Saturday, April 14, 2018

The year always starts with some short & medium rides starting in Ormstown in the Chateauguay Valley

Ormstown is a small town on the Chateauguay river about 65 km southeast from Montreal, It is in a real sweet-spot in terms of the road-cycling delights that await you.

First ride of the year is always starting in Ormstown, ride upriver along the Chateauguay to Dewittville, Huntingdon, Athelstan, and to the covered bridge at Powerscourt. This is 26 km. You can ride back the same way, for a 52 km ride.  Lots of nice scenery.

Here is the map:  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2012970943/


If you look at the map, you see that this region forms a triangle. This gives you a lot of options for choosing different roads between point A and B.

Second ride is the same as the first ride, follow the Chateauguay river to Powerscourt. The difference is you come back by a partially different route. THis is the direct Lost nation and Boyd Settlement roads, that shortcut you slightly from the first route.

Here is the map:  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2012980552/





The third ride starting from Ormstown is a medium length 80 km, and each of the kilometers is a jewel.  This again does the first route's ride upriver along the Chateauguay to Powerscourt. THen it goes east along the border for 15 km on chemin First Concession road, then north along mtée Rockburn Side Road back to the Chateauguay river. Both of these roads are bike-paradise quality roads. The entire route is a real classic of Quebec road rides.  When you become familiar with these three routes and their many delights you will understand why this is one of Quebec's bike-paradise regions and why it is in my top-three bike ride destinations (northern Lanaudiere & in Appalaches south of Victoriaville & Plessisville).

But first, the jewel of the Chateauguay valley: Chateauguay river, First Concession, and Rockburn Side Road ride.

Here is the Map:  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/1993931978/







After a few of these rides I move east a bit, usually parking car at St-Beranrd-de-Lacolle or Ste-Clotilde. This begins phase 2 of the season, longer easy rides.

The easy-drive option is to park at St-Brnard-de-Lacolle which is right on the Sentier du Paysan bike path. This bike path is fully rural: fields farms and forests. It goes west to St-Clotilde and then you can do road rides more westerly, to Franklin & top of Covey Hill, or west to all the way the Chateauguay river at Athelstan or Powerscourt, Elgin,. If  you want a big day, this route gives you any length ride from 50 km to 200 km! And all of that will be away from towns villages and basically all modern urban/corporate civilization.

First ride of the season at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle is half bike path, and half on the "standard return route from Franklin" which is downhill & with the wind.

Here is the map: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2013005551/




Next I start from the other (eastern) end of the Sentier Paysan bikepath.  THe parking is at the Halte (rest stop) Ste-Clothilde on the Rt 209, note that this is outside the village itself on Rt 209)

This is a short ride, but it seems longer. The next ride is a longer version, or you can go more east on bike path before turning south to road portion of ride.

Here is the Map:  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2013035557/





Next up is similar, but it goes further west to Franklin (in to the village), and a bit further east too.  This climbs the "standard return route from Franklin" and returns via the very sweet Grimshaw/Savary/Montée Rocher/Rang 5 road combination.

Here is the map: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2013053419/






2016-07 St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to Franklin

Ok, same general ride as previous, but starting in St-Bernrd means an extra couple of hours of riding. Yes as the season progresses the ride length increases.  This ride, once you get to know it, has an assortment of distances from 50 km to 200 km,  My rule is to ride as far west as you have energy and then turn around and ride home, finishing before sunset.  it's a good rule and always results in a good ride!

Here is the map:  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/2013068935/






OK, anything else?

I did an explore ride from Boucherville to Varennes.  I did not achieve the goal of the full ride (supposed to go to Vercheres) But it was cold and late and the short version was just fine for early april.



Saturday, February 24, 2018

my artisanal bike ride heat map

2017 was a good year, I rode most of my top ten rides, did some new rides, and I plan to the the same for 2018.











Saturday, December 16, 2017

Easy bike-path and country-road combo rides south and southwest of Montreal

This is my preferred area to ride middle-distance easy rides (60 to 130 km) on an incredible variety of perfect country roads. 

These rides start in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle and start and end on the Sentier Paysan bike path.  Then it is one, two, three, four, or up to ten hours of quiet scenic country roads. Literally any length ride you want, all on top quality smooth quiet scenic country roads.

You can ride 60 to 160 km on totally on country roads outside of towns and all civilization, or you can hit a village or two if you want to. But you have the choice of zero villages too.


No matter what route and distance, the last hour of the ride is back on the bike path going directly back to the start point.

Remember to pick up end-of-ride refreshments at the Esso depanneur at the road you'll cross between the autoroute underpass and St-Bernard-de-Lacolle village where you parked the car (and where there are no services at all).

Finally, it is an easy drive to get here on Autoroute 15 Sud. (Caveat: Turcot, so I note that you can get to A15 sud via Autoroute 30 from a variety of bridges that are not named Champlain.)

Just the bike path 60 km

Hey you've gotta start somewhere!


Short Version with loop (60 km)

St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to a loop on nice roads east of St-Chrysostome

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/1881223556/


Longer version (82 km)

St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to a bigger road loop including St-Chrysostome village (full services)

You have choice of a shortcut with only .9 km (Rang St-Michel) of Rt 203. The route on the map is 5 km on Rt 203 using Rang Norton Creek South. Either way will return you directly to west end of bike path

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/1884347945/


A bit longer again (115 km) and adds the excellent Havelock and Covey Hill segments

 Plenty of wow on this ride.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/1840420625/


OK, you are in Ste-Chrysostome, and you want to go west, a lot, and on easy roads?

This might be your best ride of the year. Many of these roads are Quebec's best. I guarantee this.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/1831687229/





Sunday, August 20, 2017

2017 - the year so far

It seems many people are complaining about the weather of 2017. Not me! I've been having a very nice riding season, thank you very much.

I've been doing my classics aka favorite rides and a bit of new explorations too.

Riding season nowadays follows a bit of a script: easy rides, then longer easy rides, then hard rides, then long hard rides. Then mountain biking!

So what are these classics?

I'll define them by starting point, aka where do we park the car?

Ormstown
This is first on my list for easy road-bike ride paradise. Generally if you ride any road south of the Chateaguay river & always 100% avoid the busy Rt 138 & Rt 202 highways, you will have a good ride. Allez-retour Ormstown>Huntingdon>Powerscourt covered bridge for shortish road ride, add Rockburn to make it a loop ride is a PERFECT medium distance easy-ride. You can also add a bit of Elgin, if you can figure out where Elgin is.

For good bike maps, you can get maps in the tourism kiosk in the IGA mall in Ormstown (near the SAQ). Another very good map is the Le Suroit map. The Monteregie bike map is detailed, but doesn't show road names to the same detail as the previous two maps.

I have historically called this region the Chateauguay Valley, but it is also known as a) Haut-St-Laurent, b) Monteregie c) Le Suroit d) southwest Quebec. Geographically it is south of the Chateauguay river from anywhere starting Ste-Martine & continuing up-river. Rarely I'll ride north of the Chateauguay river up to the St-Laurence river/seaway, but usually south of the river to/along the US border and the many fine roads in-between. Although the area is geographically-compact, there is quite a variety of different roads, scenery, and eco-systems. 

Louiseville
This is the longer-distance easy-ride category. It is the MRC Maskinongé and there is a very good bike map to the region.  This starts about an hour northeast of Montreal via the Aut 40. Ride to Ste-Elie-de-Caxton for lunch up on top of the hilltop Calvaire lookout. Return via chemin au-bout-de-monde & optional St-Alexis-des-Monts. for adventure, go north from St-Alexis-des-Monts to Hotel Lac Sacacomie. The hills to get there are hard hard hard. One in particular is so steep that you can see the tops of (large) trees beside the road. I take pauses to climb this and one time a car stopped and was sure I was dead from exertion!  

St-Jean-de-Matha
I do my favorite hill ride circuit here. My favorite hill climb circuit of all time. 'Nuff said, except that finally Ste-Beatrix is rebuilding Rang Ste-Cecile, a key road for the western part of this ride. It was getting really post-apocalyptic in recent years. There are two big climbs and a nice waterfall on this ride.

Victoriaville / Plessisville
Hills, longer ride category.  Two different starting points for riding in the L'Erable/Appalache maple-forest hills & historic roads between Victoriaville and Thetford. SCENIC! Many parts of this are some of my favoritre all-time bike roads. This year I parked in Victoriaville and not Plessisville for this regions' rides. Both are good starting points. Nice hilly quiet and scenic. "Paradis du vélo." I say this a lot, but I've done a lot so different rides and these are the ones I always come back to. Historic roads Craig and Gosford. It is possible to do shorter rides here, but mine tend to be epic in scale.  There are a couple of unique hill-top villages around here.  St-Fabien being the more epic of the two.

St-Bernard-de-Lacolle
This starts directly south of Montreal near the US border and it is an easy drive.  I ride bike path an hour west and it enters the Chateauguay valley (see Ormstown/Chateauguay valley rides above). It adds a lot of ride options and the variety is endless. The earlier I getup and start the ride makes the rode shorter or longer. Super flexible distance and easy, quiet scenic roads make this the easy choice lazy start times. The rides here are first-half of ride into-the-wind/slight uphill so it is possible you'll feel you are not riding as fast or as strong as usual. So then you need to remember to save energy for the turnaround point and then you will have energy to ride with the resulting second-half of the rides' tailwind and slight downhill. Experienced cyclists know these to be two excellent things that when combined create the conditions for a best day of the year candidate.

New rides

Victoriaville
I explored by starting my fave Plessisille Appalache rides in Victoriaville.  This resulted in learning more about Ste-Sophie roads and a new route into the hills. Rides in this area start at towns down in the St-Laurence valley and head into the Appalachian hills to the south. The choice cyclists have is "which road do I take into the hills?" Because some of these entry points are better than others. Ste-Sophie takes you directly up and into a perfect road with big scenery, and starting from Victoriaville adds a covered bridge and some highly scenic backroads. All paved, I mention this because this region has a lot of unpaved dirt roads.  An all-roads bike is on my list of dream bikes...

Eastman
I like rides just west of Lac Memphremagog a lot. My buddy took me on one starting in Eastman and two things surprised me: 1) there's like 100 times more cyclists in this area than the quiet areas I usually ride! And he is still a lot faster than me going up hills. Actually this was not a surprise. He has always been a faster climber than me. Only one year did I ever match his speed. Oh, 1992, how I miss you.

Mountain bike - East Hereford
(aka Mont Hereford / Circuits Frontières, located east of Coaticook).  It is not boring to always go back to the same place if that place always has great trails.  This destination is a bit far, but inside my three hour limit to be on the bike after leaving my front door. East Hereford has a trail network that is over a large geographic area across the side of a fairly big mountain and protected forest. It is the opposite of a small-area mtn-bike park with lots of short trails in the midst of modern civilization. East Hereford is a big place with lots of big forest and once you leave the village you'll be in the forest all day long. The only farming you'll see is Christmas-tree farms,.  The trails are laid out with a nice selection of easy-intermediate trails along a east-west axis.  I won't go into detail, but it is a great way to have the most fun day of your year and possibly life.

There is a rainbow trout fish farm in the village (behind the town library in middle of village) and you can buy some frozen sliced smoked trout (that will thaw in your cooler during the ride) to be enjoyed afterwards. Because it is far there you need to be aware that after Coaticook there are no services although there is a dep/food in Ste-Heremenegilde about 15 km from East Hereford. That said, be self-sufficient. The bike parking has a very nice village park, plus for dirty mountain bikers there is showers and across the road behind the tennis court is a bike wash. Maps are available at the bike parking at the kiosk, where you pay your $10.  Lastly I need to say this a remote and wild area and you ability to be self sufficient on the trail (reading maps, fixing minor bike problems) is really important.

Because starting from the village require a long climb (Rembobine then Bobine) there are two  Parking lots located mid-mountain.  The parking for the popular easy-level flow trails is at top of Chemin Houle (via Chemin des Cotes).

That's 2017, and I think it has been a very good year so far.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The classic Chateauguay Valley (Haut-St-Laurent) road ride




The Chateauguay Valley southwest of Montreal (aka Haut St-Laurent) has very nice roads for biking. I think the classic ride is this one.

I encourage you to stop and have a scenic break at every bridge across the Chateauguay river.

The ride is triangle shaped. It starts in Ormstown then follows the chateauguay river all the way to the US border. Then it goes straight east along the US border. Then it returns to the chateauguay river on the road LaPresse called the best bike road in Quebec.

First stop is the hamlet of Dewittville (scenic bridge) to Huntingdon (2 scenic bridges) and then the road & river turn south towards USA you'll see mountains in New York State south of Malone.

The map says cross Gilmore bridge. This is a closed-to-cars-bridge and is a great rest stop. Crossing this bridge takes you into the rural municipality of Elgin. The bakery is only open friday until 6 pm/Saturday until 3 pm. (Shortcut: Note that you could go direct to Powerscourt from Gilmore bridge on the road you were on from Huntingdon)

The covered bridge across the Chateauguay river at Powerscourt is Quebec's oldest covered bridge. Nuff said!

You will have noticed that the ride up until to this point (from Ormstown to Powerscourt) was very good bike riding. I would like to make it known that for me, from this point it is bike paradise.

From Powerscourt you go straight east on First Concession road, then you turn left and have a lovely descent (zoomy, then mellow) back to the Chateauguay river through apple orchards, maple forests, and farm/forest mix. (Shortcut: turn north  on Montée Rockburn from the First Concession. However the map version is only a couple miles longer, and adds a heck of lot of good riding into this little corner of the ride.)

You will eventually arrive at Dewittville, turn right and head back for the final leg of the ride to Ormstown along the Chateauguay river. Try to spot the century-old giant cottonwood trees. They are tall!

Tips: a good regional map, washrooms, full retail services and parking are all available at the IGA mall in Ormstown at corner of Routes 138 & 201. There is a hospital in Ormstown with an emergency room. To get to Ormstown take pont mercier/Rt 138 or B) take Autoroute 30 to Rt 138 at Chateauguay, then drive west to Ormstown. You can also come via Valleyfield. (You cannot cross bridges from valleyfield south to Ormstown on bike.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Springtime - three easy rides near Montreal with smooth clean dry quiet & scenic roads

Springtime is when I ride my favorite easy rides. Too long, too hilly, too far, those are bad things.

Spring means finding rides that are
  • start close to montreal
  • roads are dry not wet
  • roads that are clean not dirty
  • Roads that are smooth and not crapfest
  • Roads that are not full of cars
  • Roads that have lots of scenic variety
For me the first destination is Ormstown. Rides south and west of Ormstown are textbook perfect spring rides (and also perfect for summer and autumn).

The first two rides follow the Chateauguay river to Huntingdon and then upriver south to
 the covered brige at Powerscourt. It's quebec's oldest covered bridge!

You can always just ride the same route back to ormstown, or as on the first ride, take a direct route back. The second ride takes the longer route back, but adds the section along the US border and dewittville sideroad (actually called Monté Rockburn), two of the best roads in Quebec for road bike.

For rides starting in Ormstown, there are maps in the mall at the tourist kiosk located beside the pharmacy & SAQ.

#1 The first ride is the shortest: Ormstown-Powerscourt 55 km

#2 Ormstown>Huntingdon >Powerscourt>Rockburn>Stevensons orchard - it is a bit longer with all the deluxe features including Boulangerie Elgin & Verger Stevensons Orchard downhill.

Same but with direct return shortcut to Ormstown instead of Dewittville sideroad because sometimes buddies are not in shape for the last 1/3 of the ride.

#3 The other ride has an even easier car trip to the starting point at St-Bernard-de-Lacole (exit 11 on Autoroute 15 Sud, starts on bike path and then on country roads.  St-Bernard-de-Lacolle to Franklin

This is a shorter version: Shorter Lacolle-Franklin

Rides 3 and 2 can be combined into a fabulous longer ride. I recommend starting at St-Bernard for this epic length and top-quality road ride.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Vélopiste Jacques-Cartier Portneuf - start at western terminus at Rivière-à-Pierre

It took a long time but I finally got to ride the western end of the Vélopiste Jacques-Cartier Portneuf which is in the region of Quebec between Trois Rivieres and Quebec City.

I rode a nice out and back ride starting at Granite Capital of Quebec (sorry Stanstead/Rock Island) in Rivière-à-Pierre (River of Rocks, not River of dudes named Pierre)

The western terminus of this bike path is in this little village. I had done the eastern half of the bike path a long time ago and always had planned to return to do the western half. I did not like the eastern half too much - it was a straight line through a relentlessly boring conifer forest with no parks or scenic attractions. And then it rained hard and I u-turned and headed back to the car.

So on friday, about a decade later, I was in Trois Rivieres for the day so I figured I would do a nice ride starting in St-Genevieve-de-Batiscan but when I got here here the Catholic church has a big sign saying park here and we will tow your car. First time EVER I can't park at a rural Quebec Catholic church.  This is not what I call tourism friendly parking. I had even gone to the trouble of finding a paper copy of the bike map of the region MRC des Chenaux region (pdf).

I decided to (was forced to) keep driving.  Lucky for me early October is the best time to enjoy the most amazing fall colours in Quebec. So I drove on, through St-Severin, then through St-Ubalde (how come nobody names their kids Ubalde anymore? It's a great name.) where I stopped for lunch at Pain Pain Pain (which means something completely different in french!) and then on real back roads to Montauban-des-Mines and then the super twisty road (popular with motorcycles, maybe too popular to make it fun on regular bicycle) to arrive finally at Rivière-à-Pierre where I knew the bike path started (or ended, depending on your perspective).


The terminus of the bike path here was easy to find and well arranged: it had five 100% solid polished granite picnic tables. These are extremely nice picnic tables.

The bike path was rock-dust, but well-compacted and with no large loose rocks and was very good riding on my 25mm tires (i.e. a good surface to bike on). It went through nice mixed forest with some lakes and changing scenery. I turned around just after the halte municipale Pont-au-Pierre (Stone bridge park, which is signed and accessible from the bike path) for a nice afternoon ride of not too big distance (for a change). It was more or less one hour out and one hour back with a rest stop at the stone bridge halte-municipale.

I cannot emphasize this enough: the drive from Trois Rivieres through St-Severin, St-Ubalde, and Montauban-des-mines to Rivière-à-Pierre has EXTREMELY SPECTACULAR fall colours.

Here is the website for the bike path: http://www.velopistejcp.com/carte_fr.html

And here are the granite picnic tables, very classy indeed. Did you know some of the granite for the base of the statue of Liberty in New York comes from here? No you did not, but now you do.




Vélopiste Jacques-Cartier Portneuf - start at western terminus at Rivière-à-Pierre

It took a long time but I finally got to ride the western end of the Vélopiste Jacques-Cartier Portneuf which is in the region of Quebec between Troir Rivieres and Quebec City.

I rode a nice out and back ride starting at Granite Capital of Quebec (sorry Stanstead/Rock Island) in Rivière-à-Pierre (River of Rocks, not River of dudes named Pierre)

The western terminus of this bike path is in this little village. I had done the eastern half of the bike path a long time ago and always had planned to return to do the western half. I did not like the eastern half too much - it was a straight line through a relentlessly boring conifer forest with no parks or scenic attractions. And then it rained hard and I u-turned and headed back to the car.

So on friday, about a decade later, I was in Trois Rivieres for the day so I figured I would do a nice ride starting in St-Genevieve-de-Batiscan but when I got here here the Catholic church has a big sign saying park here and we will tow your car. First time EVER I can't park at a rural Quebec Catholic church.  This is not what I call tourism friendly parking. I had even gone to the trouble of finding a paper copy of the bike map of the region MRC des Chenaux region (pdf).

I decided to (was forced to) keep driving.  Lucky for me early October is the best time to enjoy the most amazing fall colours in Quebec. So I drove on, through St-Severin, then through St-Ubalde (how come nobody names their kids Ubalde anymore? It's a great name.) where I stopped for lunch at Pain Pain Pain (which means something completely different in french!) and then on real back roads to Montauban-des-mines and then the super twisty road (popular with motorcycles, maybe too popular to make it fun on regular bicycle) to arrive finally at Rivière-à-Pierre where I knew the bike path started (or ended, depending on your perspective).


The terminus of the bike path here was easy to find and well arranged: it had five 100% solid polished granite picnic tables. These are extremely nice picnic tables.

The bike path was rock-dust, but well-compacted and with no large loose rocks and was very good riding on my 25mm tires (i.e. a good surface to bike on). It went through nice mixed forest with some lakes and changing scenery. I turned around just after the halte municipale pont-au-pierre (Stone bridge park, which is signed and accessible from the bike path) for a nice afternoon ride of not too big distance (for a change). It was more or less one hour out and one hour back with a rest stop at the stone bridge halte-municipale.

I cannot emphasize this enough: the drive from Trois Rivieres through St-Severin, St-Ubalde, and Montauban-des-mines to Rivière-à-Pierre has EXTREMELY SPECTACULAR fall colours.

Here is the website for the bike path: http://www.velopistejcp.com/carte_fr.html

And here are the granite picnic tables, very classy indeed. Did you know some of the granite for the base of the statue of Liberty in New York comes from here? No you did not, but now you do.




Price Guarantees are useless

I bought an expensive Brooks bike seat.  Did I mention it was expensive?   For a change I had treated myself to a quality product and did not as usual just buy the cheapest one in the store. I felt good about buying this. Then I discovered the store down the street sold it for $35 less. $35 is a lot of money and I had noticed the store where I has bought the seat had prominently posted their price guarantee policy, so back I went to the store to see how they would treat my request to honor their price guarantee and how this transaction would shape my perceptions about their brand. A brand I have been loyal to for 37 years (since 1979!) and was always my first choice when shopping.

Well, it turns out that treating me with respect was not how they train their staff or is the corporate policy.

I returned to ask for the price guarantee but the employee spent 15 minutes upstairs and came back and told me that their price guarantee didn't apply because of the saddle colour at the other store wasn't the same as I had just bought.

Then the clerk, when I asked if I can just return it for a complete refund, she said of course I could return it and get my money back and then go to the other store and buy it at the other store's lower price.

The sales clerk seemed quite happy to have worked hard to find a way OUT of honoring their price guarantee and she was certain she was being a good employee and had done a good job in denying me the price guarantee. But from my perspective as a loyal long-term customer... well my trust in their brand is destroyed.

 Price Guarantee 101: Our rules are designed so that you're screwed so don't even bother asking!

How screwed are you? There are seven ways you can be treated like a piece of shit for loyally and consistently choosing to shop at their store instead of at their competition's store.

Best Price Guarantee

"The store" will match all prices listed by its competitors. If you find it cheaper somewhere else, we will match it.
Certain conditions apply :
  • The reseller must be in Canada and must be an authorized dealer of the targeted product;
  • The product must be in stock at the competing reseller and also at "the store" (no special orders);
  • We must be able to verify the product’s price (flyer, website or by phoning the reseller);
  • The product must be identical (size, colour, season, model number);
  • Our Best Price Guarantee excludes sale items, going out of business blowouts, used items, demo items, and all additional charges apply (assembly or installation, delivery, etc.);
  • Price Match requests must be made within 15 days of the initial purchase date; 
  • This price policy applies on price before taxes only.
"The store" – Generous by nature



That last line about being generous by nature is complete bullshit.

 Conclusion:  The other store is selling the same bike seat at a lower price and this is how you destroy trust in your brand and lose a loyal customer of 37 years.