Photography & Words: Andy Vathis
Riders: From Rocky Mountain
Vaea Verbeeck and Alex Volokhov, with Pinkbike Presenter Christina Chappetta
The mountain biking scene in Québec City has been flourishing over the past few years and the trail associations aren't missing any opportunities, ready to accommodate the increased trail traffic and specific needs of different riders. Québec doesn’t have the elevation of the Rockies, nor does it offer any real alpine or exposed terrain, but it is just as challenging and beautiful to ride through. If the legendary Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup is anything to go by, there is no shortage of gnar, either. Everything you dream to ride is a short car ride from the city. While you're passing through, stop in to visit historic Old Québec and all it has to offer.
Québec City's rich history doesn't begin with the European explorers some 400 years ago. The Algonquin and Iroquois First Nations were well established in the area well before the French, with extensive knowledge about navigating the surrounding tough terrain, including the complex river systems and frigid cold winters. It was that knowledge that allowed them to survive in such a climate. A few hundred years later, the land has changed hands numerous times, yet the region's geography has stayed raw. Québec City's surrounding area is lined with thick forests, big hills, and a lot of rock. It takes a certain type of person to be able to adapt and live in harmony with such challenging terrain, and the now inhabitants have proven they can do just that.
The mountain bike scene faced a few growing pains over the years here in Québec City before finding its feet. Developing the sport not only meant selling it to the people, and helping riders find places to ride was important. The motivated few that kick-started the movement volunteered their time and worked with ski hills during the summer months to begin moving dirt and shaping trails. With a steady increase in interest over the years and the growing lust to explore the outdoors, associations and clubs eventually created a huge community of riders, athletes, and tourism boards that have helped further push the sport in the Province into what it is today. The Québecois are hellbent on outdoors sports. It's only natural that they took to mountain biking with such passion.
West of Québec City lies the quiet region of Portneuf. It’s an area scattered with small towns that notably share a history with the Nionwetsïo indigenous domain of the Huron-Wendat Nation. Before becoming one of the Province’s premiere riding and outdoors destinations, Vallée Bras du Nord was a hunting and fishing ground for hundreds of years that sprawled into the valley where now stands the welcome centre to the Shannahan trail head. The land is oozing with rich foliage, natural features, and countless kilometres of trail.
The ‘VBN’ trail network is based in the town of Saint-Raymond and is split between two sectors. The Saint-Raymond and the aforementioned Shannahan area combine for well over 100 kilometres of trail that is meticulously maintained by the VBN cooperative staff members. There are a number of other activities to explore and enjoy while there that span over the four seasons such as hiking, a via ferrata and canyoning, fat biking, and backcountry skiing tours in the winter. The Shannahan sector offers plenty of lodging choices for mountain bikers: yurts, shelters, cottages and camping. For those looking for a resort experience, the Saint-Raymond sector drops in right behind the Roquemont hotel and microbrewery, perfect for the après experience, traditional Québecois dishes, and multi-day rides.
The Saint-Raymond trails offer a mix of flowy single track and technical descents that cater to every level of rider. Trails that begin at the Roquemont are flowy, and if you are looking to catch some air or tackle steeper terrain, the tracks towards Mont Laura will definitely get the job done. The Saint-Raymond area offers varied enduro-style riding, with short uphills and descents. The manicured tracks there are filled with berms and lips to keep it interesting and have you coming back for more. This sector is closest to the city center that includes the conveniences you might find in a bigger city.
The crew getting a hearty breakfast in before a long day's ride.
Map checks here are pretty essential considering the vast number of trails to link up.
Party trains through the mixed green forest. This section features a rare commodity of loam through natural terrain. Don't be fooled, though. There are more rocks ahead.
Flow and more flow. The builders have worked hard to create a trails that not only look great but allow for progression at any level.
Alex making the most of his air time.
The girls looking for the perfect poutine stop in town.
The local 'casse-croute' or snack bar, Ti-Oui, is the place for a solid classic poutine.VBN Secteur Saint-Raymond mountain biking trails
Despite being close to the city, the Shannahan region offers a true backcountry experience. Big rocks and granite slabs have all been taken into considerations while developing the network. The trails span up and around the rapids, adding natural water features to the experience, and with some clever rock placements, most of it feels untouched by any shovels or machinery.
The way to the Shannahan welcome center is a long twisty road that passes fields and farm land.
There are a couple waterfalls to visit and hang out at while playing in the woods. The Delaney falls can be found at the Southernmost end of the network.
Can't say no to trail-side maple butter!
There are a number of trails that are a must-do while visiting VBN and La Legende is high on that list. It's a bit of a climb out to the top but the way down is very worth it.
Time for apres-bike at the Roquemont after an epic ride.
A well-deserved beer and meal after two days of exploring what VBN had to offer. In the warmer months, there are plenty of spots to pedal to for a quick dip in the river and stop for a packed lunch break. This is undoubtedly a multi-day destination if you want the full experience. We covered some mainstay tracks but there are many kilometres to go. The Neilson, for example, is one of the Shannahan sector's best-known trails, and it can take a whole day to pedal through for some. Our plans now have us heading east, just 30 minutes away, towards the trail networks in Lac Beauport.VBN Secteur Shannahan mountain biking trails
Pinkbike would like to thank de Quebec City Mountain Bike
, Rocky Mountain bikes
, Sentiers du Moulin
, Empire 47
, Massif de Charlevoix
et Vallee Bras-du-Nord