Monday, June 27, 2016

First off-road of 2016

I did an excellent mtn bike ride at east hereford last Friday. With Sid we did the single track flow trails and it was very nice. I had a minor brake problem that mainly fixed itself. The downhill trail ride back to village parking is orgasmique and in the best there is dept.
So after Sid left because his wife wouldn't let him miss supper, I went for an end-of-day ride on forest roads north of the village up on top of the hills. Got lost 5 times but never too seriously. But I did exit the “Trial” trail at the same location I entered, and it isn’t a loop.
So coming back from that point on top of Rang 9 hill it’s largely excellent zooming along in a downhill direction (which I earned the hard way), and then I was rolling along on the most road-like of the forest roads I caught up to a moose! That was special. She took off into the woods.
From there you arrive back at the edge of the East Hereford village’s valley area, at christmas tree farms where late afternoon light always makes the trees glow, and there are great views of the village and the Hall river valley. I was having a nice time and turned downhill at the turn-downhill arrow except it took me to a farmers yard and I knew “wrong way” so it was back up the hill and it’s a grueling straight-up climb and that got resolved but would have preferred to not have had that final climb.
At the church (parking) there were still cars so apparently I didn’t end too late and the refreshment stand at the ball park across the street was open (first time ever for me!) for St-Jean party and had hot food and cold beverages so I chowed down and then went home directly.
Sunday was the road ride lacolle to franklin done not at speed because I had no energy at all. None. And despite environment Canada’s weather recording instrumentation, I am sure I had east winds and not SW winds because I had headwind all the way back to the car. It was bigtime tough!  It is not often I take pauses on the flats. But legs needed the recharge. Repeatedly! So combination +30 temps and Friday full day of offroad riding made Sunday’s “easy ride” very tough.
So I will probably do an exact repeat of these two rides this upcoming weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Return to hill climb paradise ride St-Jean-de-Matha

92 km of hill-riding paradise.

There are the two versions of the ride:

longer version, (2 extra segments) :

Here is a non-traditional ride review (short ride version):

cross death highway to idyll of peacefulness
climb little climb from hell
enjoy downhill from heaven
pass by forest to hide from in the rain
Miss corner to turn at.
Beaver lake.
pass road sign welcoming you back to the town you thought you had left.
turn onto busy highway, discover it has a nice paved shoulder.
Discover nice paved shoulder needs sweeping. Continue.
Turn off highway and pass through one of Quebec's 372 Lac Noirs
Cross highway and enjoy flat valley floor.
End of flat valley approaches. Uh-oh.
Up. Take break after 400 feet. That's 400 feet of forward motion, not vertical gain.
Up, a bit easier.
Up, a bit harder.
Up, a lot harder.
Up, road is newly repaved!
Reach the top, the view is incredible.
Road descends. Road needs repaving.
Road is actually really bad. Still downhill so not like effort is required.
Unrepaved section ends. Descend to village at speed.
Check out melted church bells from recent church-destroying fire.
Approach GIANT climb to leave town.
Discover that ride turns left at bottom of giant climb.
Pass rubber chicken.
Nice river to ride beside.
Road is nice, happy feeling.
Road goes straight up. Unhappy feeling.
Appreciate the concept of micropauses.
Road is quite steep. More micropauses.
Get passed by young dudes.
At least climb is on perfect asphalt.
Top of climb!
Welcome back to imperfect asphalt. Hey, at least it's downhill.
Discover how to go down crappy roads surprisingly fast.
Watch out for holes!
Arrive at Riviere Blanche section of descent,
Veer right to quiet riverside road,
pass bridge over little gorge, maybe stop here? no! No Stop here.
road goes right way from river, so sadness.
Road is beside a nice stream, so happiness.
Road goes straight up, so sadness,
Uphill is short so happiness.
Cresting hill reveals a particularly nice view, extra happiness.
Discover road is chemin de la belle montagne, so a literal name.
Nice road, it is exactly perfect for bikes.
Zoomy descent to bridge across L'Assomption river.
Discover we also crossed this river right when we left Montreal island!
Begin rang Ste-Cecile, aka the worst road in Quebec.
Ask me how long this shit will last, only 4 km.
Enjoy view to the left. Very nice!
Arrive in Ste-Beatrix. The uphill town.
Pitstop or not. Not.
Take side road to parc regional des chutes (waterfalls)
Discover how crappy cheap chipseal is as a road surface.
Get to viewpoint across valley to see St-Jean-de-Matha church 15 km away.
Arive at parc entrance, pass it and take break on bridge across gorge. (a thing bikes can do that cars can't)
View of gorge is amazing. Eat snacks.
Continue and loop back to Ste-Beatrix.
Take rang Ste-Cecile again. Only slightly better in north direction.
Get onto Chemin de Belle Montagne again, enjoy some nice views.
Take sideroad out-and-back to bring total ride distance to >100 km)
Take turn up the real Chemin de belle montagne.
Up is the operative word. This is a three micropause climb.
Note that although hill grade is not marked, it is a cement mixer special.
A cement mixer special is a climb so steep, wet cement falls out of the back of the cement mixer.
This is the third cement mixer special of the ride.
This climb is not too long. But is is sure hard.
Is is really the last hard climb?
No, but the others are a lot easier.
Optimism, tinged with suspicion.
Arrive at top, at chemin de lac itchy crotch. I mean lac Croche.
Zoom, brake hard! back onto riviere blanche descent. Fun times again.
Repeat the fun part, then before that hard little climb we veer left and...
Climb a little, but then descend a nice road!
To the highway.
Across a little river valley.
to a wall on the other side.
take a micropause or too, no zigzagging because it's a highway.
Highway is noce shape and has nice shoulder.
Approach St-Jean de Matha, but NOT the end of the ride.
Because much more fun to come.
Turn right and descend to 2nd entrance of parc des chutes, this time the St-Jean-de-Matha entrance.
Zoom dowhill, woohoo.
Get to bottom.
turn around and climb. Strava section!
Get to top at cemetery, do not give up.
Enter town. End of ride, right?
Final section of Rang St-Guillaume is on other side of town and connect to start of ride.
Why not stop now?
Because you didn't get 100 km yet.
And Rang St-Guillaume is excellent.
And you might never ever be here again.
Ride along busy highway for 2 km. paved shoulders are so nice to have.
Enter Rang St-Guillaume. It is nice!
Oldest, smallest silo in Quebec on left.
Tiltiest sugar shack on left.
Nice cliffs in distance on right.
zoomy downhill, and then unzoomy climb. Climb with marked view for your micropause pleasure.
Zoomy again, then back to road at start of climb, begin final leg of ride.
About fucking time!
Have to climb that very first zoomy downhill. Ride along the top of the hill, as god intended.
Look behind you, do you see famous ghost rider trying to catch and pass you?
Arrive at top of killr hill you barely remember from the very start of ride.
Pause to enjoy view of St-Jean-de-Matha.
Don't touch brakes as you descend. Sharp corner at bottom of hill, brake, but not too much.
Arrive at village for second time.
Inquire if this time we're finished.
For real?
Discover car is parked on top of the hill! Damn you !
Discover there is an slight detour to make an easy flat land way to get to the car.
More happy.
Get to car, rehydrate, gradually recover sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ste-Martine > Elgin & Dundee - another Chateauguay Valley Southwest Quebec extravaganza ride

There is no better place in Quebec with such a huge selection of high quality intermediate rides

(Ride map: click here)

A good bakery is pretty much mandatory to a good bike ride.

I went back to Elgin Bakery yesterday and unlike last week when I had to add clothing and put on every piece of clothes I had with me, this week it was "take it off!" Sunny and warm. This time I rode the first half of ride with the wind, and came back against the wind, and as it turned out, the daylight.

I started ride a bit farther away, parking in Ste-Martine (which was my original plan for last two weeks also but I had copped out to park at Ste-Clothilde & a shorter ride) 

Some numbers

1:00 pm bike ride start from Ste-Martine

3:23 pm the well-hidden Elgin Bakery              

That is 50 km super-direct, with a nice tailwind. TOok the straight line route, on super nice roads. I got passed by a super fast old dude.

On Friday the bakery closes 6 pm, so no race to get here unlike last week.
I had two complete complete coffee+snack mini meals in a row, when she gave me the bill she totally forgot I had had the first one!

4:15 pm Leave bakery (at road)

Decision required: turn around now, or go west a bit more before turning around. Well, it's not yet 5 pm, so go west old man!

I went quite a bit farther west, as it turned out, which was good because beautiful roads & first green field of 2016, but bad because daylight is finite. I was within a couple of miles of my Mom's birthplace on the ancestral farm on Carr Front road, which google calls (incorrectly) Carrefour road. LOL!

Super fast old dude passes me again! I suspect he's doing laps on a circuit of his own creation. He does not slow down to chat.

5:00 pm Turnaround point further west at edge of Dundee township.
(unfortunately, still outside Dundee township geographic limit, doh! Need an earlier start time than 1pm)

The turnaround point, when set ambitiously distant & far from the car (as in today) can arouse feeling of what if I don't make it? It's cold at night! I try to quell such anxiety by making a serious effort to pedal fastly. Which I did quite consistently for the next 3 hours and 45 minutes! Hey, I'm surprised too that I could maintain this pace for so long!

5:05 Uh-oh - First obstacle to the return-ride plan: the chosen return road has bridge out & freshly rebuilt dirt road, happily I don't have to walk any of it & bike & I survive

7:14 arrive at Franklin, where compass veers northeast to Ste-Martine and direction is downhill

I knew that the sunset was close, and that car was not. 7:14 is late. Ste-Martine is still far. So I was now racing the sun and not for first place. There was no doubt or denial about this.  

Who won? Me or the sun?

Sunset: 7:32
Ste-Martine at car: 8:47 pm. 

A lot of this was quite well lit post sunset gloom, but then it did get actually dark. Luckily I had chosen quiet roads with minimal car traffic & I have lights on my bike basically permanently.

Riding time (guess which direction had higher motivation levels, & also triple caffeinated)
Distance west (63 km) 4 hours
Distance east (75 km) 3:30

You can see from the map the route I took, as well as in yellow the route I had planned to take. Mid ride I decided to go further west, because riding with a tailwind on a warm spring day is a joy to be extended as far as possible. This meant coming back I had to take a shorter route (necessity!), on roads which I am familiar with but had avoided due to they were in poor condition - surprise: they have been very nicely re-paved since last time. I am happy to renew my riding on that section of "the rock" road. This also made the after sunset section of the ride less of a "to be survived" section and more of a "to be enjoyed."

I include a real old map, I was riding across "Blueberry plains" but managed this week to avoid "The Wilderness."

Look closely, this week I avoided "The Wilderness"

Yellow sections was the planned route, Red is the ride I actually did.

Duck in the duck spa.

Elgin Bakery, a true "hidden jewel" of the region

Where bakery is located is the only still-snowy part of ride.

Cows in their natural habitat.

Super fast dude passed me twice!

First green field of 2016!

ride had this unpaved, recently repaired road, not ideal for bikes but rideable

The glorious Pont Percy, Quebec's oldest covered bridge

From here I know I will ALWAYS be able to get back to the car, no matter if daylight or not.

Sunset: 7:23 pm. Still one hour of riding to go.

8:30 pm: bike path, a mere 10 minutes before back at car in Ste-Martine, but maybe I should have started ride at 12 pm, not 1 pm!

Conclusion: an excellent ride with many possibilities to do shorter version of the ride. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Here is the twitter, where I am a bit more active.

Lots of great bike ride blogging and related words: just click on any summer month over on the archive list on the right side of the screen.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winter trip to Charlevoix/Saguenay region - planning

It is the planning phase for the annual winter snowfest funhog week of outdoor fun.

Last year the destination was Petit Saguenay. Before that it was Baie St-Paul. This year I would like to combine the two of them.

The highlight last year was the hiking part of the Sentier des Murailles into Lac Cardinal. It is a cliff-lined alpine lake and one of the nicest lakes in Quebec. In deep winter the lake is frozen and even more spectaculaire.

It seems that the group running the Sentier Les Murailles is closed for the winter and so is their website. But another website has map info on the different sections of the Les Murailles trail.  Here's the interactive map page  and here's the page with other info and gps coordinates.

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!