One of the best places in Montreal for cycling is the Mont Royal Cemetery. I know, I know… all the groaning puns slide off the tongue way too easily. “Killer workouts” etc.

"I AM using my hamstrings!!!"

Sleepy young fox in the cemetery. Cute? That's a dead baby groundhog in front of it! !Redrum !Redrum

While the jokes are bad, the roads in the Mont Royal Cemetery are really good. They are closed to car traffic early in the morning and after 6 pm. And even when the gates are open, there are less cars than all-terrain vehicles used by the grounds crew. The Cemetery’s short, steep hills are challenging but doable for cyclists of all levels. There are also flat areas where we do cornering, bike handling and sprinting drills. Personally, I love the quiet, tree-lined roads and if you’re paying attention you’ll notice the smell of lilacs in the spring and then thyme in the summer. It is not uncommon to be climbing a 10% grade through wafts of incense only to skirt around birdwatchers on the descent. Every now and then foxes will sit down on the grass and check out your form as you pound awkwardly up Murray Hill. If you haven’t tried a workout in the Cemetery, you should check it out…but give yourself an extra 15 mins to find your way out as it is a twisting labyrinthe of winding roads. Don’t believe me? Here’s a map:

Mont Royal Cemetery: The Mount Murray hill circuit is marked, and it includes some of the steepest pitches in Montreal.

One of my favourite workouts includes a series of power reps up “Mordecai”–it is actually called “Rose Hill” but we call it “Mordecai” because there is a bench, stone and tree near the top that is dedicated to the incredibly important, if controversial Montreal writer, Mordecai Richler (1931-2001). Here’s a video that documents my Monday AM group doing a workout on the “Mordecai Loop”. The goal of the workout is to demonstrate the importance of bike handling to performance. You often see riders with similar power to weight ratios get spread out all over this course due to differences in bike handling, in this case cornering, descending and gear selection. Check out the video to see the workout, but you’ll get a better sense of the slopes from the photos below:

And here are some great photos that JF Houpert took of my Tuesday PM group doing a similar workout on the loop. It was all smiles while waiting at the Outremont Gates of the Cemetery:

"My handlebar tape is put on BEAUTIFULLY!" ©2010 JF Houpert

"I'm laughing, but not listening because the hunger in my belly is deafening! I NEED some Gu Chomps" ©2010 JF Houpert

As soon as the workout began, the talking and smiling stopped…except for me. I got to stand on the hill and coach! It really is the best part of coaching! I did, however, jump in on the odd lap to help riders side-by-side (and to look faster than Rod in any photos).

Rod Matheson getting serious... about showing off his calves ©2010 JF Houpert

Daniel Gagnon (Keep your hips back Daniel!) ©2010 JF Houpert

The Coach, huffing but not (gasp) puffing ©2010 JF Houpert

The top tube of two-time National Masters Champ Michelle Paiment shows how steep it is! ©2010 JF Houpert

Fred Fenneteau, the winner of the Ste Marine RR, battles on the cemetery slopes ©2010 JF Houpert

Vanessa Cheung: "I bet Fred is thinking about duck confit!"

David De Sanctis getting strong again after foot surgery forced him to take a step back ©2010 JF Houpert

"Rod, focus on the task at hand. It's not important to notice who's in front" ©2010 JF Houpert

Fred Fenneteau riding faster because she is thinking about duck confit...again!! ©2010 JF Houpert

Now Rod's finishing the workout by showing off his quads. He has no shame. ©2010 JF Houpert

17 mins later and the  first part of the workout was over!

About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

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