Tuesday, November 22, 2011

snow? SNOW? NOOOOOO!!!!!!

First snow of the season creates a mood of it's the end of the world, but it isn't. Almost... but not quite.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

november daylight ride

Truly a great road for cycling

This ride is the result of two years of exploration.

It is a perfect 70 km ride.

A few really nice stone walls on this ride

Today's ride finished at sunset, perfection attained.

Wool on the legs today

Yes, we need some new handlebar tape. It is winter project #17.

Looking north over Franklin Centre and across the St-Laurence towards Rigaud mountain in the very far distance

Since we repeated last week's ride, here we are again.

The bridge on Montée Covey Hill - last week

The bridge on Montée Covey Hill - this week

Last week we could cross, but not today.

With the road blocked and the stream free-flowing and burbling happily, it was a great spot to stop and relax. Plus, from here, the ride back to Howick is all downhill, so we had a happy feeling inside.


Every ride should have a few of these signs.

This ride goes up gently but steadily from Howick up Covey Hill to Franklin Centre. This is a scenic ride, so the slower uphill half of the ride is still very enjoyable. The route zig-zags up the slopes of Covey Hill, from farmland to forest and apple orchards and stone fences and generally nice asphalt, translation: this is a great bike ride.

From Franklin Centre back to Howick is downhill. 35 wonderful kilometres, which is an excellent situation for a cyclist to find herself in.

This is the first time we did this ride exactly this way, and we like it a lot and declare this ride to be a keeper and destined to become a classic. At less then 80 km (50 miles) we can recommend it to everyone, as it is the easy way up covey hill.

We will post a map as soon as out lightning-struck main PC is returns home after some repairs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Howick > Franklin Centre/Covey Hill annual autumn epic ride

The Pin Rigide is the Pitch Pine en anglais.

In November the maple forest have a beautiful carpet of leaves

Today's new backroad exploration discovers that the road isn't a road and is a Ski-Doo trail.

Near perfect Tamarack/Larch (Mélèze) coniferous tree in autumn gold color.

The renovated part of Franklin Centre

Early in the ride we saw this sign, which helped us to survive a few challenges later in the day.

This can't be good, no sir not at all.

The road... it's gone!

We couldn't ride across, but we could walk across.

And what a relief to find this out!

That was the good news.

The bad news is that the sun has just set. The car is still 25 km away.


Starting the ride at 2 pm in November has its risks.

But we had brought our lights, knew the best way home, and got down to business.

Our average speed for the next hour was 30 km/h, much faster than usual!

Finishing the ride after sunset: that light is from Montreal 40 km away

Sometimes a ride goes epic for reasons better not discussed, but today's ride went epic because 1) a back road turned into a dirt road turned into a ski-doo trail, so we had to walk a kilometre or two. Then a bridge turned out to have just collapsed into the creek underneath. We got across on foot but then the sunset occurred. There was still 25 km to go before the ride was finished. Oh boy, ain't November fun!

On the plus side, the temperatures were abnormally warm, as high as +14, which is great but also kind of scary since it is November.

Indoor winter cycling - why not in the big O?

Perhaps the stade Olympique stadium could be used as a venue for indoor winter cycling? Just asking...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Urban river ride - north to new Autoroute 25 bridge

Historic mini-house on Gouin blvd

No bike lanes on pont Pie-IX, Mont Royal in background

Repairs ongoing on Pont Viau

Arriving in Laval and looking back at Montreal island's strange glow

Parc nature de l'ile de la visitation, one of Montreal's best parks

St-Vincent-de-Paul prison restrains a different 1% than the one in the news these days.

Winter is coming, and it's going to feel like you are inside a prison for a few months, so get out now for a late autumn bike ride, maybe to explore your city like we did today?

Young tamarack (mélèze) changing color

Tamarack (Larch) needles change colour in autumn, unlike all other local conifer trees.

Pont Viau bridge & bike path renovations nearing completion

The Pont Viau bridge is at the northern terminus of Berri/Lajeunesse streets and links directly to these streets and their new bike lanes. This is a terrific new addition for bike commuters from Laval and the northern part of the city.

New north-end Berri/Lajeunesse bike lanes are now open for riding

Crossing the new A25 bridge, an excellent addition to bike-able bridges of Montreal

Riding over to this bridge make a nice 40km loop ride along the scenic Riviere des Prairies.

You can see this bike ride is here on Bikely maps.

Velo-Quebec releases Réseau vélo métropolitain pour 2031

Wonder what biking in Montreal will look like in 2031, a mere 20 years from now? Want to know what is the vision for the future and where improvements to the bike path network will have to be made to improve bicycle safety and accessibility?

Velo Quebec has just issued a visionary document "Le réseau vélo métropolitain 2031" that will answer all your questions and feed your desire for action on the bicycle accessibility and cycling safety dossier.

The complete document is here in pdf format.

Very interesting and a recommended read for anyone who does urban cycling for fun, exercise or transportation.


Is this document perfect? In Cycle Fun Montreal's opinion it misses some important details. For example on page 16 it shows a picture of the intersection of Villeneuve and Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path, which has its intersection modified with a narrower roadway at the intersection, effectively removing the road area that would be occupied by bikes.

This means that cars waiting for the green light effectively block bicycles from progressing to cross on the walk signal. This intersection was rebuilt at the same time as the Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path, is part of that bike path's connection to the bike path network on the plateau, and was redesigned contrary to and ignoring of the fact that bicycles and cars have to share the road at this intersection. Velo Quebec should be doing a better job in critiquing these poorly re-designed intersections where the roadway is narrowed to slow car speeds but in fact remove the five feet of roadway needed for bikes to travel on the side of the roads as required by law.

The exact same situation exists at the intersection of Laurier avenue and Cote-Ste-Catherine, with the added pissoff of the walk signal is not being part of the traffic light cycle and therefore bikes have a very difficult time to cross across the roadway at the T-intersection when all cars are turning across the direction of bikes. Bikes need to cross straight across Cote-Ste-Catherine to reach the bike path on the far side. The button that activated the walk cycle is located 25 feet from where bicycles stop and wait for the green light. A very good example of an intersection redesign for pedestrian safety that completely ignores bike safety and the fact this intersection is an important entry point to access the Cote-Ste-Catherine bike path.

The purposeful ignoring of bike safety at redesigned intersections by City of Montreal road planners has to stop.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Mercier Bridge 100% closed to bikes?

Why is this man a candidate for cyclist of the year?

The under-reconstruction Pont mercier bridge is definitely closed to bicycling on its uber-dubious crumbling sidewalk. This sidewalk, which has its land access points sealed off, also has major restrictions on passing through the bridge's deck and structure reconstruction project, plus the complete roadway itself is missing for 100 feet as the reconstruction of the north-side access bridge is rebuilt. In other words, for cyclists it's "Access Denied."

And yet we spotted this guy riding his bike mid-span on the Pont Mercier bridge high above the mighty (262,000 cu ft/s) Saint Laurence river.

How he managed to cross the formidable construction zone obstacles and access blockages will remain a pretty major mystery, but we admire his talents in achieving a river crossing which no sane person would have even attempted.

We salute you sir!

Route Verte's online maps are MUCH improved

Until now the online maps at RouteVerte.com have been pretty pathetic: a small map window and not much detail. And by pathetic we mean useless.

So it is good news that the maps are now big and detailed.

Check it out at
Routeverte.com (english) - click on "The Green Network" for the maps
Routeverte.com (français) et clicker sur << cartes et itineraires>>.

Another map resource for cyclists exploring outside Montreal is Transport Quebec's Quebec511 road maps, check the box on the right sidebar to add bicycle-friendliness information for useful cyclist speciic safety info about the roads. Transport Quebec has much useful info for cyclists and a special page telling us what their map tool for bicycle-friendliness means.

And if you are traveling on Quebec's roads and highways, be sure to check in advance for road construction sites and possible detours at the main Quebec 511 website. (click here for Quebec511 en français)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

+3 C is NOT cold

Every autumn we have to tune our cycling fashion sense towards surviving the cooler temperatures.

Some people conflate being cold with being outside in the cold, but the two are not the same thing at all.

It is easy to stay warm in the plus-side of the celsius temperature scale. Some experimentation may be required, so try out all your gear to determine your best gear for cool temperatures.

When you are cycling you are generating heat (that's if you are doing it right) and keeping the core warm is no problem after the first 10-15 minutes . The problem with the core it releasing the sweat you generate using your amazing cardiovascular system.

The problem is keeping the extremities warm, but modern fabric technology to the rescue!

The enemy of riders is wind. In the winter this is amplified because wind is very good at removing thermal energy from things, things being in this case you on your bike.

For your hands and feet, full wind coverage is essential.

Your feet are your friends, and you want to have happy feet. Overboots or booties are great for the feet. We notice a real lack of insulated booties on the market. Most booties are just nylon or neoprene. I'd like to see some fleece insulation inside booties. And lots of it! This is a market opportunity for entrepreneurial people.

A strange invention for biking is the three-finger mitt. The "lobster claw" style is very functional and the liner glove can be adapted from regular bike gloves for warm temperatures to thin or thick fleece gloves as temperatures drop.

Neck and head is a lot of exposed skin to keep covered. We use layers of varying cold-defeating ability and mix and math as temperatures change from cool mornings to warmer afternoons.

Here are a few links to cold weather riding

icebike.org is an excellent starting point to learn all about cold weather clothing.

google cold weather riding bikes

google staying warm winter cycling

google frozen nuts bicycle


Here is our setup for a comfy ride. (this post goes on, and on, and on much too long)


light or heavy tuque that fits under helmet
fleece (polaire) headband (buy five at L'Aubainerie)
in case of really cold: add balaclava and/or hood
We've never tried a winter helmet. Maybe this year...

mere cool temperatures means one of those cheap headbands you bought from L'Aubainerie
A bit cooler and we add the velcro-closed "bandit" style triangular fleece neck scarfs.
The previous two items are combined for the mildly cold zone.
When it actually COLD, the next layer is the elastic neck gaitor/tube, available at any ski shop.
The full neck tube serves the important cold-weather function of keeping ALL skin covered and avoiding the dreaded winter wind.

The core chest/back starts with vest and arm warmers, then increases to wearing a cycling jacket. Inner layers can be super light up to super warm depending on your energy output level and outside temperatures.


This is easy: winter tights! We love tights, and in winter get some heavyweight cycling tights or even cross-country ski tights. Add synthetic long johns as a base layer as temperatures drop. It's all about layers and adaptability for cold temperature comfort.

For severe cold go the co=op (mec) and buy a full set of winter underwear from thin to thick and inner mid and outer layers, and wear some or all of them. Remove layers as you warm up and avoid getting anything sweaty. Cycling's challenge is to ventilate sweat while keeping protected from the wind. This is why many cycling outfits have a mesh back or underarm zips.

Cotton: not

As a cyclist you may already have a love affair with sophisticated synthetic fabrics. In winter this really matters: avoid cotton, totally and absolutely. Cotton absorbs moisture. In winter this means that your body will have to keep itself (i.e. you) warm, plus keeping all the moisture in absorbed in your cotton clothing warm too. And that takes calories, lots of calories. Calories you need to power the pedals!

One way that we keep comfortable in cold temperatures is to avoid wet or snowy conditions. This is a personal choice. We base it partly on having to share the road with cars, and reduced visibility conditions make cars much more dangerous than usual to cyclists. So if you have to ride in severe conditions, be visible and extra safe,