I came back home last Monday after being gone for a little over 5 months. Back to the land of French speaking and Maple Syrup! I have to admit, even though I was really excited to see my family and friends here in Quebec, I was a little worried I would quickly get bored with my training.
Actually, David and I even thought of staying in Colorado, camping out of our Sprinter (camper van) for a month. However, the idea quickly went away, because as much fun as it sounded to keep travelling and discovering new places, I thought it would be really awesome if I didn't suck all summer. I want to perform in the races I'll enter and being home would allow me to rest and recover much better between the training sessions. So, we came back home.
Where I live, in St-Jerome (in the region of the Laurentians, about 30 min North of Montreal), is a great place. There is a 200+Km dirt bike path that passes right in my backyard and there are a couple of very fun trail networks pretty close to home (which you can get to, or connect, from the bike path). But somehow, I was still a little worried about where I would be doing all my intervals and whether or not I would get bored of riding the same thing all summer long.
Here's the thing: In the Laurentians, there are no long climbs. Don't get me wrong, there are A LOT of climbs; just no sustained climbs where you can do intervals on. And that bothered me...I was really starting to wonder how I would make it happen. How did I do it in the past? Also, with no big mountains close to home, and no long trail descents, how would I keep working on my downhill skills?
Well, it turns out that I was only seeing it the wrong way. This week has been amazing. Probably my best week of training in a while. To keep things exciting, David and I did what we never do at home, but always do when we visit a new place; we looked at the map. It sounds ridiculously obvious, but for some reason, I rarely take time to look at the map when I'm home.
3 hours on the road? Go there. 2 hours? That loop. 5 hours? Lets connect a few loops...etc. I know the places, so I never bothered checking the map.
But lately, I received a new Garmin Edge 1000 from the team, so I decided to take advantage of it and use it to its full potential. David and I sat down and spent quite a bit of time exploring the map and building some amazing rides that we put in the Garmin.
So, after all these years, I think I've finally figured out what you need to truly enjoy and appreciate riding in the majestic region of the Laurentians, QC.
- A map: Look for the smallest roads.
- A cyclocross bike: The roads are broken, but with 32mm tires and 45 psi, it is smooth as butter. Plus, it will allows you to explore dirt roads and some small trails.
- A mountain bike: We have really cool trails.
- A pair of CxFever socks: It always helps to add spice to your ride.
We did a couple of 5+ hours rides on the CX bike exploring the "backcountry" of our hometown. We found some amazing roads, a lot of them on dirt or gravel, swerving through thousands of different lakes and rivers. We had to cross some small creeks, shoulder the bikes a few times and connect from a road to another by using some shady trails, but it was awesome. Hundreds of kilometers of places I had never seen before, right there in my backyard! No long climbs, but countless fun steep little hills.
Between those long rides, we hit our favorite trails and smashed some great training rides in there. I had forgotten how much fun the trails are here! No tremendously long downhills, but fast, twisty, rocky, full of roots and steep singletracks. Plus, they built some new trails, so we get to discover new stuff. And there is actually a new long and fast downhill!!
In the end, I'm pretty damn excited to be home! I feel like I have so much to explore again. It was so refreshing to train here and discover new routes that it made me realize how lucky I am to be living here. All I want to do now is to invite my friends to bring them on some rides and show them what we have here.
We might not have big mountains or huge mountain pass roads, but we have many forests with fun trails in them and an infinite amount a beautiful freshwater bodies surrounded by dirt roads that are just waiting to be discovered. And I'm excited to start discovering more of them.