After a few long months of being cooped up inside - well not really because I walk 5 to 10 km every day - spring is finally here and this time around it feels more like spring took a year off and summer is already here as we're already getting temps in the low 20's (Celsius obviously XD) and the little snow we had this year is pretty much all gone. To those who think global warming is just a hoax, you clearly don't go outside a lot!
So what does the arrival of spring mean? Bike preps! I've already pumped up my tires and went on a short ride last week but this week will be time to bring my bike to the shop and have it pampered, greased up and fine tuned from A to Z. A new chain might be in order because not only did I put a lot of clicks on it last year, I should be doubling my mileage this summer. I also need to get some spare parts and stuff I will need on the lengthy rides I intend to take; whether or not I do the 2-week 550 km ride is a bit up in the air with the drumline project arriving at crunch time at about the same moment, but in any case there is no way I would attempt such a ride without having tested my gear. So all over the summer there will be a few weekend outings to various destinations around Montreal. Here are a few ideas of where I want to ride:
St-Charles-sur-le-Richelieu: Located about 50 km from downtown Montreal (65 km from my place), this town actually offers two destinations for me. The first and most important is the camping grounds where my dad lives during the summer; it's pretty hard to go wrong when you get free camping and free beer at the end of a good ride! I may actually go a few times as this will be the perfect spot to test the travel gear. The other destination would be another camping ground located on the shore of the Richelieu river along a road called "Le Chemin des Patriotes". This would be the "Hello, I'm a stranger" test. The little towns on the river are really nice and should I want to come back from the other shore there are a few ferries with frequent crossings.
Val-David: Located about two thirds of the way between Montreal and Mont-Tremblant, Val-David is another sports meccha with 3 ski hills, a national park for both hiking and mountain climbing (one of my buddies is starting his Everest training here; yes, I said Everest), and a good place for canoeing/kayaking on the Rivière du Nord. I've known this place for a long time because this is where I learned to ski, and throughout my youth I've been there countless times. And it's beautiful! Nestled in the middle of the Laurentians, this destination is clearly for mountain road training. Sure getting there is fairly easy with the relatively flat "P'tit Train du Nord" bike path, but perfect trails like that are few and far between. And the farther I want to go, the more I'll have to use whatever roads I can find.
Montreal's North Shore: The small towns and places to visit along Route 138, also known as Le Chemin du Roy, are too numerous to mention. But one place is much more special than any other. In the town of Berthierville is a museum dedicated to the memory of one of my heroes, F1 legend Gilles Villeneuve. For some obscure reason I have never been there but a weekend camping trip could fix that fairly easily. Of course one could get really crazy with Route 138 as it is over 1200 kilometers long, with some of the most awesome scenery to be seen in Québec.
So yeah, before I attack a big bike expedition I have plenty of closer destinations to test my mettle. I'm praying really hard to my personal gods (Hendrix, Villeneuve, Burton, Zappa and Richard) to have some good weather on the weekend of Easter because I have both the Friday and Monday off, and my boys will be with their mom so I'll be free to do whatever I want and go wherever I want to. I may not quite have all the stuff I need to go really far - still lacking the BOB trailer - but I find that heading out "sort of" prepared is way more fun than when you put too much planning behind it. But if the weather is nice enough I'll throw a dart at a map and head in the general direction of where the dart landed. Should be a fun weekend :)
Ride long and far