It’s a great Saturday for a bike ride and I’m lucky to be joining a “Hilly Ride on a Sunny Spring Day” courtesy of the meetup group “Sport, Action + Challenge Yourself! aka SPACY”. Had other plans for the day originally but am glad I went along!

Leaving promptly at Gare Ste Dorothe in Laval, this ATM train station makes a good starting point for biking adventures to the northeast of Montreal. It’s only a ½ hour ride from Gare Centrale in Montreal and inexpensive at $5.50 for a one-way fare.
Up early; bike’s cleaned to within an inch of its life – chain lubed and gears scrubbed. I try and follow my misguided mapmyride to the Gare Centrale but it seems insistent on looping me back away from the destination and end up turning it off. It’s a simple process to get a ticket, and I spend a few minutes dreaming about hopping on a NYC-bound or Halifax-bound train one of these days soon – riding back of course!
I fall asleep on the train (late night binge-watching Better Call Saul), wake up to see a couple bikers get on at another station, fall back to sleep, and wake up near our stop. The two bikers who joined are also getting off here. We scurry about our business to take our bikes down from the hooks and head to the door at the end of the carriage, but in the space of 20 seconds, the train doors close and with no way to manually override the process are committed to the next stop. Must be an over-excited driver, or a total lack of expectation that someone slow would get off the train. Either way we’re screwed!

The other bikers turn out to be part of the same ride as me, and they text the organizer to let him know and meet us at the next stop. It’s a good way to break the ice at least and I’m grateful they are there to avoid missing the ride completely. When the rest of the group arrives, we introduce all round, and head off at a nice steady pace.
It’s a perfect day for riding – a good breeze, clear sun and half of the riders in the area must be out for the fresh air. It’s great to see all levels and abilities mixing on the roads and bike paths. We stick more or less to La Route Verte #1 heading west until Oka. Quick stop at the beach for photo time and then it’s onwards to the hills and time to make an effort! One of the riders has brought a decent camera along, and she’s really into the photography, which is great.

I open up the gas a little on the hills – working hard to sustain some speed and working on acceleration bursts. It’s not a lot of climbing, but certainly enough to shake the legs out. We enjoy some winding country roads and when we get near the lunch break am introduced to the best water fountain since Portugal at Deux Montagnes.
This is followed by the best focaccia bread I think I ever ate at Les Vergers Lafrance orchard bakery, washed down with espresso. We sit 8 to a bench and eat and talk, and the atmosphere is really great, really enjoyable. Over 50 cyclists there from all shapes and sizes enjoying the good coffee and food, and a few indulging in mid-ride cider.

The tail section home turns out to have a monster head wind facing us, and it’s a great chance to break wind and plow into the wind. A couple of the other riders tuck in behind and we have a great 10-15km of steady 30km/hr into the wind. Feels great.
Back at the end of the ride some head home, some head off for ice cream. I continue riding back home, through Laval and into Montreal for a victory lap on the Grand Prix circuit (the bike one, not the car one!). A last fight for King of the Mountain with a very aggressive chick who I nip out at the break-point on the crest (works almost every time) and it’s off home. Quick stop for a burrito at my favorite joint in St-Henri and that’s a wrap folks.
Thanks to all for a great ride – especially to Danny for organizing and leading and making me welcome and Charlotte for the great pics!