Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mont Royal in 8 easy after-work climbs

Mount Royal is full of good climbs, they’re everywhere, like litter, except a lot more fun.

The grand daddy of all the climbs is Camelien Houde, reached from Mont Royal Avenue. This climb has the reputation of relentless climbing, never slacking off when the rider really really wants it to slack off.

My ride started up Cam Houde (1).

Once I got to the top and been passed by a three or four young guys, I headed left into Mount Royal Cemetery for a couple of runs up Mount Murray, the Outremont summit of the three-summit Mount Royal. Here I rode up the back side (2), then down to the main cemetery entrance and from here, back up to the top by the hard way (directions: take the right-turns uphill), it's one of the hardest (and steepest) climbs in Montreal (3). From here it was back down to the main entrance again and west, towards the Université de Montreal.

U de M is located on the northern slopes of Mont Royal, and it has a main road that goes up and down the mountain. I started from the front entrance and rode up "le Rampe" which is relaxing in the late afternoon sunshine (4). Relaxing, that is, until it gets steep at the halfway point! It's not too long though, and then it is down the other side to the Queen Mary street entrance.

A quick u-turn and it's back up this climb. This is the famous Poly Hill, of mens pro road race fame. It rolls a bit and has a plateau near the top, but it's a stiffy and you earn your climb. Once at the top (5) at the Ecole Polytechique complex I rode back down La Rampe to the main entrance, turned right and backtracked a bit towards the CEPSUM sports complex.

Beside the sports stadium is a climb that goes, well, straight up. This is the the hill that goes up to the U de M music auditorium, Salle Claude Champagne, and is supposed to be Montreal’s best sounding hall. The climb here doesn't look like much, but it stays sustained steep, and at the top has a gravity-defying super-steep entrance alley that can barely be pedalled in a 39/28 gear. Cresting the top (6) here usually results in a sad whimper of survival, or a lustful cheer from the more powerful than me.

Then it's back down and traverse alongside parc Mt Royal beside the forest over to Camelien Houde. This is the second climb of Montreal's big one. Now that I am warmed up I don't do it in my lowest gear, but I still get passed.

At the top (7) I turn around at the start-finish line to the Woman’s World Cup bike race and head back down, finally a satisfyingly fast descent, but after the hairpin corner I am slowed down by some car driving rubes who seem to think 70 is quite fast enough. I follow them down and turn on to Cote Sainte Catherine Road, where I wait for the light to change and watch the bus passengers disembark, passengers which include a distracting siren.

But my hill ride isn't over yet, when the light goes green I quickly gather some speed and turn up the first sidestreet going uphill (the excellent Fernhill) and with a bit of speed starting up I sprint up this steep and gets steeper hill until smoke starts to come off my tires, or out my ears, or somewhere! I shift down and without collapsing, get up to the top (8) of this last climb.

At the top was a cyclist unloading his bike and he seemed amused at my antics.

Well, that was it, 8 hills in 68 minutes, time for supper and some rice pudding.


At 10:10 AM, Blogger kurtdriver said...

Thank you, maps would be helpful for those of us who don't know Montreal well. I'm visiting from Vancouver, am truly enjoying my visit, but couldn't find the summit despite two climbs on wednesday. (I found the observatory). Thanks again, Kurt

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Speve-O said...

I'd really like a map for this route too. Sounds like a good ride.


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