Sunday, June 25, 2006

Take a Ferry to the South Shore

As montrealers we have lots of opportunity to ride along side the river or over the top with bridges. How about getting down to water level, and take a ferry!

There are at least two ferry boats services between Montreal and the south shore.

Montreal's Old Port (Vieux Port) to Longueuil
Hourly service from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm, approx, please check the link for the exact schedule.

Boarding location:
Departures from Longueuil take place at the Port de plaisance de Longueuil, close to the Parc Marie-Victorin. Access for pedestrians and bickers by the foot-bridge and Chemin de la Rive. Access for cars by the Parc Marie-Victorin (free parking). Departures from the piers of the Old Port of Montreal take place at the Jacques-Cartier Pier, in front of the Place Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port of Montreal.

Here is the link:
  • Navettes Maritimes du St-Laurent
  • 514-281-8000

    Lachine to Chateauguay
    Days of operation: Summer weekends and holidays.
    Time: 9:00 to 18:00
    Leaves Lachine at 9:00 ,11:00 ,13:00 ,15:00 ,17:00
    Leaves Chateauguay: 10:00 , 12:00 , 14:00 , 16:00 , 18:00
    Location: Lachine: entrance to Lachine marina, a few metres from Lachine Canal bike path
    Location: Chateauguay: Somewhere along chateauguay river (not quite sure where)
    Cost $6.00 adults

    Ride opportunities:
    West: Cross St Laurence either of two places in Valleyfield, return by Vaudreuil & Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and lakeshore (long ride, great weekend day ride).
    East don't take pont mercier (very scary/dangerous), instead make a long ride and cross back to Montreal Island at Saint Catherine & seaway bike path & estacade, or via Parc Drapeau (saint Lambert Locks) or the "bridge with a view" pont Jacques Cartier
    South: Riding the Ghateauguay valley. Ride upriver to old wooden covered bridge at Powerscourt, near the US border. (from here return east to Rockburn and go north to Dewittville where you rejoin the chateauguay river.) This is very scenic once you are past Mercier. This is a very beautiful area of Quebec. Tip: Take the north side of river to Ormstown, south side to Huntingdon. Shorter option is to go turn at dewittville to Rockburn to T intersection where you join this is road from powerscourt (or return this way)

    a typically great 50 km local ride

    One great thing about Montreal is that you can link together some bike paths into a great medium distance ride.

    A lazy sunny summer saturday afternoon saw me:

    - ride up Parc Mont Royal's tranquil tree-covered and car-free Olmstead road to Beaver Lake, where I stretched and enjoyed the acres of shiny summer flesh on display, then walked around the lake and rode along the newly-restored Beaver Lake Pavillion's 2nd floor outdoor balcony-terrace.

    - ride down Westmount's steepest hill (Clark street - 63 km/h between stop signs! - much safer uphill ride - take Mount Pleasant for a relaxed good downhill - take cote de neige for an adreline-filled top speed descent), eventueally reaching the down to the lachine Canal, where idiots on racing bikes play "chicken" with leisure cyclists.

    - Lachine Canal out to the western end (intersection before Parc Levesque)

    - go down river with tailwind via the Saint Laurence river path (Les Berges) past the Lachine Rapids along one of the great riverside parks of Montreal

    - Cross the Saint Laurence river via Nuns Island and the Estacade (crossing Nun's Island's new "traffic circles" where the cars stop for bikes: amazing!)

    - Ride along the Saint Laurence Seaway to Ecluses Saint Lambert Locks

    - On to dry land and along Longueuil park land to Jacques Cartier Bridge (turn off of Tiffen for shortcut)

    - Across Pont Jacques Cartier with amazingly great views of Montreal

    - Through Parc Lafontaine, do it right and pass the giant trees section, and along the "lac Lafontaine" and through the Plateau Mont Royal to home.

    Total distance 50 km, total fun 100%!!!!

    This is a fantastic ride and it just took a bit of knowledge to link to gether these different bike paths.

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Worst ride ever

    Ok, not ever, just this millenium.

    I wanted to do the ride in the circuit routiere Monteregie guide (fold out map guide to road circuits in the monteregie) and the one for "circuit des patriots" along the richelieu river north of chambly directed me to stop in Saint Julie. This was ok, then I had to take a road 50 feet from the autoroute for 5 miles. A busy unscenic road. A road in bad shape.

    Psst Psst Psst. Flat tire. I patched it. I rode on. Soon it was flat again. I put on a permanent patch but it wasn't holding air so I changed the tube, and discovered I was carrying a 26x1.25 tube not a 700x21 tube. Ouch, but I got it changed and rode back to the car since I had no flat fixing back up having used my spare tube and only permanent patch.

    The next day I changed my drivetrain (derailleur/freewheel/chain and decided to see about tightening my rear axle because it seemed suddenly loose. Loose it wasn't. Broken it was!
    Lucky I had a spare rear wheel and I rebuilt the bike with that wheel.

    So it was a bad karma ride.

    I figure Saint Julie was only on the map cuz some politico said we put money in the map, put us on a bike route. Saint julie was like the apple stem on an apple, you had to take this little extension to the route cuz you are told to park in saint julie. They need a better road to connect to the actual circuit if they hope to be in next year's map, and I can going to complain until it happens!

    Lanaudiere Hill Ride

    I had the skinny on this ride last year. But it was late in the season and I waited until I had my light climbing bike back on the road again. This I accomplished yesterday with a drivetrain overhaul turning my road bike from a fast flatland ride to a super climber.
    I took the 40 est (with a crack-of-noon start) to the exit for route 131 north, past Joliette and stoppped at Saint Jean de Matha. Home of Louis Cyr.
    The ride started with a big climb within the first kilometre! Aieee! But I was feeling good and the bike was rocking. After getting lost because I missed the "rang 6" turn to Saint Gabriel de Brandon I fixed things and was soon off this quiet road and headed north on a busier road to Saint Emile de L'Energie. Eventually this meant turning off the busy road on to a a dirt road. A dirt road with a 12 percent climb/descent. On loose-ish road. I survived but it was a bit nasty, but soon I was back on pavement. It was the only dirt of the day.
    Saint Emile de L'Energie has a mofo big hill leading out of town. I took it, halfway up the wall relents and I took a break to photograph it, when I looked at my directions and discovered that I was supposed to turn off this hill right at the start of the hill, Aieee! Down I went, and got on the right road.
    This was maple leaf (feuille de erable) road, and it was quiet and long and twisty and steep. At the top was a sign showing the descent on the other side was 15%. I thought that was pretty good until I turned around to look at the climb I had just finished and saw the sign saying it was a 16% grade!
    Then it was a really great long descent back to Saint Jean de Matha. A great descent! I stopped at a dep called "Lau-Den" for some water and chocomilk, and was back in Saint Jean de Matha in about 5 km.
    In the village I had parked at the church, and there was now a childrens music festival going on at the church, then I walked around back and there was an entirely 'nother festival space all set up with food and beer for sale. Plus in the manse for the church was converted to a resto and BAR! Talk about your good post-ride services.

    Conclusion, bike climbs great, I climb great, the ride had tons of great climbs (read: it was a hill fest)

    Highly recommended.

    The source of the ride information is the Velo Quebec publication "Les petites escapades." it includes a map, a step by step ride guide, and impressive altitude graph of the climb, it's got a zillion climbs!

    regendered my racing bike into a climber

    My road racing bike was suffering from poor climbinh cuz of a a 22 cog freewheel, I changed that to a 28, added a wide range ultegra rear defailleur and finished off with a new chain. Since I wanted a clean bike I got a bottle of dry lube to keep things slippery. I then cleaned up the chainrings and put everything together. Now it rocks on the uphill! WIth the old setup I couldn't even use the 22 low gear cuz my derailleur was pranged and hit spokes on that gear. So I was climbing in 39/19!
    So I paid my money at ABC cycle and went home and did the overhaul, soon it was complete and I was ready for a test ride.
    I decided to test it with a ride up cam houde, Peel, and the Mount Royal Cemetary Mont Murry switchbacks (steepest hill in Montreal). Result: Total climbing success! Woohoo!
    Next up: a crack-of-noon day trip to a hilly ride in the Lanaudiere, starting at Saint Jean de Matha. Birthplace of Circus Strongman, Louis Cyr.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Corridor Aerobic

    I visited the Laurentian's Corridor Aerobic bike path this weekend, after knowing about it since the 80s!

    This bike path is a 56.4 km rails-to-trail bike path that goes between Morin Heights and St-Remi-d'Amherst. The section I rode (including the Beavan Lake road option) was estimated as 50km. (as loosely meaured using google earth).

    I parked and started on the west side of Weir (km33), and headed from here to Arundel (worst section of the day, flat, sunny, hot, sandy, and beside the highway), I stopped for a map in Arundel and found a great one at the general store.

    Just after Arundel the trail got much better--it left the road behind and entered the forest. I took the allez-retour 2 km side path to Huberdeau where I saw a zillion playboat kayakers, then the path followed along the Rouge river, crossing it via an ancient train bridge, then through the very scenic Gray Valley and I went as far as Rockway Valley road where the wooded double-track path had turned to road and I decided to turn around. It had been a bit of a grind getting here, with uphill (gentle, but uphill!) . Going back was faster, woohoo! Scenic views are great along here.

    Riding back I took a break in Arundel to drink a chocolate milk for energy and repose a while in the searing summer heat. I found and checked out the old train station which is scenic and has a unusual steam engine made from an oil barrel, an oil tank, and milk cans, horseshoes and a variety of other iron things that are acting like a steam engine when ensembled together.

    I had got an excellent map in the Arundel general store, "carte regionale Huberdeau Arundel regional map" which showed the region and the western half of the Corridor Aerobique. It also showed some suggested road bike ride routes that allowed me to skip the hideous section between Weir and Arundel by riding around Lac Beavan Lake. There was a big hill, but otherwise it far superior to the Weir to Arundel no-trees-and-loose-sand-right-beside-the-364-highway section.

    When I arrived back at Weir it was too early to quit and I stil had some energy left in my legs, so I explored the trail to the east as far as km 26. The Corridor Aerobic trail is closed between Km 24 and km 25 due to a landowner-trail conflict situation. Let's hope this reaches the conflict resolution stage soon because this was a very nice section with a 5% 3 km climb, meaning sooner or later the downhill side will be enjoyed. I found this section very scenic and enjoyable.

    Along here you can see the impressive overhanging cliff of Weir and the really BIG satellite dish built by Canadair back in the slow days of the 1970s after the big-defence-contracts era and before the current biz/regional jets era when they had to find other precision engineering work to keep busy.

    Conclusion: Why did I wait so long to ride here? I should have come here years ago. It was scenic and mellow riding in forest with lots of trees, river, swimming holes, beavers, scenic vistas, towns, hilly-road bypasses, and in general a nice relaxed ride. All it needs are some steep and hilly mountain-bike side trails to make it perfect.

    Note: I rode this on my wide-tired mountain bike, and it was the right bike choice, I would not not recommend this bike path for roady bikes.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Visited Ottawa

    Check out my Google Video - See my links over there--->>>

    Well, I still bike to work, but that's a little short of where my late spring cycling goals should be!

    I visited Ottawa and rode the Park Gatineau up to to Pink Lake, which is mtn bike for the last part, where I puked my greasy non-cyclist-type breakfast. I wanted to go all the way to Belvidere Champlain, but it was a bit far and I would have been cutting it close to my time deadlines.

    Pink Lake used to be three times as good, but the trails is more or less extremely very rolling and it used to be both more rolling and longer section of rolling, but some trail maintenance types smoothed it out. It was literally as if hundreds of dump trucks had dumped a few cubic metres, then gone ten feet further and done it again, and did it for a mile. After a bit of weathering, this becomes some sweet singletrack with great rolling bumps characteristics.

    Ottawa area bike paths remain some of the best anywhere. A huge network, lots of bike-only trails, some integration of bike lanes INTO the traffic circulation (i.e. not just added at the outside and good luck crossing big intersections) . A truely fantastic town for cycling both in and out of the city, with Parc Gatineau on the urban doorstep; and hundreds of miles of quiet countryside ooutside the city/burbs line.

    Went to National Gallery (i.e. national art museum) and the new Canadian War Museum. 2nd was amazing, first had moments of dazzle.

    War museum had a great special show of the world in 1700s, when various imperial empires clashed, and won and lost things. Like France lost Canada, the U.S. won the U.S. from England, and so on. This was displayed on both the global scale and down to the specific wars that shaped the shape of US/Canada today. Very interesting. Fantastic in parts. Highly recommended, The Regular exhibit at war museum was goreat, a big improvement over previous cramped location. It amply demonstrated that we got better and better and better at killing each other. But it showed hope too, with peace-keeping efforts - our nation has tried to get people to just try and get along. Sometimes, it works!

    Saw Emily Carr exhibit at National Gallery. Some modern including what seems like floor droppings from Jackson Pollack and a for a time warp, a bit of baroque. Found a few water fountains around the inside and in inner courtyard for rehydrating from bike adventure.

    Both museums were very affordable, 5 for one and 4 for the other I think. There are lots (LOTS) of museums in Ottawa. A great holiday town for hardcore cyclist who want touristy stuff after the ride.

    Ride Safe!