Yesterday we announced our participation to the BCG500 – The Gravel Bikepacking Challenge 500, a challenge of 500 km and 5500 m elevation gain on the Eastern Townships cross-country roads! Staring August 14 at 7 am the participants have 6 days to complete the challenge in complete autonomy, with no assistance.

The purpose of this challenge is for cyclists to discover the Eastern Townships as they pedal along lesser known yet magnificent roads. Roads that lead to explore typical villages of the area and to meet local merchants. For two girls in the midst of developing a new line of adventure cycling trips throughout Quebec, the challenge became an opportunity and a driving force to push us to pedal as many dirt roads in Quebec as possible. First, to train and second, during the challenge. Since we are good at math, we did 1 + 1 and paid our registration!

As if the challenge was not big enough, Geneviève set us the goal to complete it in 4 days. Why do it in 6 when you can do it in 4!  Gen has been my boss for 12 years so, no choice, I listen 😉 even if the anticipation of long days (125 km / days), long climbs (days with + 1500 m of elevation gain), pain in the legs and fatigue that lengthens the road gives me a little dizziness.

Without assistance also means being able to repair our bikes ourselves. Oh well, here is an additional challenge, mastering the art of bike mechanics which neither of us know much about now. Last week, I had to change my first rear wheel tube. A first small victory! It is thanks to these forced learnings, and let us not be too rash, a bike mechanics course that we will learn to know our two-wheeled partners well enough to give them the care they need to get us to the finish line.

Neither of us being athletes, me even less than her, we rely on our strength of character and some candys to get us to the finish line. 20 years for Gen and 12 years for me working for Windigo Aventure has forged our strength of character, determination, and resilience. Operating adventure trips in the four corners of North America brings its own set of challenges. This cycling adventures will be just one more to face together.

Well, strength of character is probably not enough to ride 500 km and as it surely takes some leg muscles and cardio, we train a little in the meantime.

My first ride this spring was in the Centre-du-Québec region. A not too long square to get in shape for a first of the season and which offers the opportunity to add a hike to the top of Mont-Ham. The road conditions were beautiful and the agricultural landscapes at the top of the valleys contributed to take my breath away once at the top of the hills. During this sunny Sunday of early May, I passed more cows than cars: clearly one of the advantages of swapping the road bike for the gravel bike and riding cross-country roads.

Want to try the road? HERE!

The Centre-du-Québec region has so much to offer to Gravel riders: from intermediate to elite level, the Véloroute des Appalaches has 10 loops that take you on country roads between valleys and summits.  For the itineraries it’s HERE!

If you choose to lock up your bike and venture out on the trails of Mont-Ham I strongly suggest the Intrepid trail: a cardio, sporty and slightly athletic climb. The ascent lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes: 365 meters of elevation gain over only 1.7 km with a final rugged section before its spectacular rocky summit. The 360 view allows you to admire the route you’ve pedal and the one that remains. To return, take the panoramic trail which allows a gradual descent. Your knees will thank you for this attention just before getting back on your bike.

I will share with you in the coming weeks my different trips on the roads of Quebec hoping to inspire you to ride on our forest and farm roads. Next week, I’ll share my favorite roads in the Laurentians.

More soon


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