Sunday, February 28, 2010

biggest tree in Montreal?

A real giant! (No we weren't running!)

When traveling up Mont Royal on Olmstead road from Parc avenue, pay attention at the second hairpin, because here you will find one of the biggest trees in Montreal. It is HUGE!

Friday, February 26, 2010


aaaaarrgh get me out of here!

Have you been stuck inside all winter, and maybe you have had enough of being stuck inside all winter?

We know how you feel.

We recommend that you close the computer and go outside now.

Go outside now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Motorcycle show shows Bixi in its ad, and not in a nice way either

First time we see a Bixi in another product's ad.

Montreal's "other" bike show

The motorcycle show ad is implying that personal transport aspirations should include the motorcycle option.

So are they showing the use of bicycles in a bad light? You decide.

At least a bixi doesn't have a muffler to remove before you have fun.

We actually like motorcycles, and we support your choice to have fun with the machine of your choice. But motorcycles have an image problem with the riders who modify their exhaust systems to produce more noise. And that's a lot of motorcycle riders. Just like there are a ton of cyclists who don't stop at stop signs (or any other sign for that matter). (oops was I supposed to say that?)

The main problem with motorcycles is that they cost so much. You can get a very good bicycle for the cost of the cheapest motorcycle. Or as we say, two bicycles for the price of one motorbike.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Having fun with winter cross-training

You may have noticed that we don't ride our bike much outside in the winter. On the weekends we try to get out and experience the joys of winter. Winter rarely mixes well with cycling. So we ski and skate and snowshoe and have fun outside.

Then we come home and sleep and eat and go to work.

Sometimes we ride the bike on the indoor trainer. Not often enough, but today is one of those days.

See ya!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hautes Laurentides - Mont Laurier road rides

Get your copy of this new cycling guide today!

The big overview map: lots of rides for the 2010 to-do list (click the map for bigger image)

a good cycling map provides details on how to get through towns

We collected some great regional cycling guides at the Salon du Velo this weekend. One that interested us a lot featured road rides in the Upper Laurentians (north of Labelle to Mont Laurier) which is also called les Hautes Laurentides.

Besides being the location of the highly desirable paved part of the P'tit Train du Nord (excellent, but a bit too flat and straight), this region always looked like a good road ride destination - if you knew where to ride. Enter the cycling guide "En vélo dans les Hautes Laurentides" which is conveniently bilingual with the english title "Biking in the Upper Laurentians." Gotta appeal to the anglo Tremblant condo crowd.

A new guidebook? New undiscovered terrain? A destination for explorations in 2010? We're excited! (It doesn't take much to make us excited, just good cycling roads.)

Saturday snowshoe adventure in Parc de Mont Tremblant - secteur Pimbina

Good winter scenery on R2

Interesting bark on Quebec's National Tree, the bouleau jaune (yellow birch)

Mont des Cascades - climbs up from the Accueil along the left horizon, at highest point trail descends to Refuge Geai Bleu

The popular Refuge Geai Bleu

In 2010 the management of the Parc de Mont Tremblant has made the Pimbina secteur (north of St-Donat) into snowshoe central (pdf map).

This was our Saturday destination.

From the Accueil we hiked up Mont des Cascades, then down to the Refuge de Geai Bleu, where we were alone in the hut. For all of ten minutes until 35 other people walked in the door. It seems every group in the parc arrived for lunch at the same time.

We finished eating and did a nice loop behind the hut of R1 and R2 trails, and then we retraced out steps up the Mont des Cascades and back to the accueil at the park entrance.

Weather was excellent, warm, windless, but somewhat cloudy. Excellent, but not quite perfect - just very close.

Did you know that Pimbina means cranberry?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bike trips + trains

We visited the Expovelo tonight and looked around at the different cyclotourism destinations. It is a good time to be a cyclist in Quebec.

In the future we want to take the train to do some bike rides. Ontario has the Toronto-Niagara BikeTrain. In Quebec we have... The VIA train to Riviere-aux-Pierres.


Yes, we said the VIA train to Riviere-aux-Pierres. From there you ride to Quebec city on a flat rail-to-trail type bike path called the Véloroute Jacques Cartier/Portneuf. In Quebec you have a nice supper and take the VIA train back to Montreal. (This may require some overnight accommodations in one or both towns). The good news is that VIA is actively coordinating cyclotourism demand with their passenger rail services.

This is an excellent development.

Other places we'd like to see train rides to the bike ride include: St-Jerome for Petit Train de Nord and Riviere du Loup for the Petit Temis. These are two of Quebec's best bike trails. A train west to eastern Ontario is on our list: from anywhere in Ontario you would ride back to Montreal with a tail wind.

The combination of train travel to a bike tourism destination is a great addition to making Quebec an even excellent bike travel destination. Looking for a bike vacation paradise? Quebec is your answer.

In similar news, you can now do a cruise ship + bike day-rides down the St-Laurence river to the Iles de la Madeleine archipelago with the CTMA cruise line.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Route Verte - 265 km "in development" includes Montreal

Orange marks new cross-city bike path (Source: Vélo Québec)

The Route Verte has 265 km in the "in development" stage.

Where are these new sections located?

This is a very good question. We looked for an answer.

The online maps at Velo Quebec's Route Verte website provide a clue.

One route verte improvement is shown on the map above.

This new section is an away-from-traffic bike path north across Montreal island.

This is a big improvement. Very big.

When will it be built? Soon we hope.

Very soon.

It is a big job to create a bike path along this axis. Let's get started!

The "in development" bike path across northern Montreal.
Blue dots: new bike path. Red dots: existing bike path.

Blue dots: new bike path. Red dots: existing bike path.

The existing bike path ends at Beaubien at the Home Depot. The new path goes north following train tracks (first part along an abandoned line) uber directly until the Pont Perry bridge to Laval/Gouin bike path at the north shore of Montreal island.

Friday, February 12, 2010

WIndchill warning

Winter can be cold, and it can be cold enough to freeze flesh if we add wind to the equation.

Windchill is what we got this morning. -13C temperature and 30-40 km wind (combined wind speed and bike speed) which calculates to a wind chill of -25C (-13F). That's c-c-c-cold.

Protection is important. Go here for more info about winter cycling.

Understanding the cold and windchill is a useful thing to do if you go outside and play in the winter.

The National Weather Service in the US has a nice web page and brochure on windchill here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter bike commuting - finding the motivation

We've had everything ready all week to ride to work, and the weather cooperated too. Except each morning we succombed to the appeal of the car.

So how do we plan to motivate ourself to ride tomorrow morning?

We use our traditional motivation plan.

This means we give our coworker $20.

They give it back if we ride to work.

This has always worked for us. Greed is a powerful incentive.

Update: The motivation plan worked perfectly!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pont Mercier bike path... to nowhere? Links needed on south shore.

Orange line: new Pont Mercier bike path
Missing links:
Blue dots: "Voie Maritime" Saint Laurence seaway bike path gap
Yellow dots: bike path to Chateauguay

The Pont Mercier bridge reconstruction will add a modern bike path to the bridge, similar in concept to the excellent Pont Jacques-Cartier bridge sidewalk/bike path.

This is good news, but we want to know where it goes where it touches down on the south shore.

The end of the bridge is the middle of nowhere. They need to build some connections here.

Starting with a bike path going west to Chateauguay.

Next is to connect to the Seaway bike path that presently ends at Ste-Catherine. This could be along the seaway spit of land (the awesome alternative), which would need stairs from the bridge path. Otherwise something parallel the Rt 132. (But not ON the Rt 132). This will create the greatest loop around the river bike ride in the Montreal area.

Here is information from the Pont Mercier Bridge website:
Archive for the 'Bike path' Category

A multi-user path for the Mercier Bridge

The Mercier Bridge rehabilitation project includes construction of a new 2.1 km multi-user path for cyclists and pedestrians, situated on the west side of the bridge along the Châteauguay off-ramp. This new ramp is similar to the one that has been constructed on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge .

The path will allow pedestrian and cyclist access to the bridge by the end of roadwork scheduled for 2011.
But where will we go from here?

We hope the completion of the first real bike path across the Mercier bridge will spur development of Route Verte and other bike path development in southwest Quebec/Chateauguay river valley region (a.k.a. haut-st-laurent).

Will the recently announced development of a new Route Verte corridor along the south shore of the St-Laurence river be ready when the bridge is completed? Will this development spur a Route Verte in the Chateauguay Valley to Huntingdon and the US Border at Dundee along the abandoned train tracks? (This path is already started in Ste-Martine, but it stops after 5 km near Howick) This rail path is just begging to be redeveloped into a long-distance bike path. (perhaps one of Quebec's best?)

We hope to see big news about this in the couple of years.

Something else we learned is that the bridge is not being renovated or reconstructed, but "rehabilitated." (and once again, we have expanded our cognitive fluency via the strange world of public relations communications)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Lake skating at Ste-Marguerite-du-lac-Masson

Good weather, ice, scenery, and fun on lac Masson in Laurentians

100% "best there is"

Life can be lived at many levels, but with just a little mental and physical effort, life can be lived at the "best there is" level. That was today's goal. Mission accomplished!

some people just don't get with the program

all ages, but one fun level only: maximum!

We checked out the outdoor skating on Lac Masson in Laurentians. Weather was perfect winter sunshine. Did a few laps at the level of maximum fun. This is one of those must-do things for any quebec winter enthusiast.

The ice is 4 km long, so a full loop is 8 km or 5 miles.

We got the idea destination from the Montreal Gazette "Short Hops" column "In the land of ice and joy" (joy? you bet.) written in the Travel section by David Johnston. We have had many good ideas from this travel feature. And much joy. In fact the fun part of this blog's philosophy (recall this is summed up in the title "Cycle Fun Montreal") means that an omnipresent goal is elevated joy levels, which some jubilant glee and overt smileyness too.

Skating is good cross training for cycling, and a lot more fun than the indoor bike trainer or a spinning class. These are mere simulations of reality and we believe that reality is best experienced first-hand.

Even is you can barely skate, this is a good outing since stopping and turning skills are not really required. You just have to be able to move in a forwardly directon. While having fun. There are benches to take rest breaks. We love rest breaks!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bixi - when will we see an annual report?

We want to see an annual report on Bixi's first year of operations. This is taxpayer dollars being spent and every politician running this city makes constant noises about accountability.

So we want to see the annual report on the Bixi operations. We know one exists.

How much did the system cost so far, and what was the costs for the bikes, the stations, the computer programming and systems, and for salaries?

How much revenue was generated?

How much was the cost and revenue per user?

What are the maintenance, repair, and overhaul costs and statistics?

How much did it cost to keep moving bikes around by truck and trailer?

What is the top speed of a Bixi?

What is the longest time rental of a Bixi?

What is the highest mileage Bixi?

What are the changes and modifications to the Bixi bike/Bixi system that will be dome for year two of the system's existence?

How Many Bixi's disappeared during year one?

How much does a Bixi bike actually cost?

And we'd like to see some answers soon, please. We know the report exists. Civil servants exist to write reports. Perhaps an intrepid reporter for La Presse can ask around or file a Freedom Of Information request. (If you are filing a request, also ask about the promised Mercier Bridge's bikepath/sidewalk addition, and access for bike paths across Mohawk lands).

These are good questions, and a test of government accountability is if some answers appear in public soon.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

bixi key arrives in the mail

Our Bixi year has begun.

But since it is presently the season of winter, the Bixis are all in winter storage. All we can do is read our user agreement. We are surprised to learn that there are no restrictions on riding a Bixi in your birthday suit.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Some winter ideas

We have been enjoying winter. The cycle of seasons here in Montreal can be a beautiful thing. However, that was more possible before slush was invented.

We enjoy our own cycle of activities, which is a random mix of the following:

Cross country skiing on Mt Royal, the full circuit from the monument on Parc Avenue to the summit just above the cross (the BIG cross). We include a couple of side loops, specifically the little loop under the cliffs, and the littler loop just below the Mont Royal Chalet/lookout. Once we get through the upper forest and are finally at the summit, we let out a whoop (really, we do) and then downhill... downhill... and more downhill. Zoom down past the cross and for the next 30 minutes we enjoy a quite fine wintery exuberasm.

Cross country skiing also exercises a key cyclist muscle: the tricep in the back of the upper arm. This benefit makes early-season road rides a lot more fun when the upper body isn't dying from the road-bike weight-on-arms position. Do not underestimate the benefits of exercise for the triceps.

Snowshoeing is, as sid recently discovered, as easy as walking. (Duh) It does great things for leg strength, as long as you go up and down steep hills. Snowshoeing also offers delightful snowy-beauty winter scenes. We like to boast to buddies that our snowshoe loop has over a dozen "amazingly beautiful and scenic spots." It's not a boast if it's true, and it is definitely true.

We often snowshoe at early evening and at night. We find that there is a lot of light on Mont Royal and there is no darkness. No headlamp is required. Poles are essential, for exercising the triceps, and for avoiding the embarrassment of falling over. It's a bit safer than skiing at night. We love msr snowshoes. If you have never tried it, rent a pair at yeti and walk around in the forest below the east-side (parc avenue side) cliffs.

Riding the bike trainer isn't nearly as boring as some people find it. We do some intervals for power, and we do some intervals for high-cadence spinning. The correct music is a key element of the experience. It is useful to have good instrumentation: we have cadence, power, and heart rate. Even more useful is a fan to blow away the heat and sweat you will generate (if you are doing it right).

Culture, it isn't what is growing inside your booties. It's one or all of Montreal's museums and related historical-cultural experiences. We try to visit one per week, and recently enjoyed this entertaining diversion. This expands the brain. Usually, this is a good thing.

We like long-distance skating, and Lafontaine park is our friend in that department.

Long brisk walks through montreal streets and neighbourhoods are the last item on our list. Lots of good scenery, and if it is cold, there are plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants to take a warm-up.

Enjoy winter while you can because it doesn't hang around for very long.

Go outside now. "Go outside now" is the best advice ever. Do it.