Wednesday, October 31, 2007

de Maisonneuve bike path - open!

Bike path construction in progress-early october

The de Maisonneuve bike path going east-west through downtown is now open!

This is the very first trans-downtown bike path.

Now all we need is a connection to the Clark and St-Urbain north-south bike paths.

Ride safe everyone!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Favorite northern Lanaudiere bike ride - Now on Bikely

We have created a Bikely map (link) of our favorite northern Lanaudiere bike ride. We also have a Google map (link), which has printed directions. But Bikely has a wonderful feature: it gives the ride's elevation profile (OMG!).

100 km of riding, 1000 metres of climbing, 1000 metres descending!

If you like quiet roads, good pavement, nice little villages, trees, forest, farms, hills, valleys, and good up and downhill riding, you should plan a visit here. Northern Lanaudiere is a really great area for cycling, and, doncha know, it's a world class destination for everyone who knows why bikes have gears. (hint: for climbing hills!)

This ride starts at the Louis Cyr Museum and tourist info office in St-Jean de Matha (across the street from the church). Then we pass through St-Emilie de l'Energie, Ste-Beatrix and near Ste-Mélanie. The road is mostly quiet back roads, and the highway parts of the ride have excellent paved shoulders.

If you are not familiar with Lanaudiere, the key to understanding it's location is that northern Lanaudiere is basically the eastern extension of the Laurentian hills. The Lanaudiere tourist region is located directly east from the laurentian tourist region that we are all familiar with. Look at the laurentians on a map. Look to the right, and it's Lanaudiere.

To get to the starting point, drive east on the 40, turn north and pass by Joliette. Soon you leave the plains of the St-Laurence river valley and enter the the mountains, and a bit further you stop and park the car in St-Jean de Matha.

Then you ride 90-100 km, you will arrive back at the car, and you will be happy. Happy happy happy.

I originally came here based on rides I found in the Quebec cycling guidebook "les Petites Escapades." There was one ride in the Ste-Melanie area and another in the St-Jean-de-Matha /Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie area. I combined and modified these rides (removing the St-Gabriel de Brandon and St-Damien sector) to create this circuit.

So if you have blood type V-Velo, then I invite you to try this ride. If you like it, here are some Bikely links for some other Lanaudiere rides. (link)

Here is the elevation chart:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Ville de Montreal bicycle plan?

Rumour has it that the city of Montreal is going to present a new or updated bicycle plan.

Does this mean:
  • a plan for safer cycling?
  • more shared car&bike lanes?
  • better bicycle path network?
  • licence or registration for cyclists?
  • extended bike path north along train tracks to the river?
  • better bike parking at businesses?
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mountain biking on Mont Royal

Mountain biking on Mont Royal is illegal.

Changes are coming, after 15 years of sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the off-road cycling community.



Montreal, October 22, 2007 — Mr. Peter A. Howlett, C.M., President of Les Amis de la montagne, launched an important intervention project to manage mountain biking on Mount Royal at Smith House today, in the presence of financial partners, Mr. Peter Robinson, President of Mountain Equipment Co-op and Mr. Raymond Bachand, Member for Outremont, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Montréal region, on behalf of Ms. Nathalie Normandeau, Vice-Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Regions.

Due to its geographic location and its topographic characteristics unique in Montreal, Mount Royal is the location of choice for the sport of mountain biking. Unfortunately, in the absence of adequate management, the practice of this sport on the mountain has significantly damaged the forest undergrowth, putting the very health of Mount Royal’s forest in danger. Moreover, this activity has the great disadvantage of frequently creating conflicts between cyclists and other mountain users, especially walkers.

“We believe that a sustainable solution to the problem of mountain biking on Mount Royal requires finding sites specific to the practice of this sport,” said Mr. Peter A. Howlett. “Fifteen years of experience on this issue has demonstrated that mountain biking is not just a passing interest. The sport is well established and on the rise on the mountain, and we cannot ignore this growing trend any longer. The success of this intervention requires alternative solutions to the actual practice of the sport in the forest of Mount Royal.”

The project will be carried out in the following stages:

1. Analyse the areas of the mountain where the sport is practiced and develop a profile of the clientele on the mountain;

2. Identify and implement specific solutions to the practice of mountain biking;

3. Lead a vast awareness-raising campaign aimed at cyclists and the general public; and

4. Restore the damaged sites on Mount Royal.

This project will be developed and implemented in collaboration with a working group comprising numerous representatives from the community, namely the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, Mount Royal Cemetery, Université de Montréal, Ville de Montréal, cycling associations and citizens.

“The problems related to mountain biking are not unique to Mount Royal. They exist in other parks and natural spaces on mountainous terrain,” concluded Mr. Howlett. “Evidently, the pressure exerted on Mount Royal is more intense due to the density of the population residing in close proximity. If we succeed in finding viable solutions for Mount Royal, the model created will surely be applicable for other sites.”


Friday, October 19, 2007

Bike Hacks

Wired Mag's website has an excellent exhibition of extremely wild and wacky "hacked" bicycles. (link)

Here's my favorite:

Golden Gate Bridge

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2007's top three rides

A website I like for it's quebec cycling forums is and a recent post asked what are your top 3 2007 rides. I can't do top 3, it has to be top 5! Here's mine:

Northern Lanaudiere ride (the best and final version) (link)
Charlevoix, following the route of 2007 Tour de Charlevoix (link)
Jay Peak 5-hill ride from Sutton (link)
Ormstown QC to Lyon Mountain NY (USA) century ride (link)
Sutton-Owls Head-Bolton Pass -Eastern Townships ride (link)

Autumn bike commuting

In the winter's-coming department, my coworker innocently asked me...

>>Came in one piece this morning on the bike ?

Actually, I came in many pieces:

  • 1 pair cycling shoes
  • 1 pair neoprene booties (mmm toasty feet!)
  • 1 pair socks
  • 1 cycling shorts
  • 1 commando pants (mmm toast knees)
  • 1 synthetic long-sleeve zip-T jersey
  • 1 floro-green cycling jacket (it just got it's annual wash!)
  • 1 pair full finger cycling gloves
  • 1 pair over gloves (mmm toasty fingers)
  • 1 velcro neck gaitor
  • 1 tuque
  • 1 helmet
  • 1 clear safety glasses (they make good cycling glasses for darkness)
  • 1 flashing front lite
  • 1 flashing rear light
  • 1 bike
  • 1 backpack
  • 1 lock
  • 1 badge
  • 1 set keys
  • 1 set assorted bike parts and tools
  • 1 set work clothes
  • Assorted lunch
  • 1 la Presse newspaper
  • 1 list of after-work to-do item
  • $1.55 for bran muffin - my reward for surviving the dark-season!

Every ride is an opportunity to reassess the clothing, and today I think I learned that +5 means two inner core layers, not one, although once the warmup phase is completed, I am not chilly. translation: additional fleece vest tomorrow.

It took a lot of years to figure all this out, and at the same time not end up looking look like the michelin man.

Mont Megantic Summit Road

The summit, 5 km from the park entrance.

There is a road going to the summit of Mont Megantic in the Eastern Townships.

There are 500 metres of climbing in 5 kilometres.

The cost is the $3.50 park admission.

The result is you and your bike at 1100 metres altitude.

Every climber should have this ride under their belt.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Northern "Eastern Townships"

Geese leaving for the south, at Danville's Migratory Bird Festival

Most of us know the Eastern Townships as the Bromont-Sherbrooke corridor, but there is a big chunk of townships north of here. The area is a bit of a grey zone. What's there? No one really knows. This area is called the Val-St-Francois, and it's today's destination.

Instead of heading down the ET autoroute, we went east on the 20, and headed south at Drummondville on the 55, the autoroute Joseph-Armand Bombardier.

A brief intro to the area: it's north of Sherbrooke and Mt Orford. It was settled by the English, the Irish, and the Scots. The place names are remarkably anglo, but the language today is french. One thing remains: it's hilly, scenic and beautiful, with some good roads and even a major rail-to-trail bike path between Richmond, through Danville, to Victoriaville. This is part of the Route Verte network from Sherbrooke to Quebec City. Velo paradise

Our starting point was the Moulin de Laine d'Ulverton. It is at the start of the 400+ km long tourism driving circuit called Le Chemin de Cantons.

The Covered bridge and waterfall at the moulin de laine d'Ulverton

This woolen mill was built in the 1850s, and was restored in the 1980s. It was fully restored in 1982 and looks great today. It was full of wool-processing equipment of various functions, sizes and ages. This equipment was the heart of the industrial revolution. One spinning machine replaced 150 spinning wheels.

This mill contains equipment that actually operates.

A freshly-sheared lamb, note the special sheep-shearing shoes

The day we visited was the Festival de Moulin de Laine d'Ulverton. There were demonstrations
of sheep shearing (the shearing costs $2.50 and produces 20 cents of wool). There were horse wagon rides for kids of all ages, There was a movie, guided tours of the mill, a waterfall, a covered bridge, a restaurant with "Brunch champêtre le dimanche" and for the festival there was a big tent with sheep and wool products, both edible, wearable. There was traditional music.

There are 5 km of forest/river side trails to enjoy. This includes riverside to the Ulverton river,
and fun suspension bridges. There was an outdoor deck along the river and also outdoor picnic areas . There was a sheep pen where you could get closer to our friends the sheep (Ovis aries).

Next we headed south. We turned at Richmond and went to Danville. It was the Festival du Oiseaux Migratoire at the pond called Etang Burbank.

Birdwatching shelter on Etang Burbank Pond.

This pond attracts thousands of geese and ducks. (see the photo at top of blog) There are paths around the lake, leading to several 2-story bird-watching towers. We were here right near sunset and the birds were taking off right above our heads as we walked along the path. It was quite amazing. We love to ride bikes, they let us be incredibly mobile using "self-power." Birds however, get to fly under their own power. An entire dimension of motion all to themselves, and the geographic instincts to use it too. I'd love to be a bird!

Last stop was to ride the extra 5 km from Danville to Asbestos, to see the worlds largest open-pit asbestos mine in the world: the Jeffry Mine. It is 350 metres deep, and 2 km-across at the top. It is genuinely colossal! We stopped at the little lookout park on boul-St-Luc at Panneton. There were mining artifacts, big rocks of the various minerals to be found in the mine, and of course, the great view of the mine itself.

The extremely-gigantic Jeffry mine at Asbestos, Quebec.

This region is very scenic with good hills. The autumn colours were spectacular. The bike paths were plentiful. There were regional festivals and lots of other sights and attractions. What more could you want for a day in the country? Really, we had a perfect day here!

Friday, October 05, 2007

autumn darkness - new lights!

I bought some new mini lights for autumn, planet bike brand at the co-op, and since I bought the good ones and not the cheap ones for a change, I am super happy. The rear light is strobe-bright in it's flashing personality.

The car's must avoid me now, or be blinded!

Be safe - be seen - use lights and reflectors - the more the better!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Letter to a friend - Prevost (Shawbridge) to Rawdon ride

Hi P.

Something happened to me on road bike that never happened before. I had to backtrack.

I did a new ride from shawbridge in laurentians to Rawdon, coming back by a different way via Chertsey, Esterel/Ste Margeritte de lac masson and Ste-Adele.

The different way between Rawdon to Chertsey had a bridge. There was only one road over the river. Here was the only bridge. There were no alternatives.

The bridge was gone!


Actually, it was under construction, but there was no way across. (well, swimming with bike was an option, but a really bad one!). So I had some backtracking to do. luckily the backtrack was downhill, but I already had a really late start, but still I decided to continue the loop after the back-track, and finished quite a while after the sun had set.

When I saw the bridge was missing, boy, that wasn't a good feeling. When local people confirmed that there was no other bridge, that not good feeling didn't get any better!

This ride had tons of short hills, with some long ones thrown in, but generally short but steep (ever see cement on the road on a steep hill, it's because it pours out the back of the cement mixer on super steep hills, and there was a lot of cement on this ride!

122 km, finished after dark, deers jumping out in front of me too on the last section back to car from ste-adele to Shawbridge on p'tit train de nord (Val david to Shawbridge section of p'tit train de nord is a really beautiful away-from-roads-and-cars bike path, one of the nicest I've been on). Road quality was generally good to crappy, with a bit too much crappy.

Ahhh, the joy of exploration rides!

Take care

Monday, October 01, 2007

Shawbridge-Rawdon - where's the bridge?

Laurentian autumn colours and hills

More colours, and more hills!

Colors and darkness, oh-oh!

I went for a new ride on the weekend, I have a good exploration-urge which my out-in-the-boonies bike rides satisfy, but I do need a constant supply of new rides. So I had read a quebec cycling forum about riding in the laurentians near montreal, heading northeast and back. Shawbridge to Rawdon, return via Chertsey, Esterel and Ste-Adele. Hilly was the basic message. Good enough for me, I got out the google maps, and finessed the route (now the route-path on the google maps is, drag and drop, and makes route definition very easy and fun, and best of all: precise! With the route in hand I had a very good idea where I was going, so at 12:10 pm I left in the car. That's a bit late. Ok, that's very late.

At 1:28 I left the car behind and I was on the road on two wheels. The first part went well, outwards in a north-east direction. There were constant hills, then lake, then constant hills, etc. One big lake (lac Achigan) had a big hill when leaving the lake side. Long and steep. The test for this is simple: did a cement mixer drop some of its' load on the climb? If so, then it's a steep hill, and here was lots of cement on the road. This hill killed, but eventually I got to the top, and on the other side was typical twisty laurentians road, except 1) I was descending for a change, and 2) they was new pavement (also a change). So this part was a real highlight. Gravity was my friend for a little while.

The next good thing happened when I reached the point where I had a choice of little loop ride or big (i.e. longer) loop ride. I here arrived in less than 2 hours, so I figured I had time for the extended play version. So I headed towards Rawdon, figuring to turn off on a sideroad through scenic wild lands. (this was on my map). I found the turnoff that would take me in a loop around and back to the section of the ride I like to call "homeward bound." It's always a good feeling when on a new road, and you take that turn, and it's homewards direction, which gives the happy feeling of maybe I will survive todays epic-death-ride!

Anyway to make a long story short, I was almost done this section of road, when I arrived at the bridge only a few km short of rejoining civilization and heading home at Chertsey. Great I thought, another route puzzle solved, so here I turned.

And then stopped abruptly.

Ok, this was the road, but where was the bridge? I was at the river, and all I could see was a construction project with no bridge.

oh f**k s**t no.

Despite my detailed examination, the only option was to backtrack, although everyone tells me today that I could have waded across the river (There was a rope) but drowning or immersion therapy wasn't what I had intended for today's entertainment.

While backtracking, I noticed this important sign

With this little situation adding to the recipe of todays ride, I had no choice but to put the hammer down and (since it was now downhill) go fast! I definitely made good time retracing my route.

Next decision-point was for me to decide if I wanted to abort the return leg of the ride and just retrace my outward-direction section. Aww hell I thought, I can do a bit of riding in the dark, while still optimistically believing that a) the sun will set later than it does, and b) that I was riding faster than I was (meaning I thought I would sustain this downhill speed for the next 3 hours.... not likely now that I have the benefit of 20:20 hindsight).

So I was back on my original circuit, but I was behind schedule. So what happensd next: steep long hills! yes, and more cement on the road. I decided that since I had been hammering for two hours, a little walk up this hill with a pause at the top would re-energize me, so that's what I did, and the break paid off in more ways than I expected: in no time it was good pavement and mainly-descent back to the laurentian autoroute corridor area and the area around Ste-Adele.

Here I noticed I was crossing the P'tit train de nord bike path, and as this was my plan, I took this excellent downhill path back to the car, about 20 km. Since it was geting darker and darker, so the bike path, which was dowhill, would boost my avg speed and cut some km's off the ride. In fact that had been my plan, I just wasn't sure where I'd join the path, this spot was earlier than I had planned, but it worked out perfectly.

And then a deer darted out inthe path in front of me - Aieee!

but Al-Deeraida didn't take me out and I got back to the car in one piece, but with some extra clothing, cuz when the sun goes down, like it did 30 minuted before I finished the ride, it's gets cold!

So to summarize: an interesting ride, but too many cars and bumpy roads and not enough bridges! But it was still 122km of fun. Maybe I have to get an earlier start than leaving home at 12:10 pm!

My average speed was 23.2 km, which is interesting, my warmup seems to take about three hours, because I am noticibly faster on the second half of the ride than the first half (and it's not just because its the downhill & tailwind leg. )

If I need to be more depressed, I compare my speed to the new record for the marathon set on the weekend: the marathoner's avg speed was 20.26 km/h running for 2 hours. If he has three hours to warm up his speed would have beaten mine!! Seriously, those marathoners are wickedly fast. And, well, they don't do it on the hills, like I had to do. Still, that's quite a job that guy did, but I am quite happy to have survived my own little adventure.

Here is a link to the route map, it turned out just like I planned....almost! (link) important: this route includes the missing bridge.

ATTENTION the bridge is now replaced and open.