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Famous for its cross-country skiing, the Parc national du Mont-Orford has added a new string to its bow: fat biking. The park has developed a 30 km network of beginner to expert trails. If you’re hoping to initiate yourself to this sport, this is ZE place.
By Simon Diotte
After completing a few kilometres riding a fat bike on a trail marked as easy, I’m completely soaked with sweat, and this, even though the thermometer indicates -12 degrees! I’m exhausted and my heart is about to jump out of my rib cage! As far as winter sports go, I’ve just met my match!
After this little experience, I now have a great respect for fat bikes, described simply as bicycles with oversized tires. Yes, I admit it. For years, I frowned upon the idea of trying this new version of cycling. Riding on snow trails on something other than a snowmobile? Ridiculous! Another bicycle company’s creation, I thought to myself, to sell us their new toys! In winter, we already have cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and alpine skiing. Do we really need these bikes with their fat tires? Honestly?
I did, however, accept to try this contraption in the past, especially to convince myself that my prejudices were totally justifiable. On my first and second outings, I started wavering somewhat, but not enough to make me change my mind. However, since my January outing at the Parc national du Mont-Orford, I’ve literally fallen in love with this winter sport.
Yes, they’re a true delight to ride on a forest trail covered in snow. This was the revelation that came to me while I was fat biking on La Sitelle, a beginner’s trail that starts out at the Centre de découverte and the Cerisier service centre. The 3.5 km loop doesn’t offer a single reprieve: up, down, up, down! Although I was totally worn out, I felt quite exhilarated when I rode down each hillock.
The downhill parts of the ride and the slaloming between trees have us experience some truly euphoric moments. Plus, we’re not as afraid of crashing as with cross-country skiing, when the slightest mistake can send us to the ground in very inelegant ways. Along with the great qualities of mountain biking in below zero-degree weather, La Sitelle also gives us plenty to admire as far as constantly changing landscapes are concerned. We discover a mature forest of conifers in the first tier, then birch, ponds and frost covered waterways throughout. The only parts of my body that weren’t suffering during the outing were my eyes!
After a short initiation, all my muscles were painfully moaning! So, I decided to store my snow bike and go back for some cross-country skiing (I love skiing on trail 11 so much!) However, I just can’t wait to head back out on the park’s intermediate trails, Le Monarque and La Chanterelle, or the park’s extreme trail, L’ Amanite, and not die from a heart attack. This will be my challenge for 2020!
The Parc national du Mont-Orford offers fat bike rentals, four of them are children’s size. A family outing sounds tempting? Your access to the fat bike trails costs $7.50 per day, plus park access rights. Everything is free (access and rentals) for teens and kids 17 years old and younger.