Having participated in several similar events in Canada and overseas, I am not afraid to say that the Quebec Singletrack Experience is on par with the most famous races, both for the quality of its organization and for the excellence of its routes. The event takes place over six days and six stages, around the beautiful city of Quebec, in Canada, from August 14 to 19, 2022. Participants can attend alone or in teams of two, and do it as a race or as a ride. Even e-bikes are welcome, in ride mode, of course. Let’s take a look at five reasons why QSE should be on every serious biker’s bucket list.
1. Trails That Wow!
This is really what sets the QSE apart from other races. The Quebec City area is a mecca for mountain biking. Mont-Sainte-Anne already has an international reputation, having hosted the World Cup or World Championships 30 years in a row. Le Massif de Charlevoix is a major ski resort with a spectacular new trail network. Vallée Bras-du-Nord hides breathtaking trails in a wilderness setting. Sentiers du Moulin and Empire 47 are filled with amazing enduro trails built by passionate trail builders amidst stunning scenery.
The QSE courses use 100% mountain bike specific trails, worthy of the best in the world. Imagine huge slabs of granite, and fast, flowy descents featuring elevated turns, bridges, and impressive walkways. There are no death climbs that require you to push your bike; just nice, rolling climbs at about a 5% grade. And you won’t find heavily eroded or poorly maintained sections or downhill traps that could cause accidents, either.
Except for one stage, where the start on a forest road allows riders to spread out, there are absolutely no monotonous sections, no filler, and no paved roads. Just exciting trails to ride, sometimes along rivers with waterfalls and cascades, with spectacular views of the mountains and the Laurentian forest, or the majestic St. Lawrence River.
At each stage, the sequence of trails makes the most of the area trails. You come out of one section screaming “wow!,” catch your breath, and jump right back into another exciting singletrack trail.
2. Historic and Beautiful Base Camp of Quebec City
What’s great about the QSE is that the base camp doesn’t move, and is located in the heart of the beautiful, European-like city of Quebec, the only fortified city in North America, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage treasure. On the first evening, the group of Qué-Bikers (as the participants are called) enjoy a procession to discover the old city’s historic sites and fortifications, culminating in a visit to the Citadel overlooking the city and the St. Lawrence River.
The recipe of the QSE is now copied by other events: a single base camp, which does not move. Qué-Bikers have breakfast under the tent in the morning, then board a luxury bus that takes them to the destination of the day. The trip lasts at best 20 minutes, at worst 90. Back to the camp after the stage, the group meets for dinner and podiums and everyone can take advantage of the free time to visit the old city of Quebec, accessible by foot. No need to pack in the morning to go to a new camp each day. Your stuff stays at the base camp, where you live in a campground or in your van. Looking for a little more comfort? The area is full of hotels and airbnb apartments within walking distance.
3. Accessible Courses With Fun for Everyone
Each stage is 20 to 25 miles long, with elevation gains of around 3,000 feet, presenting an interesting challenge for seasoned racers, yet still accessible to weekend warriors. The fastest riders finish their days in two or three hours while the slowest ones stretch the fun to four or five hours. It is not the hardest race in the world. It is not a daily death march. It’s an event for mountain bike lovers who want to have plenty of fun day after day. Women, men, old and young mix daily in a relaxed atmosphere. Each day, the racers are entitled to a podium for the cumulative time, as well as for the climb of the day (KOM) and for the descent of the day (Enduro). Those who don’t like to race sign up for the ride mode. They don’t get a measured time, but they get a free cold beer at the end of each stage! E-bikes are welcome in this category.
4. The Friendliest Race Support
Failure, whether mechanical, physical or mental, is one of the possible scenarios in a stage race. If it happens in the QSE, you get a helping hand not seen elsewhere. The S’Quads are a group of volunteer guides who ride with the participants, with the mission of helping them in case of a mishap. They quickly become the best friends of the participants, who can always count on them. Great friendships are born between the S’Quads and the participants at the end of the pack, who are able to benefit from tips and encouragement and finish all their stages with a great sense of accomplishment. In addition, Shimano technicians offer neutral assistance at the feed stations. A Spherik mechanic workshop is also on site at the start/finish zone to repair any damage. They even offer a daily cleaning and lubrication service. How about that? You finish your race, you hand them your bike and enjoy the rest of your day.
5. Friends and Family Are Welcome
A unique concept in the world of stage races, family and friends can be part of the experience… even if they don’t ride! While the Qué-Bikers are having a blast on the trails, the family enjoys the excursions offered at the stage sites or in historic Old Quebec and the surrounding area. Everyone meets for a post-race snack at the finish line or at the base camp to talk about their own experience.
That sums up the event, an unforgettable adventure that I hope you will be able to live soon. Go ahead, live the experience, you will thank me!
For more details and to sign up for the Quebec Singletrack Experience, click here to visit the event website. Registration ends July 20, 2022 and registration for the 2023 event will go live on August 19, 2022.