Friday, October 30, 2009

More Mont Royal cycletherapy

More Mount Royal cycletherapy tonight, ebjoying the perfect carpet of leaves on the forest floor.

Tomorrow's winds (gusts of 80 km/h!) will take away the beauty we enjoyed.

Such beauty never lasts, so we happily enjoy it while we can.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mount Royal Cyclo-Therapy

Ride up Mont Royal's Olmstead road, now starting from Pine-Parc intersection, 25 leg-burning minutes up to the summit.

You will not find a better way to spend 60 autumn minutes in Montreal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

1,000,000th bixi ride

Bixi rides in 2009 have passed 1 million.

Go Bixi!

Just don't go the wrong way down the street or bike path.

Velo Quebec against mandatory helmet law for kids - says how about safe roads instead?

Velo Quebec has come out against mandatory helmet laws for kids - and says that building safer roads would be a better objective if children's safety was really the government's top priority.

The helmet law also has the effect of causing the bicycle to be perceived as "DANGER!" when in reality it's very safe and really fun too!

Besides the obvious need for safer roads, we think that learning how to ride a bicycle safely should be a part of every school's curriculum (gym class should be useful for something).

We see evidence of a great need for bicycle-rider education every day.

Ride safe everybody.

wobbly wheel blues

Our much used urban bike Old Blue was having some issues with the age of its rear wheel, especially with a wobble that seemed to be getting wobblier every minute. So Blue asked us if he could have the old rear wheel we saved from during the disposal of our Mantis mountain bike.

We thought about it, and felt the wheel wobble like a star (that's HH-47 thank you very much), and realized that the bike would, to express its extreme displeasure with the current situation, fail at a point farthest from home, public tranport, or a lock to leave it behind.

So we dug up the wheel from our old wheel collection graveyard, and Blue is now feeling quite unlike its age. We like it too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

local sense of humour: apocalypse edition

A Montreal two-wheel-themed video for your further rainy day entertainment time-wasting activities.


Rain, rain rain, what are you going to do?

Well, you are already siting down at your computer, so why not visit the National Film Board of Canada (NFB for short) and look at some of the 700+ films they put online for your entertainment?

We recently enjoyed "Across Arctic Ungava" and this is why:

I recently found this little-jewel of a film: a 20 minute 1940s NFB documentary film about a scientific expedition on canoe across arctic Ungava.

The National Film Board recently began to put their collection online. (You may know this already) On a recent examination I discovered the film "Across Arctic Ungava" which details a scientific trip on canoes across the Ungava peninsula (from hudson bay to Ungava Bay) in late 1940s.

I found several things fascinating in this film:

it is a canoe trip up one river and down another, with route finding in between, a really major adventure before modern mapping

It offers a look at pre-modern era outdoor gear and practices.

19 foot well-loaded wood canoes captained by "indians from seven islands"

Several scientists: botanist, geologist, etc. The geologist carried his own rocks on the portages.

They fly up from Seven islands to Fort Chimo, now Kuujjuaq, then on in a Canso to the hudson Bay starting point of the voyage. Here's a tidbit on fort chimo:
Kuujjuaq previously was known as Fort Chimo. Chimo is a mispronunciation of the phrase saimuuq, "Let's shake hands!" Early fur traders were often welcomed with this phrase which they eventually adopted as the name of the trading post.

The Canso plane used for the last leg of the trip was built in Montreal, at the Canadair Plant 1 factory in St-Laurent.

It offered a rare look at our northern civilization in the pre-modern-conveniences era.

There were lots and lots and lots of bugs.

It offers plenty of good clean entertainment and a nice easy length of 20 minutes.

Here's the link to the nfb and this film. This is a good "tv on the pc" place. The film was on a playlist for "fun films about science and technology"

Here's the link: Across_Arctic_Ungava

Here's the NFB homepage:

Friday, October 23, 2009

still riding? Bike lights please

OK, it's dark early, and sunshine arrives late in the morning. If you are still riding your bike in these darker and colder days, we congratulate you: good work.

Now we have to ask an annoying and personal question. Do you have lights on your bike?

85% of people don't have bike lights. So, we not surprised if you don't have bike lights. We're just disappointed.

In some ways being a dark shadow riding through the night has a nice evanescent aspect to it. But it's also fooking dangerous, and dangerous in the human stupidity department. (Different from the human intelligence-caused dangerousness department.)

Night riding is much more dangerous than day riding, it's a fact. But you can make it a lot safer with a mere $20 spent on bike lights. A white light in the front, and a red light in the back. It's really very simple.

Nighttime is one of the best times for bike riding. We encourage it. Just don't be invisible: get a light!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Management Guru Henry Mintzberg rides a bike to work

Today's Gazette had a photo of big-time management guru Henry Mintzberg in his office at McGill.

In the shadows in the background lurked one of mankind's great inventions: the bicycle.

The bike had a mirror, and we could see a helmet too. Good work Henry!

(our question is, is the bike in his office because there are no safe places to lock his bike outside, and that McGill management students have no ethics and would steal it if given a chance, given what is known about business students + ethics (or lack thereof) in this modern day and age?)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time to start your winter training plan

It's only six months until spring!

Don't delay starting your winter training plan, because starting in the month of May is too late...

You legs needs exercise, your brain needs exercise (really, it does), and speaking personally, our belly needs exercise too. (Molson-Muscle doesn't count, it's the same as Labatt-Fat).

We know that you know this already, but we know that persistent reminders do occasionally cause the inactive to become active.

Raging Grannies

No, not the good type of Raging Grannies, but the rich, over-entitled audi-driving TMR-dwelling granny types, who think that any car driver carefully and cautiously driving through the intersection in front of them should get the heck off the road.

It would have been hilarious to see someone lose all emotional control behind the wheel of a car, if it also wasn't so scary and disturbing. Also, the (not so nice-) lady has a serious hate-on for english-speaking citizens of Montreal, and in the interest of "we all have to try to get along", that is just wrong. (We should point out, we were speaking french to her!)

So if you see any raging grannies behind the wheel of a gold-colored Audi (crass to the max), just get the hell out of her way!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First Snow

Proof, if proof is needed

Winter's coming, it's not too late to hop on the bike and ride south...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Six months with our new mountain bike

Miles and miles of smiles

Six months ago we gave up.

We couldn't live a day longer without a functional mountain bike.

We had disposed of our dysfunctional (since ten years) bike a few months prior, and we decided we were ready.

To go in to the store.

And buy a new mountain bike.

Long story short is we wanted another full suspension bike and the lowest cost specialised fsr fit the bill. It would be our third Specialised mountain bike.

First offroad bike was a Specialized Rockhopper, circa 1986 bought in 1988. (same year as the custom Bertrand road bike - woohoo!) It lives on as Old Blue, our urban assault bike.

In 1990 we got a high-performance off-road bike with a realy excellent Specialised Stumpjumper Team. Then it was stolen.

So then we got greedy and got a Mantis Pro-Floater, a total bleeding edge high end bike from Mantis. It soon became obsolete and unrideable... And sat and collected dust for more than a decade. (You cannot imagine the shame and emptiness in our soul from this sad state of affaires)

Which brings us to six months ago, in the store, ready to buy.

Ok, wrap it up and we'll take it home.

... six months later.

We love mountain biking. There is no finer way to spend a day than to ride a bike through forests and fields and open space and roads and trails and uphill and downhill and over rocks and trees and other things and challenges of every sort to overcome.

Our other bestest off-road thing this year has been discovering East Hereford in the Eastern Townships. The village sits at the foot of Mont Hereford, and this mountain has nine great trails to explore and enjoy. There are another half-dozen trails on the other side of the village too.

We strongly congratulate all the people who worked to make the trails here become a reality. Everyone who worked to build the trails, and also everyone who worked to build community support for the whole idea of mountain bike trails in this region. And a big thanks to the locals who host us. (Suggestion: a depanneur in the village would be a great thing)

The bike rides great, we love disk brakes, and we love the ride-anywhere aspect to the full suspension bike (and yes, the comfort). And so far the bike has been holding together pretty good. Considering we are Mister-Destructoman, that's a pretty good.

What a great year to be alive!

The joy of tuque-ing

When autumn chills your headbone to the bone, it's time to discover the pleasure to be found in the tuque.

But, you want one that fits under your helmet.

A thin tuque (also known as a skull cap or beanie) will easily fit under your helmet. Here's one from the co-op. Headbands are good too, but we like the full head coverage of the tuque.

Some people like the winter helmet, but our view is that winter helmets are for winter, and right now it's still autumn. Winter helmets be too warm during high levels of pre-winter cardio fun, collis.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quebec mountain-bike-trail construction guide

We picked up a copy of the ADSVMQ's guide to building mountain bike trails.

We support the ADSVMQ, they are Quebec's Mountain-bike organization.


On the ride home from work we noticed that snowflakes were falling from the sky.



Hero of the day: Yves Chartrand: Cyclotourism + Public-transport

Quebec's many amazing Cyclo-tourism destinations urgently need public transit links so that Montreal-based cyclo-tourists to get to these destinations (i.e. car-free).

Mr Chartrand wrote an excellent letter to the editor in La Presse saying that (off-island) Montreal-region provincial parks and bicycle-paths are too far to ride to on bike, but have non-existent transit and transit+bicycle options. Even the ones right next door, like Parc des iles de Boucherville (a travesty, in CFM's opinion). The system is based around cars. If you have a car, you have ultimate mobility. If you don't have a car, well, you're screwed.

Mr Chartrand has embraced car-free living, and thinks that the regional train systems (we're talking to you AMT) should get a lot better in the bicycles-on-the-train department. Because today only a few train routes allow bikes, and it is 4 bikes per train total. Disgraceful, we say. Also, other train lines don't go all the way to the end of the line on the weekend. Rigaud .

We think that taking our bicycle on the train to Ste-Jerome for a ride on the P'tit Train du Nord would be highly desireable tourism service, because the beautiful P'tit Train du Nord bikepath starts there (and continues north... for 200 km!) This would be an excellent Saturday or Sunday adventure. Or ride north on Saturday, camp or B&B and return south on Sunday.

We think that the AMT and regional municipalities need to embrace train+bike tourism. Quebec is an amazing place to visit, is embracing cyclo-tourism in a big way, and needs to make this next step in integrating bicycles into the regional public transit system.

Conclusion: Montreal-region needs better train service on weekends, and the train service provider AMT needs to allow more bicycles on its trains.


A look back, way back to early 1900s:

Early electric light rail/tram lines would build entertainment facilities (amusements parks -- Montreal had Belmont park) at the rural-end of the tram lines so that there would be a demand for tram-use on the weekends. This sounds a lot like today's bike paths and parks which are conveniently located at the end of several regional train lines.

We would definitely use the train to go to the P'tit train de Nord.


In other news, the New York Times has a travel story on exactly this kind of adventure, taking the train to the country for a bike day-ride.

Whatever you call it, we were doing it cheaply and efficiently. We had conceived this as a single-day call-in-sick journey into as rural an area as we could reach by Metro-North, the train lines that extend from New York City north into the Hudson River and Harlem River Valleys, and east into Connecticut.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frost warning tonight? Think of it as pre-season training for winter riding.

Cold is rarely a problem for the cyclist, unlike, say rain.

You must remember to cover all your body parts, not just the important ones.

If you are still cold, add additional layers, warmer fabrics, or both.

Cold weather does mean one thing that is rarely mentioned in polite company.



Cycling solutions to the global booger problem are here.

The northern cyclist needs reliable and effective methods to dispose of excess fluids.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Six Day bicycle race in Trois Rivieres (in 1959)

The good old days...

Google street View, and cyclists on Montreal's Camelien Houde Mont Royal climb

Camelien Houde climb is Montreal's best road climb for the cardio-enhancing cyclist. The new Google Street View catches these stars doing their early-season training.

Highest up the hill and in first place, we have this blond god

Down at the start is this woman, extra points for carrying a backpack

Descending demi-god, he's the only one in shorts

Joe Everyman at the midway point up this excellent climb

Yes, perhaps we have too much time on our hands...

Canal Beauharnois bike path

Massive-size Beauharnois canal

Important: this section in Beauharnois section is CLOSED until 2013

Bikes are not permitted on the two bridges across the canal (thanks fed's), a bike shuttle exists, in summer only. It is time for the construction of bike/pedestrian sidewalks on these two bridges.

Colours were amazing. We love October!

There are several good canal bike paths in Quebec. Chambly, Lachine, Soulanges, and Beauharnois are all good bike rides.

We went to Hungry Bay near Valleyfield to ride the Beauharnois Canal on Sunday. There was big, big wind. Lucky for us we had a sick person copping out on the ride, so he drove the car between the start and end points of the ride. The wind was forecast to gust to 70 km/h, and we knew what this meant as a tailwind-induced means of happiness.

The wind kept a lot of people away and this meant a quiet and lazy cruise eastward until our destination at the Louis de Gonzague bridge. We were met by 100s of people who were there to see Marjo.

And then we decided the wind was ok, and the path was quite sheltered from west-winds and rode back to the starting point, annoying our car-driver to no end!

Visiting Trois Rivieres and MRC Maskinongé

Yes, we're back on top of Ste-Elie-de-Caxton

Accueil at the Chutes Ste-Ursele

Old river bed and 1000 ft long CN railroad trestle at Chutes Ste-Ursele

One of four waterfalls at Chutes Ste-Ursele, this is the big one

Musee de culture populare at trois-rivieres

Penguins having fun

Vieux Trois-Rivieres' missing house

Trois-Rivieres' 375 years birthday in 2009

T-R's Pont Laviolette - the only bridge between Montreal and Quebec city (and no bike path...yet)

We visited Trois Rivieres for the 25th edition of the FIPTR. We profited from good weather for a visit to the villages of the MRC Maskinongé. We took a stop at the Chutes Ste-Ursele to see their 72 metre tall waterfall. It was quite a lot better than expected.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunrise 6:57 am

Ride to work in the pre-sunrise gloom (avoiding any and all doom).

Sunrise 6:57 am

Watch the sunrise, then spend the day indoors transforming brain energy into income.

Our reward is two hours of after-work daylight to go outside and play.

Sunset 18:28 pm

Eat, sleep, repeat.

New season, new bell. new smiles

We got quite excited last year when our new dring-dring bike bell parted the sea of pedestrians like Moses parted the red sea (well, almost).

But, cheap chinese manufacturing being what it is, the bell broke after a few months. We tried one of those single-ping bells, but their pathetic little ping didn't even make pigeons fly away. We needed another dring-dring bell, so we finally got and installed one.

The result is amazing. People look up, and fairly leap out of our way. We got the power!

We are convinced that this is one of those urban essentials that everybody should have.

One side-effect is that the bell makes people smile, well, the right kind of people anyway.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

urban destination: a trip to Jean Talon market

20 litres of crab apples

Happy pumpkin time

boxes, and boxes, and more boxes of real food

If it is October then it is time to buy a whole lot of pommettes, crabapples to you nonpommistic types. In a few weeks the result will be a years supply of crab-apple jelly. Heavenly, sublime, absolutely wonderful crabapple jelly.

But first we had to run the gauntlet of apple merchants, some with non-red crabapples, (what's the point?), some with no concept of selling apples by volume (bushel=boisseau), some with pretty sketchy looking product, and then finally a merchant who knew what she was doing, and we got our half-bushel of pommettes.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A walk through the Plateau

The weatherman said rain, rain, rain. So we walked through the Plateau to De Fils en Montagne to take 11 items for sewing repairs. (Of course it stopped raining one minute into the walk, meaning we could have biked.)

Pink bike with flowers

Bike with pink flowers

We saw our favorite giant Montreal tree, on St-Hubert. This tree is very impressive.

Candidate for Montreal's biggest tree

Normal sized human, abnormal-sized tree

Up, up, and away, at a B.D. store

Add some pizazz to your bike

A less elegant solution to dreaded wet-seat syndrome

Giant Pumpkin Race

This photo from illustrates the concept.

The 2009 Giant Pumpkin race in Becancour race is today!

Here's the official website.

Here's our report from 2008.

We think this is an amazing event, even if bikes are not involved.

Autumn is the season for repairs, for your bikes and your bikes' clothing

Now is a good time to get your bike repairs planned and completed.

Bikes can run quite well even when in need of serious repairs, since the decay timeline is very gradual. But sooner or later, the repair needs to be done. Waiting for spring is just stupid: expect long delays as everyone takes their bike in for service on the same sunny spring day. Take your bike in for service in the autumn, and spring will arrive and you and your bike will be ready for copious amounts of joy.

But what about your cycling garments that need repair? Rips, opened seams, aging and accidental damage, and of course cool custom modifications? We recommend De Fil en Montagne on Marie-Anne between St-Hubert and St-Denis in the Plateau Mont Royal. They have served us well in the past. We have a big batch of items for repair and modifications (yes, we waited to get our winter stuff repaired until October. Doh!)

One good thing we did in the past was to have more reflective tape sewn on some of our bike jackets and backpacks. Remaining visible at night is something we learned the very hard way. But, at least we had a second chance and we learned our lesson. Dressing in black and riding at night is not a very good idea. (Please get a set of lights.)

Bike season is NOT over!

Our blog traffic drops sharply as September ends and cool temperatures arrive. We think this parallels the drop of recreational cycling as cyclists choose to avoid cold and dark conditions.

But we assure you that with a bit of proper wardrobe, you can enjoy excellent cycling conditions for a couple more months.

And, if you are out in the early morning or evening hours, please, use a front and rear light. Please please please!

cell phone/texting-while-driving epidemic continues

We have the opportunity to view car-driver behaviour when we share the city streets on our daily commute.

And it scares the hell out of us.

We're talking about the rampant use of cell phone and texting use by car drivers.

And in a really not-good development, we are seeing much more texting-while-driving use than before. This head-down-approach to driving is wildly reckless and irresponsible. Do these drivers want to kill someone? Do they even care? (apparently not, we have concluded)

Hey texters: texting at a stop light is texting-while-driving. Stop it now!

Cote ste-Catherine bike path now complete to Cote des Neiges

The Cote Ste-Catherine bike path is now complete to Cote des Neiges. The catch is that the path climbs Vincent-d'Indy and continues on the quieter Edouard-Montpetit.


Walk-signal redesign and quality control problems continue

Something for the city to consider doing to improve the Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path is to restore the walk-signal part of the traffic-light cycle at Laurier and St-Joseph intersections.

Because they have recently canceled the pedestrian-crossing part of the traffic-light-cycle.

yes, for a few short months, pedestrians and cyclists had their own part of the traffic light cycle. We meant something, we counted, we were on the radar. The city had actually created a safer situation for cyclists and pedestrians.

Well, that couldn't last long, could it?

In what is surely a reaction to complaining motorists, the city removed the integrated-walk-signal. Now cyclists have to hop on to the sidewalk to push the walk button.

This wouldn't be so bad if the push buttons all worked. But these all-new buttons have a large number of inoperative buttons. That's right, many of these push-to-walk buttons don't work.

It's a cruel joke by some car-loving traffic engineers, we assume.

Nice job giving us a nice new intersection, then going that extra step and then removing our ability to cross the intersection safely.

gazette saturday feature on Bikes in the city

The Gazette does a big feature (in two sections of the paper) on biking in the city. One reporter even took a hit (a car hit!) for the feature, now that's the kind of journalism we don't see much of anymore (she's ok, and we don't recommend this reporting style to anyone).

Among the items is a panel between the holy trinity of urban transport modes: a car driver, a pedestrian, and a cyclist.

There's also an interesting graphic of bike accidents mapped to city streets.

All in all, it is very interesting stuff.