Day 56: Touring Heaven (Riguad – Montreal)

July 4, 2014

I could simply gush all over the page about the wonderful cycling day I had today and so I’ll do just that. Cycling the Chemin de l’Anse beside the Ottawa River was like traveling along an old village lane. It was narrow with no shoulder, little traffic, and a speed limit below 50km/hr. I particularly enjoyed the signs telling people to take the highway if they were in a hurry. At times the road was canopied by trees with openings revealing the river below and at other times it ran past fields. And the most delightful homes of various architectural styles popped up all along the road. While a number were clearly new homes and beautiful, it was the old heritage homes that caught my eye. They ranged from large estates to small cottages and all full of character. Beside the river, I was clearly traveling through a region that moneyed people had been moving to for awhile. But there were enough homes that regular folks could probably afford that it didn’t feel like a gated community.

My kind of park!
My kind of park!

Once I got closer to Montreal island, the bike signs and then paths joined an already thoroughly enjoyable ride. I stopped to take quite a few pictures but around every corner another picture worthy scene revealed itself and so I had to become more selective or I’d never have made it anywhere. I’m sure there is a lot history in these old places if they could only speak. One monument that intrigued me was for a local farmer, TB Macaulay, and Mount Victoria Farm where he developed a herd of dairy cows renowned for their productivity; on his death the herd was dispersed and became an important ancestor to most modern Holstein, the white and black cow you see everywhere. They’re incredibly inbreed so not surprising his herd could have worldwide influences but I didn’t know North American herds had made significant contribution to that particular breed.

Once I landed on the island, the wealth of the neighborhoods clearly increased if the number of yacht clubs is any indication. Besides the clubs, many parks lined the streets with towering poplar trees and generally well manicured lawns. The cycle path took me past the old section of the Canal de Lachine which could have been right out of a National Geographic feature on some old European city. Getting into old Montreal was of course more of the same just on a grander scale. I know Quebec City will overshadow all this so I’m quite excited about getting there. Since I’m cycling along the St Lawrence and the old Chemin du Roy, I’m anticipating many quaint villages along the way.

The Canal de Lachine takes you right into old Montreal through some heavily industrial areas
The Canal de Lachine takes you right into old Montreal through some heavily industrial areas further down the canal

I should mention that Montreal is another example of a cyclist’s dreams compared to most North American cities. With separated cycle tracks, you can whip across town in relative luxury. On the path at the end of the work day, you practically have a bicycle rush hour.

An example of a separated cyclotrack between the curb and parked cars
An example of a separated cyclotrack between the curb and parked cars

Road Report:~90km
As already described, the highway beside the Ottawa and the St Lawrence Rivers are simply delicious. The road conditions vary but the most delightful of rides.

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