Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lanaudiere hill ride v3.0 - The Best Yet!

Map Legend:
Red Dots - Main circuit
Purple (blue?) dots - Recommended side trip Ste-Beatrix on Chemin Belle Montagne
Green Dots - side trip to Park Regional Chutes Monte-à-Peine et des Dalles

I visited Lanaudiere again on Saturday. I explored some other roads to avoid some of the less nice eastern section along busy road and a section of hilly dirt road. It worked great because this was the best ride yet: more and bigger hills, and more great scenery.

Starting in Saint Jean de Matha (parking at the Halte/Musee Louis Cyr across from the church), we cross the 131 and take the road to Saint Gabriel, but don't turn off so this road loops back to the rt 131 just north of town. It is a nice warm up and has some good hills, starting at the 4:00 minutes into the ride!

Then we take rt 131 north a few miles on good paved shoulders to Rang St Catherine, which takes us to Rang des Seigneurs which is both hilly and has, once one reaches the top, a multi-million dollar view! There's a parking and a lookout there for checking it out. When starting this climb, you can stop for raspberries at a raspberry farm. THe climb is very steep and long, and the pavement is a bit worn out, but it was easily manageable to avoid the bad spots. This is called steering.

Once down the hill you arrive in Saint Emilie de L'Energie, arriving by the road beside the church. I again went over to the tourist office (expo moulin) for a break on the boardwalk beside the mill pond/little lake.

Leaving the town I took the long climb of chemin de feuille d'erables (turn at the bottom of the big hill going west from town). This hill seemed just as steep as always, but not nearly as long as before. The descent on the other side was again amazing!

You'll know when you're at the top! (<-Video!)

The descent starts here. Note that this road name changes to Chemin de la riviere Blanche. Keep right.

I took a scenic side-trip on the attractively named Chemin de la Belle Montagne (blue or purple dots on the map). To do this side trip you turn at depaneur Lau-Dan. This is also the next rest stop after the big climb/descent. If you are in a group, this is the spot where you should regroup.

To take the side trip to Belle Montagne or all the way to Ste Beatrix, at depaneur Lau-Dan cross the bridge, then turn left. Continue on "Rang St-Laurent" over to the next landmark: the bridge across the L'Assomption river, where I u-turned and rode back the same way. Sometimes I didn't feel like riding all the way to Saint Beatrix and back, so it is useful to know that this bridge makes a good u-turn point. In this section of Belle Montagne you are riding in a high valley, and is totally scenic. (note: if you continue to Ste-Beatrix, you cross the bridge and take Rang Ste-Cecile south to Ste-Beatrix)

I U-turned at the bridge and was again crossing beautiful Belle Montagne and I was soon back
at depanneur Lau-Dan.

Turning right we rejoin our big descent and take this down to the Rt 131 a few short Km from the starting and ending point in Saint Jean de Matha. Before I got there I checked out the entrance to the (regional) Parc des Chutes (three entrances: the Saint Jean de Matha one I was riding, and also at Saint Melanie and Saint Beatrix) which has paths along the l'Assomption river and has some waterfalls. I rode down the hill (steep!) to the entrance and discovered it is open 9 am to 8 pm and is $6.00 to enter. I'll be back some hot day when I get an earlier start to explore it. My trips to Launaudiere this year have all been crack of noon, so there's not much time left at the end of the day to explore.

Then it was back up the hill and back to the car and back home.

If you have any questions or comments you can leave me a comment: I think this is an area totally worth visiting for any intermediate or expert hill-loving cyclist.


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