Over the Bridge

Screaming into the Void

Planning Routes

Posted on April 21, 2020

So. Spring is officially here. Though, there is the fact that it hailed today, in Montréal, so I don't really consider to be quite spring just yet. The highest we've seen so far is 12 degrees or so, which I consider to be barely enough to bike in. It's doable, but it's not super pleasant. Without the whole COVID-19 thing going on, I'd be doing it every time, though.

Anyway, most days, however, we've been hovering around 5 degrees, or it's been raining. I did manage to get out last weekend for a decent ride; not very far, only about 5km, but it let me test out my brand new bike, and get a feel for biking with my new cleats.

That said, I'm fairly excited about us comping into the biking season in earnest, and am planning a number of routes, which I thought I'd share here.


So! Through experience I know that it's not the best thing to try and bike a good 70km+ out of the gate, without working up to a bit first. I've had bad experiences in the past where I've geared everything up to go, and decided to head over to Bootlegger in the west island to pick up some malt extract, and bike back with it in my backpack.

Let me tell you; starting cold and then buying 35km with about 7kg on your back is not a fun time. In fact, carrying anything on your back is not a fun time, much less twelve pounds of malt syrup.

This should be obvious; but I was pretty inexperienced back in the day; I really only actually truly got in to biking last year. So I know a bit more about what I'm doing this time around. (And yes, I have paniers now, to carry the malt extract on future rides).

Anyway, so here's what I'm thinking for a warmup.

Warmup Route

So that's only about 12km, but I do want something fairly easy. Starting from my apartment in Verdun, I'd take the bike path along the water up to the entrance lock to the lachine canal, and then head back towards atwater, and then just take city streets down from there back to Verdun. I'm somewhat hesitant to do it exactly as shown, due to the huge amount of people wandering about on the bikepaths these days due to COVID-19, and their preponderance to:

  • Pay no attention whatsoever.
  • Not observe any social distancing at all.
  • Taking up almost the entire bike path.

I mean, when I'm biking these days, I've always made sure to get essentially as far away from people on the path as possible, by moving over as much as possible, to the point of biking on the grass sometimes to maintain 2m of separation. It's somewhat infuriating to find oncoming traffic biking down near the dead-centre of the bike path; exactly what you shouldn't be doing, under even normal circumstances. The worst offenders seem to be kids, but I mean, we were all young once, so I can't really blame them; but when I see grown adults doing it, it's really irksome.

But I digress.

So, if I have to, I'd be happy to take Boulevard LaSalle most of the way. At least drivers are (sort of) paying attention when they're driving. Sure you have to stop a lot more for crosswalks and stop signs than you do on the bike path, but I'm not going to be in any particular hurry, and it'll give me lots of practice clipping and unclipping my new cleats from their pedals.

Pushing Further Out

Now, I like going to the West Island a lot. It's far enough away that it makes for a decent ride, yet close enough that it's not going to knock you out of comission for a week when you're done. It's decently pretty, there are lots of bike paths, and there are some interesting businesses out there to visit. The only big problem is that there's only 4 places to cross the 20 and the 40, so if you do want to go north-south through the west island, you generally have to do it on major roads. But it's not so bad, as long as you're careful.

West Island Tour

Anyway, I'm thinking I do something like this after I've got a couple smaller runs like the above under my belt this year.

Larger Route

Normally, I'd make a pit stop in DDO to visit some friends, but with all the social distancing going on, I'm not sure that'll be possible. If, by the time I do this route I can; great! If not, well, I'm happy to just do the thing for the fun of biking itself. Maybe I'll just pop over and have a loud conversation from a distance. Who knows.

So that's a pretty good one.

Smoked Meat Pete's

Alternatively, there's this one, that I do like doing, mainly because it has Smoked Meat Pete's as a midpoint. Mmmmm. I'm trying to eat less meat these days, but damn, their smoked meat is definitely the best in/near the city (and thus, probably, the planet), and there's not quite like shoving your face full of greasy deliciousness in the middle of a decent ride.

Smoked Meat Pete's

It also has the advantage that it doesn't cross the 20 & 40, so it's mostly bike paths/residential roads the whole way.

Longer Trips

In the end though, I'd like to do some serious biking. Last year, I truly left the city for the first time (Smoke Meat Pete is just off island, so I'm not counting that), and went places like Mont Saint-Grégoire, Laval, Saint-Rémi, Varennes, Repentigny, and Chambly. All these are between 70-100km away, which is great. It's also great that you get to get out into the country a bit.

However, last year, I had a much shittier bike, no clip-on-cleats, and not much training time once I sort of knew what I wanted to do. So, in addition to those above trips which I'll use as warm ups after I'm through with my middle two up above, I'll be doing a bit more.

Here's what I'm thinking.

Le P'tit Train du Nord

Petit Train du Nord

Basically going from Verdun to Saint-Jérome, through Laval, and back. This one has the advantage that if I'm truly exhausted before completion, I can always hop on the train; apparently, they do let you transport bikes.

South Shore to Valleyfield and Back

South Shore to Valleyfield

So, this involved going across ice bridge to the seaway, then down through Kanawakhe, before hooking up with a random bike path that I found on google maps, coming back up to Valleyfield, and then heading home via the normal route (i.e. the south sode of the island).

This is a lot. I'm definitely going to have to work up to this one. But I feel it's good practice, as it's close enough to Montreal that I could probably get an uber if I'm exhausted, and not have to fork over an arm and a leg in payment. The scenery also looks decently nice too. But really, it's training for the biggest trip I'm planning this year:



This'll be my first one-way trip (no way in hell am I doing return; that'd be batshit). Almost 200km.

The good news is, there'll be bike paths the whole way. The bad news is, some of those are gravel, and not paved.

Now, I bike around 25-30km/h normally if I've got a good pace going. So even optimally, we're looking at at least 8 hours, probably a lot more because I'll have to take breaks, and that sort of thing. I figure if we call it at 14 hours, that's reasonably safe, accounting for all kinds of breaks, stops, a very large lunch, etc..

So I'd start in the morning, probably around 6AM. That means I'll be finishing around 8PM. So long as I do this thing in June/July/August that should be close to fully in daylight, no compromises. I have a brother in Ottawa, so I'll probably try crashing at his place, and then take the train back the next day (or maybe the day after if I can barely move).

Anyway, this one, I wouldn't do alone. So this whole thing is contingent on some of the COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed by that time.

I have a couple of people who are interested in doing this, but they're of different minds about how to do it. One guy wants to do it in one day, and another of my friends wants to split it up into two much easier days, and camp in the middle.

I'm honestly amenable to both, but I'm leaning towards doing it one day. Just to see if I could. I know I can do 90km in a day; it's not even that hard. But 180km is certainly something else, and that challenge is part of what makes it interesting.