Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Five signs that spring has arrived

The crosswalk-signal buttons work again

The Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path crosswalk buttons are not reliable.

23rd annual first-ride-of-spring ride to the awesome Olympic Stadium occurs.

We wish that we could ride around inside the Big O in the wintertime. We have never asked. Maybe if we ask, they will let us. Stay tuned.

Winter clothes change to spring clothes. Even for bikes.

There's a lot to be said of the virtue of waterproofness.

Bike lanes on streets are repainted.

Actually, we're still waiting for this one. The city should adjust its flawed policy of "the city doesn't work on bike infrastructure until 1 April."

Spring flowers jump out of the soil.

This is the real deal, and it happened today, 31 March.

Spring has arrived. Summer... soon. Some people are saying that summer starts tomorrow. We wouldn't disagree. (let the joys of short pants commence!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Coeur de Quebec regional bike map

La Presse reports that there's a new bike map available for the Coeur de Quebec region. We have wanted to explore the southern part of this region this year, so the timing of this map is great news.

Here's the link to the Coeur de Quebec regional tourism website's cyclotourism bike page. Here's the map link (pdf).

The map is supposed to have 30 circuits. You can request a paper version at the website.

Spring Suroit ride

Bike utopia in the Chateauguay Valley

One hour from downtown montreal. Google says 54 minutes, but we drive mellow.

Spring rides should be short rides, so the drive to the ride's starting point should not be too long. And there should be good scenery. And good roads.

So where are you going to go?

Once again we recommend the Ormstown/Chateauguay valley area southwest of Montreal. Rides can be as short or as long as you like, and the scenery is always good. And it's only 65 km from Montreal.

We rode this ride recently, and we were reminded that we like it a lot. We had to return because of time constraints, but we recommend that you ride the section Athelstan-Powerscourt to the covered bridge. The covered bridge is a great lunch or rest stop destination. You can pick up some food in Athelstan at the dep and restaurant.

We rode back along the Chateauguay river through Huntingdon and Dewittville. Here we saw many migrating geese. A flock of 1000 snow geese taking off was particularly impressive.

As always, try to avoid the busy numbered highways Rt 138 and 201.

Click the map title for the map on bikely.

View Larger Map

This map is the driving directions to Ormstown from central Montreal. Pont Mercier, and stay on the Rt 138 until Ormstown, turn right at the stop sign and park in the IGA near the Pharmacie (outside map), go inside the mall for a tourist info kiosk: here are some brochures with excellent maps for cycling. Washrooms and coffee are here too. (sorry, no bike shop... yet)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

montreal island bike route map

When we ride crosstown it can be more pleasant to use bike paths. The challenge is knowing where the bike paths/routes are located, because sometimes it isn't obvious.

Here is a link to one of the better Montreal island bike route maps from the Ville de Montreal (pdf, zoomable).

We are waiting for an updated map for 2010.

Until then we will ponder what a bike path/route is. It's one of three things. A cycling facility is a path, a shoulder, or a shared road. Read the Transport Quebec's descriptions at the MTQ website. There is lots of interesting reading here.

some bixi facts

Some Bixi facts popped up at the Montreal city council (comité exécutif de la Ville de Montréal) meeting last night.

La Presse reports:
  • There are 5000 Bixi bikes in Montreal.
  • 125 Bixis were stolen last year.
  • Other missing Bixis have been found at garage sales and even in the Lachine Canal.
  • We spent $23 million on the 5000 bikes plus the related infrastructure.

Biking is so much better than walking.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our favorite festival: FIFA

Festival International de Films sur l'Art is our favorite festival in Montreal.

We watched:
  • La Chaise Reitveld
  • Milton Glaser: To inform and delight
  • Guggenheim Museum (at 50 years)
  • Hearst Tower
  • Casa Bronfman
  • Harlem à Montmartre, une histoire du jazz à Paris
  • La Bataille de la pyramid (I.M.Pei & the Grand Louvre)
  • I.M.Pei, souvenirs en mouvements
  • Twice upon a garden
  • Tadao Ando / Koshino house
  • Steel Homes
  • Turning Torso, Malmo
  • German Design
  • The National Gallery in wartime
  • Learning from Light: the vision of I.M.Pei

In between we biked to the Lachine Rapids (which is in Lasalle not Lachine), over and around the mountain several excellent ways.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Transport Quebec maps

MTQ's interactive covered bridge map. (link)

The Transports Quebec (MTQ) website has a few interesting things to make the cyclist happy, or at least better prepared to have a good experience when traveling or riding on Quebec roads. Some info is in french, some are in both languages.
Covered bridges are a great addition to a bike ride. They make a great destination or rest stop when you ride in the country.

Publications Quebec has an excellent book on the subject. Les ponts couverts au Quebec.

The Archives de quebec (part of the Banq) has an exhibition on covered bridges... but it's in Quebec city.

Oldest covered bridge in Quebec, in Powerscourt.

Active Transport conference

For a better tomorrow:
À pied, à vélo, des villes actives
Premier colloque canadien sur les transports actifs

On the move in the community!
Canada’s first active transportation conference
Velo Quebec is organizing a conference on the Active Transport thing. We'd love to go. June 3 is the day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A bike ride in the country, but where to go?

View Larger Map

You want a good bike ride. You want to leave the island because urban traffic and you needs some time apart. Where's a good destination for a bike ride in the country?

We think Ormstown/Huntingdon along the chateauguay river is an excellent early season ride. Cross the Pont Mercier bridge on the Rt 138 and keep taking the 138 until Ormstown, and park in the parking lot of the IGA, at the far side near the pharmacie. Here you will find an outdoor map, and inside is a tourist kiosk with tourist guides.

You can ride along the river or make a triangle-shaped ride and ride south to the roads along the US border. Just avoid the Rt 138 and 201, these are busy highways with poor or no shoulders to ride on and, well, all the other country roads are soooo much nicer.

We love the Chateauguay Valley for cycling.

Click here for all Cycle Fun Montreal's Chateauguay valley rides. You can click the map above for the basic info. FYI, anywhere inside the traced route is probably a good bike ride. (Just avoid the Rt 138 and 201)

bike lock blues

When a person locks his bike across town and then takes public transit home and then comes back the next day for the bike then he had better remember to bring the key to the bike lock with him.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

We need a winter-bike design X-Prize

We have yet to see a bike we could honestly call a "winter bike."

Why not? Because it is a very niche market. And the task is more engineering and innovation intensive than just another flavour of the 1000s of road bike designs that already exist.

To stimulate the designer energy, we propose a prize for best winter bike.

We think a winter bike should have:
  • freeze-proof drive-train and brakes
  • corrosion protection against water and salt
  • traction and lots of it
  • excellent slush protection
  • manufacture-ability, no fantasy bikes allowed

Designers: you have 9 months until winter, so get going.

air travel, with bike, and damage

We've traveled by air with a bike and we, and the bike, survived.

What happens if your bike arrives at the destination damaged?

Click here for Bicycling magazine's legal columnist's very educational article on bikes+airline+you're screwed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

spring repairs

Spring is the time we rejuvenate our bikes with some love, fresh parts, and money.

Last night we got a new back tire for the road bike (a roubaix armadillo @$65, never paid so much for a tire ever, to replace the tread-peeling MEC-bought hutchinson - the bad luck with rear wheel/tires/tubes continues) and a chain-stretch gauge and went home and got to work on my good road bike, the bertrand.

First up we straightened the back wheel, which had a loose spoke and a big wobble. Big people and back wheels are a toxic relationship. Then we put on the new back tire on that wheel, pumped up the tire and put it on the bike, which means we had to take the air out of the tire so it fits in the bike frame, then pumped it up and then the valve stem broke (this has never happened before, we think someone put a curse on this back wheel.) so we dug up another 700 tube (the last one, of course) and pumped up the tire and then put it on the bike and then I had to take the air out again to get it in the frame and then finally got in in the bike AND pumped up. Mission accomplished.

Next we checked the chain (modern stupid chains don't last long), measured the chain and it was stretched outside of the specification so we put on a new chain. I wore rubber gloves and did not get grease all over and under my fingernails.

Then the bike took us out for a little test drive, over some bumpy roads (we looked for bumpy ones, and we did not have to look far to find them) and as usual this bike rides smoothly on all terrain because it is extremely well-balanced in the handling department. The bike has a magic floating ability.

This rim does not like to stay straight for long. So it will be repeated soon.

Next we chain-stretch gauged the other bikes, the mtn-bike needs a new chain, the bent not yet, but it takes three chains to make its two extra-long chains.

Next: why so many bikes?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another montreal bike blog

We started our bike blog a few years ago because there were not many about bikes + montreal + fun.

So we are happy when we discover new bike blogs about Montreal and our region.

Here is one that is interesting: Roule Pierre, Roule. Enjoy, and then go outside and ride your bike.

Bike survey at work - followup

Our (major corporate) employer seems intent on improving infrastructure for bicycle commuting employees.

We had a survey last year, and this week's followup was asking for specific recommendations from people at our specific site.

What the company seems to be planning is a change room, and what is inside the change room is the question. Mirror, lockers (lockers big enough to put enough layers of bike wear along with enough ventilation to permit the clothes to dry out after a rain or a sweaty ride), toilet, hair dryer, etc.

Users also responded asking for protected, safe and secure bike parking (i.e. behind a gate or an isolated location), covered bike parking, and bike lockers. Because we'd like to ride our good bikes to work, but don't really like the idea of leaving them outside all day long tempting the riffraff.

Our response? We specifically want lockers that are big enough to hold --and dry-- our cool-weather bike clothes, and safe, secure bike parking. We are quite tired of changing in a toilet stall. And tired also worrying if all our bike parts will be still on the bike when we step out at the end of the day (because some people see a parked bike as an invitation to acquire free accessories).

Good things do happen... when cyclists speak out about their needs.


And we would dearly like to see a lot of police action to slow down the speeding car drivers on the surrounding roads. Car-pedestrian/cyclist accident risk of fatality goes way up once the car speed is above 40 km/h. And it isn't the car driver who is the dead one.

Montreal urban mtn-bike trail development conference

There will be a conference concerning urban mountain biking infrastructure development in Montreal, on 9 april at Le Taz.

We know that there is a complete absence of infrastructure (=trails) for mountain biking in Montreal. We know that for two years the issue has been studied by the city and les amis de montagne.

Now we see that they want to hear from us. Well, not from us specifically because tickets cost $150! And that is with MEC event sponsorship. Well, that will keep the riff-raff away from the conference fersure.

We hope that good things will eventually result from the deep and long consideration to on-island trail development. Because for 20 years the city has had it's head in the sand about any infrastructure for mountain bike riders. No trails is no problem said the city. This policy is changing, we hope, but at a pace that would make the slowest city bureaucrat happy, which seems to be the city's continuing policy. Face it, the city hates mountain biking and mountain bikers. We hope this conference changes that. But at $150 per ticket, it's not like the actually want to hear from many actual mountain bikers. Because we have better things to do with $150 bucks than spend it on a five-hour conference.

OK, to be fair, you can volunteer to be a volunteer at this event. And we agree that need this conference. It's about time: mtn biking was banned in Montreal in 1990!

And the fact that this conference is going to be held at all is really positive news. But will we see any actual trail development in the next few years? I guess it is time to start being optimistic! (not least because the Taz is located along the Miron Quarry, which is being developed into a recreation park in the next few years. This site has major potential for mtn bike trails, and without any of the usual knee-jerk resistance to trail development on Mont Royal from the city, ecolos, and les amis de montagne.

Friday, March 12, 2010

First week of riding - ahead of schedule!

Spring has sprung, and all optimistic cyclists believe that winter is over, and therefore summer is here.

We believe it.

New trails at East Hereford (Circuits Frontières)

There's new trails on the Mont Hereford part of the East Hereford mountain biking area in the eastern townships.


There are now 27 kilometres of gen-u-wine mountain bike single track. Adding the double track there are over 40 km of trails. 40 km of fun.

Click here for the AllezY East Hereford page where you can get a pdf of the 2010 trail map.

Click here for the ADSVMQ forum post on the projet Circuits Frontières with lots of of pictures. Go down near the bottom of the page for news about 2010's newest trails.

If you mountain bike you should support the ADSVMQ.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bike path gets a spring cleaning

Montreal cleans the bike path.

Montreal is cleaning the bike paths.

Months ahead of schedule.

What's going on? Have we moved into some parallel universe?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pont Jacques Cartier bike path/sidewalk now open!

View of Montreal from the Pont Jacques Cartier mid-bridge lookout

Arriving on the south shore to a forest of concrete barriers, but no directions or map

On the bridge: this bonhomme couldn't ride a straight line

Miracles do happen!

The bridge corporation says this: (french only)

Piétons et cyclistes

Signe que le printemps arrive à grands pas, la Société Les Ponts Jacques Cartier et Champlain Incorporée désire informer le public que la piste cyclable située du côté ouest du pont Jacques-Cartier ouvrira partiellement pour la saison 2010, ce jeudi 4 mars.

Il importe de souligner que l’accès normal étant entravé par des résidus de neige du côté de Longueuil, les cyclistes doivent emprunter temporairement l’escalier à partir de la rue St-Charles pour accéder à la piste cyclable.

Nous vous aviserons dès que la piste et le trottoir seront entièrement fonctionnels. Cette annonce est sujette aux conditions climatiques des prochains jours. La Société souhaite une excellente saison de vélos à tous les cyclistes du Grand Montréal.

Veuillez noter que la piste cyclable située sur l'estacade du pont Champlain est accessible selon les dates et les heures d'ouverture du parc Jean-Drapeau.

Pour plus d'informations, contactez la ligne INFO-VÉLO au