Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hill climbing 101

Hill climbing 101 states to improve your hill-climbing abilities, you must climb some hills.

Luckily, Montreal has a big hill as its physical and spiritual heart. Mont Royal has several excellent choices for the cyclist looking to improve the hill climbing, starting with Camilien Houde from Mont Royal avenue. In fact, this 1.7 km 15% hill will improve you fast and the hill (and all hills) will seem a lot shorter and easier. Hint: the more laps you do, the better you will be.

We rode up tonight on the way home from work, and it was good (as in painful and hard). It will be more good if we keep doing it every third day for the next ten weeks. (we can dream!)

Your turn!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Cote Ste-Catherine bike path gets new asphalt

Today the not-quite-finished bike path on Cote Ste-Catherine road was getting the new smooth road surface treatment.

This new path goes from rue Villeneuve in the Mile End area and curves around Mont Royal westward to Vincent d'Indy at Université de Montreal

The official opening will be coming soon. We look forward to completing the path all the way west to Cote des Neiges, Decarie and Cavendish. (And one day, cavendish north to St-Laurent.)

Are you Tiger Woods on a bicycle?

The Gazette's fitness columnist (and so much more) Jill Barker had a very interesting article this week on Sports Psychology.

Practice makes perfect, so let the automatic part of your brain take charge. You have to do your part and train, all your life if possible, but once you achieve the higher levels, let the brain do it's part of the training too. In a word, don't screw it up by thinking too much.

Lucky for us riding a bicycle is an action that we have lots of practice, just focus on doing it and don't spend too much mental effort on useless activity. (like the distraction that is your sore butt)

Jill Barker says it much better than us: go here to read it for yourself. Go now, because her always-excellent articles disappear after a few weeks online.

bottled bagel juice?

We like bagels for quick energy food, and a fresh Fairmont power bagel is the best choice of the selection Montreal offers the (real) bagel lover who needs quick energy to power the bike another (and hopefully final) 50 kilometres.

But we wondered, can we get bagels in a liquid form? Bottled bagel juice?

Or have we gone too far?

Ok, we have gone too far.

We need to return to real food.

So we swear on the grave of our mothers (when and if they pass on) that we will go all the way and hereby renounce all portable gel food products.


Route des champs to have missing link completed?

The direct bike path between Chambly and Granby is called the Route des Champs (fields, not champions). It is a scenic and direct route and followed an old train route, but it began and ended some distance away from the nearest large towns (Chambly and Granby).

So we are happy to read that the Chambly end will be improved with 5 km of bike path so the "gap" is eliminated.

We are not sure about the granby end of things, so we'll go to Granby for lunch on Saturday to check it out. Yes, we will ride there. And back!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tandem bike ride in Magog

We rented a tandem bike from Planete Sports in Magog and explored Magog and the local route verte the happy couple way.... as soon as the captain learned to communicate the upcoming events (turning left! Shifting! Bump!) to his trusty stoker.

We liked the experience and would get a tandem, if we just had a place to park it. Because these things are big!

Gazette bike blog On Two Wheels is against cycling safety?

Do you think riding on the sidewalk is OK?

Do you think that riding down st-laurent the wrong way is OK?

Well, the Gazette cycling blog seems to think so.

The author's attitude seems to be that safety is unimportant, that any rule is made to be broken, that people walking on the sidewalk should not expect to be safe from being run down by bicycle riding outlaws, even that dangerous cycling behaviour should not be ticketed by police.

We support fully all actions that make cycling safer, that instills greater civisme in bicycle riders, and we think that the dirty looks we get from everyone else on the road (cars, pedestrians, coworkers, etc) is the result of attitudes like this author.

The Gazette should be ashamed that their blog is being written by someone whose concept of responsibility is that not having any is ok. The author even admits to having not much of a clue about the rules that cyclists are obliged to legally obey.

Here's a few clues:
  • stop at red lights
  • stop at stop signs
  • stop and yield then there is someone with the right of way in the intersection
  • don't ride on sidewalks.
  • Ride with lights at night
  • don't wear ipod while riding
  • no texting while riding
  • Don't ride the wrong way on one-way streets
  • follow the marked traffic-directions and lanes on bike paths
  • And don't write a bike blog for a major newspaper if you're an outlaw cyclist
Growing up and acting responsibly are not optional in life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

North Hatley - Compton dirt road adventure ride

We survived a hard and longer than expected with less time than expected with more hills than expected on more dirt roads than expected. But we had a map and a well-functioning bike and we got back to North Hatley in time to see Montreal poet Maxianne Berger at the La Chocolatière d'Hatley B & B, with a few seconds to spare.

The weather was summer-time perfect, and the region is very beautiful. For a easier ride, the the first leg of our ride on the excellent bike path between North Hatley and Lennoxville is flat and scenic, and fun. Unfortunately for us, instead of turning around and riding this path back to North Hatley, we decided to return by Compton, which is the very long and hilly way. And we took interesting dirt roads, which, while scenic, were very hilly. So we finished the ride quite hot and sweaty.

This is a beautiful region, and although we had summer temperatures on Saturday, we hope to return in real summer!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dan1 puts Monteregie tourism road circuits on bikely

The Monteregie tourism region is everything south, east, and west of Montreal.

That's all the land east until the townships, south to the US border, and west until you reach the Ontario border. There's a bit of coeur de quebec in there too.

The tourism agency produces a very useful map with 20 road-riding circuits on it. Bikely user has created these maps on bikely. We thank you Dan41!

Cycle Fun Montreal has had many good rides in the Monteregie, it's close to home, and vast in it's size, and therefore the variety of bike rides.

For anyone looking for a bike rode idea just outside Montreal, you should start with looking at these maps.

Here's the link.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MRC Maskinongé ride turns out great!

Our planned route, the actual route was a bit shorter 'cuz we trimmed the lower left corner a bit

Our anticipated ride in the region just west of Trois Rivieres called the MRC Maskinongé was a great one. Beautiful weather, good road conditions, good weather, nice distance and scenery.

What more could you want from a ride than this? Not much, this is a beautiful region, and this ride took us through a lot of it.

As a bonus, our average speed was 25 km/h at the end of the ride. Woohoo!

A slightly edited Bikely map is in progress, it'll be up in a day.

This was a nice ride and we recommend it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A great Montreal riverside bike ride

We crossed the St-Laurence and rode riverside on both sides of the river, and then back from Lachine on the canal. Early-season-empty bike path was a bonus. Also, numerous re-paving efforts on the Lachine Canal path made the ride much better. This was a great ride!

Here's a bikely map of this ride, it's one we often use to introduce visitors to Montreal. Highly recommended.

Bike path across Pont Victoria - open now

The pont victoria bike access to the south shore through parc Drapeau is supposed to be open now. We are going to test this theory.

This bike path also provides access to the "voie maritime" which is the scenic and semi-natural spit of land between the St-Laurence river and seaway between Pont Victoria and the locks upriver at Ste-Catherine, Quebec. This is a highly scenic path, and one with great views of Montreal across the river. It also connects to the "Estacade" (ice bridge) beside the Pont Champlain, which brings you to Nuns Island and Verdun and the excellent Les Berges bike path along the St-Laurence river and the Lachine Rapids (which are quite impressive this time of year!).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Summer's scenic sunset spots

Here are some scenic sunset spots for your late day/early evening enjoyment.

You need to know these because summer sunset season is almost here.

When you ride your bike and visit and get to know these jewels of Montreal, we are sure you will achieve the state of bliss we call Cycle Fun Montreal.

  • St-Joseph's Oratory upper parking lot
  • little park beside City Hall looking north/west
  • meadow above/between beaver lake and Olmstead road
  • Pont Jacques Cartier bridge bike path (west side)

Sunday is Riding Day

more beautiful quebec countryside

Where to ride sunday?

Do we choose new terrain? Or should we stick to familiar territory?

For new destination, we were thinking about starting in Louiseville and riding north & east towards Shawinigan. We are exploring the north shore of the Saint Laurence river as part of one of our ten-year plans. This particular area looks quite good. it's called the MRC de Mackinongé. (a MRC is a bit like a county). Where is it? It's just this side of Trois Rivieres. Just after Lanaudiere.

Louiseville is the first town you hit as you drive along the 40. We would ride from the st-laurence lowlands up and in to the Laurentian/Canadian shield highlands. A little known factis that Quebec north of the St-Laurence is very lightly populated. So, be careful you don't get your carbon bike frame eaten by beavers while you snooze at the lunch stop.

We have a Carte Vélo of this region, and we linked together two bike rides into a larger loop. The downside? Our cameria is broken, and we can't take pictures. On the plus side, this means our average speed will be 1-2 km/h better.

Here's the bikely map I made for this potential ride.

10 million dollars for bixi? We'd spend $10M on...

The city of Montreal is spending ten million dollars on the Bixi bike rental/extortion program.

We'd rather the city spent money on:
  • Secure bike parking (including bike boxes/secure & covered bike parking)
  • bike rider education
  • fixing potholes
  • public drinking fountains and washrooms
  • more safe bike paths
  • a full north-south link in western mtl/NDG
  • modernizing the Lachine Canal bike path (3-lanes)
  • more parking sign/meter posts with bike parking (we like these a lot)
  • sweeping the winter crap off of the bike paths and the sides of Montreal streets
The city is improving the situation for bikes and cycling quite rapidly. Cyclists have a right to safe conditions for cycling. And conditions could be safer. (rider's too)

Overall, we think the city is moving in the right direction. The city has announced a bike path for the "missing link." a bike path connection between the Plateau and the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge entrance (the wider and wildly scenic west-side path). We're surprised at this news... and happy!

Good work Montreal!

women's world cup back for 2009 edition

The best race of the year in Montreal (take that nascar!), the woman's world cup cycling race on Mont Royal, is coming back for it's 12th edition at the end of May.

The official french name is the 12e édition de la Coupe du Monde Cycliste Féminine.

This race is followed by the 4 days of the 8th edition of the Tour du Grand Montréal.

Click here to see our pictures from last year's race.

We like this race a lot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Montreal announces 60 new km of bike path for 2009

First on the list: the missing link on Rachel around Papineau, where the path takes a scenic, but useless, several block detour off Rachel. A person on CBC radio said that the Rachel bike path is the cities most dangerous, so watch out at intersections, watch out between intersections, everywhere cuz this is a danger zone of the first order.

Another missing link is westmount down to the Lachine Canal, which will now get a dedicated bike path or bike lane.

More news tomorrow (there are 30 projects planned for 2009) when the city posts the new routes on their website.

Here's a cut'n'paste from the press release:
Parmi l'ensemble de la programmation prévue pour 2009, comprenant le
tronçon de la rue Rachel, d'autres projets ont aussi leur importance et seront
aménagés cette année, dont ceux-ci :

- les rues Masson et Molson, entre le Réseau vert, les rues Molson et
- le Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges et la rue Decelles, entre les chemins
Remembrance et Queen-Mary;
- la rue University, de l'avenue Milton au boulevard De Maisonneuve;
- l'accès au pont Jacques-Cartier, par la rue Champlain;
- les rues Senkus, Cordner et Laplante, entre le Canal Lachine et le
boulevard LaSalle;
- Le chemin Sainte-Marie, entre le chemin des Pins et la rue Meloche, à

En plus des nouvelles pistes qui seront aménagées, quelque sept tronçons
existants feront aussi l'objet de travaux de mise à niveau, notamment l'axe du
CP, de Beaubien à Masson.
A l'instar de l'an dernier, la Ville de Montréal est convaincue de
pouvoir compter sur l'appui financier du gouvernement du Québec et du
ministère des Transports, notamment par l'apport d'une subvention provenant du
Programme d'aide gouvernementale aux modes de transport alternatif pour
réaliser les travaux prévus cette année.

Une première carte du réseau cyclable disponible

Afin de répondre à la demande et de faire connaître le réseau cyclable
aux usagers et aux touristes de passage dans la métropole, la Ville de
Montréal rendra disponible sous peu un première carte de son réseau cyclable
présent sur l'ensemble de l'île. Cette carte, comprenant également le réseau
des stations BIXI, sera disponible dans les bureaux Accès-Montréal, le réseau
des bibliothèques et les bureaux d'Information touristique, d'ici les
prochaines semaines.
Did you read that last part: Montreal is going to publish a map of the bike path network, a useful thing for tourists and everybody else. (note: Velo Quebec traditionally posts a good map of the network on their website, but only in May.)

Another juicy and long-awaited link is btween the nrth end of Pont jacques Cartier Bridge and the plateau bike paths (rachel/axis nord) on Champlain street. This has been a long standing Cycle Fun Montreal campaign to get this link established. Now if we could just cross the traffic on Papineau to get to the bridge! (and perhaps fix that terrible sidewalk up to the bridge from papineau!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chateauguay valley - Howick to Herdman/Powerscourt

Another near perfect chateauguay valley ride? Yipper.

Today's route: slightly shorter than planned (bikely map link)

The planned route: Howick to Powerscourt, an nice 81 km ride (bikely map link)

Let us begin by saying that our destination was Powerscourt, not Herdman, but time was not our friend today, and a 3 pm on bike start made the schedule a bit tight. (a bit!)

We had not used Howick as a starting point before, but we wanted the extra 20 km to the ride that this would give us. It worked great! The roads we took were generally excellent (a couple of small exceptions). The ride would be better with Powerscourt as the turn-around point, but today's version had almost all the ingredients of a great ride. We mapped the route to Powerscourt as being an extra 11 km to the total ride distance. Not much and this would avoid the bad conditions of Rt 202 between 1st concession and Gore road of today's ride.

We mapped both rides on Bikely, but we think the original 80 km Howick to Powerscourt is the best version if you want to try it.

Today's ride had some extra spice: big winds!

a little ride around northern lanaudiere

w edid a shortened version of our fav northern lanaudiere hill ride, and we find it amazing how much sand can be spread on a hilly road and not have beach bunnies laying around.

Seriously, the weather was good and so were the roads, although the sand made it a bit tricky to find uhill traction on some steepest parts.

One thing that was as good as ever was the scenic views. This area is nice, and we keep returning, because the hills never get less hilly, and the views never get less scenic. We'd like some green, but it'll be ariving on schedule later this month.

Friday, April 10, 2009

ready to ride? out the door...

It's out the door at 11:26 am with the destination of...

a) the L'Assomption region (mrc), which is just off the eastern tip of the island. We will test drive this region's bike-ride map that we picked up at the bike show earlier this spring.

It's a nice map, now let's see what the reality is like.

Here is a link to the bike ride map we are using.

Update: It would have been nice if we had actually brought this map with us!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Vélo Québec's Summer Challenge rides in the beautiful Quebec countryside

Vélo Québec has some interesting looking rides in the country around Montreal.

In fact these three rides hit the three key geographic regions surrounding Montreal: the eastern Townships (Appalachians), Lanaudiere (Laurentians), and Chateauguay Valley (Adirondacks).

Doing an organized ride is the easy and painless way to explore the beautiful Quebec countryside.

In fact, these rides are a ticket to paradise, at what is a very reasonable cost.

Regular readers know we like these three locations quite a lot.

Vélo Québec calls these rides (in english) "Summer Challenges" and each ride is offered in multiple distance options from 75-150 km.

Vélo Québec calls them les défis de l'été in french. (francais link)

Montreal and its bridges

Montreal is an island. As a cyclist, you need to know where the bridges are.

Velo Quebec has just the page you are looking for.

Now, go outside and explore. your. world.

We'd also like to mention that the 1979 Downchild Blues Band album "Bootleg" has good essential groove. It's an all-time favorite. But we digress.

spring cycling bike-checkup

The gazette bicycle blog has a post about checking your bike in the springtime. Your safety depends on your bike working properly, it's a worthwhile read. Then take a few minutes to check your bike.

We remember once, the bike was in the kitchen in Bromont, and there was a little screw on the floor. We didn't think too much about it.

Until we discovered it was the screw holding the brake lever together.


Spring police crackdown started

The annual police effort to teach some civisme to montreal's pedestrians and cyclists has begun.

The lesson they teach is an expensive one, so please be sure you stop at stop signs, don't ride on the sidewalk, and keep all your fingers on the handlebars...

We don't like this method very much. but we hate the crazy outlaw insanely discourteous Montreal cyclists more. We followed a guy home who never slowed down, or even looked, as he ran all the stop signs in TMR at top speed. Nice job dude, real nice.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Crap weather improving!

This has not been the best week for cycling, weather wise. but we saw plenty of hard core out suffering. We were inside suffering on the trainer. We will suffer outside this weekend, as improved weather is the forecast.

This weekend will be our first visit back to our favorite northern Lanaudiere hills ride. Woohoo!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Weekend in Magog

Pinacle, our rock climbing paradise, looking very sad in the rain

Mural in downtown Sherbrooke

Bois Dormant, B&B in downtown Magog

Magog`s Unidentified Lake Creature observation tower

Millies doorman, er, woman?

Springtime in Magog was the followup to some new pieces of titanium in our household.

Due to the rain (and snow!) we did mainly non cycling things, like visit Lac Memphremagog, Mont Pinacle (at Baldwin Mills/lac lyster), Orford park, Sutton, North Hatley, Brigham, Knowlton, Bishop's university, ate at Louis restaurant in Sherbrooke (mmm Chewy Louie's), Millies in Stanstead - (with the mayor of Stanstead serenading us while we ate), Star Café in Knowlton, fancy grub at aux Jardins Champetre near Magog (austin?) for our big supper and we stayed at Bois Dormant b&b in Magog.

We are looking forward to returning to visit these places on our bikes in summer, when the snow is sure to stay away!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Highway construction season starting

One of the downsides in living in a place with so much good cycling, is the fact that destinations require driving in cars. On roads. On roads with summer season road reconstruction. A season that is starting now.

Our advice is to plan your destination around road construction, and avoid the construction zones which are traffic jam magnets.

For information on road construction, consult the Quebec 511 (the old name was inforoutiere) website or phone line.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Quebec vacation road trip

We asked ourselves the question: what would we do if someone came for a week-long Quebec cycling vacation and wanted to really ride and see Quebec (the province).

sleep: Montreal

Saturday: Montreal: Ride across Pont Jacques Cartier bridge to Ile ste-Helene, ile Notre Dame, the st-laurence seaway bike path to St-Catherine and back (until the bike link with pont Mercier is completed) with return route via Estacade, Ile des Soeurs, the excellent les berges along the St-Laurence (west), lachine canal and Westmount hill on Mont Royal. Welcome to Montréal.

Sunday: Southwest Quebec in the Chateauguay valley: Ormstown, Huntingdon, covered bridge at Powerscourt, apples at Franklin, through the Rock, the bataille de la Chateauguay.

Monday: Lanaudiere hills, Ste-Emilie de l'Energie, Ste-Beatrix, St Jean de Matha, Louis Cyr and fresh raspberries. Life doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday: Petit train du Nord from Tremblant (easy option: start in Ste-Agathe) to St-Jerome, or for pure roadies, from Mont Laurier to Labelle (this is the northern, paved part of the P'tit train du Nord)

Wednesday: La Mauricie, from Shawinigan north along magnifique Mauricie river to St-Roch-de-Mekinac, then inland through beautiful canyon/valley south to St-Tite and Ste-Thecle.

Sleep: Quebec City

Thursday: Quebec city along Champlain, then cross the river on the bike-friendly ferry (with the most beautiful view in eastern north america) to Levis and then south to new bike path to Arargh.

Friday: Petit Temis fron Degelis to Riviere du Loup and then east along the coast with tailwind. Enjoy tides and an amazing sunset across the river and the charlevoix mountains.

Saturday: cross the river on Ferry and ride Charlevoix, quebec's hilly section. Part of it is a gigantic meteorite crater. Uh-huh. Ride up the hill from St-Joseph de la River to Les Eboulements.

Sunday: head back to Montreal and ride the eastern townships (north of Vermont). We suggest Sherbrooke's Les Grande Forches loop to North Hatley (part of this is urban and it's not too long). The incontournable Sutton-Jay Peak loop offers flavour for those with energy left in the legs. bike maps, bad behaviour, and good rides

We (and many other people) have taken the time to make maps of their bike rides on Bikely. Many good rides. And like many good things in this world, someone else steals them!

In particular, we have noticed that a Bikely user has copied (and by copied we mean stolen) some of the routes we and other people have created and is calling them his (her?) own.

This is dirty pool, bad etiquette, and downright scummy behaviour.We wish this person many flats, broken spokes, and sunburn where the sun don't shine.

But let's not end this post on a sour note.

We really love looking at bike ride maps on, and we have found some great rides here.

Quebec is huge with a ton of geography.

Montreal is well located for literally hundreds of different rides in Quebec (laurentians, lanaudiere, Townships, Mauricie, Quebec, Charlevoix (the real hills of quebec), bas st-laurent, Beauce, Chaudiere Appalache, Gatineau, etc), and if you get tired of this... cross the border to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, even Ontario. In fact this year we are waiting for a windy weekend, and we want to do a long fast road ride with the wind. Since the wind most often blows from the west, Ontario will be our starting point for this most excellent adventure.

Nothing is better than a good tailwind on a sunny day.

April 1: bike paths now open, afternoon rain

April, how we like and hate thee...

We like April because the spring weather is here and we can ride outside.

We like April because the bike paths are finally open.

We hate April, because it rains. A lot. Like in the afternoon so we can commute to work on bike but get totally drenched by the rain coming home.

And, there's the car drivers who try to kill us, like a Nissan Altima with 015-xxx on the licence plate. But that's not unique to April!

Ride safe!