Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Camillion Houde climb - time for a climb timer?

Riding your bike up the Camillien Houde climb on the east side of Mount Royal is a wonderful thing.

For the cycling geek, the time to make this climb is of some importance. (so is number of climb "laps" but that's a different story)

Everyone has their own time for the climb, and with widely varying start and finish points.

We need some standardization to this parameters of this statistic.

The Taz skatepark and roulodome has a in-line skate speed track, and they have a timer system (un système de chronométrage par transpondeur automatique de type "Prochip AMB"). You buy the chip, and then you pay an annual fee to join their timer-system.

We propose they extend their timer system to the Camelien House climb. With some solar power and wifi or cell technology for the data transmission, your times would be tracked when you rode past their timer-transponder with your wireless-chip (puce in french) and you'd see your time with your home computer or some flavour of wireless computing device.

With this technology we would finally know who is to be crowned the champion of Mount Royal!

some winter inspiration

Here's a demonstration of some useful skills for urban cycling.

These skills are at the level of wild and insane, and therefore highly entertaining.

The rider is Danny MacAskill, and this is the guy I want to teach me to do back flips on bicycle by riding up the side of a big tree. Or... maybe not.

We don't normally just post amusing links, but it's the middle of winter, and we need some inspiration to go practice some track stands, which is the skill we are supposed to develop this winter.

This raises the fact that Montrealers need a place to ride around INSIDE in the winter.

Perhaps inside the Olympic stadium - the place is vast. And how come there's no big skating rink - or skating-path - in the big cement park outside the Big O along boulevard Pie IX?). Another good place would be the just-closed Clermont GM car dealer and multi-story indoor garage on St-Denis. This would make a great winter indoor bike ride park. If Dubai can have an indoor ski hill, then Montrealers can have an indoor bike trail.

Sigh, in winter we start fantasizing... Only three months until spring!

A trip to: Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix

Winter cold, ice, slush, rain, ice pellets, wind chill, etc., keep us off the bike outside in the winter time. But we still need our dose of excitement, and preferably excitement mixed with intense physical effort and resulting fatigue (satisfaction surely?).

So where are we going to go? To St-Tite-des-Caps and the hiking and snowshoe trail Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix, that's where. We would hike to the Refuge Cap Gribane, spend the night indoors, and then hike out the next day.

Why here?
  • Abundance of natural snow
  • Away from roads and other signs of civilization
  • excellent local geography
  • the trail follows the top of the high hills bordering the St-Laurence river
This was our first visit here, and we arrived the day after a big storm, a big BIG storm. Luckily the group that struggled through yesterday's storm to the Refuge Cap Gribane had created an smooth and easy-to-follow trail. This was good news, because some of the other suggested trails were buried under 2-3 feet of very soft snow.

Our night in the refuge was comfortable and warm. In the middle of the winter, in the middle of the woods, and without electricity, this is all that you want out of life.

Our hike in to the Refuge was in overcast and low cloud conditions, but the next day the sun was shining and the walk out was spectacular in every way.

50th b-day backpack enjoying the view of the river on its first adventure.

Best supporting cast member: msr lightning snowshoes

Turn the corner, enjoy the view, repeat.

Charlevoix mountains, to the north of the Rt 138

Up-river view of one of the many caps (Capes) on the river

Inside the refuge Cap Gribane

The Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix is a modern and well-marked trail

Approaching the start of the Caps trail

Winter means no bugs... or does it?

This is likely a stonefly, of the family Perlidae. We didn't know this, so we asked the AEAQ, and they kindly responded with:
Il s'agit d'un Plécoptère (Plecoptera), probablement de la famille des Perlidae.
Ces insectes sont reconnus pour être actifs à des températures froides. On les observe surtout au printemps, à la fonte des neiges.

Association des entomologistes amateurs du Quebec Inc (A.E.A.Q. inc.).

Arriving at the Refuge Cap Gribane

Yesterday's big storm left snow, freezing rain, and these amazing crystals

Conclusion: This is an excellent snowshoe destination.

We hope this region gains a mountain bike trail along the same general route. Because that would also be amazing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

go outside now

Here's some youtube fun from my friends at Rossignol Canada in Granby.


Now go outside and play.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Montreal bicycle history on google news archive

You can go back in time... using the new Montreal Gazette archives on Google News.

Click here to travel back in time to see what cycling in Montreal was like in years gone by.

Did you know that bicycles were banned in Montreal parks, the gazette in 1973 lamented that the logical place to bicycle was in parks, but we couldn't!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter bikin' sights

Stylish winter riding

Winter light show beside Place des Arts (Place des spectacles)

Northern ecosystem artifacts at the La Baie's Hudson's Bay Company Gallery (museum) at their downtown location

First week with snow and first sidewalk-cleaner smashup job

A couple of keeners (look closely to see innovative bicycle-use of pushpins)

Some good advice on biking in winter here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

montreal bike master plan?

Click on the map and take a look at the future.

letter to a friend


I went for my first snowshoe last night on the conveniently located hill near our house: mount Royal. I had a most excellent time.

There was perfect:
  • weather
  • wind
  • temperature
  • lighting
  • trails
  • adventure level
  • fresh snow
  • long distance views
  • steep parts
  • scenic outlooks
and when I got home there was a big supper-salad already made.

Conditions are early season-perfect, with just enough snow to make the gully climb easy to do.

Another excellent thing are our new snowshoes, we moved on (up surely) from some very old plastic MSRs (which were getting old). Our new MSR Lightning model are better in many ways, not least the traction when climbing department. The new shoes rock and my steep climb exit variation gully route was completely easy, but not too easy. Part of this is the handy heel-lift device. But the other more important part is that these things are traction monsters.

One good thing for cyclists about snowshoeing is ski poles.Using poles really helps to make the bent-over road-racing bicycle position easier. Using the ski poles exercise the triceps, which is just what we cyclists need for the "assume-the-position" road bike seating/handlebar situation.

Ski poles also keep us from falling over in the snow, since snowshoes lack the gyroscopic effect of bicycle wheels.

Hopefully many more good adventures to come.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter cross-training: snowshoeing on Mt Royal

When the riding the bike indoors on the computrainer becomes a bore (recuperation day, surely?) we take out our snowshoes and go upwards on Mont Royal.

Snowshoeing remains one of the best things to do in the dark (it isn't actually dark) on Mont Royal in winter. The snow and city lights keep the forest well-lit. If there's a moon, bonus! If there is a full moon, and fresh snow, well, then you will experience the true magic of winter.

If you don't have snowshoes, we can recommend the plastic MSR snow shoes (raquettes). Also, Les Amis de Montagne rents snowshoes at the Beaver lake pavilion. Click here for more info. They also offer guided snowshoe walks at night.

Remember: stick to trails and don't trample small trees.

Dress in layers, keep extremities covered, never touch metal with bare fingers, and avoid cotton clothing - it will freeze you!

Carry a plastic whistle (i.e. fox-40) because this adventure, don'cha know.

Now it's time to go... outside!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow arrives... noooooooo

Oh the beauty of the snow-covered landscape, asleep for many months to come. But cyclists must not sleep. They must keep the legs strong for next season.

We cross train with snowshoes and g-d cross country skis, and we ride the bike indoor on a trainer.

Although we usually like the joys of being outside in a winter storm, We are staying inside because we were looking forward to some high-rpm cadence intervals ce soir. Mmm intervals!

Snow is so beautiful. We're glad it arrived in a big way.

A snowplow just drove by!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Last ride of 2009?

The big snowstorm tomorrow might mean that tonight's ride home from work is the last outdoor ride of the year. The end the montreal summer cycling season? We'll see.

If it is the end of 2009, then it means it is the start of 2010 bike season.

Woohoo 2010!

Christmas lights

Now there is no way they can say "I didn't see you."

Got some lights for the FS mountain bike at co-op. Front and rear lights in a package, with batteries. $37 doxandos.

We already used these models with complete satisfaction. Fersure they have kept us alive at night.

This item makes an excellent christmas present.

The arrival of slush

Let's get this straight. Slush, which is cold and wet and dirty, is CFM's least favorite environmental hazards of the bicycle part of life. .

It is icy cold. It is dirty with things that you cannot even imagine. We can deal with that, but then there's the fact that slush contains salt. Lots and lots of salt. Salt isn't good for humans, and it isn't good for bikes either. Slush causes corrosion, you definitely do not want corrosion. This is not a patina of age we're talking about.

Cycle Fun Montreal think that bicycles need a better solution to slush than now exists. We need a true "Winter Bike" to be designed. To stimulate the designers CFM proposes an X-prize type contest to invent a successful winter bicycle. We think that it is one of the last great engineering challenge of the bicycle design.

Monday, December 07, 2009

downtown's Peel street entrance to Mont Royal Park renovations are almost complete

A visit to downtown Montreal's entrance to Parc Mont Royal.

Sometimes we just go out for a ride, and we don't know where we are going, or where we will end up, and we let red lights and things change our direction in a semi-random manner. We call it unscientific discovery.

Today we discovered that the long sad saga of the falling-apart condition of the entrance to Mount Royal park at the top of Peel Street is coming to an end, meaning extensive, top-to-bottom renovations are almost completed.

We haven't noticed any news about a grand reopening of this Mont Royal park entrance at the top of Peel street. So, we present... the happy result of spending 4.2 million dineros.

There are new stairs at both east and west side of this area, the peel street-end entrance is relocated slightly. Our big surprise was finding an above-ground stream. Yes, a babbling brook cascading down the side of the mountain.

The stream was a surprise, but there was another surprise: a John Lennon-related "Give peace a chance" sculpture. Montreal celebrated Yoko and John's bed-in in Montreal, and there was hoopla last year with a Museum of fine arts John Lennon thing, and this is apparently public art related to that.

Give peace a chance is written in many languages, including braille.

A stream? On Mont Royal? On purpose? Wow, this really is the new millennium!

Not quite reopened yet... so everybody just walks over the fallen fence.

Ever since the Berlin wall fell, fences haven't gotten the respect they once did.

The traditional charm of this entrance to Mount Royal park remain in place.

Inspired by John Lennon

Did you know that this is "A Major Peace Themed Artistic Intervention?"

Is this one inspired by Andy Goldsworthy?

Don't forget, almost everything you see here is placed here by man. You are looking at a "silvicultural and arboricultural program."

Here's some info from the public consultation report:
Ecological management of plant life and water

The developer would like to take advantage of the redevelopment of the Peel entrance to address several problems regarding ecological management of the plant life and water.

Many species of invasive plants have been found. Some areas have been stripped bare by pedestrian use. There are several unofficial entrances to the park. Lastly, run-off water management facilities are severely damaged, and the resultant uncontrolled build-up of water is destroying the paths. A number of operations have been planned to solve those problems.

A silvicultural and arboricultural program has been designed to stop the spread of Norway maple.

Run-off-water management work will be undertaken, and wetlands with variable hydroperiodicity will also be used to control surface waters.

Moreover, the problem of people trampling off designated paths will be solved by building stairs, reforesting and reseeding deteriorated areas, and closing off private entrances to the park. Some of the stairs will be built on piles to promote development of plant and animal life.

Man enjoying the sudden reappearance of above-ground water
, er, wetlands with variable hydroperiodicity.

This is a major improvement to one of the flagship entrances to our beloved Parc Mont Royal. We don't think that downtown is well-linked to the park, but this renovation goes a long way to fix that.

Now we just wish that people would give peas a chance, too.

If you live downtown, go up Peel street right now, this is not to be missed.

The views were always great, but now the stone wall isn't falling down.

The only thing missing were some hot springs to soak in. The one missing feature of our city is hill-side hot springs. Who is to blame for this oversight?

A Groupe Cardinal Hardy project.

We saw their show at UdeM.

Here is a link to the Project plan for this redevelopment. It is very interesting stuff.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

our favorite road signs and roadside attractions


Here are a few of our favorite road signs and road side attractions:

A fav mtl illusion

We're not sure what it means... but these were on the bike path

Least favorite: stolen historical plaque from Pont Percy covered bridge in Powerscourt.

beautiful miniature covered bridge


More signs here.

Worst section of bike path in the city now rebuilt

The bike path (Route Verte #1) that is the main north-south axis of bike paths in Montreal always had a certain "worst bikepath in the city" section on Christophe Coulomb between Jarry and the Autoroute 40/Metropolitan expressway.

This section even had people showing up at city council to complain about its pitiful condition and unsafe design. The fact that this was a busy bike path made the situation even moreunbearable.

The city has responded, and has rebuilt the section from "modified sidewalk" (and we don't mean modified in a good way!) to the new design: full street lane, with peemananet lane barier dividing the bike path from car traffic.

Here are some photos of the new bike path. We congratulate the city in making this major improvement to the safety of bike path infrastructure in the city.

A visit to the "Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel" bike path

One day... an amazing urban ice climbing wall will be here?

Satellite view - it's big! We rode the trail around the outside

Methane gas is collected from the underground rotting garbage, and provides electricity for 10,000 homes

Soon this will be a big lake (NW corner)

The path is not unpleasant

For now the path goes around the outside of the site, but one day soon paths will be inside the park too

The TAZ skateboard complex (and outdoor skills park)

Cirque de Soleil head office and training complex

After the Gazette's big review of the Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel (ex-Miron Quarry/ex-garbage dump) and it's soon-to-be recreational future, we decided to visit was in order. November we don't go too far away, and this definitely isn't too far away!

There is a recreational trail (road-width, no cars) that goes all around the quarry. At a sporting speed it is a nice 15 minute ride. The views are a bit blah today, but the redevelopment of this site means that the situation will definitely improve!

Scenic highlights are the Tohu area, the Cirque de Soleil head office, the cliffs, the Taz complex, and the fact that this will soon be a recreational paradise the size of Mont Royal park.

Will there (finally) be real mountain bike trails in Montreal? This site offers our best hope. Go here (bunny hop montreal) for more info. And call your mayor to tell them you want mountain bike trails here.

Finally, "Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel" is a name without much appeal, the city is looking for a new name, your suggestions are welcome.