Friday, July 31, 2009

Lachine Canal to get 10 Million in improvements

The Lachine Canal is to get some improvements. Ten million dollars of improvements. (read about it here)

We hope that a new and improved three-lane path is part of the plans: two lanes for bikes and one lane for foot traffic. The two-lane Lachine Canal bike path as it exists today is dangerous and does not meet modern standards for recreational path design.

And we dream (it's a long shot) that there will be exercise stations built at regular intervals, because cyclists do not live solely by pedaling. A little cross training is a good thing.

Cycle Fast: leave the camera at home

Action-packed 65 kilometres with 850 metres of climbing (and glorious descending)

We went back to favorite-destination St-Jean-de-Matha for a ride (so soon?) because Tuesday's ride was rained out. So with an earlier start and better weather forecast (but those big scary clouds were still there) we drove, parked, and got riding!

We rode at a considerably higher calibre today due to leaving one of the gifts (and curses) of humanity behind: the time-wasting, dawdle-inducing camera. Yes, after a recent ride marred by endless and incessant stopping for pictures, we decided to take the ride serious and leave the camera at home so we could just... RIDE!

And ride we did. Hard uphills, long downhills, great scenery, moderate distance, and we got home time for for supper, which is a nice change. We like this ride a lot, and recommend it for anyone tired of the "Lachine Canal and Camellien Houde" routine.

And it was great. In fact, we think this area is paradise. And we enjoyed it at a very exceptionally fun level.

Besides St-Jean-de-Matha, this ride passes through Lac Noir, Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie and Ste-Beatrix and the Ste-Beatrix entrance to the Parc regional des Chutes-Monte-a-Peine-et-des-Dalles-a pause which offers a great view of on top of a narrow canyon on the riviere l'Assomption.

This ride is on our list of top-ten favorite quebec bike rides. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

St-Jean-de-Matha lanaudiere - another amazing experience

As usual, we park at Musée Louis Cyr/Tourist office in St-Jean-de-Matha

Cows in their natural setting

Historic home in St-Jean-de-Matha

A good day is riding until sunset.

A St-Jean-de-Matha highlight is the edge-of-town downhill road to this excellent regional park

Scenery on road to regional park

Rang St-Guillaume, most scenic road in Lanaudiere?

More reason we think Rang St-Guillaume is number one

Rain stopped, the sun came out, happiness ensued

This pine forest/plantation proved to be surprisingly good shelter from the rain

Chemin Ste-Catherine and scenic lookout over Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie valley

Lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's house in Lac Noir.

6 minutes out of St-Jean-de-Matha: fresh asphalt, life doesn't get any better than this!

Cow not impressed with our climbing skills at the first killer hill 4 minutes from start.

Pausing on first hill (doesn't look steep does it? hee-hee), St-Jean-de-Matha in background

There are few places we enjoy more than parking the car in St-Jean-de-Matha (at the Musée Louis Cyr) and riding the scenic and fun hills of the immediate region. We had been avoiding this area in 2009, concentrating on the flatter Maskinongé region a bit more east. But with

Our ride yesterday was interrupted by a bit of rain, but that didn't dampen our experience one bit. We shortened the ride because of the rain but managed to hit several of the nicest roads and views in the region. We also noticed some nice new asphalt on Ste-Louise Est out of the village, a great start to the ride.

Bike ride on Bikely (click here for map). This was an out and back ride to the three distinct ends of the route.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

to hill or not to hill, that is the question

The answer is... to hill, of course.

So out we go.

For every hill you climb, the next hill is easier. And for every hill you climb, there's a downhill on the other side. Woohooooooooooo.

To see why we prefer bikes for our downhill gravity-induced entertainment, click here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

St-Donat chemin Nordet, best hills in the laurentians

Now Québec has it's first Col

Trees and more trees, and not a condo or cell phone tower anywhere

climbing the "col"

And hello to you too

water where it belongs (i.e. not raining)

The best downhills are to be found on Chemin Nordet

We were riding on Chemin Nordet in the Laurentians today. This excellent road is known for a couple of good hills, and we enjoyed them to the fullest. An excellent day, nonstop riding because of the attack-bugs that populate the laurentian forests this time of year.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another P'tit train du Nord ride

This time we parked on the pre-laurentians plains at St-Janvier, rode through St-Jerome, and went as far as our previous (two days ago) starting point, Shawbridge. We would have gone further, but it looked like rain and we wanted to be home for supper for the arrival of this week's panier biologique.

This was a good ride, except for crossing a dozen streets in St-Jerome, particularly the hyper busy one where the crosswalk button was defective.

North of Ste-Jerome the riding was great. Sough of St-Jerome the riding was great. The central bike-plaza in St-Jerome is great too, look for the p'tit train du Nord portrayed in the pavement of the plaza, tres special.

A good ride, but not a great ride.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How "Green" is the Bixi bike-rental program?

Pretty green, if you believe this Bixi picture from in front of City Hall.

bikes don't get any greener than this

Jardin de Metis 2010

The Jardin de Metis in Grand Metis Quebec (a bit east of Rimouski) is one of the great traditional gardens of Canada. They also have an annual and extremely un-traditional garden competition that is is much more "art concept" than any concept of garden you might presently have.

But it's 579 km from Montreal to Grand Metis, so, you aren't going there after work tonight! Wouldn't it be nice if the 10th annual International Garden Festival 2009 in Métis came to Montreal?

Your dreams have been answered.

There is one place in Montreal that has an exhibit from the 10th annual International Garden Festival 2009 in Métis, and that is located in front of City Hall and beside Place Jacques Cartier. This is the Place de La Dauversière.

And here it is:

What the heck are these things?

You are thinking... maybe something subatomic?

It's Sea Urchins! Oursins in french.

And they are red at night. Click here for more info.

What is it? What is Grand Metis? All your questions answered...

In the same garden was a statue of Major Jean Drapeau. We looked closely, but we didn't see that bag of crazy he was carrying around with him as his reign as king of Montreal ended.

Note: next door to this is a bike-history exhibition at Chateau Ramezay "Le Grand Tour du Vélo" until 7 September.

bike accident on Réné Levesque

Cycliste down!

We were doing mellow riding, where we are the last one to leave the intersection once the light turns green. At the next corner, there was a bus passing a turning a car and a cycliste passing the turning car also. Suddenly there was not enough space for the cyclist, and she went ass over teakettle and created an immediate crowd, two pedestrian cops were on the scene right away, the car and bus stopped, and she seemed to be ok and in good hands.

The lesson here is that if there might not be enough space to pass, bad things can happen fast! So don't try to "thread the needle" because sooner or later, there's not enough space. We learned the hard way. This woman learned the hard way.

We hope she is ok and her bike is ok, and both survived to live and ride another day.

Butterfly bike

Good motif!

bike ride to various candidates for Montreal's "High Line" park

A tour through some of our favorite downtown locations

Van Horne Overpass from St-Laurent is an artifact of outdated car-is-king traffic design. It's time to turn it into an urban park.

New Yorkers are loving their new High Line park. The High Line is a linear park that is built on an old elevated rail line that passes through the downtown city. Key word: elevated.

We are firm believers that being elevated is a superior state of being, and taking a bit of effort to find great views to enjoy our city (or yours) is a very worthy objective.

So, this raises the question "Does Montreal have anything similar to New York's High Line?"

We have some ideas.
  1. Van Horne overpass that divides Mile-end from little Italy - views of Mt Royal are excellent. You have easy access up a staircase to the lookout on boul. St-Laurent where it goes under this overpass.
  2. Elevated terrace/walkway and sterile park Chateau Champlain/Place du Canada in downtown core.
  3. Rue Notre Dame east (specifically: east of Berri) is a unique elevated viaduct. A great hidden gem of Montreal and a part of Montreal few people know exists.
  4. The elevated walkway above (i.e. a 2nd story walkway) & along the Jacques Cartier pier complex in the Vieux Port (look closely, it's there).
  5. The amazing but not-yet-built roof-top park on top of the downtown autoroute Ville-Marie expressway. (Note: it's not just the park that hasn't been built yet, but the roof hasn't been built either, since it would cost 100s of millions of $$, but we are optimists...)
We often visit these when we do recreational scenic urban bike rides, because sometimes bike riding is about stopping and enjoying unique viewpoints on our great city.

View of downtown from Notre-Dame est viaduc

Place Jacques Cartier from Quay Jacques Cartier elevated walkway

View of private yachts from Quay Jacques Cartier elevated walkway, this boat has it's own helicopter!

The Quay Jacques Cartier elevated walkway was popular with this scandinavian couple, who were also on the lookout for good viewpoints

The walkway from Promenade Vieux Port, plenty of staircases so it's no secret how to reach the second level.

Place du Canada downtown terraced deck

Place du Canada has this excellent garden, one of our favorites in Montreal

Place du Canada's elevated terrace above downtown

The view of Mount Royal from Van Horne Overpass - parc Mont Royal and Outremont summits

Staircase up to Van Horne overpass to secret Mile-End lookout

Notre Dame east viaduct

Railroad-memorial park (first train across Canada went past this station), cirque Eloize home base/ex-Dalhousie railroad station, and the Notre-Dame est viaduc

A rough outline of the route we followed on this exploradventure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quebec's Celtic Way / La route celtique

The Celtic Way route, Inverness village has a walking tour of Celtic history

The Celtic Way (la route Celtique) is a tourism-route in the central-quebec region. The Gazette had a big feature on it in the Saturday July 18 Saturday Extra section. Marion Scott created quite a nice full page spread on this region. Lots if good historical tidbits, and current info too.

Here's the link to the map on Bikely.

Here's the link to the Gazette article.

It looks like a future ride, perhaps when the rain stays away all day.

P'tit train du Nord: Prevost to Ste-Agathe

Handy route map of the P'tit Train du Nord
(Notice that they have rebranded the flatland path south of St-Jerome as Le P'tit Train du Nord - Secteur Sud!)

Quiet river along the route - near Piedmont parking

Frothy river along the route (South of Val Morin)

The Alouette at dock in downtown Ste-Agathe

Gare Ste-Agathe. Fire damaged but being rebuilt. The tourist office is in a cabanon nearby and there are 4 outdoor toilets, plenty of parking too.

We like this section of the P'tit train du Nord. We start in the village of Prevost and the trail from here is nice in a wild and undeveloped kind of way. There's nice scenery, a few villages, and once you turn around, it's a downhill ride all the way home.

We rode to Ste-Agathe and into the town to the park in downtown. Conveniently on the water (with a re-naturalized shoreline) and it is beside an ice cream place.

Then we rode back, enjoying the free energy that this downhill direction was giving us.

The best section is between Val Morin and Prevost, and riding this section (downhill=direction south) on a summer's day is one of the great bike-path rides in Quebec.