike ride on Quebec's most southern road

I returned to the Lacolle >Franklin (Rockburn) roadride with the std distance extension western section to Elgin (Powerscourt) yesterday because I broke a spoke on the mtn bike on friday night - which put the kibosh on my saturday mtn bike ride plan.

You can see from the map that I variated the route (introduced a series of possibly unrandom variations).  This worked out great, I like especially when a new road is a nice asphalt & scenic road and I found one of these too. 

I did not make it to the Elgin Bakery, or rather I did but about two hours later than its 2 pm closing time. I had stopped at Stevenson orchard in Rockburn on my way west and got a bottle of fresh apple juice (1.89l is quite a lot) and they had sweet tango apples. I said I'd pick some up on the way back and I made it back there 1 minute before the closing time! From that point it is up onto the top of covey hill and then downhill back to the car, today was not a with-the-wind day (damn!). The last 40 km were hard and I did a lot of speedy coasting (gentle sprint to top a rise, then a long coast, repeat).

In a sign of things to come in the 2015 bike season , the sun set before I got back to the car. But happily because of the fact the last ten km is on bike path, the sun set just as I arrived on the bike path so no issues with traffic safety. The dep 3 km from the end of the ride had cold beer and chips and these were excellent. I was soif!

I still continue to regard this ride as nearly perfect, with low traffic, good roads, nice scenery, good variety, and now in apple season much improved food options around Franklin. This ride is my favorite for a reason, not too hard and as long as I want it.

Riding the final wooded bike path section in the dark reminds me.... there have been cougar sightings in the area.  Recent marking of bike path bumps has had an effect: not only can I see the bumps in near darkness, but the town saw them too and repaved a couple of sections of high bump concentrations!!!!!

It took about nine hours total time to ride this, roughly 11 am to 8 pm. A full day of perfect sunshine, low winds, and hot summer temps. And some suffering, but not too much. 

Sure it looks like two bike rides, but it is an excellent long day ride. I did it in 9 hours, from 11 am to 8 pm.

NEWS! Looooong-awaited new bridge on sentier du paysan near St-Clotilde

Abandoned church in middle of nowhere near St-Chrysostome.
Church in St-Chrysostome
many many stone walls on this ride in Franklin and westwards
Ths point means 1/4 or 3/4 of ride is done.
Mtée Covey hill with new asphalt! Nice bridge rest stop at dip in the road
The Bertrand also likes this rest stop on Mtée Covey Hill
Round barn on Gore road south of Huntingdon
There is no end to the uses and usefulness of those velcro pant cuff thingies
200 year old tree
Entering Athelstan, a nice neat clean brick church (Ormstown brick)
Someone in Athelstan really likes trains - note the bronze conductor!
Gilmore bridge across Chateauguay river into Elgin is thin and delicate old-school steel bridge
Gilmore bridge closed to cars, but open for bikes, it's a perfect private rest stop
1St Concession is a perfect bike road in every way. Paradis du vélo!
Sun, trees, forests, fields, farms, fences, fun and fun and more fun
Quebec's oldest covered bridge, Pont Percy across the Chateauguay river at Powerscourt near US border.
Good view of the double-arch aspect to the MacCallum bridge design used here.
Historical plaque was stolen three years ago, and still not replaced.
Two genuine original Chateauguay Valley pioneer buildings ar Rennies farm on 1st concession
The ride is full of perfect roads for road bike riding of all levels.
Yet another tree tunnel
Recognize this? THis is fresh asphalt, smooth and perfect for biking.
When you order your mailbox on the internet from the artisanal mailbox company and for appearance/finish you click on "distressed" this is what you get
This ride avoids almost all towns, especially on the return section all along 1st Concession along US border (most southern road in Quebec) but people at corner Mtée Rockburn (aka Dewittville sideroad) and the first Concession put out this self-serve water station - and it has COLD water!
Every 3-4 minutes another kilometer passes by... much better than any 4k tv set
These cows appear concerned for my health because at this point I was beat.
Cows watching the sunset, but I still had an hour to ride before finished & back at the car
Which came first? The Sunset or finishing the ride?  Oopsie, the sunset. But today it is ok because at this second of sunset I also arrived at the Sentier du Paysan bike path and 10 car-free kilometers to ride straight back to the car in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
The delicious new Apple variety Sweetango is now ripe and available for your apple-eating pleasure. I bought this bag at Verger Stevenson's orchard which is right on the bike ride route. I did have to carry the bag 52 km back to the car. (tip: split up the apples in three between bag, camelbak, and I use the spare vest's deep back pockets and tie vest solidly to the camelbak (it works, trust me)

new helmet, bigger vents, more hair

Friday, August 28, 2015

la liste - rides 2015

So by now I have done my usual list of favorite rides, so is it now time to revisit a favorite, or try to explore and find another ride to the list? Decisions, decisions. 
-Ormstown (3x) I’d do more rides here except Mercier bridge and alternatives are bad bridges. Although Mercier has its seasonal mega repairs completed for 2015. Since 2008 it’s been being reconstructed with half being federal and half being provincial, and for the provincial half, the re-decking objective seems astoundingly low priority. Because whenit is finished, nice new wide bike/pedestrian sidewalk reconnecting that part of south shore to mtl for bikes.
Lacolle (5x) I like riding here and maybe another visit in in the autumn for apple season – greatly improving the snacking potential in Franklin area. As you saw, nice top quality roads too. As I ride in other regions, I notice the parts with bad roads. 
Mystic/Bedford/Frelighsburg (2x) This is usually the first real mega hill I do (covey hill I do the easy way) and it enters the eastern townships hills via some real nice riding terrain.  There is also a really short cute covered bridge that I can’t find this year. And I know it’s on this ride!  I did a copout a couple of times in trying to extend the distance east so I have to go back and finish the longest distance version of the ride. Maybe to do this I have to start in Frelighsburg and not Bedford of Mystic.
Louiseville, this ride is on the north side of the St Laurence and has that combo of flats and into and then out of the hills that I like. Nice hills too, with optional insane hills. Then downhill back to the car.
St-Jean-de-Matha – Home of my fave compact area full of hills. Some recent pavement deterioration on two downhill sections plus some megacheap chipseal (small stones sprayed with tar, except the stones are not small like they are supposed to be so nonstop b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-umpy) makes it less fun. With better road surface this is a top favorite ride. 
Victoriaville – this ride starts on the plains but not for long as it heads into across and out of the hills. Victoriaville is a nice town, the rural scenery is nice. This is in the slightly farther drive distance class of rides. Still, on bike two hours from getting in the car. Also birthplace of poutine.
Plessisville – This is the big leagues. A bit far but nice riding on historic and quiet roads. Generally always up or down. One mega hill that I did in downhill direction this year.
Berthierville – last week’s longish but easy ride, but it seems to get less easy as the day progresses. Nice to ride on islands then in farmland back on shore. One final nice rest stop area that is basically super quiet oddly located rural park before final section back to car traffic civilization. This is second year I do this ride and I like it. I am looking for some ride-lenthening variations.
Dirt: / dirt road / dirt trail / mtn bike
Ayers Cliff (tomifobia trail) – nice scenic double-track rail-trail along tomifobia river to stanstead and away from roads and traffic. Sometimes rides are not all about hills and distance.
Arundel (Corridor Aerobique)
nice scenic double-track rail-trail along rouge river and away from roads and traffic. Sometimes rides are not all about hills and distance. It’s a bit short of a ride though. This is the far end of this trail and not the whole trail since much of it seem just a grind.
Mansonville  / Knowlton (dirt) – two rides in one day through different parts of eastern townships dirt roads. Both nice, the mansonville one more scenic. Good early season mtn bike on dirt road riding.
East Hereford (mtn bike) – visited 2x, need to go back here some more, maybe Saturday!
Rimouski – vacation easy riding, it has bike path all along river all through town. One day I’ll go with the wind and bike to here from home.
To Do list
Lac megantic – I did this last year, nice to ride around lake, a second section to Mont Megantic would be added once some dirt roads are paved and some paved roads are improved, but presently it’s dirt road and I skip that option. But one day, I’ll ride up Mont Megantic, maybe when I get a triple on my next road bike.
Shawinigan/Ste-Tite – didn’t come here for a few years. Need to go back, but some issues with a certain bridge. This is also the start point for a ride through Parc National de la mauricie, which I did once, and is now a major sportif mega ride (I avoid crowds and sportif types) but I found parc de la mauricie to be a bit too much “always in a forest” to be really enjoyable, very few views.
Jay Peak – long climbs, newly renewed asphalt. After I train all winter I’ll go back here. Because long climbs.  
Chemin Nordet/St-Donat – a popular laurentiens mega-road through nowhere, the destination town at the turnaround end of the ride needs paved shoulders to make that part of ride safe and fun and not a near-death experience. Maybe too popular/big of a road for my quiet roads in nowhere’sville tastes.
Tremblant / Riviere Rouge Huberdeau – Another annual ride I do with Jim every year. Still waiting for one section to get the asphalt repaved (last repaved in 1800s it seems like), It has a covered bridge and is otherwise a nice ride in really nice terrain.
Frelighsburg/Stowe – Did this in probably 1980/early 90ss with Pierre, 50 miles south, 50 miles back north. Smuggler’s notch to climb to get to and back from Stowe. Sort of on my redo someday list.
Ormstown-Lyon Mtn crossborder century– This was better to do when we had a base in Ormstown. It’s another 100 miler century ride. There’s some issues with Franklin border crossing being open/closed.
Mont Laurier – Montreal – P-tit train du nord bike path is 200 km from St-Jerome to Mont Lauruer (tremblant in the middle) along with more 50 km-ish more riding mainly on bike path back home to Mtl. This is a long term goal requiring overnight in Mont Laurier and an early start.
Montreal-Quebec – waiting for a big tailwind and I’ll try this one in a day sometime. Maybe with wife-based car support.
Quebec-Gaspé with the wind. Another needs some wife-based car support to do this lightweight and speedy.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

FIrst Plessisville appalachian hills ride of 2015

Returned to Plessisville and did the more-or-less easy tour of the Circuit Celtique chemins Craig et Gosford bike paradise.

The section between St-Pierre-Baptiste and Inverness is still under reconstruction (year 3!!!) and it time to finish the job and repave the road. The inverness side is not as bad as the St-Pierre-Baptiste side.  Don't let this scare you off, it's a nice ride and it's only a couple of km.

Followed a road sign 3 km off-route to discover the excellent Pont Rouge covered bridge

Here's the map from Mapmyride, which is my new map app.

It's a great ride destination.

password located, blogging again

I found the password and I can blog again.

Follow me on twitter for much more active Cycle Fun Montreal content.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chateauguay Valley is a cycling paradise

purple: the ride. Yellow: optional roads. Arrows: quiet rest stops

So many roads to ride! This is not a problem.You can do 20 different rides around this region.
One of our favorite regions to ride is south west of Montreal in the valley historically called by the english as the Chateauguay Valley (roughly) between the Chateauguay river and the US border. The government has renamed this the Haut-Saint-Laurent, but nobody I know calls it this. If your riding style is authenticity-based, you'll call it the Chateauguay Valley also.

The Map shows the usual - but not the shortest - version of the ride.

The yellow is other roads in the region that we ride on. As you can see, the standard ride can be easily lengthened for a longer day on the bike.

Red arrows are scenic or quiet rest stops.

We like to call this region the Vallée Cyclable. It is superb. It is fantastic.

In spring the roads are clean, dry, smooth, and if you ride anywhere else in Quebec in spring, you will know that these qualities are rare. Add scenic and low on car traffic, and still undeveloped rural and not just one same-looking-town corporate-franchised town after another.  I say this , but yucky-coffee-is-our-brand tims arrived in Ormstown last winter. We suggest going to Café Namaste on Ormstown's main street for some non-brazillian-mega-corporation-coffee-chain coffee.

Montreal is an island spring ride

Trans-island spring ride
Every spring we do this ride, across pont Jacques Cartier bridge and the St-Laurence river to Longueuil, come back and head east over to the stade Olympique stadium, then north, cross the river to Laval with a little traverse, and then cross another bridge and come back home for hot food!