Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mont Royal's "demented" bike path closed down

The van is driving on the uphill-direction side of the "demented" bike path.
(photo La Presse)

The uphill-direction bike path has now been removed.

This van is traveling on the now-gone lane of this demented bike path.

The disaster-in-waiting that was the wrong-way bike-lane up the fast and busy downhill-diesction side of Remembrance road on Mont Royal that Velo-Quebec actually called "demented" has been changed into a downhill-direction-only one-way bike lane.

This puts a wrench into the gears of the plan to connect the new cote-de-neiges recreational path with the entrance to the park at Beaver Lake (Lac aux castors). On the other hand, it will probably save a few lives. The planned rebuilding of the Remembrance/Cote-de-Neiges intersection pictured in the last photo from an autoroute style high-speed overpass into a normal street-level intersection will provide the sane solution to cross this road where everyone speeds at a velocity vastly over the posted speed limit (our suggestion: since this road runs through a park, make the speed 30 km'h and start collecting the speeding fines).

For once the city acted fast once everyone realized a big mistake had been made. Now, about those other mistakes, like:
  • the top of this same road at Camelien Houde where the wide paved-shoulder has been replaced with a no-shoulder/anti-cyclist cement curb?
  • the anti-cyclist changes to Circuit Jacques Villeneuve race track in Parc Drapeau on Ile-Notre-Dame?
  • the premature ending of the Cote-Sainte-Catherine bike path at Villeneuve street and not continuing a mere two more blocks to Mont Royal avenue? Like the narrowing and removal of the open half-lane beside parked cars on the newly rebuilt and narrowed St-Laurent boulevard?
  • the premature seasonal closing of the Route Verte #1 bike path link from Montreal island to the south shore across Parc Drapeau?
  • the removal of the walk signal as integral part of the traffic light cycle along the Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path?
The list goes on, and on.

We still have a way to go before "bike-friendly" is considered an important road-safety design criteria at the Montreal Roads department.

Oct 31 extra scary because it's the first snowfall... Aieee!

Today's question: First snowfall: natural beauty or weather disaster?

It had to happen sooner or later, but this doesn't mean we are happy about it or that we have to accept it gracefully.


broken bike lock = a bad day for someone.

Many U-locks are complete garbage. You get what you pay for.

Friday, October 29, 2010

beat the main

A video of young people on a bicycle ride on st-laurent blvd. A deranged bike ride, we mean. Enjoy. Or feel sick, depending on the safety versus complete lack of safety balance of your personality.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some good parc Mont Royal views

Montreal's little mountain, Mont Royal, has some very good views. These views are best visited using a bicycle.

Here are three of our favorites.

The view from the Mont Royal Chalet lookout over downtown.

You can see the south shore and the Collines Monteregie hills, and the big ones in the distance are mountains of the Eastern Townships and Vermont. On a clear day you can see mountains in Vermont that are 100 miles away.

The view from the Olmstead Road just north of the summit across Mont Royal Cemetery valley.

Olmstead road is your ticket to the easy, great, forest dirt-road bike ride from Parc avenue to Beaver lake, the chalet and lookout, and the summit. Don't forget the summit! It's not much itself but the view from the lookout just north is a big-time money shot.

The view of Oratoire Saint-Joseph. This thing is so glorious.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday urban exploration on mtn bike ride

The mountain bike can ride anywhere and everywhere, so we did.

We started with a gentle, but leg muscle-searing ride up Olmstead ride to the summit of Mont Royal. Then zoom down Cote des neighes right through downtown until we reached Griffintown. Here we zigged and zagged a bit on some urban offroad adventures, then crossed the Lachine Canal and zigged and zagged some more through Verdun and Point St-Charles. We examined the giant monument at the entrance to the Victoria Bridge memorializing the 6000 irish immigrants who died crossing the ocean in 1846/47. From here it was up through the vieux port and old Montreal and east on Notre Dame's secret viaduc elevated street. Some hops and drops at the skateboard park under th PJC bridge, then the rain hit and we headed home, passing by the grove of megafauna in Lafontaine Park. This group of giant trees is unique in Montreal.

To make a long story short, we explored, and then we explored some more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Should Bixi members get $25 off a new bike at a bike shop?

Today's krazy kwestion is:

Should Bixi members get $25 off a new bike at a bike shop?

Which poses the deeper question of whether a bixi member goes to a bike shop to buy a reliable and unstealable city bike (i.e. a Bixi replacement) or something a bit more sporty and enjoyable to ride for recreational riding?

A look at the "Haut Saint-Francois" area of les Eastern Townships

Haut Saint-Francois? Where dat?

Quebec is huge, with lots of different tourist regions. Each region has its own tourism and bike tourism maps. Thematic tours are labeled with a "Chemin des ..." (chemin = road) or "Route des ..." The H-St-F region is part of the Chemin des cantons and the Route des summits.

Let's open the brochure and look at the map and see what other info is available.

Lots o'villages and scenic Appalachian geography.

Lots of exploration and adventure to be found

The backside of the brochure is a full Eastern Townships / Cantons de l'est map, and a big section on names and locations of walking/hiking trails. It can be good if you get off your bike (or out of your car) once in a while.

Les Cantons de l'est / Eastern townships is BIG.

Quebec is big, beautiful, and and a great place to visit and explore. The townships is one of the nicest, and often gets first place in surveys of quebec's nicest tourist regions. The Haut Saint-Francois area is less known, which makes it ideal for an exploration adventure.

Your plan-next-summer action plan starts with a visit to the downtown Montreal tourist office. Grab one of everything, go home, and study a few maps and make a list of next summer's destinations. Next, the hard part) you have to wait for winter to end. But when it does, you'll be ready to go outside and ride in some of the nicest places to ride a bike anywhere.

Books for holiday gifts (part one)

We love riding though Quebec cities, towns, and the countryside. We learned that enjoying cycling you have to stop looking at the wheel in front of you, and look up and look around and see the beauty in the world.

Some of this beauty is nature, some of it is man-made. And some, like parks and bridges, combine the two. Waterfalls and covered bridges are some of the more marvelous things we get to see when out on a bike ride.

After we had seen a few, we wondered if there was some place where we could find out more, and plan our bike rides to create rides with these attractions. Not only are they visually pleasing, but they make great places to stop for lunch! So, we turned to that old, but still very successful technology called the book. We love books!

Covered bridges are one of the sheer delights of riding in the countryside. We have never been unhappy to stop and take a closer look at covered bridges.

Which brings us to Les Ponts Couverts au Québec (Covered bridges in Quebec):

Quebec has some mighty fine covered bridges.

We can only say one thing about this book: highly recommended.

The next good reason to stop your bike ride and take a scenic break is that marvel of nature: waterfalls. Gravity, topography and erosion combine together into something humans find immensely appealing.

Guide des chutes de Québec (guide to waterfalls of Quebec) is the answer to the problem of locating waterfalls in Quebec. They're all in here.

Waterfall, and covered bridge together is not scenic overload

Example of the layout format: this is Chutes Lysander which we visited this year.

Montreal's most scenic bike path

The Les Berges river-side bike path and park is completely amazing.

Looking for a scenic bike ride you can do without having to go far away?

The Les Berges bike path along the St-Laurence river in Verdun, Lasalle, and Lachine is extremely nice.

Just remember, it's not a race track. OK?

Click here for our more-detailed original post with some directions.

And what else makes this extremely special? The oldest intact building on the island of Montreal is the La Maison LeBer-LeMoyne. It was built in 1669. (1669!!!) It can be found (and visited) at the musée de Lachine, located at the western end of the Lachine Canal, where the western end Les Berges bicycle path starts.

This path is managed by the Lespolesdesrapides organization who work hard to make us learn and appreciate the fact that Montreal is an island with much waterside beauty and recreation to enjoy. Visit their website for maps and lots of good info about bikepaths and other things you will do waterside in Montreal.


It's already noon on saturday, and we know where we're going! So shut off your computer, get up off the chair, get dressed for outside and go for a bike ride.

Shut off the computer. Go outside. Do it now.

Shut. Off. The. Computer.

Go. Outside.

Do. It. Now.

Doing the right thing

It is the dark season... autumn nights come early, but this doesn't stop Montreal cyclists from using their bikes to get from the undesirable Point A to the vastly more desirable destination of Point B.

Unfortunately, some cyclists act as if the night time is still full of daylight, and have no lights or reflectors. This makes them invisible. And this is not a superpower, no, in fact it can seriously shorten your lifespan!

So this week we passed a well-dressed woman (all-black clothes, of course) riding her bike and instead of just ignoring this accident-waiting-to-happen, we gave her our reflective pants-cuff velcro thing. A little reflection is a lot better than none at all.

Ride safe everybody!

if they built this in Montreal...

New bridge over the Colorado river, with full and open access to the view.

If the nanny state that is in charge of some big Montreal bridges had built this amazing new bridge, you can be sure that the beauty would be completely spoiled by the mandatory installation of hideous anti-suicide barriers. We're just sayin'.

Pont Jacques Cartier bridge's visually obtrusive suicide barrier

Is this the best design they could come up with, or just the cheapest?

Pont Mercier bridge's new sidewalk and suicide-prevention barrier.

Before you jump to conclusions about our insensitivity to people who have lost hope for living, we want to tell you that one day we were riding over the Pont Jacques Cartier and we saw a jumper lying on the ground, at peace, and surrounded by firemen holding up curtains to prevent gawkers at ground level from witnessing this tragic scene.

We have never forgotten this scene, or how fragile life, and the will to live, can be. If you or someone you know needs help, Suicide Action Montreal is here to help. Tell your friends how much their friendship means to you. You could even bring them on a bike ride, which is a fine way to experience some of the immense joy of being alive.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Circuit Gille Villeneuve & Route Verte #1 across St-Laurence river closed October 31

The cycling route across the St-Laurence river via Route Verte #1 (i.e. Ile Notre Dame/Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) will be closed October 31. This includes a closure of the use of Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve race track to bicycles. (Can cars can still use it?)

This date is long before winter arrives and we see it as one more little poke-in-the-eye to cyclists by Parc Drapeau management. The park's management does not like bicycles and goes out of its way to make life difficult for anyone who uses bicycle for recreation, exercise, or transportation.

Shame on you Parc Drapeau!

Here is the official news from the Parc Drapeau website:
Closure of the cycle track
The circuit Gilles-Villeneuve cycle track and the bike link from the South Shore will be closed on October 31th, 2010.


In other news, Parc Drapeau recently opened an area with outdoor exercise stations. This is a good thing, (see how nice they treat the non-cyclists?).

We encourage all the larger parks in Montreal to install exercise stations for adults.

Montreal's Route Verte "missing link"

It's easy to just paint a line on paper. Let's build this thing!

Montreal lacks an off-street north-south bike path.

This map of the Route Verte promises a new bike path along the CP rail tracks going to the north shore of Montreal island. (Observant readers will notice that this north-south path seems to be a lot more east-west than north-south. Interesting fact: in Montreal east-west is actually north-south. We kid you not.)

But, when, oh when, will we actually see this bike path come into existence.

This year? No.

Next year? Probably not.

This decade? maybe, but we are not optimistic. Mainly because we think CP Rail doesn't want bikes anywhere near their train tracks unless the government pays CP rail massive amounts of money. We invite CP rail to prove us wrong and donate the necessary land to create this much-needed north-south bike path.

We really, really, want to see this bike path project completed. Let's take the street-risk out of riding north-south.

Pont Jaques Cartier bike path - Longueuil side rebuilding project

In this post we call the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge the PJC. Don't be confused.

The view from this bridge is amazing.

Sydney Australia has made climbing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge an expensive tourist attraction. The view from the PJC is 1) better, 2) free, and 3) accessible on bike. This should be on the tourism "roadmap" for Montreal.

The PJC bridge was completely renovated in the 1990s. A much-wider pedestrian and bicycle sidewalk was added to the bridge at that time. It even had a rest stop / lookout on the bridge. The view is always worth a stop.

But like all large engineering projects, a few small details get forgotten.

In this case it was over in Longueuil where the bridge arrives back on terra firma after crossing the enormous Saint Laurence river. At the end of the bridge and at the start of "being on the ground," the bike path/sidewalk returned to it's original 1960s sidewalk width, around 4 feet wide.

This old path was an accident waiting to happen, and happen accidents sure did. Finally enough was enough and a year after that the bridge is replacing the Longueuil sidewalk with a wider mixed-use bikepath and sidewalk.

It is worth noting that the bureaucrats previous solution to the danger problem was to put up a walk your bike sign. Uh-huh, that worked real good.

Take the stairs, but not for much longer.

The replacement bike path is under construction and is supposed to finish in December.

The first section of the new sidewalk-bike path is almost complete.

There are some improvements on the Montreal side, now the bridge connects north.

We can reveal that a ride on the 3.4 kilometre long Pont Jacques Cartier sidewalk/bikepath is one of our favorite "secret" Montreal delights.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Warwick's pitstop on Route Verte #1

Maison des fromages beside the bike path

These are some good local cheeses, terroir exploration is fun stuff.

Restored Warwick train station

Route Verte #1 passes through the middle of the village

The Route Verte in this region consists of the Corridors verte d'Asbestos and parc lineaire des Bois Francs. Nearby towns are Richmond, Asbestos, Danville, Kingsey Falls, and Victoriaville.

Flocks of geese heading south

We ended the day watching geese migrate at Danville's Etang Burbank (pond). We were here for the Festival des oiseaux migratoire, but the pond is a prime location to see some amazing nature in action, with or without a festival. This is highly recommended spectacle.

Mexicans harvesting Quebec cranberries (thanks guys)

Earlier in the day we visited the centre d'interpretation des canneberges (cranberries) in St-Louis-de-Blandford. This seasonal exhibition has a guide giving an educational talk through five exhibits in an indoor chapiteau. Then you hop on a bus and go out to the cranberry fields to see the cranberry production and harvesting. They flood the fields to harvest the fruit from the low bushes where the berries grow. The berries float, and they are colorful, so it's quite a nice show.

We came home with cranberries, raw, transformed, and even converted to beverages.

a recipe for a successful ride

We carry these in the camelbak, because we hate walking.

Revealed here are some secret ingredients for a successful ride.

These secrets live their lives inside the camelbak ecosystem.

To these ingredients, we add:
  • wallet, phone, keys, camera
  • assorted edible items (both liquid and solid)
  • extra clothing layers
  • the map!!!
All bikes should have their own flat repair kits (pump, tube, patchs).

Completing a long and/or faraway ride is 90% muscles, but the 9% that is good preparation will make the difference between a fun ride and a bummer ride. The last 1% is for the map.

Now, we know you are well prepared, but ask yourself, what about the clowns I ride with? Now you know why we carry those extra tubes...

Ride that bike!

Friday, October 08, 2010

East Hereford mountain biking open October 9-29

After a short hunting season closure, mountain biking is open again at Eastern Township''s mountain bike paradise East Hereford.

After short hunting season closure, the 43 km of off-road bike trails are open again on Saturday October 9. The trails close on October 29.

Driving there is on scenic Eastern Townships autoroute. Full services are available in Coaticook and Magog. From Coaticook East Hereford is 30 minutes, car parking is behind the church. East Hereford is fully rural, with no stores and one restaurant. There is a fish farm with store.

Trail map at AllezY.

There are no condos, cowfarms, fences, or modern conveniences of any kind. It is off-road cycling through single track and forest road up and around the side of a hilly mountain terrain. Forest and balsam fir tree plantations (christmas tree farms). You leave civilization behind for a few hours.

We love it here.

Click here for pictures.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rebuilt Parc Mont Royal road now UNSAFE for road bikes - by design!

Nice sharp cement curb, and a generous six inches space for bikes to ride, unsafely!

With no space for bikes, the rebuild of this road amplifies danger to RED ALERT level.

No room for the car to pass the bike, and no paved shoulder: car-bike conflict guaranteed.

The 2010 Mont Royal road reconstruction has created a road that is highly UNSAFE for road bikes, and especially for the people riding them.

We said so on Thursday, June 10 and now Vélo Quebec says so too.

What took them so long?

The "improvements" to the road on the west side of Mont Royal Park (Remembrance) is a disaster for cyclists. The reason is that the road is too narrow for bikes and cars, and there is no paved shoulder, or road shoulder of any kind. There is a sharp cement curb, and there is zero road space allotted for cyclists.

This is seriously WTF. Someone at the transport department purposely left out any accommodation for bicycles to ride on this road beside the cars.

Cyclists do not want to be in the middle of the road blocking car traffic. Cyclists don't mind riding on the road shoulder. In fact we love paved road shoulders. A lack of paved shoulders caused a hugely tragic group of cyclist deaths last summer. There was an outcry for paved shoulders for roads popular with cyclists. This road up and over Mont Royal is highly popular with road cyclists. It is even used for world-class bicycle road races. And still, they designed and built a road without any paved shoulders, it is if the road was designed for an alternative universe, a universe where bicycles never existed at all.

The only thing world class about the Parc Mont Royal road reconstruction project is that it is a world class FAILURE. We cannot believe that this redesign of the road got past dozens of design reviews and no one ever said, hey, this road is popular with cyclists, so where are the shoulders to share the road safely with bicycles?

This is a deliberate poke in the eye to road cyclists from the Montreal City roads department.



we got some details wrong, the part that we think is unsafe about the rebuild is almost minor compared to the bike path section that Velo Quebec is talking about. Click here for more info in La Presse (french) with an excellent photo. Dangerous and completely demented, they say, and we agree totally.

There is some lively discussion on this subject at the Velocia website.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Howick to Elgin

autumn colours

An excellent extended-play version of the standard Chateauguay valley ride.

This region has an almost infinite combination of good-ride possibilities.

Today was the tour des ponts barré

Sunset arrival back in Howick

Mountain view? In the Chateauguay valley? Yessir.

Nice view of New York State's Adirondack mountains from Ridge Road.

Towering corn, or corn tower?

Kelso Hall in Elgin

New pavement and tree tunnel west of Athelstan

Ok, at this point we have to admit that life does not get any better than this.

There are plenty of glorious trees on this ride

Dam and mill on Trout river at 2nd concession bridge

Protected wetlands near Huntingdon

Trees, brick houses, and good roads are three of the great things about the Chateauguay valley.

Turcot bridge beside Georgetown church at Howick.

This closed bridge starts the ride. Here we cross the river to the quieter and more scenic River Road. We cross another closed bridge on the 2nd Concession road.

The Turcot bridge is a great old bridge.

Howick's Georgetown Church is on the Chateauguay river

This was an excellent ride. Yes, another one.

Sunday afternoon bike rides

There is no construction blocking your access to the Chateauguay Valley for what we think are some of the Montreal regions best short and medium length bike rides of easy to moderate difficulty on quiet country roads.

Translation: cross the Pont Mercier to a great destination for road bike riding. Drive to St-Martine, Howick, Allens's Corners, Ormstown or Huntingdon and ride along the river south to Quebec's oldest covered bridge at Powerscourt. Ride back the same way, or you can zig and zag east and north through some of the nicest farmland you'll ever see.

Apple Season!

On Covey Hill between Rockburn, Franklin Centre, St-Antoine Abbé and east to Hemmingford is one of Quebec's best apple-growing regions. And it is now Apple season. Get out and enjoy some Quebec "terroir." There's U-pick operations and some farms even have hayrides and live music.

Don't even think about putting the bike away yet. It's fall colors time, put on the cool-weather outer layers of your cycling wardrobe and get out and enjoy one of the best times of the year to ride in the Quebec country side.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Good planning = good fun

We like to go for bike rides. Some are short, some are easy, some are from our front door. But some are farther away, and we need to remember to bring everything we need. At one point or another we have forgotten everything a cyclist could forget to bring. The key to unlock the bike? Yup, we forgot it. Cycling shoes, yup. Shorts, gloves, jerseys,helmet, tools? Yessir.

Learning from our mistakes (for a change) we developed a system of organization to carry the necessary stuff to create all the conditions for a successful bike ride. Or you can develop a system of extreme minimalism and which may or may not rely on the kindness of strangers and riding partners, but it is way more risky.

Our system of organization involves a cycling dufflebag (nicknamed "they saw you coming") that organizes cycling stuff in a useful way. Shoes and helmet in pockets at either end and everything else in the middle.

When this bag is packed, we are ready to roll, so bike + duffle bag goes into car and we soon arrive at one of the hundreds of excellent Quebec cycling destinations. For fun. Lots and lots of fun.

Good planning = good fun. It's a guarantee.

Firday afterwork sunset ride


Home from work.

Change out of corporate serfware and ride over to, up to the top of, and down Mount Royal.

The following were awesome:

  • The deep forest of Olmstead Road a piece of the countryside hidden from the urban landscape, the crown jewel of Montreal.
  • Beaver lake lookout
  • Olmstead Road downhill to Pine avenue's (i.e. from monument) view of downtown
  • The view from the Mont Royal Chalet lookout over downtown, the Monteregie hills and eastern townships, Vermont, and Covey Hill
  • The view north to the Outremont Summit, Oka mountain and the laurentians and Lac St-Louis
  • The summit, again.
  • The ride down through the canyon and Camelien Houde
  • McGill Campus
  • Upper Outremont and the Mile-End Stream where it crosses under Maplewood
  • Scenic ruelle Maplewood

Sunsets after work will soon disappear with the arrival of autumn's darkness. So go outside and get some sunset today.

100,000 wageni

100000 wageni (Swahili for visitors) to our ride-recording and opinionating little blog?

Woohoo! let's party!

And by party we mean of course it's time to go for a ride, and another and another until the snow stops us (but only temporarily).