Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Bikely bike maps

I have made some Bikely maps of some of the climbs featured in the Quebec's Automne 2007 Velo Mag magazine feature on great Charlevoix road-bike climbs written by Pierre Bouchard.

These are the GREAT charlevoix road-bike hill climbs. It's Quebec's most beautiful region. It's Quebec's hilliest region. It's Quebec's best summer holiday region. It's where the mountains hit the river.

These three are all straight up a single hill, the hill being the 300 metre high (1000ft) hillside between the St-Laurence river and the road on the top.

St-Joseph de la Rive is where we stayed for summer vacation last year, and we liked it a lot.

The climbs I mapped are:

Cote des Eboulements
(St-Joseph de la Rive UP to Les Eboulements) - 18%
Cote a Godin ou.. Misere (St-Joseph de la Rive UP to Rt 138) - 20%
Cote-de-Petite-Riviere (Petite-Riviere-Sainte-Francois UP to Rt 138)

Here are all my bikely routes (link)

NOTE: Bikely can be flakey, their servers seem to get easily overloaded. Persistence can be useful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Defending the de Maisonneuve bike path

The critics of the excellent new downtown bike path are starting to pop up in the media.

The Montreal Gazette letters-to-the-editor section today printed a letter from letter from Mr Mark Lipson of Montreal concerning the hideous and awful proposed Griffintown urban redevelopment project. The letter featured his complaint against tax-payer funded subsidies for urban projects.

Then out of the blue and without any logical reason (ok, any reason that my small brain could find) Mr Lipson then compared the Griffintown project with the new east-west cross-downtown bike path on de Maisonneuve boulevard.
"Given the extravagance of the de Maisonneuve Blvd. bicycle path vs the pragmatic/miserly (but very effective) approach of the Westmount portion..."
Mr Lipson makes two big statements here that I take issue with:
  • extravagance of the de Maisonneuve Blvd. bicycle path
  • very effective approach of the westmount portion
Let's take the second point first.

The simple lines-painted-on-the-road and occasional plastic posts used to define the path in Westmount are very effective. But this is because this street in Westmount is comparatively suburban, non-commercial, and filled with with polite Westmount drivers. Yes it is very effective in the low-traffic Westmount part of de Maisonneuve Blvd, but this is a VERY different context from the kinds of crazy driving that goes on in downtown Montreal.

Illegal parking on bike paths, no separation of traffic flows from what is basically a busy urban expressway, in the downtown core cyclists need more protection from cars than the other way around. (Which is, essentially, the Westmount approach: to protect the cars from the bicycles!)

Government operates legitimately when it protects the safety of the weaker and more vulnerable users of the traffic system.

Mr Lipson's second point is about the cost of the de Maisonneuve bicycle path's new construction. I'd like to know what Mr Lipson thinks how much what is essentially building a new road through the downtown should cost? Could we have just placed "New Jersey" concrete barriers between the car and the bicycle lanes? Would lines painted on the road been a safe alternative to the hundreds and the thousands of people (young and old, large and small, fast and slow) who can now ride safely to work through downtown every day, at every time of the day, including the busiest part of rush hour?

What I take issue with the most is his argument framing the bicycle path as "extravagant." This is a propaganda technique to train people to associate new taxpayer-funded construction (any new taxpayer funded infrastructure, including roads, and soon: our hospitals) as extravagant, a luxury, a waste of taspayer's money, and something that is frankly, a bad bad thing.

Is this new bike path a bad thing?

In as few words as possible: Hell no!

The new bike path is a great thing.
  • It gets cars off the road: cleaner air
  • It gets car's off the road: smaller traffic jams
  • Lets more people enter downtoan daily without requiring additional car infrastructure
  • It's good for people's health to exercise daily
  • Montreal is a compact city ideal to use the bike for trips of 5 km or less.
  • Montreal has high density urban population, with fewer cars than the urban cdn norm, again ideal situation where not every household has one (or more!) cars.
  • Families can now travel downtown in safety: on bike!
  • sooner or later it's going to cost too much to use gas to drive to work, we're preparing for this with the path
  • if there's a sudden oil crisis (oil supply shortages - remember the 1970's) then more bikes will need to be used. Actually if there's no oil, there's no cars, but then we will have wished we had bought a lot more metro cars!

It is best if you just to skip over this next part, and just go to the next blog entry!

Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if My Lipson is a member of an anti-tax group infiltrating our media with letters like this to shape public opinion against any public-funded projects. These groups ultimate goal is to end the Canadian practice of using government spending as a tool of public policy to make beneficial changes in the lives of Canadians.

These groups are funded by wealthy individuals who, frankly want more money for the rich and screw (and starve) the rest of us. The rich can live in exclusive gated communities with private police forces and force the rest of us to live in slave-like conditions in a surveillance society "totalitarian democracy" where "survival of the richest" is the only rule.

Or did I just drink too much coffee today?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Urban Destination 1

It's time to head for an in-town culture destination: the UQAM design department's latest show (news story link).

UQAM's Centre de Design presents Quebec en Design, a selection of 179 items that showcase the best of Quebec design. On hand: everything from posters to porcelains to a pepper mill. The exhibition, which continues until Dec. 16, is a joint venture between the Centre de Design and Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, home of the collection on display.

There's plenty to see and do in these dark months. This UQAM show is free, it's in downtown, a good destination for anyone in any part of the city. If you don't want to ride in the slush. take your feet and walk there. If you live too far, take public transit part way, and walk the rest of the way. It's fun to get outside!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Too cold to bike? Time to surf!

There are lots of great ways to waste time using your computer and the internet!

If you want to read and learn more about cycling, and peoples' thoughts about it, here is a great forum on some favorite bike websites and cycling blogs.

The forum topic is titled Vos sites de vélo préférés and it is at and this is the specific forum (click here).

Pont Victoria Bridge bike link closed for the season

In the world of transportation bureaucrats, all cycling ends on November 15 and restarts on 15 April.

So you should know that the Pont Victoria Bridge bike link across the St-Laurence river to the south shore (i.e. from Ile Notre Dame (Parc Drapeau via Pont de la Concorde or Ile Ste-Helene) to Longueuil) is closed for the season.


Montreal's Winter Bike Paths

The Rachel bike path - Closed for the winter

Berri bike path, plowed, but icy enough to skate on!

Winter bike parking at the Grande Bibliotheque

Looking downtown on St-Urbain bike lane - where's the bike lane?

There's been a big hullabaloo about Montreal keeping some bike paths open all winter long.

Since winter arrived this week (a bit ahead of schedule), we decided to take a tour of some bike paths to see how things are going with this new cycling objective.

Our basic ride was from starting point Parc/St-Joseph. We rode down St-Urbain to chinatown. Then up St Laurent to de Maisonneuve. On de Maisonneuve we rode the "new downtown path " over to the Grande Bibliotheque superlibrary at the corner of Berri. Then it was north on the Berri Path to Roy and on streets north to St-Joseph again, with a final zig-zag to Le Fromentier for some bread and cheese for supper.

Then it was back west on St-Joseph to our starting point.

The bike paths we took were:
St-Urbain on-street bike lane (south)
De Maisonneuve downtown bike path east, from St-Laurent to Berri
Berri Bike path north to Cherrier
by-passed the closed and snowy Rachel street bike path
The best on-street choices are the wide streets, like St-Joseph and St-Hubert.

The St-Urbain on-street bike lane south was COMPLETELY USELESS. Icy, slushy, and full of parked cars.

In WInter many cars parked far, far away from the curb, seriously cutting into the side-of-the-road used by bikes. This is a allegedly a ticketable parking violation, but one that Montreal NEVER ENFORCES.

The de Maisonneuve bike path was either icy or hyper salted:

These pedestrians think the de Maisonneuve bike path is the sidewalk

The Berri bike path is plowed, sometimes-salted on the hill only, full of street-cleaning debris.

The flat part of the Berri bike path was "plowed" but extremely super-icy. Notice the piles of snow at intersections!

Friday, November 23, 2007

P'tit Train du Nord free next summer

The P'tit Train du Nord bike path will be free next year for bicycles.

This 200 km long bike path along the ex-railroad line of the same name has been charging users a daily or annual use fee.

This has been a barrier for people to use the path. Now anyone can use it at any time, so more people will ride, and we will have a happier, healthier population. Well, at least for those who bike!

Here is a link to the article (link).

L’accès au parc linéaire sera gratuit
Geneviève Lamothe

« Cette réalisation est le résultat d’une belle solidarité régionale », déclarait Ronald Provost, représentant de la Conférence régionale des Élus des Laurentides (CRÉ).

En effet, comme la Corporation du parc linéaire le P’tit Train du Nord a obtenu l’appui financier des six MRC de la région, il lui a été possible d’envisager obtenir de l’argent via le programme d’entretien de la Route Verte et, pour y être éligible, la gratuité est obligatoire. Le montant représenté par ce programme n’est pas encore connu.

« C’est la nouvelle façon que nous avons trouvée pour financer l’entretien des 280 kilomètres de piste cyclable. La transition vers ce nouveau modèle de gestion est un beau succès de groupe prouvant la force de cohésion de notre région », se réjouissait Claude Charbonneau, président de la Corporation du parc linéaire.

Dans cet esprit, le parc linéaire des Basses-Laurentides sera désormais identifié comme le parc linéaire le P’tit Train du Nord-tronçon sud. La directrice générale de la Corporation, Lucie Lanteigne, précisait que la tarification des activités hivernales, telles que le ski de fond et la motoneige, seront toujours en vigueur.

« Le prix pour l’activité de ski de fond demeure cependant l’un des plus accessibles pour un produit de grande qualité et ce, grâce encore à la contribution des MRC », ajoutait-elle.

La saison dernière, 50 000 vignettes ont été vendues, pour un revenu brut d’un demi million de dollars. La Corporation prévoit évidemment une augmentation de l’achalandage sans toutefois être en mesure de la quantifier présentement.

Thursday, November 22, 2007



Yeah, I don't like it either.

I mmmmmmiiiiissssssssss sssssssssuuuummmmeeeeeerrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Improvements coming to the Quebec City bike path network

There are some improvements coming to the Quebec City bike path network. These are at the public consultation level, but improvements are coming.

Discussions include major expansion of paths in the Beauport area. Click here for more info.

Do you want a bike path in your town?

In your neighbourhood?

On your street?

Call your elected officials and let them know!

The future of Quebec Cycling Tourism

It's predicted that "adventure" tourism activities like cycling holidays will experience major growth in the near future.

Quebec has been doing all the right things in setting up local, regional, and provincial cycling infrastructure.

For example, To explore locally, we have numerous urban and municipal bike path networks. Regional bike paths give opportunities to explore Quebec on the bike path or the open road. The Route Verte network ties them all together and fills in any missing sections of path to create a complete provincial-wide cycling network.

What are your ideas to improve Quebec cycling tourism? What would you change? What would you say is our major attraction? What is our cycling tourism "Brand?" Is it the Route Verte? What do you you love the most about bicycling in Quebec?

Leave a comment!

To educate yourself, you can google "Quebec Cycling Tourism." (it's easy: click here)

The bad news is that if you google "Quebec cycling holiday" (link) you get.... 5 links. Hello?

Anyway... the cycling network is built, let's use and enjoy it, and we sure do welcome any tourists who want to explore North America's best destination for cycling!

East-west bike paths in Montreal

OK, we all know that the new de Maisonneuve bike path goes east west through downtown Montreal.

On the west side of town it hooks up to an existing seasonal path at Green Avenue. You can continue west here to Westmount, NDG, and points beyond.

But what about to the east? (this is a story about the east)

The de Maisonneuve path ends at Berri. but the Rene Levesque path starts at Berrie, a mere couple of blocks south of the east-end of the de Maisonneuve path. Conveniently the north-south Berri street bike path connects the two (and much more!)

The boulevard Rene Levesque path goes to de Lormier, where, under the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge, it zig-zags through the intersection over to the north side of the street, and then goes east along Notre Dame for miles and miles, and ultimately to the east end of the island, and using the Route Verte/Chemin du Roi, to all the way to Quebec City!

Since that's too far for most people, turn north at the Big O area and ride north (along bike path of course) to the Big O, through Parc Maisonneuve, and north to St-Zotique, which has a bike path, and takes you back west, and you can catch the bike path south that will eventually become the Berri path just after Parc Lafontaine via Cherrier. (You could also come back via Rachel bike path at intersection of Rachel and Pie-IX/Sherbrooke (Rachel is angled street north of Sherbrooke)

Dangerous Driving

Are you a homicidal maniac when driving your car? When riding your bike?

Read this editorial from Montreal's Hour Magazine's lead columnist Jamie O'Meara, and answer the question: "Is he talking about me?"

(Link to original article)

November 15th, 2007
Babylon, P.Q.

Keeping the drive alive
Jamie O'Meara

Asshole drivers, while not unique to Montreal, nonetheless share a non-partisan, non-gender-specific, reasonably accommodated ubiquity that makes one wonder if there isn't something in the way that we are acculturated here that predisposes to homicidal driving.

I'm almost tempted to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Villeneuves - racing father and son Gilles and Jacques respectively - for instilling a righteous sense of cultural inheritance amongst drivers here who believe they were created in the image of the father and the son. Unfortunately for Québécois concepts of nationhood, aggressive driving isn't unique to Quebec, even though sometimes it sure as hell feels like it. Case in point, the spectacular multiple rollover at St-Laurent and Maisonneuve this past weekend, injuring four young women in a single car which witnesses say was speeding and weaving through traffic - shocking (mainly because it wasn't on the 15 coming in from Laval) and yet somehow not.

Idiot road warriors are made, and to a huge extent self-made, not born. And while there are those who would swear aggressive driving is in the DNA around here, it has more to do with social passivity and general acceptance when it comes to tolerating excessive speed and daredevilism. Romancing risk-taking is nothing new, but romancing morons is. We facilitate it; we encourage it by accepting it as part of the character of the place, that there is somehow something uniquely and proudly Montreal about driving like a self-centred twat.

I have seen otherwise reasonable and responsible people morph into potential negligent murderers with the turn of a car key. It happened to 18-year-old Brandon Pardi and an unnamed 17-year-old two weeks ago when they allegedly ran over, and confirmedly killed, three-year-old Bianca Leduc after speeding through a residential area. Little more than kids themselves, if convicted they have earned themselves a new designation: killers. And that's the problem - we don't treat them as such.

In 2004, the last time figures were tabled, 2,725 drivers across Canada were killed and a further 212,000 injured in car accidents, the vast majority of which were caused by dangerous driving. In August the L.A. Times reported that, in 2006, 1.2 million people were killed on the world's roads, versus an estimated 100,000 people in combat in all the wars around the planet. In the U.S. alone there were 42,642 driving fatalities. So nobody is pretending the automobile is safe. Every time someone steps behind the wheel, there is the potential to kill or be killed - it's a calculated risk we take, with those calculations predicated on a maximum factor of safety.

But when drivers begin playing with the equation, throwing in a little adrenalized acceleration here, a little manoeuvring machismo there, then they are fully, 100 per cent cognizant that the probability of maiming or killing someone rises. There is an acceptance of the fact that they are placing themselves and others at risk, and therefore there is criminal onus. They have, in the instant of that decision, become aspirant killers.

In Ontario, travelling in excess of 50 km/h over the posted limit gets your licence suspended immediately for one week, your car towed and impounded for the same period, and a fine ranging from two to 10 grand. It is not enough.

This past Wednesday the provincial Liberals will have introduced (or attempted to introduce) legislation proposing a number of changes to Quebec's highway safety code. If successful, it will double the fine for speeding, ban drivers from using cellphones unless they are hands-free, decrease blood-alcohol limits from .08 to .05, require obligatory driving lessons for beginners, and institute a photo radar pilot project in as many as 15 different locations. It is not enough.

Most of the teeth in these amendments are rooted in increased monetary penalties, though raising fines for people who may have ample means at their disposal for paying them does not provide much of a disincentive for the crap driving to which they've become accustomed. On the other hand, in select circumstances, automatic jail time, and a criminal record, would work wonders. The select circumstances I speak of are street racing, which has been a virtually unchecked source of heartbreak right across the country. (There is no proof, as yet, that those alleged to have killed Bianca Leduc were street racing.)

I am no fan of mandatory sentencing. In fact, in just about every other circumstance I can think of, I am diametrically opposed to it. But in the case of convictions for street racing, extreme negligent driving (speeding in excess of 50 km/h over the limit) and other forms of reckless endangerment that clearly carry with it the potential for serious injury or death, I see no other workable solution. With respect to street racing, for example, an automatic two months in the can (for a first conviction, bump it up to six or a year for a second offence), a $10,000 fine, seizure of the vehicle (provided it's not family owned) and a five-year licence suspension would do wonders toward eradicating street racing. The terms could be tailored with respect to other offences, like speeding.

Hard-assed? Hardly. Even that may not be enough.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Feeling stressed?

Leave town and have some fun.

Don't be confrontational.

Have some fun.

Food, (censored), bike riding, maybe not in that order?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Software repairs

Need software repairs ? de Fil en Montagne to the rescue!

Software doesn't just mean computer programs, it also means the opposite of hardware: clothing and backpacks and stuff like that.

Modern software is completely amazing. Materials like nylon, spandex, polyesters, and goretex, and polar fleece garments and bags make life, well, almost perfect.

But nothing lasts forever, and occasionally repairs are needed. Zippers fail, fabric cuts rips or tears, there's even a need for cool custom modifications!

But, where are you going to go to get repairs and mods done? Sure, you can take the hassle of a warranty claim on the lifetime guarantee on some ten year old bag or coat, but can you find the original bill? Heck no, that's hassle-city.

For an easy local solution to your fabric repairs and custom modifications, I recommend de Fil en Montagne, hidden away on Marie-Anne street just west of beautiful St-Hubert.

I've used then for years, and am usually very happy with the result. I've just had a half dozen items repaired or modified, and am again happy.

The next thing I'm doing there is to renew and add some additional reflective material on my fluoro-green MC cycling jacket from 1993.

Montreal's first downtown bike path

Montreal's new de Maisonneuve boulevard east-west cross-downtown bike path has been officially open since Halloween.

You can now cross downtown from the Berri street bike path in the east, and continue all the way west through all of downtown to Greene avenue, and continue west on existing paths through Westmount and NDG (and if you keep going, to Vancouver!).

Here's a few pictures.

The new cross-downtown bike path (notice they didn't mark the price? $3.7 million was budgeted, the actual cost has not yet been revealed)

Berri bike path, and eastern start/finish of the de Maisonneuve bike path

Crossing St-Denis, looking west toward downtown

Approaching Place des Arts. Park in centre is the Jazz Festival's great blues stage

The downtown core's "canyonland." It is now much safer to bike here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Going on a cycling trip? Here's a checklist

Whenever my friend sid comes with me for a bike ride, a hike, skiing, etc, he always, always, forgets something. Always! I'm still waiting for my q-d pants to be mailed back to me since the Mont Megantic trip in October. He had bought boots and gloves on his drive there, because he forgot those too!

I sent him a checklist, but apparently not quite good enough. (Who knew he'd forget pants!)

Moral of the story? Checklists are good.

Where are you going to find one for your next trip?

Canada's Mountain Equipment Co-op (aka MEC, M-E-C, or the Co-op) has a webpage full of checklists for people going on trips.

They have a checklist for bike touring. It is a good starting point if you are packing to go on a bike trip in the south this winter.

I've never gone on a winter bike trip in the south, but if anyone wants to sponsor me or send me on a trip to write about it...

Epic rides of 2007

18% hill on Charlevoix ride, my biggest and hardest ride of the year, but not an epic!

When I tell my coworkers about my rides, they seem to think I have a lot of adventure.

I can tell you a secret: there's adventure, and then there's a special flavour of adventure we call... the epic adventure.

With my usual crack-of-noon departure times, my rides often flirt with uh-oh it's night time. This is rare however, and usually I benefit immensely because I get the beautiful light of late afternoon and sunset.

But daylight is something you don't really need to ride a bike.

I like to think that an epic builds character. Rain, which forces me to put my head down and pedal like hell (there's really no other way to say it) has created many an epic ride.

Last years ride upstate New York ride of "Chateaugay" - Malone - Pauls Smiths and back was incredibly intense. I was riding extra-hard until about mile 85, then I was dead meat. There was lots of coasting the last 15 miles.

How do you know you are coasting too much? When a little girl yells from a house alongside the road to tell me to "Ride that bike!"

I've tried in recent years to avoid epic rides that involve any sort of personal injury. Once you have seen your own bone, a lesson should be learned.

Epics can be unexpectedly long, or intense, things which crank up the dead meat factor. (oh, and can cause that joy of joys, calf cramps!) Happily, I was in good shape and didn't have any exhaustion rides this year. This summer I did try a time trial, and I can say honestly I hate flat land riding! Give me the variable terrain of hills any day. For some people, hills kills, for me it's the flats. But I drag my flatland friends on hill rides, and they seem to have to endure some super-human efforts to keep up with me. Partly because they haven't yet bought a real road bike. (A custom road racing bike was the first thing I bought after I finished university and got me a real job!)

"Grunt...owww, grunt, owww, grunt ooow," said my friend Jim.

"Are you ok?" I asked.

"Grunt...owww, grunt, owww, grunt ooow, yeah, ok, "Grunt...owww, grunt, owww, grunt ooow, I'm ok," he said.

That's good enough for me, we keep going!

Geez dude, get a faster bike. I promise it'll be a lot more fun!

So then a real epic ride should be a combination of some different factors.

Longer than expected ride duration, bad weather, exhaustion, bike problems, medical events, heat, insects, less than perfect directions, "interesting" road construction challenges, partner failure, none of these affect the joy of the ride. My worst ride ever is better than a day at work stuck in an office, sitting inert while driving a computer.

Lyon Mountain from village, about to begin the downhill return to Canada

My first Ormstown-Lyon Mountain ride is one of the big epic rides of the year. It was a new ride, I was cross the border on bike and was out of the country and all alone, the terrain was hard, especially the killer hill north of Dannemora (but it had refreshing water springs at top of hill), there were two missed turns (these can have major consequences), but I actually got home in time for supper. (wait, I got home in time for supper? this can't be an epic!)

In between me and Chertsey, Quebec (and home!) was this missing bridge

Then there was the ride from Shawbridge to Rawdon, coming back by Chertsey and St-Margeritte. Except the bridge two miles from Chertsey was missing. Major backtrack, then I had to decide if I wanted to abort and ride the shorter way back retracing my outward ride-segment. I decided no, I'd backtrack and take alternate route to Chertsey and continue on original loop ride.

I had to push long and hard, to make the distance in the daylight. I lost. Here was a time when darkness caught me, and I finished in the total darkness. Spooky! But the last 30 minutes were on P'tit train de nord downhill from st-adele. So, not really too painful overall. (Hey, my seat-butt interface zone was seriously tenderized on this ride!)

No, my real epic ride of 2007 was St-Hermengilde - St-Malo - East Hereford. The map I printed showed a fine, excellent road. On the ground it was a cow-track. Well, it did take me though a beautiful sort-of-mountain pass. What added that epic-flavour was a that I decided to take an optional ride down to the us border along the beautiful Hall river valley. Turning around at the border was when the lightning and heavy rain started. I spent an hour under a tree, but had to ultimately ride in the rain back to the car with lesser, but still major league lightning. Not recommended!

Heavy rain and lightning, and me stuck under a tree 30 km from the car!

Best rides of 2007

With over 3000 km of road riding done in 2007, it was a very good year indeed. I visited many new places, and did a number of exceptionally good rides, and of course, I only touched 0.01% of vermont, paradise for bikes.

here are some of the best rides, for one reason or another.

Ormstown- St-Chrysostome - Covey hill - Powerscourt - Trout river - Ridge road - Dewittville 130km - The complete chateauguay valley ride. A beauty. Good views of all sorts of things. Good roads. Many different eco systems. Tailwind for last 30 kms.(link)

Ormstown - Lyon Mountain USA century ride (160 km/100 miles). Ormstown-franklin-usa border-Lyon mtn village - Lyon Mtn loop-lyon Mtn village-Canadian border-Franklin - Ormstown. Lyon mountain is visible from Mt royal, it's the closest adirondack mountain to the southwest. Excellent climb on second half of riding around lyon mountain. gentle downhills home (mostly!).(link)

Frelighsburg-Joy Hill - Richford/ VT - Montgomery (bot the easy way)-Phillispburg. Two words: Joy Hill! Climb on backroad between Richford and Montgomery is exceptional. Great view of Pinacle. Veromont guide book included this cross border ride, and said it was best in book, it sure was. Thanks sid! Frelighsburg was cyclist central!(link)

Jay Peak loop from Sutton (chemin scenic both directions). The Famous five-hill Jay ride, one of the great rides of the east. Back side of jay is big climb! Front side is steep hill, descent to Mongomery is wow (with dogs!), all hills are fun and hard. Crossing border at East Richford always special. Food stop before front-side jay climb a long-standing tradition. Winter training pays off here!(link and link and link)

Phillipsburg - Lake Champlain islands – St-Albans bay - Phillipsburg. Park lakeside at Philipsburg, take highway to US border - now you’re on Interstate! Go west, to Islands, and turn south. Follow islands until back on solid land (diversions possible on some islands), on mainland, turn left and head north, passing St-Albans bay. Relax on Philipsburg dock in late day sun with beer. Happiness.(link)

St-Hermenegilde – St-Malo - East Hereford ride. A wild ride, because of some colorful routefinding, heavy rain and massive lightning, awesome scenery, great 10 metre tall lookout tower at St-malo (already at 600 metres elevation!), tres vrai rustique back road, the great Hall river valley, a good ride with interesting route, exciting conditions and bad rear wheel. I Plan to try again in good weather!(link and link)

Northern Lanaudiere final version - quiet roads, good pavement, a dozen hills, 16% climbs, long descents, great scenery, fresh raspberries, villages, a stunning ride, my favorite ride in Quebec. Many repeat visits worked out this final, exceptional, version. This version mainly avoids busy roads. St-Jean de Matha, Ste-Emilie de l'Energie and Ste-Beatrix. First visit here was because of Petits Escapades guidebook. Because it looked hilly! Arrive late and enjoy late day sun and sunset lighting, amazing. Don't forget Chemin Ste-Guillaume at end.(link and link and link and link)

Tremblant-Riviere Rouge. Leaving the village of Tremblant is always a good idea, head from tourist office west and turn near Riviere rouge and ride north to village with strange bridge, with dock in middle and great wood sculpture. Cross here and ride south along rouge river, and country side, ride back north along river. Great hills, scenery, and covered bridge and with optional crazy hill at end. This is touches the Pays en Haut area. Optional extension to make Arundel southern turning point. Check the strange train at Arundel post office.(link and link)

Chemin Cyclist St-Donat. Officially named chemin Nordet, this recently all-new highway opened up a road for the first time between St-Donat and Lac Superieur (near Tremblant northside. It is starting to age, but still an amazing (Vermont-like) ride, with two major climbs with sort of a plateau in between. It is just starting to be developed, but for years was empty of icky real estate exploitation. Great wide paved shoulders. Big descents. Extremely popular with cycling clubs and groups of cyclists of all types. Ride from St-Donat to Lac Superieur, lap the lake, have a snack, and ride back.(link)

St-Donat to Chertsey and back. The Rt 125 is the autoroute that wasn't. Double-lane divided highway through very scenic hills. Very good autumn colors ride. A bit busy sometimes. For added flavour, ride the 347 Notre-Dame-de-Merci to St-Come for a trip on the "sineuse 347!"(link)

Ottawa river ride. Hudson-Hawksbury, cross river, east to Oka- a ride on the Oka-Hudson Ferry- and a few km back to Hudson. A good ride, with some great parts. That headwind is a good tailwind when returning east. First part after crossing river follows dirt road which is Route Verte. This avoids busy crappy highway (sorry roadies!). Hudson-oak ferry is amazing. Especially at sunset .(link)

West Quebec flats - Pointe aux cascades-Les Cedres ferry (bike ferry!) st-Timothé - Grande Ile – Hydro Quebec dams - Rigaud (almost) and back. A real scenic tour through west quebec, farm land, little and big rivers. Interesting to cross the St-Laurence at Valleyfield across hydro dams (excellent!). Unusual for me to do a flats ride, and I felt it, normally with hill rides the descents are the recuperation mode, but flats are pedaling all the time - ooooh!(link)

Charlevoix – the circuit of the Grand Prix de Charlevoix road race. I was dreaming for two years to do this ride. This summer I got my chance. From Baie St-Paul, follow the circuit of the grand prix de charlevoix, past st-Hilaron, to Les Eboulements, big descent to Ste-Irenee (18% hill back up), back via st-Hilaron again, and to petit (invisible) village of St-Ours, where the race finishes (and paved roads!), continue with left turn on chemin ste-Catherine to reach the Rt 362 and descend to St-Joseph de la Rive (our motel/auberge)on one of the biggest hills of quebec. Hit over 80 km'h twice on this ride, and didn't speed on last hill. This is number one return ride for next summer. Highlight was lunch rock that held plaque for discovery of crater de charevoix, 165 million years ago a 2 km asteroid hit earth planet, ici! Descents are good, better then good. Bette than great, out of this world!(link)

Sutton -Owls head ride with Bolton pass/Knowlton. A bad weather start, day got better and better. started with big headwinf heading east hrough bolton pass, through knowlton on echo road, up and down, sutton things got better, a million cyclists there, chemin scenic and along mississiquio river valley to mansonville is amazing, short side trip to Mansonville covered bridge brought world class view of Sutton jay range, best view in southern quebec? Then over past owls head, down to the water for a dip of the toe on lac memphremagog, then north and back to east bolton and car. This was a repeat attempt, a week befoe I had forgotten bike lock key (yes I lock my bike inside the car) and had to return home without riding! This madeup for it. An amazing ride.(link)

Ormstown-Powerscourt - the short chateauguay valley ride. The chateauguay river can be rideen in distances as short at 10-20 km and up to 100+ km rides, depending on where you start and where you cross the river and head back. A good reference ride is Ormstown-Huntingdon-Athelstan-Powerscourt (covered bridge). This takes you right to the US border, but avoids big roads (avoid the Rt 138!!! Quet roads, twisty along river, straignt if you come back voam, say tullochgorum rod. An excellent area for road cycling. Maybe they will one day buuold a bike path along the old train tracks>??? It's starte din Ste-martine, now finish it!!!(link)

Prevost (shawbridge-Rawdon-Chertsey-Ste-margeritte An epic ride, with a mising bridge at Chertsey (backtrack city!) Finished after dark (only once this year!). Back roads, steep hills, epic for al lthe wrong reasons, this was a central laurentians ride, and wasn't my favorite for it's quality, but for the adversity I overcame! Much bad asphalt. many steep hills. Everything but bears and wolves. (link and link)

Parc de la mauricie. - Another race ride circuit that I did on a quiet day. After the Defi Velo Mag announced this ride, I went the next week to ride it (I missed the popular ride). 120 km round trip "park entrance to other park entrance and back again." Unbelievable number of hills. It was a late June hot day, with some butt-biting flys! This would be a ride to do in autumn colors season. Very quiet roads (I was there week day) and I have to say 120 km of perfect asphalt. Perfect asphalt. perfect asphalt. My riding time would put me right in the middle of the pack for the defi velo mag ride, which ain't too bad for a 47 year old on a 20 year old racing bike. Excellent post-ride deck behind visitor centre on the mauricie river.(link)

Isle aux Coudres from St-Joseph-de-la-Rive. A quiet family ride, much better than anticipated. Free ferry ride always a bonus, big hill leaving ferry, windy beach lunch at western tip of island, lookout tower worth the $1.00 admission price (totally!) and views of Ste-Joseph de la Rive/Les Eboulements hill is awesome (18% hill) Largely a flat ride, with minor hills on north side of island. Free ferry ride back again for supper. A excellent day for a slower ride (after the grand prix de charlevoix ride I needed a break!).(link)

Ste-Emilie de L'Energie to St-Michel des Saints. One of my final explorations in northern lanaudiere. Ride north from Ste-Emilie, past St-Zenon and to St-Michel des Saints. Middle part around st-Zenon very nice and hilly: paved shoulder, road follows river. Great return ride with descents. Tried to head west to Tremblant park entrance, but flatted. (new tire!) A worthwhile ride. St-Zenon area is good hiking too.(link)

Riding Partners. I’d like to take a moment and thank a few of my riding partners (victims!) particularly Pierre, who has introduced me to so manuy greatrides in Vermont, Mike, Jim, Shelley, maxi, Don, I'd like to also thank anyone who read any of these rides and tried them on their own, I know that there are plenty of people reading the blog, and I get feedbackl sometimes about how great the rides are, so I know it isn't just me who things they are great.

Ste-Anicet - Dundee This ride, in the extreme southwest corner of quebec, is a thin wedge shape bordered by the USA border and the st-Laurence river. The terrain is left over from the last glacier, so there are up and downs, not too long or frequent, but don't be surprised by the fact it's not a flats ride. Starting at riverside st-Anicet, it rides south and west to the US border, then zigs and zags east past some history and even an iroquois settlement, Les Droliers, which isn't a multimedia disneyfied experience in any way. Peaceful roads, farms and forests, and a beach and dock for after-ride relaxation (stretching surely?), this ride exceeded my expectations in every way.(link)

Verchere to St something de Richielieu. Initially a crappy ride, this ride got hugely better when I left the Rt 132 and went cross country to the villaghe of St Roch de richieleu. This village had lots of old, really old, homes, a cable-ferry across the river, a little dock for a riverside lunch. The ride back to verchere was exceptional (ok, for flats...) because it passed many ancient houses, from the pre-conquest era. The town of Vecherres is named aftet the quebec heroine Madeliene de Vercheres, a teenage woman who closed the fort gates and fooled the marauding indians that the fort was full of soldiers and they'd better not attack. It also had a nice riverside park. on the st-laurence. The only downside was that my usual road bike was out of action and I had to ride my urbanified original mtn bike. Oh, and the fact it was a flats ride. I prefer hills!(link)

Beauharnois Canal - South of Valleyfield is the huge Beauharnois canal, where electricity for montreal comes from. Along the sides of the canal on both sides is a bike pah,, The only downside, the only safe river crossing is at beauharnois, not the two valleyfield briges. Aside from that, it's a big riverside bike path, and is away from cars. The valleyfield area is quite rich in bike paths, with rides along the canal, the old abandoned canal soulanges has a bike path, and there are some options on valleyfield island too. It is a good family ride here, bring picnic supplies because there are no deps on the south side, the north side has services, if you enter the town of Valleyfield. Did you know that more material was removed to build this canal than the panama canal? That's what they say.(link)

Well, that's it, many memorable rides, most of them top quality, all of them a great way to spend a sunday afternoon. Note that my usual "crack of noon" departure time isn't recommended!

See you next year.

Riding bike on sidewalks

Your chances of having a collision when riding your bike on the sidewalk is 25 times greater than riding on a road or bike path.

25 times more likely to have a collision.


Pay attention here: do not use the sidewalk like it is your own personal bike path.

It's ok to go outside and ride your bike and have some fun, just please don't run down people on the sidewalk, And even if you think, I'm riding safely on the sidewalk, let us remind you that the pedestrians (each and every one of them) think you are about to hit them with your bike.

You don't mean to scare them, but you are going a lot faster than people walking, and the sidewalk is busy, and you are riding right at them... Aieee!

So let's try to have 17% more civility, civisme, manners, ettiquette, and just common sense.

Another sign that winter is coming

winter's coming, the 6-bike racks are going!

Winter's coming!

How do I know?

The Ville de Montreal is removing the seasonal 6-bike parking stands.

New-style parking meter secure-bike-locking posts

The new style parking-meter-post stands will remain. It is only the sidewalk-blocking 6-bike stands that are being removed.

The rationale is that they interfere with snow-removal operations. But they don't take down the big-sidewalk-blocking bus-shelters. Maybe we could combine bike parking and bus-waiting. And maybe... the bike parking could have a roof to protect bikes from the rain and snow, year-round!

Two models of year-round bike stands

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November Rain

Riding home in the rain

Well, I read the weather forecast, I read it again, and I read that it would rain in the afternoon.

But did I ride to work on Rusty, my rain bike with fenders?

Nosiree not me! I rode Old Blue, the urban-optimized old mountain bike, without fenders.

So I got wet. And dirty. And wet and dirty some more!

At least I wasn't cold, and there was a tail wind going home, so it wasn't all bad news, well until I got home and had to take off all the soaking wet clothing and wash everything, because everything was nasty!

I saw something new on the way home, some guy had those reflective ankle tapes,/pant clips on his bicep area, and they were flashing. Yes, apparently you can get these velcro reflective straps with built-in lights. Very cool, and anything that increases the cyclist visibility on the dark streets is a good thing.

Pont Perry bike path closed for new bridge construction

The new bike path / sidewalk which was just completely rebuilt only a couple of years ago is to be closed while the bridge gets rebuilt in November.

This bridge is the official route-verte going off the Montreal island to the north. THere are three other bridges (one west, two east) that are usable by bikes.

This news was reported by Courier Ahunsic (link)

De plus en plus sollicité par le train de banlieue Saint-Jérôme–Montréal, le pont quasi centenaire qui enjambe la rivière des Prairies et relie Laval et Montréal à l'île Perry, au sud du quartier Laval-des-Rapides sera remplacé par un neuf, d'ici la fin novembre.
L'intervention, prévue depuis près de deux ans, est nécessaire en raison de l'augmentation de la fréquence des trains de banlieue qui y circulent. «On veut augmenter la capacité du pont. Le train de banlieue est un succès et est toujours en croissance», fait valoir le porte-parole du CP, Michel Spénard.

Avant de procéder au remplacement de la vieille structure, le CP procédera au démantèlement de la passerelle piétonnière, où est également aménagée une piste cyclable.

Cette opération sera amorcée le lundi 19 novembre et s'échelonnera sur une semaine, précise le porte-parole de la compagnie ferroviaire. La firme de construction Euler, en collaboration avec la firme d'ingénierie MLC Associés, se chargera de cette portion des travaux.

«C'est ce qui aura le plus d'impact sur le public», dit-il. Le reste des travaux, soit le remplacement du pont par une nouvelle structure préfabriquée, peut se faire en un week-end, assure-t-il.

Si tout se déroule comme prévu, l'horaire du train de banlieue, qui n'est pas en service la fin de semaine, ne sera pas touché. La ligne Saint-Jérôme–Montréal effectue trois arrêts sur le territoire lavallois: à Sainte-Rose, Vimont et à la station intermodale Concorde.

L'ensemble des travaux, y compris la réinstallation de la passerelle, devrait être achevé au plus tard le lundi 17 décembre.

Beat the Main illegal bike race

la Presse newspaper today reports that the bike couriers of Montreal organize an illegal street race on bicycle on boulevard Saint-Laurent, all the way north from bottom to top across the island. Traffic regulations seem to be optional at best.

Starting in old Montreal on de la Commune, they ride all the way north, ending on Gouin Blvd on the north shore of Montreal island. It's only 11.5 km in distance (Montreal is actually quite a long, but very skinny island, Laval (ile de jesus) is the fat one). There are, however, a hundred or so red lights. This doesn't seem to worry this band of beer-crazed rebels.

The best time for this race is 16 minutes 10 seconds. In case the math escapes you, that is an average speed of 42 km an hour.

In the city.

With traffic.

And red lights.

That is very, very fast.

Oh, and very, very stupid.

I did a flat land bike path (no traffic or stops) time trial last summer, my average speed was 31 km/h, although there was a headwind. These lunatics (is there really any other term as accurate?) run every red light at top speed, but do have occasional intervals of braking and accelerating again. So that's both a very good speed, and a very, very stupid thing to do.

I get the impression that these lifeforms are here for a good time, not for a long time.

Here's the story:

La Course des morts

Gabriel Béland

La Presse

Oubliez les Mardis cyclistes de Lachine, les cuissards et les barres énergétiques. La Course des morts, qui en était à sa septième présentation cette année, n'a rien d'officiel. Elle fait partie des quelques courses qu'organisent, chaque année, des messagers à vélo.

La Course des morts vise à rendre hommage aux messagers tués sur les routes.

«C'est une des plus importantes courses en ville. Des gens de New York, Boston et Toronto viennent à Montréal simplement pour y participer», explique Yohann Rose, messager de 30 ans, qui boit une grosse bière avant de prendre le départ au parc Jeanne-Mance.

«Il n'y a pas d'argent impliqué, précise Yohann. C'est symbolique.» Il n'y a pas non plus de parcours officiel. Quelques minutes avant le départ, les participants ont reçu un «manifeste», avec 13 questions. «Trouvez une date inscrite sur le tombeau de famille des Molson», demandait l'une d'elles. Les participants peuvent donc emprunter le chemin qu'ils préfèrent pour résoudre les énigmes. Le premier a terminé sa course en 1h30. Le dernier est arrivé à minuit, avec un temps de 3h30.

Ces courses de vélo sont courantes à Montréal; il y en a six ou sept annuellement.

Rencontré à la Course des morts, Olivier L'Heureux est l'organisateur de Beat The Main. Ce contre-la-montre de 11,5 km vise à parcourir le boulevard Saint-Laurent de la rue de la Commune jusqu'au boulevard Gouin. À cet événement, qui existe depuis quatre ans, un coureur a établi un record de vitesse: 16 minutes 10 secondes, soit une moyenne de 42 km/h... en pleine circulation, dans le sens de la montée!

«Les feux rouges sont une suggestion», admet volontiers Olivier, qui assure que ce record cycliste bien montréalais n'est pas entaché par le dopage.

«Dans ces courses, disons que l'EPO est remplacé par la bière...» Il explique aussi qu'il n'a jamais vu un participant se blesser «sérieusement». Il en a toutefois souvent vu recevoir des contraventions.

Yohann Rose explique que ces rendez-vous permettent de rassembler la communauté montréalaise des messagers.

«Nous sommes environ 200 à Montréal, des milliers dans le monde. Il y a une véritable contre-culture», dit-il.

Selon lui, ces courses sont d'autant plus nécessaires pour regrouper les coursiers que le syndicat qu'ils entendaient créer pour tous les messagers de la ville n'a jamais vu le jour.

«Les organisation de cyclistes ne représentent pas les messagers, croit Yohann Rose. D'ailleurs, en augmentant le nombre de cyclistes en ville, on rend notre travail toujours plus dangereux, en multipliant les risques d'accidents.»

Le dernier messager mort à Montréal s'appelait Nikolas Barkelay. Le 22 septembre 2002, il s'est fait heurter alors qu'il traversait une rue malgré le feu rouge. Il avait 22 ans.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Autumn Cross Training on Mont Saint-Bruno

Lac des Bouleaux, The day's nicest trails started from here.

On Sunday we visited the nearby provincial park of Parc Mont-Saint-Bruno, a bit east of Montreal.

Our goal: do some hiking and trail running to prepare for the (non-wheeled) winter cross-country ski and snowshoe season.

This park has an extensive x-c ski trail network and we did a great 9 km loop around the park.

We made a clockwise trip around the park - and discovered lakes!

This loop took us to uphill-side-trips to the top of the next-door downhill ski area and the true summit (no view and full of communications towers). Both were good straight-up-hills that get the muscles warmed up!

At the top of the ski hill trail was snow! With the week's steady cold temperatures, they had been running the snow-making machines. It was a real winter wonderland.

Unexpected "the Joy of Winter" interlude

Then it was back down and we followed trails around the southern border of the park through excellent hilly terrain (the #6).

The afternoon was bathed in sunset for an eternity, a magic quality that is due to St-Bruno's unique multi-hill geographic arrangement.

As usual, we had a late start, and we had to run the second half of the trail to get back to the car ten minutes AFTER the park gates officially closed. This is not recommended (lateness that is, running is ok!).

As usual, we meet with our friend, the sunset. Note frozen wetland

I once heard a bicycling enthusiast say "Don't go somewhere and ride, ride somewhere to go." I take that to mean "Don't get in the car and have to drive somewhere in order to ride your bike, you need to get on your bike starting at home, and explore your world. On your bike from montreal there are many easy-to-bike-to local destinations like Parc Mont Saint-Bruno.

Bike, hike, picnic, ride home. Life doesn't get better than this.

Especially because today's bikes work better than this:

La Draisine (aka La Draisienne) bike.

2000 visitors

Our Cycle Fun Montreal cycling blog has had it's 2000th visitor!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Montreal's sustainable-transportation ranking

How does Montreal rank against other Canadian cities in the important area of sustainable-transportation?

You don't know, do you? Me neither.

Lucky for us the new "Inaugural GreenApple Canada National Sustainable Urban Transportation Report" ranks 27 Canadian cities.

Click here to read the report's webpage, and you can click for links to all parts of the reports and the city rankings.

Montreal is number 5.

One interesting item is the % of labour force walking, cycling, or using public transit. Montreal now is 27.2%, and our goal is 36.5%. They are building the bike paths now, so we might make it!

49% of us have cars, the goal is to not increase this. Reducing or stabilizing car use? It is the impossible dream.

To read the GreenApple Canada 2007 SMART Transportation Ranking Report please see the following links:
Full Report
Report Methodology
Executive Summary
Summaries by Area

St. John's




Québec City







St. Catharines-Niagara




Greater Sudbury











Click here to go to the report's website.

Ride better?

Here's the "Ride Better" web page of the League of American Cyclists.

You will find excellent information on the following subjects: