Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ste-Martine to Franklin Centre - Chateauguay Valley ride

The ride route, we went clockwise. 81 km of superb riding

The Rockburn Pub, unmarked cop car was parked 200 feet down the road!

Rockburn church and the only rain of the ride.

Jars of jams and jelly, and two powermuffins at Blair Orchard store near Franklin

Apple season is almost here, and they say it's the best season in 15 years

Howick Church

Sunday arrives, and then noon arrives, and we finally depart. 45 minutes later we arrive in Ste-Martine, park at the Arena beside the bike path, and beside a seasonal Sunday farmers market.

We reversed our ride direction a the last second, because there were big black clouds to the north, and much clearer skies to the south. To the south!

Ste-Martine bike path (west) great views of mountain in USA
Howick (services)
Riviere des Anglais, more good views south
The Rock, unique in a bedrock scraped clean by glacier in last ice age 10,000 years ago
Franklin (Centre) (now, with depanneur!)
Blair orchard country store (pigout time)
Rockburn, beau village, and pub for meals
Dewittville, turn and ride NE along Chateauguay river (we rode on south side)
Ormstown (cross to north side of river)
Alan's Corners (battle of Chateauguay, where we kicked Yankee butt)
St-Martine, back to the car, an almost completely rain-free ride.

A bit of rain but the rain thing worked out great for us. In fact, it was a great ride. But when we ride in the Chateauguay valley, (and avoid the numbered highways as much as possible) this is what we expect: great rides every time.

Rainy day downtown stroll, er, crosstraining!

Destination: the Grande Bibliotheque.

Objective: a backpack full of heavy books.

Mission: walk (Walk?!?) back uphill with these heavy books in the backpack.

Cross training goal: climbing ability on the bike.

Mental activity: enjoy the stroll!

Unusual bicycle built for two, bar-ends as footrests.

"Pedal with your head," it says.

The Head tries, but...

"It doesn't work!" the Head says. It also looks quite painful.

We finally visited the Bain Genereux museum-converted-from-swimming-pool.

Interesting school-child scale bike rack, note the green groundwater-friendly footprint instead of asphalt.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trans-centreville ride to CCA

Colourful bike parking at UQAM

new Concordia building at Guy, the Reflectorama.

CCA's now 20 year old digs. Old and new, combined with a touch o'class.

Construction of the new bike path on University street. Wide enough to permit ambulances to make good time up the street to the Victoria Hospital at the top.

Second trip to CCA took the Cam Houde climb. These two passed me on first hairpin, but we passed them back and stayed ahead to the top.

Clamshell-type bike parking at UQAM. Note U-lock placed diagonally and both wheels inside clamshell.

lunch chair

CCA's excellent sculpture garden.

We rode over to the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) to get the "friends of the CCA" membership at the 20th anniversary special price of $20. When we arrived, we discovered we had left the bike lock key at home (voyages of discovery can often have unfortunate results, watch the NFB short film here about Henry Hudson, the "discoverer" of Hudson's Bay, and the resulting mutiny). No one in our part mutinied, so we rode back home, got the key, and then rode back to the CCA (over camelien houde hill this time), and then we finally got the Friends of the CCA card ($20 vs $45). Then we had a picnic lunch in the CCA's magnificent sculpture garden. The bike locking at the CCA s a bit funky. The CCA should do a bike-parking expo sometime to display some of the interesting new thinking in bike-parking designs. (worth noting: the bike parking situation in Montreal has improved spectacularly in the past 5 years)

Later we went to the world premier of Tony Gatlif's new film Korkoro at Place des Arts. Place des arts is a bit construction-oriented, so we parked inside the UQAM mini-campus north of PDA.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bike Train Montreal-to-Toronto now in service, ends Oct 8

Bike Train service to Toronto-ends October 8, so go for it now!

The Bike Train service for Montreal to Toronto (both ways), where you can bring your bike on to the Via train is running for a two month period from August 24 to October 8. If it is a success we hope next year it runs all summer long. Which it will, if we all use it this year to show that there is a demand for bike-rider transportation on Via rail.

Permitting bicycles on the train is a long overdue addition to our interurban train system.

Visiting Toronto and then biking home to Montreal is great vacation adventure. In Ontario, the bike path network along the lake(s) is called the Waterfront Trail.

We hope it is a big success.

Important note: to bring your bike on the train, you must book your ticket using the Bike Train website.

Update: read a lapresse article here.


Catholic church in St-Constant

Old home in St-Constant (behind church)

We thought we'd try to ride south to the US border and back.

Here is the bikely map link. We will probably start in St-Constant or Candiac. We would start at home, but we have to be back in time for a 7pm movie at the film festival. About gypsys who have to give up their roaming Roma ways. Pain is involved, as we can understand because if someone took our bikes away and we had to stay in one place all the time, well, we wouldn't like it either.

Better get packed... See ya later!

Update we found the roads too busy, so we cut this ride short.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

forecast: cool night

+9 low temperature tonight means wearing sleeves for the morning commute. This is the first single digit temperature since our late-starting summer began.

There is one thing just as certain in life as death and taxes, and that is that dressing for cooler temps means winter is on its way.

Quoting bill the cat: "Ack."

Relax, summer ain't over yet.

Urban explorations

We headed downtown.

Our mission: to explore our city.

Our reason: summer doesn't last forever.

second hairpin on Olmstead road is the shortcut to downtown via the top of Peel

Rare gargoyle sighting

Golden square mile mansion

New marking on St-Urbain now go all the way to de Maisonneuve bike path

We did a little urban exploration ride. A vague plan involved looking around, and we noticed some newest buildings, gargoyles (rare in Mntreal), some a brick building or two, and some green-space on the ride back home.

Riding parc Les Iles de Boucherville

We visit nearby Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.

Sepaq describes it as

A necklace of islands in the heart of the St-Laurence

Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville is a haven of nature and pleasure located right in the middle of the St. Lawrence just a few kilometres from downtown Montréal. For walkers, canoeists, and cyclists in the mood for fresh air, it offers green spaces, channels teeming with life, and trails by the water. There's no better antidote to the noise and worries of the city. Several guided discovery activities unveil the secrets of the plant and wildlife treasures on these five St. Lawrence islands. (Area 8.14 km²)

Kayaks waiting for you to reconnect with the water part of the "Montreal is an island in a river" geographical fact.

They rent canots too, summer is great.

Fire started from two stones and some tree-growing mushroom spore dust, which then lit the bulrush, which is now on fire.

The archeological corner. That is a tree-bark covered building.

We did a relaxed summer afternoon ride around the parc les iles des Boucherville. It's a provincial park on the boucherville islands, across from Montreal near the Tunnel. this park is the closest real nature to us urban dwellers. There are are bike paths around the islands, canoe and kayak (and bike) rentals, and lots of picnic tables everywhere so you can have a picnic lunch. This was our plan. It was a good plan, and the ensuing reality was excellent.

Assorted tomatoes from our weekly CSA farm basket

Why are we showing these tomatoes? Because we brought them along on our picnic.

Get thee to the Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.

big hills, little wheels

Chemin Nordet descent

We think that two wheels is the best way to get around, but there are those who prefer four wheels.

We like downhills, and we like the fact that we have brakes. But there are those who prefer no brakes.

We like riding the big-hill extravaganza of Chemin de Nordet between St-Donat and Lac Superieur (Tremblant). We don't use our brakes on these downhills, because there are no obstacles but also because it is fun to exceed 4 million years of human evolution with a speed blast like this.

Our friend reports seeing some four wheel riders doing the big west-side descent. Yes, we mean skateboarders. Doing big descents.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"100km of new montreal bike path in 2009" report card

Last August (i.e. 2008) the city announced where they would be building 2009's 100 km of new Montreal bike path.

Now we are in 2009, and it's time for a quick look around. Where to look? Let's start with rue Viau.

Rue Viau bike path is under construction. Great news. This is a new north-south axis for Montreal island. (Here's a news article about the work).

Another path that was announced was Cote Ste-Catherine road from Parc Avenue (via Villeneuve) to Cote des Neiges. OK, half built, it seems to stop at Vincent d'Indy. This was the result of some serious Nimbyism from a church located there.

According to this news article by Carole Le Hirez in the Journal Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, the city says there will be 60 new kilometres of bike path in Montreal in 2009.

Announced 100 km. Build 60 km. We'll give the city a C- on this year's efforts. OK, let's be kind, we'll give them a C+.

Other bicycle infrastructure we have noticed is the ROute Verte #1 on Christophe Colombe when it passes under Auroroute 40. A nice separated bike path is built here. And this bike path south of this point has also been recently improved--it was previously one of Montreal's worst bike paths. Good work Montreal!

St-urbain bike lane

The St-Urbain downhill, one-way only, painted-bike-lane was in the news recently, because Bus Drivers are afraid they will kill a cyclist. (we swear this is true)

In other St-Urbain bike lane news (reporting the news was blogger Vélomane), the painted bike lane has been painted from Sherbrooke street to de Maisonneuve (and it's "real" bike path). Whether you like this particular bike infrastructure or not, we think that painting the bike lane lines on the pavement is an important road safety improvement: a control device that (for a change) is designed to protect cyclists. We want to see a lot more of this in Montreal.

Something we would like to NOT see on the St-Urbain (one-way, downhill, speedy cycling) bike-lane are the uphill-direction, wrong-way bike riders (a.k.a. "salmon" because they tenaciously swim upstream against the current, until they reproduce and die) on this particular bike lane.

six chateauguay valley circuits

La Presse has an excellent local tourism/travel feature on Bike riding around the Chateauguay Valley southwest of Montreal (across the Mercier bridge and along the Rt 138, or West on Aut 20 and then go south of Valleyfield on the Rt 201).

Read it all here.

Here's our blog post from last summer when this travel feature first appeared. (our advice: go read the la presse article, then pack the car and get going)

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 perfect 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.

news to us

We have been called many things, but we recently read that Cycle Fun Montreal is a "local transportation group." Ok, that's not so bad, anodyne a bit, but as a definition, it leaves out the Fun part. Because if you aren't having fun, why are you doing it?

Saturday looks like a great day to get outside and enjoy the summer weather, on a bike, inside or outside Montreal, and have tons of fun doing it.

2009 Quebec road championships

The top Quebec cyclists will be in Huntingdon (65 km SW of Montreal) for the 2009 road championships, which is also known as the Tour du Suroit.
22 août Contre la montre individuelle
23 août course sur route
So you can ride your bike around the excellent-for-cycling Chateauguay Valley, or you can watch Quebec's best cyclists riding around the Chateauguay Valley. Tough choice! Do both is our recommendation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bike Train service between Montreal and Toronto

The Ontario-based Bike-Train group have convinced VIA Rail to carry bicycles on the Montreal-Toronto route. This is a pilot project, running this summer from August 24 to October 8.

The blurb:

Bike Train service between Montreal and Toronto

We are excited to announce a new pilot project that introduces twice daily Bike Train service between Montreal and Toronto offering bike racks onboard. The pilot will run from August 24 to October 8 allowing cyclists to take the train with their bikes - no box or disassembly required!

Tickets must be purchased through the Bike Train website.

Service Train-Vélo entre Montréal et Toronto

Nous sommes fiers d'annoncer un nouveau programme pilote de Train-Vélo entre Montréal et Toronto. Ce service commençera le 24 août et continuera jusqu'au 8 octobre avec deux trains par jour. Il n'est plus nécessaire de mettre vos bicyclettes en boite.

Les billets doivent être achetés sur le site du Train-Vélo.
This is an excellent idea. Especially for Ontarionians who want to come and visit the the bike-paradise of Montreal and other parts of Quebec. For Quebecers, we suggest you go to Toronto on the train and ride home, with the wind on your back for 500 quite scenic kilometres.

Kudos to!

When will Montreal have its own Bike Train?

When will Montreal have it's own Bike-Train?

Toronto-Niagara Bike Train:
The Greenbelt Express!

- $59 round-trip including tax and fees
- Select departures from June to September
- One night and multi-day trip options available
We think that this is a really great idea.

The 2009 Biketrain has three new pilot destinations.

We're waiting for the Bike-Train (Vélo-train) concept to arrive in Montreal. Hello VIA Rail/AMT/Vélo-Quebec?

5e édition du Raid/Marathon Jean d’Avignon

If you have never visited the excellent mountain bike destination of East Hereford in the eastern Townships, then how about this weekend's organized ride Raid/Marathon Jean d’Avignon?

There is an organized group ride on Saturday, and three distances of race on sunday. Something for everybody!

East Hereford is a great place to visit for mountain biking, and has been recently developing new trails for off-road riding. (That's the opposite of an area that is shrinking for off-road riding). We like it a lot.

Go to the website for more info at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stop the texting-while-driving madness

The eyes don't lie, she's texting while driving

No it is not ok to text when you are stopped and waiting at a stop light, not when you are the driver of a car!

Recent texting sightings:
Woman in Mercedes B200 this morning - license 270 ZTV
Another Mercedes last week - license 827 YEB (she had a bike in the car and said but I'm safe, look I'm a cyclist too.)


Monday, August 17, 2009

another Cycle Fun Montreal favorite ride

100 km around the middle of the Mauricie region, an A+ ride!

Catholic church in St-Thecle

Gravity experiment involving barn
, successful?

The Pont Bordeleau covered bridge is completing a major renovation.

Our ride went as planned. Summer was peaking, and it was an oven. Keep moving to stay cool. Fluids. More fluids. The situation was excellent.

Our ride was start in St-Flore in Grand Mere, then we crossed the river (cars can't stop for the view but bikes can) and go north along the east side of the Saint-Maurice river, then we turn south on Rt 159 and ride inland through a great narrow valley, eventually we reach the open farmland at St-Tite. Here we turn east east for a clockwise loop through this farmland and then we cross the bridge again and back to St-Flore.

Recommended: stopping for a break in the shade inside the covered bridge.

Highlights include the St-Maurice river views, the Rt 159 valley, a great "tree tunnel," the covered bridge, and beating the rain.

It did rain cats and dogs, but lucky for us it was 30 minutes after the end of the ride. We had warning, because each time we headed in direction north, we got light rain starting. Weird weather, so it must be august.

This is a very good ride.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Heading to the... Mauricie river and Ste-Thecle

Passing Pont Bordeleau (1932)

Along the Mauricie river. One of Quebec's great rivers.

Route 159 south from St-Roch-de-Mekinac

We are going to repeat a ride we did last summer, a ride along the Mauricie river upstream from Grand-Mere. Then we turn inland, follow a narrow valley south, then cruise some open farmland, cross a covered bridge and we're home. Strangely this ride starts on the west side of the river, but is clearly an eastern-Mauricie ride.

This is a really great ride. The weather is good. The biking is going to be incredible.

Click here for our post from last summer (full ride info and pictures).

Here is the bike ride map on Bikely (created by Veloshawinigan) There's a cue sheet too.

A short tour of Montreal's north shore

Big tree bike path in Laval

Parc des Prairies has exercise stations: we montrealers are jealous (lachine canal renovation are you listening?)

Parc es Prairies in Laval - Quackstock '09

Crossing Pont Perry to Laval

Biggest tree in Montreal? (back corner of Parc Nicolas Viel)

We take our own advice, and do a little ride along Montreal's north shore. WHere the bikepath up Christophe colounb hits the horth shore, that's the start of the ride. We cycles west, visires Ile Perry and after waiting for a train, we crossed Pont Perry and returned east via the grade-A quality park des Prairies in Laval, then crossed the Pont Viau and we're back in Montreal, conveniently beside a water fountain.

Stuck in the City? Your next urban ride destination is Old Montreal

Our suggestion for a short trip in the city is to go to the Chateau Ramezay museum to see "THE GREAT BIKE TOUR."
Until September 7, 2009

Cycling enthusiasts, as well as amateur cyclists, are invited to come discover the many facets of the bicycle, from the Penny Farthing to the brand new BIXI! with some exhibitions.
The location is across from Montreal City Hall. This is the tourism and historic hot spot of Montreal, and one native Montrealers' sometimes remain unacquainted with. Don't let this happen to you.

It's easy to get here on bike. Bike paths from every direction converge here in the heart of Montreal.

Other nearby scenic and historical attractions are too numerous to list. Here's the old Montreal tourism website.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Are cyclists pedestrians or traffic?

Montreal's Fagstein blog does a great analysis of intersections and traffic lights and should cyclists follow the I'm a car driver" (red, green, yellow) traffic lights or the "I'm a pedestrian" (walk/don't walk) traffic lights.

The blog author traveled the length of Montreal's Route Verte #1 which is the city's principal north-south bicycle-path axis. (which follows Berri, Brebeuf, Boyer, and Christophe-Coulombe streets).

It's not as easy as it sounds to do the right thing/follow the traffic-light logic. There is no consistent pattern to the bicycle-traffic-management traffic lights, and many cyclists do a "no-cars-coming? Then I'm going" strategy at intersections.

This is a really excellent piece of work (link). There are plenty of photos too.


The best thing about this path is the destination(s). At either end you arrive at rivers, and riverside parks and bike paths.

Go north and you will soon reach the north shore of Montreal island. It's not a big island in the north-south direction. There are many riverside parks to ride through, or just stop and enjoy the summer day. You can do a nice loop on both sides of the river by crossing to the Laval side.

Go south and you hit Centre ville and old Montreal and the Vieux Port.

Shut the computer (yes, turn it off!) and go outside and discover your city. Summer doesn't last forever.

Urban heat, cool ride

Who's complaining about winter today?

A summer heat wave has arrived, they only way to stay cool is to keep moving. So ride that bike!

(air quality information here and here and here)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To odo or not odo?

The bike computer on Bert the road bike has died.

We rode a couple of rides with no data (aieee!) and... we kinda liked it.

We were riding with the landscape and landmarks, with the wind, with gravity (for better or worse). Nothing told me how well I was doing. In our information-overload measurement-obsessed world, we felt like we had been set free.

Not having a numerical overlord is not a bad thing.


Think happy thoughts

Once we finished the post below, we needed a dose of happiness, so we are "thinking happy thoughts" and, the happy thoughts we are thinking of involve riding far from the city and its traffic and red lights and smog and cars and traffic jams and wide variety of disreputable characters, and just thinking about riding out in the countryside... the open road. it's our bike-zen mantra.

We meet Réné Kopalie-Soucy

We met the bicycle racer Réné Kopalie-Soucy this morning while passing through Ville de/Town of Mont-Royal. Mr Kopalie-Soucy races for team CC Rossi Lachine with licence number 264.

We learned some interesting things.

Mr Kopalie-Soucy told us that because he has a racing license, so he does NOT have to stop for red lights or stop signs. Nope. Nosiree. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not even if we ask him nice.

In fact he informed us that he doesn't even have to slow down for things like pedestrians, children, cars, etc. If he doesn't want to, he isn't going to.

He says his license lets him pass these traffic controls at top speed if wants (and judging from what we saw, he wants). He even took out his license and showed it to us (this was a bit weird) to make the point.

And if we don't like it, he will give us the finger. Multiple times in fact. He will yell at us when we are stopped at the light. He will yell at the other cyclist who witnessed Mr Kopalie-Soucy's complete lack of respect for road safety and who came up beside us and told Mr Kopalie-Soucy that the streets are not his personal race track.

We know some bicycle racers and we know that they are decent people. Mr Kopalie-Soucy is most likely a very decent person. Perhaps the combination of testestosterone and training goals have reduced his awareness of civisme.

Team CC Rossi Lachine leadership should give this racer a talk about road safety and civisme. (number one lesson: TMR isn't a sprint circuit, number two: calmly ignore whining bike commuters). We hope that Mr Kopalie-Soucy learns from these lessons, and goes on to become a great bicycle racer and a great leader.

(Hint: this will involve fewer one fingered salutes.)

While we're on the subject of rude racers, we have a great story about one of Canada's greatest cross country skiers, who had a few choice words for a woman in front of him in a race we watched... but this is a bicycling blog. (Full disclosure, our one and only cross country ski race resulted in a last place finish in a 20 km race. Cross country ski racers are gods.)


The citizens of Ville Mont Royal might want to watch out when Mr Kopalie-Soucy passes through their town, because he contributes mightily to reducing the safety of their streets. Look for the license #264 on the back of the bike.

If you are as surprised as we are about this get-out-of-jail-free racing license that Mr Kopalie-Soucy showed us (and want one for yourself), or have any questions about the truth as spoken by Mr Kopalie-Soucy, we are sure that the Fédération Québecoise des Sports Cyclistes (FQSC) can provide the answers at their website here. 2009 racing licenses are still available!

Mr Kopalie-Soucy's racing team - Club Cyclists Rossi Lachine - can be contacted at 514-634-1611.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Off-road at Mont Hereford

river crossing... camera ready... will we finally see the big face plant?

In the woods on Indian Stream single track

Hill top riding near Panorama

Nice scenery is plentiful in the East Hereford area

We tok sid down to check out East Hereford to check out the off-road riding on Mont Hereford and other nearby marked trails.

Sid was very happy.

The only downside was the lineup at Coaticook ice cream was too long for us to get ice cream and still have time to get home in the same day!