Monday, December 31, 2007

Snowshoeing at Parc Oka

We went snowshoeing at the hilly part of Parc Oka (la Calvaire section) doing a 8.8 km loop and breaking fresh snow first tracks all morning.

No pictures because of broken camera (doh!) but I can assure you it was a wonderful winter wonderland.

It was great!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bicycle History at Canada's National Museum of Science and Technology

Canada's National museum of Science and Technology has a great on-line exhibition of the history of the bicycle.

This collection is presently being shown at the museum of popular culture in nearby Trois Rivieres.

Do NOT miss this chance to see the amazing collection, it's a great display of the history of technology itself, especially in the rapidly developing industrial age of the late 1800s.

Until, eventually, wood was no longer used as a material to make bicycle parts (i.e. rims were originally made of wood).

Click HERE to go the the National museum of science and technology' bicycle exhibition.

Started the winter season training

Today I dragged out the computrainer and plugged it in and started riding indoors.

Today we enjoyed the company of Los Lobos playing at the Filmore.

It was a good combination. The band was sweating, I was sweating, and the world was a good place.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007's favorite day

My favorite day of 2007 was...

sunny or cloudy
cool or warm
at home or away
early in the morning or late in the afternoon
full of food or hungry as a century rider at mile 99

any day I was on my bike was my favorite day of 2007!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lake Champlain islands

Last summer I did a great Lake Champlain Islands ride. I just mapped it on bikely (click here) if you want to check it out.

Here is the link to the ride report I did at the time (click here).

Here is bicycle tourism information on the Lake Champlain Islands area from Lake Champlain (click here).

If you want a shorter, or family ride, try Isle La Motte, which is a ride around a small island in the lake, highly recommended. It was our "family island-bike-ride" for 2006.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mont Megantic summit road on Bikely

I posted the Mount Megantic toll road climb on Bikely.

This is a 550 metre climb (1800 ft) in 5.6 miles (about 4 miles).

Here is the elevation profile.


De Maisonneuve bike path finally cleaned - 10 days after storm!

Montreal promised to clean the snow off the de Maisonneuve boulevard bike path during the winter. They just didn't promise to do it promptly.

The Gazette reports that the path was used as a snow dump for the two weeks after the most recent blizzard.

Thanks Ville de Montreal, and the colossally incompetent politicians and city snow-cleaning bureaucrats!

Perhaps the city could at least priortise the cleaning of the sidewalks so those of us who actually use public transport can actually get to the bus stop and metro station without risking death?

I shoveled a footpath the full-length of my block that was the only alternative to walking on the street. This was used for a full WEEK until the city finally cleared my street. And I do not live on a tiny side street.

Les Karavaniers to buy Detour Nature

A bit of consolidation in the local outdoor experience travel industry with far-away-traveling company Les Karavaniers du Monde buying local get-out-of-town outfit Detour-Nature.

Each will stay within its respective travel industry niches and do what they do best: low impact outdoor travel experiences.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Instead of shopping... I went snowshoeing

Yes, like everyone I have to buy a few gifts for Giftmas, but I decided to take advantage of the perfect weather and snow conditions... to go for a snowshoe trip up Mont Royal.

Ahhhh.... Montreal as winter paradise.....

Rain is forecast for sunday, so I made sure to have lots of fun today. Fun is always around when you are wearing snowshoes, you are on the mountain, and it's before, during or after sunset.

Snowshoe is raquette in french.

My new year's wish

If I could have one wish come true next year, it would be that more people display Civisme.

That's a french word that means sort of a combination of civic spirit and good public manners.

Civisme isn't:
  • Honking your car horn
  • Cutting someone off
  • giving someone the finger
  • riding your bike on the sidewalk

Well, I'm sure you get the picture. Be nice to people, and people will be nice in return. Some people will take this as an invitation to walk all over you, but pay attention and just ignore them. Fully. Completely. Totally. It works.

Here's a few Key Koncepts:
  • share the road
  • Be nice to people
  • don't be rude
  • Don't shout, scream and swear
  • Maybe they actually didn't see you?

Have a great 2008!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Big snowstorm, on bike

Storm + sidewalk + bike - civisme = Winter

Some people never stop riding their bicycle.

Even in today's big storm.

Friday, December 14, 2007

10190 feet of climbing

I like hills, uphills and especially that one-of-a-kind reward called downhills.

I was checking out Bikely for hilly climbs and came across this interesting Frelighsburg-Jay Peak-Stowe ride with 10190 feet of climbing--almost two vertical miles. For us metric north-of-the-border types that's 3106 metres of uphill, over three kilometres of climbing.

Here's the link to the ride, and remember to check the ride's elevation profile. This nightmare is going to inspire me to train all winter! The main problem isn't the hills, the the distance: 216 km long.


I was in Frelighsburg last summer and it was Cyclist-Central --meaning I saw an huge number of cyclists there. For cyclists, Frelighsburg is Quebec's doorstep to Vermont, need I say more?

Time to start training for next year?

As autumn turns into winter, every cyclist eventually starts to think "I better get off my butt and start training for next year."

Or more likely, "OK, I can't stay on the couch any longer. Must... Get... Up..."

Cardio training can take two principle forms, on-bike or off-bike. On bike means riding outside, riding an indoor trainer, and that new thing, spinning classes. Off bike can mean winter weight training, or some of the very fun outdoor winter-cardio-ports like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (or, ugh, running). It can also mean going to a gym and using cardio machines.

I personally vouch for the effectiveness of the regular plain-jane Stairmaster (on maximum). During all of my best years I maintained extremely high fitness levels using the Stairmaster on maximum. Stairmaster, and my custom workout tape!

For the outdoor training thing, I have been recently snowshoeing in the excellent and deep fresh snow of late December 2007. Snowshoeing is great exercise, and it's almost fun. Ok, it is fun. I like the "go-anywhere" capability we have on snowshoes.

But while cross-training is fun and efective at maintaining the cardio base, there's a certain amount of in-the-saddle time that needs to be logged during the winter to keep our bodies tuned to the real thing: riding a bike.

So I put all the wires on to my computrainer and plugged it in last night. Everything worked so I am set to go. Sweating it up on an indoor trainer will make the process of riding outside and getting back on the road in spring much better.

A indoor training tip: Put the fan in front of you, if you are doing indoor trainer riding properly, you'll sweat like a pig! Since the fan produces quite a bit of wind, it isn't totally stupid to wear your bike shades when the fan is blowing in your face and eyes.

So, I have to decide, indoor bike riding or go for a presupper snowshoe up the mountain?

"Ugh. Must... Get... Up..."

...3 hours later...

Well I exercised. I did it old school... carrying 20 pounds of library books back to the Grande Bibliotheque - and doing it over the trails of Parc Mont Royal, and then carrying 30 pounds of new book back home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A couple more Charlevoix, Quebec maps up on Bikely

Everyone is thinking about the almost-here New Year's vacation, but I know that cyclists are waiting for next summer's holidays when the weather is hot and there's absolutely no snow anywhere.

Destination: Charlevoix. Where the mountains meet the sea.

I made a couple more Charlevoix bike ride maps on Bikely. Mainly to get those amazing Bikely ride-elevation-profile graphs. These are rides with multiple 1000 ft climbs. Which is a good thing!

2007 Grand Prix de Charlevoix bike race

The first was the route of the 2007 Grand Prix de Charlevoix bike race, which does a great loop of the region through the collossal Charlevoix asteroid crater, and is everything you could possibly want in a bicycle ride. Climbs, descents, some seaside beach, quiet forest roads, and only 3 towns, lots of countryside.

This was a top-5 favorite ride of all the great rides I did last summer. I didn't do the race, just the circuit of the race, which I found on the internet at the cycling club race organizers: Club Cycliste de Charlevoix. In 2008 that link should get you to the current year's ride info.

Elevation profile of 2007 Grand Prix de Charlevoix circuit

Baie-Saint-Paul to St-Joseph-de-la-rive

The second map is of the road from Baie-Saint-Paul to St-Joseph-de-la-rive and back. From sea level at Baie-St-Paul you climb up Cap-aux-Corbeau to the top of the ridge along the coast, until the highest point, then zoom down to Les Eboulements and then express downhill (use the brakes!) at the 18% hill descent to St-Joseph-de-la-rive. Then it is back up the hill via the fearsome 20% Cote de Misere, (or you can bail - to the "easier" 18% hill you descended!) returning back to Baie-Saint-Paul when you get to the top of the hill. A simple route, and simply extraordinary.

A short ride, but with 1 km of climbing!

You will not find a better place in the east for the quantity and quality of big climbs!

Several of these hills are in the recent Velo Mag article on Charlevoix Climbs.

And did I mention that the area was formed by a 2 km asteroid hitting the earth many millions of years ago? I trust statistics enough to blindly hope that the chance of two asteroids hitting the same point on the earth is extremely remote, so this means that this area is safe from another asteroid hit, so that's one less thing to go wrong when out on a ride!

Here's a link to all my bikely bike ride maps.

Winter bike paths

I recently asked "what bike paths are open in the winter?" One of my readers responded with this news from the JdeM:

Il y a plus que les rues dont les cols bleus doivent se préoccuper lorsque vient le temps de déneiger maintenant.

Pour la première fois cet hiver, la Ville de Montréal s'est donné pour objectif de maintenir un « réseau blanc » d'environ 25 kilomètres de pistes cyclables ouvert presque en permanence.

Ainsi, la nouvelle piste cyclable qui longe le boulevard De Maisonneuve, au centre-ville, était parfaitement accessible hier.

Les pistes longeant les rues Berri, Viger, Saint-Antoine, McGill, René-Lévesque, Saint-Urbain et du Parc font aussi partie de ce réseau hivernal.

Let's think about this for a while.

Ok, this is what I conclude: du Parc in now officially a bike path street!

It's only the first two blocks that are bike path, but soon, (in my lifetime maybe) du Parc will have marked-bike-lanes painted on the road like St-Urbain south.

Oh, about the unfrozen bike paths? Well the problem is that they are not dry-road-clean, meaning snow-covered sections, with bonus ice-covered, partly icy, partly slush, partly salt-water, partly snow bank, partly pedestrians, and a few bikes too.

I was reading a book by the progressive and dead architect who had a show last summer at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. One thing he zeroed in on in his book were italian town with covered sidewalks and stairs, for long distances.

I am aware that it is perfectly unrealistic, but the only real solution for safe winter cycling is covered bike paths.

Dreaming, in technicolor!

Note: This was our 3ooth Cycle Fun Montreal post!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Five dead cyclists in Montreal in 2006

The road safety report card for Montreal made the newspapers this week.

In 2006 there were:
  • Five dead cyclists
  • 47 seriously injured cyclists
  • 698 minor injuries by cyclists
The statistics for 2007 are not yet available.

In 2008 the city promises to increase enforcement of cyclists and pedestrian traffic violations.

This means red lights = stop!
This means sidewalks are for pedestrians, not bikes.
This means more bike paths and designated on-road bike lanes.

Did you know that riding on the sidewalk is 25x greater risk of accidents?

Did you know that riding on the sidewalk scares the bejesus out of pedestrians?

Ride safe and follow the traffic code.

Remember this:
In 2008 the city promises to increase enforcement of cyclists and pedestrian traffic violations.

Here's a link to the full article.

Winter Cross training - Snowshoe to the summit of Mont Royal

Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's up the snow we go...

One of my favorite winter cross-training activities is to snowshoe.


Deep fresh snow - paradise?

To the summit of Mt Royal.

Day or Night.

Great views and cardio workout guaranteed!

The great view of downtown, and Mont St-Bruno, Mont St-Hillaire, and beyond!

Montreal's winter bike path network - which paths?

I've searched, I've searched, and I've searched some more, and I cannot find which paths are on the official winter bike path network here in the ville de Montreal.

I know one open path is the de Maisonneuve downtown path, but what are the others? I have no idea and even the internet does not know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Improvements for Sherbrooke's bike network

There are improvements to the Sherbrooke area bike paths. This will include some paving, and some moving of bike paths to better locations.

The Sherbrooke area has a great bike loop called the Grande Fourches, and links Sherbrooke, Lennoxville, North Hatley, and Rock Forest, where the loop takes you back into Sherbrooke. Some parts of this will be paved.

click here to read the article.

I wish these paths had been there when I went to B.U. We had some major cycling adventures back then. This includes some epic night rides.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My dream Winter City bike

My dream bike for winter urban conditions would have the following special features
  • Complete wheel-covering fenders for maximum slush control
  • gears inside read hub and...
  • completely enclosed chain
  • studded tires
  • hand-grip warmers
  • winter-spec'ed disk brakes
  • full set of front rear and side lights
  • all parts meet aerospace corrosion-resistance specification
  • lightweight slush-guard full-body slush protector
  • electric-powered turn signals and brake light
  • one of those idiotic side-flags, (in winter the streets are narrow and the cars are closer

Quebec's better for cycling holiday than Nova Scotia

This Nova Scotia newspaper reveals the dark secret of Canada's Nova Scotia province. Perched in the edge of the North Atlantic, it has great scenery. But does it have great cycling? Apparently not. And they are using Quebec as an example of "how to do it right."

Tours drop N.S. as cycling destination
Roads unsafe driving tourists out of province, organizer says
The Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia)


Large American tour companies have already dropped Nova Scotia bicycle routes from their itineraries, and the province stands to lose more business if road conditions aren’t improved, says a Halifax cycling tour organizer.

"The roads have gotten worse and even less welcoming to cyclists," Peter Williams of Eastwind Cycle said in a recent interview. "One of the world’s two largest companies used to do 15 to 20 tours a year in Nova Scotia. Now they’re not in Nova Scotia at all."

In the 15 years Mr. Williams has been in the business of promoting and leading bicycle tours, he said he has watched international interest in the activity grow while Nova Scotia’s roads have deteriorated to the point that many are unsafe for cyclists.

Typical cycling tourists expect to spend a lot of money during their vacations, but that cash is now going to P.E.I., Quebec and Europe, Mr. Williams said.

"And we’re losing them," he said.

Narrow pavement, crumbling edges on secondary highways, and rutted and eroded road shoulders all create difficulties for cyclists, he said. On some highways new paving projects have not included resurfacing the shoulders, so once-attractive bike routes have to be avoided.

Even the Cabot Trail, considered the cream of the crop for bicycle trips, offers a truly well-kept road only within the Highlands National Park, Mr. Williams said.

Drivers with confrontational attitudes towards cyclists, using deliberate scare tactics such as near-misses, also keep bicycle tourists away from the province, he said.

Compared to Quebec, where the government maintains a Route Vert (green route), or Europe, where bicycle travel is both encouraged and expected, he said Nova Scotia is failing.

In his role as a consultant for municipalities and organizations establishing bicycle routes, including recent work on a Pictou County Bikeways project, Mr. Williams has concluded that the provincial government needs to lead the effort to promote cycling.

"This should not be the task of small citizens groups," he said, noting that cycling should be encouraged as a form of transport that promotes fitness and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Williams added that bicycle routes are also useful for pedestrians, in-line skaters and parents pushing babies in strollers. Introducing more bicycle transportation could put a major dent in the childhood obesity rate, he said, but roadsides are unsafe for children to walk or pedal along.

"We all understand that governments are pressed financially," he said, adding that improved bike routes would pay for themselves in better health, increased tourism and less car exhaust.

Political will and a change in attitude are bigger obstacles than lack of money, Mr. Williams said.

"We need to encourage a change in thinking."

Good roads make a big difference to improve the fun part of Cycle Fun Montreal!

Snow, bikes, winter, cars, civisme, death

Cécile Gladon writes in that winter cycling is a darned hazardous activity. The cars are much more dangerous. The roads are more dangerous. The weather is more dangerous. It takes a special kind of cyclist. One who is hyper aware of all the ways to die. And tries to avoid each of them.

Interdire les cyclistes l'hiver?

Je n'avais jamais roulé en vélo (mon moyen de transport habituel) alors que la neige recouvrait la ville. Je l'ai fait pour la première fois la semaine dernière. Mais j'ai déchanté rapidement. Si les automobilistes nous tolèrent durant la belle saison, ils ne veulent plus nous voir durant l'hiver.

Sauf que, n'est-ce pas un droit de pouvoir continuer à faire du vélo durant l'hiver ? Pensez-vous que c'est une hystérie ? Qu'il faut interdire les vélos durant la période hivernale ? Je ne parle pas d'une journée de tempête comme aujourd'hui alors que tout le monde devrait ralentir et rester à la maison !

Malheureusement, la Ville de Montréal a encore une fois fermé ses pistes cyclables pour la période hivernale. Les cyclistes doivent donc rouler dans la rue ou sur les trottoirs. Une chance que les piétons sont plus aimables que les automobilistes.

Par ailleurs, ceux qui pensent que les cyclistes ont plus d'accidents durant l'hiver, ce n'est pas le cas même si certains en ont quand même. Plusieurs cyclistes d'hiver m'ont dit n'être jamais tombés.

Mais je me demande pourquoi les automobilistes sont encore moins tolérants que d'habitude ? Car en général, les automobilistes se moquent des cyclistes. Je dis bien en général. Car oui il existe des cyclistes qui se moquent de tout le monde.

Sauf qu'en vélo, je ne suis pas protégée par la carcasse d'une voiture. Pensez-y la prochaine fois que vous ouvrez votre portière sans vérifier si un cycliste s'en vient. Pensez-y la prochaine fois que vous frôlez un cycliste. Pensez-y la prochaine fois que vous doublez un cycliste pour ensuite tourner à droite et lui couper allégrement la route. Pensez-y la prochaine fois que vous démarrez devant un cycliste qui arrive le forçant à freiner en urgence.

Vous pensez que j'exagère ? Sortez donc quelques minutes en vélo et l'ensemble de ces situations vous arriveront. Je les expérimente chaque fois que je pars en vélo. Je vous le dis, chaque fois c'est invariable.

Imaginez en hiver, c'est encore pire. Car les automobilistes pensent que l'on existe plus. Que les cyclistes sont des bibittes de l'été. Ce n'est pas le cas, de plus en plus de cyclistes continuent de pratiquer en hiver alors soyez courtois, et pensez-y. Car il serait anti-démocratique et anti-écologique d'interdire les cyclistes en hiver !
This item was spotted at Veloptimum's news page (link)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A walk across Montreal

Destination A: Unversité de Montreal's Exhibition gallery in the Faculté d'amenagement (loose translation: faculty of design), on the south side of Mont Royal, and Destination B: our wonderful "super library" La Grande Bibliotheque, on the south-east side of the mountain. In between, we walk! (We could bike, but one of us wasn't a cold-weather cyclist)

Université de Montreal - Ernest Cormier's big thing

We visited the Université de Montréal's Centre d'exposition to see the
Projet d’une ville – Territoires stratégiques Les réalisations, les projets et les réflexions du Groupe Cardinal Hardy

It was very interesting to see the works of a group that has redeveloped parts of Montreal like the Lachine canal, downtown, the Vieux Port, and has made plans for other not-yet-realized projects like the Outremont rail yards' U de M health-sciences campus.

When looking at these architectural plans, I noticed these two future bicycle path plans. (See photos below)

Future Bike paths in Montreal? Cote-St-Catherine road, Jean Talon west, & the train tracks to Laval!

The exhibition was very interesting. Now I know where many of our post-modern landmarks came from. Also very interesting was the bookshop near the gallery entrance that sold all sorts of model-building materials.

The next step on our journey was walking (walking? Sorry but it's the season of "close to home") across the mountain to the Grande Bibliotheque downtown. A big walk across the mountain. It's far, and it was fun!

Although we did winter walking, there were still people riding their bikes.

A hardy winter cyclist, there were many more!

Then we walked through Parc Mont Royal to the downtown lookout. This is where the Chalet Mont Royal is. And it's the location of the stairs from downtown (Peel)

The Mont Royal downtown lookout. Possibly Montreal's best spot.

We got some hot chocolate in the Chalet. On a cold day, it's de rigeur!

The Mont Royal lookout Chalet, home of the coco-chaud!

Eventually we arrived at the library, a truly fantastic place.

Bike parking at rear of the Grande Bibliotheque (helmet lockers inside!)

Then it was back home on the 80 for supper!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another noncyclist thinks de Maisonneuve bike path is stupid

This writer thinks that the bike path is a stupid idea, and no one uses it. I have to admit that when a bike path opens at the beginning of November, it's isn't going to be an instant hit. I do have to say that the city has a responsibility to create safe bikeways to permit cyclists to travel to and through the downtown core without risking certain death by Montreal's famous dangerous drivers. Let's see, this bike path is 0.01% of Quebec's infrastructure spending.

Her points about increased spending for infrastructure and operations of public transport are valid, but admit it, are completely separate to the bike path. The bike path is one part of the transport equation. It's a mix of pedestrians, bikes, cars, buses, trains, and the metro.

The writer claims Montreal is a "top ten city for cycling from a 8 year old survey. See this entry of my blog for Montreal's ranking today. We are falling behind.

I think that we can classify the writer as anti-cycling.

As city crumbles, bike paths get star treatment
Published: Thursday, November 29

Last week, my son decided that it was too cold to ride his bike and that he would walk or take the bus to school.

I thought this was very sensible. Biking is an uncomfortable and almost impossible mode of transportation during the winter months. Streets can be icy and dangerous, bikes parked outside get covered in snow, and sand and salt are very hard on gears. If my son had still been biking to school last Thursday, I don't know how he would have managed to scrape off the ice and ride on the slippery streets.

I work downtown and there weren't too many cyclists on our new bike path, either. Is this a surprise to anyone? I am all for exercise and reducing pollution, but I am not an enthusiastic fan of our new bike path. I thought about it as I waited almost an hour for the 7:42 train that arrived at 8:35 and again on the way home as the train stopped for 15 minutes at Dorval, making me late for an important appointment. What is the wisdom of investing money in a bicycle path in the downtown core? If we were a city that enjoyed a surplus, then I probably wouldn't be writing this article.

But when our infrastructure is crumbling, when bridges collapse, when highway lanes and on-ramps are closed because they are not safe, when our water is leeching through old pipes, when our hospitals and schools have mould, when we have no money to fix these major problems, who thought that it would be a bright idea to spend an estimated $3.7 million on a downtown bike path? I did a little research and learned that in 2005, there were 5,000 daily trips by bicycle in downtown Montreal. With 300,000 workers and 120,000 students, there is potential for growth. But how about investing some money in the trains that transport many of these 420,000 workers and students downtown? According to Bicycling Magazine, in 1999, Montreal was rated one of the best cities in North America in which to bike. Note that this is before the downtown bike path was built.

Apparently, the key to success of a bike path is access to public transportation.

In Montreal, bikes are not permitted on buses and a maximum of four bikes are allowed in the first car on the métro during non-peak hours and if there are no special events taking place, like the Grand Prix or the fireworks competition.

As I write this article, the bicycle path on de Maisonneuve Blvd. is icy in places with patches of salt here and there.

The odd cyclist that I saw was on the street. This week, when I boarded the train at the Valois station, the platform was not even salted and it was a tricky business for hundreds of people to get on the train rather than end up underneath it.

Apparently, they are going to clear the snow off the bike path throughout the winter.

I can only hope that some of our tax dollars will also be spent on clearing the platforms at the train stations.

Suzanne Korf is a professional fundraiser who has worked for non-profit organizations for more than 25 years and is a director of development for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation. She lives in Pointe Claire.