"Hey Dad, I want to mountain bike."
Don't get me wrong, I couldn't be happier that my teenage offspring has finally expressed interest in an activity we can do together. It’s been a long time coming, BMX, skateboarding, hockey, all took their turns occupying the younger years as I patiently waited. So yes, this is a good moment, the disappointment adheres to the realization that we now have to support two rides and I am sure to be relinquished to hand me down status, no new stuff for me, "crap."
"Hey Dad, I want to race Enduro."
Don't get me wrong I couldn't be happier that my teenage offspring has expressed interest in enduro racing but with no enduro mountain biking in Ontario, the nearest Canadian race we can locate is the Gaap Enduro, a thousand kilometres away at Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec. What you gonna do? A good reason for a family vacation I’d say. We chose “the glass is half full” approach and pad the race date with a two week Quebec mountain bike adventure.
Stop one was in East Hereford and the Circuits Frontières trails. Awesome riding, but it ended with a broken shifter/brake assembly costing us a day scouring bike shops in search of parts to no avail unfortunately; and now with race practice just an hour away we have to turn to some chicken wire and zip-tie magic, a repair that I am proud to say is holding to this day.
With race registration, out of province license, plus lift cost, this might just be the most expensive first race ever but the sun is shining, the terrain is awesome and the smiles as they say, priceless. Practice goes off without a hitch. Next day’s race, hmmm, not so much.
What a difference a few hours make, a steady rain overnight and the temperature dropping to single digits. It’s early August and people are sporting long sleeves and windbreakers, but hey the race must go on. High fives and we part ways, he heads uphill to the start of stage one and we set up the cheering gallery at the stage end. Time passes as does rider after rider. Something is wrong, taking too long, parental instincts kick in making the mind toy with the worst. Suddenly, there he is, the ride by is accompanied by a barrage of words that I am shocked are part of his fifteen-year-old vocabulary, the main jest being “flat”. The post race recollection was much more humorous in a chock it up to experience kind of way.
“I lined up at the start, the elite men went first they all sprinted for the first turn so I did the same but the first turn was all slick with mud and I slid out into the rocks.”
“I got untangled and grabbed the bike and I heard a hhhssssssss, flat.”
First race, first turn, first flat repair, lol—live and learn. The rest of the day went well with mid-pack finishes and no more drama. Good times, a good event right down to the party in the forest at the end of the day.
With the race day out of the way and with lift passes in hand, it’s time to have a look around Mont Saint Anne’s vast trail network. Already aware of its world famous downhill and XC race courses, we are more interested in the terrain in between. With the recent growth in popularity of the long travel trail bike, Mont Saint Anne has been busy developing enduro bike worthy trails that will have you grinning all day. There is plenty to choose from and really you can’t go wrong. That said the newer trails, like personal favourite La Yable, and the newest addition La Bouttaboutte, do possess that flow fun goodness that makes future development something to look forward to. You know you are having a good day when you sprint to catch the last ride up to the top for just one more lap.
Being a resort destination, the day to day existence at Mont Sainte Anne is easy. Accommodation option from condos to motels or as in our case, camping are all available. Food, attractions, yeah that too. It’s been a whirlwind three days, bike repairs, race action, too many trails to explore, time sure flies when you’re having fun.
Mont Sainte Anne, to you I say thumbs up, Quebec one question, what’s next?
For more info visit - Mont Sainte Anne