Saturday, June 09, 2007

USA-Canada Cross-Border Monteregie-to-Adirondack Century Ride

There may be seasonal service.
If it is closed you must use the Covey Hill (located at Havelock) or the Herdman border crossings.

We strongly recommend that you call the numbers below to verify if Franklin crossing is open:

Calls within Canada


  • Service in English:
    1 800 461-9999
  • Service in French:
    1 800 959-2036

TTY within Canada
For those with hearing or speech impairments

  • 1 866 335-3237

Calls outside of Canada
Long distance charges apply

  • Service in English:
    • 204-983-3500
    • 506-636-5064
  • Service in French:
    • 204-983-3700
    • 506-636-5067


We ride from Ormstown to (and around) Lyon Mountain in New York State in the United States.

This is the first view of Lyon Mountain as we ride south. You can see this mountain from Mont Royal.

Lyon Mountain in the distance, south of Ellenburg Center, This is our first full view of the mountain we will ride around.

2007's first century ride

I did my planned cross-border Century ride today. From Ormstown (Quebec, Canada) south to (and around) Lyon Mountain (New York USA, in the northern Adirondacks).

Here's the route map:

Easy directions: Ride south, ride around mountain, ride north

Bikely map of the route is here.

This ride wasn't just distance: there is over 3000 feet of climbing.

The basic route of the ride is: leg 1: to ride south to the USA and to the town of Lyon Mountainin the Adirondacks. leg 2: ride counterclockwise completely around the mountain of Lyon Mountain, back to the village of Lyon Mountain. leg 3: Return north to Canada on the same route as leg 1.

At 11:30 am I got on the bike and headed south to Franklin and the border. The road steadily rises and I feel the effects of a week spent on the flats. It climbs further after franklin Centre to the actual border with the United States. The American customs station is named Churubusco, the Canadian one is Franklin.

Once you pass through US Customs, this is what you see: perfect pavement with well-marked paved-shoulders. Perfect for bicycle riding. Cycling heaven. Paradise for two-wheels. You get the picture, if not, here's a picture:

America: new roads, paved shoulders

The ride south through the Adirondack foothills is very beautiful: farms and forest, peaceful quiet roads (a couple of miles on Rt 11 was the extent of busy road). This leg steadily gains altitude to Lyon Mountain village. You'll earn this section, but it's gradual.

I stopped in Ellenburg Center for a snack of banana and chocomilk. There were no outside garbage cans. That's not my bike on the left side!

Today would be a day where "riding on empty" would result in me being eaten by bears, so I fueled up to keep energy levels high. Happily there were no bears.

South from Ellenburg is mixed farmland, then it becomes forested as you pass over a ridge to arrive in Lyon Mountain. Exceptional stage.

We arrive in Lyon Mountain village and turn right by taking the right fork at the Mobil station (direction Stahdish/Clayburg), and this road will keep uphill for a couple of miles to the high-point of this first half of the ride.

Lyon Mountain was a very large iron ore mine in the US before WW2. I noticed the train station being turned into a museum--this is good news.

You can see the giant ore-tailings pile behind the town. It's kinda wierd!

Yard sale, with view.

Just after Lyon Mountain (direction Standish) there is a roadside spring. It's a good place to stop for a brief rest and to refill the on-bike water supplies. The elevation-high-point of the first leg of the ride is just ahead. It wouldn't be unfair to say that you could turn around here and ride home and it would be a heck of a good day ride.

Untested water and well-tested bicycle

Alas, there was no turning back for me. I continued south on the descent past Standish and down to Route 3. This is the first time I ride south on this road, previously I had ridden it north to complete rides that had travelled south from Malone (using rt 99 at duane to rt 3, a wicked road). Standish always had Hitchcockian/Lynchian feel to it, but this sunny day it felt more normal. The road turns left, southward, in Standish. I again wondered if the little backroad to the right was now paved--it's a super-backcountry road, and it entices me... later!

I descended this very quiet road until I hit Route 3. Bingo - this point is the south-direction end point. Actually I would have been happy to stop here for the day. But in fact I was ready (as in, I had no choice) to begin the epic ride back to Canada.

Rt 3 road was busy but had 6-ft wide shoulders. Unfortunately, the quality of the asphalt on these paved shoulders had cracked and decayed, it's wasn't great quality. But it takes me to the road on east side of the montain that I will use to ride back. Chazy Lake Road, it is the other hill of the ride. I have not ridden it before but I know it's formidable!

Villages passed by, there are plenty of convenience stores and restaurants along here if you wanted a lunch stop to break up the two halves of the ride. This is probably a good idea, but I just kept riding. I would stop for snacks in Lyon Mountain village.

Next: 14 miles and 1200 feet climbing: Fun!

At Picketts corner I spotted the little sign for Chazy Lake Road. It passed a wonderful old house and then climbs, climbs some more, and then keeps climbing.

Did I mention that Chazy lake road climbs? This is the looking back after the first mile uphill, Stopping and looking around is a great way to waste time, I mean recover, on a climb. There's lots more hill to come.

Looking south across the Saranac River valley.

Here's looking back at the very top of the final climb of the day, I've reached Chazy Lake, and I am climbing the final, (really steep!) hill before the village of Lyon Mountain.

View of Chazy Lake after 1200 feet vertical gain in 12 miles.

This is at the very top of the climb, in a few hundred feet the ride will start dowhill--all the way home.

The Chazy Lake Road climb starts out at around 800 ft elevation at Picketts corner, and climbs to about 2000 feet elevation just outside Lyon Mountain on the Rt 374--This highest point of the return leg, which I fortunately knew from the week before, was a low point in energy. The one-word expression of sagging energy and morale, "Wouf," pretty much sums it up.

In fact the picture below shows what I was actually seeing as I crested the top of the climb.


Was I glad to get to the top of this hill? What was I thinking? Thinking? I wasn' thinking, I had no spare oxygen for thinking, seeing, just holding on to the handlebars and push the pedals around and around... Around and around... It'll be over soon, seconds from now, around, and an around.

I finally reach the top. This is the hardest moment of the day.

It's all downhill from here.

The descent starts and just a few minutes later I arrive and stop in Lyon Mountain village for a premium unleaded chocomilk and some solid food. This was needed!

I went over to the church pond for the the best view of Lyon Mountain on the ride. The rest stop was minimal, I didn't want to let the muscles cool down too much. The view has geese. The road in from Chazy lake (Rt 374) passes from left to right in the forest behind the pond.

Lyon Mountain, with geese

It was now time to head back to Canada and La Belle Province. One good thing about this leg, and it was a very good thing, is that now it was time to boost the average speed of the ride.

Lyon Mountain to Ormstown is downhill. Translation: average speed increases as time passes - thanks to the invisible force of gravity. I got the average speed up to 24.2 by the end of the ride. It was 22.6 leaving Lyon Mountain. With 50 km between here and home, seeing avg speed increase is a good morale booster to see avg speed increase.

By now I had just one objective: Pizza. The ride north was uneventful except for the entertainment of cows, I always talk to the cows, it's an artifact of being raised in the country. Unlike modern industrial food production (i.e. "feedlots") where most of our beef comes from, here were cows in their natural settings. By this I mean forests. Cows in Forests... this is where they were living before domestication.

But I digress. I had to pass the time somehow until I reached my next stop: the Canada Customs at Franklin.

Crossing the border is like stepping into another country. Hey, wait a minute, I am stepping into another country!

One thing that wakes me up now is the quality of the road surface. In the US it is perfect, in Quebec it's... how do we say... "special."

Back in Canada the road here descends into Franklin and it is here where my average speed makes it's leap upwards. There is also a great view of the Monteregie and in the distance, Rigaud, Oka mountain, and Montreal with Mount Royal and the downtown skyscrapers clearly visible. I think we call this "incontournable" in French. I'd call it "million dollar."

Passing through Franklin Centre I zig-zag and take Sharpe road north (Mtee Sharp). I like this road a lot. It is often my last-leg-zip-home road. It descends fun rollers out of Franklin (fun because you hammered out of the village and you carry the speed as you ride long slightly downhill). The road goes past orchards and maple forests into farm land and forest. I love it.

This section keeps the morale up, until I get within 2 miles of Ormstown and have to conclude the day on the busy and no-paved-shoulder Rt 201. Luckily it is only a couple of Kilometres until I take the corner at tullochgorum to finish the last section on Jamestown road, a few hundred feet east of the 201. (Jamestown was originally everything on the south side of the river. The northside was Ormstown.)

As I pass the start of Ormstown at Tullochgorum road I see the odometer show 160 km, the long-awaited 100 mile point of the ride. My first century of the year.

I get home and quickly get out of the cycling clothed into a pair of shorts and collapse (is this the right word? Oh yeah) on the porch.

The ride is over.

Reflecting on the day, there's a few points that should be mentioned or mentioned again.

First, this was a really great ride. The roads are scenic, there is generally good or great quality road surface, and landmarks and route directions are straightforward.

Next, last week's explorations in the area proved useful: I made no wrong turns today, and the route I selected for today was on-the-nose century distance. Ok, that second point was pure luck!

The new road of the ride, the Chazy Lake Road, had some sustained climbing. Wouf.

Stats are
7hr 30min total time
6hr 38min riding time
160.96 km distance (That's 100 american miles)
24.2 km/hr average speed (15.1 mph and better than last week!)
66.8 max speed (I'm waiting for new back wheel before I hammer the descents)
3000+ ft of climbing(1800 ft south direction, 1200 north direction)

Scenery was great: clear skies (partly cloudy) and great views all day. Last week had been foggy and hazy, so the excellent views of today came as a real bonus. I wore my vest that I zipped up on descents.

There were several places to get food on the ride. I did the ride on 2 gatorades, 1.3 camelbak water, 2 packs reeses peanut butter cup, 2 Fairmount power bagels, 2 US chocomilk. Chowed in Ellenburg going south, Lyon Mtn returning north.

I totally forgot to look for the parking for the Lyon Mountain hike. Whoops. I was in a 1200-ft of climbing-induced hypnotic fog on this section.

The distance between Ormstown and the point furthest south is 37 miles "as the crow flies." That's 60 km.

This was an excellent ride. Highly recommended. Do it. Or, if you want, just do a smaller part of it. It's like a pizza, you don't have to eat the whole thing, taking just one slice is good. Mmmm Pizza...

Map with optional routes

Here is the route map with other options indicated. Blue dots, the 100 miles Ormstown-Lyon Mountain ride. I also mark some optional route choices. For a shorter ride, you can interconnect any of the routes I have marked: be creative, explore, and have fun!

Map legend:
Blue: the century ride
red: alternative route back to Canada
left-side Green: more scenic route back in Canada
right side Green: alternative route through adirodack foothills
Purple: optional "exchange Dannemora for Chazy Lake Road section"

Click HERE for the route map on Bikely.

External links:
Here is the Lyon Mountain loop ride part o fthe century, as a 38 mile stand-alone ride, courtesy Lake Champlain Valley Bikeways organization. The ride is called "the climber" and it does the ride reverse direction from how I did it. Link to the ride map (pdf).

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At 10:55 AM, Blogger Cycle Fun Montreal said...

NEWS: the Franklin border crossing is now closed.


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