Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Who are anti-bike-path people?

We don't understand the anti-bike-path people.

How can allocating 0.01% of the road department budget to create a very small number of safe routes for bicycles be a bad thing?

Why are safe routes for bicycles a bad thing?

Why is offering a place where anybody and everybody can go for a safe bike ride a bad thing?

Why is riding a bike for exercise without the constant risk of being hit by a car a bad thing?

Why is creating tourism resources in outlying areas a bad thing?

Why is it a bad thing for bicycle riders to demand that some of their tax dollars be spent to provide a long-term investment in health and transportation and recreation.

Why is ok to build ten kilometres of autoroute but not ok to spend the same amount of money that built all the bike paths ever made here in Quebec?

When the number one reason people don't ride their bike is a fear of riding with cars on the road, why is it a bad thing to build a bike path?

Why do people who write angry letters to the editors about bike paths like to complain so much? They should go for a bike ride and relax a bit. Oh, sorry, there's no safe place to ride their bike, so riding on the road will give them even more stress and anger, but maybe now they will write another angry letter to the editor, but this time demanding a bike path for their own neighbourhood.

Statistical note: all statistics presented here have no basis in fact, but we're working on it.

Abandoned bikes everywhere!

There are hundreds of abandoned biked all over Montreal.

Last winter Montreal for the first time didn't remove the bikeparking and many bike owners left their bikes outside. All winter. In the snow rain ice and salty slush.

Spring arrived and it was revealed that these people's bikes did not survive. And now there are semi-destroyed bikes parked all over town.

Sad, abandoned bikes, all over town.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

some bike commuting improvements

We like to commute to work on bike.

Well, not in winter (salty slush and bikes don't mix), and usually not when it rains in the morning, but at all other times we do it.

But lately we are arriving home more stressed than we want to be.

We have an precisely optimized and direct route between the paradise on earth that is our workplace and our home.

And that's the problem. There are lots of cars on this very direct route. And that doesn't relax us, because some of these car drivers exhibit less than completely responsible car-driving behavour.

So modifications to the route will be made. Parks will be added to the route. (Yes, difficult but not impossible)

And we will try to relax about the crazee car drivers and other bike riders on the road.

Our goal is to arrive home in a peaceful and happy state. This being one of the Dalai Lama's specialties, we think it's time for a useful quote:
In our daily life, tolerance and patience have great benefits: developing them will allow us to sustain and maintain our presence of mind.

OK, so that is the other essential modification to our bike ride home from work.

And now, a short plea to the Montreal weather: please stop raining!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another reason to ride a bike in Montreal

World class styling, third world reliability.

This Ferrari 328 won't run and needs to be pushed!

We hope he brought his Bixi key to get home with.

Actually we would trade one or even all our bikes for this less than perfectly reliable pen1s substitute. Because it is red. And Italian. Just like our favorite bike.

Uh-oh, we do our favorite hill ride with some faster skinnier riders!

Newly rebuilt Chemin au Pied de la Montagne north of Rt 337

We brought a couple of buddies to our favorite hill-ride in St-Jean-de-Matha in northern Lanaudiere. Unfortunately they are skinner, faster, ride more, are better climbers and have lighter bikes than us. But the good thing is that our enthusiasm levels were equal. We love to ride our bikes.

These guys are Eastern Townships locals and had never been to Lanaudiere, which is not easy to get to from the townships at all. But they heard me talk about how much I like this region and specifically my favorite St-Jean-de-Matha hill ride circuit.

So we coordinated, met up at the Wallyworld at the Rive du Nord mall (exit 98 on Autoroute 40) and arrived in St-Jean-de-Matha, parking behind the city hall across the street from the church.

Here is what these guys liked about this ride:
  • Quiet roads
  • Good asphalt
  • lots of hills
  • Good scenery
  • More quiet roads
  • More good asphalt
  • more good hills

After 85 km we had enough and called it a day. There was the possibility of another 10-25 km of riding on this very flexible circuit, but the day had been perfect and we arrived back at St-Jean-de-Matha and didn't need to ride the last two route variations.

Here is the bikely map of the ride. 85 km, 1000+ metres climbing with three good climbs and a few short climbs.

red=ride circuit. Blue=two options for a longer ride.

Option 1: Descent to St-Jean-de-Matha entrance to Parc Regional des Chutes
Option 2: Rang St-Gillaume loop to finish ride (note: involves riding on busy Rt 131)

If you like riding bikes, and you like riding hills, and you like riding back roads, then this is a ride you will like.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mercier bridge closed to cars? Let's open it to bikes!!!!

Shocking news today that they have closed the older, southbound span of the Pont Mercier Bridge to car traffic.

But wait, maybe we can turn this to our advantage.

Since the bridge cannot support the weight of heavy car traffic, why not now open it to bicycles?

Bicycles are light, they weigh almost nothing. We are 100% certain that the Pont Mercier bridge is safe for bicycles.

It is time for the government to do the right thing to alleviate the traffic disaster that is the emergency closure of the Pont Mercier and open it to bicycles for the duration of the summer or until emergency repairs are completed. Let's try to get a little utility and value from this emergency.

Plan A was to restrict the bridge to cars only (trucks have been banned from this bridge for months). Now the gov't is at Plan B, which is to to close the bridge to cars. It's time for Plan "C" which is open the bridge to bikes for the summer.

Plan C is Plan Cycle, so let's take this opportunity to cycle this huge bridge across our magnificent fleuve St Laurent/Saint Laurence river.

We think this could become a major tourist attraction and one of the funnest happenings of 2011.

OK, gov't, let's hear the 10 reasons your engineers thought up to ixnay this great idea.

Let's make this happen!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Since 2000 we have been steadily and diligently exploring the road biking of Quebec. First we explored everything that was located a one hour away from Montreal. Then we explored everything two hours from Montreal. Now we are working on the three+ hours from Montreal list.

But our exploratory adventuring has been mainly road cycling. What about off-road cycling?

Two years ago we got our 4th iteration of the mountain bike genre (replacing a dead-for-ten-years bike), and began to explore Quebec's off-road possibilities. But in the two years since we have visited only one mountain bike destination. The good news is that this destination is East Hereford/Mont Hereford in the Eastern Townships (near Coaticook southeast of Sherbrooke), a destination that we fell completely in love with and visited a dozen times. But the problem was that we never explored anywhere else.

Until now.

We have some time for a little road trip, and our exploration goals direct us to the northeast. After extensive research through our vast library of Quebec regional tourism maps and guidebooks we decided to destinate the road trip to the Vallée-Bras-du-Nord/St-Raymond area in the Portneuf region (west of Quebec city on north side of St-Laurence river) and to (provincial) Parc national de la Jacques Cartier north of Quebec city. Both of these are supposed to have good-to-excellent mtn biking, hiking, and river canoeing. (canoeing is an excellently fun thing to do in summer, and both these places have rental opportunities). And both of these places have truly spectacular natural settings.

Quebec is big, and it takes a long to time to explore it all. This means years and years of fun exploring, and eventually we will ride all the very best cycling places in Quebec. And we will ride and ride and ride until we eventually die one day in the late 21st century of what we are sure will be an overdose of pure cycling-induced happiness.

We recommend this to all people: ride your bike and have fun and explore and have fun and ride some more, and explore some more and have fun riding and do it again tomorrow. Summer is short, play hard.

Update: Several Mountain bike trails were closed and/or wet, so we went for a hike on day 1. Bad idea, because we were left semi-crippled after the 9 hour hike and came home for some therapeutic recovery. The good news is that the Sentier des Falaises is a beauty of a hike, and is great cross training for the cyclist.

We will be back again soon (ok, maybe after mosquito season) to bike on and off road in this lovely region of Quebec.

The view from Sentier des Falaises, and of Chute Delaney (falls) which is quite a landmark!

Inside Refuge des Falaiases, a mere four hour hike from the car.

We didn't see any bears, but lots of moose tracks and this shark fossil.

You are required to contribute some coin for the trail development in this area, or your conscience will getcha!

What to do if you see a bear? Don't look it in the eyes and if it attacks: fight back. Oh boy!

Blainville-Lachute backroad and Laurentian foothills ride 95km

Blainville-Lachute is an excellent ride.

Bike path, then backroads around airport, then a dirt road to almost-Lachute, then a bit of highway, and then backroads back to the bike path and home.

You can get the map here at Bikely.

Colourful house and colour-coordinated bike rider

Our buddy sure knows how to dress real purdy.

Obligatory falling-down barn photo.

One of Chemin Riviere du Nord's many scenic attractions

Today's ride was south and west of world-class white-elephant Mirabel airport.

Chemin Riviere du Nord is NOT a paved road.

This bothers some riders, but not those who use their bicycle to seek out adventure.

Second moose sighting in the same weekend!

This was an honest-to-goodness chicken coop.

Buddy told us that we would cross the riviere du Nord on a wood bridge.

Buddy was half right.

Ste-Scolastique's 60's church.

The 60s was the last time the church tested the "new ideas" thing.

Everything now looks like summer. Woohoo!

A bit of complicated zig-zagging but the result is a great ride.

Time was tight today but next time we will ride INTO Lachute.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mont Hereford trails day and sunset ride

Went to East Hereford to la Journée Québécoise des Sentiers which is the Quebec version of National Trails Day. We filled in a few mud holes on Troll, had lunch and then did some major work on Chainon Manquant (english=Missing Link).

We finished at 4 pm, and then your correspondant went for a mountain bike ride to check out the new trail repairs. We know that 4 pm is a late start, even for us. We're happy to report that we got first tracks!


Small mud hole removed and rebuilt on Troll

The morning was spent rebuilding a few wet spots and mud holes on Troll.

This was our first journée Quebecoise des Sentiers and we learned a lot about the process. The basic idea is to remove the mud and then rebuild the trail to stabilize the trail and permit proper drainage of the wet section in the future. Here's a bit more detail.
  • Identify location for repair, survey site, bring the correct tools
  • remove mud from repair location
  • remove earth on downhill side of trail to permit drainage
  • Find a dirt supply in the forest, clean off the organic soil on top, and transport inorganic soil to repair site
  • Find big rocks to fill in and stabilize repair zone
  • fill in the rest with dirt, gravel and small rocks
  • Compress and stabilize the soil on the repair zone
  • create a smooth 10 degree slope on the finished trail to permit drainage and eliminate puddles
  • Add natural barriers at side of trail to return the trail to normal single-track width. (mud holes create wide spots in trail)
  • re-naturalize the site with loose leaves, transplanted vegetation, etc
The tools that we used include:
  • Shovels - short handle and long handle
  • McLeod - a triple purpose super-rake for trail building
  • Pulaski - combo pick & axe tool for rapidly clearing ground vegetation
  • Long steel pry-bars - for extracting and moving big rocks
  • 5 gallon plastic buckets - for transporting soil & rocks from forest to trail
  • Rock chisel & small sledge hammer
  • portable saw & secateur (pruning scissors) for removing low-hanging branches and vines
  • work gloves and steel-toe work boots
  • water and food, sunscreen and bug juice
  • a camera for that group photo when the job is done.
Chainon Manquant

2 tonnes of rocks + 1 tonne of dirt & gravel + 8 people = 20 feet of rebuilt trail

This was a BIG mud hole on Chainon Manquant, but not anymore. Now it's a happy place.

Many big rocks were moved and meticulously placed under this new section of trail.

The re-naturalization activity at the end of the rebuild process made the repair invisible. We spread lots of dead leaves around to cover the excavation and mud, planted a few ferns, and placed rocks to mark the trail edge. This rebuild was a lot of hard work and the result is a stable trail that will not be destroyed by erosion every time it rains.

We finished our ride around the usual time - sunset!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Transports Québec new "what roads are safe for bikes" online map

Safe roads, unsafe roads, or you can just choose the back roads.

Transport Quebec has unveiled its new online road maps with a "which roads are safe for bikes" functionality, which they call conviviality.

The map is here and to get the "conviviality" function, you have to select that option at the interactive menu on the right side of the map.

Choosing safe roads/avoiding unsafe roads when cycling is quite important and this is a great new tool. We always recommend checking out the map before your ride and this map feature gives you some darned useful information.

We have some quibbles with the algorithm, which seems to use traffic volume as a criteria but not if there is a paved shoulder. We've had many good rides using a busy highway with a paved shoulder, and a few bad rides with a highway with no paved shoulder. But this is a starting point. And in some good news, closed bridges are indicated. (although from our knowledge this doesn't seem completely up to date - hey Transport Quebec, this matters!)

These maps exist on top of the Google maps platform, and are also available as an App.

Other really useful Transports Quebec links:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

June 4 is Journée Québécoise des Sentiers / Quebec Trails Day

Mountain bike trails don't build themselves. They need human help. Humans just like you, volunteering to make the world a better place for people who love to ride their bicycles off the road.

Loads more info here at ADSVMQ.