I remember the first time I went to le parc national de la Mauricie outside of Shawinigan. I was visiting Quebec and rode in on a bus with Neil Young’s greatest hits playing in my headphones. I was watching out the window and thought, “Wow, would this ever be a cool place to ride a bike.” I was five weeks away from finally getting my very first road bike. I had been saving my money for a year to purchase it. Little did I know that one year later, I’d return to live in the area and ride my bike on those very roads on a regular basis. “Le parc,” as we fondly call it, has a twisting, rolling road with lush forests on either side and that passes many lakes. There’s about 60 km of road from end to end. You can make a big loop of it by passing through the surrounding villages, or do out-and-backs if you want to stay in the hills. Some people compare it to the Gatineau Park, but I know “my parc” is in a class of its own.
Hornby Island, B.C., will always be one of my favourite places to ride, ” not only because of the fun trails, but also for the memories and emotions I get upon returning there. It is a special island disconnected from commercialism and the buzz of everyday life with the local independent co-op grocery and farmers market as the hub of everyday life. It is a place I always go to recharge, relax and reconnect with why I fell in love with mountain biking. Away from distractions, I can go ride just for fun on the fast and flowing singletrack that I started mountain biking on during summer visits to our family cabin there. With the amazing mountain bike trails, sandy beaches, beautiful parks and special community, it really is paradise for me.
For me, the nicest road would be along the Saguenay River and into La Baie with the ride up “la robe noire,” the hardest and nicest ride around that area, which I did when I was younger.
Squamish, B.C., is hands down my favourite place to ride in Canada. The amount of work and passion that go into the trail network from builders is at a whole new level. There are always new trails as well as maintained ones right at my doorstep.
I love to train on the roads around Dundas, Ont., which is my home base when I’m in Canada. There are so many great quiet country roads to explore around the area. It’s possible to add variety and difficulty to any loop by riding the short and steep climbs up and down the Niagara Escarpment. My favourite time of year to ride is during the fall when the temperatures are mild and the trees are illuminated by the brilliant fall colours.
Favourite place to ride in Canada? Can I just choose a whole province? B.C. is definitely the at top of my places-to-ride list. If I have to narrow it down, Kamloops and Revelstoke fight for first place. Moving from New Brunswick to B.C., I had my first exposure to the mountains and tall trees in Revelstoke. It has the perfect riding to contrast my highspeed, dry and loose home trails in Kamloops.