Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tremblant - Rouge river ride

Haut Laurentians - Riviere Rouge ride

A late season ride can be problematic, the weather can change from sunny and summery to cold and raining and snowing, and if that's on Friday, a day when when desire and optimism can be easily thwarted, how do you plan saturday? By obeying the weather forecast that says saturday is sunny.

I got in the car quite a bit later than usual, although my crack-of-noon departure reputation is intact. I drove north and saw snow-covered hillsides. I hoped the road I was planning to ride was going to paved and dry. SInce this was yet another "new ride" I can never be sure if or what I will encounter. And it looked kind of wet looking. But I soom discovered that all the roads on the ride were paved.

The planned ride was taken from the Randonnees des Reve guidebook, it is a two day ride, and I rode the day-two part, or at least I planned to do as much as I could do before the setting sun provided a conclusion to the day's distance.

I parked the car at the Tourist Information Office for Tremblant, right beside the Rt 117, and just a few feet off the highway. It was well marked and the ride actually indicated to start here. I consulted with the nice lady in the office, and got ready to depart. At 1:44 pm I was on the road. OK, I know this is late for a 78+ km ride. Very late. But the loop was sort three-lobed and I could bail and head back to the car at the 1/3 or 2/3 distance point.

First I headed towards Brebeuf, along the not-recommended highway because the tourist office lady said there were no paved shoulder. But I noticed... newly paved shoulders. (Woohoo!) New roads or newly paved roads often include this essential ingredient to a good bike ride. I rolled along, and as I passed one road on the right, I noticed it reminded me of the name of the first turn in the guidebook's ride description. I stopped and checked the guide. Yessirree, I was supposed to turn here, and so I did. (I had some spectacular missed turns earlier this year and since itr was late season, I didn't want to sleep under a bridge somewhere cuz I was lost and the sun had set) The route was now on the day's objective: a ride along both sides of the Rouge river, which I had hoped was scenic, even spectacular. It was... Jackpot!

This road rolled along until reaching the village of La Conception, which was the northern turnaround point of the rouger river loop. Just before the town the side road I was on joined a main road, and went past the Montagne d'Argent campground. This is just over the hill from the Montagne d'argent climbing area. I had climbed here once a couple of years ago. Hey, I knew where I was, not often the case on a new ride. But I am beginning to fill in the gaps in my northern-roads knowledge.

Soon I was entering the town of La Conception. I went into the town and explored it's "river cruise" bridge. The old bridge in the town was bypassed by new highway bridges at either end, so they transformed (rebuilt with what looked like hand-hewn timbers) the in-village bridge into a gigantic covered pedestrian bridge, with stairs going to the water in midriver for... river cruises! Yes, the easy way to see the river, with a booze cruise. There was also a great river-boat sculpture beside the bridge.

I left town heading back south, almost forgetting to turn at the chemin des Ormes (ok, I forgot, but quickly noticed my error), and this road did quite a bit of winding up and down hills. At one point the pavement was not quite, oh, modern, but this was the only bad asphalt all day. Up and down, scenic splendor everywhere, with empty roads and sunshine. What luck after yesterday's first snow of the season.

Soon Brebeuf was reached, and I turned towards Huberdeau, along chemin de lac Loutres. The lake, when finally reached, had a little tourist stop, but no services. Services were a bit further at the village of Huberdeau, a few km after the actual turning-back-north point of the ride. Very close after that was the village of Arundel, where I had been early last summer when I rode part of the corridor aerobique. (actually on the corridor aerobique ride I took a side trail that brought me into huberdeau too, which was my first revelation of "Hey, I was here before from the other direction!") .

At Arundel I got some food and drink at the general store, noticing the huge collection of pig-related doodads on the wall. It was cool but nice riding weather around 6 degrees C. I was warm and comfy all day (neoprene booties are great) but in the general store there were big front windows and I stayed inside while I snacked and absorbed some preheated solar energy.

Then it was back on the bike, back to Huberdeau, and back along the road to Lac Loutres until I reached the side road I had whizzed by on my descent into Huberdeau. (I did notice it on the downhill, and was not, repeat not lost) This road took me along the west side of the riviere Rouge, and it was magnificio! The sun was setting so I was riding in deep valley shade, but just across the opposite riverbank was in bright golden late afternoon sunlight. With the foliage gone from most trees, I had great views across the river and the hills beyond.

This took me back to Brebeuf, at which point I could either continue with the original route on the map, or, since it was 5:30 pm, with a 6 pm sunset and 30 km left on the original route... decide it was time to bail and head home. Easy choice: I headed back to the car, but did take a slight detour so I could cross the covered bridge the tourist lady told me about before I started the days adventure. Riding along the sun occasionally poked out from some clouds and bathed my in warm golden light. I was felling belesed with such a fine day to ride. After I crossed the covered bridge I was on the 327 and into St-Jovite by a slightly different and only slightly longer route than the "direct" route back. The covered bridge was cool, and in a short time, behind me was a pink sunset. Yes, glorious sunset, but I wasn't home yet, even though I knew it was close, there was no clue quite how far (except I knew it was not far) until I topped the final hill and could see i was about to enter St-Jovite.

I got back to the car at 6:07, with 78 km ridden. The route was 79 km, but with my extra section to Arundel, I had missed out on the last third of the route. I guess there's always next year.

End-note: always carry spare car keys in case the ones you have disappear during supper.... like mine did! Lucky for me there was a bus to Montreal from St-Jovite at 9:30 pm (location: restaruant daisy a hundred metres south of the Tim Hortons at the southern entrance to St-Jovite. I came back the next day with my spare key, and all was well, and actually I wish I could take the bus on all my rides, driving everywhere is useful, but leaving the driving to someone else is great too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Stanstead-to-Georgeville in Quebec's Eastern Townships

South of Magog is a little hidden corner of Quebec. Sandwiched between the Lake Memphremagog and the Autoroute 55, is the scenic little corner of quebec between the border town of Stanstead and the lakeside village of Georgeville is a hilly, under-developed place, full of great scenery including Fitch Bay.

The directions couldn't be easier, take the Eastern Townships autoroute past magog, go south on Autoroute 55, take the last exit before the USA at Stanstead, and park at the first church you see. Then ride the 247 north to Georgeville, and come back along the lake. Sweet and easy. Well, sweet anyway, there were tons of hills!!! Tons! I wasn't in a rush, and it was a great day for riding, temperatures around `0C, and not too windy at all. Montreal weather was rain, and up north was rain and snow. I made the right choice, thanks to checking the weather friday nite.

From stanstead you travel though the village, noting the new england architecture fromthe 1800s all along the main street here. THis was a big boom town 100 years ago. In a few miles you arrive at Beebe, home of two things othat make it famous: first is it's location, right on the US-Canada border. I don' tmean it's on one side of the border, it's on bith sides of the border! The street Canuas has one side in Canada and one side in the US, one side the cars have familiar quebec license plates, on the other side, the green Vernmont plates. I almost took a wrong turn and ended up south od the US customs. The dude from customs on the side street saw me turnaround without stopping, so he let me back in canada,. The guidebook I was using, took us on a brief detour here, which is why I was off the main road. This guidebook, "Circuits de Velo au coeur des plus belles villages du Quebec" had identified this particular ride as the only one rated "diciclut" in the whole book. Plus it was a place I really wanted to visit, having almost never been in this particular place before. It's serindipidous when the weather says go east, the guidebook says go east, and the place where you end ou in the east is so beautiful!. This guidebook specialised in rides in nice places, and I was happy the library has acquired it: I never sem to run out of new places to ride, Montreal is such a great starting point for bike or other outdoor adventures.

The other thing Beebe is famous for is granitew. Lots and lots of granite is found here. And lots andlots of granite carving, granite counter-making, toomstone making, and anything else granite is used for is made here! It's not often you see a mailbox held up by a three foot high carved granite dolphin! Even the park benches were granite. They have a lot of the stuff! I was on bike, so I didn't bring any home with me.

Leaving Beebe, you cross the rail-to-trail bike path "Tomifobia Nature Trail" which goes to/from Ayers Cliff about 20 km north. This is a great trail, I'll write up a blog entry about it soon).

Now we're in the beautiful open farm land of the townships, did I mention hilly? It is now hilly, seriously hilly. Always hilly. I had wanted the "difficile ride rating and I got what I paid for. I was relaxed, just doing the day cruising, I had no reason to race, it's late season, and I enjoyed the natcheral beauty of the area, of which there is plenty! After a while on the 247, I got to the scenic area of Fitch bay (before the village of Fitch Bay) where I could se the highway had bypassed the old covered bridge. I took abreak and checked out this covered bridge. Red-painted as all Quebec covered bridges are, it is a latice-type construction. It was called the Narrows bridge, as it crossed the narrows of Fitchbay permittong peole to avoid a looooong detaour back in the old days. Soon after this was the village of Fitch Bay, where I followed the 247 to Georgeville, but this did invlove a left turn. I have no recollection of this village except that I turned here! I was saving my camera battery, and this is why I have no pic to remind me. After some more hills, the views starting to be of across Lake Memphremagog: usually towards Owls Head. The views are good, and they were good for the next few hours!

I arrived in Georgeville, but I made a big mistake, I should have stopped to check it out, but someone had told me to check out Magoons point instead,a few miles further along. At Georgeville, the route of the bike circuit turns and heads south along the lake (at the general store). I followed this uphill, a woman in a CRV gave me a smile, which sustained me up the hill. She didn't give me a lift, which would have been even better! Not.

I followed this road, Magoon Point road, until it turned at Camber. Actually, thr road and bike route turned at Camber, but I continued don the Magoon Point road further, past the cul-de-sac (deead-end) sign, last where the road turned into a mountaion bike trail, past where it rose and drpped rapidly as it crossed a ridge, and as car as I could go before I got creeped out and figured it's never going to ever end! The map showed it as continuing witouht really "dedad-ending" but I decided to turn around, there could be bears, hunters, hunting bears, or irate super-rich landowners not willing to gcall 911 when they found my bear-eaten corpse. OK, I had some pessimistic deep woods fantasies. so after a klick of walking I u-turned and went back the proper way! I was defeated, but only because I was on a skinny tired road racing bike, this was a perfect mountain bike road At the other end I tried to backtrack in the forested Magoon road trail again, buit didn't try when I saw where it came out of the woods. At least I had some tranquil deep woods.

This road came out by the covered bridge again, and here I briefly rejoined the Rt 247 again. Then it was a turn back to the lakeside, on thw way to Cedarville road to Graniteville. When I reached the lake there was a park and a public dowk. The dock had a phone to call customs to check n! THe Lake Memphremagog crossed the border, so there's lots of boat traffic back and forth. There's even a 40 km long distance open water swim every year. I watched it once, it doesn't look like as much fun as biking the 40 km!!!

After leaving here the last section brings you back via a back road into Beebe again, this time past "the largest granite quarry in Canada" said the sign at the road side. I stopped and checked out the view. Big quarry. Lots of missing granite. It looked like good slickrock riding!

Then it was past the Tomifobia Nature Train again, I still had sunlight, so I figured I'd ride 30 minutes up, turn around and come back, and still get to the car with win a few minutes of sunset (a few minutes on either side of sunsrt!).

Riding the Tomifobia Nature Trail is really different than the road! For a start it is quiet and tranquil, it follows the Tomifobia river as it winds it's way to Ayers Cliff and Lake Massawippi. I crossed three railroad bridges before I turned around, it was quiet and peaceful, except for the too-playful puppy Jasmine of a pair ow women walking the trail,. These were the only peole I saw on it. It seemed to be paved in one part, and about to be paved after tat (south of Curtis road). I was surprised! But pavement really attracted the tourists, so it's inevitable that this tranquil beautiful trail becomes a zoo like the Estriade one day. I stopped at the momument for the two victims of a April 8 1895 train wreck. Then it was back to Beenbe, and back to the car, arriving a few minutes after dark. I changed and went to Millie's for supper. The Gazoo. did a feature on this place last summer, the focus being how surrised to find fine-dining in outoff-the-beaten-path Stanstead Quebec! They also mentined the good prices. I had: fennel salad, filet mignon with roasted vegetables (lots!), dessert wioce cream covered with fruit and hot chocolate sauce, plus two cappuccinnos... all for only $20 total. Twenty bucks! I was expecting about double that, but there it was, a bill for twenty bucks and a big full almost sore tummy.

Quoting Mister Burns... "Excellent."

I left the resto feeling very happy, both from the meal and the great day of riding, and immediately saw one more reason for joy: it was raining, and my day of cycling had baten the weather! Woohoo!

Summary: a great day, hills and great scenery on paved and dirt roads, with a great resto to end the day.

Velo Villeneuve - Not


Velo Villeneuve does not exist any longer in the form that we write about. The comments below are quite old.

After the experiences below, we switched to xxx Cycles, and over several years their mechanics proved to us that a big name means nothing, and completely shoddy work was the norm coming out of there. (tiny wires in tires causing flats multiple times after shop visits, brakes left completely open (to insert wheel/tire into frame and brakes never tightened), bike returned with new brake cable housing cables but stem slammed to bottom so it could not be adjusted to correct height, $60 dollar cable "kit" for 1 metre of cable housing, not tightened rear wheels slipping out when pedalling causing major accidents, too-long chains, wheel alignments lasting one ride, installed tires blowing off rims in the car on the way home from the shop, parts replaced but without the old parts to prove the old parts needed replacement, and on and on and on.

Finally after multiple accidents caused by xxx Cycle's mechanics shoddy work, I switched to a different shop. I had enough. 

No matter what shop you go yo, make sure you ask the guy giving your bike back to you if a safety inspection has been done on your bike, and then MAKE HIM DO ONE! because the xxx Cycle mechanics have proven to me to be incapable to return the bike to customers in a safe ride-able condition.  


Velo villeneuve is a small hole-in-the-wall bike shop where I have had some bike work done.

Last time they really disappointed me. Really, really disapointed me. I'm never again going back there!

Plus they gave some unsolicited, and really bad advice on how to properly ride a bike.

Here's a good website that shows how to ride a bike properly. It also explains how to brake a bicycle and explains why using the front and back brake together is important: Click here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Big ride in La Mauricie - riviere Batiscan river

I took a ride in La Mauricie (between Trois Rivieres and Quebec city) on the weekend.

I started in Ste-Genevieve de Batiscan and rode to Notre Dame de Montauban, to St-Thecle, St-Tite, and back to the start.

This ride is from the quebec cycling guidebook Randonee des Reves (Dream Rides).

In the guide book this ride is a two day ride (73 km and 52 km days) but I did it in a one day ride with about 7 hours start to finish. Seven tiring hours, no mountains, but pleanty of up and down theough the laurentian highlands and the river valleys of La Mauricie.

I also passed through the excellently named Saint Tite Quebec.

I also visited the excellent Accro Velo exhibition at the Musee des culture populaire in Trois Rivieres. It's an excellent history of cycling exhibition with 20-30 very historic bicycles, a least a dozen from before 1900! These bicycles are from the collection of the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. See the separate blog entry for this exhibit. See this link for some google videos I took of the exhibition.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

cold weather gear

I've accumulated a lot of cold weather riding gear for cycling in the cooler months. Here's some of the things I still use for riding in the cold and dark.

* - things I wore today

Real cycling gear
neoprene booties *
light tights (LG)
heavy tights (lemond)
arm warmers
helmet cover (for rain, very sweaty!)
mec cycling jacket *
north face cycling jacket (from the 80s!)
Windstopper cycling jacket (from france, only a t-shirt underneath needed for -10C!!)
full finger cycling gloves, (work to a surprisingly low temperature)
Wool long-sleeved jerseys (I use the synthetics in layers way more than these jerseys)
Cycling vest with mesh back

Non-Cycling gear
neoprene sox (rarely used)
Stretch capilene patagucci long johns
MEC quick dry pants with knit ankle cuff *
assorted zip-t inner mid layers
V-shaped velcro neck gaitor *
assorted fleece headbands *
thin liner gloves inside cycling gloves
x-c ski gloves *
assorted mitts
lightweight polypro tuque (really useful and versatile and missing since saturday)
cotton balls in my ears

And don't forget your reflective ankle straps, they work really well to improve your visibility to cars. Lights help too.

It's getting colder outside, but it's not cold yet. I comfortable cycle to -10C.

Get out and ride!

bike paths are control devices

A bike path tries to create a new bahaviour in the human species: "ride your bike inside these lines."

Here's an interesting blog on the subject of controlling behaviour with design. Click here to go to the Architecture of Control in Design blog.

The built environment is what we hamans have built for out existence. It's everything that's not nature, and by this point in the human experience, that's almost everything we interact with in our daily lives.

I don't use any bike path on my commute to work, yet there are people who wouldn't dare ride outside of a bike path. I'm a fan of integrating bikes into the regular traffic flow on all streets. It happens anyway so it may as well be part of the traffic design and infrastructure. Bike paths are part of the traffic infrastructure, but bikes shoud not be restricted only to the bike path infrastructure. There are those for whom keeping bikes only on the bike paths is the goal! Believe it. Designers, trafic anal-izers, and other life-is-rules types, unfortunately those who run things fit this description. Happily give a person a bike and you have created a little kernel of pure mobility freedom.


Did I have a point to make? Yes, time for supper, and to fix my flat tire on the mtn bike. Sitting in front of the computer is toxic: Get out and ride!

Said Hi and Zoomed by

I ocassionally give a hi or salut or hey or bonjour to folks I am passing, sometimes they say something back to me.

Today I passed someone whose seat could have been higher. A few minuters later she caught up with me!

OK, I was waiting at a light at one of the "can't cross this street on the red" places on my commute. Like the 40, cote vertu, jean talon, etc.

But caught up to me she did. Just as I can catch up with cars because they have to stop at all lights, she caught up with me while I was waiting at a later light. I would guess that she caught the tail end of green lights, so she lucky, very very lucky.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Flat Tire

I knew this would catch up to me. I was riding my real mountain bike, the Mantis, to work cuz rusty and old blue were in the shop for overhauls (and what's taking so long with that anyway) and the mantis has tires that were last changed in the 90s. They were cracked and I knew sooner or later (probably sooner) there's be a flat.

There was.


On the way to work this morning.

A mile from work, but I could ride it all the way there.

After work I fixed the flat, but for the second time this year the patch didn't hold, and halfway home it was flat again. It wasn't taking more air (the first trick is to see how far you can get with 50 pumps), so it again needed to be repatched. But instead of that, since I was going to replace the tires real soon now, I rode the flat tire home.

Well, for as long as possible anyway.

It turned out to be pretty far!

But then I hit the point when forward movement was more effort than walking, so I walked the rest of the way home.

The tire was doing some pretty funky shit without any air in it. Flapping and flopping, and making a nuisance of itself. I thought about stuffing it full of autumn leaves, but that urge passed pretty quick. Walking wasn't too bad and it wasn't a life or death situation.

I saw some guy worse off then me.

This man's tricked out remsport mercedes lost a wheel and crashed across the sidewalk into a front yard. Luckily, this expensive car stopped a mere one inch from the oak tree in the yard.

One inch away from the oak tree.

I am reminded of the Lynard Skynard song lyric that goes "... oak tree don't get in my way..."

So I wasn't the only unfortunate soul out on the roads today. Eventually I got home, got changed, and am as good as new, unlike my bike. Heavy rains forecast for tomorrow, so once again I think I'll take my car to work.

And that's just wrong!


Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Quebec.& the Northeast US cycling guidebook

Randonees de reve
(Dream Tours)
Les Guides Velo mag (2nd Edition - 2006)

Quebec-Ontario-Nouveau Brunswick-Maine-Vermont-New York-New Hampshire

This guidebook provided detailed descriptions, route instructions, maps, and altitude graphs for 12 medium length rides in the above regions. All the rides start in Quebec, and several tours cross the US border to pass through the beautiful mountain areas of the northeast states.

The guidebook is oganized by length of rides. Ride lengths are:
2 days
Eastern Ontario
Cantons de l'Est
Cantons de l'Est again
Laurentides again
3 days
Quebec-New York-Vermont
4 days
New England (maine, vermont, new hampshire
5 days
5 or 6 days in paradise, I mean Vermont
7 days
Lower St-Laurent (incl New Brunswick)

...and cover a really big area of Quebec and the northeast. There are options to do shorter of fewer day versions of the tours. It's very a useful and versatile guide, that will inspire me to ride more in more places. Some of the two day rides can also be done in one day, and many sections can be done in a one day out and back or a modified loop ride.

I like this guidebook and will probably buy it. It is also in some Montreal public libraries.

Oh, by the way, it's in French.

Circuitas de

Jay Peak loop ride from Sutton Quebec

The Greatest Ride in the East?

The Hardest ride in the East?

The Hilliest Ride in the East?

The Most fun you can have in 80 km?

Can I walk today?

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, No!

I finally rode the Jay Peak 5-hill ride from Sutton Quebec. 5200 feet of vertical climbing.

The basic circuit is:

1-Park at Sutton Quebec, go south, turning at first road left south of sutton (chemin brookfall)

2-Take "Chemin Scenic Road."(Hill #1 - 500ft vertical climb and descent) at its end, turn right and stop at to US Customs at East Richford/Rt 105A (the river here is part of the Northen Forest Canoe Route)

3-Take Vt Rt 105E east over the backside of Jay Peak (Hill #2 - 1600 ft vertical climb)

4-At bottom of descent (1200 ft vertical descent), take first side road to village of Jay (services) (side road: sign says Jay Peak Tourist Info)

5-Climb road past the Jay Peak ski area and then conquer a final climb after ski area (Hill # 3 - 1400 ft vertical climb)

6-Descend to Mongomery Centre (services) (1750 foot vertical descent)

7-Go north to Montgomery (services ???), cross the Covered Bridge

8-This road is another great scenic hill, go north to Vt Rt105 (west of Richford) (hill # 4 - 700 ft vertical climb & descent)

Note: this ride skips Richford, but for food supplies, Richford is your last chance before getting back to Sutton)

Note: If you've had enough and are exhausted, take the shortcut home from here: go to Richford and take flats back to Sutton

9-Take 105E to 105A (customs at East Richford) and cross border back to Canada

10-Take "Chemin Scenic Road" back to Sutton, this is the "hard side" of Chemin Scenic road. (Hill #5 - 500 ft vertical climb and descent )

That's it, the beautiful 80 km, 5200 ft of climbing, 5-mountain pass ride around Jay Peak from Sutton Quebec. It's THE cycling testpiece of the East. An amazing road ride. Vicious never ending steep and steeper hills, multiple "camellien houdes" piled one on top of another. And the directions are so simple, I didn't even bring a map with me (really not recommended!)

In other words, Fantastic!

There's tons of amazing scenery, great descents, some perfect roads, some rough roads, some recently repaired roads, some roads in need of repair (hello Quebec!). The best road was the side road between 105W and Jay village, a ribbon of perfect pavement rolliing along slightly downhill, heaven for cyclists. The most scenic road (of many!) was on the hill after the covered bridge in Montgomery. The best descent was Jay Peak to Montgomery Center.

I parked in the public parking behind main street in Sutton, just south of the road to the ski area. Behind the chocolate museum.

I'd been waiting months, years, an entire decade to do this ride again after doing it multiple times in the late 80s and early 90s. I knew it was a tough ride, and the hills delivered: I used up 100% of my reserves on at least three of the climbs! Wooohoo!!

Easier Options: This ride can be done with only two hills, take flats to Richford and ride around Jay Peak without doing Chemin Scenic road or the Montgomery covered bridge backroad (although this one is the jewel of the route). For a harder option (are you nuts?) when you arrive back in Sutton ride the hill up to the Mont Sutton ski area.

For any last minute bike supplies and parts, Velo Brome is on the way to Sutton (between Cowansville and turnoff to Sutton).

This amazing road loop should be done at least once in a lifetime by every cyclist in the east.