Monday, July 23, 2007

Letter to a friend

Raspberry farm mid-ride snack

Hi S.

Remember the Ste-Melanie/Lanaudiere ride we did?

Where we (ok, I) got lost, (as in I'm not sure where we are but it can't be far from where we are supposed to be, and maybe the people in this car can give us directions)...

Well, I revisited that exact spot on sunday. I've been back here (specifically: about 10 miles north of here) ten times since that fateful day, but never back to this specific secteur between Ste-melanie and Ste-Beatrix. I have worked out a beauty of a climbers route between St-Jean-de-matha --> Ste-Emilie de l'Energie --> Ste-Beatrix --> to St-Jean de Matha loop ride. (Visualize a clock dial, I was always staying on the top half of the dial).

The tourist info office in Ste-Emilie has its own lakeside

But these rides, for all their excellent and ample scenery and hill climbing, have always been, what's the word... too dam short! So I wanted to add in some extra distance and figured I'd add in the long-ago section of Ste-Beatrix-to-Ste-Melanie.

Of course, I did this ride with my usual modus operandi: a late start. I left home after 2:30 pm and in Ste-Beatrix (where I normally turn in the direction of the car) it was after 6 pm. it was late, it was far from home, there would be unknowns ahead..... Conflict! Looming disaster!

Should I again take the short way home, leaving that unfulfilled feeling in my butt muscles (although since I hadn't ridden hard for three weeks due to mechanical issues with the racing bike and therefore I was felling pretty completely used up and wiped out at this point and actually sore in some new places), so I had a decision to make if I wanted today to be the day when I explored this extra-distance-southern-addition to the ride, and I was quite nervous, knowing I'd been lost here before, and the sun was soon to be setting below the horizon, but I had fresh-printed Google maps showing the side-road-names, and I figured, well, you only live once, and never get lost twice.

Therefore, I decided that the only and naturally best course of action was to ride south to the Ste-melanie sector. There was sure to be some surprises. But I would be doing a link-up of a previous ride and that was always elating.

The first surprise was that I began to immediately recognize landmarks from that ride we took! And happily, since this was the reverse of how we rode it so all the big climbs were now.....mainly downhill sections so it passed quite quickly. Actually one part of it was very downhill and passed VERY quickly!

Steep descent - even for bikes!

I zigged and zagged ever-more scenic roads and came out just where I wanted to be, on the highway between Ste-melanie and the main highway Rt 131. Then I crossed the Assomption river, and after I noticed the scenic river, I then noticed an insane crazy steep climb straight up the other side. This ride has about ten of these crazy steep climbs, which is what makes it so great that I keep returning… again and again and again.

But today I was already nearly dead already, and this climb brought me closer.... to both zero energy and home, which would win? I got up it, so it looked like I would conclude today successfully. I had passed through the secteur and I was out the other side. Woohoo.

I was shortly back on the main ultra-busy route Rt 131 north to St-Jean de Matha --the road was brand new asphalt surface with paved shoulders, so it rolled well, but it trended uphill, which didn't trend the right way at all.

I had planned to take a sideroad to bypass this section and of the two choices, I took the shorter one: the little side road of St-Guillaume and this turned out not just to be a great way to avoid the some busy highway 131, but it was also one of the prettiest roads I've ever cycled. unfortunately, it was only around 5 km long, and went, wait for it... uphill.

St-Guillaume was scenic au bout

But it was supremely awesomely scenic, and I let that joy energize the legs and I got up, and was back at the car, surprisingly, before the sun set.

Conclusion: This was a great day, and there were no traffic jams coming home.

Take care


PS, to my shame, but happily for my knees, I did walk up part of one of the steepest hills.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Defrag said...

I cycled this beautiful region 4 weeks ago. We started in Saint-Felix-De-Valois. If you like steep hills try chemin Beaulieu in Saint-Damien.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Cycle Fun Montreal said...

Note: the bikely map shows a turn on to Chemin Belle Montagne too soon (unless you like walking your bike for 3 km on steep dirt roads), turn onto Chemin Belle Montagne at depanneur Lau-Dan.


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