Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ride your bike to work

Start now.

Our suggestion: organize EVERYTHING the night before.

One more reason to bike to work: you might meet an old friend you haven't seen in years. It happened to us today (true story).

we got a bixi membership

Two in fact. It's great for one-way trips when you will return with another transport mode. And it solves the where to lock your bike problem. And if you suffer from the "worried about your bike locked outside psychosis," the Bixi is a non-drug cure.

And we think there should be Bixi races up Camelien Houde.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Should cities have autoroute highways in them?

Montreal is recovering from the post-war autoroute mentality (i.e. all roads must be designed to move cars - and cars only - as rapidly and efficiently and in the greatest volume possible). We are now working to modify roads back to a human speed and scale.

Nowhere is this more evident than the roads surrounding Mount Royal, the mountain park in the heart of our city.

The demolition and rebuilding of the Pine-Parc intersection as a conventional ground-level intersection (replacing the previous cloverleaf-style highway interchange design) is a good example of the re-humanizing of road infrastructure in the city.

This brings us to the new mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borrough (arrondissement) Luc Hernandez. He wrote some interesting opinions about the MTQ (the Ministry of Transport of Quebec gov't dept.) on his blog. These comments did not suggest that the MTQ has the interest of residents of Montreal. The MTQ concerns itself with only moving vehicles. Their job is to focus on the growth of the movement of cars and trucks. More cars are good. More trucks are good. More roads are good. You can see where we're going with this. The MTQ has a job to do, and they do it: build bigger and better roads. It's pretty simple really. Quebec's a big place, and we need good roads to safely travel through our beautiful province.

But the MTQ is a bit insensitive to the needs of anyone who isn't currently in a moving vehicle. We'll call them us, the people who live here. The residents.

Mayor Luc Fernandez seems to be standing up for us. Us? This is unusual behaviour in the type of government we have in Quebec. Read his comments about the MTQ on his blog (link). The CBC interviewed Mayor Fernandez on the morning show about this, it was hilarious.

(Luc seems to be a shit-disturber. Our favorite shit disturber is the nutritionist and food writer Dr. Marion Nestle.)

who put thousands of tacks on Eastern Townships roads last weekend?

Some people are just mean and nasty, that is the only explanation for the fact that 1000s of tacks were spread out over roads in the Brome-Missisquoi region last weekend.

Tacks on roads can only mean one thing: some evil people hate bikes and cyclists, and have committed criminal acts to feed their hatred and anger.

Luckily no injuries have been reported, but cyclists are left wondering who is the evil mofo responsible for this criminal act.

Read more here at cyberpresse/le voix de l'est, radio canada, and others. Photo here. This was not the first time this occurs in the region.

Be careful out there, and don't piss off other road users.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Backroad ride around beautiful Brome County

An excellent bike ride around the Eastern Townships.

Dirt roads are bike roads.

View of Mont Sutton from Tibbits Hill.

Tibbits Hill school, a piece of history (built in 1844)

Sometimes a dirt road is the best road to take, because it is scenic, quiet, and scenic some more!

We went for a dirt road ride starting in Bromont and riding south in a big counterclockwise loop around the Bromont and Iron Hill mountains.

We did this ride on our mountain bikes, because dirt roads and skinny road tires are not always 100% compatible.

There are excellent views of farms and forests, Sutton, Jay and Mansfield mountains, and the best view ever of Lac Brome.

You muscles will thank you in July for making this effort in April.

Map of ride is available at
(Note: We used some bike trails in the village of Bromont that are not on this map)

Friday, April 23, 2010

AMT hates bicycles on suburban trains

More of the same about the AMT not giving any thought about the famous transport-cocktail of combining bikes + public transport.

The AMT has rules (make that RULES) and any person who thinks that earth day is a good day to use the in-train bike supports to bring a bike on the train had better think again.

Read more here in La Presse. .

Then call the AMT (514 287-8726) and express your disappointment about the bikes on trains situation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring fun

All our training is unstructured.

But we know two things we need to practice before we get to the happy level of in-season fitness.

Every few days ride up a lot of hills.

Every few days do a longer ride open-road ride.

Don't go crazy... Increase the distance of rides gradually, as your body parts adapt to the bike again.

Take a day or two off the bike every week, this is extra important if you are riding hard. Recuperation is your secret weapon.

Anyway, it's not called training, it's called fun. Riding your bike out in the countryside and riding up hills fun.

So we inform you that you must get up from your computer (right now, do it) and go out on your bike and have some real, authentic fun.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Discounts if you arrive on bike

The kayak tour company Alsiganteku offers a 10% discount if you arrive on bike.

This is the first cyclists discount we've seen. Let's see some more.

Parc Drapeau keeping gate locked on path to south shore

When will the management of Parc Drapeau unlock the gate to the Pont Victoria bike-path crossing of the St-Laurence Seaway?

When they are good and ready to unlock it, and not a second before.

Of coure, if we were economic-activity-generating activity like the F1 race, the management would unlock the gate much sooner. Oh, they did that for the F1 construction crew weeks ago, because spring came early.

Seems a little unfair eh? Remember this: Parc Drapeau management has a cavalier disregard for the needs of cyclists using parc Drapeau. The actions of the park management are clear on this point.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Take a ferry from Montreal to the south shore this summer

Montreal funds ferry service in the summer time. Bikes are welcome. The press release says:

4 navettes fluviales en opération pour la période estivale

MONTRÉAL, le 15 avr. /CNW Telbec/ - Durant la période estivale 2010, les cyclistes et piétons pourront utiliser les quatre services de navettes qui relient Montréal à sa Couronne Sud. Le comité exécutif a annoncé que la Ville de Montréal poursuivra le financement dans ce transport fluvial au montant de 472 000$.

"Les navettes fluviales constituent un atout à la mise en valeur et à l'accessibilité de sites riverains exceptionnels, tout en favorisant la pratique d'activités récréotouristiques. En plus d'être un complément à l'offre de transport alternatif, ce service de navettes renforce également le réseau cyclable existant de l'agglomération de Montréal, ainsi que ses liens avec la Route verte qui a des tronçons à Montréal et sur la Rive-Sud. Presque 90 000 cyclistes et piétons en profitent chaque année" a déclaré monsieur Alan DeSousa, vice-président du comité exécutif et responsable du développement durable.

Navette Vieux-Port de Montréal - parc Jean-Drapeau - Longueuil

Un premier service de navette relie le Vieux-Port de Montréal au parc Jean-Drapeau, où il fait un arrêt à l'île Sainte-Hélène, face au Calder, et poursuit son trajet jusqu'au port de plaisance Réal-Bouvier, à Longueuil, pour retourner directement au Vieux-Port. Ce service, dont Longueuil et Montréal partagent les coûts, est en opération depuis 1990. Un deuxième service de navette, sans service vers Longueuil, sera également assuré entre le Vieux-Port de Montréal et le parc Jean-Drapeau, afin d'offrir une capacité de service adéquate pendant certains événements et certaines périodes de pointe. Forte du succès de quelque 86 000 passagers l'été dernier, les navettes seront en opération les samedis, dimanches et jours fériés au printemps (de la fête des Patriotes à la fête de la Saint-Jean) et à l'automne (de la fête du Travail à la fête de l'Action-de-grâce), et tous les jours pendant l'été.

Navette entre le parc de la Promenade Bellerive et l'Île Charron

Offert depuis 1995, ce service demeure très populaire dans tout l'Est de Montréal. Quelque 6 200 passagers l'on fréquentée au cours de l'été 2009. La navette circulera à compter du 21 juin jusqu'au 6 septembre 2010, les samedis et dimanches ainsi que les jours fériés de 10 h à 17 h 30.

  Navette entre le parc René-Lévesque, de l'arrondissement Lachine, et la
Ville de Châteauguay

Ce service de navette relie le parc René-Lévesque, situé dans l'arrondissement Lachine, au parc de la Commune situé dans la Ville de Châteauguay. Il propose un parcours très apprécié par plus de 4 000 passagers sur le lac Saint-Louis. La navette sera en fonction les fins de semaine et jours fériés seulement, du 21 juin au 6 septembre 2010.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Better bike maps, mostly

Top: Improved new edition. Bottom: old version. (New map still has problems. The location of the town of Hemmingford is covered in the new map by the map-legend, oops! And they call Rt 202 Rt 222, oops again!)

Vélo-Québec produces some bike-map books. These have improved over the years, with better quality maps. The original maps were missing all kinds of useful info.

Source: 6th and 9th editions of : Les Voies Cyclables au Quebec"

Some Statistics:

6th edition: 206 maps, 234 municipalities, 6000 km of bike paths

9th edition: 195 maps, 75 municipalities, 8000 km of bike paths

Zig-zag Covey hill ride

Destination, Covey hill. 1000 ft high and 17 km away.

75 excellent kilometers of bike riding

Start location in Allans's Corners is only 35 minutes from the Turcot Interchange in Montreal.

Looking down Stevenson side road

Arriving at Battle of Chateauguay museum the weather didn't look too optimal

But no more rain, and lots of stone walls (notice the smooth road also)

A message of some sort to the bunnies of the area.

For a change the honking isn't coming from cars (geese flying north for the summer)

(Letter to a friend:)

Yo, so as usual we went for a Sunday ride, and looking at the weather radar, southwest of Montreal was rain free (see blog post below), so we drove out there in pouring rain, to the land of our youth, yes, to the Chateauguay valley. We parked at the Battle Chateauguay museum in Allans's corners, near Ormstown, and rode on the Brysonville sideroad straight south towards Covey Hill, which is the big regional landmark that isn't the Chateauguay River. This road is very special, it has excellent quality, gentle rollers, and passes lots of exposed bedrock scraped clean after the last glacier and never reforested (This is called "The Rock").

Here we had to decide how we would attack the hill, so we took some zigzags to avoid highway riding and arrived via Ste-Chrysostome (services) at the straight up the side on Stevenson's side road. It goes up and gets down to business right way. This was the fun part. Seeing the hill for so long of this ride (zigzagging with lots of good views) so we were happy to do the first big country hill of the season. This is the landscape, and we were conquering it. This put us on top of Covey Hill, so we follow the road west (paralleling the nearby US Border), along a very scenic road and a favorite to the end of Pollica.

We started to ride back to the car as el derriere commanded. The weather was changing and wasn't really being our friend anymore, and the longer we stayed out... So we turn towards home and take a pause in Franklin at the dep. Natch' the rain attacked us a few times, but always short showers or isolated bands of rain that we could zip up to seal the garments and get through quickly. Had three or four of these, and good planning in the clothing dept made it no problem (i.e. heavy tights, layers, and over gloves etc to pull on to repel the rain devil.) Also, we are not stop and hide from the rain types of people, our philosophy is "If it is raining, ride harder!"

The return part of the ride was a combination of with-the-wind and with-gravity (i.e. downhill), so let the good times roll! I got back to the car with a good level of fatigue. We could have gone farther, but rain was clearly evident, and it was getting late, as usual.

We saw zero other cyclists (they were all smarter than us) and it seemed that the grey day and rain kept normal people at home, so it was a great day with only light car traffic.

Could feel the effort the next day, tired legs and upper body. Another round of energy output, recuperation and subsequent strength gain! Raised the handlebars on the Bert from all-the-way down around 3 cm, but didn't notice a big difference. The new seat... now that's a difference I can feel.

Spring is an interesting time to ride, the landscape goes from snowy, to melting, to muddy to green on the ground, to green everywhere! I followed a burbling brook all the way up Stevenson's, which added to the nice feeling of successfully climbing the steeps. There was even blue skies near the end, disappointingly book-ended by rain. Still, it was a winner ride with mainly great roads, views, scenery and the modest distance of the ride and from home.

This year we have been exploring the area southeast of Ormstown, and everything we ride we like, the bike likes, and even the car likes. Our ancestral region is excellent for road cycling, certainly one of the best in Quebec for the relaxed rider who wants to escape the blandness of bike path but doesn't want relentless killer ride, busy roads, or same old-same old.

We think that a ride up Covey Hill is one of southern Quebec's best bike rides.

A great ride.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rain today? Not in the chateauguay valley

Chateauguay valley region southwest of Montreal outlined in red, radar map says it isn't raining there today.

The miracle of radar confirms the long held belief of Chateauguay valley natives that it just rains less there.

What does this have to do with bicycles? Well, if we can't have a surplus of sunny spring sunshine, we'll settle for dry roads (and another noon departure).

Friday, April 16, 2010

A route to downtown... without cars?

The mountain and the route from the northeast

Follow the yellow marked road from Mont Royal avenue to top of Peel downtown. (The short section in red should be walked)

When going downtown we like to avoid cars. Not just avoid them on the street, but avoid the street altogether.

This route takes a part of parc Mont Royal's Olmstead road and then the forested edge-of-mountain parking lots behind the Royal Victoria hospital (this is a surprising excellent route).

When arriving on the downtown side of the mountain, be sure to stop and enjoy the view. This is not optional! This mansion-turned-hospital is Ravenscrag. It was the most magnificent home in all of Canada. It is now the Allen Memorial Institute. CIA-funded LSD-brainwashing experiments took place here in the 1960s. Oh the good old days!

This is our favorite without-traffic route to get to downtown.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Montreal urban mountain biking conference - pics etc

There are pics and media reports on last Friday's Montreal urban mountain biking conference at the bunnyhop website.

an after work ride

A car-free bike path.

Reseau verte bike path entrance, with unusual signage

Van Horne overpass... which could be converted to an urban mountain bike park.

Do you think you are safe?

Sign clearly says "do not turn." So the white pickup decided... the heck with that!

The big intersection of Rockland and Jean-Talon is quite controlled. Vehicles driving south are prohibited from turning east (left), so every northbound driver can cross the intersection in perfect safety.

Do you think you are safe?

We were riding north, and we thought we were safe.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

An excellent new Chateauguay Valley bike ride - Ste-Martine to Ste-Antoine-Abbé

Lots of perfect asphalt...

... and quiet country roads

Don't be fooled, these are two separate farm machines

Signage/Map on Ste-Martine's bike path, which is part of the Parc Régional de Beauharnois Salaberry network of bike paths.

We rode south of Ste-Martine to Ste-Chrysostome and St-Antoine-Abbé, The Rock, and Riverfield.
This ride explores terrain to the east of our usual Chateauguay valley ride, and this ride turned out to be a really excellent experience. Quiet roads, scenic scenery, and good asphalt and we were on the bikes one hour after leaving home in Mtl.

We were looking for quiet scenic country roads, and this ride delivered just what we wanted.

But nothing is ever totally perfect. The winds today were severe, 40 km/h with gusts at 50 km/h. This ride was a zig-zag out against the wind and with an excellent return-section with the amazing wind on our backs. It was the kind of day when riding Montreal-Quebec City becomes a good idea.

We rate this ride a 9/10, we were really impressed.

Click the map title to go to the map in (semi-reliable) Bikely

The '88 Bertrand needs a handlebar tape job, but still rides like a dream

Another great Chateauguay Valley ride is the Spring Suroit Ride of a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Montreal - urban mountain biking conference

The future of urban mountain biking in Montreal conference is tomorrow, at Le Taz.

Montreal has zero kilometres of off-road riding on the island of Montreal.

We are hoping for an improvement in this unsatisfactory situation.

The conference should be optimistic, and we are looking forward to news of the event.

More information here at

Our suggestions for locations to develop mountain-bike trails?
  • an unused corner of Mont Royal park (not the most popular idea)
  • Miron Quarry/Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel
  • Along the Escarpment of NDG (Falaise St-Jacques escarpment)
  • Underneath the autoroute ville-marie
  • Ile St-Helene/Ile Notre Dame
  • Along the near-wild Seaway bike path (a.k.a. Voie Maritime)
  • Parallel to the Lachine bike path in certain locations

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ormstown-Dundee - to the end of southern quebec

Dundee Centre: two cemeteries, one church and one house.

Life spring up, and the bugs know what to do.

Powerscourt covered bridge across the Chateauguay, one mile north of USA and 30 km north of the source at Chateaugay Lake, NY in the Adirondack mountains.

Quebec's getting serious about protecting its covered bridge heritage.

Lookout at the covered bridge. Look at the double arch in the bridge.

Changes and improvements to the Powerscourt covered bridge.

There's a new roof, interior sidewalks and devices to make vehicle traffic slow down. The bridge is in better shape now than when it was built in 1861. This is a primo rest stop location.

New historical marker (previous one was stolen)

Enjoying a favorite view upstream of the Chateauguay river at the Powerscourt bridge

South of the St-Laurence river Quebec comes to an end at Dundee (population 436, 6.3 persons per sq. km). It's where the St-Laurence river intersects the Quebec-US border. Actually, it is at the intersection of three nations, because there is also the The Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne.

Riding west from Ormstown you have many choices and if you don't make any, you will arrive at Dundee. This is not a bad thing. Explorations can discover some great things. Or you can discover some less good things, like some of the worst roads in Quebec (part of Ridge road for about 5 km) along with some of the best (i.e. most of the rest).

Temperature was 17 degrees celsius above normal. This is highly not normal.

Highlights of this ride are powerscourt covered bridge, the mainly good roads, and a super highlight is the final section on Rt 138A along the river between Dewittville and Ormstown. No road has more giant old trees than this road. There's dozens, and they are all ginormous. It's amazing.

Giant trees between Dewittville and Ormstown (Rt 138A)

Bikely map of the ride

Canoeists and fishers also had a Good Friday.

Giant trees have been known to eat cars, but they leave cyclists alone.