Sunday, July 27, 2008

urban exploration: Maison Staint-Gabriel in Point St-Charles

We went for some urban history on Saturday with a visit to the 17th-century Maison Saint-Gabriel in Point Saint-Charles.

The modern front-view of the maison. In the old days, the other side of the house on the river was the front door, and everything came by boat.

Outside the kitchen window, this giant rock was also the indoor sink, and you can see the wedge-shaped drain in this picture.

Maison Saint-Gabriel from the front gates.

This museum and gardens are located in Point Saint-Charles (just off Wellington street), the museum is an easy ride south from the Lachine Canal bike path using Charlevoix street to get to Wellington. You can follow the road signs to get to the maison itself, but we do suggest you use a map. You can pass through the parc Margeurite Bourgeous to see some big sculpture installations.

You can go to the Maison Saint-Gabriel website by clicking here.

Inside, the house visit is by guided tour, and this proved to be an interesting afternoon and we learned that after the english "conquest" new technology arrived in the form of hot-water bottles! Lots of other interesting "life in the old days" facts were learned, like the fact that people slept in bed sitting up.

It's easy to get here fromthe Lachine canal a bit east of the Atwater market. Here's a live Google map of the directions from the Atwater canal where it passes Charlevoix street (On the canal Charlevoix street is the first under-bridge street crossing to the east of Atwater):

View Larger Map

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Glorious Mauricie river and St-Tite ride

Riding on perfect new asphalt... along the magnificent Maurice river

Northeast Mauricie region, a spectacular ride

We had high hopes for this ride, sometimes high expectations can betray you, but sometimes you get a ride that is perfect and amazing.

This triangular-shaped ride turned out to have all the ingredients needed for a great bike ride.

The northern segment along the St-Maurice river was great, with lots of new asphalt and good shoulders, the next segment southeast to Ste-Tite and St-Thecle were simply top-of-the-line, and the open country westward back to the starting point was scenic and had a covered bridge (pont Bordeleau)

North along gorgeous St-Maurice river - note excellent paved shoulders

Riding south to St-Tite - Rt 159 is one of the great valley roads in Quebec

There were two downsides, both temporary, and both were initially extremely good things.

I speak first of the wind, which was gusting to 30 km'm. The ride up the mauricie river was greatly aided by this major tailwind! We were doing 40-50 km/m on rolling terrain, very fast indeed. But the wind became out enemy on the last third of the ride - the return westward leg. Yes, 30 km'h headwinds can getcha down. But we knew that the distance back to the car at St-Flores was shrinking each minute. And we were happy that the occasional rain showers stayed to the north of us. Just.

The other great thing that turned out less great was the new asphalt. It was fresh: it was only hours old. This made for amazingly fast and smooth riding (remember that big tailwind thing). But when the construction site ended and we were back on normal road, we discovered that our ties had a new coating of very sticky tar, and our tires picked up a new coating of roadside rocks up to 5 mm size. Happily this wore off after a while and our tires returned to being high-speed miracles.

Some of the scenic and cyclistic highlights were:
  • beauty of the St-Maurice river
  • high speed cycling along this river
  • the awesome hills and narrow twisty valley north of St-Tite on Rt 153
  • quiet farmland vistas after that
  • Pont Bordeleau covered bridge, we had been here 3 years ago (video here)
  • excellent paved shoulders almost everywhere

leaving St-Thecle, powered by raisin cookies bought at local bakery

Karma levels were good cuz rain arrived 5 before the end of the ride and the heavy rain waited for five minutes AFTER the end of the ride.

Rating: highly recommended!

Colours other than green

back at Pont Bordeleau, we were here one cold October day three years ago

Click here to go to the Bikely map for this ride from Veloshawinigan (and give him/her a big thanks for creating this route on Bikely)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunshine, vacation, time to ride the Mauricie ride

With the return of sunshine, we dug up the sunscreen bottle and are heading out to ride the Mauricie ride we researched and blog posted below. Recent heavy rains have hit the area, but things should be drying out and based on the dream we had last night, it should be a great ride.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

weather and local rides

You might not like the local weather forecast, with it's chance of showers, rain, thundershowers, water spouts and who knows what else falling from the sky.

But we managed to think positive, go for a ride, stay dry, and get a lovely ride along the seaway (voie Maritime) yesterday.

The road/bike path along the seaway and st-laurence river is the nicest and least crowded and most friendly to sustained athletic effort, we mean scenic delight.

Of course it's raining right now, but it will stop (it has to stop.. it just has to...)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Farging Flat Tires

We got another flat this week.

We have had a lot of flats this year.

A lot!

But we have never been stranded because of a flat tire.

The reason we were not stranded is because we know how to fix a flat tire on a bicycle. (fact #1: a bike tire has a tube inside)

Do you know how to solve a flat tire? It's pretty easy, and definitely anyone can do it. And if you ride a bike, you need to know how to fix a flat.

Otherwise, you get to learn what being stranded far from home (and the car?) is like. (hint: really bad!)

Moving on to the solutions department, you have three options for fixing a flat tire:

Install a new tube
Put a patch on the tube
Have a bike shop fix it

If the first two items are outside your skill-set, here are a few online resources to help you out. Trust me, you will be very thankful you learned this all-important skill.

Chicago bike blog (july 2008 postings)
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

Besides the knowledge to fix a flat, you'll need some very basic tools:
a fresh tube that is the CORRECT size
a patch kit (patches, glue, etc)
a valve adapter
plastic tire levers
a mini-pump
a little seat bag so you have them when you need them

My tip for seatbags is to wrap things that will rattle around and make noise in an old sock.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Travelling in Quebec? Don't forget to check Inforoutiere

The Quebec Transport Ministry (the MTQ or just Transports Québec) has an essential website to help you plan your trip.

We say essential and we mean essential!

Useful information at the Inforoutiere website includes
  • Distances & traveling times between Quebec towns and cities
  • Road conditions (more a winter thing)
  • Road construction
  • Roadside rest areas
  • Official Quebec road maps by region (pdf, prints on 8.5x11) (view online or download)
  • Traffic webcams (we include this one because it's highly amusing to anyone who bike-commutes!)
If you are looking for a lot of different transport links, the MTQ website has an excellent and huge list of links for you.

Next big ride

Satellite pic of the Mauricie river ride

We thought we'd try to explore a bit farther away and the Mauricie region north of Trois Rivieres fits the bill.

This ride along the Mauricie river and eastwards attracted our interest. Here's the Bikely map (and here is the link to the map at

A new ride? Sounds like a plan.

The ride description says:

Un enchantement. Remonter le cours du St-Maurice de Grandes-Piles à St-Roch. Descendre à St-Tite en pleine forêt. Rejoindre Ste-Thècle à travers champs. Gagner Hérouxville par vallons et vallés. Wow!

Tagged with: Recreational, Onroad, Intermediate, Rural, Scenic

The map's author is Veloshawinigan. This person has created quite a few bike rides on Bikely. Click here to go to a list of Veloshawinigan's bike ride maps.

Stop surfing, go outside and ride!

Stop surfing the internet.

Go outside and ride your bicycle.

Where to ride?

Ride to St-Joseph's Oratory, and ride up (or walk if necessary) the new access road (right side) to the top parking lot (just after the mini-chapel).

Because this location is private property, and a religious enterprise, we ask you to please show maximum respect for pedestrians and other visitors.

When you get to the top you will enjoy a fantastic view. On a clear day, looking upriver to the west, you can see Chicago.

Well, maybe not Chicago, but how about a great sunset?

Ride that bike!


When will Montreal have it's own Bike-Train?

Toronto-Niagara Bike Train:
The Greenbelt Express!

- $59 round-trip including tax and fees
- Select departures from June to September 2008
- One night and multi-day trip options available
This is a really great idea.

We're waiting... Is anyone at VIA rail and the AMT listening?

Good deed of the day - pick up a fallen bike

When we see a bike that is locked up but fallen down, we stop, pick it up, and set it straight so it won't fall down again.

No one asks us, no one thanks us, we just do it because it is the right thing to do.

Cycle Fun Montreal gets linked from the Gazoo

The Montreal Gazette's bicycling blog "On Two Wheels" has recommended our little blog as a good resource to find bike rides.

We do try to document each and every good ride we do.

And occasionally, we make a list of ride suggestions. Here are two such lists:

  • CFM's Best rides of 2007 (click here)
  • Good Quebec rides to try (click here)


Police recover 1500 stolen bikes

OK, I apologize that this isn't Montreal news, but it is certainly eye-opening to see how "productive" a couple of bike thieves down the highway in Toronto were: police have recovered 1500 (one thousand five hundred!) stolen bikes.

One thousand and five hundred stolen bikes.


The thieves were reselling the bikes in their used-bike shop, so as usual these thieves were not in the human-genius category!

Kudo's to police, who sometimes get a bad reputation for some of their less-respectful antics, for solving this bike-crime wave.

And more kudos to the police for avoiding red tape and bureaucratic procedures for citizens trying to get their stolen bikes back. Here in Montreal there have been news reports about people unable to recover their stolen bikes unless they filed a police report at the time of theft. Good ole Quebec bureaucracy to the rescue (NOT!).

We have had some very-loved bikes stolen, and we consider bike thieves to be the lowest form of life on our planet.

Here's a snip of the news article (read complete article here)

Torontonians hunted through row upon row of up-ended bicycles today, looking to re-claim their stolen property after police seized a record 1,500 bicycles associated with a notorious used bike store on Queen West.

“I’m not aware of any bicycle seizures in the last 28 years that are as great as this,” said Det. Sgt. Egidio Roseto. “It’s an enormous number of bikes that we’ve taken from some storage locations.”

Last week, police set up a “bait” bike operation that led them to stolen bicycles at the Bicycle Clinic, as well as at the owner’s residence, and two other storage garages.

You can read an excellent discussion on this bike shop, police action, and bike locking in general at the I Bike Toronto website by clicking here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bas St-Laurent vacation pics

Pointe aux Peres lighthouse - about to climb up to the top for the tour!

A few ride and destination photos of our family-speed trip to the bas St-Laurent, This is the southern coast of the Saint-Laurence river area Gaspe - east of Quebec city and before the river becomes the Gulf and ais the Gaspe region.

We stayed in Trois Pistoles, in the Les Basques area. Stayed means camped, and we did that at camping plage de trois pistoles.

Day One: Monday we drove there with a lunch and scenic stop in jardins Domaine Joly de Lotbiniere gardens near Quebec.

Day Two: we visited the (Reford) Jardins des Grands Métis, 29 different gardens, and 12 of these are part of an annual gardfen competition - think art installation/garden. We had late day activities in Rimouski such as visiting the Point aux Peres lighthouse, cycling the water's-edge boardwalk of Rimouski, and a supper at ardoise restaurant.

Day Three: old-stuff museum in Trois Pistoles (saw a 1906 bicycle identical to todays bikes except for wooden wheel rims. Here was also a Chryser Airflow car, the first aerodynamic car and a very historically-important car. Then on to our real destination: to visit the island of Ile Verte. We found out that the ferry and taxi-boats were high-tide-only! So we explored the village until high tide and took the boat over to the island around 2 pm. We had about 9o minutes on island before boat returned, we had time for a bike ride over the spine of the island to the light house on north shore. The fields were full of red and white wild roses. This was the first light house built on the St-Laurence river, in 1809 and is directly across from the Saguenay river. It is possible that there are NO services on the island.

Day Four: Visit the Parc National de Bic. We parked the car for the day and rode bikes from the visitor centre to Cap aux Originals, Ferme Rioux, Point aux Epinettes (there are seals here at high tide) and it's 97-step staircase lookout (amazing!). Then we went over to St-Fabien sur la Mer, and Point aux Flacons for another of the best views in the parc, and frankly, anywhere! Here we helped a sea kayaker carry his boat up to his car. He had paddled from this beach east to Rimouski and then back - the return trip was against the wind and took 6 hours. This spot was hyper-scenic.

Day five: Eat breakfast at L'essentiel in Trois Pistoles and drive back and explore the slower and more scenic road of Rt 138 through all the villages- from Cacouna west to L'Islet. We stopped at the miniature boat museum in Riviere du Loup, St-Denis sur Mer, lunch in St-Andre (we were speaking french but the waitress asked us to speak english so she could practice!!!), then jams and pickles (and sheep and goats and rabbits and chickens and a duck) at the round house in St-Germain, art symposium and bakery in Kamouraska, wood carving in Port Joli, and outside the maritime museum in Islet - home of the wierdest fastest ship ever built, a hydrofoil-equipped navy boat. Then it was casse-croute and the 20 back to Montreal, where the forecasted rain final started - conveniently waiting until we were done our sight-seeing!

Impressionistic scene at Reford Gardens.

Uber-historique Chrysler Airflow - first aero car.

Villa Estevan at Reford Gardins, and the only lawn in the place!

Plant reproduction in action

Climbing around Cap d'Orignal in Parc Bic

Lookout at Point aux Epinettes, this is one of best views in Bic, seals too!

Potato Garden - potatoes make electricity, and then sounds.

Outside of Potato Garden: potatoes growing outside.

child-swing-powered seeder above tosses seed on to sculpture-islands

Big beautiful Iris flower

Rimouski riverside bike path boardwalk and soon.. supper!

L'ile Verte lighthouse, the first one of the St-Laurence in 1809. Now a Gite.

Boat (and bike) Taxi to Ile Verte - it runs at high tide only.

Parc National de Bic - riding through fields of flowers

Conclusion: Excellent destination, near perfect weather, a great vacation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back from...

We have returned from 5 days in the Bas St-Laurent (lower St-Laurence river) region based around Trois Pistoles.

Some of the activites and sights were: (excellent ones have a star *)

Trois Pistoles
Bic provincial park *
Ile Verte and taxi-boat to L'Isle Verte *
Reford Gardins in Grand Metis *
Rimouski boardwalk
Route des Navigateurs (Rt 138) from Islet to Grand Metis *
Kamouraska *
St-Andre *
St-Fabien sur Mer (wow) *
St-Denis sur Mer
Miniature boat museum in Riviere du Loup *
Wooden sculpture musuem in St Jean Port Joli
Pointe aux Pere's lighthouse *
Ile Verte lighthouse * (first one on St-Laurence)
Maritime musuem in Islet
Domaine Joly de Lotbiniere gardens
A Chrysler Airflow in Trois Pistoles museum *
Trois Pistoles Quai
Notre dame des neiges church in Trois Pistoles *
and probably some stuff we forgot we visited.

Photos and some babbling to come.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Returning to the Bas St-Laurent, see ya later!

We are returning to the Bas St-Laurent region, to escape the summer heat and riding some whales. Oops, I am informed we won't be riding any whales.

Have fun while we're away.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pont Jacques Cartier bridge bike path Police Action

My initial report below is almost completely incorrect.

Our bad.

The facts are that the police are aware that the bike path accross the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge crosses the exit off the mid-bridge to Ile Ste-Helene/La Ronde/Parc Drapeau and this street crossing is extremely dangerous for bicyclists. There is a walk-your-bike sign here to cross the busy road, almost universally ignored by cyclists who don't even look and cruise across this dangerous spot.

Be aware of super-danger sports cyclists!

And if you see a bunch of cops at any intersection, you should put 2+2 together and try to hyper-obey the posted traffic laws, because the cops are there for enfor$ement, not mere education.


The original error-filled post:
There was news in La Presse about a police crackdown on the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge bike path - police are giving tickets for... riding your bike on the path.

Yes, you read that right.

Where the bridge bike path touches down back on land in Longueuil is a older, narrower section of bike path. Apparently cyclists are supposed to walk the 1000 feet to the street level, and the police were happily doing their favorite activity: a crackdown!

Forget about making the path wider and safer, that's scheduled for a speedy 20019-1012 time window - a solid decade AFTER the bridge renovation!

Forget about using the tool of education (or speed bumps) to make people slow down.

No, the police use their POWER and FORCE to make life shitty for everyone.

Contrast this to the Pont du Quebec in Quebec city, it's is also a narrow barely fits-two cyclists, it's where people see each other and one or both!) stop and be courteous and let the other person pass. Nosirree, not in Longueuil will the bureaucracy and police use intelligence, civisme, and education to solve the problem. o, it's $53 dollar ticket, (and they smirked, another $53 if you are wearing your ipod).

Policing does not have to be cruel or punatitive. Unless you are in Longueuil... in other words, stay thew heck AWAY from Longueuil.

Heres the telephone number of the mayor of Longueuil Mr Claude Gladu : 450-463-7001
You can email the mayor here (click here)

Visiting... le P'tit train du Nord and Val David's 1001 pots

A Teapot selection

View towards the displayed-by-artist area

Gentle climb to Val David - many scenic stops along the river are possible

The tea stand is at right side of this building

There's supposed to be 35,000 ceramic pieces on display, not just 1001!

Friday was opening day for the 1001 pots outdoor exhibition/gallery in Val David.

And, it's summer and getting out of town is a highly desirable activity.

And we cyclists know that pedal powered recreation creates it's own breeze and any hot temperature is made cooler by riding along on a bicycle.

We combined the three of them into a trip on the P'tit train du Nord from Ste-Adele to Val David for a visit to the 1001 pots (it's never too early to buy Christmas presents)

Our favorite section - both for scenic purposes and for introducing new visitors to the From Ste-Adele it is 17 km to Val David, slightly, gently, but persistently uphill the whole way (steeper the first 8 km to the canyon, and flattish after that). While this may seem less than fun to some folks, coming back with gravity assist will make up for it--trust us, have we ever lied to you before? Nosirree.

We arrived and had a pot of japanese tea to energize us after the ride here.

Items are arranged both thematically (bowls, mugs, espresso cups, cafe au lait bowls, flower pots/vases etc..) and by artist.

We picked up a bunch of out favorite Réjean Bérard mini bowls which are ridiculously cheap, and useful for many small tasks around the kitchen and dining table.

After viewing everything and sitting down some more we started the ride back to Ste-Adele. The time was late and it was getting cooler, so we donned a sweater (it was 28 degrees earlier!) and rode nonstop and with wide-smiles the highly enjoyrable downhill ride back to Ste-Adele. Along the way we even saw a red fox. No, it was not on bicycle.

For more information:
The P'tit train du Nord website
The 1001 pots website

Have a great summer!

Visiting Verdun and the st-Laurence river

A Verdun Terrace on Wellington

Ice cream, beside the Verdun yacht club, circus school, a great kids park, and the river's edge walking path to the east.

Yes, you sit at the water's edge

Yacht club and Nun's island

Ahhh, summer.

We spent some time in deep-south Montreal exploring Verdun's Wellington avenue, and then the riverside path "Les Berges" for a nice close to home bit of summer exploration.

Wellington can be a real melange between the old and the new quebec.

The waterfront area is the jewel in the area, landscaped, with both walking and cycling paths, right down to the water-level. There are numerous kid-friendly facilities, and the martime/riverside aspect is a rare item indeed for those of us who don't live in one of the waterside burroughs of Montreal.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quebec Cycling Holiday Ideas

Quebec is a big place and a good cycling vacation in Quebec will visit quite a big geographic area.

Cycle Fun Montreal has been thinking about what we'd do if we decided to invite you for a week-long cycling vacation in Quebec. Answer: too many choices!

Montreal has several possibilities (it's a compact city easy to bike in):
  • Lachine Canal/Sentier des Berges canal-and-riverside bike path loop, go out to very end of canal to parc levesque for huge outdoor sculpture art-park
  • Olmstead road to top of Mont Royal - excellence includes deep forest road, beaver lake, The Mont Royal Chalet lookout over downtown, and Maison Smith, and don't forget the summit and of course the giant cross. Descend via Mont Royal cemetery for added scenic amazement
  • The bikeable urban mecca of Plateau Mont Royal (Mont Royal, St-Denis, Parc Lafontaine, Rue St Hubert (south of Mont Royal), avenue du Parc, St-Viateur, Bernard and of course the legendary St-Laurent boulevard.
  • To the public markets of Atwater or Jean Talon
  • To Old Montreal and the Old (Vieux) Port and the island park of Parc Drapeau and Pont Jacques Cartier bridge for best view of the city

West / southwest of Montreal
  • Pointe aux Cascades bike path -Anchor Museum/ Cedres Ferry/ St-Timothee - Lac St-Louis
  • Chateauguay Valley: Road ride from Ormstown to Powerscourt (oldest covered bridge in Quebec) along the Chateauguay River

North of Montreal
  • Petit Train du Nord (200 km trail, south 90 km is rockdust, northern 110 km is paved)
  • Out favorite sections are:
  • Val-David-to-or-from anywhere south like Ste-Adele, Prevost, or St-Jerome (south direction is downhill from Val David). Val David has 1001 pots exhibition/gallery in summer.
  • Tremblant to Labelle (P'tit train du Nord museum in Labelle)
  • The northern paved 110 km starting in Labelle. Pavement, your friend pavement...

East of Montreal/ Eastern Townships
  • Chambly Canal (for added adventure, do it from Montreal)
  • L'Estriade: Granby to Waterloo
  • Les Grande Fourches (Sherbrooke/Rock Forest/North Hatley/Lennoxville)
  • Tomifobia Nature Trail - Ayers CLiff to Stanstead - scenic, away from civilization, deep rural
  • Road ride Sutton area - Sutton-Mansonville-Knowlton-Sutton

East of Montreal - between Montreal and Quebec City (north of river)
  • Chemin du Roy (say Lanoraie to St-Barthelemy)
  • Cycle Fun Montreal's Lanaudiere hill rides (a hill-climbing scenic paradise)
  • Parc de la Mauricie - end to end loop - hardcore hills and few services, you earn it

Quebec City
  • Loop Quebec City-Ferry-Levis-Pont du Quebec (bridge)-and back by brand new riverside bike path Route du Champlain
  • local south shore ride: Levis to villages up to 50 east and back.
  • Just take the ferry Quebec City to Levis for amazing scenic experience

East of Quebec City - North of River - Charlevoix
  • Ile aux Coudres, easy scenic ride, leave car in St-Joseph de la Rive for easy ferry access
  • Charlevoix hills - for the hardcore cyclists this is heaven

East of Quebec City - South of River - Cote de Sud, Bas St-Laurent, Les Basques
  • Take the Route Verte anywhere to anywhere going east - you will usually have a big tailwind. And spectacular scenery. And tides. And pretty villages.
  • Petit Temis 130 km trail from Riviere du Loup, south to Cabano, Degelis, and Edmonston, in the province of New Brunswick. A good shorter version is 100 km Degelis to Riviere du Loup.

Well that's a start... I know I missed a few, especially the flatter-land rides, but with 4000+ km of riding, this list offers you a good taste of Quebec.

If you want a Quebec cycling vacation a good place to start is Velo Quebec for bicycling info and Bonjour Quebec for other tourism info. There are excellent free cycling guides from every region of quebec. Translation: life just keeps getting better if you're a cyclist in Quebec!

Bas St-Laurent vacation pics

Bic Provincial park, most scenic park ever?

Descent near St-Clement, south of Tros Pistoles, that's 53 mph

Everything for a motel overnight was carried on the Camelbak. That would be in 145 kilometres after the picture was taken.

Riviere du Loup's Parc de la Croix - the end of the ride of the return-north leg of the Petit Temis 100 km day

A great end point to our Petit Temis ride: the view from Parc de la Croix in Riviere du Loup of the St-Laurence river and Charlevoix on other side

Summit lookout on Pic Champlain in Bic provincial park

Low tide at Bic park

Petit Temis trail on Lac Temiscouata - early morning!

Sunset over St-Laurence near Camping Plage Trois Pistoles

Bike trail through canyon on Petit Temis trail

Parc National du Bic - low tide over Pointe aux Epinettes

View of Kamouraska from Rt 132, a scenic Route Verte ride