Monthly Archives: July 2010

Taking a break

Even Fausto Coppi took a break now and then

You’ve probably noticed that the blog has been quiet for a few weeks. That’s because I’ve been taking a break from the bike. I’ve had several nagging injuries that I finally decided to give  a chance to heal. It’s been a pretty dramatic change going from 250-300 miles a week to 0 for the last few weeks; however, it’s also been pretty liberating. Here are the benefits so far of my cycling sabbatical:

  • More time with Jess and the kids – Riding 12-15 hours per week is a big committment. I now have more time to spend with my wonderful wife and kiddos. Additionally, I have more energy now when we do things together (riding 100 miles in the Texas heat leaves you with little energy for the rest of the day).
  • Family walks – Related to the point above, we’ve started a new “family tradition” of walking to the park with the kids after dinner. Gives Jess and I a chance to chat about our days while the kids burn off some steam.
  • Sleeping in – Not getting up at 5 a.m. everyday has been really nice. Not setting an alarm on Saturday and Sunday has been fantastic! My new alarm clock is the rumble of my kids feet as they run into my bedroom to jump in bed and wake me up.
  • The gym – I’m spending more time in the gym again and having fun working out with heavier weights for the first time in years. I’m sticking to the basics – deadlifts, pull ups, kettle bells, etc. Trying to correct some of my muscle imbalances before getting back on the bike.
  • Eating Primal or Paleo – I’ve long wanted to try a primal or paleo diet after reading Primal Blueprint (a fantastic book) and The Paleo Diet. However, when you’re a competitive cyclist, it’s almost impossible to imagine life without grains, bread, pasta, etc. The break has given me the opportunity to test the diet and so far I’m loving it.

BTW, the next few days in Fort Worth are going to be 105+ degrees . . . not a bad time to be off the bike.

Cycling in Quebec – Montreal, Mont Tremblant and the P’tit du Nord

The wife and I just got back from an amazing vacation in Quebec, where I was lucky enough to get in some great riding.

We started our vacation in Montreal, which is an amazingly-bike-friendly city. We were shocked at how many people commuted by bike in the city center. Montreal is actually an island and has an amazing network of bike paths that are suitable for commuting/transportation and recreational riding.

Using the new Elastic Card from Think Finance to get a bike for the day

The “cyclebility” of the city is enhanced by its Blix bike share program. There are literally thousands of bikes around the city for rent through the kiosk system above. We were able to rent a bike for the day (which you can return to any location and take a new one out during a 24 hour period) for just $5.  We took a couple of bikes and spent 3 hours cruising all over Montreal.

My cycling buddy in Quebec

I’m used to spending 3+ hours in the saddle, but my wife is not. However, she managed to hang in there and, as you can see above, looked good doing it.

After Monreal we headed north to Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains for a week. This area is home to one of the most impressive bike paths in the world, Le P’tit du Nord. 

This is a 200 km (120 mile) trail that runs from Saint Jerome to Mont Laurier. Most of the trail is paved, but some sections are finely-packed crushed stone (still easily rideable on a road bike).

The Rouge River along Le P'tit du Nord

I took my Ritchey Break-Away bike on the trip and got in a couple 90 mile rides. From our hotel in Mont Tremblant there was a bike path all the way to a trailhead for the trail. The area of the trail around Mont Tremblant isn’t paved, but it was smooth and perfectly rideable on my Break-Away with 23c tires. The trail is an old rail line, so there is very little elevation change, but every 8 miles or so you roll through a quaint village where you could easily jump off the trail for a cafe’, ice cream, etc.

Stop along Le P'tit du Nord in Labelle

About 10 miles north of Mont Tremblant the trail passes through the village of Labelle. From this point on the trail is paved all the way to Mont Laurier.  The Labelle stop is a great place to refuel and soak in some Laurentian-hospitality.

This was my first, but won’t be my last, time cycling in Quebec.