Thursday, August 24, 2006

New North-South Bike Path Across the Plateau Mont Royal


South direction: St-Urbain south from Laurier Avenue to Sherbrooke street.
North: rue Clark from Rachel to Villeneuve (this is where southbound cyclists on Clark turn west to go south on St-Urbain or Esplanade, or where the IDIOTS just head the wrong way down Clark -it's a one-way street north - when are we going to see some cops on bikes educating these people????)

Anyway, the good news is that you (yes, YOU) can now ride your bike north and south on Saint Urbain and Clark across the Plateau Mont Royal to Sherbrooke street. What’s new about that?

What's new is that now there’s a new bike lane painted on the road. Yes, our own bike lane to ride in. We now own a piece of the road. This is much more "EXPRESS" than the typical bike path in Montreal. To head north take Clark: there are just bike symbols and directional arrows painted on street on Clark Street(not a painted lane), Clark is one block west of St-Laurent.

This is very good news. Especially for anyone commuting from anywhere further north, because now you can get directly across the Plateau to downtown. And do it much more safely. The other bike path further east is slower and less direct.

This another early step by Ville de Montreal in integrating bike lanes on major roads. We should see lots of this in the future. These bike lanes were just painted on the road this week. Lots of cyclists are already using it. The Clark one os more hidden, so I hope we see some publicity/education about these paths. Especially about not going the wrong way on these one way bike paths.

This bike lane connects the Clark Street bike path in Mile end, the Rachel street bike path, and the Milton/Prince Arthur (McGill Ghetto) one-way bike paths.

Room for improvement: There’s one little problem. When they painted the new bike lanes on St-Urbain, they used a machine that grinds off the old painted lane marks. This machine left a one-inch-deep and one-foot-wide trench in the middle of the bike lane! This will be hugely dangerous when rain and snow and ice create slippery conditions in the autumn and winter. Oops.

Summary: a great new addition to "bicycling as transportation" in Montreal.

Connections to other bike paths:

The bike lane actually stops at Milton, which is one block north of Sherbrooke. Milton has a west bound one way bike path to McGill. This gets you to central downtown. to head eastbound you use the street one block north of Milton (i.e. before Milton) which is Prince Arthur. These are the two-direction one-way bike paths that connect the plateau and McGill University campus through the McGill Ghetto.

If you continue south on on Saint Urbain, you get to Sherbrooke street, beyond that you arrive at Place des Arts and a short ride to anywhere! Going a bit further you can turn left (east) on Rene Levesque to get you to the Berri bike path that is a major north south bike path axis. North to Plateau, south to old Montreal, parc Drapeau, and the Lachine canal). At Berri you can also go east on Rene Levesque on a bike path that starts at Berri. This goes to the east end of the island (50km, or continue to Quebec city and the Gaspe) or from here you can take Pont Jacques Cartier if you turn north at Dorion to get to the sidewalk bike path across the the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge.

Thanks to Gerry at for the scoop that the lines were painted.

New Bike Path for the Mercier Bridge

If you are wondering when the Pont Mercier Bridge is getting a bike path to replace the extremely dangerous sidewalk, it's in the next two years. Major repair work has been announced for the Pont Mercier bridge and a bike path is part of the plan.

Évalués à 100 millions, les travaux devraient se terminer à l'automne 2009. Le tablier du pont et les structures d'acier seront réparés, et une piste cyclable sera ajoutée.
I did not make this up! Click here for the link

This will open the south shore and the Chateauguay valley and the Mohawk city of Kahnawake to the list of possible cycling destinations for montreal cyclists. The Mercier Bridge is located very close to the western side of the Lachine Canal.

This is big news.

Here is video of biking the existing Mercier Bridge unprotected and scary sidewalk.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The end of the road

Sometimes you ride, and aren't sure where to go. Today we go to the end of the road.

Quebec is big. Really big. The Route 138 covers almost all of it. It starts in Trout River, on the New York State border with the USA. But where is the end of the road? Does it end somewhere? It does, but the end has moved again.

It starts south of the Saint Laurence. But then it crosses the river in Montreal. From Montreal it follows the north shore of the Saint Laurence River past Trois Rivieres, Past Quebec, past Taddosac, past Baie Comeau, Past Sept Isles, Past Havre St-Pierre, all the way to the end at Natashquan.

But that end has moved again. Premier Jean Patapouf Charest has announced:

un investissement de 100 millions de dollars pour prolonger la route 138. L'argent de Québec permettra de construire en 10 ans un tronçon de 425 kilomètres de Kegaska à Vieux-Fort. La nouvelle route désenclavera une quinzaine de petits villages où vivent environ 6000 personnes.
One day it will reach Labrador and then, soon, maybe in my lifetime I can ride all the way to a short ferry ride to Newfoundland along the north SHore of the Saint Laurence. (This avoids the long route through the Maritimes)

Oh, and now the bad news: Jean Charest also mentioned the importance of damming the rivière la Romaine for 1500 megawatts of electrical energy. No mention was made of the importance of energy conservation.

Go North Shore!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

8 Climbs in 68 Minutes

Mount Royal is full of good climbs, they’re everywhere, like litter, except a lot more fun.

The grand daddy of all the climbs is Camelien Houde, reached from Mont Royal Avenue. This climb has the reputation of relentless climbing, never slacking off when the rider really really wants it to slack off.

My ride started up Cam Houde, after I had gotten to the top and been passed by a three or four young guys, I headed left into Mount Royal Cemetery for a couple of runs up Mount Murray, the Outremont summit of the three-summit Mount Royal. Here I rode up the back side, then down to the main cemetery entrance and back up to the top, this is the hard way, one of the hardest climbs in Montreal. From here it was back down to the main entrance again and over to Universite de Montreal.

U de M is located on the northern slopes of Mont Royal, and it has a main road that goes up and down the mountain. I started from the front entrance and rode up "le Rampe" which is relaxing in the late afternoon sunshine, until it gets steep after the halfway point. It's not too long though, and then it is don the other side to the Queen Mary street entrance. A quick u-turn and it's back up this climb. It rolls a bit and has a plateau near the top, but it's a stiffy and you earn your climb. Once at the top at the Ecole Polytechique complex I rode back down La Rampe to the main entrance, turned right and rode over to the CEPSUM, the sports stadium to climb the hill that goes up to the U de M music auditorium, supposedly Montreal’s best sounding hall. The climb here doesn't look like much, but it stays steep, and at the top has a gravity-defying entrance alley that can barely be pedalled in a 39/28 gear. Cresting the top here usually results in a sad whimper of survival, or a lustful cheer from the more powerful than me.

Then it's back down and traverse the mountain over to Camelien Houde again for a second ascent of the big one, now that I am warmed up I don't do it in my baby gear, but I still get passed. At the top I turn around at the start-finish line to the Woman’s World Cup bike race and head back down, finally a satisfyingly fast descent, but after the hairpin corner I am slowed down by some car driving rubes who seem to think 70 is quite fast enough. I follow them down and turn on to Cote Sainte Catherine Road, where I wait for the light to change and watch the bus passengers disembark, passengers which include a distracting siren. But my hill ride isn't over yet, when the light goes green I quickly gather some speed and turn up the first sidestreet going uphill (the excellent Fernhill) and with a bit of speed starting up I sprint up this steep and gets steeper hill until smoke starts to come off my tires, or out my ears, or somewhere! I shift down and without collapsing, get up to the top of this last climb. At the top was a cyclist unloading his bike and he seemed amused at my antics.

Well, that was it, 8 hills in 68 minutes, time for supper and some rice pudding.

Cycle Fun Montreal Visits... The Beauce!

The Beauce Valley, south of Quebec City, sits in a river valley lined with villages and, surprisingly, bike paths!

A useful reference to this area is the free cycling guide Chaudiere-Appalache - Guide Velo (edition 2006). This guidebook has many bike route suggestions in the region of Chaudiere Appalaches, the large section of Quebec south of Quebec city, about 100 miles wide.

The Chaudiere river enters the Saint Laurence in Quebec City. This river is the heart of the Beauce valley.

Where it enters the St Laurence is in the town of Levis. Many bike path routes are around here. If you are short on time, park here and ride across the Quebec Bridge and into Quebec City, passing the Plains of Abraham, the parliament buildings, and ride down into old Quebec, then back to Levis either by the ferry to Levis and back along the river, or follow the river on the Quebec city side until you are near the Quebec Bridge and return that way.

Now that we visited Quebec city, we go south intothe Beauce Valley. There is a long bike path in the northern half of the valley. In the Southern half the bike route follows the quiet side of the river. on public roads. If you are camping, I suggest the public campground in St-Joseph de Beauce. Why? Because it has its own waterfall!

Because of rain I didn't bike any more in the Beauce valley, but I did explore, in Saint Georges de Beauce I saw Saint George slaying the dragon. In Notre Dame des Pins I saw and explored the longest covered bridge in Quebec: Pont Perreault. This bridge has been fully restored and although cars no longer drive through it, it does have the bike path going through it. There is a small interpretive centre here also. A great example of restoring our history.

From Notre Dame des Pins, a "connector" bike route connects the Beauce Valley with the area known as Lac Etchimin. The rain had stopped and I parked the car at Lac Etchimin and proceeded to do the suggest route in this area. This is in the heart of the Quebec part of the northern Appalachians, and is very near the Quebec -Main USA border. Translation: there's hills.

The ride starts heading north of town, and soon turns on to a quiet road on the left. A long steady hill in peaceful countryside. Time passes, you hear birds, bugs, the wind. A peaceful state of relaxed hill climbing continues. You reach St-Luc where you turn south. I don't recall much in the way of services here. In fact, until Saint Justine it's pretty quiet. Be prepared to be self sufficient for a couple of hours.

Continuing south you will ride between two little mountains (ok, hills) on a "pass" between them. Here's a unique idea I took advantage of: there's a hiking trail going up the one on the left side (east side) and I went up and up and toured the loop at the summit and checked out the terrain where I had been and where I was heading. Not much in the way of urban metropolis! In fact, just lots of peaceful countryside.

Then I herd thunder. And more thunder. It seemed the morning’s rain had not been all the rain for the day. I deluded myself into believing that the noise was sonic booms from F-16s patrolling the Maine border. I walked back down to my bike, enjoying more and more the nice hiking interlude in the middle of my climb. I dug the bike out of its hiding place, and started back on the road. Still no rain, so I thought I was ok. Then the rain started. Then, really heavy rain started, and stayed with me to the next town Sainte-Justine. Here I cut the ride short and headed west to return a shorter route back to Lac Etchimin. This was direct, but busy. I had avoided the southern half of the ride's loop, so I will be heading back one day to finish it. It is good and I look forward to it.

Back to our story, as I approached the town of Lac Etchimin I noticed the rain slowing, then stopping. When I got to the car, no rain, and the sun was out again. But my shoes were all wet so I didn't keep riding, I packed everything away an got supper.

It was a great ride, reminding me a lot of Vermont. This was my first trip to the region of the eastern quebec for riding, and I am going back soon to do more in this wonderful region.

Note: There is a professional bike ride here each year: The Tour de Beauce. It might be a junior race, I'm not sure.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pont Jacques Cartier in Longueuil - Helpful Directions

The bike path along the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge ends in Longueuil. There is no map, no painted on road bike path marks, and there are no direction signs. You're on your own! Here's the Cycle Fun Montreal guide to the three directions you can go in.

Note: sorry this is a bit "information dense" but there's a lot of riding opportunities on the south shore, and several loop-ride circuits back to Montreal.

The Pont Jacques Cartier bridge is really great, until you get to Longueuil, where the bike path suddenly narrows into a width exactly 2.01 bikes wide, and constructed from 6 foot long cement sidewalk. Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity BumpityBumpity Bumpity BumpityBumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity, well you get the picture. It's better if you keep your speed under 20 km/h.

Note: This route info takes the west (upriver / downtown) side of the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge, it starts from corner of Papineau and rue Lafontaine (one street south of Ontario), Two streets south of Parc Lafontaine (i.e. this is your access from the Rachel bike path). Then it crosses the busy Papineau north-bound car entrance, follows the sidewalk (bumpy & unmarked) to the bridge bike-path entrance. At this point you see that the bridge has a bike path access. It is from the bike path along Rene Levesque near the Radio Canada building.

It's a long bridge, I think it's 5 km long. It's really quite impressive, it crosses the mighty Saint Laurence river, and it's two islands: Ile Ste-Helene, where you can take an exit to some nice riding, some new public swimming pools, the major montreal icon the giant geodesic dome from Expo 67, or even do a loop back home via Pont de la concorde and Old Montreal) . The other island, seen from above, is Ile Notre Dame, home of the amazing Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This is a Formula One racing circuit, and it is a bike magnet. Where else can you ride a closed road race course? Incredible. Plus you can leave this island by another bike path, which follows the Saint Laurence Seaway (ship canal) for 15 car free kilometers on a wide road in a natural riverside setting. You can ride the Estacade back to Montreal Island via Nuns Island (Ile des Soeurs) through Verdun to the Lachine Canal bike path (at Atwater) .

Anyway, back to our story.

Arriving at street level, you probably are looking for bike path markings on the road, or a direction sign indicating where to go next, or perhaps a map of the longueuil bike path network.

Yes, you would be looking for these things. But you wouldn't be finding them. There's nothing here at all. Zip. Rien. You're shit outa luck. Fortunately you are reading Cycle Fun Montreal, and we got lost so you don't have to. (That's better than it sounds.). There are three principal directions you'll want to be going in:

SOUTH/EAST - Direction to Spiral bike path overpass and the Route Verte bike path to Chambly and many cycling options (some short but with over 2000 km of bike path possibilities!). rom the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, then immediately turn right, on to Lasalle. This takes you to (becomes) the bike path that, with a few zigs and zags, takes you to the Spiral Overpass to Saint Hubert/Chambly. There is a shortcut to the Spiral Overpass in a couple of miles, but that's another story.

Here's my video of the spiral bike overpass.

EAST/NORTH - Direction along the bike path beside the south shore of the Saint Laurence river, a dedicated bike path between the autoroute and the river. From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, (same as South/East) but stay on this road. Follow it to XXXX, where you will turn left (direction of river/autoroute) and there will be a bicycle overpass for you. Once across the autoroute and on the river side, you can turn left and return via road (2 km) and then the rest of the way on the riverside bike path (You'll do a wide U-turn under the autoroute in a couple of miles) to return to the PJCB and the south/west access. Or, if you turn right, you are on the bike path to Boucherville and beyond. The dock for the ferry boat back to Montreal is not too far along this. And there is a provincial park: Parc des Iles de Boucherville, a nature park on islands in the Saint Laurence. Canoes and Kayaks are available for rent.

SOUTH/WEST - Direction to follow the Saint Laurence river south and west as it passes under Montreal Island. You can take to the Saint Lambert Locks, where you can cross to the seaway path, or back to Montreal via Ile Notre Dame (Parc Drapeau) and Pont de La COncorde, or crossing Ile Ste-Helene back to PJCB). From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn right, then take the first street left. This takes you to TIFFEN, which is part of the actual official bike path access to the Saint Laurence river-side bike path south and east. This ends in in about 25 or 50 km in Saint Catherine where you can take the Seaway bike path back to Montreal. When you cross over to the seaway path you can take an oiptional side trip turning left into a summer riverside park with great views of Montreal and the Lachine Rapids. Or turn right, and you are on a carless paced road along the Saint Laurence across from downtown Montreal, totally scenic.

Well, that's a summary of some of the many possibilities at the southern end of the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge. Now you know where to go, and most importantly, how to get back.

Have Fun!

Resources: There are some excellent bike maps for this area. There are two maps for the Monteregie:

La Monteregie - Circuits Routiere (Bike rides on the open road away from the bike path network)
La Monteregie - Pistes Cyclable (All the bike paths on the south shore and the larger Monteregie area

These maps are given out freely, often at a bike-tourist kiosk on the Bike path south/west
There is a tourist office on Chemin Chambly, accessible if you take the directions for EAST/NORTH - From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, (same as South/East) but stay on this road. RIde past XXXX to Chemin Chambly. Ten minutes? Turn left, and look for the dicsretely marked tourist office, it has a zebra outside to help you find it.

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Revisited the "Worst Ride Ever" circuit

Here in Quebec every tom dick and harry municipality and region are printing up maps with bike circuits for bike riders and cyclists to explore. Some of these are great and amazing. Some are on "Quebec's Worst Road" (tm). Todays ride was sourced in the cycling map pamphlet "La Monteregie - Circuits Routier" and was "24 - Circuit de Chemin des Patriots." It does a north-south loop along both sides of the Richelieu river, between the two mountains of Mont Saint Bruno and the impressive Mont Saint Hillaire.

Earlier this year I tried to ride this circuit in the Richelieu river valley. I started from the map-indicated official starting point of Saint Julie, a starting point which forced me to use a busy road which had no shoulder and massive potholes, was full of trucks, which was 50 feet from the autoroute, and where I got two flat tires and a broken axle in the first 30 minutes. This aborted ride is memorialized in my video "Worst Ride Ever."

But I still had high hopes for this ride. The scenery potential was Excellent. The Saint Julie portion that I had such a bad experiece wasn't even a part of the actual valley loop. It was tacked on to the loop as an afterthought, and it looked like the mapmakers brother in law was mayor of Saint Julie and insisted that somehow, no mater what, the mapmaker was told to include Saint Julie on a circuit.

Now that I knew to avoid Saint Julie, I went back for another try. I drove to Chambly, parked and started the loop from it's midway point.

After a wrong turn but scenic section riding the river north from Chambly, I got back on the real route and found the road called Bellvue. It took me north, first with a paved shoulder, then some bad road, then some amazing road and I arrived in Saint Basile le Grand, close to Mont Saint Bruno. I passed through town and went to the road that travels along the foot of the mountain, going north on the mountains eastern slopes. This was on a road called Rang Vingt. THis road was TERRIBLE. TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE. I question if the mapmaker ever actually rode a bike along this circuit before making the map. THis road was so bad I turned around when I had ten minutes of it (enough for a lifetime) and came back to find an alternative.

This turned out to be a very good thing.

I returned to Saint Basile, and got on the major road Route 116 eastbound. This took me across the Richelieu river to the chemin de Patriotes which is the river side road which I would ride south to get back to Chambly. Riding up to the river was amazing because the steep cliff face of Mont Saint Hilaire rises dramatically a few hunderd metres from the river! Very "western."

The ride had gotten a lot better. I wasn't planning to do a complete loop, I had planed an out-and-back ride, but here I was able to cut the official circuit in half, and ride essentially the complete southern half. Excellent.

Riding south on Chemin de Patriots was great, it was rolling, with scenery and some items of interest. It was what road riding was all about. Fast, intense, and steady riding, with some threatening weather conditions (but no rain until ride was over!) and a headwind to give it some sporting challenge (wouldn't want it too easy, now would we!) . Closer and closer I got and then it was back at the route 112 which I knew was only a couple of klicks from the car.

Then, suddenly, it was over. Turning back on Rang Vingt was a great decision, so was taking the 116 to get across the river, I had hoped it would be possible, and now I know it is. Chambly is a 90 minute ride from Montreal, now I have a loop to do at the end of it to make it a bit longer.

Ride times:

Chambly to Saint Basile le Grand: 30 minutes
Saint Basile to Otterburn Park/Chemin de Patriots to Chambly: 60 minutes.

Conclusion: Visiting the southern half of this circuit is a winner.

Free bikes for Employees

The Montreal borough (or suburb?) of Ville Saint Laurent provides free bikes for employees to use when running errands, or I guess, when visiting other departments of the town.

I see these bikes parked outside the town hall when I ride past in the morning. They are upright, high handlebar-ed bikes with front baskets, perfect for short trips when taking the car is more of a hassle than a convenience.

Good Job! Congrats to Ville St-Laurent!


The rain has STOPPED and the road is rapidly drying

Another summit lunch spot, Ste-Elie-de-Caxton calvaire

the climb out of Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie. In five minutes we'll be on one of the best descents in Quebec

the new desk, with stain and varnish

One way I slow down my bike average speed is taking pics.

Sucking in the belly!

First hot'n'hard ride of the year

sunshine, summer, good times

After the hardest ride so far this year

bedhead and need a shave

Montreal bike path improvements

The Montreal Gazette reports a new bike has opened in the lachine borough of Ville St. Pierre which allows cyclists to safely access the Lachine Canal bike path. The path goes along Notre Dame St., Gowans Ave., des Erables street, St. Pierre Avenue, and Gauron blvd.

This path is path of $7.5 million worth of upgrades this year to Montreal area bike paths. This years upgrades include 30 km of bike path and 320 bike parking spots. There are 370 km of bike paths on Montreal island.

Here's a quote from a press release of the City of Montreal on bike path improvments:
Cette année, l'administration Tremblay investit un total de 7,25 M$ dans le réseau cyclable. De ce montant, 3 M$ sont consacrés au développement de nouvelles voies. Ces sommes s'ajoutent aux 5,3 M$ consentis entre 2002 et 2005 pour de nouveaux projets d'infrastructures cyclables.
Any day now the Rachel bike path is supposed to be connected to the Clark street bike path. THis was announced on August 4. I'll go investigate and see if it has happened yet. It basically involves pain on the road, so it' isn't like rocket science. They could do a lot more if they'd just paint more bike lanes on certain existing streets, like de Maissoneuve blvd, which is "the missing link" to permit cyclists to cross downtown Montreal east-to-west.

Here are some videos I took of some bike path improvements. Despite the best efforts of the bike path designers, the improvements stil require intelligence on the part of the cyclists and pedestrians. This does seem to be the bigger challenge!

  • VIDEO: Click here for clueless pedestians on improved bike path

  • VIDEO: Click here for clueless cyclists at improved bike path intersection

  • Here are some bike path improvements I'd like to see:

    Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge

    Bike path link between Rachel bike path/Park Lafontaine and access to Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge north entrance to the excellent recently expanded bike sidewalk. THis access is across a very busy car access to the bridge on Papineau street, and it needs its own mini bridge to safely access the bridge sidewalk. From papineau you follow a cratered and potholed sidewalk that also needs rebuilding. Expand the section of dangerously narrow bumpy sidewalk on the Longueuil (south) side of the bridge. Add bike path to connect with bike paths on the south shore, to Tiffen at the very least, and a much better link to the spiral cyclist bridge to Chambly.

    Pont Mercier Bridge
    Rebuild the sidewalk for bikes. It is a danger zone. Connect the bridge with a bike path to Chateauguay.

    There seems to be a large number of cyclists who are dangerously brainless. There has to be an effort to educate these people about the "rules of the road" which at the very least includes stopping at stop signs and not going the wrong way on one way streets.

    I could go on, but there's other things to write about.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Bike Commuting, some comments

    I've been bike commuting all year, here's some lessons.

    1- Pack your clothes in the backpack the night before.

    2- Keep tools, pump, and a spare tube in the backpack

    3- Keep a lock at work, locked to the bike rack, so you don't have to carry it back and forth.

    4- Cars kill - let them go first at intersections

    5- Work on the route, there are some routes athat are direct and bad, some are direct and good, and some are a bit longer but a lot safer. Don't assume the same route is best for both morning and night. Explore.

    6- Enthusiasm is good.

    7- it's never too cold. Too icy, sure, but not too cold. I ride until it's below -10C.

    8- Fenders work! I used to drive on iffy weather days, and it was always ok to ride, but I didn't want a wet butt, now with fenders on a dedicated cheap commuting bike, I can ride every day. I've only gotten really rained on three or four times. The rest of the time, it's just refreshing.

    9- Running red lights and stop signs. Only do this when you aren't going to be killed or run over (many people miss this criteria and seem suicidal or idiotic, or both!)

    10 - Changing clothes at work, it only takes a minute, and the washroom works fine. No you don't need a shower, you pathetic wuss.

    11 - bike path - it you have a bike path, it can make the route to work safer for the nervous rider.

    12 - Avoiding cars. They can't see you, and they are trying to run you over. Avoide cars! Cars turn with no signalling. Never ride beside a car through an intersection, ride behind the car.

    13 - Passing other cyclists - say Hello! We're all in this together.

    14 - At-work parking - If your destination (job, school, etc) doesn't have safe parking for your bike, suggest it whoever is in charge of the maintenance. It is great P.R. for a company internally asd externally to do a little thing for the bike commuters. May traffic-jammed cities encourage employers/building management companies to provide bike commuting facilities to help relieve traffic congestion.

    15 - Arguing with bad drivers. DON'T DO IT. They're either angry, evil, mentally unstable, or out to hurt somebody. If you think they're a genuine danger, write down the licence number and go to the police.

    16 - a bike just for commuting. I use an old ten speed bike converted with upright handlebars, fenders, and grippy bmx platform pedals so I can ride in regular shoes. The upright handlebars are essential for city riding, so your head is upright an dyou are able to look ahead to see what's coming. If it's a cheap bike, things don't get stolen, if it's a mtn bike or any bike with a adjustable seat clamp, replace the seat clamp with a bolt, so your seat doesn't get stolen. (Many people at work bring their seat inside with them, a bolt woulf be a lot easier!

    17 - potholes - Never ride though a puddle, it could be a man eating pothole, particularly in the spring.

    18 - Lights and a bell. For 20 bucks your bike and your ride is a lot safer.

    19 = another lock. I keep a strong solid lock at work, it's heavy and secure and I don't want to be forever carrying the beast around. I do have a compact self-coiling lock that I do carry in my pack for stops between work and home. I have had bikes stolen, and a lock prevents the opportunity of a free bike to the morally-challenged bike thief.

    20 - Convince someone else at the office to ride too! Share the fun!

    21 - Yes, it helps to lose weight, WOOHOO!

    22 - riding in normal clothes or bike clothes? I generally avoid normal pants, but I don't go the ful jersey route either. Regular pants and bike chains don't mix very well.

    23 - high visibility clothes - I have a neon green bike jacket from the Mtn Equipment Co-op (MEC) that they no longer sell (this makes no sense, it's a great safety feature) and frankly, it makes a big improvement in safety.

    24 - sorry this one is last - USE A HELMET!!!!!!!

    A few Mont Royal climbs

    I did a few Mont Royal climbs this week.

    Westmount - Clark Street
    The WALL of Montreal. No street is steeper and go so directly straight up as Clark street north of Sherbrooke, ride it and weep.
  • Click here for Clark Street uphill video

  • Westmount: Aberdeen
    These upper switchbacks are the finest switchbacks in town, short and steep, and they come out on the summit circle and it's scenic lookout.

    Westmount - the Mount Pleasant switchbacks
    If the "Wall" of Clark Street isn't your cup of tea, then the alternative a few streets east is the long switchbacks of Mount Pleasant, wonderful climbing in anyones books, and not a secret, judging by the number of bikes to be seen on it. There are a couple of good routes to continue up to the summit above "the boulevard" including the secret staircase of Trafalgar (yes you have to carry your bike). Look for another post soon on "the secret stairs of Montreal, an exhaustive list, a Cycle Fun Montreal exclusive.

    University de Montreal - Queen Mary entrance
    This steep climb is finally free of building construction and access restrictions. It goes up and up, and past tons of new pomo buildings. At the top it goes down to the main entrance of the university, another fine and excellent climbing opportunity.

    Mount Royal Cemetary (from Outremont/Mont Royal avenue)
    Follow the green line from the main entrance to climb through this spectacularly scenic and pretty cemetary and exit on Camelien Houde at the entrance to Mont Royal Park. Although I traveled across the cemetary, an other option is to turn right at the entrance and climb Mount Murray (the outremont summit of Mt Royal) which is steep, so steep I've seen people fall over! A note: This area is private property so show respect and remember: NO OFF ROAD CYCLING IS PERMITTED HERE.
  • Click here for Mont Murray climb video

  • Outremont - anywhere above Cote Sainte Catherine Road
    There are numerous fun steep climbs above Cote Saint Catherine road in between Mt Royal Avenue (east end) to Universite de Montreal's Cepsum at the west side. A series of fun climbs in one of montreals most exclusive neighbourhoods. Excellent hills!

    Cote de Neige hill from downtown
    Cote de Neige hill from downtown (Sherbrooke street) is a great climb, and the top has fresh pavement!

    Olmstead road - from Parc Avenue to the Mont Royal Chalet lookout
    The gentle climb. Starting at the big statue on Parc Avenue, ride the dirt road uphill for a long gentle steady climb, along downtown, past beaver Lake, and to the amazing downtown lookout at the Mont Royal Chalet. the destination is perhaps Montreal's best tourist destination, for anyone from here or away. Breathtakingly amazing, and on a clear day, you can see mountains that are 100 miles away in Vermont!

    italian design show at montreal fine arts museum

    I visited the Italian design show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this week.

    I had a good time, but a few word for the curators, it seemed that as we got closer to the present day, the content of the show got more and more like a shop for rich businessmen's wives, oops, I mean "collectors" and that the notion of design got forgotten in their breathless desire that postmodern is the best thing in the universe, when I (and who knows better than the "I") know it's just an in-joke on humanity by creatively bankrupt artists, oops, I mean "ARTISTS" and designers and architects. Provocateurs, surely. Credible? Hardly.

    And for the record, where is an italian design show that features industrial design without displaying the breathtaking 1980s Campagnolo C-Record gruppo? (You had hoped for some bicycle-related content I hope?)

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Route Verte

    Onwards and outwards, the route verte odyssey continues.

    Leaving from Montreal, these are all around an hour (+/-15 minutes) from downtown. Most are in the eastern Townships, one is up North on Laurentians, one is west towards Ontario.


    Today my travels take me to the southern half of the Compagnarde -Acton Vale to Waterloo, a north/south path in the Eastern Townships between Drummondville and Waterloo (down along the Eastern Townships autoroute. It's 50 km one way, so I don't know how far I'll go, my biggest ride so far has been 80k. That was a running out of daylight ride, but todays is earlier, so I look forward to a new big distance day. (Did a-ok!) It is very pastoral, until the village of Waterloo it is really out in the country and not roadside at all). a really nice trail imho. Acton Vale to Waterloo, a north to south and back route 50 km each way, not too hot outside either. Also: my bike rocks! Avoid Foster, make your southern Terminus the beach at Waterloo. Check out Roxton Falls on foot. There were lots of rest stops in the countryside. Connects to Yamaska provincial park.

    Starting in the same place (Acton Vale, just off the 20) the other half of this path goes north from Acton Vale to St Francois sur le Lac (Near St Laurence river). It is a 140 km loop (70 km out and 70 km back) (Start in Wickham to make it 120km) and is on my list for next ride to do! It will travel 1/2 on a quiet river side road, 1/2 on dedicated bike trail.

    Route des Champs

    Last Tuesday I rode the Eastern Township's Route des Champs, aka route of the fields, between Marieville and St Paul d'abbottsford, 4 hours to ride 60K, a little boring when it runs along side (but separate from) the busy route 112. Ends abruptly at east end, peters out at west end. The towns generally had basic services (portajohns, 2 water stations).

    Monteregienne I & II

    Sunday I did the the Eastern Townships Monteregienne I & most of II. I also ran out of light on this one to complete the entire section II. There is a big train engine and caboose in a park in Farnham, real ones! I rode the "I" west from Farnham to St Jean sur Richelieu and back again, Then I rode on the two eastwards to the Autoroute and back (I had wanted to get enough distance for an 80 km ride) This trail cuts through country side and is away from roads. There is also two old airplanes to examine at a parachute place along the "I"

    le P'tit Train du Nord

    Saturday was Up north on le Petit Train du Nord. This trail we did only the first 30K from St Jerome to St Adele (Mont Rolland) and then returned. To keep down to the speed of my riding partner, I had to coast 3/4 of the time on the return. Very nice restored stations with services, the path is good condition, plenty of villages, (I will go back here next week -- this path goes from St Jerome to to Mont tremblant (and beyond 200Km distance) This is through a beautiful part of Quebec.

    Canal de Soulanges

    Earlier I did Canal de Soulanges, which is paved!!! It is supremely good. It is west of Montreal and sort of is in the middle of the "connects Ontario with Montreal" concept. Excellent abandoned lock system. Interesting locks in middle, a power station too. The path, in a non canal form, continues west beyond Coteau Landing and travels at first in forest and trees and then road side. If you want to end at west end of canal take the street for a Km or two and you will reach a little park and a hundred feet further a federal pier. Both of these make good rest stops before returning. Start at Point aux Cascades west of Vaudreuil (There are a dozen other parking areas along the canal), while at Point aux Cascades check out the Anchor museum beside the locks, which are also worth your time to explore. At this end they are big, er high.


    This popular paved path connects Granby and Waterloo. It is a fairly busy path, but the quality is high and distance farily low so lots of family usage. It connects the different paths also detailed here (monteregienne, campagnarde, Route Vert eastwards.) Start in Granby if coming form Montreal, lotsa services. It also connects to Yamaska provincial park through Granby, makes an nice addition - do it!

    Canal Chambly

    Connecting Chambly with St Jean sur Richelieu this path follows the path of the Chambly canal alongside the Richelieu river (connects St Laurence with Lake Champlain). Not too far or hard, it places you in the middle of the country, ocassional paved road section), hard to get lost! Good services at either end. Southward connects to path going to US border and cycling in USA (new york or Vermont states). At Chambly End connects to Route Verte path

    La Montagnarde

    Sorry, this got accidently deleted.

    Eastman to Mount Orford Provincial Park

    Located further east along the Eastern Townships autoroute, take Eastman exit and then park in the town or pass under the big high train viaduc and park along the path just out of town (north). The path starts tight at the main intersection in town and goes north then east into Orford Park. There is a self-pay box there (3.50 day pass). You are immediately in deep forest (wow!) and there is also immediately a steep downhill, go slow it's the only one. Follow this path until pavement is reached, then turn left and go swimming at thebeach at lake (forgot name). Go to the back of the campground to the Recreation centre and right there the path connects right near the park entrance you entered. (basically at the bottom of the big downhill) Very beautiful forest. Great cross country skiing in winter. Downhill back to Eastman.


    aka Crossing Laval

    I crossed 1/2 of Laval tonight on the newest urban path I've been on, stil not marked but takes Ampere from south side just east of train bridge from Gouin path on Montreal island.

    Lachine Canal

    This path, which always followed the historic and closed Lachine

    Canal, is now the NEWLY REOPENED Lachine Canal. There are many

    improvements including under-bridge paths replacing numerous street

    crossings. Gets my vote for one of the premier urban bike paths in the


    South Shore

    To get into Montreal from the South Shore you can use the Jacques Cartier bridge (under reconstruction with vastly widened bike path 8 feet wide!), this path goes south and will connect to the Chambly canal following the route verte trail. There is an awesome spiral ramp crossing huge set of train tracks. it made TV news when it opened. (eventually this connects to Chambly though still in devlopment after you reach a really nice St Hubert park around a beautiful man made lake.)

    Other bridges are the Ice Bridge (st Catherine to Nuns Island) the Mercier (scariest!) and the Old Port/Circuit Gilles Villeneuve/Victoria Bridge linkup. There are some ferries operating from the east end to the Boucherville Islands provincial parc and the south shore.


    It's pretty hard to get lost on these bike paths, also since these are all out-and-back rides not easier-to-screw-up country road loops. These rides all follow ancient railway right of ways, some going back a long long time! Thre is ocassional industrial heritage lying around, old train stations restored, a train engine (a big one!) and caboose, impressive bridges, unrestored locks, etc.

    There is very little sharing the roads with cars on these paths. They are all off-road trails only for biking and hiking.

    They are also rock dust trails. ocassionally loose rock dust-aieee!

    These trials, mostly separate named and managed paths, are all part of the intermunicipal bike path network called the Route Verte. By All are part of the very excellent Route Verte intermunicipal bike network. There are now 3000 of a planned 4300km network by 2005. Montreal is becoming bike path connected with all axis - south north east and west.

    And dats all folks

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Cycling Destination - Ormstown/Chateauguay Valley

    Montreal Area Cycling Destination: Chateauguay Valley

    Ormstown, in the heart of the Chateauguay valley, is your place to go if you want excellent and easy country-road cycling within one hour of Montreal.

    Ormstown has many choices of rides, both the out and back and the loop variety. Here are some suggestions.

    Take the Mercier Bridge, and route 138 all the way to Ormstown, about 40 minutes from Pont Mercier. I suggest you park car at IGA store. Alternatives are at churches, the high school (CVR) or at the curling club.

    1) Ormstown-Huntingdon (out and back)

    10 miles each way, scenic, river views, pass village of Dewittville. Take 138A (old highway) to Dewittville and cross river for rest of way to Huntingdon (commercial part of Huntingdon is across river in Huntindon (two bridges)

    2) Ormstown-Huntingdon-Powerscourt (covered Bridge)(out and back)

    Follow Chateauguay River west past Dewittville, Huntingdon (services), Athelstan (food), and Powerscourt to Pont Percy Covered Bridge.

    3) Ormstown-Huntingdon-Powerscourt-Rockburn-Dewittville (loop) (also, can finish same as Franklin-Ste Antoine Abbe-The Rock ride). Same as previous, turn left and go east when reaching Powerscourt, but don't miss the covered bridge!

    4) Ormstown-Dewittville-Rockburn-Franklin-St-Antoine-Abbe-"the Rock"-Tullochgorum road (a personal favorite)

    A loop ride with river, farmland, wetland, Adirondack foothills, apple orchards, villages, and bedrock scraped clean in last ice-age. An excellent ride.

    5) Ormstown-Tullochgorum road west to 202 (out and back) Scenic flat forested countryside

    6) Ormstown - 2nd concession west to 202 (out and back) Scenic flat open farmland countryside

    7) Ormstown-Howick-Ste-Martine along river (out and back)

    A relaxing ride along the Chateauguay river eastwards, passing Battle of Chateauguay museum, Georgetown bridge (Howick) and dam in Ste-Martine

    Other rides in Region.

    -Just north of Ormstown is Valleyfield, where the Beauharnois Canal has a bike path on both sides.

    -Across the St-Laurence from Valleyfield is the Soulanges Canal bike path, which is paved.

    -Saint-Martine has a bike path to Beauharnois, with poor signage at Beauharnois (don't get lost!) where you can connect to Canal path.

    -Valleyfield (which is technically an island) has a bike path network.

    -South of the Chateauguay Valley is the USA, specifically New York State. Large paved road shoulders welcome you here - remember to cross only at manned border crossings. Herdman, Franklin, Havelock, and Hemmingford are the main border stations.

    -Further west of Ormstown and north of Huntingdon is the south shore of Lac Saint-Francois, which has some attractions, more or less around Saint-Anicet, this road can be busy with cottage traffic. To the west here is a nature preserve.

    -You can ride all along the Chateauguay river from the city of Chateauguay, you can also take a ferry across the Saint Laurence from Lachine on summer weekends.

    -Pont Mercier is extremely NOT recommended for crossing on bicycle.

    Other sights/Activites

    -Apple season - August to October is apple season on Covey Hill south of Ormstown. From Rockburn to Hemmingford (including Franklin and St-Antoine Abbe) apple orchards provide a variety of opportunies for buying apples and apple products, doing the U-Pick thing, and other activities related to apples and other farm products.

    -Country Fairs - There are Country Fairs in Ormstown, Huntingdon, and Havelock.

    -Canoeing/kayaking the chateauguay river - Places in Huntingdon and Ste-Martine offer canoe and Kayak rentals to visit a different side of the Chateauguay River, the water side!

    Museums - There is a museum of the battle of the Chateauguay, where Canadians led by Col Charles de Salaberry repelled an invasion of American troups in 1813 (war of 1812) who were plannning to capture Montreal, cutting off the supply lines to Canadian Forces fighting upriver in the Great Lakes region.