Rural cycling

Well, I’m now out of Montréal in Scotstown, at the foot of Mont Mégantic, about 200km east of of the city (230km as the bike rides). It’s a beautiful part of the world, still relatively wild compared to the eastern townships closer to Montréal. There are fewer lanes, restaurants and houses, and one can cycle in genuine isolation, along the long gravel roads that run through the forests.

This evening, as most evenings, I went on a cycle ride: I have about 4 or 5 different one to two hour rides I can easily do from here – of course there are plenty of more epic rides, and from time to time I feel like epics (such as climbing Mont Mégantic, 80km round trip, but especially 5km at 11% average gradient, sometimes with Mont St.Joseph thrown in, a grueling extra mile at 15% average gradient), but not this evening.

Canterbury church, photo: R.Shearmur

Over the next few days I’ll discuss cycling in rural areas. It’s wonderful – especially on the gravel back roads – but it has its idiosyncracies and dangers, which are not always what one expects. It will be a good opportunity to discuss bikes, too: I only have three down in Scotstown, but each is very different, and useful for different things.

Still, although I’m glad to share with you the idyll of evening rides in and around Scotstown, I’ll leave you with food – or drink – for thought. As I was cycling along a fairly remote stretch of road between Gould and Scotstown, I was reminded that remoteness is only in the eye (or imagination) of the beholder. A single piece of trash – very similar to the Bud Light box in the middle of the trail on yesterday’s (camera-free) ride – brought me back to civilisation.

Route 257, between Gould & Scotstown, photo: R.Shearmur

Published by Richard Shearmur

I am a professor at McGill's School of Urban Planning. I perform research on innovation, on how we locate work activities (in a world where people often work from many places), and on urban and regional economic geography. I used to work in real-estate, and teach a course on this. I am an urban planner, member of the Ordre des Urbanistes du Québec and of the Canadian institute of Planners.

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