Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vacation in Charlevoix

I just returned from visiting the Charlevoix (north east of Quebec City) and there I found... some of the best cycling in Quebec.

We stayed in St-Joseph de la Rive and this village is located on the river's edge, on the road to the ferry to Isle aux Coudres.

Isle aux Coudres is very scenic little island -- a ride all around the island is about 25 km. It offers spectacular views of the rugged and mountainous Charlevoix coastline, a great "economuseum" guided tour of two historic flour mills. One of windmill powered and the other one is powered by a waterwheel. The waterwheel mill is in current operation. The windmill looked fully equipped as a flour mill, but is not yet operational. We had a great guided tour and the water-powered mill was operated for about 15 minutes and was spectacular.

This authentically restored windmill-powered flour mill sites next to a fully operational water-powered flour mill. History doesn't get any more real than this.

Water-powered mill in action, making some buckwheat flour.

Back on shore we visited the exceptional Musée Maritime de St-Joseph de la Rive, This museum surprised me many times. It built wood schooners, up to 1959. By that time they were powered by diesel engines, and were used to haul pulp wood.

The Jean Yvan - a St-Laurence schooner as the Musée Maritine de St-Joseph de la Rive.

On the road - riding the circuit used for the Grand Prix de Charlevoix bike race. An excellent route through these beautiful hills.

The last and greatest thing was a chance to ride the circuit for the road race part of the Grand Prix de la Charlevoix. This was a ride with plenty of climbs, plenty of great descents, and plenty of beautiful scenic views of both mountains and seas. The slowest time time in the race was, well, faster than my ride time, but in my defence, I stopped to take pictures!

The discovery that the Charlevoix is an asteroid-impact crater

This part of the Charlevoix, just east of Baie St-Paul, is called Les Eboulements, and it's geology is unique because 350 million years ago a 2 km-wide asteroid impacted the planet earth right on this spot! In fact the bike circuit I did rides all the way around Mont Eboulement, which was the epicentre of the collision. Coincidently, I parked my bike for a break on some roadside rocks, and found I was at the exact spot where the fact this was an asteroid impact was discovered.

We stayed in the motel part of Auberge de la Rive in St-Joseph de la Rive. They had fine dining and a pool. The bakery was two steps away, an artisanal paper-making factory was across the street, and the Musée Maritime was next door. Taking the Ferry for a free ride over and back from Isle aux Coudres was a great time.

The new fountain in Quebec city in front of the National Assembly

We stopped in Quebec City to see the new fountain in front of the provincial parliament buildings. It was very popular and very impressive. It was a gift to the city for next year's 400th anniversary of Quebec City.

This was a a great trip. Highly recommended.

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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

1 pm... Off to Lanaudiere for hills

La Presse recently had one of their weekly "ten things to see" article feasturing Lanaudiere. Except that they just had 6six items listed. I am sure they just ran out of space, because surely number 9 or 10 would have been the incontournable hilly road cycling in the northern half of Lanaudiere.

It's not at all clear to the public that northen Lanaudiere has another name - because it is actually "the eastern Laurentians." And it's a velo paradise. A cyclist who likes hills and scenery can't go wrong up here. (See my many other posts on Lanaudiere - search with blog search window at the very top of this page )

This means it has all kinds of great scenery an terrain, but much less crowds.

I visit here frequently to get my hills "fix." The last time I had my ride cut short due to mechanical issues, but I'm going back to finish that ride.

And it's looking like it's another crack-of-noon start (1:00 pm and all is well), so I gotta go!

US's Newsday newspaper reports on the Route Verte and Quebec Cycling

US's Newsday newspaper reports on the Route Verte and Quebec Cycling.

It's mostly positive too. (Quebec could decide that to welcome cyclists, all roads would have paved shoulders)

Click here for link to original complete article.

Through Quebec on two wheels


When Wolfgang Schivelbusch, a contemporary German philosopher with a catchy name, theorized that the railroad effectively collapsed the distance between cities and isolated people from nature, he didn't envision a time when bicyclists would reclaim abandoned railways in order to recapture an antiquated leisureliness.

But that is exactly what they are doing throughout North America, and the most extensive pathway system is in Canada's bike-crazy province of Quebec. There, about 2,500 miles of bike paths, under development since 1995, are being inaugurated this summer as La Route Verte. The trails, linking 16 of Quebec's 17 regions, also touch 320 cities and towns, many of which have their own municipal systems of bikeways.

The paths wind by vineyards, fromageries and chocolatiers, not to mention the colorful "maison québécoise," charming cottages that date to the 18th century and often are shaded by apple orchards and cherry trees. But Quebec, known in the past for its insularity and Francophone steadfastness, has not as yet done a great job of promoting the trails system to travelers coming from outside the province.

But knowing that Quebec City is a mere 81/2-hour drive on easy highways from New York City, we decided to take a long weekend to explore the bike trails. (Montreal is six hours from the city and is also a good place to catch the paths.) We didn't take our bikes, because a hallmark of La Route Verte is conveniently located bicycle shops.

Rising early, we took a quick stroll to Cyclo Services in the Vieux-Port market. Conventional bicycles are available for rent there, along with tandem and reclining bicycles, adult-size tricycles, bicycles with flip-on motors for the nasty hills, and other types of wheeled conveyances.

Danielle Brochu, a co-owner of the shop, said a growing number of travelers, especially families, are building cycling days into their vacations. "We're starting to be what we call in French 'la maison de cyclistes,'" she said. "Many people are coming here, not only to rent bikes, but wanting to know what they can see, where they can go, so we give them that information."

By no means expert cyclists, but fit enough, we selected three day trips of no more than 50 miles a day that are easy to accomplish from Quebec City.

Chaudière Appalaches

We took the ferry from Quebec to Lévis, where the path is smooth, dotted by shady parks, some with staircases up the rocky cliffs that lead into the city of Lévis, once a formidable British redoubt that ominously eyed the French capital. The trails are heavily used by young and old, solo and in groups, on everything from bikes and Rollerblades to power chairs. We traveled to Montmagny, which offers an accordion museum. Cycling gives you the time to examine the fields of fruit trees and also makes you very hungry. We stopped at the Casse-Croûte & Bar Laitier l'Aller-Retour, a roadside stand for fried food and ice cream, where we inhaled a uniquely French-Canadian dish called "poutine," which is available in a greasy sleeve as well as on a bun. It consists of French fries topped with velvety cheese curds doused in a smoky, brown gravy, and may well be the siren song of some cyclists.

We then cycled back into Quebec on the Pont de Quebec. We did not encounter one tourist or native English-speaker on the trail that day. We did meet Louise Parent, 67, a native of Quebec City, who said she cycles the 18.6-mile loop from her house, crossing on the ferry to Lévis and cycling back on the bridge, three to five times a week in summer and sees few tourists. During Quebec's long winter, she uses the trails to cross-country ski.

La Route de la Nouvelle-France

This path runs east from the city through the Côte-de-Beaupré for about 30 miles, at least as far as Cap Tourmente, a wildlife preserve. Due to the byway's many temptations, we never made it that far.

The paved path from the city arrives at one of the region's busiest tourist attractions, Montmorency Falls, the only place outside Quebec City where we encountered foreign visitors: namely, hundreds of boys in Utica College T-shirts. The falls are double the height of Niagara and can be accessed by a cable car or an antique-feeling set of stairs. We watched two seemingly fearless Québécois take a swim well within the buoys roping off the cascade.

Running above the falls is the bucolic avenue Royale. Lined by some of the oldest homes in Quebec, including the 17th-century Maison Vézina, which also functions as a studio for visual artists, the route is a veritable smorgasbord of local produce. Besides wineries and farmers' markets, there is a traditional bakery and a sugar shack that produces maple sugar products. Some features are along Highway 138, including a bee museum, part of a provincewide network of "economuseums" that show local artisans at work.

…Since the bike trails are dotted with inns, it's easy to find accommodation for the night…. One lovely bed and breakfast is Le Royal Champêtre, recently purchased by Philippe and Corinne Gardy, who moved to Quebec from the south of France with their two young sons. Though the inn is relatively new, Corinne Gardy cooks hearty breakfasts during the colder months on a restored cast-iron Belanger stove that will be 100 years old next year and dominates the kitchen.

Philippe Gardy recommended we investigate the Île d'Orléans, so we did, but a note to cyclists: Although the island is utterly bewitching, with charming, centuries-old homes and churches tucked among caves de vin and cider makers, and signs proclaiming "Bienvenue cyclistes!" automobiles are recommended, at least for now. The two-lane bridge requires steady maneuvering on a 3-foot-wide sidewalk while the island's 41-mile loop is on a twisty, sometimes shoulderless road that can get precarious with heavy traffic.

Corridor des Cheminots

On our last day, we went up the Corridor des Cheminots, chosen principally because it runs by the famed ice hotel at Duchesnay, which also has a Scandinavian-inspired health center. This trail was quite different from the previous day's; there were longer distances between towns and knowledge of village trails was necessary to take advantage of the many offerings.

While the ice hotel -- the only one in North America -- is crafted of ice each year by artists and open January through March, it was a bit of a letdown in spring. However, we enjoyed the ride through thickening conifer forests, past waterfalls and rocky hills as we headed toward the village of Saint-Raymond de Portneuf, about 40 miles from Quebec.

Walking your bike (on sidewalks) - part 2

I recently ranted about idiots who ride their bike on busy sidewalks.

Montreal's La Presse newspaper's feature Sunday-letter-to-the-editor was on this exact subject.

The letter writer Yves Roberge compared bicycles on busy sidewalks to snowmobiles on cross-country ski trails or Hummer's on a pedestrian walkway.

Cyclists easily travel at 5-10 times the speed of the pedestrian, and it's dangerous and stupid, and you scare the hell out of the pedestrians.

So, when are you supposed to walk your bike? When you are on a sidewalk with anyone walking on it.

I know some people are afraid to ride on the street and as a result they ride on the sidewalk. But now you've made the sidewalk dangerous. For a better alternative try a quiet sides treet. Montreal's linear street layout makes this simple and easy to do. (Now, let's NOT ride the wrong way on one-way streets)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bert's back on the road

The Bertrand was in the shop to get a new headset and bottom bracket, and is back, finally, and in better shape than its been in years. Highly noticeable was a straightening of the forks. It rides straight again.

I took it for a ride, but not one of those short, in town checkout rides, I went for adventure!

I headed north but so was the entire western world, so I turned off and pursued a plan B.

So I was suddenly headed for St-Donat on the 125. It's a great road, except for St-Julienne. I stopped in Notre Dame de la Merci. I'd been here last year for my Rt 347 ride, it has only curves!

Notre Dame de Merci to St-Donat is one of the few remaining gaps in my trans-laurentian-ride project. South of Notre Dame de la Merci was virgin territory with a unique aspect: a divided highway, and through some of the finest upper-laurentian scenery possible.

This ride turned out to be a real winner. The scenery is great and there's big shoulders to ride on, perfect recipe for cycling.

I took a detour to Entrelacs, because I needed a few extra Km to get to a 80 km ride.

I finished in late, late afternoon, a great time to ride, less cars, better lighting for great photos and scenery appreciation purposes.

My "Plan B" turned out to be a really great ride.

Well, except for the flat tire.

One tiny little osti-chris-de-merde glass

I had quite a comfy set up for the repair. The tire was fixed in a mere 9 minutes

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Short Scenic P'Tit train du Nord ride

I rode from Prevost to Ste-Adele on the P'tit train du nord bike path north of Montreal.

This was a very scenic ride and I enjoyed it very much.

An afternoon shower greeted us just after we got back to the car. We got back just in time!

We were short of time, but I would suggest continuing to Val David and 1001 pots. It's also a scenic section. This is a beautiful part of the laurentians.

The P'Tit Train du Nord follows the river, and is far from the noise of the Autoroute. A great getaway and close to Montreal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Andy Hampston's favorite ride

Andy Hampsten, the first american to win the Giro d'Italia road race, was featured in a New York Times article on why cyclists can ride fast even if they are fat (say, unlike runners). At the end of the article he mentioned that after he had guided a tour of perhaps not-whippet-thin americans through the mountains of Italy, he left to do a ride at Suvereto, Italy. He called it his favorite ride. There are 187 switchback turns.

Here's the NYTimes Article about the cycling paradox. Ride fast, eat lots, get fat, ride lots, eat lots, enjoy life! It sounds like a way to life life to the fullest, unlike say, the starvalised anorexic runner lifestyle.

The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin


Andy Hampsten, the former pro cyclist, the only American ever to win the Tour of Italy, the first American ever to win the grueling Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France, does his best to discourage casual riders from signing up for the cycling trips he leads in Tuscany.

“All of our trips are designed to satisfy experienced riders,” Mr. Hampsten writes on his Web site. To train, he suggests, “you should ride at least 100 miles a week for at least 6 to 10 weeks” on routes with “as many hills as you can find.”

So I had an image of what our fellow cyclists would look like when my husband, son and I arrived in Castagneto Carducci for a cycling vacation. They would look like Mr. Hampsten, who at age 45 remains boyishly thin and agile, bouncing with energy.

I was wrong. For the most part, our group consisted of ordinary-looking, mostly middle-age men and a few middle-age women.

These were serious cyclists. One of them was Bob Eastaugh, a 63-year-old justice on the Alaska Supreme Court who said he rode mostly to stay in shape for his true passion, downhill ski racing.

And our trip was challenging. The longest hill was 15 miles, the steepest had a 15 percent grade, the longest one-day ride was 90 miles, and the terrain was never, ever flat. It is hard to imagine that a group of middle-age adults could have handled an equivalently difficult 10 days of running. What, I wondered, made bicycling different?

It turns out that others, too, have been struck by the paradox of bicycling fitness.

“When I first got into cycling, I would see cyclists and say, ‘O.K., that’s not what I perceive a cyclist to be,’ ” said Michael Berry, an exercise physiologist at Wake Forest University. Dr. Berry had been a competitive runner, and he thought good cyclists would look like good runners — rail-thin and young.

But, Dr. Berry added, “I quickly learned that when I was riding with someone with a 36-inch waist, I could be looking at the back of their waist when they rode away from me.”

He came to realize, he said, that cycling is a lot more forgiving of body type and age than running. The best cyclists going up hills are those with the best weight-to-strength ratio, which generally means being thin and strong. But heavier cyclists go faster downhill. And being light does not help much on flat roads.

James Hagberg, a kinesiology professor at the University of Maryland, explains that the difference between running on a flat road and cycling on a flat road has to do with the movement of the athlete’s center of gravity.

“In running, when you see someone who is obviously overweight, they will be in trouble,” Dr. Hagberg said. “The more you weigh, the more the center of gravity moves and the more energy it costs. But in cycling, there are different aerodynamics — your center of gravity is not moving up and down.”

The difference between cycling and running is like the difference between moving forward on a pogo stick and rolling along on wheels. And that is why Robert Fitts, an exercise physiologist at Marquette University who was a competitive runner, once said good runners run so smoothly they can almost balance an apple on their heads.

Even Mr. Hampsten has been surprised by the cycling paradox. He recalls a woman from San Diego who went on one of his trips. “She was quite overweight,” he said, and even though she claimed to be an experienced cyclist, he worried that she would have trouble keeping up with the group. He was wrong.

“She rode so well,” Mr. Hampsten said. “Her cadence was very efficient. I was just amazed and delighted.”

As for the effects of aging, serious recreational cyclists do slow down, but they are not penalized as much as runners by the passing of years, Dr. Hagberg said. It’s because cycling, while grueling, is not as demanding as running.

“The best example of that, in a bizarre way, is the Tour de France,” Dr. Hagberg said. “What runner could go out six hours a day for three weeks and not be totally trashed after a day or two? That’s a microcosm of the aging issue.”

Still, even the best serious recreational cyclist is almost a different species from a professional rider. How much faster, our touring group asked Mr. Hampsten, would a professional rider go up that 15 percent grade during a race? About twice as fast as the fastest in our group, he replied.

And how about recovery after racing? Mr. Hampsten used to compete in 100 races a year, including the Tour de France, and he would recover by going for a long, relaxed ride. It sometimes took him three hours of cycling to warm up after a hard race. Then he’d continue for another two hours.

But recovery does become a limiting factor for professional cyclists, Mr. Hampsten said. It’s why most professional riders can no longer win long, multiday races after age 32.

“It’s almost eerie that at 32 years, you stop winning,” Mr. Hampsten said. “The endurance seems to stay, but recuperation doesn’t come around.”

When Mr. Hampsten retired, he was 34, “and I hadn’t won a race in two years.”

Now, he estimates, he is 80 percent as fit as he used to be.

But 80 percent for Andy Hampsten is still impressive. As soon as our cycling tour ended, he headed out on a fast ride that included a long hill to the town of Suvereto, taking a road with 187 switchback turns.

“It is my favorite road to ride,” he said.

187 beautiful amazing switchback turns.

Here's the Google Map link to this heavenly location. I cannot be sure, but the road between Suverto and Sassetta looks awful twisty and is probably the road he is talking about.

On the subject of some cyclists being less than skinny, my much-less-than-skinny (who I respect highly) coworker has quite a huge behind. Her longest ride of the year: 260 km from Montreal to Quebec city in one day. And she finished before suppertime too.

It's like the old saying: you can't judge a book by it's cover!

Vercheres to St-Roch-de-Richelieu ride

I visited the eastern side of the Monteregie today - Between Montreal and the Richelieu river.

Heading up the 30 in the direction of Sorel-Tracey I took the exit for Vercheres, parked the car, and got on the bike.

The ride was sourced in the cycling tourism map circuits routieres Monteregie (road rides in Monteregie) , and was ride number 2 - Les fleuves.

Basically it was ride along the St Laurence from Vercheres to Contrecoeur, cross the fields to the richelieu river at St Roch de Richelieu, view the ferry there, and ride back along Rang des brules to Verchere.

Here's some pics:

Lots of old architecture in St Roch de Richelieu

And a brick church - very unusual for quebec.

The ferry between St Roch de Richelieu to St-Ours

A more traditional stone church

Madeleine de Verchères - A rifle-totin' momma!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Scenic Ormstown to Powerscourt, Quebec Ride

Perfect cycling: Farms, rivers, and forests

In the Southwest corner of the Quebec province (ok, or nation) is the a little part of the country that is almost "The land that time forgot." It is also known as the Chateauguay Valley. It's cut off by the St-Laurence river to the north and the US border to the south, so it's sort of isolated, but it is close to Montreal.

The Chateauguay river starts in Chateauguay Lake in the Adirondacks in New York State. Once it reached the Canadian side of the border, it winds it's way northwest to exit into the St-Laurence River at Chateauguay.

Although the town of Chateauguay is a Montreal suburb, if you dirve the Rt 138 heading upriver a mere 20 or 30 kilometres, you will arrive in pure rural countryside, and it's a pure delight to ride bicycles here.

The Chateauguay Valley is in a hidden corner of Quebec

You can park in St-Martine, Howick, or Ormstown. For an easy upriver ride I like to use Ormstown-Powerscourt as a reference. Ormstown is a good starting point with excellent services and main street (note: no bike shop).

The destination of Powerscourt is a purely rural village with no services, but it does have Quebec's oldest covered bridge, Pont Percy.

A double-arch Maccallum

It was built in 1861

After a few years of disuse the foundation was repaired and it is in use today.

The bridge has a great sundeck on the east side, and the west side has a short walkway and benches. You can also explore down at the river's edge.

Walkway and Bench beside Covered Bridge

Disgraceful: stolen historical marker
Unfortunately, high metals prices have greatly encouraged theft of bronze historical plaques and markers. This bridge has had it's historical marker stolen. Luckily, I had taken a picture and this is what it says.

Missing historical marker

The route:

1- Start at IGA/Mall in Ormstown at outdoor Tourist Information Kiosk (note: there is an indoor kiosk with direct telephone link to the main tourist office in Valleyfield):
2-ride north across the river, in downtown Ormstown right along Lambton street, left at CIBC on to church and go past the park, turn at Esso, past hospital, st stop sign interection with Rt 138 - go straight across to 138A (aka the old highway).
3-Stay on Rt 138A to Dewitville or optional: cross river at first bridge (in 500 metres at Fureys) and take island Road to Dewittville.
4-At Dewittville, inspect old bridges across Chateauguay river, this tiny village is in the most pretty villages in Quebec book. Get on south side of river and go to Huntingdon.
5-In Huntingdon, stay on south side of river to continue to Athelstan and Powerscourt. In this town you can visit the Huntingdown downtown north across the river at two bridges (one old, and one new at the dam.
6-South side of river leaving Huntingdon takes you to Athelstan (restaurant, possible a dep), and continue to Powerscourt and the covered bridge. You should bring food if you plan a lunch or rest stop here, there are no services. Enjoy the place, it's a jewel.
7- Return the same way, or view the map below for return options.

Optional Return route A: 1st Concession road to Rockburn/Dewittville sideroad.
1- In Powerscourt, head east along the road that the bridge is on, direction Franklin.
2- Stay on this road until you see a sign for Rockburn.
3- Take this road left (north) all the way to Dewittville.
4- Turn right at Dewittville (direction east) and you can take either side of the river.
5- arrive shortly in Ormstown.

Other return routes
You can extend the "along the border" ride and turn north at numerous locations. In fact, you have complete freedom to do what ever you want: it's called exploring.

For More Information
You might want a good map. The Suroit tourism map can be picked up at the Tourism Information Kiosk in the IGA parking lot in Ormstown, it's located near the pharmacy. There's an indoor kiosk also.

Here's tourism Suroit website (link) (good maps and suggested cycling routes)
My blog post on the 2007 Suroit Maps (link)
Here's the Chateauguay River website (link) (excellent river information)
Here's my other blog posts of Chateauguay Valley rides (link)
The Chateauguay Valley "Heritage Trail" (link)

SAFETY - Avoid the numbered highways
I have one strong recomendation to make about cycling in this region. Stay off or strictly minimize and use of the numbered highways of Rt 138, Rt 201, and Rt 202. These are busy highways without paved shoulders - there is always a quiet country road nearby. Several cycling maps suggest riding Rt 202 between St-Antoine and Ormstown - I strongly recommend avoiding this very busy section of highway.

The detailed map, with return route options
Red Dots: Ormstown-Powerscourt
Green Dots, add Howick and Ste-Martine to ride
Orange/yellow dots: Loop ride option along US border, with two return options, first via Rockburn and Dewittville, the second via Franklin, St-Antoine, and the mysterious "Rock"
Blue Line: bike paths, ste-Martine to Beauharnois, and along Beauharnois Canal/Valleyfield.

Friday, July 13, 2007

History Lesson: Mount Royal Funicular

A funicular also known as a funicular railway, inclined railway, inclined plane, or cliff railway, is a type of self-contained cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a very steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other.

Why is this of any use in a Montreal Blog? Because it is part of Montreal and Mount Royal History.

Once upon a time, you could ride the funicular up to the top of Mount Royal. There remains no trace of it today, but the location was roughly the axis of Duluth street entrance, where the stairs located behind the McGill residences/Royal Vic parking lot are.

PICTURES? Here is a link to pictures at the Histoire de Plateau Mont Royal blog.

Hill climbing Mont Royal's North Side

There's more good climbing on the sides of Mont Royal than Camelien Houde and Westmount.

This ride will be a little tour of upper Outremont. For each hill you will start from Cote-Ste-Catherine road and basically just ride directly uphills. Oh Yeah!

Starting from Mont Royal Avenue the first stop is the freshly paved Fernhill. It's a steep little mother, I'm sure you'll agree. It's very close to Camelien Houde, and I often I ride Fernhill before Cam Houde to see how I'm feeling, and if the bike is ok to endure the stresses of a hard uphill ride.

The next good uphill is the crazy steep Avenue McCulloch, again from Cote-Ste-Catherine road. The last time I rode here I had a "Bravo!" cheered at me as I passed a member of the opposite camp. It's great to have a fan, even just one. At the top turn right and come back down the switchback.

The bottom of McCulloch is so crazy steep that it has a bypass: the only slightly less steep switchback of Cote de Vésinet, which starts at the same place as McCulloch. here you will go past the bottom of the (ruisseau) Mile-End stream. (There are 4 places where you can see the Mile-End stream. Can you find them all? Outremont's Parc Beaubien doesn't count, but is a great place to relax after the ride.)

From the top of either of these you can continue up McCulloch to see the boyhood home of Pierre Trudeau, and further for the "Option A route" to climb in Mount Royal Cemetery)

Next on our entertainment today is Pagnuelo which you climb from Cote-Ste-Catherine to Mt Royal avenue. This street has some bicycle race history.

Next are Beloeil, Courcelette and Claude Champagne streets but the real fun, and the end of our ride, is to ride up Vincent d'Indy, and follow it all the way up, past Cepsum, and up to the top at UdeM's Salle Claude Champagne. You will find it is steep, and at the very top be sure to go up the impossibly steep (but humanly possible) driveway to the building entrance. Stop here at the entrance (or collapse, if necessary) and enjoy the view. It's amazing.

Did you know that Salle Claude Champagne is supposed to be Montreal's best sounding concert hall?

This concludes todays ride on the side streets of upper Outremont. You have permission to explore.


Can I have some more please? Sure, here's some more:

Option A - Mount Royal Cemetery

Above Outremont is the remarkable and beautiful and severely hilly Mount Royal Cemetery. To locate it: at the top of any street in upper Outremont is Mont Royal boulevard, at it's highest point, take Chemin de la Foret up to the cemetery entrance. After the entrance turn right and take every uphill paved right turn to get to the top of "Mont Murray." Steepness guaranteed. Note: There is NO off-road mountain biking at the cemetery. Riding here is strictly on-road only.

Option B: Université de Montreal and St-Joseph Oratory

If you need more, and need it bad, continue to Universite de Montreal's main entrance on boulevard Eduard Montpetit and ride up the obvious hill. At the top turn right and ride down the other side (Poly hill) to Queen Mary. On Queen Mary go over to St-Joseph's Oratory and ride the new road to the upper parking lots (and remember to check the great views from here also). Coming back, you will ride up the U-de-M Poly hill, and then repeat all the mentioned hills above. (yes, a second time) Once you are back at the start and you have reached the top of Fernhill, you are seconds from the bottom of Camelien Houde, so climb it too.

Wasn't that fun?

Red dots: Outremont Hills ride
Blue Dots: More Hills? here's some more...
green line - a stream? In the city? It's the Ruisseau Mile-End stream

The New York Times visits Le P'tit Train du Nord

The New York Times newspaper has a travel feature today on a three-day cycling trip on the Laurentian's bike path Le P'Tit Train du Nord. The piece was written by Julia Lawlor.

The P'Tit Train du Nord is a 200 kilometre long "rail-to-trail" bike path through the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal. This is a very scenic bike trail. And with it's 200 km length, it is almost purpose-built for a two or three day leisurely ride. Overnights are at trailside B&Bs and there are transportation services to move your luggage from place to place. There is no suffering involved!

Ms Lawlor seems to like it:
...the scenery was glorious. We rolled past lumber mills, cows grazing in pastures, houses with steeply pitched metal roofs, meadows sidling up against the eroded peaks of the Laurentians to the east. An electric blue lake seemed to greet us around every other corner. Kayakers dipped their paddles into the whitewater of rivers as people picnicked along the banks. A procession of wildflowers — white, yellow, purple — lined both sides of the path. The dazzling sunlight was periodically broken by a cooling stretch of pungent pine forest, a reminder that this was the north country.

... Each station has been renovated, some with restaurants attached. One, in Labelle, has a small museum and a bed-and-breakfast. Part of the trail is paved in asphalt; the remainder is packed earth ("rock-dust"). Between stations are well-maintained dry pit toilets in small wooden sheds.

...At 6 p.m., after 36 miles of riding, we jumped off our bikes at our first B&B, Villa Bellerive, on the shore of beautiful Lac Nominingue. Our bags were sitting in the lobby. Later that night, over rabbit in dijonnaise sauce and raspberry-chocolate cake in the inn’s dining room, we watched the sun set over the lake.

...I realized that I might never find another trail as perfect as this. Unless, of course, it is all downhill.


THE Laurentians tourism office (450-224-7007) provides information and maps of the P’tit Train du Nord and will help you organize your trip and make reservations at bed-and-breakfasts. You can also find information and maps of the trail at (click on “Linear Parks”).

Transport du Parc Linéaire Le P’tit Train du Nord in St.-Jérôme (450-569-5596; charges 40 Canadian dollars a person (about $37 at 1.07 Canadian dollars to the U.S. dollar) for the trip from St.-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier. Luggage transport costs 12 dollars daily per piece. The company also sells trail passes — 5 Canadian dollars for a day or 15 dollars for a season — and will arrange for bicycle rentals (56 Canadian dollars for three days for a hybrid).

Villa Bellerive (1596 Chemin Bellerive-sur-le-Lac, Nominingue; 819-278-3802; has rooms for two at 80 to 140 dollars, not including meals. With breakfast and dinner, rooms are 138 to 198 Canadian dollars for two.

Gite La Bonne Adresse (1196 Rue de la Pisciculture, St.-Faustin-Lac-Carre; 819-688-6422; has double rooms from 100 to 125 Canadian dollars, including breakfast.

Underground Bike Race in Abitibi

The mens international bicycle race in Abitibi has a stage that begins 90 metres underground.


Yes, the stage will start underground. In a mine. 90 metres below the surface of the planet!

The 2007 Tour de l'Abitibi hosts 27 teams from 9 countries. It is the 39th edition of this race.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Canadian National Road Championships

The race for Canada's top cyclist is over.

Down in the Beauce this week Cameron Evans won the Elite men's road race at the Canadian Championships.

Gina Grain of Vancouver won the Elite womans road race.

Christian Meier of B.C. and Quebec's Émilie Roy were the winners in the under-23 races.

Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria and Anne Samplonius (at age 39!) of Montreal won the time trial races.

Complete results can be found here at

These people worked hard and dedicated a lot of time, sweat, and dedication to achieving these victories. Good Job!

And a good job goes out to each and every competitor, all the race volunteers, and the sponsors too.

The national championships are officially The Tim Horton's Canadian National Road Championships.

Tim Horton's - a donut chain is sponsoring an athletic competition? The Canadian cycling Federation will accept anyone as a sponsor, it seems.

It's up to the individual to make Informed Menu Choices - Go here for a Tim Horton's menu calorie information. Too much work? Avoid the Banana Nut muffin calorie bomb, and that healthy-sounding Raisin Bran muffin has 750 mg of sodium... ack heart attack! (Marion Nestle's great book "What to Eat" (now in paperback)

While I'm at it, maybe someone at Tim's could pick up all those discarded Tim Horton's coffee cups littering roadsides all across this giant country of ours?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

American Streamlined Design at MMFA

It's time to go downtown on bike.

Destination: The Fine Arts Museum.

Why? It's a great museum, and it's free.

Speaking of free, the bicycle is the best way to get to and from downtown. Remember to always lock your bike securely! Once downtown, walking is a good choice, it's a very compact downtown core.

I took the obscure but impressively direct shortcut through Parc Mont Royal (chemin Olmstead between avenue Mont Royal and upper back parking lot of Royal Vic) and behind the Royal Vic hospital to get downtown.

Unlocked bike. Name: Rusty. Age: 22

Without trying I found some public art.

Michel Goulet "Les Moments Magiques" (details)

For more Michel Goulet take a walk on the Plateau from Theatre d'Aujourdhui on St Denis along rue Roy to Parc Lafontaine. Three Goulets, assorted versions of The Chairs. At Parc Lafontaine and Roy is an impressive cast bronze map of the parc Lafontaine.

Things on poles at the Vic (a similar parc is at Berri and Viger)

I did a high traverse of the mountain and came beside Maison Cormier, one of Montreal's Art Deco masterpieces. Earnest Cormier designed Université de Montreal, and this was his one-of-a-kind house. It was later bought by our prime minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau.

Art Deco shrine: Maison Cormier

Speaking of Art Deco, I also came across a Sherbrooke Street church with Deco themes.

Northern Deco

Exploring downtown Montreal...

Wasn't there a building here last time?

The mission was to check out some used bookstores on Stanley and MacKay streets, tourist a bit, and end up at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

I visited the Monet to Picasso room and the American Streamlined Design exhibition. Streamlined was a subset of Art Deco, and as this exhibition shows, brought style to utilitarian devices. All kinds of utilitarian devices.

Airstream trailer, circa 1948. (oval windows)

Outside the museum are some sculptures and here are some of the interesting things you'd see if you were here.

Claudia by Joe Fafard

Popular spot on Valentine's day.

Across from the Museum is this church. It has some of the very few gargoyles in Montreal.

Rare Montreal Gargoyle sighting

We ate supper at Hungarian Resto Cafe Rococco, where I learned that they put cabbage rolls on ice until September.

Heading home I passed this curving building. Curved, but not streamlined!

The curves of the McGill Medical Monstrosity

Finished the home repairs, time to ride

I finished some home repairs and bike repairs and now I have time to ride.

The weather forecast: thunderstorm warning.


The Bert is still making grunchy noises on the uphills even after a bottom bracket rebuild. Not good. Not good at all.

Destination today will be near'n'close: the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MDBA) and the free exhibition titled:

American Streamlined Design:

The World of Tomorrow

Here is the link tot he MMFA website and here's some of the show info:
The exhibition American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow will examine the impact of the streamlined style on many areas of American life. In the 1930s and 1940s, streamlining came to represent modernity, progress, efficiency, cleanliness and glamour. Streamlined consumer goods ranging from the household vacuum cleaner to the family radio were manufactured with the latest industrial materials: aluminum, chromium-plated metal and plastics. The exhibition offers a fresh appraisal of the achievements of the style’s best-known exponents – among them Walter Dorwin Teague, Normand Bel Geddes, Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Loewy – and places them beside the contributions of lesser-known but significant designers. On view will be 185 works used in the commercial world, the domestic sphere and sports and leisure. A final section will illustrate how streamlined design lives on today in motorcycles, bicycle gear and furniture.
Hmmm. I wonder what they mean by "Bicycle gear?" Sounds like an investigation is in order. I'm on my way!

This exhibition will tour through North America after it's Montreal run.

The bad news: the accompanying catalog is $105!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Unusual Montreal bike rides

Here's a link to a review of the Redpath Museum's unusual

The stones and beer bike tour

…Your trusty guide is none other than Ingrid Birker, prospector of secrets of the past and curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Redpath Museum. Her inspiration was a nighttime bike tour of Manhattan she took last spring. Deciding to combine a paleo-historical-architectural tour with a visit to the McAuslan Brewery, Birker devised the Stones and Beer Tour.

…On the next tour, those of you with enough urban bike savvy, a taste for the unknown and no fear of darkness can see the mollusks that once dominated the planet by their numbers. Over the centuries, their shells literally formed the bedrock of Montreal in the limestone now used in so many of the city's old buildings.

Upon leaving the limestone of the Redpath and Le Chateau apartments, Birker will show tour-goers Montreal's only reflecting pool, built in 1702 to stimulate contemplation in the Sulpician brothers at the Grand Séminaire. She will lead you to the milestone, placed in 1684, that told the Westmount farmers they had a mile to go to market. And she will show you Montreal's oldest standing farmhouse, which once belonged to the Hurtubise family and still remains on Cote St. Antoine Road…. (Link to complete article)

I wrote about this a few days a go, but I did not get a chance to do it. It runs again in August. This is an interesting "alternative" tour of Montreal , with the added credentials of the Redpath Museum. McGill University's Redpath Museum is: of Canada's oldest free-standing museums, functioning as a unique interdisciplinary unit within the Faculty of Science. As a Museum it preserves and displays large collections of ancient and modern organisms, minerals, and ethnological artefacts.

Cycling IS the best way to get around in this town.

Separate bike lanes - Bad idea?

Here's an interesting perspective, bicycle safety education and publicity would create safer cycling conditions than paying the big bucks to build separate bike lanes. From The Peterborough (Ont.) Examiner. There are a few sensible ideas here.

Safe cycling program better than bike lanes

Re "Bike debate runs hot" (June 28) -

I cycle for transportation year round and I believe bike lanes are a bad idea. Recreational and novice cyclists demand bike lanes as they don't wish to deal with traffic, which is understandable; but when biking for transportation, traffic is a given.

I can't see how expending vast sums on bike lanes is going to improve the safety of the cyclists.

In fact I can see many ways where they would endanger cyclists, particularly those with little traffic experience (and those are the ones clamouring for bike lanes).

The city cannot build bike lanes for all the places transportation cyclists need to go: for work, meetings, doctors appointments, school, shopping and other errands.

There is also the ongoing cost of maintenance and upkeep, including snow removal.

Bike lanes lull novices into a false sense of security where they are not in tune with traffic flow, and suddenly they are dumped out at major intersections where most accidents happen.

Motorists pulling out of driveways and stop streets look to see if the traffic lane is clear and do not see cyclists in bike lanes as they are not in their line of sight.

Left turns from bike lanes are a real problem, requiring the cyclist to cross several lanes of traffic.

Cars parked in bike lanes cause cyclists to swerve in and out or onto sidewalks, which is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.

The travelled portion of the road is swept clean of nuts, bolts, broken glass etc. by cars. It all would all end up in the bike lane. The solution to safe cycling in Peterborough is education, for cyclists and motorists.

"Share the road" signs on all busy streets, particularly where vehicles enter the city, and on the back of buses.

Bike-awareness programs for drivers of City of Peterborough vehicles.

City-sponsored bicycle education programs in elementary and high schools.

City-organized Can-Bike programs to teach vehicular cycling techniques to adults.

Wide curb lanes, allowing bikes and cars to share the road in a co-operative and safe manner.

In its official transportation plan, the city has allotted funds to encourage cycling for transportation purposes. It would be better spent on education than on bike lanes.


Excellent Bicycle History Exhibition at Trois Rivieres Musée de Culture Populaire

There is an excellent exhibition of bicycle history and culture in Trois Rivieres (Three Rivers)
Here is a bit of my blog entry from my visit there.
I visited the excellent Accro Velo exhibition (francais) 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.
My digicam videos on Google Videos:
  • Bicycle history part 1 (link)
  • Bicycle history part 2 (link)
  • Video of a highly dangerous looking ice-unicycle (link)
  • All my google videos (link)

This is an truly excellent exhibit with at least 30 very historic bikes from Canada's National Museum of Science and Technology. And tons of other stuff too.

It's located at the edge of historic "old" Trois Rivieres along the water. It's actually quite a nice place to visit.

Trois Rivieres is less than 90 car-driving minutes from Montreal. There is good cycling there: both as a destination and on both sides of the St- Laurence river in between.

La Presse reviews new Outremont bike paths

Nadielle Kutlu writing in La Presse takes a look at the new Outremont bike path project.

It's really nothing more than some arrows painted on the pavement to identify a bicyel path loop through this tiny Montreal central suburb , but at least it gives bicycles an excuse to share the road. Do driver notice?
Des dessins de vélo figurent sur la chaussée, au milieu de la rue, et des panneaux de signalisation seront installés. L'objectif est d'aviser les automobilistes de la présence des cyclistes et de ralentir la circulation. «Le marquage au sol signale aux automobilistes qu'ils doivent partager la chaussée avec les cyclistes», explique le maire. Le projet a coûté entre 7000 et 10 000$.
She says that it's a share the road bike path and not a separate and segregated bike path. Persons interviewed said that it was useful but not perfect.

She Also dug into the issue of the bike path on Cote-Ste-Catherine road, the main east-west artery running north of the mountain. It is used by large numbers of cyclists to get to downtown and points east. It has no bike path, bike lane, bike sharing the road, and lots of potholes (and some major repairs too).
Par ailleurs, une autre piste cyclable est à l'étude aux abords d'Outremont, dans le chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, que les cyclistes empruntent fréquemment. «Comme le chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine relève de la Ville de Montréal, on travaille à une proposition afin d'y implanter une piste cyclable dans les prochaines années», mentionne le maire Stéphane Harbour. Et le débit de circulation y étant élevé, l'aménagement de pistes cyclables clairement séparées s'impose dans ce cas, soutient-il.
This will be a big improvement when it finally happens.

The article concluded with an update on the landmark new cross-downtown bike path on De Maisonneuve boulevard west.

Petits pas boulevard de Maisonneuve

Au centre-ville, l'aménagement d'une voie cyclable sur le boulevard de Maisonneuve progresse à petits pas. Les travaux sont déjà entamés entre les rues Bishop et Greene. Mais à l'est, sur le tronçon reliant les rues Peel et Berri, la construction ne débutera que le mois prochain.

«Il y a le Festival de jazz en ce moment, et différents festivals auront lieu cet été. C'est sûr que, dans la planification des travaux, il a fallu en tenir compte», explique Philippe Sabourin, porte-parole de la Ville.

Les autorités municipales assurent que le parcours de 4 km sera ouvert aux vélos à l'automne, comme on l'a annoncé fin avril. Les travaux devraient être terminés à la fin du mois de septembre.

(Link to complete article)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The stones and beer bike tour

McGill's interesting and eclectic Redpath Museum organizes this unique and highly unusual bike tour of Montreal (July 8, Aug 5, Sept 13):

The stones and beer bike tour

Sun., July 8, 2007 - 4 PM to 8 PM | An exciting bike trip exploring local history, architecture, secret spots and building stones. Starts with ancient fossils at the Redpath Museum, travels along Sherbrooke Street West to the Sulpicians' reflecting pool at the Grand Seminaire, heads up the old Indian trail on Côte Saint Antoine, which leads to Leonard Cohen's boyhood home, glides downhill through the Glen to McAuslan Brewery for a tasting of 5 different ales, and finishes with the ghosts of Griffintown. Rain or shine, cyclists only. Cost includes the popular booklet "What Building Stones Tell," beer, and fresh market bread and cheese. Reserve at phone number below.
Sponsor: Redpath Museum [calendar for this unit]
Location: Redpath Museum [map], 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Meet at front steps of museum
Cost: $20 adult, $10 student (ID) or senior
More information: Website. Ingrid Birker [email], 514-398-4086 Ext. 4092; Reservations, 514-398-4086 Ext. 4092#

Not an Epic Ride... Really!

My friend implied my ride was epic (epic ride = one where mere mortals may experience mortality before ride conclusion)

I respond:

Let me clearly and unambiguously make the claim that this was not an epic ride.

And I was home on schedule.

In my defence....

I was officially exploring potential route variations (one was an excellent discovery, the other one was conclusively proven the opposite).

I successfully resolved the flat with my spare tube and pump.

I further identified and removed the tiny tiny speck of glass from my tire's inner carcass that caused the flat , (very essential step, or another flat will ocur in ten minutes, and the bears would get me).

the minor mechanical issue of the bottom bracket lubrication did not preclude me from completing the ride on-bike.

Really, my preparedness level is quite high - My buddy P. rides 100 km rides with one spare tube and one co2 cartridge, and no tools of any sort. Whereas I have a good repair and spares capability, this is a bit of a family trait when my dad didn't want us to freeze to death during the ski-doo days of high school--he taught us well. So really, being on a ride with me greatly increases your incident-recovery potential.

The rain was an external factor beyond my control, the forecast was 40% chance of showers, I knew what I was getting in to... and when it rained I never got wet because I would duck under a tree for the always-short-duration showers, and from one dry & cozy under-tree spot, I saw a soaked-to-the-bone marinoni rider riding in the rain and then I saw him two minutes later after he gave up and u-turned. The rain stopped, and I continued on my way, entirely comfy and dry. In fact I almost never get wet. But if I do, it's a competitive advantage, as it makes me ride much faster.

But the risks did include possibly eaten getting by bears, wolves, or mutant bear-wolf hybrids. These I either outran, snuck by while they were eating an earlier cyclist, or they away were at the canada day celebrations (not too many of these in the lanaudiere!)

Biking downtown to the Jazz Fest

It's a breeze to bike down to the Jazz Festival and check out the many forms of jazz and non jazz music being performed for free at the many outdoor stages.

I use the old bike (Rusty) and solidly lock it up to something solid. I have the flashing bike lights for the ride home after dark.

Then I enjoy a few hours of happy people enjoying music on the great Jazz Fest site in and round Place des Arts.

Two nights left, get going!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Climbing record

AFP says:

Austrian cycling twins break 24-hour climbing record

Austrian cycling twins Gernot and Horst Turnowsky broke the record for the number of metres climbed in 24 hours Sunday, race organiser Josef Pfleger said.

"The two climbed exactly 20,049.9 metres (65,780.5 feet) in less than 24 hours," Pfleger said.

The twins achieved this new record, which is not official, by cycling 97 times up a 2.1-kilometre stretch of road with an average gradient of 9.8, near Graz in southern Austria.

Gernot and Horst, who are also aiming this year to cycle the 5,900 kilometres from the ocean to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa without stopping, fought off fatigue with coffee and peppermint tablets.

"As non-coffee drinkers, caffeine works on us like a charm," they said in a statement.

The previous record holder had been another Austrian, Franz Venier, who climbed 19,355 metres on his bike in 2005.

I say Wow.

That must have hurt. A lot.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Search the blog

This blog is searchable, just type your search terms in the search box above.

There are multiple posts on most subjects (bridges, maps, best bike rides, etc) and you might find just what you are searching for if you just spend a minute and search for it!

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Coworker A. visited the east Burke mountain biking area in Northeast Vermont over the long weekend.

He brought back some maps that excite me greatly.

The first map was the trail map for mountain biking in East Burke. My friend Pierre has been trying to get me down there for a few years, this is another report that says come ride here - right now!

The second map is the free road rides map from the Northeast Vermont Development Association. (

This is a huge, detailed (with topo lines!) map with 29 different road rides shown on it.

Highly recommended.

You can get more tourist info at Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism association

The free Northeast Kingdom road-rides map

North Lanaudiere explorations

Lanaudiere this time had 17% more adventure than usual.

Starting with the short but steep 18% hill at the towns edge, rolling terrain until the 10% hill, after which you have warmed up and rolling terrain takes you to little black lake hill side minidetour, to Sainte Catherine road, past raspberries and some happy looking outdoor pigs.

After a 10 minute rain it is the big hill up to the view of Ste-Emilie, the belevedere (scenic look out) rest stop was easier this time, and no less rewarding or spectacular, it’s a top spot on the ride.

From Ste-Emilie I rode for the first time up the Rt 131, north and into great narrow valley riverside with waterfall-rapids, and a big paved shoulder, wow.

When it was back to St-Emilie, this side trip was strictly to get a taste of the road, not to eat the whole thang!

Then it was up to feuille d’erable, my favorite 16% hill, : climb 16% hill, climb some more 16% hill, be amazed with the large fresh asphalt patches (the road suffered last spring – so I was very happy to see lots of big fresh road repairs here, it moves the road from terrible to great shape, good work Ste-Emilie), and there was still more 16% hill when I heard the dreaded tire leak (psst... psst... psst...psst) but luckily it was a slow leak so I could ride to the top of the hill (up to the open rolling descent), and when I finally got to top of the hill I got to stop and fix the flat. Oh, and get eaten by bugs.

The descent was good--wheeee!

I again tried to ride Belle Montage from the first time you pass it (i.e. not further down the road at the Depanneur Lau-Dan entrance). This is the second time this year, I try this road. Earlier it had fresh construction and grading and I almost immediately turned back when it changed to dirt. This time I an not turning around when it changes from asphalt to dirt).

Yeah, exploring can be miserable some times.

I discovered as the road changed to dirt, had short steep inrideable hills, then the road changes to a single car width (almost double track!), the dirt road surface kept being unrideable, not least because soon I was walking up the bike up super-steeps. I doubt my car would get up this road! It would be a great mtn bike road and must be at least 20%).

Finally I reach the top, and see hikers!!!

I continue walking down other side, but soon the road changes to asphalt.

I have come out the other side! Alive!

The road is paved but it’s a steep descent, Aieee!

Down on the familiar part of Belle Montagne, where this road transforms in name to St-Laurent on the way to St-Beatrix, the sky turns blue and the sun is beaming down.

Well, it really was like coming out of hell.

Unfortunately the bike makes a bad bottom bracket noise (19 yr old pitted cones and 4000 km since last overhaul = uh-oh), so despite the atmosphere going blue sky and sunshine, I decide to turn towards car and choose a short direct back to the car route. I had more exploring planned south of Ste-Beatrix, but it will have to wait for another day.

I have some ice cream in St-Felix and, phone home to arrange sushi for supper, arrive home, and discover big salad... no sushi cuz sushi place closed for oh Canada day.