Sunday, November 28, 2010

Several signs summer bike season is over

Today we present several signs that conclusively prove that Summer 2010 has ended.

Frozen icy roads are here

You must now take your bike rack off the car.

Some other signs...

Ski season has started.

Ads and articles about going south to bike appear.

indoor attractions become more attractive than outdoor attractions.

Strange things happen with plant reproduction

last week this plant had no sexual ambitions, but this week, shazam!

Migrations occur...

Birds migrate to the south

Bikes migrate to the indoors

Bootlaces migrate too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

christmas book suggestion: inspirational story dept.

We think that biking can offer a lot of adventure, but we know that for real death-defying adventure, it's hard to beat downhill skiing.

We apologize for talking skiing, and not cycling, but this post has the minimum required two of the three cycle, fun, and Montreal themes. And in winter, skiing is always a great fun. Sometimes, cold, great fun, but always great. Especially it turns out that you have survived and arrived at the bottom of the hill in a non-ambulance-requiring condition.

We really admire the skills of expert skiers, but todays ski gear is cruise control versus the conditions and equipment of the alpine skiers in the pre-1960s era. Back then downhill skiing meant assuming a LOT of risk, with associated potential permanent injury of many different body parts.

And that was just recreational skiers, racers had to look death in the eye, and not blink.

That's hard enough, but what if you were also a woman, and specifically a woman who wanted to race? The boys-club system of the era wasn't set up at all for encouraging the more-delicate gender to race. The women ski racers of the era were pioneers, driven by love of skiing and of personal challenge and to be the very best they can be. Why would officials get in the way of that? We are happy to report that things are somewhat better today, but not yet perfect.

We give a lot of credit to women sports pioneers who had to fight the system before they could put on heir skis to fight gravity, ice, wind, and snow. And to try beat all the other girls down the hill, too.

Ok, but what about the book?

It must be time to mention that we are talking about a book about twin sisters from Montreal, in the 1940s and 1950s, who loved to ski, and went out and raced against the world.

No Limits: The Amazing Life Story of Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele, Canada's Olympian Skiing Pioneers
The author is Byron Wempel.

No Limits tells the previously undisclosed tale of Canada’s most decorated alpine skiers of all time: Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele. Decades before extreme sports, identical twins Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele were unstoppable, inseparable trailblazers not only for skiers, but also for women and Canadian sports. Today, they’re carving new trails for seniors in sports.

This engrossing book not only details the twins’ accomplishments in downhill ski racing in the Laurentians then throughout North America but also the unique challenges they faced in the 1940s and 1950s. We learn that they were ski jumping at age 11 on Mount Royal, that during a -36 degree snowstorm Rhoda came first in the famed Taschereau race at Mont Tremblant, beating all other women and men by a full 24 seconds, and that in 1948 the twins made up the entire Canadian Olympic women's downhill ski team.

Here's some useful links:
The sisters at Wikipedia (Check out the amazing number of first place prizes these two won!)
The book at Google books (look inside)
No Limits at Twinski (the publisher)
Sans Limites (the version française) at Twinski
Sans Limites at Editions Histoire Quebec

We saw (but we didn't get to meet) one of the sisters at the QWF's (Quebec Literary Federation) annual awards gala on Tuesday night. (No, they don't give out awards for bloggers)

This book was shortlisted for the 2008 QWF's first-book award, and was up this year for the QWF translation award for Sans Limites, the book in french, and translated by Michelle Tisseyre.

Its also got 300 photos.

So, this is our christmas gift book suggestion in the inspirational life story department.

If this story doesn't inspire you, nothing will!

bicycle transformations, and a good map source

Earlier this year we converted Blue, our urban assault bike which began life as a 1st generation specialized rockhopper, into a bit more sociable creature with 1/2 spd-1/2 normal shoe pedals. We also found a way to put the bike lock on the bike, and not on a backpack. The situation is now excellent, although the seat is getting old and will be added to the old seat pile this winter.

We liked this half-n-half pedal thing so much that we just put the same pedals on the Bertrand road-race bike for its winter sojourn as an indoor-bike-trainer bike. Also, last year the trainer ate a rear tire, so we got a trainer-tire and we'll save the expensive road tire for outside. (note: trainer tires are $39.99 at ABC right now).

Tonight's weather forecast in Montreal: Freezing rain, snow, ice pellets. Definitely not bike weather and for us bike freaks it is hell, falling from the skies. Google translate translates this into time to ride the indoor bike trainer.

Make one of the following three choices:
  1. Get up from the computer and ride your bike (indoors or out)
  2. Eat some more
  3. Get some online maps and make plans for next year's rides in the Quebec countryside

If you want some EXCELLENT maps, go to Transport Quebec "Carte Routiere" web page for terrific road maps, in pdf format, and available for every region. They print up great too, we keep a collection in an envelope in our car. Highly recommended, and free, too.

There are some other useful tools and information at the Transport Quebec website, most of it also available in English too. One critical tool is the 511 page for road construction. There's lots of road construction and reconstruction in the summertime, the 511 page warns you about where it is so you can avoid it. (both on bike and when traveling to the bike ride location)

Look closely at these maps and plan your bike adventures for next year.

We have taken a highlighter and marked off every road we have ridden on. We have ridden every road between Tremblant and Trois Rivieres. This makes us very happy. And we can't wait until next year to do it all over again. But wait we must. And to kill time, we plan an adventure or two to some unknown part of Quebec, (SE Bois Franc?) and sometimes we find a bike paradise. And another, and another... Quebec is wonderful for bikes!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chateauguay Valley bridges

We took a little tour of the Chateauguay river on Saturday. Most trees were naked, the sky was surprisingly blue, and wind was sometimes in our favour, but mostly not.

Mélèze (Tamarack/larch) trees in Ste-Martine riverside park

Ormstown's steel arch bridge.

Is not Pont Barré - new signage and gabarit permits vehicles with maximum height of 2.3 m to cross the bridge (jan2011).

Pedestrians and bikes can still cross.

The first section of Pont Mercier bridge's new bike sidewalk is completed.

Is this part of a new bike path from the Pont Mercier to Chateauguay?

The bridge's old sidewalk meets the new sidewalk, a work in progress.

We saw a pedestrian crossing the bridge.

CFM winter training plan

Eat less, exercise more.

Yes, it's that simple.

What kind of exercise? Strength, flexibility, endurance, power, and brain exercises, of course.

That sounds complicated.

Then just do it.

Meanwhile back in reality, the bertrand has been sitting on the trainer for a month and still no training has occurred. Doh!

Friday, November 19, 2010

destination... salon du livres

Make a point this weekend to visit le salon du livres at Place Bonaventure.

Bikes go well with books, because when you aren't doing one, you can do the other. Add some food and sleep and life is complete.

Yes, you can bike there. Maybe not on your best bike, but on your urban bike fersure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't you hate it when...

Don't you hate it when the woman at the stoplight asks you about your bike light and then tells you that she bicycled every day last winter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

East end exploration ride - Tour de Tamarack

We rode notre dame bike path out to Ste-Catherine (yes they intersect), then through "HoMa" and around the Big O (olympic stadium, and we mean ALL around it), then over to the Jardins Botanique where we hoped to find some tamarack trees (member of the larch family - which is Melize in french -- or "mélèze" if you prefer), then over to Jean Talon to Clinique de la Casserole Delmar, and finally home via St-Zotique bike path.

Where are the pictures?

The memory card in our much-abused camera gave a "memory card error" after we took 100 excellent photos. Doh!

Tour de Tamarack

The tamarack tree is the only conifer in north America to have its needles turn yellow and fall off in the fall. They are amazing, and in full color right now. The Botanical Gardens has several outside the pay-to-get-in gardens: near the front entrance, and in Parc Maisonneuve near the Insectarium entrance. Visiting the Jardins Botanique is always an excellent experience and is Highly Recommended.

Evergreen trees don't change colour in autumn right? Wrong!
(This is not the Montreal Botanical Gardens)

Two facts about evergreen trees:

They are actually called coniferous trees, meaning their seeds are in cones.
Second, they sure are purdy.

East Hereford mountain biking reopens Nov 15

East Hereford mountain biking reopens Nov 15.

We're hoping for some dry, warm, weather!

Le réseau cyclable des Circuits Frontières est une porte qui s'ouvre sur le paysage fabuleux d'East Hereford, Saint- Venant-de-Paquette et St-Malo. Nos pistes permanentes sont ouvertes à partir du début de juin. Accès gratuit. Fermé en période de chasse. FERMÉ du 30 septembre (le matin) au 8 octobre (fin de la journée) et du 30 octobre (le matin) au 14 novembre (fin de la journée).
Lots of info at's Quebec mountain bike trails (répertoire des sentiers) website.

You can email for more info.

This is a remote rural area, you need to be a lot more prepared if something goes wrong than, say, at the highly developed Bromont.

MRC du Haut-St-Laurent to build regional bike path

Chateauguay Valley's abandoned railroad line to become bike path

We hope this means that the bike path along the old rail line that starts in Ste-Martine and stops at Rt 203 at rt 138 will continue to Ormstown and Huntingdon.

Bike Paths

Bicycle lovers, check your derailleur gears, grease your chains, shine up your steed!! The Haut-Saint-Laurent is setting up a bicycle path that will take you around the country.

The old railway line will be spruced up and its vocation recycled. Further information available soon...


The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent will soon be launching a major contest in the schools and among the population in order to find a name for the bicycle path. Details of the contest will be posted shortly on the MRC website and in the newspapers. Don’t miss this opportunity to leave your mark…

Monday, November 08, 2010

We visited Goose Village and didn't even know it!

Montreal had a big wave of urban renewal (which also means urban neighbourhood destruction) in the 1950s and 60s.

One neighbourhood that disappeared was Goose Village, located at the foot of the Victoria Bridge. Expo 67 needed the land for parking lots, er, we mean urban renewal and redevelopment.

We visited here on our last three weekend's lazy fall Sunday urban exploration rides, especially week 2's ride to the foot of the Victoria bridge.

And we didn't even know we were in Goose Village.

Wikepedia for goose village here.

Montreal Gazette archive search on 1960s removal of Goose Village from the map is here.

Today's discussion question: how does a knowledge of history enrich the bike ride experience?


Goose Village in the News!

The Centre d’histoire de Montréal is looking for old stuff about Goose Village. This museum is preparing an exhibition on Montreal's disappeared neighbourhoods. More info here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Montreal's Centre-Sud exploration part 3 - Nuns Island

Now this is a forest-friendly condo development.

3 explorations south of downtown.

Green: week 1 - Pointe St-Charles
Blue: week 2 - Bonaventure, Cité du Havre, and Ile Ste-Helene
Red: week 3 - Today's Nuns island ride.

Ducks-eye view of Montreal skyline from Nun's Island shoreline.

Marguerite-Bourgeoys in Verdun

Nun's Island is part of Verdun. We crossed Verdun to get to the island of sisters. The parc shown here is very close to Maison Saint-Gabriel, one of Montreal's finest historical treasures.

Mies's famous Nun's Island Esso station, now being converted into a mystery.

Mies's apartment tower, yes, the first floor is see-through.

Mies has buildings at three sites in Montreal. Can you name the third one? It's the easy one of the three.

Pont Champlain bridge. The Estacade bike path crosses the river on the other side of this bridge.

Over the past 3 Sundays we've ridden south of downtown, to reach some of Montreal's shoreline on the Saint Laurence river.

We visited Point-St-Charles, Goose Village, the Bonaventure and Cite du havre waterfront, Ile Saint Helene, and today we went further south and crossed over to the the island of Nun's Island / Ile des Soeurs.

We wanted to see the new bike path along the north end of the island, the two Mies van de Rohe buildings, and some impressive old growth forest trees that are in large courtyards between the buildings. These early nun's island condos were built with a intense sensitivity to nature. Well, that didn't last!

Books for holiday gifts (part two): Trees

Twin Elm trees in Dundee Quebec

We love riding though Quebec cities, towns, and the countryside. We learned that enjoying cycling means 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. Today's installment in our series Books for holiday gifts covers the beauty-of-nature side of things. Specifically trees, the glorious gift of nature that reach up into the sky. Most of us have difficulty to name any tree that doesn't have the leaf on our national flag. We had this problem, and how did we solve it? Books to the rescue!

Cyclotourism means many things, but one thing is that knowing the name of the trees around you will enrich the quality of your ride.

Best. Book. Ever.

This book is extremely complete and extremely recommended. It is also available in french.

Trees in Canada page on the Elm tree

We'll compare how each of the three books presents information, using the Elm tree as our guide.

Arbres et plantes forestieres du Quebec et des maritimes

This book is useful for its focus on the eastern part of Canada, and for other forest plants in addition to trees.

Arbres et plantes forestieres du Quebec et des maritimes' page on the Elm tree

Pocket-size Les Arbres du Quebec

This smaller guide has a focus on common Quebec trees.

Les Arbres du Quebec page on the Elm tree

That's one good looking Elm tree!

And a very useful blog about Quebec trees:

The Foretmontreal blog is a great resource, and is also a Montreal Gazette saturday edition weekly feature. If you want to learn more about the trees in our landscape, this blog is highly recommended.

Please click here to visit part 1 in our holiday book series: Quebec's covered bridges and waterfalls.

Coming soon in the holiday book series: Guides to cycling in Quebec.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lazy Rider

Yellow dots identify 19 scenic spots for lazy riders to stop at.

This weekend's lazy sunday urban autumn ride was a further exploration of the area of Montreal which is south of downtown. It tends towards post industrial wasteland, but then you get to the river and things get a lot better.

This week was an extra-lazy Lazy Rider ride because we skipped the ride up to Mont Royal summit warm-up phase of the ride.

The ride's mission was being implemented exquisitely until we found the outdoor exercise stations at Parc Drapeau on Ile-Ste-Helene. Doh!

Autumn is lazy time.

3 bridge tour of Montreal & fleuve Saint-Laurent river

We ride down to the water, go upstream, then float back downstream.

There are 17 scenic spots on this ride.

We always stop and look up at Montreal's greatest building.

The new OSM concert hall is progressing.

Descent and loop through the inner courtyard of UQAM

Surfer doing some moves on the standing wave behind Habitat 67

Complete Montreal view from Pont Jacques Cartier bridge

Pont Jacques Cartier was originally called the Montreal Harbour Bridge

The bridge's sidewalk is not original either. The present-day extra-wide sidewalk was installed at the time of the bridge's deck reconstruction in the 1990s.

This is one station at the new outdoor exercise park on Ile Sainte-Helene/ Parc Drapeau

Can we have some in parc Mont Royal please?

The south end of Ile Ste-Helene.

Parc cité du Havre

A pretty little parc with massively good view of Montreal

Bonsecours market and Mont Royal from parc cité du havre

Pont Jacques Cartier from parc Cité du Havre. They don't build them like that anymore.

Pont Victoria Bridge and surfer

Aerodynamic 20th century bridge

Excellent riverside park at Port de Montreal headquarters.

This was one of the major discoveries of today's ride.

For once the FSR isn't the only boat anchor

The Victoria bridge was rebuilt in MDCCCXCVII

This pier was originally out in the river.

Urban development has replaced the river here.

The Black Rock memorial to 6000 dead immigrants

To preserve from desecration the remains of 6000 immigrants who died of ship fever A.D.1847-8 this stone is erected by the workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts employed in the construction of the Victoria Bridge A.D.1859.