Cycling

 

Only the 1980s,
that go-go decade of extremes, could have spawned the idea of riding a bicycle down the side of a mountain, oblivious to rocks, stumps, roots, trees or the fact that bicycles only have two wheels.

Crazy or not, the bone-rattling sport has caught fire faster than a lit match in a kerosene factory. If you’re one of these fat-tire aficionados, this adventure is just for you!

 


1. MontainTrilogy: three backcountry parks in one.
Hike, cycle, kayak and sit back and enjoy the scenic 19 mile ferry ride over the fjord to the Riviere Eternite


PHOTO: Heiko Wittenborn/Courtesy Tourisme Québec
Take three of Quebec’s best backwoods parks. Add a gang of rock-happy rubber-heads and a van to carry the heavy stuff, sprinkle in a few gnarly panoramas and some mountain top camping and, hey, you’ve got the makings of a pretty good adventure.

 

Total trip is 177 miles, starting from the Parc des Monts Valin, “The Valley of the Ghosts”. No fear, the park derives its names from the eerie, snow ghosts that are formed by the 16 foot winter snowfalls each winter.

 

 Camping on the beach of alpine lake, a trek upwards 2,200 feet, a power glide of 37 miles from Parc des Saguenay right into the Saguenay Fjord, time to put up your feet on the ferry to the fjord. Take a time-out upon arrival and check out the kayaking. Spend the last two days trekking through Charlevoix Park, cruise the trails, and foresty roads by spectacular falls, and high peaks, or con your guide into stopping in Baie-St-Paul where the homes are 200 years old and they sell these pepper spiced cheese curds. Your taste buds will thank you.

 

PHOTO: Christian Belanger/Courtesy tourisme Québec
Skill Level: Intermediate

 


2. The Laurentians: uphill the railroad way.
Imagine cycling through vista perfect mountain country on a mostly flat cycling path. No cars, no hills, all beauty with no steep-grade pain.

L’petit train du Nord was constructed in the late 1800’s to connect the quaint villages and mill towns dotted among the Laurentian Mountains. 19th century engineers; chopped, blasted and chiseled a nice flat railbed for the early trains, with an average incline of only two percent.
Photo: Alain Dumas
We’ll travel the last 62 miles through Mt. Tremblant Park. The line runs along placid rivers and lakes, and through pretty forests and mountain villages where today’s cyclists can lunch, dine and overnight in the delightful little inns. Tres gentil!
Our trip includes a visit to Val David, the birthplace of Quebec’s mountain climbing, push through St-Agathe to Ivry-sur-le-lac for a dinner of traditional Quebec cuisine. It’s a great adventure, and at the end we’ll toast each other farewell at a small auberge.

Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate


PHOTO: Sylvain Majeau/Courtesy Tourisme Québec

3. The Eastern Townships: Pedaling to Europe.
It’s as if somebody waved a magic wand and Vermont became a small kingdom in Europe, complete with village names you can’t pronounce but sound fabulous.

PHOTO: Peter Quine/Courtesy of Tourisme Canton-de-l’Est
L’Estrie, aka the Eastern Townships, SE sits in the foothills of the Appalachians. The rolling wooded uplands, lake and river-filled valleys give this rural backwater its charm and eerie similarity to New England. An area rich in heritage.
 

Canada has a 200 year old tradition of wine making. As luck would have it our tour takes us through the heart of wine country. Our first night will be spent as guests at L’Orpaileur Vinyards. Starting in the village of Stanbridge East, we’ll enjoy the picturesque side roads that wind through cornfields, orchards and vineyards,and alongside rivers and lakes. We’ll visit the 250 year old town of Dunham to Cowansville and Knowltown and camp on the shores of lac Brome. Our last day takes us to the shores of Memphremagog Lake and Abbey Saint-Benoit-du-lac, operated by Benedictine monks. We’ll bus back to Quebec City, the centre of Gallic culture in North America.