Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Amazing new rails-to-trails bike path Cycloroute de Bellechasse

Quebec city just to the north, and the 74km Cycloroute de Bellechasse

perfect asphalt, a flat path (straight but curvy too) through very hilly terrain!

Rest stop near St-Damien - choo choo!

Inside the rest car

just above the barns is a horizontal line - it's the bike path on the west side of Etchemin river

Start/End of path at Chutes d'Armagh, (this is not the map, but everyone who helped get this $4 million bike path/piste cyclable built is thanked - and they fully deserve our thanks!)

We have no idea who this woman is, she started back a few seconds after us and she finished the ride back to St-Henri about 15 minutes after we did, and we didn't stop much. Zoom-Zoom.

Nearing the St-Henri-end of the path. That line of clouds kept us out of the sun all day until we reached the St-Henri section--we were missing a lot certain solar heating on this cool spring day.

This rider is of the many people of all riding levels who we saw enjoying this great new bike path. If you don't have fun and a good time on a path of this caliber, you really need to find a new sport. (or a better seat!)

WTF? a pile of snow left over from the winter! The last one we see this year (we hope!)

74 km of amazing bike path ends at Parc des Chutes d'Armagh. This is about 4 km distance from the town of Armagh. The parc is a pay attraction ($5) but car parking for the bike path is free (and vast). We will visit the parc des chutes this summer on a return trip, when the temperature is going to be a lot warmer. Uh-huh.

Lots of delightful greenery on this ride

bridge #2

view from bridge 2: terrain sauvage.

lots of good long-views

View from bridge #1 at St-Anselme

New friend at St-Anselme

Newly renovated St-Anselme bridge

We have just returned from paradise. We set out to discover the new "Cycloroute de Bellechasse" bike path (piste cyclable) located south and SE of Quebec city.

We had high expectations.

This new bike path seemed to have excellent potential.

We parked the car in St-Anselme (about 12 km from the start of the path in St-Henri), got dressed, and added a layer, and rode south and then east all the way to the end of the path at Armagh.

This is a two-part path:
Part 1 is 40 km along the Etchemin river from St-Henri to St-Malachie
Part 2 is 30 km in forests from St-Malachie to Armagh (parc des chutes d'Armagh)
(part 2.1 is the extra 4 km to the village of Armagh)

Part 3 is to ride it all the back to the start...

How to pronounce Armagh? It is pronounced like Armand--the final consonants are silent. It is named after the town of Armagh in Ireland. Many Quebecois(e) have Irish roots. There was a big wave of emmigration from the british Isles in the 1800s, and many place names in Quebec reflect this particular geo-linguistic incongruity.

Then we rode back, which is ever-so-slightly steadily downhill for the next... 74 km. More evidence that this path is a cycling paradise.

We rode past the parked car at St-Anselme, all the way to the start of the path in St-Henri. We wanted to be able to give you a complete ride report, not a 90%-of-the-ride report. In St-Henri we u-turned and returned to St-Anselme. It was a bit more slowly than the ride down (a cool-down surely?).

We like the steady downhill trend: we had a 27.5 km/h avg speed for the 58 km from Armagh path-start to St-Anselme, and then, putting the hammer down, we enjoyed a happy 30.1 km/h oer the last 12 km from St-Anselme to St-Henri. Woohoo! Too bad we were parked at St-Anselme and had to ride back uphill to the car!

One word description: perfection.

Two word description: Amazing ride

Three word description: Wow-wow-wow!

If we were making a list of Quebec's best bike paths, this one would be on the list!

What we liked:
  • this path is in two parts, for shorter or longer ride
  • rarely along roads, it's mostly through fields and forests
  • This path is all-new and in PERFECT condition
  • 74 km total distance (x2 for round trip)
  • Any length ride is possible
  • Close to major metropolis (15 km south of Levis/Quebec)
  • completely rural in character
  • the return ride Armagh to St-Henri is ALL downhill, 800 ft elevation loss

what we didn't like:
  • This path is 250 km distance from Montreal
  • direction signs missing around bridge at St-Malachie
  • path ends at Parc des Chutes de Armagh (chutes=waterfalls) sort of in the middle of nowhere and which is 4 hard kilometres from village of Armagh itself. But Parking here is free and plentiful, and the parc entrance chalet has services and a restaurant. If you do the path in one direction only, park here and ride back to St-Henri downhill (assuming you have a car shuttle)
The complete both-direction end-to-end ride including going to the village of Armagh is about 150 km. Make that 150 excellent kilometres. The Quebec city region is rapidly becoming an extremely good bicycling tourism destination. And the Chaudiere-Appalache region south of the St-Laurence is a big part of that.

Click here for the map of this ride from the guidebook.

bikely map of the ride
bellechasse part 1 (sdvmag.com takes a ride)
bellechasse part 2 (sdvmag.com finishes the ride)


At 4:01 PM, Blogger Josh said...

cycle fun mtl rocks, i love this blog!!

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Christian Pouliot - SDVmag.com said...

Love you blog too! Thanks for the backlink... again!

Me and my friend used to go to Armagh by the road (his family in law own a summer house there).

It will be a lot easier this year! :-)

At 12:01 AM, Anonymous Fort Wayne Rivergreenway said...

Nice bike path.
Do many people use it? Far too many photos of bike paths on the net suggest that very few people actually use these trails, which is too bad.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Cycle Fun Montreal said...

it was much more crowded after the official opening, we went early to avoid the rush. It's a great path!


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