Champlain Lookout

The ride to Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park is the standard weekend ride for most Ottawa cyclists. Gatineau Park, in the province of Quebec, is right across the Ottawa River from Ottawa. It is closed to traffic until May 1st and every Sunday morning during summer, making it a cyclists' paradise.

The return ride from our house is a little under 90 km, making it the perfect training ride to get back in shape after a long winter. Today was our first longish ride of the season despite temperatures that hovered below 10 degrees all day.

Gamlin parking lot is the starting point if time is short and you need to drive. Today there was lots of room – last weekend (when the sun was blistering) it was standing-room-only.

Gamlin Parking Lot Gamlin Parking Lot

There are a number of variations on the routes to Champlain Lookout, but all take the climb to Pink Lake, a beautiful greenish-blue jewel nestled in forest. Why "Pink"? Well, it was named after the original family of settlers in the area...

The Pink Lake climb is a good aerobic workout to get things started. I was warm enough at the top to take off my wind jacket, only to put it on again 3 kms down the road. It was cool today.

Lady CoMo at Pink Lake Lady CoMo at Pink Lake

In total, the ride from Gamlin to Champlain Lookout is about 20 km, most of it uphill. We practiced standing on a couple of the climbs – first Mary would stand, then me. What we found (nor surprisingly) is that the most important factor for standing is to have a heavy enough gear. If there is not sufficient resistance on the crank, the seated rider experiences a very jerky pedal stroke. The other important factor is for the stoker to not grip the handle bars tightly. The pilot must retain control of the balance of the bike, otherwise you drift erratically and uncontrollably. We had practiced this on the CompuTrainer during winter, so we had some idea of what we were in for.

At the top of Champlain most cyclists take some time to recover and enjoy the stunning view up the Ottawa River valley. On a clear day you can see about 50 km in the distance, and in autumn the colours are spectacular.

Cyclists at Champlain Lookout Cyclists at Champlain Lookout

Ottawa Valley from Champlain Lookout Ottawa River Valley from Champlain Lookout

Vista from Huron Lookout View of Ottawa from Huron Lookout

Back down we went, braking on the descents due to assertive crosswinds. By the time we were over the river and homeward bound we were flagging – even the Garmin gave up at the Experimental Farm :) . Both of us were glad to reach home. Mary has been recovering for 3 weeks from womanly-type medical procedures, so her capacity to contribute was somewhat restricted. I of course (puff-of-chest) was able to bring us both back home, whereafter (exhausted exhalation) I wolfed down a greek salad and found a bed for a nap.

'Tis the start of the season.

7 comments on “Champlain Lookout”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Start of the season – excellent! And well done Mary :-)

    The word 'Lookout' in place names is interesting. I can't think of a single instance in the UK. Presumably these lookouts (in Canada and also the USA) had some kind of important purpose in days gone by? Defensive perhaps...

  2. Hilary wrote:

    It must be a great feeling to get back out on the bike again after a winter on a turbo trainer. It's hard for me to imagine the winters that you get.

    Patrick wrote

    The word 'Lookout' in place names is interesting. I can't think of a single instance in the UK.

    Is 'lookout' just another word for what we would call a 'viewpoint'? I think the word is used in that way in Australia.

  3. Patrick wrote:

    A viewpoint yes, but lookout seems different to viewpoint. It implies a sentinel keeping watch, or something, and it's enshrined in place names (which I assume must predate tourism?)

  4. Chris wrote:

    Yes, lookout seems to imply keeping an eye out for some potential danger, I think. The lookout in the crow's nest etc. Viewpoint does have a tourism connotation. I think of those blue pointy sticks in a semi-circle on an OS map.

    It must feel like coming out of hibernation after all that time snuggled up at home, Kern. What a release!

  5. Garry wrote:

    I love the bike!

  6. Mary wrote:

    Welcome back to the world of cycling! I love Lady CoMo, you must feel like you have come out of hibernation after such a long time in winter. (lol Chris thinks so too!!)

    Do you rely on a drum brake for those decents? Ours has a drum but I dont really trust it and live in fear and dread of a blow out on the Manx hills, and Shedman isnt quite as enthusiastic as your Mary is regarding a ride out and about. Not tried standing up, you are brave both of you.

    Looking forward to more Canadian trips on Lady CoMo

    Hope Mary is feeling better soon, by the sounds of things she is a fit lady.

  7. Kern wrote:

    "Lookout" is used quite commonly across the pond for a spot that has a fine vista. It is intended to be inviting rather than defensive :) .

    Our disc brakes have been superb so far, Mary. I believe they are quite superior to brake shoes on the rim, especially at speed.

    We were back in the Park this weekend but wimped out at Pink Lake. Temperatures were just slightly over freezing and we didn't want to brave the wind chill on the descents.

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