Since Strava crowns made their way into the woods, the online ride logging platform has become the de facto measuring stick for trail speed. Post-ride trail talk can now be backed up by raw numbers that are, well, mostly accurate. Outside of the occasional drift and glitch, the social riding website is a great way to test your speed, and try improve, even if you never want to line up for a race. But where are Canada’s most competitive segments?
We combed through the sites extensive catalogue of ride data to find out. Where are the most people recording their rides? How many people will you be up against in your hunt for QOM/KOM crowns and that all-powerful little online thumbs up from your friends? Read on for 12 most ridden Strava segments across Canada, and see which one’s you want to test yourself against in 2019!
There was a few simple rules for the list. Only one trail per city or town, and stats are based entirely on publicly available Strava rides. So, if you don’t see your favourite section of singletrack named below, you can congratulate your local scene on riding purely for the joy of it, instead of always racing against the clock.
Still think we missed a trail? Let us know where we should be riding in the comments below!
1) Heart of Darkness – Whistler Bike Park – 4408 riders this year.
It’s should be no surprise that Whistler Bike Park topped the charts. A massive 4,408 different riders recorded their rip down Heart of Darkness in Whistler’s Fitzsimmons zone this year alone. That’s of 89,924 rides by 12,190 people over the history of the Strava segment, and who knows how many more unrecorded rides over the trails lifespan. Even if a solid percentage of visitors don’t record their ride on Strava, the international mountain bike destination has a huge volume of riders from around the world traveling to ride the bike park, plus the casual rider just trying it while they’re in town. Second on the charts was Crank It Up, which can feed into Heart of Darkness.
2) 50 Shades – Squamish, B.C.
Just south of Whistler and just north of Vancouver, Squamish might have been overshadowed by it’s more famous neighbours in the past, but it’s clearly not a secret any longer. 3,439 different riders ascended colour saturated singletrack of 50 Shade of Green with Strava running this year. Of those rider, 3,135 headed back down Rupert. A very close second to 50 Shades, 3,432 different riders launched themselves down the machine built and manicured berms of Half Nelson, on the other side of town.
3) Bobsled – North Vancouver, B.C.
Down in North Vancouver on the legendary trails of the North Shore, 1,988 different riders hit up Bobsled. The lone green run on Fromme was added by NSMBA to provide a more accessible option for Lower Mainland riders looking for an easier entry into the notoriously technical trail network. The trail is hugely popular among newer riders and as a cruisy warm-up lap for more experienced riders before they drop into the gnar on the next lap. It should be noted, the access road segment (Gate to 1st Switchback) was excluded, since it’s not a trail. But the main route to singletrack has been ridden 125,711 times by 9,660 different riders since people started sharing their rides with the world.
4) Gnarly Berms – Albion Hills, Caledon, Ont.
Moving away from the west coast, Albion Hills was the next most Strava’d place in Canada in 2018. Gnarly Berms takes top honours in the network, with 1,772 different riders hunting for virtual crowns and kudos on the the twisty trail. Just behind, Full Pinecone Express saw 1,719 riders, while 1,665 riders conquered the Albion Witch.
5) Space Nugget – Cumberland, B.C.
Back out West in Cumberland, B.C. on Vancouver Island, the tiny town with a big trail network, 1,553 flew down Space Nugget. That’s in a town with a population of just 3,750 people. Mountain biking has been fully embraced by the community, and riders from around the Island and mainland make it a destination for their riding adventures. Many of these rides finish on Space Nugget, upping the flowy trails numbers.
6) The Don: Ridge Leaside Bridge to Cricket Tree – Toronto, Ont.
In the Don Valley, Toronto’s wooded oasis from the urban jungle, 1,495 people recorded their ride on The Don: Ridge Leaside Bridge to Cricket Tree segment. There may not be any mountains in Toronto, but this super buffed slice of urban singletrack delivered a high speed, winding cross country escape from the city streets for over a thousand Toronto riders in 2018.
7) Big Butter from the East- Durham Forest, Uxbridge, Ont.
Just a little bit north east of Toronto, Big Butter from the East was the most hotly contested Strava segment in Uxbridge’s Durham Forest. 1,190 people tried to earn crowns on the flowy trail in 2018. At 0.45km km, it’s not the longest segment on the list. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in flow, with just enough technical challenges to keep it interesting. And, with World Cup racer Haley Smith calling Uxbridge home, you’ll have to be pretty speedy to steal this segment.
8) Georgetown Singletrack Climb – Canmore Nordic Centre, Alta.
Canmore Nordic Centre is has hosted Canadian cross country national championships for the last two seasons, and several times in the past. Big mountains, technical trails, and big views make Canmore a destination for riders from across Canada. That mix of racers, from Nationals and a series of ABA XC and marathon races, and riding saw four short of a thousand riders ascend Georgetown Singletrack Climb this year alone. At an elevation of 1,400m, it’s the highest segment on the list.
9) Dirty Mattress – Edmonton, Alta. (924 this year)
A few hours north of Canmore, 924 Edmonton area riders started their ride in the cities winding river valley trails by dropping into Dirty Mattress. Don’t let the name put you off. This short, winding section of singletrack is a great way to start your river valley ride.
10) Chemin Du Moulin Climb – Sentiers du Moulin, Lac Beauport, Que.
Sentiers du Moulin is starting to gain attention from outside Quebec lately. The network featured in the Quebec Singletrack Experience and Marin Wildside Enduro Series. More recently, the network popped up under the tires of EWS racer Andréane Lanthier Nadeau. Many of those rides, 900 last year, to be exact, start on the Chemin du Moulin Climb segment.
11) La Cairn – Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.
Mont-Sainte-Anne is known around the world as the location of the longest continually running World Cup race venue, so there’s so fast names on this leaderboard. La Cairn takes top honours as most competitive Strava segment, though, with 817 riders descending it this year alone. If you’re looking for a place to sneak a KOM/QOM in 2019, though, this might not be the best choice. UCI mountain bike world championships land in MSA for a record third time in 2019, so there’ll be hoards of fast riders sampling the trails leading up to the race.
12) Skull Trail Ascent – Victoria, B.C.
Just shy of 700 riders started their ride at Harland trail network in Victoria, B.C. by climbing Skull Trail. This trail recently benefited from work by SIMBS volunteers, so even more riders will likely climb via this route next year Vancouver Island. Looking through the leaderboard, there’s the Strava pseudonym (Stravonym?) of some longstanding national team athletes up there, so it could be hard to make progress up the ranks on this one. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself …