Monday, July 03, 2006

amazing Saint Donat to Tremblant hill ride

Sometimes you have to wonder if the government roads department is competent. The roads are bad, they wear out fast, there are no paved shoulders, etc. Then one day you hear a rumour, there's a new road cut through the mountains, there are wide shoulders, the pavement is as smooth as a billiard table, and there are more cars than bikes... for 30 kilometres. What, was that a dream? Reality is never like that. Or... is it?

Well, it's not a dream, I rode such a road on Saturday. They have cut a new road from Tremblant (technically, Lac Superior) to St-Donat, skirting the southern edge of Mont Tremblant provincial park, and the pavement is indeed as smooth and flat as a pool table. The road surface is flat, but the road is as hilly as can be: 10 good climbs in 30 km (some major league), with wide shoulders. No traffic. dozens of bikes. few cars. no trucks. No condos. No cottages. No lumbering. No deps, no mini-malls. Nothing. Well, except for lots of views. Lots of hills. Then some more views. Some more hills. big climbs, big descents (I hit 77.5 km/h on the biggest descent). Oh, and there were lots of happy cyclists.


This road opened in 2004 and was written up in quebec's Velomag last year. My coworker told me about it when I said I did a great hill ride the weekend before in Lanaudiere. So on friday I went to the library and looked it up the magazine article, and then hit the road early on saturday. Would the hype match the reality? This is always the mystery, the risk, and the TEST.

This road passed the test with flying colors. It's not even on any map, not on e-maps, not on printed road maps, it's just a new side road that seems to be designed to make cyclists very very happy.

I was riding at a pretty relaxed speed on the outward leg. At the far end I went past the end of this amazing road onto the more traditional Quebec road (i.e. very crappy) up to the La Diable entrance to Parc Tremblant where I turned around and stopped at a deppaneur for a half litre of chocolate milk, my current mid-ride energy drink of choice.

Then I began the return leg of the trip. I was immediately passed by a much faster cyclist. After a while a group of three cyclists from vancouver kept catching up to me at the top of climbs but then they rested or took a look at the view or something while I made up time on the descents. They never actually passed me all the way for the next 25 km. But they definitely kept me on my toes on the climbs, it is motivating to have someone nipping on your heels!

The best thing?-- it's just a one hour drive from Montreal, and gas is ten cents a litre cheaper there.

So that's two excellent hill rides I have done in as many weeks.

Sunday I went for an easy ride just north of Montreal in the big BIG wind.

I hope everyone had a happy canada day. We're 139 years young.


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