Meet Betsy. She’s a beauty!

I decided to add cycling to my regular thing this summer. With all the bike trails in the Eastern Townships, and easy access from where I was staying at the time, it was a temptation I could not resist!

I was already using the trails to run, and wanted to go further afield – literally, in fields, in the countryside, which was so nice.

And I’m not a serious cyclist. Nope. I want to meander around on my bike and explore the area. That is why I chose a classic cruiser. There’s nothing quite like having the wind on your face as you ride down paths and the feeling of freedom as the wheels glide below you – especially when you are heading downhill. All of this surrounded by Mother Nature’s beauty.

There is an estuary you can ride around, a lake, a river and farmland. Stopping at the bench on the top photo was one of my favourite things to do.

Cycling is also a great balance to the running – working the inner thigh muscles which helps support my not-so-great knee joints. Running builds the outer thigh muscles, so this is a good way to try to even things out, or at least build up some inner thigh muscle strength.

But really…it’s about feeling free and light when on the bike. And about discovering lovely little spots like this one:

Sitting on a rock at the river’s edge, listening to the sounds of the water flowing by and the birds singing…aahhh, so peaceful. As I watch this video and hear the sounds, I’m transported back. No wonder the first humans (and non-humans for that matter) who found this spot decided to settle close by.

Luckily there is much to discover along these bike paths. On weekends there can be a lot of people around as families and cycling groups take advantage of the sunny skies and warm temperatures. It was fun to see everyone take advantage of the trails. I even started to feel like a local when people asked me for directions!

There are also a number of sculptures along the paths, a nod to the industrial beginnings of this area. Industry isn’t what it used to be as times change and different priorities come into play. I do like that the city has included these in its art programme.

When I came to Montreal at the beginning of August I replaced the bike paths in the estuary and countryside with those of the Lachine Canal. I’m not super comfortable riding my bike on busy streets, so haven’t done much of that. Although I did ride all the way to Verdun (not terribly far), using as much as the canal path as I could, then riding in the bike lane on the city streets. I stuck to the less traveled roads and was really quite proud of myself.“Look at me! I’m riding on the city streets!” Some days it doesn’t take much…ha!

What I also like about riding and running along the canal is that you see the old industrial buildings – some of which have been converted to condos, event spaces, and restaurant. And at times you get both a glimpse of this history and of the high-rises downtown (which are certainly increasing in number these days).

The canal is also a great way to get to Old Montreal. It’s about a 45-minute walk, and maybe 20 minutes by bike (depending how often I stop to enjoy the views).

Old Montreal wasn’t bustling with activity this summer, thanks to Covid and a drop in tourism. Meandering the cobble-stone streets admiring the beauty of the old buildings was quieter than it would normally be in summer.

As fall sets in I know my bike rides are numbered and Betsy will soon be coming indoors. When that happens, I will look at her and long for the days I can ride again.

PS: for those cyclists who ride these trails and fancy themselves in the Tour de France…. You are NOT. I know that’s a shock to the system, but it is true. So settle down, chill. There’s no need to cut people off. And when you get to a foot bridge that has a very clear sign that you are to dismount and walk your bike across. Just get off your damn bike and walk!

It’s really very clear people!!!!