Take your pick: adrenaline packed or slow and contemplative?
On the slopes and foot of Mount Brome, the great outdoors reigns with over 100 km of trails running through forests, fields and summits. There’s nothing better than an outdoors marathon – mountain biking, hiking, running and climbing- to discover all the area attractions.
By Simon Diotte
9 A.M. I arrive in the parking of Mount Oak for the first segment of my outdoors marathon: The mountain bike segment. Although I’m barely awake, dozens of mountain bikers are heading off on the trails.
I don’t know what the people in Bromont put in their coffee but they’re highly motivated. They’re so cranked up that they come with their kids. They send them off on the trails like birds throwing their fledglings from the nest.
I thought that in Quebec we overprotected our kids. Well, not here! The presence of these kids doesn’t reassure me. I’m an outdoor type of guy, but I’m still new at mountain biking. I’ve only gone out a few times.
Each time I was pretty scared. Hitting a tree, to then fall on a rock, doesn’t really appeal to me! Today, I’m giving myself another chance. Marie Allaire, from Tourisme Bromont, will be my guide. Although Bromont has numerous trails reserved for experts, Mount Oak, one of the three networks of this municipality with a population of 7,000, is the perfect destination to initiate yourself to the sport. “Here, anybody who can pedal a bike can ride,” she reassures me.
I get on my double-suspension bike, I start out and…WOW! On the hill, the trails are wide and the obstacles are not suicidal. My bike takes the the bumps as if I was Michael Kingbury. On the Fruit Loop trail, which undulates like the devil’s tail, I realize all the fun this sport offers. I can’t wait to come back… with my daughters. “If Mountain biking is a religion in Bromont, then I’m converting!”
After two hours of riding, I need an energy boost. Marie Allaire takes me to Mûre, a new business located at the same address as Satya Yoga, at just 5 minutes from Mount Oak. The owner, Ariane Querry, concocts all kinds of fresh vegetable juices to replenish your system. I swallow a mixture of carrots, oranges, apples and ginger, after which I feel ready to tackle Mount Horizon, the second segment of my marathon.
I get in my car and a few minutes later, I arrive at the start of a trail called the Divine and meet my guide, Félix Bernard of les Amis des sentiers de Bromont. This organization takes care and maintains the enormous municipal trail network shared by mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Starting on Missisquoi Road, a 20-minute walk takes us to the belvedere of Mount Horizon with its lovely view overlooking the landscape to the east.
On the picnic table, I share a delicious lunch from the Canaël bakery, a local institution, then I take the time to digest my meal by completing the Cumulus trail loop, which runs through a beautiful, mature forest where a tribe of chipmunks live. An hour of feeling pure Zen after an all-terrain mountain biking experience, really feels good!
The next segment: running along the trail network around Lake Gale. The ultra-marathon runner, Alister Gardner has the mission of setting the pace for me. Originally from Great-Britain, he has already completed two ultramarathons of 160 km. Me: Zero. It doesn’t matter, after my mountain biking experience, I’m scared of nothing!
This athlete regularly spends his time in this well-preserved forest. What makes him the happiest is when he’s able to run up Mount Gale at full speed to reach its top altitude of 358 metres, and run back down to jump in the lake for a swim. And then, he does the whole thing over again. “It feels so wonderful to refresh myself here after such a great effort,” he tells me. As for myself, we agree to go up just once. Following a “granny” beat, but still running, my honour remains intact. With each stride, I admire the charm of these natural surroundings. A true treasure.
My ultimate test: The Backbone, block climbing (bouldering) centre, to climb on 16-foot-high walls without a safety rope! This Bromont Centre, which opened last April is a dream come true for Véronique Marseille, 29 years old and a passionate climber. Persuasive, she convinced her dad, mom, and brother to start this business with her. “It’s super stimulating to see the locals get on board with us with our project,” rejoices the mother of the clan, Andrée. All the little hands have a great time and the adults can both train physically and technically here.
I climb over a few blocks and then suddenly, it’s 5 P.M., mission accomplished! I finished my outdoors marathon and I’m still in one piece! A few minutes later, I’m finally sitting on the terrace of Edgar Hyperlodge, the restaurant and pub of the West Shefford microbrewery, drinking a well-deserved cold glass of beer!
Download the trail map: Sentiersbromont.org