Monday, September 27, 2010

Rain, darkness, yes it's autumn!

Where's all the daylight gone?

Autumn is loved and dreaded at the same time. The beauty of the countryside undergoes quite a colourful transformation, but at the same time it's colder and there is less daylight and sometimes grey skies.

And there's the inescapable fact that winter is on its way.

So it's time to ponder a few things.

First, where can we ride and see great fall colors? This one is easy, everywhere in Quebec that is south of the boreal forest.

Next, what about that winter thing? Won't a state denial work wonders? Yes, but a bit of planning can leverage some good things for next year. yes, it is time for a little bit of long term planning.

Do these two things and you will be awesome next year (at least on the bike):

Get a training program and stick to it. You have six months to transform your muscles. That is enough time to do some very useful things to the muscular and cardiovascular systems. Remember to train your weak parts, not your already strong parts. After the first couple of weeks, remember that sweating and heavy breathing are essential to the improvement process.

Next, get your spring bike tuneup done now, or in the next couple of months. October should be a "get your bike tuned up before spring" ad campaign at bike shops. This will give you a well-tuned bike to ride when spring's dry roads arrive. Good bikes need a bit of annual inspection and maintenance, and if you are intimate with your bike (as opposed to merely blind in love) you probably know of one or two things that should be taken care of. Don't be shy, and go get it fixed. And then you can have a whole season of bike love next year. Maybe even your greatest year ever. And if you do it right, every year will be your greatest year ever, again and again and again. And then you die, which is unfortunate but inevitable, so get out and enjoy life now.

Close the PC, turn it off, do it now. Stand up...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

some things are more important than bikes

One year supply of crab-apple jelly

Some things are more important than bikes.

The list is short, but it includes making crab-apple jelly in late September.

Gelée de Pommette is the best of all the jellies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tiny wire stops bike!

Guess which item caused our recent flat tire?

It is a surprise to find this wire inside the thick mountain-bike tire causing a flat immediately after a visit to the bike shop for a wheel alignment. The tire was soft on the way home after never having had a flat before. Lesson: always inspect your bike closely BEFORE paying for any repairs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Annual mont gosford hike'n'bike

biking the dirt road down from Refuge Clearwater

Mont Gosford from the south


View south from Mont Gosford summit, into New Hampshire USA
Clearwater refuge (hut) at left, we hiked up from here to summit

We bike and hiked up and down Mont Gosford near the Maine USA border.

The weather conditions were exactly perfect.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Vianney - Quebec's best downhill ride?

The big view, a perfect day for a bicycle ride

Vianney from above (near summit)

Descending the dream

As we wrote earlier, we had a gut feeling that Vianney would be a desirable village to visit, not least because it sits right beside the top of a 1800 ft high hill.

That's only ideal if there is a good way to get down the hill. So we can report that the road to the town of St-Ferdinand is newly paved, St-Ferdinand is at 671 ft elevation, and eight kilometres separates the top and the bottom of this hill.

You don't have to perform very accurate math to see that this is one hell of a downhill ride.

This might even be the best eight km of your life.

But you won't know until you try it. So we recommend that you make the effort, and go and try it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

rainbow ride to work

that's one big rainbow!

Unfortunately, the rainbow's "pot of gold" was located at our workplace... doh!

The ride to work this morning was enlivened by the appearance of a magnificent rainbow. Ain't optical physics wonderful.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

La Presse Top 10 travel articles

The La Presse newspaper travel section has an interesting Top 10 feature. Many (most, all?) of these are of Quebec things such as parks, nature things, historical sites and tours, and many other types of attractions.

You should check it out.

10 Parcs Regionaux (regional parks) to discover
Ten Historical Circuits (circuit patrimoniaux) (these often make great bike rides)
La Presse travel section
The current Top 10 list

Letter to a friend

Exploring: this is fun and were having it.

I have been exploring, and having fun (maybe too much fun?). So I did another big ride in the nice hills north of Thetford Mines in the start of the Appalachian hills. This is my third visit here and this time I started in Plessisville. Again there were a lot and lots of hills, this time with 7000 ft climbing (!!!), and happily, descending too. One hill, was 1000 ft up a crazy steep dirt road to the village, but then 1000 ft downhill in 7 km on the newly paved road on the other side - heaven and hell on the same hill. This was Vianney, which I had a feeling in my gut would be both very good and very bad, and it was lots of both.

The main bad thing besides the Vianney dirt hill was that there was not enough light for the ride length of 150 km, I finished after dark (and I don't mean after sunset, I mean after real darkness has arrived), but I had a light and reflectorized clothing, and a good paved shoulder on the final main road. I was sure happy to finish, because by now the mood of the ride had transitioned from recreation.... to survival!

Bird of prey sizing us up, how would we taste for his breakfast?

The ride's purpose (besides excellent hills and scenery) was to continue my explorations in this region, it was my third visit here - three weeks in a row. In these three visits I rode 425 km and 16500 ft climbing, and yes my legs are getting a lot stronger. (It might be time to do the famous Vermont six-gaps ride)

This was supposed to be a 124 km ride, but I forgot to map the first section that was away from highway, and I missed one turn (the map was clear and I definitely should have looked at it before I passed through the village!), but these are some of the characteristic adventures of the exploration ride genre.

I have to say that the perfect hot summer weather of last week was gone and I had to wear vest, arm warmers, tights, and neck and ear warmers all ride. WTF!!! And the winds were gusting up to 49 km/h. This plus the hills really screwed my avg speed, it was down in the high teens and this meant 8 hours in the saddle out of the 9.5 hours of the ride. Still, I was having good leg strength all ride, even at the end, which was a BIG surprise! One person even cheered me on when I was standing up on the climb back up the hill after that missed turn. This was a surprise, and definitely helped the morale!

Anyway, that was a good ride, and I am progressing towards developing the "keeper" ride of the region that hits all the good parts of this region. Towards this goal, starting in Plessisville is a good thing, and the Vianney hill from St-Ferdinand is also a highlight. And the scenery is extremely nice.

This ride had some unnatural sights, such as...

The blue tree is definitely not as nature intended.

Outdoor cactus garden in Quebec?

Man-made mountain scenery

Monday, September 06, 2010

152 km + 7000 ft climbing? Insanity never felt so good.

A highly scenic ride, with a few hills.

Vianney, and its amazing new road descending to St-Ferdinand

Even though Sunday's bike ride had a total of 7100 ft of climbing and a big-day of 152 km distance, it was another really good ride. It was a full day of scenery, distance, hills, and history.

There was a bit of dirt road involved and one dirt uphill (320 metres of climbing, all on dirt, and some walking was involved) that we could have done without, but this hill took us to the village of Vianney, and on the other side of this village is seven kilometres of brand new pavement. That same seven kilometres goes 900 feet downhill. In other words, it does not take long to get to St-Ferdinand. Zoooooom.

As the day progressed, we noticed the sunset arrived before the end of the ride did. So we finished the ride after dark, but we got back ok using our rear lights and reflectors, and finished with a really big hunger.

We discovered that the last hill before Ste-Sophie-de-Halifax never ended, every hill we crested always had another hill in the distance, until finally we could see the St-Laurence plains and it was downhill time.

Today's mega-ride. It can definitely be done in a shortened version.

The bike ride map is available at Bikely (click here).

2140 metres = 7020 feet, the Vianney descent is a good one.

We don't usually print a ride's elevation profile, but this one is one for the record books.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Today's stoplight question

We asked the male McGill student aggressively riding the wrong way on the Prince Arthur West street bike path through the McGill ghetto...

"Are you riding the wrong way on this one-way bike path because you know it is one-way and you choose to disregard it and endanger all the people who want a safe route on the street to ride their bicycle as active urban transport, or are you just clueless and stupid?"

Although he stopped and listened to our question, he didn't answer it. So we conclude... both!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

bike camoflage

We noticed a family unit riding an all white bike. We also noticed the parental portion of the family unit was reattaching her chain on the chainwheel, so we offered to lift up the rear of the bike (containing a hefty next-generation family unit) to help her get the chain all the way on.

That done, we went on our separate ways, except we pondered the fact it seemed that her bike had been covered in tape and then spray-painted white.

We concluded that we had just seen some pretty good bike camoflage.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Today's stop sign question

When we stop at the stop sign and signal and wait for the cars to pass and then signal again and go, and then the warrior-runner on the bike path who we passed a minute before comes up from behind and runs into us as we start to turn... who's at fault?

We don't think we were at fault, and we think that runner needs to engage his brain.

Some good news in the protecting-nature department

A gift of a big chunk of undeveloped land located on lake Memphremagog straddling both sides of the US-Canada border has passed its red-tape hurdles (this was a time-limited offer) and will become parkland.

The posthumous fulfilment of Michael Dunn's dream will see the creation of the 900-acre Eagle Point park along the eastern shore of Lake Memphremagog, a popular outdoor recreation area about 140 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

His verdant legacy is being hailed as a new symbol of friendship between Canada and the U.S. and as a significant step toward protecting a productive but threatened bi-national ecosystem — including choice habitat to bolster the recovery of America's ultimate icon of nature and patriotic pride: the bald eagle.


Last week, just days before Dunn's deadline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it had struck a deal with various state agencies in Vermont to accept the Montrealer's offer and jointly manage the U.S. stretch of the new lakeshore park.

As conservationists, we think this is very big news.

Read more in the Gazette article here.

(This is part of the 1% non-bike content as permitted by the FDA's pure-blog law.)

woohoo! end-of-season sales at bike shops

It's the time for end-of-season sales at bike shops: bikes and clothing can be bought at more reasonable prices. Shorts, gloves, jerseys, shoes, outer layers, whatever are you missing is now cheaper to buy.

Personally, we need some jerseys that were not made in the previous millennium.

We encourage you to support your local bike shop now and all through the year.