Sunday, March 25, 2012

Howick - Aubrey - St-Chrysostome - Covey Hill - Franklin - St-Antoine-Abbé - Allan's Corners - Chateauguay River Ride

Soon this bridge at Brysonville will be a bike bridge.

This bridge is not yet repaired. Damn.

Entering Ste-Chrysostome, an ice cream stop in the warmer weather.

Hairy cows.

A moose

We took a moderate but slightly hilly Howick - Aubrey - St-Chrysostome - Covey Hill - Franklin - St-Antoine-Abbé - Allan's Corners - Chateauguay River ride today, 65 nice kilometres in full countryside. Spring has sprung, and today it was the willow trees that put on the show. They turn gold in spring.

click here for the ride map we made on Bikely.

other media, that twitter thing

We've started using another media for our complaints and ideas and improvements about cycling within and without Montreal, on the Twitter platform. yes, we're a maudit twit now.

We know, we should take our advice and ride more and whine less, but we think there's a few ways cycling can be improved and most importantly, made SAFER, because danger is not a necessary component of a fun bicycle ride.!/CycleFunMtl

If you search the twitterverse for the hashtag #velomtl you'll find some a few interesting things to pass a rainy day.

We'll add some additional cycling related hashtags in the future, but we promise you that there will never ever be any racing news, unless it is somehow seriously montreal-related, a test we apply very strictly, because nothing is more boring than reading about a bunch of people who are faster than us on the bike.

rain? radar says go west for a dry ride

Radar doesn't lie: go west for dryer roads today

Depressing weather outside, but a look at the weather forecast and radar indicates that dry weather is coming soon, and coming sooner if you head west today.

So, across the Mercier bridge we go and probably for a ride from Ste-Martine to Covey Hill and Franklin Centre.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

first flat of 2012


Active transportation survey at work - four years later what has changed?

Four years ago we had a survey about bike commuting/active transport.

So what has changed at our place of work to improve the desireability to use active transport among the workers at our place of employment?

Nothing, nada, rien, SFA.

What a surprise.

But wait...

What has changed in Ville St-Laurent?

Speed limit reduced to 30 km/h on side streets.

Additional bike lanes on some nearby streets.

But Marcil Laurin boulevard N at Pfizer company (between Cote Vertu and Thimens) is still one of the worst streets in the city and the car speeds on Marcil Laurin are still out of control fast with the right lane (slow lane) is still used as the passing lane by the hordes of hyper-aggressive speed-addicted Montreal drivers.

Here's the survey questions and our answers:

Our company tries to be a good corporate citizen, and one of these is cooperation with the AMT transportation agency to offer incentives for employees to take public transport and use bicycles, walking, and carpooling as alternatives to solo car travel when commuting to work or traveling on business.

The reason is pure-self interest (as always!) because if car travel usage increases as forecast over the next ten years, the relentless urban sprawl will see large numbers of additional cars on our already-packed road network. Meaning, traffic jams and stressed-out nonproductive employees!

We already commute to work by bike in the non-slushy months. And we encourage others (by setting an example) to do the same. But the fact is of 5000 people, about 50 of us ride a bike to work, with only a couple of hundred of us take public transport.

The survey was designed to see what our attitudes are about alternatives to commuting by car. And once these are known, to help ease us into using into alternatives to the car.

Here were the questions regarding bike transportation:

Do you agree or disagree with the following opinions on bicycles as a
means of travel between your home and giantmegacorp ?
  1. The bicycles are well protected against theft and vandalism? (no)
  2. The bicycle stands are of good quality? (yes and no)
  3. There are enough bicycle stands? (yes, because no one rides)
  4. They are well located and easily accessible? (yes)
  5. The route between home and work is safe? (Ha!!!!)
  6. The facilities for cyclists at my workplace are adequate (stands, showers, lockers, etc.)? (There are showers and lockers? Where exactly?)
In the section for comments we added:
  1. secure bike parking needed - behind a fence or gate
  2. many people need showers (but not us!)
  3. bus service schedule says every 6 minutes at 4 pm, but is NEVER every 6 minutes!!!
  4. the streets & roads near the company locations are NOT safe for cycling
  5. 8 seconds only for green light to exit parking is not safe
  6. Ville St-laurent street storm-drain covers are old-style "bicycle wheel traps"
  7. In winter we drive because it takes too long to take bus-metro-bus to work, and if you miss bus on way to work, you better walk because next one is a long time to wait. I have to walk one mile, take 2 metros, then walk another mile, which is a bit long.
  8. when discussing bike commuting with coworkers, many people say that lack of 1) showers and 2) a safe bike route to work prevents them from cycling to work. One other says his wife won't let him ride to work because he's a crazy and unsafe rider!
So, this survey will (hopefully) bring about some improvements in services for bicycle commuters, as for the dangerous streets, well, we can hope... for a safer tomorrow.


Ha, that survey changed exactly nothing.

3 good news articles on Montreal cycling/bike paths

The Le Plateau community newspaper has just published three good articles on Montreal cycling, cyclists, and bike paths. Recommended reading for those of you interested in Montreal cycling, cyclists, and bike paths.

The author of the three articles is Daphnée Tranchemontagne. Good work Daphnée. (Did you know that Tranchemontagne is translated as Bigelow? Weird.)

Va jouer dans Trafic
(Go play in Traffic)

Pistes cyclables : modifications au tracé
Bicycle Paths: route changes

Ménage du printemps sur le réseau cyclable

Spring Cleaning on the bike path network

These are in french, but you can google translate them if that's a problem fer ya.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A perfect spring ride

Spring has sprung and this means that on the weekend we must ride, and this ride must occur outside the city in the fresh country air.

Round barn on Gore road - a rare sight in Quebec

Ormstown-Powerscourt again, because it is a great early-season ride with lots of options to extend (or shrink) the distance of the ride. Plus it has tons of scenery. Plus it is a flat ride - no pesky hills. Plus it is on scenic and quiet country roads. Plus these roads are generally in good to very good condition. Plus the Starting point in Ormstown is not too far from Montreal. That's a lot of pluses!

The route is Ormstown to Powerscourt along the Chateauguay river, via Island road, continue through Dewittville and road name changes to Fairview, in Huntingdon cross the river and take 138 to bridge to 4th concession, continue south to first concession, turn left (east) to Powerscourt, then north to Athelstan and east(ish) on Ridge and Gore roads to Dewittville sideroad and cross the Chateauguay at dewittville and back via scenic Rt 138A to O-town.

Quebec's oldest and most-recently renovated covered bridge in Powerscourt

Adirondack mountains across the border in New York State.

Chateauguay river at hooker's bridge just outside Ormstown
Compare to last week (see post below)

drip, drip, drip, boil, boil, boil, et voila maple syrup is born!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Runners to be banned from Montreal bike paths

Runners are to be banned from the Montreal bicycle path network, according to a series of recommendations submitted to the Commission sur le transport et les travaux publics.
As for joggers, walkers or supporters of skateboarding, they are "too slow" for safe access to the network, says the Commission.
Note that this does not apply to Multifunctional recreational paths like the federally-owned Lachine Canal bike path.

So a word to the running community: Runners: please remember to use the sidewalk. If you like the bike path so much, please go and get a bike.

Here's our favorite old joke: How can you tell the difference between the bike path and the sidewalk next to it? The runners are on the bike path! This wouldn't be funny if it wasn't true.

Click here for more info.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Montreal post-winter

Cycliste riding on sidewalk.

New year, same bad habits.

Somebody died? No, just their bikes died.

Best practice: bring your bike INSIDE for winter.

Corporate product and beverage packaging waste research project

First sighting of summer tires!

Note: to non-quebecers: winter tires are mandatory in winter months.

Bike & Ski vacation!

This Ontario couple came equipped for a March "shoulder season" quebec vacation.

We wonder why those skis aren't inside this capacious car?

A25 Montreal-Laval toll bridge charges 2x for crossing with a bike on your car.

PPPs can do anything they want.

Bixi bike sharing system's 2012 improvements

Bixi is back in 2012 with some minor fine-tuning and improved service in one big problem area:

  • Bixi opens a bike depot downtown to accept bikes for parking at peak times (the morning) when there is a lot of traffic to downtown, and al the Bixi docking stations become full. At the Bixi depot, you will hand your Bixi to a Bixi employee and be on your way with no Bixi-parking hassles. Something similar may apply to Bixi on the Plateau in the evenings.Full-docking stations is the achilles of bike sharing systems. I hope the Jazz Festival and other summer events participate in the bike-depot concept.
  • Longueuil will get Bixis, making the first time Bixi's are available off-island. Note to non-Montreal readers: Montreal is an island in the middle of the Saint-Laurence river. A darn nice-looking island too.
  • Bixi reveals how much revenue it gets from advertizing on the bikes: $2.3 million! Bixi users pay $5.1 million themselves.
  • Membership fee cost is up $2.50 to 80.50 for 8 months of service.
  • 5120 bikes at 411 Bixi docking stations for 50,000 users.

  • More info here.

Did you know that the Bixis that are being sold to Chicago: around 3000 Bixi units, will be part of a year-round bike sharing operation?

Return to Vallée bras du Nord - snowshoe hike edition

Our snowshoe hike followed the yellow line to a hut above Delaney Falls.
(Picture taken last june from Sentier des Falaises across the valley)

Yes, it is still winter and there is still some time left for some winter cross-training.

But going to the gym is hard, so if we are going to have to cross train, it probably isn't going to be inside a gym. We think that cross training should be performed in a place that closely resembles paradise. How about Vallée Bras du Nord near Saint-Raymond? Bingo!

We put snowshoes in the car and voyaged to the Vallée Bras du Nord (literally: north arm [of the river] valley, it is not about northern underwear) near St-Raymond (that's located a bit past Trois Rivieres) yesterday and again we managed to avoid biking there - this time due to snow.

But of course this was our plan - late season snowshoe hiking in perfect blue sky conditions. And... perfect cross training for the upcoming cycling season - upper and lower body!

We promise to visit here again this year, finally, to do some mountainn biking on their fine new mountain bike trail network.

Snow bugs, yes, bugs plural: there are two bugs in the picture.

Each tiny little dot was a bug.

The thing in the middle is a pine cone, not a bug or the bug's mothership.

As usual... back at the car a few minutes after sunset.

We left the car about noon, and the hike took about 7 hours.

Accueil to Refuge Le Yourte above Chutes Delaney falls
return via a shortcut and then take Sentier de Castor (beaver trail) to La Hutte
La Hutte to Sentier Boucle du Hauter summit
Summit of Sentier Boucle du Hauter continue the loop in a northy direction, then down to the river and back to the bridge and civilization.

Back to the bridge just as the sun leaves the sky.

Hey, at least it wasn't dark yet.

The Vallée Bras du Nord is a very modern outdoor recreation destination with excellent trail signage. Trail info is nice, but there could be more maps too.

The newly built reception chalet from the Boucle des Hauteurs trail.

As usual, sunset is occurring and we are not back to the car yet.

A perfectly perfect day for snowshoeing.

Seriously folks, this is paradise.

The river wasn't quite warm enough for a quick dip.

Looking north up the valley: more magnificent scenery.

Rules for mtn bikers: you are on your own - be careful!

Click and read please. This is semi-remote wilderness and this sign is full of useful info about surviving your visit to the wilderness with as little negative impact to both you and the wilderness. The Vallée Bras du Nord endorses the "Leave No Trace" set of seven outdoor use practices that you should already be doing.

Also, you must pay to play here.

You contributions directly support the further development of this most excellent outdoor recreation destination.

Is there anything better than full-on spring sunshine?

How about the fact that the trail is now DOWNHILL. So, yes.

Looking across the valley to the Sentier de Falaises trail's massif

We hiked that massif last june.

Today's hike took us above Dellaney falls to the Refuge Yourte.

The refuge is above the cliff to the left of the falls. There is an amazing view from up there.

Four season facilities.

Refuge Le Hutte on the Sentier Castors trail.

Cross this bridge to attain outdoor bliss.

Crossing the bridge, looking down, and thinking this is special....

The first and only outdoor competency test you must pass to play here is to cross this swaying suspension bridge.

New accueil (reception) chalet is now built.

This reception building was under construction last june.

Americans: please take a moment and pronounce the word "accueil" out loud.

The feds helped build this modern outdoor paradise.

Some visitors didn't like the word Canada messing up their made-in-Quebec paradise, so they scratched it out. And out. And out again. (But they still missed one). For good measure, they scratched out the maple leaf symbol too. Both of them!

The Maple leaf is the official symbol of Canada. The official tree of Quebec is the yellow birch (aka silver birch) which is the Bouleau jaune in french.

The only real problem with Vallée Bras du Nord is that the last couple of miles to get there is dirt road - and awesomely bad dirt road at that.

We hope this will change soon.

The Vallée Bras du Nord is Paradise found.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pont Jacques Cartier bridge bike path reopens at 6 pm today!

Pont Jacques Cartier bridge bike path reopens at 6 pm today!

Watch their twitter account (@pontjcbridge) for the up-to-the-second update of when the bridge's bike path opens for the 2012 cycling season.

Also, did you know that the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge corporation wants your pictures of your first ride across the bridge?

Seriously, the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge corporation wants your pictures of your first ride across the bridge.Go to their website here for more information.

The bike path sidewalk across the St-Laurence river and seaway and Expo 67 islands of Parc Drapeau is one of THE most scenic bike rides in Montreal. The lookout on the west side of the main bridge superstructure has a view of Montreal that is absolutely mind blowing.

We visit the new location of boutique Cycles Gervais Rioux

Cycles Gervais Rioux has moved to a larger, whiter location a couple of blocks north on St-Laurent boulevard from their cozy old location.

If you are one of those well-funded cyclists who can wear white shorts and white gloves to ride your bike and routinely wear completely matching thousand-dollar cycling outfits (each with it's specific color-matched Oakleys), you will love this store.

Gervais Rioux is the place to get Argon 18 rolling billboards, oops we mean bicycle brand and all the color-coordinated accessories you can be suckered into, er, have always dreamed of. Maybe they should carry the Thorstein Veblen brand of bicycles too? We pity the 1% who have to spend so much of their hard-earned dinero to exhibit consumption patterns superior to the rest of us hoi polloi.

We might sound grumpy (envious? Not!) but boy-oh-boy we surely do want that titanium Moots Vamoots CR in the front window. Something has to replace the Bertrand one of these years, and the Moots would be a great choice.

We think this is a top bike shop, maybe Montreal's top bike shop (certainly Montreal's most "exclusive" shop), so don't let our sour grapes about cyclists who wear white stop you from visiting and buying any (or heck, all) of the excellent products to be found in their new and improved store location. They also do bit fit so if you are having any troubles "assuming the position" on your bike, make an appointment to get happier on your bike.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

clean up this town

Bike paths reopen on 1 april. When they will get cleaned... and repaired is another question entirely.

We advise you not to have high expectations. On the other hand if you are a more proactive person, go to the Homey Depot and buy a real broom and then go clean a part of your favorite bike path, cycling route, short cut secret connection, sketchy corner, etc.

In a few days bikes regain control of our miniscule 0.03% of the road network.

That statistic is not factually based.

Take a close look at your tires. Do it now. Yes, a CLOSE look.

And then go and buy two new tires!

This chain has incurable grease cooties - you must wear rubber gloves to touch!

After a new chain and major cleanup effort: a clean and healthy drive train.

We are easily disgusted, but the Bertrand's chain had achieved that status. It was our fault, so we set out to make things right with our favorite bike.

And then we changed the front tire because it was time to change the front tire. The back tire has a few more rides in it, but we already got the replacement. Proactive? Us? Seems unlikely, but there's a new tire sitting beside me!

Spring Snowshoe Spectacular

Moss and ferns are ready as soon as the water melts. Go Lichens!

Parc Mont Tremblant - looking north to Lac Monroe

Looking south to Lac Superieur and north side of Mont Tremblant.

Finally, after many years, we do this trail.

Shout out to Arthur K!

Lots of winter is still here, as this ice wall attests.

We took advantage of a monday off from work to go to Parc Mont tremblant secteur Diable to do a very popular snowshoe and hiking trail in almost perfect seclusion. The trick is to go when crowds are not there at the same time you are. Mission accomplished!

We had wanted to visit the Sentier Centenaire for years, but our coworker had said that we'd probably not enjoy it because the crowds would make the Montreal metro at rush hour appear to be calm and quiet.

So we waited for the perfect day. And waited some more!

Finally, yesterday was that perfect day. There was only one other person on the trail. The temperature was warm enough to snowshoe in the nude (not advised, but possible). The sky was blue, and the wind was light.

We love it when our visit to a popular outdoor destination is as perfect as today has been.