Sunday, August 31, 2008

A couple of new bike paths

A couple of new bike path developments caught my eye.

In the Bellechasse area southeast of Quebec City a new, paved 74 km bike path will be finished later this year (the mayor promises!).

This will add another great day ride to the south of Quebec City, a city that is becoming better than ever for the outdoor-sports funhog.

The other news is that the city of Montreal has decided what places will get 2008's 100 new kilometres of bike path.

  • Cote Sainte-Catherine road between Parc avenue and Copte des Neiges.
  • The zigzag few-block detour in the Rachel street bike path around Papineau will be replaced with a bike path straight along Rachel (eliminating the detour)
  • The cycling network will be extended east to Anjou (it's not clear what path will go east, maybe Rachel or St-Zotique?)
  • The cycling network will be extended west to Lachine (I think this is an extension of the de maisonneuve bike path)
  • Saint Laurent has an extended and improved bike path along Thimens
  • Ile Bizard will receive some new bike path.
  • Rue Viau will receive a bike path between Sherbrooke and boulevard Rosemont. This is a new north-south axis for bicycle travel in Montreal.
  • The city will be changing certain intersections to better accommodate bicycles and cars together and make the flow of the two traffic streams safer.

For more information, both the RouteVerte and the Velo-Quebec websites have excellent information for cycling in Montreal and Quebec. These are the french links, but both have english sides to their website.

For a map of the greater Montreal area's bik epaths, (montral, laval, south shore, and other points in the region, go to this link for the big picture, er, cycling path (piste cyclable) map. (current as of May 2008)

This list is the first 100 km of the promised 400 kilometres in new bike path network improvements in Montreal.

Montrealers are still waiting for the north-south axis for safe bicycle travel parallel to Decarie boulevard and autoroute. And one day, maybe this century, Cavendish will go all the way north to Saint-Laurent.

A this-year improvement has been painting a bike lane on St-Urbain all the way south to the de Maisoneuve bike path. Which I guess we should start calling it the Claire Morrisette bike path, but we are a fan of bike path names (and autoroutes) that have a geographic component in their name, so you know where you are are or where you are going!

This is the first year of use of the the de Maisonneuve/Claire Morrisette bike path since it opened last november on the eve of the snowiest winter the city has ever experienced.Most people believe that it is a huge improvement to the Montreal bicycle travel network.

The ClairePath is busy with both cars and pedestrians. This can be a safety problem, and it exists on many bike paths.

You can avoid or minimize problems with pedestrians by using a loud bicycle bell (Dring!).

The other best-practice is for you the cyclist to SLOW DOWN when you see a pedestrian on or beside the path ahead of you. A pedestrian is like a rattlesnake of the bicycle path, you never know when it is going to suddenly strike, and when it does, it hurts a lot and can send on an ambulance ride (hint: this really isn't a good thing) . Seriously, pedestrians are a serious hazard and a loud bike bell makes a big difference. Most people realize, when they hear the bike bell, that they should get off the path or unblock the intersection when the bike has the green light.

Because it is our experience that most people are decent and have a good sense of civisme.

Getting back to our story... The Laval Courier has an interesting article discussing bike paths in Laval at this link.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saw bad bike accident on ride home

While riding up the Berri hill on bike path under sherbrooke street, we saw a cop car and a woman lying on the ground with a very bad head injury, blood and a big feeling of "this is not good," and the ambulance arrive as we walked our bikes past the accident.

The woman was not wearing a helmet.

A police woman was holding her head and comforting her. Cops have got a lot of flak lately for some of their less-restrained antics, but we all need to remember, sometimes cops are there to help. Sometimes they are the only one to help.

I hope the woman is ok and didn't get hurt too bad.

Ride safe everyone, and please wear a helmet, you only need it for one second every few years, but when it does it's job you can get back up and ride (and live!) another day.

New MEC catalog's bike lock

Unsecure bike locks?

We recieved our new Mountain Equip,ment Co-op (MEC) catalog today.

Inside the catalog is lots of nice stuff, but we remember to always support our LOCAL bike shop, and not the walmart of outdoor gear: MEC. The local bike shop is useful because it's local!

Big megacorp business principles of lowest cost don't serve the community in any meaningful way, despite their greenwashing propaganda saying they do. OK, MEC is better than most, but if you lose your local bike shop, you really want to have to take a long drive to the co-op for a tube or tire? You'll do better in the long run by supporting your local bike shop. It's there when (and where) you need it.

But we digress.

The thing that struck us in this catalog is that they are selling a u-lock for $15.

That sounds good, what's the problem CFM?

This lock bears all the characteristics of a crappy, easy-to-break bike lock. The main problem is the key-at-end-of-cylinder design. A thief can break this thing in about 4 seconds. You deserve better and MEC has no business selling bike locks with such obvious and well-known vulnerability.

If you buy this lock, you can look forward to losing your bike. And you can blame MEC when it happens.

Friday, August 29, 2008


We love our bike bell, and not only because makes pedestrians jump out of our way. (actually we like to give them plenty of warning).

We love it best because it's a happy sound.

And we love it because when we use it there's nobody in our way, and we ride and ride and ride along.

And we love it because people ask us where to get one just like it.

We make sure to say to get a loud "dring" type bell, not a wimpy single "ping" bell.

The louder it is, the happier the world will be.

And a happy world is a good thing.

(it is time to reveal that the secret blog-title formula is: cycle+fun+montreal=happy)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Drove car to work today

We drove a car to work today and we have one thing to say.

Never again.

We've heard the expression "cycle by choice" but we strongly believe that it's "cycle because it's better." And we believe this based on the evidence and facts.

Advice to a coworker

Our coworker A. saw the La Presse feature on Chateauguay valley cycling, and asked us, hey, that's your homeland, do you have a ride map and other info? He'd never been there even though he lives close to the pont Mercier bridge and is a long time hard-core rider.

Do we have info? Oh yeah! But do we have brevity too? Here's what we told him.

Hi A.

Thank's for considering visiting my homeland, the very-beautiful and beautifully rural Chateauguay valley. Here is the link for the map of my personal favorite chateauguay valley ride.

ity's a beauty, but at 80km it might be a bit long for you and your girlfriend.

So I made shorter version of the ride! This shorter ride is also a great one, the shortcut part of the ride is on the "dewittville-rockburn road" (we call it the dewittville side road) which had three pictures in the la presse article, it's a favorite for good reason!

Did we mention that Dewittville is in the book "Most Beautiful villages in Quebec"?

If this is still too long, you can cut 10 km off the Short Version ride by starting in Huntingdon, not Ormstown.

You could also ride ormstown-powerscourt and back again. The choices are endless, because the the triangle shape of the area offers many loop ride possibilities, short or long.

For services, along this ride the towns of Ormstown, Huntingdon, Athelstan and St-Antoine-Abbé have services.

For ther ride ideas, the Suroit tourism web site has three road-bike ride-maps of the chateauguay valley region, one of these might be good for you too.

If you park in Ormstown, the IGA mall at the entrance to town (at PetroCanada) has a tourist kiosk inside (maps) and a map-billboard outside.

For future reference, we do a big ride of the complete valley, ewe call it the Giant Chateauguay Valley ride and it is a good 130 km ride that you should have tailwind for the last 30 km. It includes the famous Covey hill climb and goes right past two aunts' and two grandparent's farms. This ride is an early seasom favorite, but is good anytime of the year.

My only big advice is to avoid or minimize using the numbered highways (Rt 138, 201, 202) on bike.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

La Press Wednesday travel section feature... cycling Ormstown and the Chateauguay Valley!

La Presse newspaper (Montreal's best) has a big feature today on cycling in the "bucolic" Chateauguay valley.

This is one of our favorite places. As well, our families cut down the trees and were the first settlers there. Times have changed... but the region is still quiet and beautiful, and an excellent destination for cycling.

The article and photos copied some of Cycle Fun Montreal's favorite rides anywhere, notably the riding along the Chateauguay river from Ormstown to Huntingdon and then to the covered bridge at Powerscourt, and the famous Dewittville side road, between Dewittville and Rockburn.

Besides cycling, the feature contained articles on some of the other valley attractions, These included the Battle of Chateauguay museum - a battle where we kicked the Yanks back to their country after they attempted an invasion to take Montreal in the war of 1812. This article also has many additional suggestions for activities. Man cannot live by cycling alone. Active links too!

So, take the time this year (heck, this weekend!) to visit this beautiful and quiet and perfrct place for cycling rides, long or short.

For more information, visit the Tourism Suroit website. The Suroit is the western Monteregie, of which the chateauguay valley is a part of (the best part!)

Click here for a Bikely map of our favorite ride in the entire area.

Travel note: the IGA shopping centre in Ormstown (first stop light at intersection of Rt 138 and 201) has a tourism info inside the mall and a map kiosk outside. Many cyclists park here for their ride. Also, Downtown Ormstown has some construction but should be fine in a few weeks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

R.I.P Montreal Olympic Velodrome (1976-1989)

Montreal's Olympic Velodrome in it's Olympic glory

We really enjoyed the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and we wore our fav Reporters Without Borders Olympic t-shirt with pride!

We remember when Montreal had the olympics, when Montreal had the Olympic velodrome, and we even remember riding on the track before evil zoohead Mayor Pierre Bourque closed the velodrome and turned it into a indoor zoo.

So, take a moment and remember back when when Montreal had the finest indoor velodrome in the world.

R.I.P Montreal Olympic Velodrome (1976-1989)

Montreal's Olympic Velodrome today

Chemin Cote St-Catherine road to get bike path!

Chemin Cote St-Catherine road will be one of the Montreal island locations to get a new bike path this year.

The path will permit cyclists to travel in improved safety.

The bike path route will go between From Parc avenue and Cote des Neiges. This is the main axis east-west on the north side of the mountain. It is well used. We use it to go to work.

(From Cote st-Catheine we turn at Rockland heading north and cross outremont and the train tracks to TMR and St-Laurent. Let's hope that this next to get an official piste cyclable (bike route). )

Here is the latest news on the actual 100 km of new bike path promised for this year (from radio canada):
Réseau cyclable montréalais
100 km de plus cette année

Vélo sur une piste cyclable

La Ville de Montréal amorce le travail pour remplir sa promesse de doubler le nombre de kilomètres de pistes cyclables dans la métropole.

La Ville de Montréal amorce le travail pour remplir sa promesse de doubler le nombre de kilomètres de pistes cyclables dans la métropole.
Extrait vidéoPlus de place pour les vélos, explique Jean-Philippe Cipriani.

Le maire Gérald Tremblay a indiqué dimanche que 100 kilomètres s'ajouteront dès cette année. Il a fait cette annonce à l'occasion d'une cérémonie où l'on a baptisé la voie cyclable du boulevard de Maisonneuve, entre les rues Berri et Green, du nom de la militante Claire Morissette, qui a travaillé dans l'ombre pour donner une plus grande place au vélo sur l'île de Montréal.

Le maire Tremblay et le responsable du transport collectif au comité exécutif de la Ville, André Lavallée, ont notamment annoncé qu'une piste cyclable serait aménagée le long du chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine. Cette voie reliera entre eux les arrondissements Côte-des-Neiges, Outremont et Plateau-Mont-Royal.

La piste de la rue Rachel, interrompue au niveau de l'avenue Papineau, sera complétée. À terme, le réseau cyclable sera prolongé à l'est jusqu'à Anjou et à l'ouest jusqu'à Lachine. Des projets financés à moitié par le Fonds vert du gouvernement du Québec.

La réfection de certaines pistes est envisagée, tandis que les premiers vélos libre-service, sur le modèle parisien, seront disponibles dès septembre. « C'est très payant, parce que l'on parle de sécurité, on parle d'un changement profond de mentalité, d'attitude, de comportement », a expliqué le maire Tremblay.

La Ville veut aussi repenser certaines intersections, afin d'améliorer le bilan de 800 blessés par année, et de 4 morts en 2007. La révision des limites de vitesse dans les rues résidentielles, pour les faire passer de 50 à 40 km/h, prend toutefois un peu plus de temps que voulu du côté de Québec, selon le conseiller André Lavallée.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday night sunset ride - Gouin east to RDP

late afternoon, painting finished for today, where to ride?

How about Gouin to the east?

Excellent suggestion! We rode up bike path north on brebeuf and Chris Columbus. On gouin there is plenty of riding in parkland and not street, then when you've got quite far, it's back on the street and with telephone poles in the poor excuse for a path. Until we reached this point the ride was excellent. We u-turned at Jean Baptist in RDP about 20 km east from when we arrived at Gouin.

On the way back we explored Jarry Park, watched some cricket, and investigated the two biggest trees in the park. They are the famous, and now rare, American Elm tree.

Arrived back home just as darkness fell, translation: a perfectly-timed, perfect-weather sunset ride.

Ormstown to Powerscourt: yes it's the Chateauguay river ride!

Ormstown Huntingdon Powerscourt, and back by St-Antoine if you want

Here's more ride choices in the beautiful Chateauguay valley

Sunday ride will be Ormstown to Huntingdon to Powerscourt and the covered bridge.

You can ride back along the same route, or return a longer way by St-Antoine-Abbé.

Click here for more information, and here for even more information.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Riding to work with cool mornings and hot afternoons

Late summer...

riding to work on cool mornings...

riding home in the heat...

Cool mornings, don't we mean collis it was maudit criss de froid this week?

Staying warm is a big part of staying happy.

So it is time to add some extra clothing for the morning ride, but what exactly?

First we add arm warmers and a light tuque.

A snug fitting and double-zippered cycling vest is next.

Then come tights and liner gloves when it's down to ten C.

When the temperature drops below ten (don't deny it, it's coming and you know it) we wear all these things.

Add a cycling jacket when required. It's always in the bag in case nasty moisture starts falling from the sky.

If you use cycling shoes then add booties whenever your toes tell you it's time.

with autumn comes darkness, so remember to use lights and some reflectors at night. Change the batteries now!

And now we are well attired, we can continue riding until the snows come.

In case you are still cold, try this: RIDE HARDER! It's not rocket science. Stop at stop signs and red lights, and then accelerate, HARD, again and again and again and again, until you are hot stuff.

Monday, August 18, 2008


We noticed that our front quick release was released when we got on our bike after locking it outside in Old Montreal in Jacques Cartier Square.

Who would do such a thing?

An evil person, that's who.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Next new ride: magog-compton

Bikely map of the ride (link)

We were looking for a new ride. Where to look? Bikely to the rescue! This source of user-generated interactive bike maps is one of the great resources of the web. We've had a few great rides sourced from this site.

So... this Magog-Compton ride caught our eye.

Actually, this is a Magog, Georgeville, Ayer's Cliff, Compton, North Hatley, and back to Magog ride.

If you think that this is in a very scenic area, you'd be right.

If you think that this is in a very hilly area, you'd be right again.

If you think that this will be our next big bike adventure, you'd be right a third time!

We spent too much time in this area as students, and any reason to go back is a good one. This looks like a very good one!

What's also nice is that the starting point in Magog is a nice direct drive from Montreal on the Eastern Townships autoroute.

We would like to thank the Bikely user Flabbe for creating this bike route.

Home renovations are not quite over, but we are sure that we are going to ride here real soon!

Bikely satellite shot of the ride

Click here for a list of all Bikely maps for Quebec rides (there are 958 rides!). And yes, there are lots of easy and short rides too, you can search with tags and ride-distance limits.

Five Priorities for Urban Cycling

Suzanne Lareau of Vélo Québec has five priorities for Urban Cycling in Montreal. (We translate)

Cinq priorités pour le vélo urbain
(Five priorities for Urban Cycling)

Suzanne Lareau
pdg de Vélo Québec

Les Montréalais adoptent de plus en plus le vélo comme moyen de transport, mais ils seraient encore plus nombreux s’ils se sentaient plus en sécurité dans les rues de la ville. Voies cyclables, stationnements sécuritaires pour vélos, diminution du nombre de voitures et réduction de leur vitesse sont les incontournables pour favoriser le vélo urbain.

Voici cinq actions prioritaires pour accroître la pratique du vélo à Montréal :

Passer à l’action
(Move from the "plan" to "Action")
La Ville de Montréal vient d’adopter un audacieux plan de transport qui doit, entre autres, doubler le réseau cyclable d’ici cinq à sept ans. Soixante-dix kilomètres de voies cyclables devraient être créés chaque année. Nous sommes enthousiastes, mais on attend toujours les nouveaux kilomètres pour 2008…

Entretenir et rénover le réseau actuel
(Maintain and renovate the existing network)
Le réseau cyclable actuel a été aménagé il y a 25 ans. Plusieurs tronçons exigent des réparations ou des réaménagements majeurs, comme l’axe nord-sud, le boulevard Gouin et la rue Notre-Dame.

Terminer ce qui a été commencé
(Finish what you already started)
Il est impératif de terminer le réseau cyclable au centre-ville, débuté en 2005. Par exemple, la Ville a réalisé la piste cyclable sur De Maisonneuve, mais encore faut-il pouvoir s’y rendre...

Compléter l’accès à la rive-sud
(Complete the bike path links with the South Shore)
La Ville de Longueuil et le gestionnaire du pont Jacques-Cartier négligent les cyclistes en tardant à compléter la piste cyclable à la sortie du pont, côté rive sud. La société des ponts fédéraux prévoit réaliser le tronçon manquant en 2010-2011, soit plus de huit ans après l’aménagement de la piste…

Offrir le vrai cocktail transport
(Offer a true multimode transport system)
Encourager les déplacements à vélo, c’est aussi permettre le transport des vélos dans les trains de banlieue et autobus. De nombreux obstacles logistiques bloquent la route. Avec un peu de volonté, l’AMT et les sociétés de transport de la région seraient en mesure de lever plusieurs freins.

Cycle Fun Montreal would like to add number six:

Educate cyclists on road rules and safety

Educating the cycling public on road safety, manners (civisme), and the rules of the road is something this city desperately needs to do as soon as possible. It is complete chaos out there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The "new" boulevard Saint-Laurent is less safe for bikes?

Have you noticed that the all-new boulevard Saint-Laurent has wider sidewalks, and a narrower street?

A narrower street=less safe for bikes.

This used to be such a great street to bike up because the bike "lane" at the side of the street was nice and big.

Now it's not.

Now it's narrow and it's watch out for car doors and stuff.


And while rantmode=on how about we request some more bike parking? And bike-stand-style parking posts on the side streets?

Especially at CocoRico takeout chicken I'd like to securely lock the bike a bit closer to the restaurant. As the restaurant is on a corner, how about converting the parking meter posts around the corner into bike-stand ones?

Boulevard Saint-Laurent is all new, you should go for a WALK on the street.

From wherever you live, bike to boulevard Saint-Laurent and lock your bike and go for a walk.

This is one of the best destinations in the city.

sunset gets earlier, get out the bike lights

Summer sunsets are coming earlier each night.

It is time to dig out the bike lights again, put some fresh batteries (recycle the old ones properly!) and ride safe, and visible, at night.

Riding at night, without lights, will get you an ambulance ride to the emergency room at the hospital.

I know. I learned the hard way. The very hard way: a head-on collision with a car when I was invisible at night. I was very, very lucky to survive that alive, let me tell you.

And I destroyed my very first and brand new racing bike.

I still love night riding, but now I make visibility a bit of a fetish.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

urban bike ride suggestion: visit Montreal's Elm Trees

The American Elm tree is one of the magnificent trees.

The Elm (orme in french) used to own this city, then came the Dutch Elm Disease, and this fungal disease did a good job killing them (or making them dangerous so they had to be cut down).

But the species was not wiped out entirely.

This is great news!

We always wondered if we could find an Elm in Montreal, to see what they look like. But... we never quite got around to it.

Until today.

It turns out they were not wiped out, and we can find some around town. If we know where to look.

The always interesting website Spacing Montreal has started a "Tree Tuesday" series by Bronwyn Chester. To my surprise and delight the writer has dedicated an entire column to the Elm tree in Montreal.

Your mission: get on your bike and visit some of Montreal's remaining Elm trees. Here are five locations where the elm still exists in Montreal.
  • 1) Jarry Park – look for the two tallest trees
  • 2) Montreal Botanical Gardens
  • 3) Parc du Boisé des Pères (corner of Dickson and Rosemont)
  • 4) Christophe-Colombe, north of Metropolitain Highway, alongside the bike path: a rare grove of American elms
  • 5) Near the Bordeau prison on rue Zotique Racicot, between rues Jean Tournois and Edmond Valade
Good luck with your mission, and give the trees a hug when you visit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic cycling at cbc

For Olympic results we usually check out our national broadcaster CBC.

The CBC cycling page is located at

We also look at www.cyclingnews for race results and pics, and canadiancyclist for a canadian angle on the events.

Women's Road Race results

Three Canadian women were in the women's road race (and they were all in Montreal for the women's world cup race in June - click here for CycleFunMontreal's race pictures) and they are: Leigh Hobson 17th (who retired after this race! - race photo here), 37th Erinne Willock (race photo here), and 50th Alexandra Wrubleski, who fell during this wet and rainy race.

Here's the final results:

Cycling - 2008 Olympic women's road race
1Nicole CookeBritain3:32:24
2Emma JohanssonSweden3:32:24
3Tatiana GuderzoItaly3:32:24
4Christiane SoederAustria3:32:28
5Linda Melanie Villumsen SerupDenmark3:32:33
6Marianne VosNetherlands3:32:45
7Priska DoppmannSwitzerland3:32:45
8Paulina BrzeznaPoland3:32:45
9Edita PucinskaiteLithuania3:32:45
10Zulfiya ZabirovaKazakhstan3:32:45
11Jolanta PolikeviciuteLithuania3:32:45
12Yulia MartisovaRussia3:32:45
13Christel Ferrier BruneauFrance3:32:45
14Maryline SalvetatFrance3:32:45
15Noemi CanteleItaly3:32:45
16Min GaoChina3:32:52
17Leigh HobsonCanada3:32:52
18Nicole BrandliSwitzerland3:32:52
19Anna SanchisSpain3:32:52
20Trixi WorrackGermany3:32:52
21Susanne LjungskogSweden3:32:52
22Yevgeniya VysotskaUkraine3:32:55
23Emma PooleyBritain3:32:55
24Jeannie Longo-CiprelliFrance3:32:57
25Kristin ArmstrongUnited States3:33:07
26Anita Valen de VriesNorway3:33:17
27Modesta VzesniauskaiteLithuania3:33:17
28Joanne KiesanowskiNew Zealand3:33:17
29Oenone WoodAustralia3:33:17
30Grete TreierEstonia3:33:17
31Miho OkiJapan3:33:17
32Tatiana StiajkinaUkraine3:33:17
33Amber NebenUnited States3:33:17
34Marissa van der MerweSouth Africa3:33:17
35Sharon LawsBritain3:33:17
36Mirjam Melchers-van PoppelNetherlands3:33:17
37Erinne WillockCanada3:33:23
38Sara CarriganAustralia3:33:25
39Hanka KupfernagelGermany3:33:25
40Natalia BoyarskayaRussia3:33:45
41Judith ArndtGermany3:33:51
42Oksana KashchyshynaUkraine3:34:13
43Alexandra BurchenkovaRussia3:36:32
44Lieselot DecroixBelgium3:36:35
45Alessandra Giusseppina GrassiMexico3:36:35
46Monika SchachlAustria3:36:37
47Chantal BeltmanNetherlands3:37:02
48Lang MengChina3:37:42
49Sigrid Teresa CorneoSlovenia3:39:29
50Alexandra WrubleskiCanada3:39:36
51Clemilda SilvaBrazil3:41:01
52Christine ThorburnUnited States3:41:08
53Catherine CheatleyNew Zealand3:41:08
54Daniely del Valle Garcia BuitriagVenezuela3:43:25
55Marta VilajosanaSpain3:43:25
56Sara MustonenSweden3:43:25
57Angie Sabrina Gonzalez GarciaVenezuela3:43:25
58Sungeun GuSouth Korea3:45:59
59Cherise TaylorSouth Africa3:48:33
60Yumari GonzalezCuba3:51:39
61Chanpeng NontasinThailand3:51:51
62Aurelie HalbwachsMauritius3:52:11

Heejung SonSouth KoreaDNF

Vera CarraraItalyDNF

Kate BatesAustraliaDNF

Jennifer HohlSwitzerlandDNF

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

photos from Glen Sutton ride

Sutton and north along the Sutton range

Jay Peak and mountains to the south

Starting Bolton Pass with rocket assist

long shadows... almost home

Curving through Bolton Pass

Back in Knowlton, and the sun is still out!

Climbing up Scenic Road south of Sutton

Scenic view on Scenic Road - Pinnacle in background

Wildlife in Mansonville

South Bolton's space program

La Presse suggests... Canal Chambly

La Presse newspaper suggests today a bicycle excursion on the Chambly Canal.

This 20 km-long canal between Chambly and St-Jean sur Richelieu is flat and an excellent bike ride for the family and non-speedster type cyclists.

The Chambly end of the canal also has Fort Chambly, a fort designed to repel American invaders.

Knowlton - Glen Sutton ride

A great ride around the roadless Mont Sutton massif

We used yesterday's rain-free day to take Sid on a ride around the beautiful Sutton area.

We started in Knowlton and took the (crappy) Mont Echo road to Sutton, passing straight through and then taking (also crappy) Chemin Scenic Road over to the Mississiquoi river valley, which is one of the most scenic valleys in eastern Canada. Road surface improved here and remained excellent for the rest of the ride. Also, at the top of the Scenic hill climb(s) marks the end of the real climbing.

After enjoying the excellent scenery of the Mississiquoi river valley, it was in to Mansonville and a side trip over to the nearby covered bridge for some excellent and amazing views of the Sutton range, Jay Peak, and many miles south in to Vermont. An excellent detour, and you don't need to go all the way to the covered bridge to enjoy the view.

Then it was back to Mansonville and then through Bolton Pass back to Knowlton.

The low point was a flat and then two more tubes wasted discovering that the valve-hole on the wheel rim has a sharp edge that was cutting the valve-stem when pumping up the tire. It was a year ago that this rear wheel was replaced with a mavic open cd rim that has NEVER stayed aligned, likes to let tires explode off the side of the rim, and now causes spare tubes to be destroyed. This was a Outdoor Gear Canada (OGC)-built wheel that has completely failed to satisfy (translation: complete POS).

But aside from that little flat thing, the ride was excellent, with perfect weather, amazing scenery, and some great road conditions for the second half of the ride. The first half, scenic and mont echo roads left a little something to be desired in the quality asphalt department.

90 kilometres of good times, 1000 metres of climbing, and many many good views. In autumn with fall colours, this would be an amazing ride.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Cole sisters bike from Montreal to Ottawa... in 1916!

Traveling with a bicycle isn't a recent invention. In fact, traveling was probably the first use of a bicycle.

Here are three sisters who were bicycling from Montreal to Ottawa, in 1916. What an adventure that must have been.

Photograph | The Coles sisters on a bicycle trip from Montreal to Ottawa, QC-ON, 1916 | MP-1976.175.1
Bike touring 1916-style (courtesy McCord Museum and Notman Archives)

None of these bikes would look out of place today. They have have lights, fenders, and racks.

We wonder how this journey to Ottawa went, whose idea it was, where did they stay along the way, did they take the train back home, and what adventures did they have along the way.

We hope they had fun. In fact, we think for sure they had fun.

Bike racks at work

Our workplace has used the construction holiday... to construct a third row of bicycle parking racks.

So now 100 out of the 5000 people who work there can ride their bikes to work.

Another small step forward!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Urban exploration ride: Railroad artifacts of Montreal

Dalhousie Station and elevated road - located on the Berri bike path in Old Montreal

Here's today's urban bike ride theme: Montreal's railroad history.

Photograph | Dalhousie Station, Montreal, QC, about 1880, lithograph by unknown artist | MP-0000.2263
Dalhousie station before cars (Courtesy the McCord Museum and Notman Archives)

Montreal was the capital of the Canada's railroad system from it's conception until the middle of this century, we mean the last century (damn this new millennium!).

But relentless urban renewal has removed much of the history from around us. We are left with a few crumbs of history, it tends to be very much "history-lite" and as far as we can tell, there is not a locomotive or rail car in any park or historical location on Montreal Island.

At this point, it's important to mention that just off-island in the south shore town of St-Catherine is the amazing railway museum Exporail. This is Canada's National Railway Museum and it is great.

But our point is that we could use some real history ON the island of Montreal. There is some, if you know where to look, so let's go find some. Let's ride!

Traces of history exist at Dalhousie train station.

There are three train stations in downtown Montreal that have been converted to modern uses. These are the Windsor, Dalhousie, and Viger Stations.

The magnificent Victorian castle-style Windsor Station is the most recent closure, closed when the new Canadiens hockey arena was built. You will find a courtyard with some train tracks in a sparse setting. Go here for more information of the history of the Windsor station. Other buildings of interest nearby are the uphill neighbour of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates' IBM-Marathon building (a.k.a. 1250 Réne Lévesque) and The Chateau Champlain hotel, built as it is on an elevated platform extending over the area where the downtown Montreal elevation takes a sharp downhill along the escarpment that is such a prominent feature of downtown Montreal's topography. Elevated platforms intrigue us a bit, the redevelopment plans for the Radio-Canada building in the east feature platforms posing as solid ground. These completely synthetic environments have one thing in common, their elevation provides a good scenic view-and bikes take you there.

The Dalhousie station used an elevated Oops, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The Dalhousie station is a bit less well-known. Located on Berri street (on the Berri bike path!) in Old Montreal, it served as the station for the first transcontinental train trip across the huge country of Canada. The interior is converted into an gym for circus arts. and is now the home base of Cirque Eloize, a local circus product of high calibre. A railroad track park is installed beside the station, and there is an overhead street (above the arch) and viaduct that gives you a good view of the station and the city skyline. In fact, it is on our list of our favorite montreal lookouts. We attended the école nationale du Cirque when it was the previous occupant of this building, before the creation of the Cite de la cirque in St-Michel district. ( Cite de la cirque will be the focus of an upcoming ride, but a quick faq would say that the attraction here is the Tohu theatre and the outdoor festival space, and a lots of post modern architecture. Cyclist-vistors should ride around the gigantic rock quarry environmental centre. (End of digression)

A long-ignored third station is just a few feet north of the Dalhousie station. The Chateau Viger station. is Montreal's own "Chateau" style train station (like the Banff Springs, Chateau Laurier, Chateau Frontenac, etc) It is undergoing a redevelopment and it is a real beauty, one of the gems of Montreal.

Click here for the Old Montreal's tourism association information on this part of the "railway district" and for many other interesting bicycle destinations in Montreal.

Very strange things on poles in park that was a gift from Lyon France. On the Berri bike path at Viger. Look closely, there's a TGV here.

To see a huge number of historical photographs, we encourage you to visit the online Notman photograph archives at the McCord museum. The Notman archives are completely amazing.

We say amazing and we mean amazing: Here's a photo of a man touring the Yukon in winter in 1898, on bicycle.

Photograph | Rev. Wright touring the Klondike on bicycle, at 85 Road House, Klondike, YT, about 1898 | MP-0000.2360.78
Man + Bicycle = Fun

Time for a quick bike-rider safety checkup

Balance, stopping, steering a bicycle are easy.
Traffic rules? Who needs 'em? Not me!
Away we go.

Do you ride like this?

We suggest that you click here and take this fun quiz from the MTQ.

Click here for Quebec's Bicycle Safety Guide (4th ed.). It's a pdf and you'll be surprised how much normal cycling activity is illegal. And expensive. Demerit points too, ouch!

Here is a searchable version of the Quebec traffic code in english. Select the traffic code from the search results. When the traffic code appears, use the search button on the right side of the screen, it works great and is highly educational.

mid summer civisme update

OK everybody, listen up: no shouting, no screaming, no running down pedestrians, no weaving through the red lights against traffic, no riding on the wrong side of the street, and no riding on the sidewalk.