Saturday, August 06, 2011

Northern Lanaudiere Festi-Force ride

Today's version of our Lanaudiere Nord ride.

This ride's variations on the basic circuit are:
  1. L'Assomption river to near St-Alphonse-Rodriguez (avoid: bad road surface)
  2. short version of the Ste-Beatrix south loop (this is the non-complicated version)
  3. chemin Pied de la Montagne out-and-back from chemin Belle Montagne (do it!)
  4. Rang St-Guillaume at end of ride (do not skip this, it's 100% top quality)
The ride map is here on Bikely (good luck with incredibly unreliable bikely!)

We did a cycling version of St-Jean-de-Matha's Festi-Force Louis Cyr

Louis Cyr was a legendary Strongman - and this ride requires strong legs that are tested with a dozen steep climbs, which -- we promise -- are also fun.

The upside of uphills are the descents: woohoo!

We powered the ride with summer sunshine in the form of fresh-picked raspberries.

The raspberry farm is Ferme Sarrazin on Rang Ste-Catherine. They also sell various pork products in both raw and transformed forms. This is at the start of the first long hill: the three-step climb up and up and then UP to the Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie townline at the hill's top -- and the excellent Scenic Lookout with benches and a great view.

It is OK to take micro-pauses when climbing this hill. Mainly because you don't want to burn out too soon on this ride, but also because you want to have fun too.

Looking back from the top of the Rang Ste-Catherine hill.

There is new asphalt on the first two climbs up this hill, but this last climb remains very rustic (and hard). It feels really good to crest the top of the climb and look down into the Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie valley.

Hilltop church in St-Jean-de-Matha town.

Yes, the ride finishes at the church up this little hill.

Top of first/last hill of the day. See the church?

Also, see the dog?

That dog ruined our zoom-zoom blast down this last hill of the ride.

Cursed beast!

Spot the church.

Go ahead and click the photo. Yes, that is the St-Jean-de-Matha church.

This view is from St-Joseph near Ste-Beatrix. The view from here shows the upper part of the valley of the L'Assomption river. This river valley has waterfalls and is a regional park that includes the three municipalities that contain the L'Assomption river downriver from Ste-Beatrix to St-Jean-de-Matha and Ste-Melanie.

Parc Regional des Chutes

The ride passes over the L'Assomption river at the Ste-Beatrix entrance (one of the three entrances) to the Parc Regional des Chutes. The St-Jean-de-matha entrance is a good bike ride, but has no scenic view. The Ste-Beatrix entrance has a great view, as you can see in these photos.

Waterfall at the Ste-Beatrix entrance to Parc Regional des Chutes

The photo taken from the road bridge over the falls - no entrance fee for the view from the road bridge.

Downstream view from the road bridge.

This is possibly the other best way to enjoy a heat wave.

Road names like Pretty Mountain and Foot-of-the-Mountain promise scenic riding

Some times road names promise things, these roads deliver on the promises.

The section Belle Montagne & Rang St-Laurent rewards better than winning the loto.

Because the reward occurs every time you play here.

Ste-Beatrix has a scenic little main street

Ste-Beatrix is one of the three villages on this ride. They are each located a nice distance from each other. In Ste-Beatrix there is a park beside the church for rest stop, conveniently located right across from the grocery store.

Speaking of rest stops, Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie has the nicest rest stop. It is located beside a little lake at the Tourist Info building. This is located a very short detour off this bike circuit but is recommended. Directions: when the bike ride arrives in Ste-Emilie the circuit turns left. If you turn right instead and follow the Tourist Info sign you will not be disappointed with the quality of this rest stop. Check out the sawmill model inside the Tourist Info building.

Scenic view from rang Ste-Celine before arriving in Ste-Beatrix.

Refilling water bottles and camelbak with lots and lots of water.

Ice-cold water on a heat-wave day is a good thing.

Good hydration management is required when cycling on a hot day.

Rest&refuel was at "near" St-Alphonse-Rodriguez waterfall

This abandoned dam is easily accessed from beside the Rona. The depanneur is located where the back road meets the highway.

This segment of the ride was an out-and-back deviation from our regular route along the L'Assomption river. Frankly the road surface is pretty bad, but if it gets repaved it'll be great addition to this standard circuit. We love northern Lanaudiere back roads.

We saw only two other riders today.

This dude is arriving into Ste-Emilie-de-l'Energie from Ste-Come direction. It's a big downhill, and he rode the brakes all the way down. Speed control is probably a good idea in busy areas.

It was a perfect day for riding in a cycling utopia.

It is the weekend of St-Jean-de-Matha's Festi-Force Louis Cyr that festivalizes the memory of Quebec strongman Louis Cyr. So we went out and did out own strongman activity: riding the excellent hills of northern Lanaudiere.

Some bike rides, when repeated, are boring, repetitive, or just grindfests, with a distinct lack of fun. Not our northern Lanaudiere circuit, which is fun fun fun.

Which is why we keep returning to the parking lot behind the city hall (across from the hilltop church) and (until 2013) beside the Louis Cyr Museum. We park under the giant maple tree. We take the bike out of the car and 50 feet after crossing the Rt 131 east of town we are in the country, and in another minute, are climbing a short but crazy steep little hill, observed with disapproval by the bovines chewing their cud.

It is a fact that this ride contains a few hills, and this means that for those of us without triples, there will be standing up on the pedals, and for honesty's sake, let's be upfront and say that there are a dozen stiff climbs that will test your fitness and possibly make you see god, or at least be begging her for some assistance. Here's a hint: instead of doing the zigzag up the hill thing, take some micro-pauses on the hill, 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, and then continue. (You can thank me later).

So this ride has quite a concentrated amount of climbing, but what if it is too much, will we need to call a taxi to get back to the car if we max out and enter cramp city? Let us advise you that this ride is shaped in a series of three (or four) loops from St-Jean-de-Matha. So if the first or second loop kills you (ok, we mean satisfies your need to discover your hill climbing ability), you can abort back to the car. We won't jusdge when you've had enough. Many people say 50 km is nothing, there's no way I'd have enough riding in only 50 km, but in fact on this ride 50 km can be quite enough riding for one day. The option to go long is available, as is the option to go short. It's up to you how much fun you want per ride. And if you go short, you can come back latr in the season for the longer ride. We know, we keep coming back!

But what if you are a hill addict, and you want more? And then you still want more? This ride delivers, with extra hills available even when you arrive back in St-Jean-de-Matha with the road down the the Parc Regional Des Chutes' St-Jean-de-Matha entrance (highly recommended!!!)

Let's list the pluses of this ride:
  • Quiet roads
  • Good asphalt
  • lots of hills
  • Good and great scenery
  • More quiet roads
  • More good asphalt
  • more good hills

Shadows on Rang Ste-Guillaume

For a change we're here long before sunset!

Tilted barn picture of the day.

We love Rang Ste-Guillaume - don't miss it.

Seriously: make sure to add Rang Ste-Guillaume at the ride's end. Since you have to pass though St-Jean-de-Matha to get to this last segment of the ride, it is very tempting to call it a day and skip Rang St-Guillaume. Don't succumb to this temptation. You want to ride Rang St-Guillaume, and this desire will be rewarded with a fantastic finale to the ride.

The fact that you will find this to be a fantastic finale is in fact a guarantee.

St-Jean-de-Matha roadwork almost finished, and no more bike-unfriendly detour.

The Bertrand is happy to bond at ride's end with its friend the giant maple tree.

What secrets is the bike revealing to the tree?

The surprise of the day was how well we rode in this heatwave.


At 6:34 PM, Blogger EspressoExpress said...

Excellent ride report! This is my first summer road biking. I have spent al ot of time looking for good sources of cycling info, online cycling communities, local Montreal ride groups and blogs. I have to say that your blog is one of my best finds and I really enjoy reading it.

Keep up the good work!


Post a Comment

<< Home