Although I had been both to Oka and to Hudson before, this would be the first time that I closed the loop by taking the Oka/Hudson ferry. I had gotten the idea just a few weeks earlier when I had encountered Claudia and Gilbert in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, as they were returning from this ride.
The ride was significant in that:
This account is based on the original description of the ride around Two Mountains and Oka. It has been edited for style, but where additional comments seemed appropriate, I have added these within "[ ]".
- It was the first time I had done the Two Mountains/Oka/Hudson loop
- It was my first time ever crossing via the Oka/Hudson ferry
- I had not been along the north side of the West Island for some time
- I got caught in a major and somewhat frightening thunderstorm, and was close to danger as live electrical wires were tossed to the ground.
Tour of Lake of Two Mountains:
Roger Kenner, July 1997
It was a foggy, muggy morning. The low fog hung overhead, making the day look overcast. It was a tough call: Was it going to rain or not? The weather channel announced "fog, clearing to partly cloudy, with chance of afternoon thunder showers". As I rode along, the sun and patches of blue would poke their nose through the grey from time to time, at other times the sky would darken and a few drops would fall. It would be cool all morning, and the sky would not clear until 12:30.
Across the Island to the Back River
[7:25 - 8:15: 45 Minutes]
Montreal: I rode over to Grand Boulevard and headed north along the busy boulevard.
Hampstead: As it crossed Cote St. Luc Road, Grand Boulevard became Glenmore, a quiet residential street. I followed my formerly well-worn path across Hampstead: Right onto Haverstock, for one block; then left onto Albion, for one block;, then right onto Merton, a quiet residential boulevard. Merton eventually became Landsdowne. I turned left onto Dufferin, which took me across Fleet Road. Then I turned left onto Ferncroft, heading east.
Montreal: Ferncroft became Plamondon as I crossed back into Montreal. I came to Clanranald, onto which I turned left. It brought me past Decarie Square and came to a stop at the railroad tracks.
[7:25-7:40: 15 minutes riding]
Blue Bonnets: I portaged my bike across the railroad tracks (Which is against regulations) and then continued straight (north), across the Blue Bonnets parking lot to the far side. There I followed the access road, a fairly busy, industrial street, as it lead to the left, around behind the stands. I turned right onto the 'connecting' street that has been pushed through the line of factories to the Town of Mount Royal street beyond.
[7:40-7:45: 5 minutes, 20 minutes riding so far]
Mount Royal: Once into TMR, the street became Devonshire, a busy, wide industrial street. I followed Devonshire along the factory row to its end at the Kraft Food Plant by the Metropolitain Expressway (Hwy 40). Right where Devonshire ends is a pedestrian walkway across the railroad tracks and under the highway, which I took.
[7:45-7:50: 5 minutes, 25 minutes riding so far]
Ville St. Laurent: I followed the quiet residential streets of Ville St. Laurent, parallelling the main boulevard, Marcel Laurin, along the west side. First I turned right onto Authier, then right onto Scott, then left onto Marlatt, then right onto De l'Eglise, then finally left onto St. Aubin. I followed St. Aubin to Cote Vertu (7:58)
I turned right on Cote Vertu, a very busy main boulevard, to go one block east to Marcel Laurin, which was also very busy. I turned left onto Marcel Laurin (Actually, I angled to the far side of Cote Vertu and nipped into the shopping centre on the northwest corner of the intersection. Then I followed the sidewalk (Against regulations) up along the west side of Marcel Laurin, in the face of oncoming traffic.)
After two blocks, I came to Thimens, yet another busy boulevard, but not quite as busy. I turned right onto Thimens and followed it one block east to Grenet, where I turned left. I would follow Grenet to its end. Grenet parallels Marcel Laurin just to the east, but is less busy. It goes along behind some Canadair buildings and behind the new shopping centre. On the right (east) side it is all residential.
[7:50-8:08 18 minutes, 38 minutes riding so far]
Montreal: Grenet crossed Henri Bourassa (8:08) and then continued, underneath the Cartierville train station and into Cartierville. I continued Continue straight on Grenet. I crossed De Salaberry (8:12) and finally came to Grenet's end at Boulevard Gouin (8:15). [The first time I came up this way, I remember nosing my way around, and following De Salaberry east, to see where it might take me. I ended up turning around after a few blocks and returning to Grenet.] I turned left onto Gouin, a very busy boulevard, and continued for one block. I turned right onto Lachappelle, a quiet residential street paralleling the main road, and followed it to the end, at the bridge approach. At the end of the street, a bike path led on, curving underneath the bridge. This was not the way I wanted to go that day. [Indeed, I have yet to go that way!] Instead, I went up onto the bridge sidewalk and rode across the bridge.
[8:08-8:15 7 minutes, 45 minutes riding so far]
Along the Back River in Laval
[8:15-9:15: 1 hour]
Laval: Coming off the bridge over the Back River (8:20), I found a bike path starting immediately at the end of the sidewalk. Making a sharp right and following the bike path down and underneath the bridge, I came out on the other side.
The bike path led me along the river for a short ways, through a park and by a school [The old polyvalent high school I used to pass often coming into the city with my parents in 1969/70]. Then the path turned away from the water and climbed up to Levesque where it turned left (west) to follow this street. The bike path became a painted lane on the street. I followed the bike path along Levesque as far as Promenade des Iles. At this point, the path took off to the left to go the long way through a park. I decided to continue along Levesque, which finally ended at Boulevard Samson.
Turning left onto Boulevard Samson, a busy, main boulevard, I followed it west for a mile or so (10-12 blocks). As I approached the bridge over Autoroute 13 (8:40), I noticed the bike path coming up from below to join Samson. I realized that the bike path probably offered a slower but more pleasurable ride that Boulevard Samson.
[8:15-8:40 25 minutes, 1 hr and 10 minutes riding so far]
I crossed over Autoroute 13, taking care with the highway entrances and exits. Immediately after crossing the bridge, I turned left onto Bord de l'Eau, a quiet, country-style road that goes along the shoreline. At first there were a number of new housing developments on the river side, but these soon give way soon to trees, wild grass, and farmer's fields. The view of the river was magnificent. For quite a while there continued to be suburban homes along the right (landward) side of the road. The road was narrow, with little shoulder, but I rode about a yard from the edge and people just had to go around me. There were a number of slight ups and downs along the road, requiring frequent gear changes. I sort of felt in the country, yet still half in the city.
There came a point where Boulevard Samson (which had been running parallel, but inland) angled into Bord de l'Eau and came to an end (8:55). From that point on, the road became ever more like a country road.
Eventually (9:05-9:10) I reached the turn off for the Laval Islands (Ile Bigras). The road passed under the train tracks and the St. Dorothy station was on the right. I passed under the archway announcing the entrance to the community of Laval-Sur-le-Lac. Just beyond, on the left, was the Laval-Ile Bizard ferry. Finally I came to Rue Peuplier, where I turned right.
[8:40-9:10 30 minutes, 1 hr and 40 minutes riding so far]
I followed Rue Peuplier north, across the end of Laval Island. If one were to continue along Bord de l'Eau, it would eventually come around, but the way would be longer. At the western tip of Laval Island are a number of exquisite properties. Rue Peuplier follows the train line across the island, which is not very wide at that point. On the other side of the train line is the golf course. There used to be a couple of additional train stations along the line (like Laval Links), but they are gone. I came to the end of Rue Peuplier, where it meets the Mille Iles River (9:15). There is a small parking lot and train station.
Across the North Shore, from Two Mountains to Oka Ferry
9:15-11:10: 1 hour and 55 minutes]
I turned right and crossed the railroad tracks, almost immediately coming to the entrance to the Barrage Grand Moulin (Big Windmill Dam). This dam provides a crossing over the Mille Iles River, a crossing which is only open to bicycles and pedestrians. The view is great and its worth a few minutes to stop and watch the river. I took a five-minute break to watch the water.
[9:10-9:15 5 minutes, 1 hr and 45 minutes riding so far]
Two Mountains: At the far side of the dam, I found myself at the end of 8th avenue in the town of Two Mountains (9:20). I followed 8th avenue north. After quite a number of blocks, it crossed Chemin d'Oka, the main highway (9:25). I Continued north on 8th avenue. I turned left when I reached Henry Dunant and followed it a number of blocks west, until I had crossed the railroad tracks again. I turned right onto 16th avenue and followed it a couple of blocks to the beginning of the Oka Bike Trail. (9:33) I could see the bike trail leading off into the woods, announced by only simple sign saying "Oka", with an arrow pointing straight ahead.
[9:15-9:33 12 minutes, 1 hr and 58 minutes riding so far, 5 minutes of stops]
The bike trail was very nice, very well groomed, and comfortable. At first it led through a wooded park. There were a couple of places where it crosses busy streets. Just outside the wooded park, I could see furious suburban development going on all around. At one point, it passed within a block of a large shopping centre.
Ste. Marthe Sur le Lac: I hardly noticed passing from Two Mountains into Ste. Marthe Sur le Lac. Eventually, though, I recrossed Chemin D'Oka, the main highway, on the bike path (9:45). Right at the crossing sits an iced cream stand which caters specifically to the bicycle crowd. After the crossing, the bike path is nearly straight as an arrow. It must have been an old railroad right of way or something. For long stretches, the bike path was on a raised embankment, fully covered with tall trees. On either side wass marshland or swamp. From time to time, I passed trailer parks or housing developments. But then it was always back to the straight road.
Pointe Calumet: Towards the end of the trail, near Point Calumet and St. Joseph du Lac, I began to pass several small lakes. On the left was a big waterpark. Then I passed a lake with a vast campround, also on the left.
Oka Park: Crossing the last street, the nice pavement gave way to older paving, somewhat more uneven and with grass coming up through all the cracks. A sign welcomed cyclists to Oka Park (10:08). All houses were gone now, and I could look out across the vast meadows. The towering expanse of the Two Mountains loomed off to the right. At a certain point, the trail itself turned to the right and began to climb.
This was the only major climb of the ride, and it was not too bad. I simply had to take it slow. After a bit, the bike trail met the park road and becomes a lane painted on the side. The marked lane was comfortably wide, though, and the road did not have much traffic.
After one rather steep section, the road leveled off and I reached the summit and the Oka Park information centre. It was a good place to stop for a rest and for a bathroom break.
Although one climbs over Two Mountains, the Oka Park road is much, much less of a climb than the main highway. I have done the main highway, and it is more like mountain touring. Still, off the main highway, one can visit the monastery, which is not accessible from the park road.
I took a break at Oka Park Summit (10:23-10:35)
[9:33-10:35 30 minutes, 2 hrs and 28 minutes riding so far, 15 minutes stops so far]
Coming down from the summit, I had a few delicious minutes of downhill speed. In the hardest gear, and pedalling hard, I may have attained almost automobile speed for a short ways. Coming off the hills, just before the sewage treatment plant, I saw where the bike trail leaves the road and cuts off to the right along its own right-of-way. This was the way to Oka Beach, about 10 minutes away. I knew it to be a very nice, wooded section of bike trail. I have taken it before, but would not this day. I was continued straight ahead towards the town of Oka.
Another short climb, and then down the other side, and I was on the flatland again, approaching the park's main western gate. I reached the west gate at 10:55.
One must look carefully to find it, but just as one would be following the park road back to the main highway, one notices the continuation of the Oka bike path. It follows a quiet route through the fields and trees, passing by a lake, and ends at the beginning of the town of Oka (11:00), dumping cyclists onto St. Sulpice Street.
Town of Oka: St. Sulpice Street is a quiet, residential street which follows the lake, having houses only on the landward side. It ends at St. Andre Street, where one must turn right. One block inland and I had to turn left onto St. Jean Baptiste. I followed this street a number of blocks, until it ended barely one block from the main highway. The bike path resumed in the far corner of the church parking lot, and brought me right out at the ferry dock and the touring information kiosk (11:10).
I discovered that the ferry left ever 15 minutes for the other side of Lake of Two Mountains, at Hudson. Before crossing, I decided to take a gander around the town of Oka. I rode out to the main highway and followed it to the edge of town, where it climbs up the infamous hill towards Kanesetake. There is not much on the main road, only a couple of businesses, so I returned to ferry dock.
[10:35-11:10 35 minutes, 3 hrs and 2 minutes riding so far, 15 minutes stops so far]
[11:10-11:30: twenty minutes looking around: 35 minutes stops so far]
Across the Lake of Two Mountains & Hudson visit
11:30 - 13:00
I had never been on the Oka ferry before. Back in 1993, I went as far upriver at Carillon and took the ferry there, but I always seemed to miss this one. I was a bit surprised! Instead of a typical ferry boat, with an engine, this was simply a barge, pulled by a powerboat with a thick rope. I was amazed at the skill with which the power boat pilot manipulated the barge loaded with cars.
The ferry crossing took 20 minutes. It was very hazy and I could not see far. I looked east, towards Oka beach. I looked upriver at the wooded point of Kanesetake and beyond. I looked along the Hudson shore at the fabulous properties.
Hudson: We arrived at Como Bay at 11:50. I followed "Main Street" (No Bill 101 compliance here!) to the right, westward, along the shore towards Hudson village. It was a quiet country road, with lots of ups and downs. There were infrequent views of the river, but lots of very nice houses and fantastic gardens. Just after crossing the railroad tracks, I came down into Hudson village (12:05)
I stopped for lunch at the small cafe upstairs at the L'Egg's Clothing Store. I had eaten there once before, in 1993, and found the food to be excellent. It was just as good this time, and the service and ambiance, as well. Hudson is such a nice, quaint little village.
During lunch, the cloud cover finally broke and blue sky and sunshine shone through, though there remained lots of clouds.
It took me the same fifteen minutes to backtrack along Main Street as far as the ferry dock. (13:00)
[11:30-13:00 35 minutes, 3 hrs and 30 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 15 minutes stops so far]
Hudson to Montreal Island, via Vaudreuil-Dorion
13:00-14:10 One hour and ten minutes
Vaudreuil: East of the ferry terminal, the quiet road continued, though the houses got fewer and fewer. Soon I crossed out of Hudson and into Vaudreuil. "Main Street" became Chemin de l'Anse. On the lake side were magnificent properties, covered with dark woodlands. Through the trees I could look out onto the lake. To the landward side were farms. I passed many places raising horses. Off in the distance, maybe a couple of miles away, I could see the flat farmland rise a hundred feet or so to the wooded escarpment that marks St. Lazare.
At a certain point, the road rounded a vast cove. All houses were gone from the lakeside at this point. On the landward side was only a single line of houses, backed by farmers fields. The view over the lake was great. Off in the distance was the beach at Oka, with the Two Mountains rising behind. The Lake was less hazy now, but there was a strong crosswind blowing towards the water. The white clouds were beginning to amass above the lake and were getting darker.
At the end of the cove, Chemin de l"Anse came to an end at St. Charles (13:35). Abruptly, the idyllic country ride was over. St. Charles is a wide, commercial boulevard . At least there was a good shoulder to ride on, for there were no trees or any cover from the wind and the sun. I passed by some high rise building.
[13:00-13:25 25 minutes, 3 hrs and 55 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 15 minutes stops so far]
I followed St. Charles out across the Hwy 40, up and over the overpass, coming down into suburban Vaudreuil. Between Vaudreuil and Dorion there was a small section of bicyle path, a specially marked lane only. In this section, the road followed along a cove. Looking back, I could see the peninsula jutting out into the lake. At its end was the Chateau Vaudreuil Hotel and the Ile aux Tourtes bridge. Beyond was the lake. On this day, the gathering of clouds was darkening over the lake, although I was still in the hot sunshine. The buildings of the town sheltered me somewhat from the strong crosswind.
Dorion: At Dorion, the bike path ended again. After a few blocks, St. Charles did strange things as it passed under the railroad tracks. I followed another cyclist through the pedestrian underpass, coming out at Hwy 20 by the old Dorion water tower. (13:50)
[13:25-13:50 25 minutes, 4 hrs and 20 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 15 minutes stops so far]
Highway 20 is, of course, a busy main highway. Luckily, this section is open to cyclists and sports six-foot wide paved shoulders. I followed the highway east out of Dorion. At the first bridge, there was a special side lane for cyclists, separated from the traffic by a concrete barrier (13:55).
Ile Perrot: Coming off the Highway 20 bridge on the Ile Perrot side (13:55), cyclists are channelled onto the access road by the shopping centre. I had to follow the road around to the intersection, where I then turned left and went back to the highway. At the highway underpass, I had to turn right on the access ramp and ride back up to the main road. It seemed like a freeway, but there was no "Bicycles Prohibited" sign. Still, riding along the shoulder, with cars and big trucks zooming by at 100kph was quite worrisome. Thankfully, as soon as I left the ramp and got onto the highway proper, the extremely wide shoulders were available again.
There was at this point a very strong tailwind and I nearly flew across Ile Perrot, reaching the second bridge, the Pont Galipeau, ten minutes later at 14:05. I went up on the sidewalk as I crossed the bridge, coming down into Ste. Anne de Bellevue at 14:10. [13:50-14:10 20 minutes, 4 hrs and 40 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 15 minutes stops so far]
Along the North Shore: Boulevard Gouin: Ste. Anne to Cartierville
14:10-16:20: Two hours & 10 minutes, with a 15 minute rain stop
Ste. Anne de Bellevue: Coming down off the bridge on the sidewalk, I made a 180 degree turn as soon as I could to go back down the hill along the bridge embankment. I followed the road down to its ends at the town's main road, by the waterfront. Once I got to the base of the embankment, I found the access to the official bike across the bridge, which had eluded me on my previous visit [when I had ridden out to Pointe du Moulin on Ile Perrot.] It was at the back of the parking lot under the bridge, by the locks.
Rather than head back via the Lakeshore, which I had done several times, I decided to go back via the North Shore, which I had not done for quite a number of years. I also decided not to stay and visit in Ste. Anne, as I had been there many a time before and the hour was getting late.
As I was coming down off the bridge, I had noticed how big and black the clouds out over the lake had become. I hoped it would blow over, or head in a different direction.
Senneville: I turned right at the bottom of the bridge approach and followed the main road under the bridges and past the locks. I turned right onto Ste. Anne, then left onto Pacifica, then then right onto Grier, All were quiet, residential streets. Finally, I came to the main road out of town, onto which I turned left. As soon as one I turned onto the main road, which still had the air of a quiet, country road, I saw the Senneville sign.
The road through Senneville was beautiful and wooded, with tall, towering trees on either side. I passed by fantastic properties situated along the along the lakeshore. Soon I was passing underneath the same Hwy 40 which I had crossed earlier while approaching Dorion from Hudson (14:20).The Rainstorm
I was tempted to stop under the freeway bridge, as the sky was getting really dark. I was not sure how far I would get. As I continued, too far past the bridge to turn back, I came upon a section with very tall trees. Suddenly a fantastic gust of wind began violently whipping the tree tops. They were bent so far over as to nearly touch the trees on the other side. All the while, down at ground level, I hardly felt anything. Still, I rode on quite fast, my adrenaline pumping. I was scared the wind would blow a piece off of one of those trees right over my head.
As I rode, I suddenly heard a loud crack behind me, maybe half the length of a city block back. I looked back to see several bright stars where a tree was leaning onto the power lines. Now I was really scared. I did not stick around, but leaned into my peddles. I was afraid the tree would pull the lines down on the road where I was riding. An awful sizzling, crackling sound came to my ears. A few moments later, I saw the reflection of a brilliant flash behind me. Then there was a loud bang. I looked back to see the transformer explode is a ball of white light. Then all was dead. I felt relieved that the power was now out.
There is one sharp hill along that route and I was huffing and puffing so that I almost went over the top in my normal cruising gear. I had to stop at the top to get my breath.
The wind had lessened a bit. While still very strong, the violent gusts of a few moments earlier subsided. It became obvious, though, that heavy rain was on the way. All was very dark, almost like night. I rode on desperately, hoping to reach a more settled area before the rain started. I did not want to be caught out in the open during a thunderstorm.
I looked out on the lake and saw the wall of rain approaching, cutting off from view everything behind it. I saw a few foolhardy sailboats and windsurfers scrambling for safety, but I doubted they would reach shore in time. I rode on as fast as I could. (It was really too bad that I had to race through that section, as it would normally be the nicest part of the ride.)
Suddenly the rain hit in full force. I had no choice but to turn into an open driveway and take shelter under someone's front door awning. I was dry, but alas my bike had to remain out in the rain. I waited out the storm from 14:35-14:50. The water was coming down so strong I could hardly see across the lawn. Surprisingly, there was no thunder or lightning. I imagine the storm cell was still just forming.
At 14:50, the rain ended abruptly and the sun came out almost instantly. The dark storm quickly became an innocent white cloud, looming off to the right. Where there had been a strong wind all day, suddenly all was very still.
I rode on through the only remaining farmland on the island, reaching the Pierrefonds line at 14:55.
[14:10-14:55 30 minutes, 5hrs and 10 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 30 minutes stops so far]
Pierrefonds: Through the first section of Pierrefonds, Boulevard Gouin remained the quiet country road it had been through Senneville. This farmland atmosphere continued as far as St. Charles Boulevard. When I passed l'Anse à l'Orme, I got my last view of the Lake of Two Mountains before the road turned due east to cut across Cap St. Jacques (15.05). At the far side of the cape, Boulevard Gouin ran right along the shore of the Back River, and I had great views of the undevelopped side of Ile Bizard. I came to St. Charles road at 15:20.
At 15:25 I passed the Ile Bizard Bridge and the quiet road was beginning to become a narrow, congested one. There were no more fields or farmhouses, just suburbs and riverfront properties. I declined to go inland to Beaconsfield Boulevard, where they have a bikepath which is just some lines on the pavement of a wide boulevard, with no trees. I preferred Boulevard Gouin, with its occasional glimpses of the water.
Ste. Geneviève: While riding along the river on Boulevard Gouin, I passed through the small hamlet of Ste. Genevieve. I was not even conscious of any difference until I came to the church at the centre of town. Almost immediately afterward, I cam to another Pierrefonds city limits sign.
Pierrefonds, once again: I reached the end of St. John's Road at 15:30 and at 15:45 I passed the end of Sources Road. East of Sources, Beaconsfield Boulevard swings over to join Boulevard Gouin, which turns it into a wide, city boulevard.
Roxboro: I passed the town of Roxboro. I came to the Roxboro train station at 15:50 and the A Ma Baie station at 15:55.
Pierrefonds, once again: I then re-entered Pierrefonds for the third time. Along that stretch the commuter train line ran now parallel and just south (to the right) of the road. I saw several of the sleek, new electric trains.
Montreal: I crossed under Highway 13 at 16:05. This was the point where I re-entered Montreal. For a ways, Bois de Saraguay, Boulevard Gouin returned to its original country road size. It did not return to the original country road traffic level, however. As I negotiated the broken pavement along the edge of the road, I had to share my tiny space with an endless stream of cars and buses. I tried several sidestreets, attempting to find a bikepath that would cut across the tracks and head south. Alas, I might as well have just stayed on Gouin. There was no opening to the south.
I reached Laurentian Boulevard in Cartierville at 16:20, closing the circle I had made that morning.
[14:55-16:20 85 minutes, 6 hrs and 35 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 30 minutes stops so far]
Cartierville to NDG
16:20 to 17:35: 1 hour riding, with 15 minutes stop
I turned right onto Laurentian Boulevard, a very busy commercial roadway, and rode through Cartierville. At 16:25 I was passing under the railway bridge and crossing Henri Bourassa.
Ville St. Laurent: In Ville St. Laurent, Laurentian Boulevard became Marcel Laurin, but otherwise remained as busy. Along by Canadair, they were working on the road, narrowing all the traffic to two lanes and finally to only one. I rode on the sidewalk.
At 16:35 I crossed Thimens and, two blocks later, Cote Vertu. I turned right on Cote Vertu for one block, and then left on St. Aubin. The first couple of blocks of St. Aubin are one way, to discourage motorists. I went up the street anyway (Against Regulations), so as not to get lost. I followed my route of the morning back to and under the Metropolitain (16:45)
Mount Royal:I rode back along Devonshire. Just before reaching Blue Bonnes, I turned left to head out to Decarie and the Orange Julep. I got there at 16:55 and stayed until 17:10.
Montreal: I rode along Decarie only as far as Blue Bonnets. I turned back into the parking lot and followed the road to the left to come to the train tracks. I portaged my bike over the tracks (Against Regulations). and came out by Decarie Square.
I followed my normal route home from there, reaching home at 17:35.
[16:20 17:35 60 minutes, 7 hrs and 35 minutes riding so far, 1 hr & 45 minutes stops]