My Stellar Student Rick’s Summer 2014 Trip To Montreal

Rick and RosieThe time had come for a new bike.  This one would be custom made, hand built and equipped exactly the way I want it. An extensive internet search for a builder lead me to Chris Bishop in Baltimore Maryland. Chris has won numerous awards for his bikes. He is regarded as one of the best young builders in the country in addition Chris is a certified bike fitter. To top it all off he is in Baltimore, an easy bike ride from my home in Washington DC.

An exchange of emails confirmed I had chosen the right builder. Chris has a “Yes I can” attitude, it would be my bike form the ground up not an adaptation of a standard design.  Now the long wait 11 months as good builder is busy.

Finally it was time to bike to Baltimore for the fit season. After a tour of his shop Chris measured my old bike by the millimeter. He measured the length of the wheelbase, height of the pedals, the relationship of the seat to the handlebars and more. The old bike fit well, Chris’s goal was to make a better bike. Next I was measured including the length of my arms and legs. Next step and a very important part of the process was to create a mockup of the new bike on a “fit cycle” which is a stationary bike that  can be adjusted to emulate the new frame design.  I pedaled the fit cycle while Chris observed making notes. He then measured the angle of my knees and arms as well as my back to confirm the trial dimensions where correct. My old bike was put on a stand and I again pedaled while the builder observed and took more notes.  After all the measurements and trial pedaling the most important question;” how do I want the bike to feel?”  I like to cover about 60 to 65 miles in a day.  I would like it to be comfortable I also want good power transmission (-not too soft-). Chris said “I got it, leave the rest to me.”  In few days later he sent CAD drawings of the new frame for my approval.  The bike would be ready for paint in just a little more than two weeks. Again to wait, this time for the painter(good painters are busy), a comparatively short 5 weeks.

After more than a year came the e-mail: The bike was complete with all components installed and ready to ride.  When I pick up the bike in Baltimore it was first week in January the temp was about 30°f a bit too cold for a test ride.  Fortunately there was a nice brake in the weather within a couple of weeks that gave me the opportunity to give the marvelous looking machine a test ride. As expected it rides as beautifully as it looks. The setup was nearly prefect, just lowered the seat a bit and off I went looking for a fast downhill run. A fast downhill run will spotlight any flaw in the frames deign or build. At just over 30mph the bike was straight and smooth as expected.

 

Montreal & Le Cantons

The trip had two distinct parts. A week of biking in the charming Eastern Cantons of Quebec, then return to Montreal for a week of Montreal Complètement Cirque (International Cirques Arts Festival)   http://montrealcompletementcirque.com/  as well as  general site seeing. As a bonus I had the good fortune to be in Montreal for one of the fireworks displays of the International d’art Pyrotechnique de Montréal.

The train trip to Montreal from Washington DC requires a change of the trains in New York City.  The trip form New York to Montreal is rated as one of the most scenic train trips in the US. After leaving New York City the Adirondack route follows the Hudson River then to the shores of Lake Champlain.  The lovely scenery helps make the 10 hour trip more interesting. Once In Montreal I headed to the “Plateau de Montréal”. I rented a very nice small apartment that was my “base camp “for the entire stay in Quebec. Le Plateau is a most agreeable somewhat trendy neighborhood with a great variety of restaurants and shops. A small but well stocked supermarket was an easy stroll form the apartment and there was always a patisserie nearby.   Two Metro Stations where by close as well.

My bike arrived two days later by FedEx which gave me time to get acquainted with the neighborhood. Once the bike was reassembled and  the panniers where packed it was finally  time to begin the two day trip to the resort town of Magog  about 180km due east of Montreal. The first day’s ride began by crossing the Pont Jacque Cartier (Montreal is an Island) though the suburb of Longueil, finely to the open nearly flat farm land dotted with small towns of the Belle Provence.  The first stop was Grandy for an easy 50 mile day. The B & B on the eastern edge of Grandy was outstanding; it felt a like stay at grandma’s house. The curtains were burnt-out lace, the tissue box had a lace trim covers and off course a four poster bed.  The hostess, Carole, was perfectly cast for the part. http://www.unefleur.ca/ .   A hardy breakfast featuring homemade muffins topped with jams made from local ingredients was the ideal start to the day.  Une Fleur au Bord de L’Eau    is just yards from the Velo Route Verte #1 which winds along an old rail line to Waterloo about 22km (14mls). This section of the Route Verte #1 http://www.routeverte.com/rv/home   is absolutely the best biking is ever.  http://www.estriade.net/ . After leaving Waterloo I followed route 112 winding past Mt. Orford into the resort town of Magog.

Magog almost looks like a movie set. Rue Principle is lined with restaurants and upscale shops. There are more than 90 restaurants for a town of 25,000.  The B & B in Magog was totally wonderful. http://www.ausautdulit.ca/ .   A truly warm and friendly welcome accented with bright colors. The first day in Magog was spent just getting settled. After an absolutely picture perfect breakfast (hand to run up to  get the camera) the rest of the day was devoted to exploring the town. Vacations can be filled with difficult decisions such as which was the best Gelato shop.  Each day after breakfast I would head out of town in a different direction for leisurely ride of 20 to 30 miles. The scenery was lush green rolling hills overlooking Lake Memphremagog.   Choosing a restaurant for dinner was again a difficult decision as there so many choices.

On the return trip to Montréal I followed the same route, again stopped in Grandy at Une fleur au bord de l’eau.  On the final day of the road trip the weather looked threating. It was only 50 miles back to Montréal so kept a steady pace with few stops, I covered the distance in 3 ½ hours(not bad at 72 years old).

Montréal  Completement Cirque: http://montrealcompletementcirque.com/

 

La deuxième partie :: Now for a  week of the finest circus performances one can ever hope to see. Each performance was in a different venue. The range was form the large in the round theater of TOHO (Cité des arts du cirque,) to a small converted factory as well as performances in parks. Venues where in diverse locations thought out the city which offered the opportunity to explore some of Montréal’s many interesting neighborhoods. Performances ranged from large scale productions including multimedia productions to a captivating one woman show.

A wonderful bonus was the opportunity to see one of the entries  in the International Fireworks Competition  http://internationaldesfeuxloto-quebec.com/en/    The Jacque Cartier Bridge is closed to traffic to allow a marvelous view of fireworks the below. Thousands lined the bridge to watch a world class fireworks presentation.

Quebec may be officially bi-lingual but English is a distant second. True their French heritage food is always good in Quebec. From a sandwich shop in a small town to elegant restaurants you will always be pleased.

Next is Quebec City.

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