Monday, June 29, 2009

We ride northeast in middle-Maskinongé

Our most recent Mauricie region bike adventure has not been the Mauricie river as planned, but another ride in the Maskinongé region. This time we went northeast along the edge of the laurentian foothills, happily, below the foothills, so we had good views and not too many hills to climb. (The satmap shows this well)

Nice spot north of St-Severe

The Laurentian foothills start at the edge of the road.

Another Catholic church

Mini church!

Summer's here when the strawberry stands open

Quebec strawberries are the best kind of energy food, or food of any sort.

This ride follows the bicycle-friendly local geography of the Maskinongé region

Our ride map is available on Bikely

Our previous explorations here had focused on riding north and south in big loop rides. But this left the land in the middle of the region untouched. And we knew that there had to be some good riding there.

So we parked the car in Saint-Barthélemy (which I can now spell!) and rode inland and zigged and zagged our way north-east until we reached Saint-Etienne-des-Grès, which is darn close to the St-Maurice river.

As we had done before, we took the cycling map for the region and pieced together a ride from routes on the map. This time we took the highlighter and drew a route through the middle of the territory.

How did it go? It went well. Very well. Although there were two closed-bridges under reconstruction, we got across them ok. The wind was against us for the first half, but boy, that made for a really great second half of the ride with the wind on our backs giving us a turbo-boost. Woo-hoo!

We passed through the villages of Saint-Barthélémy, Saint-Justin, Saint-Ursele, Saint-Léon-le-Grand, St-Sévere, Saint-Barnabé, Saint-Etienne-des-Grès, Saint-Thomas-de-Caxton, Yamachiche, Louiseville, Maskinongé, and back finally to Saint-Barthélémy. Total distance is 115 km. (you can easily do a shorter version)

The ride follows the edge of the Laurentian mountain foothills. It maneuvers around streams and rivers. Instead of hills, the road does pass through some river-valleys.

We liked this ride, and we have discovers that the region has exceptional road cycling.

You have the choice of riding one of the rides on the Maskinongé region's Cycling Map, combining their rides into a longer ride, or just exploring. It's a nice scenic compact region with lots of roads and lots of cyclists. But most of the cyclists stay on the narrow strip of the route-verte along the Rt 138 along the St-Laurence (which actually isn't even visible in this region). We recommend that you take time to explore north of just about any village along the Route Verte.

This was our last discovery/exploration ride in this region. We have been amply rewarded for our efforts with a number of excellent rides. We are sure these will become some of our favorite rides in the years to come. And, maybe yours too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cycling and Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism and Leave No Trace, and cycling and fun and montreal.

...coming up in our next post

Our next Mauricie ride

An exceptionally good ride

We are looking forward to repeating this great ride we did last year.

It had everything you'd want in a ride (except rain, but that was only the last 5 minutes).

We highly recommend this ride.

Map on bikely here.

Montéregie region's 2009 road-cycling map

This map is available... everywhere!

The Montéregie tourist region has published their 2009 road-cycling map. They have inserted the map in a lot of recent publications, so it is quite easy to get a copy.

This region is south of Montreal (and east and west too), and is, to put it simply, HUGE. So their road-cycling map is quite useful for anyone who wants to go cycling, but is unsure where to go.

A season's worth of close-to-Montreal road-riding routes

We like this map a lot.

But, we have one little problem with it.

In the lower left of the map is the Chateauguay valley, aka the Suroit or Haut St-Laurent.

It is one of our favorite cycling destinations. It has quiet roads and peaceful countryside.

However, this Montérégie road-cycling map directs you to ride on Rt 201 between Ormstown and St-Antoine-Abbé. Avoid this road at all costs, it is a busy highway, with no paved shoulders. It is hugely dangerous and, in out opinion, you risk your life if you ride on it. (it is however, a direct link between these two towns).

Luckily, the roads immediately parallel to the Rt 201 are excellent bike roads, so we suggest that you use them instead.

Start of paved shoulder rant (You may wish to skip it)

We feel that this kind of dangerous-to-cyclists no-paved-shoulders route is a symptom of tourist agencies giving the map-making contract to companies that never leave the office when they design bike-routes. Seriously, when a map maker creates a dangerous bike route like this, they should be forced to ride the route, at night, with no lights, and then we'll see if the dangerous bike-route gets changed in next year's edition.

Or, is it Transport Quebec who doesn't build paved shoulders on the numbered highways in this area. The Routes 138, 201 and 202 all needed paved shoulders added to the highways that were built in the pre-paved-shoulders era. We feel that this is serious negligence. Numbered Highways have to meet modern, current standards, and the parts of these highways that do not meet modern road-safety standards need to be upgraded as soon as possible, and since it's not a technically difficult construction task, the paved shoulder is a good example of a "shovel-ready" project.

We have seen lots of modern roads in quebec built to the highest safety standard. We just think that the Chateauguay valley road users also deserve the same level of safety. It's not rocket science. Paved shoulders make sense, especially when the region's tourist maps show these roads as bicycle-designated. It is time for the different departments of government to get togrther and get these things fixed. NOW!

End of paved-shoulder rant!

Except for this little criticism, we like this map a lot and have gotten lots of good rides in this close-to-Montreal region. Especially, the quiet roads country of the Chateauguay valley. A ride along the Chateauguay river (and roads to the south) are some of the best in Quebec.

Missing road in Google maps - Chemin du Nordet, St Donat

The excellent Chemin du Nordet, a road through wilderness

We love cycling the Chemin du Nordet, an amazing recently-built road between St-Donat and Lac Superieur in the Laurentians.

This road is a favorite for cyclists looking for a Vermont-scale road in the laurentians, as well as for anyone looking for a Laurentians' road that isn't post-apocalyptic in its road-surface quality.

This road has been in existence for several years, but Google maps (and therefore Bikely) has steadfastly refused to acknowledge its existence. MS has had this road on their maps for years, which makes Google's omission that much more unbearable (and embarrassing for the all-knowing Google).

So, we looked into it, and found out how to report "new roads" to the Google's map supplier.

Now the clock is ticking, and we we see how long it takes the correction to show up on Google maps, and then on Bikely. We would hope it is mere hours, but it's more likely weeks and months! Stay tuned.

Note: if you want to ride this road, this link will get you the road on the Bing (MS) map. You should be aware that this is a hilly road (and that's a good thing).


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Update October 6: This road is still missing from Google maps.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Route Verte stats

Quebec's Route Verte bicycle path network is many things, amazing, a miracle, the best vacation idea, etc. But to be specific, we needed to look at the recent statistics.

The Route Verte is now 92% complete, with 4036 kilometres on the ground. A survey of bike signage is underway and it might soon be possible to never get lost.

The next five years will see 800 more kilometres added to the network. One future highlight is the Route Verte along the south shore of the St-Laurence river between Montreal region (Valleyfield) and Levis (Quebec city).

For people who want to travel on bicycles, Velo-Quebec's "Bonjour Cyclist" certification program checks out hotels, gites, B&Bs, campgrounds, etc to assure you (the cyclist traveler) that you will have a safe place to lock your bike, and few other useful-for-cyclist things. This doesn't usually include an all-you-can-eat breakfast, unfortunately.

Quebec is a great place to cycle, and the Route Verte network gives you a lot more specific information on where to cycle than just looking at a map and guessing a route. Happily, every region also has it's regional bike maps, and the whole province is becoming a paradise for cyclists.

Summer's here, and like the Just for laughs comedy festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Route Verte is one of the great things to get out and experience in Quebec.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marvellous Maskinongé ride

Perfect conditions? Summer's finally here.

A perfect day on quiet country roads.

CL-215 water bomber (a dozen forest fires broke out on Thursday night from lightning)

Elevated fire risk, the level is Extreme!

St-Mathieu-du-Parc's turtle, trout, and owl god

Catholic Church at St-Mathieu-du-Parc

Overlooking the town on top of the "calvaire" in St-Elie-de-Caxton

Fresh harvested sunshine, in the form of hay.

Church in tiny St-Thomas-de-Caxton

Look up, look way up... summer!!!

We did a north-south ride today near Trois-Rivieres.

Starting at convenient Yamachiche, we rode north to St-Thomas-de-Caxton, St-Elie-de-Caxton, and up through the real northern forest to St-Mathieu-du-Parc, and then we came back the same way. The same way, except it was downhill, which is usually the better way.

The map on Bikely is here.

Conclusion, a great 100 km ride, perfect summer weather, a great way to spend Fête St-Jean.

The map on Bikely is here

Here is the MRC Maskinongé's cycling map. Pink highlights are our recent explorations.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Montreal Fountains ride

Victoria Square's fountain

Rain isn't a popular subject for cycling! But when it's sunny out we seek out water-related destinations. So today's Montreal scenic-exploration urban ride will take us to three very special water fountain destinations.

Place Ville Marie

Place Ville Marie is our most iconic downtown skyscraper (and still the best one). It has a plaza with a fountain and a great view up McGill College street all the way to Mont Royal.

Looking up at Place Ville Marie

View from Place Ville Marie to Mont Royal

Victoria Square

Victoria Square has been completely redone recently, and has the fountains shown at the tp of the page. Victoria Square also has this Hector Guimard-designed art-nouveau style Metro entrance. This is one of the jewels of Montreal, so be sure to check it out.

A gift from the city of Paris to Montréal.

Sublime secret

Our last stop is in Old Montreal near the water outside the very good Pointe-à-Callière archeology museum. The museum passes undergound beneath Place Royale. Here at ground level
is the this unusual fountain. We like this one a lot.

Fountain in Place Royale (wheredat?)

Montreal has lots of other fountains, and we will write about a few more in the near future.

But since you have now arrived at the biggest water feature of Montreal: the Saint Laurence River, we invite you to cross the street to the Vieux Port and take a ride beside the river.

Get outside and enjoy summer in our beautiful city.

summer 09 Vélo Mag

We spent spring 2009 exploring the Maskinongé region just west of Trois Rivieres, little did we realize that Velo Mag was also exploring there. They have a travel feature on the "pays du sarrasin" (land of buckwheat) which is one of the characteristics of this region. Another trait is that the region offers excellent cycling possibilities. (We confirm this with 500 km of explorations), It's also not too far from Montreal.

Other travel info in this issue is cycling with the children, Paris-Peking, the Acadian region (read: New Brunswick), and the mountains of the Gaspesie (the interoir range called the Chic-Chocs).

There is also some travel swag inside the bag that the magazine came in: maps for the region of Quebec city (which doesn't show the excellent new Cycloroute Bellechasse bike path), but is otherwise an excellent one-stop overview of the various bike paths around the capital region. We'll be using this map fersure.

Other swag was a Monteregie road cycling map 2009 edition, a Velirium09 programme (roughly: mtn bike racing and related festival/activities at Mont Ste-Anne), a repertoire 2009 for overnight accomodations participating in the "Bienvenue Cyclistes" certification plan (briefly: then have a locked/covered place for your bike to spend the night, and a few other things)(key message: visit all over Quebec, and bring your bike!), amd finally a laurentians region guide de services officiel Velo / Ski de fond / motoneige - the main attraction is the p'tit train du Nord bike path map (it's a really good map).

There was also a profile of Michel Lebreque, who is the president of the Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM), and past president of Velo Quebec. Yes, he is an avid cyclist too.

It looks like a good issue, get yours today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some new Bicycle Rider Education posters

Montreal has been using the display space above the sidewalk bike racks to educate bicycle riders on safety and security.

We think a lack of bicycle ride education is a big problem in search for an effective solution.

Here are some new bicycle rider-education signs we have just seen:

Be courteous, don't ride on the sidewalks / take back the neighbourhood

Pedal with your head - take back the neighbourhood

We've also seen this written as "Pedale avec ta tete - En sécurité dans nos quartiers" (Pedal with your head - in security in our neighbourhood"

And, right on schedule is a jerk riding his bike on the sidewalk, right past the no-bike-on-sidewalk sign

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Montreal Bike Parking

This is a post about Montreal bike parking.

Secure winter bike parking. These bikes aren't moving until spring arrives. And we don't want to hear any complaints about how it is too hot in summer.

Fallen down bike parking. It's ok to lift the bike back up as a favor to humanity.

Winter is the loneliest season for bike parking

This bike is clearly camouflaged, thus preventing bike thieves from noticing it

Who needs a lock when you've got a dog to protect your bike. Hey, where's the bike?

To a casual eye, this looks like bike parking, but to the trained eye, this location screams UNSAFE! Why is that? (Hint: stripped bike frames, isolated location, and did we mention: completely stripped bike frames?)

Bike parking, on the east side of the excellent Jean-Talon public market. Frankly, the JTM needs a lot more bike parking.

A more ferocious looking bike guardian. Note the rim-bender type bike rack tied to the dog, maybe fido is there to prevent you from damaging your bike wheel in this grossly-inferior design for bike parking.

Extremely bad bike parking: blocking the handicapped ramp at PA supermarket. Bad bike riders.

Bike parking, protected by a giant cartoon rodent, which seems friendly enough.

This on-street bike parking is still missing it's bike racks, a mere two months the racks are supposed to be installed.

The sign helpfully tells you to stop parking your bike after 1 november. Sure, you can ride all you want... but just don't park.

The protective barrier for the bike parking is happy with its life

Confused? (Note the custom fender, a subject for a future post)

Parking post bike parking. Note the little bike icons telling you stop here, park, relax, enjoy life.

This parking post is not for bikes. Note the color-scheme difference from the bike-parking friendly parking post above.

Some cyclists try to blend their bikes into the natural surroundings. Is this a bike, or is it topiary designed to look amazingly like a bike?

The flowers on the handlebars make us think of summer. Summer, when this camouflage would be a lot more effective.

Speaking of effective camouflage, this bike completely blends in with its surroundings.Maybe a little too well.