It wasn’t too long ago that winter and cycling had a relationship of inconvenience made palatable thanks to the indoor spin class. Then along came the fat bike and things would never be the same, cycling became a year round activity. It didn’t stop there, the mountain biking community was not about to give up their good times in the forest and the only thing standing between them and single track was a few feet of snow. Where there is a will there is a way, and the effort to bring fat bikes into the woods began. At first it was slow going, packing snow down with snowshoes and dragging tires through the woods. Eventually machines took over the task, trail networks began popping up and just like that fat biking was no longer just a way to get through winter but something to look forward to.
Fat bike tourism, not sure that it’s thing yet, but if there is one place in Canada that the term can already be applied to it is Quebec’s Eastern Townships. With a handful of groomed fat bike trail networks already in existence and the area’s established winter tourism infrastructure developed around skiing, the time for a fat bike road trip is now and The Eastern Townships are the place to be .
So where to ride ? Here are a few suggestions.
Plein Air Sutton - Sutton
When you think of winter in the Eastern townships you think of Sutton. The skiing, the village, the winter charm and fat biking? You bet ya. The Plein Air Sutton organization jumped head first into summer mountain bike trail development over the past few years and it’s no surprise the effort would carry over to winter fat biking. With a historic log cabin to hang out in, a Snowdog grooming the trail and a fleet of rentals at your disposal, every thing you need for an awesome day awaits you on the trails.
Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook
If you haven’t experienced the summer mountain bike trails at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook, you are missing out. But as good as the trails are here in the summer I would say winter is even better. Another Snowdog roams the forest here, buffing the trails into a winter playground. Keep an eye out for the annual La Creature fat biking festival, a good time to visit with guided tours, a cross-country race and a dual slalom event. Bike rentals are available and you can even spend the night in a heated tent or cabin.
Mont-Bellevue - Sherbrooke
Located in the heart of the city of Sherbrooke, Mont-Bellevue offers views of the city below and an amazing maze of snow trails for your fat bike enjoyment. Everything from flowy single-track, to berms, jumps and a few spots left el natural to challenge your skill and studded tires.
Parc national du Mont-Orford
There is an adventurous feel to the fat bike experience at Parc national du Mont-Orford. While most trail networks are made up of shorter sections that you can link up for a longer ride, the 10 kilometre loop at Mont-Orford definitely has a backcountry vibe to it. A couple warming cabins along its length offer a chance to rest, warm up and refuel. For the 2019 season Mont-Orford has expanded its fat bike trail network to over 30 kilometres. Fat bike rentals are available.
Centre national de cyclisme de Bromont
With the Centre National de Cyclisme del within its town limits, Bromont is a summer and now winter cycling hot spot. Start off at Mont Oak, a compact system of beautifully groomed single track with flow, berms and jump lines. Next, the trails bordering the Bromont ski resort offer everything on a grander scale, big ups, big downs and a few spectacular views as a bonus. Out here you will definitely benefit from some local knowledge to find your way around.
There you have it, fat bike tourism; not sure that it’s a thing yet but it should be, and Quebec’s Eastern Townships are ready for it.