Monday, August 15, 2016

Louiseville / MRC Maskinongé ride

One of my favorite destinations for an easy fun scenic quiet ride.  Alternatively, if you want an insane ride, just ride from St-Alexis-des-Monts to Hotel Lac Sacacomie and back.

Sunday's ride was an easy ride, done after the rain had stopped and the roads had dried.

Louiseville aka MRC maskinongé aka buckwheat (sarrazin) central is an easy 103 km from Montreal on Autoroute 40, also known as the road to take when there's construction delays on all the south shore bridges.
I started late because rain (delayed departure = dryer roads) and I didn’t do either the long or mega long crazy hill version that goes deep north into the bush. Yesterday I stuck mostly to the plains below the hills.
This area is defined by two things.
First is old-tyme villages 5-10 km apart. The first road from Quebec to Montreal is along here and called the chemin du Roy (kings road) a mile inland from the St-Laurence. It is a Route Verte and when people bike Mtl-Quebec it is along this. Sometimes it is off the main highway and these are the good parts. Sometimes it is part of the busy 138 highway. Natch, I optimizes this.
Second is north south rivers crossing the plains into the St-Laurence river, so therefore there are plenty of quiet roads that follow these north/south direction, the trick is knowing where are the good east west roads that aren’t highways to link up the fun north south roads. 
Also, the region has an excellent regional bike ride map with exquisite detail. Truly my favorite regional bike map!
So I followed one of these north that goes through one of the better tree-tunnels and several other scenic highlights). Then I explored a new road west (highway, but not the busy one) over to Ste-Angele. Here I joined the highway and was almost immediately passed by one of those old dudes on a bike who clearly ride 50,000 km a year. I accelerated & kept up but happily he turned south before I did.
Ste-Angele is at edge of escarpment where laurentien plateau / hills start. Usually (=always) this is a high speed descent last 1/4 of ride phase that is very zooming along. I decided to ride uphill on my fave escent road: Rang Agusta. It has fresh asphalt and is a rolling twisty road, a great descent and a fun climb. I took it up to the cell tower that defines the highest point in the region (and… if is a very tall tower.
Then it was zoom downhill on perfect fresh asphalt.
Slight mist type rain started so I put on my 2-way zip cycling vest (truly a most useful and versatile garment) and down I went along a route I know well. It is fairly an express ride section back to Louiseville, so at the last village before Louiseville (Ste-ursele (which also has a pretty good waterfall) I went west to explore a north-south road I never roade before. It was nice, but would have been nicer if it was not decayed to farm lane dirt road in the middle! At least it was well graded. Soon civilized asphalt returned and I arrived in the next village west from Louiseville – Maskinongé (1702). Here I join civilization, ride on the route verte that is also the Chemin du Roy, and is also the part of the chemin du Roy that is off the highway. Very nice section. 
Then arrive in Louiseville and get refreshments and have completed a very fine easy level ride with almost no rain and in fact no real rain.

Version 2 of my ride, as written to my buddy Sid.

One of my favorite easy areas to ride is starting in Louiseville, near three rivers, which sounds far but isn’t: it is only 103 km from my house on easy driving A40.
There ride starts on the plains north of the St-Laurence, then one enters the laurentian plateau with a bit more hill terrain but generally never hard.
The highlight is always coming back down from the plateau from whichever is the turning south point and zooming back to the village. It is always a real highlight of my bike riding.
Sunday I didn’t go far into the plateau, only a few km on rang Augusta, which is a rollercoaster I usually come down, but going up is good too. It was freshly repaved and is perfection. The turnaround point is a cell tower above the highest point on the road, essentially all-downhill back to Louiseville. Woohoo.
It is a favorite ride destination.
The ride can include insanity, just continue north of St-Alexis-des-Monts to lac Sacacomie, which has crazy hills that test your sanity, meaning descending with or without braking. On the climb up (severe)  I stopped on side of road for a micropause and a car stopped and passengers thought maybe I was dying. Maybe I was, but I was not going to admit it.
FYI: Alberta and Lake Louise are names after her too.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

repair list (to do list)

So a bike collection combined with time = an extensive repair list, especially on the oldest bike.
There are three interesting things below, see if you can spot them amongst the dross.
*86 Rockhopper*
This was my original mtn bike bought 2nd hand in 1988 and is now my city bike (i.e. performs well and does not look valuable)
This bike had been out of action for a while because of bad rear wheel and several niggling minor troubles. Several!
Rear wheel
New last night to replace a real piece of junk that ABC cycle returned my bike with after keeping or losing my very good wheel from my original full suspension mtn bike (bleeding edge good for a couple years then obsolete POS)
Of course after (literally and accurately) one tour around the block it went out of alignment.
Rear brake is not east-adjustment friendly, but new rim is wider so gotta take 30 minutes of misery and get it set up.
Front brake
Has some squeal
Two sides of brakes not aligned in where they sit, maybe time to replace the original 1986 spec brake (2nd last original part!)
Is brake aligned to brake zone of rim or is it too high near tire?
Tires: I just put my fat city tires back on, so good for now. I had put some old knobby tires on it but they are all cracked and cracked tire surface = flats waiting to happen
I had a nice loud bell but the handle broke off, so need a new one. Bell is very useful in city riding.
Rear fender
When I put on the knobbies I took off the fenders. I put all the bolts etc in a little bag. Of course a year later I discover that not all bolts are to be found in the bag.
I have a non-stock cheap friction shifter that needs to be loosened and lubed. Not a big job, but needs to be done. Also, the shifter tends to rotate out of correct position on the handlebar. Because cheap. I’d like a less cheap one but friction isn’t in.
Front wheel
Hub needs lube, luckily it had a grease port so this should be a 30 second job. This was a user friendly easy-maintenance innovation in the early 90s that of course was not invented by shimano and of course Shimano would not adopt.
Seat post: seized. Need to unseize it. This may not be possible. At least it is at at correct height.
Chain: needs to be de-gunked. This is the stays-outdoor bike and I only add lube, never really clean it.
Need to update lights to have brighter modern ones. Bright ones cost $. But for city use I believe that better = brighter = safer.
*1988 Bertrand*
Generally running strong!
Need to fine tune the rim alignment because I get a bit of a speed wobble.
Real wheel is a super cheapie, and it could be good to get a good wheel there, but cheapie has been reliable! Very reliable! 
*2009 Rockhopper full suspension mtn bike*
I got this in my 50th year because I had no functional mtn bike and I missed doing the best sport in the world. It was the cheapest full suspension mtn bike. It has certainly returned lots of fun joy and pleasure, and also makes a GREAT city bike! Except for wearing down knobbies on pavement of course.
Front disc brakes
Front brakes a bit worn and maybe a bit of disk caliper stickiness. Need to investigate online before going to bike shop. Entirely possible disc pads need changing.
Need to check chain wear. Chain is grabbing chainring sometimes so maybe time for drivetrain (gears) overhaul (new chain, chainrings and cassette)? It has been 7 years. Step one is check chain wear and clean and relube. It had gotten dry after a bike wash a while ago so maybe a clean & more lube? 
Should do an rim * spoke verification/alignment because once in a while this is a good safety/reliability check.
*85 Raleigh (broken frame)*
Need to strip this bike of potentially useful parts and discard.
Other needs:
I need to develop some apartment bike storage solution because this is a problem.
            Back closet hanging structure (parts bought, not installed – big job)
            Front door hanging thing because sitting by front door not aestheticaly nice.
            Office room – additional hanging positions. This could get mtn bike out of the way.
            Need to not have bikes leaning against bike on trainer because adding obstacles to using bike trainer is bad.
I would like a folding repair stand because my actual one of non folding and therefore in storage and hard to use easily.
Improve bike trainer setup, with screen9s) and fan in a semi-permanent setup (at least in off season). Some sort of Tandem bike so wife and I can share the joy despite our extremely mismatched speed levels.
Bertrand replacement
Hopefully when Bertrand is 30 years old (2 more years) I will have a new road bike. I would like it to have more all-weather and (easy-level) dirt road capability.

Monday, June 27, 2016

First off-road of 2016

I did an excellent mtn bike ride at east hereford last Friday. With Sid we did the single track flow trails and it was very nice. I had a minor brake problem that mainly fixed itself. The downhill trail ride back to village parking is orgasmique and in the best there is dept.
So after Sid left because his wife wouldn't let him miss supper, I went for an end-of-day ride on forest roads north of the village up on top of the hills. Got lost 5 times but never too seriously. But I did exit the “Trial” trail at the same location I entered, and it isn’t a loop.
So coming back from that point on top of Rang 9 hill it’s largely excellent zooming along in a downhill direction (which I earned the hard way), and then I was rolling along on the most road-like of the forest roads I caught up to a moose! That was special. She took off into the woods.
From there you arrive back at the edge of the East Hereford village’s valley area, at christmas tree farms where late afternoon light always makes the trees glow, and there are great views of the village and the Hall river valley. I was having a nice time and turned downhill at the turn-downhill arrow except it took me to a farmers yard and I knew “wrong way” so it was back up the hill and it’s a grueling straight-up climb and that got resolved but would have preferred to not have had that final climb.
At the church (parking) there were still cars so apparently I didn’t end too late and the refreshment stand at the ball park across the street was open (first time ever for me!) for St-Jean party and had hot food and cold beverages so I chowed down and then went home directly.
Sunday was the road ride lacolle to franklin done not at speed because I had no energy at all. None. And despite environment Canada’s weather recording instrumentation, I am sure I had east winds and not SW winds because I had headwind all the way back to the car. It was bigtime tough!  It is not often I take pauses on the flats. But legs needed the recharge. Repeatedly! So combination +30 temps and Friday full day of offroad riding made Sunday’s “easy ride” very tough.
So I will probably do an exact repeat of these two rides this upcoming weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Return to hill climb paradise ride St-Jean-de-Matha

92 km of hill-riding paradise.

There are the two versions of the ride:

longer version, (2 extra segments) :

Here is a non-traditional ride review (short ride version):

cross death highway to idyll of peacefulness
climb little climb from hell
enjoy downhill from heaven
pass by forest to hide from in the rain
Miss corner to turn at.
Beaver lake.
pass road sign welcoming you back to the town you thought you had left.
turn onto busy highway, discover it has a nice paved shoulder.
Discover nice paved shoulder needs sweeping. Continue.
Turn off highway and pass through one of Quebec's 372 Lac Noirs
Cross highway and enjoy flat valley floor.
End of flat valley approaches. Uh-oh.
Up. Take break after 400 feet. That's 400 feet of forward motion, not vertical gain.
Up, a bit easier.
Up, a bit harder.
Up, a lot harder.
Up, road is newly repaved!
Reach the top, the view is incredible.
Road descends. Road needs repaving.
Road is actually really bad. Still downhill so not like effort is required.
Unrepaved section ends. Descend to village at speed.
Check out melted church bells from recent church-destroying fire.
Approach GIANT climb to leave town.
Discover that ride turns left at bottom of giant climb.
Pass rubber chicken.
Nice river to ride beside.
Road is nice, happy feeling.
Road goes straight up. Unhappy feeling.
Appreciate the concept of micropauses.
Road is quite steep. More micropauses.
Get passed by young dudes.
At least climb is on perfect asphalt.
Top of climb!
Welcome back to imperfect asphalt. Hey, at least it's downhill.
Discover how to go down crappy roads surprisingly fast.
Watch out for holes!
Arrive at Riviere Blanche section of descent,
Veer right to quiet riverside road,
pass bridge over little gorge, maybe stop here? no! No Stop here.
road goes right way from river, so sadness.
Road is beside a nice stream, so happiness.
Road goes straight up, so sadness,
Uphill is short so happiness.
Cresting hill reveals a particularly nice view, extra happiness.
Discover road is chemin de la belle montagne, so a literal name.
Nice road, it is exactly perfect for bikes.
Zoomy descent to bridge across L'Assomption river.
Discover we also crossed this river right when we left Montreal island!
Begin rang Ste-Cecile, aka the worst road in Quebec.
Ask me how long this shit will last, only 4 km.
Enjoy view to the left. Very nice!
Arrive in Ste-Beatrix. The uphill town.
Pitstop or not. Not.
Take side road to parc regional des chutes (waterfalls)
Discover how crappy cheap chipseal is as a road surface.
Get to viewpoint across valley to see St-Jean-de-Matha church 15 km away.
Arive at parc entrance, pass it and take break on bridge across gorge. (a thing bikes can do that cars can't)
View of gorge is amazing. Eat snacks.
Continue and loop back to Ste-Beatrix.
Take rang Ste-Cecile again. Only slightly better in north direction.
Get onto Chemin de Belle Montagne again, enjoy some nice views.
Take sideroad out-and-back to bring total ride distance to >100 km)
Take turn up the real Chemin de belle montagne.
Up is the operative word. This is a three micropause climb.
Note that although hill grade is not marked, it is a cement mixer special.
A cement mixer special is a climb so steep, wet cement falls out of the back of the cement mixer.
This is the third cement mixer special of the ride.
This climb is not too long. But is is sure hard.
Is is really the last hard climb?
No, but the others are a lot easier.
Optimism, tinged with suspicion.
Arrive at top, at chemin de lac itchy crotch. I mean lac Croche.
Zoom, brake hard! back onto riviere blanche descent. Fun times again.
Repeat the fun part, then before that hard little climb we veer left and...
Climb a little, but then descend a nice road!
To the highway.
Across a little river valley.
to a wall on the other side.
take a micropause or too, no zigzagging because it's a highway.
Highway is noce shape and has nice shoulder.
Approach St-Jean de Matha, but NOT the end of the ride.
Because much more fun to come.
Turn right and descend to 2nd entrance of parc des chutes, this time the St-Jean-de-Matha entrance.
Zoom dowhill, woohoo.
Get to bottom.
turn around and climb. Strava section!
Get to top at cemetery, do not give up.
Enter town. End of ride, right?
Final section of Rang St-Guillaume is on other side of town and connect to start of ride.
Why not stop now?
Because you didn't get 100 km yet.
And Rang St-Guillaume is excellent.
And you might never ever be here again.
Ride along busy highway for 2 km. paved shoulders are so nice to have.
Enter Rang St-Guillaume. It is nice!
Oldest, smallest silo in Quebec on left.
Tiltiest sugar shack on left.
Nice cliffs in distance on right.
zoomy downhill, and then unzoomy climb. Climb with marked view for your micropause pleasure.
Zoomy again, then back to road at start of climb, begin final leg of ride.
About fucking time!
Have to climb that very first zoomy downhill. Ride along the top of the hill, as god intended.
Look behind you, do you see famous ghost rider trying to catch and pass you?
Arrive at top of killr hill you barely remember from the very start of ride.
Pause to enjoy view of St-Jean-de-Matha.
Don't touch brakes as you descend. Sharp corner at bottom of hill, brake, but not too much.
Arrive at village for second time.
Inquire if this time we're finished.
For real?
Discover car is parked on top of the hill! Damn you !
Discover there is an slight detour to make an easy flat land way to get to the car.
More happy.
Get to car, rehydrate, gradually recover sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ste-Martine > Elgin & Dundee - another Chateauguay Valley Southwest Quebec extravaganza ride

There is no better place in Quebec with such a huge selection of high quality intermediate rides

(Ride map: click here)

A good bakery is pretty much mandatory to a good bike ride.

I went back to Elgin Bakery yesterday and unlike last week when I had to add clothing and put on every piece of clothes I had with me, this week it was "take it off!" Sunny and warm. This time I rode the first half of ride with the wind, and came back against the wind, and as it turned out, the daylight.

I started ride a bit farther away, parking in Ste-Martine (which was my original plan for last two weeks also but I had copped out to park at Ste-Clothilde & a shorter ride) 

Some numbers

1:00 pm bike ride start from Ste-Martine

3:23 pm the well-hidden Elgin Bakery              

That is 50 km super-direct, with a nice tailwind. TOok the straight line route, on super nice roads. I got passed by a super fast old dude.

On Friday the bakery closes 6 pm, so no race to get here unlike last week.
I had two complete complete coffee+snack mini meals in a row, when she gave me the bill she totally forgot I had had the first one!

4:15 pm Leave bakery (at road)

Decision required: turn around now, or go west a bit more before turning around. Well, it's not yet 5 pm, so go west old man!

I went quite a bit farther west, as it turned out, which was good because beautiful roads & first green field of 2016, but bad because daylight is finite. I was within a couple of miles of my Mom's birthplace on the ancestral farm on Carr Front road, which google calls (incorrectly) Carrefour road. LOL!

Super fast old dude passes me again! I suspect he's doing laps on a circuit of his own creation. He does not slow down to chat.

5:00 pm Turnaround point further west at edge of Dundee township.
(unfortunately, still outside Dundee township geographic limit, doh! Need an earlier start time than 1pm)

The turnaround point, when set ambitiously distant & far from the car (as in today) can arouse feeling of what if I don't make it? It's cold at night! I try to quell such anxiety by making a serious effort to pedal fastly. Which I did quite consistently for the next 3 hours and 45 minutes! Hey, I'm surprised too that I could maintain this pace for so long!

5:05 Uh-oh - First obstacle to the return-ride plan: the chosen return road has bridge out & freshly rebuilt dirt road, happily I don't have to walk any of it & bike & I survive

7:14 arrive at Franklin, where compass veers northeast to Ste-Martine and direction is downhill

I knew that the sunset was close, and that car was not. 7:14 is late. Ste-Martine is still far. So I was now racing the sun and not for first place. There was no doubt or denial about this.  

Who won? Me or the sun?

Sunset: 7:32
Ste-Martine at car: 8:47 pm. 

A lot of this was quite well lit post sunset gloom, but then it did get actually dark. Luckily I had chosen quiet roads with minimal car traffic & I have lights on my bike basically permanently.

Riding time (guess which direction had higher motivation levels, & also triple caffeinated)
Distance west (63 km) 4 hours
Distance east (75 km) 3:30

You can see from the map the route I took, as well as in yellow the route I had planned to take. Mid ride I decided to go further west, because riding with a tailwind on a warm spring day is a joy to be extended as far as possible. This meant coming back I had to take a shorter route (necessity!), on roads which I am familiar with but had avoided due to they were in poor condition - surprise: they have been very nicely re-paved since last time. I am happy to renew my riding on that section of "the rock" road. This also made the after sunset section of the ride less of a "to be survived" section and more of a "to be enjoyed."

I include a real old map, I was riding across "Blueberry plains" but managed this week to avoid "The Wilderness."

Look closely, this week I avoided "The Wilderness"

Yellow sections was the planned route, Red is the ride I actually did.

Duck in the duck spa.

Elgin Bakery, a true "hidden jewel" of the region

Where bakery is located is the only still-snowy part of ride.

Cows in their natural habitat.

Super fast dude passed me twice!

First green field of 2016!

ride had this unpaved, recently repaired road, not ideal for bikes but rideable

The glorious Pont Percy, Quebec's oldest covered bridge

From here I know I will ALWAYS be able to get back to the car, no matter if daylight or not.

Sunset: 7:23 pm. Still one hour of riding to go.

8:30 pm: bike path, a mere 10 minutes before back at car in Ste-Martine, but maybe I should have started ride at 12 pm, not 1 pm!

Conclusion: an excellent ride with many possibilities to do shorter version of the ride. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Here is the twitter, where I am a bit more active.

Lots of great bike ride blogging and related words: just click on any summer month over on the archive list on the right side of the screen.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winter trip to Charlevoix/Saguenay region - planning

It is the planning phase for the annual winter snowfest funhog week of outdoor fun.

Last year the destination was Petit Saguenay. Before that it was Baie St-Paul. This year I would like to combine the two of them.

The highlight last year was the hiking part of the Sentier des Murailles into Lac Cardinal. It is a cliff-lined alpine lake and one of the nicest lakes in Quebec. In deep winter the lake is frozen and even more spectaculaire.

It seems that the group running the Sentier Les Murailles is closed for the winter and so is their website. But another website has map info on the different sections of the Les Murailles trail.  Here's the interactive map page  and here's the page with other info and gps coordinates.