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Old 11-08-10, 12:36 PM   #1
bijan
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Winter Tour (Montreal to Ottawa)

Hey guys,

I've always wanted to cycle to Ottawa (from Montreal). Do you think it's too late to pull it off this year? Should I wait until the spring...

Might not exactly be touring: I'll probably leave Saturday and ride back on Sunday, but will be unsupported along the way.

Distance will be 185 km (115 miles) each way. Temperature will be just above freezing (November), and then down to below freezing until March... Daylight will be 9.5 hours now down to 8.75 in December.

Anyways I'm thinking next weekend (November 20th and 21st). Any thoughts?
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Old 11-08-10, 02:05 PM   #2
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Any thoughts? My thought is to wait until May! Or even better, until late September of early October, when the trees are turning colours, the weather can be mild, and there is still plenty of daylight.

If you can maintain an average speed of 18 km/hour -- which is a nice clip -- the trip will take you over 10 hours. Are you sure you want to ride at night?

185 km per day on two consecutive days is a big haul. Racers may be able to cover such distances. Can you? It depends on what shape you are in.

The trip might be viable in November if you cover the distance in two days instead of one. But back and forth in two days in freezing temperatures.... Not me!
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Old 11-08-10, 02:31 PM   #3
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A couple of Germans cycled across Canada in the winter, as to whether one would want to...

I think September is pretty nice. I have had bad luck in October, weather seems more riled up. The whole thing is to be flexible, if you want to go, get ready and keep your eye on the weather, sometimes you can get warm spells. In particular look for "heat waves" where you get a warm night. It isn't so much the sleeping, which should be fine in a warm enough bag, it is how long you get the so called "high" temp for the day. We are over 2/3rd of the way towards the shortest day of the year, which is the part I don't like. If you are spending your days out of doors, then you want long daylight which you don't get at this time of year.
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Old 11-08-10, 02:46 PM   #4
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Split it into a two-day trip and take a train back if there is a time constraint... otherwise, I think it's viable if you're willing to use lots of lighting, even blinkies in the day especially if it's over-cast. I would go for it if I weren't so lazy, especially in the next few days we'll have clear skies and very mild weather. I'm going to do a century before the week is out.
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Old 11-08-10, 02:50 PM   #5
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Thanks! Well I think I will aim for getting there in 2 days then. and get home some other way. I guess the hard part will be getting the bike back.

I've ridden 100-120km at least a couple of times this summer. So it probably makes more sense to aim for that much per day.

As for the weather yes November is about the rainiest time of the year. So I will have to make sure weather is ok before I leave. On the other hand the cloudy weather means that there is less of a difference between day and night temperatures. Right now it's generally low of freezing, high of single digits (Celsius). I think I'd be happy with anything but heavy rain or temperature below freezing.

We've been having a surprising amount of Easterly wind which is not too bad
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Old 11-08-10, 02:52 PM   #6
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Split it into a two-day trip and take a train back if there is a time constraint... otherwise, I think it's viable if you're willing to use lots of lighting, even blinkies in the day especially if it's over-cast. I would go for it if I weren't so lazy, especially in the next few days we'll have clear skies and very mild weather. I'm going to do a century before the week is out.
Sweet! I have reasonably bright generator lights on the bike I'm taking, but I'll use all the blinkies and stuff from my other bike and light myself up like a Christmas tree
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Old 11-08-10, 02:55 PM   #7
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I live in Gatineau and I just did a 9 day tour of the Laurentians in October and it was a wonderful ride but a little cold on the drizzly days. Which way are you planning to ride? If you take the Route Verte # 1 you could stop half way in Montebello or use the Petite Nation hostel as a half way point. The north-west wind can get strong most days and the last leg into Gatineau is not the most interesting. If you decide to take the Ontario side it is a little more scenic but it takes longer. If you have any other Questions just let me know as I cycled much of this region.
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Old 11-08-10, 02:58 PM   #8
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"Split it into a two-day trip and take a train back if there is a time constraint... "

Via Rail no longer provides baggage service between Ottawa and Montreal.
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Old 11-08-10, 03:02 PM   #9
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Which way are you planning to ride? If you take the Route Verte # 1 you could stop half way in Montebello or use the Petite Nation hostel as a half way point.
Thanks Gordon! I didn't know there was a hostel along the way. That is great.

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The north-west wind can get strong most days and the last leg into Gatineau is not the most interesting. If you decide to take the Ontario side it is a little more scenic but it takes longer. If you have any other Questions just let me know as I cycled much of this region.
I was thinking of taking the Route Verte just because it looks so straightforward. I've biked to Pointe a Fortune near the Ontario border, so that way I wouldn't have to worry about losing time getting lost and backtracking (which wouldn't be so much of an issue if it were summer).

One question I have is that between Point a Fortune and Oka, the road seemed somewhat hilly (might have been because I was tired and it was raining hard that day), is it similarly sloping from there to Gatineau or is it flatter?

Edit: planning to ride from Westwards from Montreal to Ottawa
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Old 11-08-10, 03:18 PM   #10
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Thanks Gordon! I didn't know there was a hostel along the way. That is great.



I was thinking of taking the Route Verte just because it looks so straightforward. I've biked to Pointe a Fortune near the Ontario border, so that way I wouldn't have to worry about losing time getting lost and backtracking (which wouldn't be so much of an issue if it were summer).

One question I have is that between Point a Fortune and Oka, the road seemed somewhat hilly (might have been because I was tired and it was raining hard that day), is it similarly sloping from there to Gatineau or is it flatter?

Edit: planning to ride from Westwards from Montreal to Ottawa
It is straightforward with the exception of the Laval section but coming from Montreal it won’t be much of an issue. I don’t recall any really hilly sections so you must have just had a bad day. The ride into Gatineau is flat and like I mentioned it is the wind that can be an issue. Also be very careful at the intersection at Masson-Angers and stay right as it is really easy to get off of Hwy 148 and end up in Buckingham as it is not well marked!
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Old 11-08-10, 03:30 PM   #11
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A one-way rental car might be feasible, especially between 2 sizeable cities. I've done that a few times, and while it may cost a bit more, the lack of hassle is wonderful. You should be able to stuff your bike into a mid-size car, no problem.
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Old 11-08-10, 03:35 PM   #12
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A one-way rental car might be feasible, especially between 2 sizeable cities. I've done that a few times, and while it may cost a bit more, the lack of hassle is wonderful. You should be able to stuff your bike into a mid-size car, no problem.
Thanks! I'll probably go with that solution if possible. As my other alternatives seem to be shipping my bike (which might cost as much, would be difficult to do on a Sunday, and I'd end up waiting for a few days until I got the bike back) or getting a lift from someone (which would make me feel terrible what with having someone drive twice the distance, might as well drive there slowly myself .
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Old 11-08-10, 04:10 PM   #13
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You could also check into Greyhound. I know they take baggage, not sure about bikes specifically. If it's not boxed they might not. But you could check.
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Old 11-08-10, 07:13 PM   #14
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A few years ago, I transported my bicycle by bus starting from Ottawa for about $25, but things have changed since last summer. The new buses do not take bicycles. (In particular, the so-called "Mega Buses" do not accommodate bicycles. I wrote to complain, and suggested that the company install the same bike racks as city buses. Like that did anything...)

Anyway, check with Greyhound before you decide to take the bus home.

Bon route!
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Old 11-08-10, 07:26 PM   #15
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A few years ago, I transported my bicycle by bus starting from Ottawa for about $25, but things have changed since last summer. The new buses do not take bicycles. (In particular, the so-called "Mega Buses" do not accommodate bicycles. I wrote to complain, and suggested that the company install the same bike racks as city buses. Like that did anything...)

Anyway, check with Greyhound before you decide to take the bus home.

Bon route!
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You could also check into Greyhound. I know they take baggage, not sure about bikes specifically. If it's not boxed they might not. But you could check.
From the websites: Megabus does not take bikes. Greyhound does but I need to have it in a box. I will have to confirm with them to see, but I think this means I would need to get to Ottawa before closing on Sunday to get a box from a shop.
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Old 11-08-10, 08:04 PM   #16
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You could ride to Thurso on one side of the river and come back the other. Entering Gatineau is nothing special and unless it has changed, you have to ride a bit on highway 17 coming out of Ottawa, which sucks big time. Turning around in Thurso would save you that. You can also cross the Ottawa river in Grenville/Hawksbury or Carillon/Pointe-Fortune.
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Old 11-08-10, 10:01 PM   #17
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When I transported my bicycle from Ottawa to Toronto, the bus company sold me a bike box at the terminal. It was easy.

I offered to help the driver load the box into the baggage compartment. He gladly accepted my offer, which meant I had peace of mind knowing that my bike had been positioned right during the long trip home.
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Old 11-08-10, 10:10 PM   #18
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You could ride to Thurso on one side of the river and come back the other. Entering Gatineau is nothing special and unless it has changed, you have to ride a bit on highway 17 coming out of Ottawa, which sucks big time. Turning around in Thurso would save you that. You can also cross the Ottawa river in Grenville/Hawksbury or Carillon/Pointe-Fortune.
I was thinking of crossing in Hawkesbury.

This is the route I am considering so far:
google maps route
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Old 11-08-10, 10:19 PM   #19
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When I transported my bicycle from Ottawa to Toronto, the bus company sold me a bike box at the terminal. It was easy.

I offered to help the driver load the box into the baggage compartment. He gladly accepted my offer, which meant I had peace of mind knowing that my bike had been positioned right during the long trip home.
I might call them tomorrow and see if they have a box and how late on Sunday I can pick it up. Though I really don't look forward to removing my handlebars. Whenever I mess with them I always feel they're misaligned afterwards... Unless the box is big enough to just remove the wheel and turn the bars...
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Old 11-09-10, 02:04 AM   #20
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Another option would be to stow my bike away somewhere in Ottawa and ride back on the next weekend.
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Old 11-09-10, 09:04 AM   #21
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I think in the end I'll leave riding all the way to Ottawa for a long weekend next year. I'll just ride out to that Hostel on Saturday and ride home on Sunday, and spend any extra time exploring around.
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Old 11-09-10, 08:08 PM   #22
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as a Montrealer, and originally from Ottawa...glad you decided to put it off, I mean..why not enjoy it with better temps. I jsut got in from riding at 4c, nothing wrong with that until it rains, and you are cold, and you have a flat (changed my first flat last week at 4c too, blah, but at least it wasnt raining...)
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Old 11-11-10, 11:13 PM   #23
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Assuming the weather is ok, I'll be leaving early this Saturday. I plan on heading as far as Papineauville and then I'll decide whether to continue to Ottawa or head for that Hostel or a motel.

On Sunday I'll most likely just bike back whatever path I take on Saturday.
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Old 11-12-10, 07:06 AM   #24
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tomorrow is sunny and high of 9, so not bad. Im sure you have your clothes all figured out for these temps as you have been riding here lately, and to top it off, Sunday looks similiar, a bit of cloud but high of 8.
I have driven the Mtl-Papineauville route many times (in winter though, to go to the Canadian Ski Marathon, the Papineauville High School was where many participants slept Fri and Sat night)--the shoulder isnt super great, so as always, be on the ball.

have a good ride
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Old 11-12-10, 08:01 AM   #25
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tomorrow is sunny and high of 9, so not bad. Im sure you have your clothes all figured out for these temps as you have been riding here lately, and to top it off, Sunday looks similiar, a bit of cloud but high of 8.
I have driven the Mtl-Papineauville route many times (in winter though, to go to the Canadian Ski Marathon, the Papineauville High School was where many participants slept Fri and Sat night)--the shoulder isnt super great, so as always, be on the ball.

have a good ride
Thanks! Good to know that the shoulder is crummy I'll aim to get there by sunset, even if it means pushing it a little harder the first day.
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