OK, I should get out more, but I was thinking about one of my favorite places to ride: the upper Chateauguay Valley. At 50-75 km from Montreal they are close, rural, and great places for all styles, distances, and effort levels of different cyclists.
Ste-Martine, Ormstown, Huntingdon, Alans Corners, Georgetown/Howick, Powerscourt, Dewittville, Athelstan with Trout River, Ste-Anicet, Aubrey, St-Antoine-Abbé, Rockburn, Franklin Centre. Some of these are along the Chateauguay River axis, some are along the Covey Hill/US Border axis, and a couple are in between the two. All are great bicycle rides. I have several blogs on some great rides to do in the Chateauguay Valley. (links) There is even a really old covered bridge.
Great rides... but some paved shoulders are needed. It would be nice to have wide paved shoulders on all numbered highways, but we don't. Let's start with a few little sections that see a lot of cycling traffic, and urgently need paved shoulders.
Rt 138 between Alan's corners and Brysonville side road (approx 1 km)
We already had a computrainer, but we wanted a stand-alone bike trainer for full-family, year-round and more casual use, so we went to Sears and got their decent model on sale. It's magnetic and pretty quiet.
It's not the machine to achieve high-performance cycling perfection, but it warms up the muscles and exercises your body's cardio system before weight training, stretching, pilates, yoga, or watching tv! It burns off the calories that we get in surplus every day, and it seems to be popular with the whole family. Certain family members had trouble fitting a bit of cardio into the daily schedule.
Now, let's hope it lasts for many years and doesn't become another piece of junk in a couple of years!
A great ride in Quebec's Charlevoix mountains. THis ride follows the top of the coast to the next village, where it plunges down to sea level and then climbs back up to the top with a section of 20% hill. Some of the hills here are featured in the Velo Mag article on Charlevoix hill climbs. Three of these are on this ride (two as climbs and one as a descent). Cap aux Corbeau, Les Eboulements, and Cote de Misere. Check out the FREE ferry ride option to Isle aux Coudres
Starting in St-Joseph-de-la-rive, go uphill to the Rt 362 on newly rebuilt road. The steep part is an 18% climb. Near Baie-St-Paul, This climb is featured in the Automne 2007 Velo Mag magazine feature on amazing Charlevoix road bike climbs.
Starting in Petite-Riviere-Saint-Francois, go uphill to the Rt 138. Located near Baie-St-Paul, This climb is featured in the Automne 2007 Velo Mag magazine feature on amazing Charlevoix road bike hill climbs. This is in one of Quebec's most beautiful regions.
Starting in St-Joseph-de-la-rive, go uphill to the Rt 362 on Cote a Godin, or Cote Misere (Misery Hill) with a 20% climb. Near Baie-St-Paul, This climb is featured in the Automne 2007 Velo Mag magazine feature on amazing Charlevoix road bike climbs.
start in St-Jean-de-Matha, ride counter-clockwise. Villages are Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie and Ste-Beatrix. There are some occasional convenience stores (dep's). You pass over the gorge of the regional park along the waterfalls of the L'Assomption river. Some good climbs. New pavement in most previously-bad pavement sections. 1000 metres of climbing. Good descents. The pair of big hills are the roads to-and from St-Emilie. Amazing scenic lookout at top of first giant hill.
I just bought two chains and will replace this critical drive train item on my two main city bikes, Rusty the rain bike and Old Blue, my first generation rockhopper hacked into a fast city bike.
The chain is still the most efficient method to transfer pedaling energy to the back wheel.
The winter is a time to overhaul and upgrade your bike. Check the tires for wear. The wheels should not wobble. The wheel rotation should be smooth. If any of these thing need maintenance or replacement then do it NOW.
I might sound like a ranting kook, but I have had spring rides where I had flats, brake failures (Aieee!) , and even broken axles. None of these makes the ride better.
Check that everything that turns or rotates do so smoothly. That's the wheels, the cranks, the pedals and headset.
Last, and you should check this every time you ride: check that the brakes are working properly, and that the brake pads are not worn thin. Check that they are not bent or poorly aligned with the wheel's surface.
A bike will run forever, but there's still the fact that little things need to be checked and occasionally replaced.
If you don't do it yourself, take it to the bike shop for the "complete" overhaul. Your bike will thank you.
Rremember the mantra: always buy a better quality part when you have to replace something. Old bike plus performance and/or aesthetic upgrades = cool.
Old Blue and Rusty are ancient, but they run great. I mean, ride great. And they regularly whip cars at green light changes!
Fixed gear bikes look cool, but unless they have brakes, are extremely dangerous.
Fatal in fact.
Here are some quotes from the following news article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Despite differing opinions about the safety and practicality of fixies, one thing all interviewed for this story agreed on was that riding in traffic, whether on a fixie or not, requires that cyclists and motorists both be acutely aware of their surroundings.
"Riding a fixed-gear in town without a helmet does not seem like the best way to go to me," Potter said. "I've been hit several times by cars myself, and that's with a regular bike. Sure there's people out there who are really good at it and it's no problem, but that's probably about 2 percent.
"It's definitely contrary to self-preservation, I would say."
Here is the full article:
Recent death puts spotlight on biking fad I.A. Stewart Sentinel Correspondent
SANTA CRUZ -- To stop his bicycle, Josh Long leans forward, over the handlebar, and uses the clips on his riding cleats to pull the rear wheel off the ground. He then immediately stops pedaling, causing the chain to quit pulling and the rear wheel to stop spinning. When the back tire touches back down to the pavement, the bike skids, slowing its forward momentum, eventually coming to a complete halt.
"To say that these bikes have no brakes implies that they have no stopping power, which to those of us who enjoy life [riding a bicycle that could not be stopped] would just be absurd," Long said.
Wednesday, Lucian Gregg, 18, died in a traffic accident at the bottom of a hill on East Cliff Drive at Jessie Street when he crashed his fixed-gear, brakeless bicycle behind a FedEx truck that was making a right turn onto Jessie Street ahead of him. Gregg was flung from his bicycle and died of severe head trauma. He was not wearing a helmet. Police do not know if he was hit by the truck, but his bicycle was not damaged.
Enthusiasts of fixed-gear bicycles, or "fixies," as the bikes are commonly known, maintain that cycling accidents occur frequently and often do not involve brakeless bikes, so concluding Gregg's death was a result of the type of bicycle he was riding, and not just a traffic accident, is premature. But the attention that Gregg's death has received raises questions about the safety -- and legality -- of fixed-gear bicycles.
A fixie is a bicycle that cannot coast. The rear wheel only moves forward when the pedals are pushed [a fixie can be pedaled backward]. Fixies originally were developed for racing in indoor velodromes, where braking, coasting and changing gears are of little importance. Fixies also are used as a training bike for cyclists who wish to exercise muscles in their legs and develop stronger pedaling technique.
Bottom line: wear a helmet, it will SAVE YOUR LIFE.
And if you don't die, suppose you only got, oh, just a wee bit of severe head trauma? That's also extremely bad sh1t: a broken brain takes a long time to fix, possibly never. And a brain is very, very useful for this one reason only: it tells us when we're having fun!
We did over 3000 km of open-road riding (and another 3000 km in the city) in 2007. It was a very good year to be a cyclist in Montreal.
I mapped many of them on Bikely, a wonderful map service for cyclists: it tells you how much climbing there is in the route! Click here to see the Bikely maps that we have created for many of the rides in this list. You'll be glad you did...
Last year the Cycle Fun Montreal gang visited many new ride destinations, and of course rode many of our old favorites (can you say Jay Peak loop?) back in the warm weather season of 2007.
Looking at the list below we can only reach one conclusion: we really rode a lot of exceptionally good bike rides in 2007! There is one person in our group who figures out our ride itineraries and we all owe him a big beer on a hot day.
Cycle Fun Montreal presents:
Our best rides of 2007 - now with links to the original post and route maps!
Ormstown- St-Chrysostome - Covey hill - Powerscourt - Trout river - Ridge road - Dewittville 130km - The complete chateauguay valley ride. A beauty. Good views of all sorts of things. Good roads. Many different eco systems. Usually a tailwind for the last 30 kms.(link)
Ormstown - Lyon MountainUSA century ride (160 km/100 miles). Ormstown-franklin-usa border-Lyon mtn village - Lyon Mtn loop-lyon Mtn village-Canadian border-Franklin - Ormstown. Lyon mountain is visible from Mt royal, it's the closest adirondack mountain to the southwest. Excellent climb on second half of riding around lyon mountain. gentle downhills home (mostly!).(link)
Frelighsburg-Joy Hill - Richford/ VT - Montgomery (bot the easy way)-Phillipsburg. Two words: Joy Hill! Climb on backroad between Richford and Montgomery is exceptional. Great view of Pinacle. Veromont guide book included this cross border ride, and said it was best in book, it sure was. Thanks sid! Frelighsburg was cyclist central!(link)
JayPeak loop from Sutton (chemin scenic both directions). The Famous five-hill Jay ride, one of the great rides of the east. Back side of jay is big climb! Front side is steep hill, descent to Mongomery is wow (with dogs!), all hills are fun and hard. Crossing border at East Richford always special. Food stop before front-side jay climb a long-standing tradition. Winter training pays off here!(link and link and link)
Phillipsburg - Lake Champlain islands – St-Albans bay - Phillipsburg. Park lakeside at Philipsburg, take highway to US border - now you’re on Interstate! Go west, to Islands, and turn south. Follow islands until back on solid land (diversions possible on some islands), on mainland, turn left and head north, passing St-Albans bay. Relax on Philipsburg dock in late day sun with beer. Happiness.(link)
St-Hermenegilde – St-Malo - East Hereford ride. A wild ride, because of some colorful routefinding, heavy rain and massive lightning, awesome scenery, great 10 metre tall lookout tower at St-malo (already at 600 metres elevation!), tres vrai rustique back road, the great Hall river valley, a good ride with interesting route, exciting conditions and bad rear wheel. I Plan to try again in good weather!(link and link)
Northern Lanaudiere final version - quiet roads, good pavement, a dozen hills, 16% climbs, long descents, great scenery, fresh raspberries, villages, a stunning ride and my favorite ride in Quebec.Many repeat visits worked out this final, exceptionally cruel, I mean hilly, version. This version mainly avoids busy roads. St-Jean de Matha, Ste-Emilie de l'Energie and Ste-Beatrix.First visit here was because of Petits Escapades guidebook. Because it looked hilly! Arrive late and enjoy late day sun and sunset lighting, amazing. Don't forget Chemin Ste-Guillaume at end.(link and link and link and link)
Tremblant-Riviere Rouge. Leaving the village of Tremblant is always a good idea, head from tourist office west and turn near Riviere rouge and ride north to village with strange bridge, with dock in middle and great wood sculpture. Cross here and ride south along rouge river, and country side, ride back north along river. Great hills, scenery, and covered bridge and with optional crazy hill at end. This is touches the Pays en Haut area. Optional extension to make Arundel southern turning point. Check the strange train at Arundel post office.(link and link)
Chemin Cyclist St-Donat. Officially named chemin Nordet, this recently all-new highway opened up a road for the first time between St-Donat and Lac Superieur (near Tremblant northside. It is starting to age, but still an amazing (Vermont-like) ride, with two major climbs with sort of a plateau in between. It is just starting to be developed, but for years was empty of icky real estate exploitation. Great wide paved shoulders. Big descents. Extremely popular with cycling clubs and groups of cyclists of all types. Ride from St-Donat to Lac Superieur, lap the lake, have a snack, and ride back.(link)
St-Donat to Chertsey and back. The Rt 125 is the autoroute that wasn't. Double-lane divided highway through very scenic hills. Very good autumn colors ride. A bit busy sometimes. For added flavour, ride the 347 Notre-Dame-de-Merci to St-Come for a trip on the "sineuse 347!"(link)
Ottawa river ride. Hudson-Hawksbury, cross river, east to Oka- a ride on the Oka-Hudson Ferry- and a few km back to Hudson. A good ride, with some great parts. That headwind is a good tailwind when returning east. First part after crossing river follows dirt road which is Route Verte. This avoids busy crappy highway (sorry roadies!). Hudson-oak ferry is amazing.Especially at sunset .(link)
West Quebec flats - Pointe aux cascades-Les Cedres ferry (bike ferry!) st-Timothé - Grande Ile – Hydro Quebec dams - Rigaud (almost) and back. A real scenic tour through west quebec, farm land, little and big rivers. Interesting to cross the St-Laurence at Valleyfield across hydro dams (excellent!). Unusual for me to do a flats ride, and I felt it, normally with hill rides the descents are the recuperation mode, but flats are pedaling all the time - ooooh!(link)
Charlevoix – the circuit of the Grand Prix de Charlevoix road race. I was dreaming for two years to do this ride. This summer I got my chance. From Baie St-Paul, follow the circuit of the grand prix de charlevoix, past st-Hilaron, to Les Eboulements, big descent to Ste-Irenee (18% hill back up), back via st-Hilaron again, and to petit (invisible) village of St-Ours, where the race finishes (and paved roads!), continue with left turn on chemin ste-Catherine to reach the Rt 362 and descend to St-Joseph de la Rive (our motel/auberge)on one of the biggest hills of quebec. Hit over 80 km'h twice on this ride, and didn't speed on last hill. This is number one return ride for next summer.Highlight was lunch rock that held plaque for discovery of crater de charevoix, 165 million years ago a 2 km asteroid hit earth planet, ici!Descents are good, better then good. Bette than great, out of this world!(link)
Sutton-Owls Head-Missisquoi valley ride A bad weather start, the day got better and better. started with big headwinf heading east hrough bolton pass, through knowlton on echo road, up and down, sutton things got better, a million cyclists there, chemin scenic and along mississiquio river valley to mansonville is amazing, short side trip to Mansonville covered bridge brought world class view of Sutton jay range, best view in southern quebec? Then over past owls head, down to the water for a dip of the toe on lac memphremagog, then north and back to east bolton and car. This was a repeat attempt, a week befoe I had forgotten bike lock key (yes I lock my bike inside the car) and had to return home without riding! This madeup for it. An amazing ride.(link)
Ormstown-Powerscourt - the short chateauguay valley ride.The chateauguay river can be rideen in distances as short at 10-20 km and up to 100+ km rides, depending on where you start and where you cross the river and head back. A good reference ride is Ormstown-Huntingdon-Athelstan-Powerscourt (covered bridge). This takes you right to the US border, but avoids big roads (avoid the Rt 138!!! Quet roads, twisty along river, straignt if you come back voam, say tullochgorum rod. An excellent area for road cycling. Maybe they will one day buuold a bike path along the old train tracks>??? It's starte din Ste-martine, now finish it!!!(link)
Prevost (shawbridge-Rawdon-Chertsey-Ste-margeritte An epic ride, with a mising bridge at Chertsey (backtrack city!) Finished after dark (only once this year!). Back roads, steep hills, epic for al lthe wrong reasons, this was a central laurentians ride, and wasn't my favorite for it's quality, but for the adversity I overcame!Much bad asphalt. many steep hills. Everything but bears and wolves. (link and link)
Parc de la mauricie. - Another race ride circuit that I did on a quiet day. After the Defi Velo Mag announced this ride, I went the next week to ride it (I missed the popular ride). 120 km round trip "park entrance to other park entrance and back again." Unbelievable number of hills. It was a late June hot day, with some butt-biting flys! This would be a ride to do in autumn colors season. Very quiet roads (I was there week day) and I have to say 120 km of perfect asphalt. Perfect asphalt. perfect asphalt. My riding time would put me right in the middle of the pack for the defi velo mag ride, which ain't too bad for a 47 year old on a 20 year old racing bike. Excellent post-ride deck behind visitor centre on the mauricie river.(link)
Isleaux Coudres from St-Joseph-de-la-Rive.A quiet family ride, much better than anticipated. Free ferry ride always a bonus, big hill leaving ferry, windy beach lunch at western tip of island, lookout tower worth the $1.00 admission price (totally!) and views of Ste-Joseph de la Rive/Les Eboulements hill is awesome (18% hill) Largely a flat ride, with minor hills on north side of island. Free ferry ride back again for supper. A excellent day for a slower ride (after the grand prix de charlevoix ride I needed a break!).(link)
Ste-Emilie de L'Energie to St-Michel des Saints.One of my final explorations in northern lanaudiere. Ride north from Ste-Emilie, past St-Zenonand to St-Michel des Saints. Middle part around st-Zenon very nice and hilly: paved shoulder, road follows river. Great return ride with descents. Tried to head west to Tremblant park entrance, but flatted. (new tire!)A worthwhile ride. St-Zenon area is good hiking too.(link)
Riding Partners. I’d like to take a moment and thank a few of my riding partners (victims!) particularly Pierre, who has introduced me to so manuy greatrides in Vermont, Mike, Jim, Shelley, maxi, Don,I'd like to also thank anyone who read any of these rides and tried them on their own, I know that there are plenty of people reading the blog, and I get feedbackl sometimes about how great the rides are, so I know it isn't just me who things they are great.
Ste-Anicet - DundeeThis ride, in the extreme southwest corner of quebec, is a thin wedge shape bordered by the USA border and the st-Laurence river. The terrain is left over from the last glacier, so there are up and downs, not too long or frequent, but don't be surprised by the fact it's not a flats ride. Starting at riverside st-Anicet, it rides south and west to the US border, then zigs and zags east past some history and even an iroquois settlement, Les Droliers, which isn't a multimedia disneyfied experience in any way. Peaceful roads, farms and forests, and a beach and dock for after-ride relaxation (stretching surely?), this ride exceeded my expectations in every way.(link)
Verchere to St something de Richielieu.Initially a crappy ride, this ride got hugely better when I left the Rt 132 and went cross country to the villaghe of St Roch de richieleu. This village had lots of old, really old, homes, a cable-ferry across the river, a little dock for a riverside lunch. The ride back to verchere was exceptional (ok, for flats...) because it passed many ancient houses, from the pre-conquest era. The town of Vecherres is named aftet the quebec heroine Madeliene de Vercheres, a teenage woman who closed the fort gates and fooled the marauding indians that the fort was full of soldiers and they'd better not attack. It also had a nice riverside park. on the st-laurence.The only downside was that my usual road bike was out of action and I had to ride my urbanified original mtn bike. Oh, and the fact it was a flats ride. I prefer hills!(link)
BeauharnoisCanal - South of Valleyfield is the huge Beauharnois canal, where electricity for montreal comes from. Along the sides of the canal on both sides is a bike pah,, The only downside, the only safe river crossing is at beauharnois, not the two valleyfield briges. Aside from that, it's a big riverside bike path, and is away from cars. The valleyfield area is quite rich in bike paths, with rides along the canal, the old abandoned canal soulanges has a bike path, and there are some options on valleyfield island too. It is a good family ride here, bring picnic supplies because there are no deps on the south side, the north side has services, if you enter the town of Valleyfield. Did you know that more material was removed to build this canal than the panama canal? That's what they say.(link)
Well, that's it, many memorable rides, most of them top quality, all of them a great way to spend a sunday afternoon. Note that my usual "crack of " departure time isn't recommended!
If you received or gave a bike as a gift this christmas, take a few minutes to think about riding safely.
Too many people ride bikes like there are no rules. There are some rules, and for good reason. Accidents suck, can ruin a good bike, a good day, and lots of good skin and bones. Accidents can kill too, and that really ruins everyone's day.
Bikes can be a lot of fun, but don't forget to proceed with caution.
Some things to remember ...
Bikes are not toys, they are vehicles, just like cars and trucks.
You are a "driver" when you ride in the street.
Each year, thousands of children are seriously injured from bike, skates, and skateboard falls and crashes that could have been prevented.
Rules For Safe Biking
Ride a bike that is the right size for you.
Check that the wheels aren't loose and your brakes work before each ride.
Restrict cycling to sidewalks, paths and driveways until children show how well they can ride and observe basic rules of the road (usually around age 9).
STOP before riding out into traffic from a driveway, sidewalk, alley, or parking lot. Look left, right, and left again. When there's no traffic, enter roadway.
Ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic.
Obey all stop signs and red lights. Children should walk, not ride, through busy intersections.
Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left at intersections.
Do not ride in the wrong direction on one way streets.
Use proper hand signals to indicate turns.
Ride single file.
Give the right of way to pedestrians.
Carry no passengers (except on approved baby seats).
Wear a helmet EVERY time you ride your bike, roller skate, roller blade or skateboard. Helmets should fit comfortably and not move around on the head. Only buy helmets that are SNELL and/or ANSI approved.