Jul 4, 2012

Summer Training in Québec

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies has a full race calendar.  Every rider races the National Championships (the Canadians, the Americans, our British rider Emma Grant) except Courteney Lowe from New Zealand.  Her championships are in January.  A few weeks off of racing follows the ''Nationals Block'', but training doesn't stop!

For a girl who loves her Kurt Kinetic Trainer as much as I do, a few indoor interval sessions are inevitable if I want to keep myself satisfied.  I don't make it a habit to sweat buckets on my livingroom floor too often in the summertime, but I like to get my Orbea back on the green machine every once in a while.

I rode in the Parc de la Mauricie on several occasions this year, a national park in the Mauricie region of Quebec that has pristine pavement, oodles of lakes and forests, and gentle rolling terrain.  It's a safe place, a fun place, and a beautiful place to ride.  In the winter I go on a weekly basis for cross country skiing.  I'm in no rush to getting my skis out yet though...

I've been introduced to Les Équerres in Québec City, a reputable loop that everyone who lives in the Capital region of Québec knows.  Now I do to, and I understand why it's so popular.  There are some nice climbs, (longer and steeper than in the Parc) and lots of options to turn off course and add in extra pitches or kilometers. 

When I need an easy spin I head to the South Shore of Québec, to Lévis and ride the bike path that follows the shore of the St. Lawrence River and offers an excellent view of Québec City.  It makes for a 2 hour ride, and when I'm lucky I meet someone to chat with about bikes while I pedal.

In Montréal the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a classic place to do intervals.  The circuit is easily accessible, and half of the road is closed to cars so the loop safe.  It gets busy at the end of the afternoon and on weekends, so it's important to be careful to avoid crashing into roller bladers or riders who are recovering from their last set of efforts, or those who are just out to ''chill''.

Sometimes in the fall when I want a worry free longer-ride, I choose the Petit Train du Nord, a bike path that goes all the way up to Mont Tremblant.  Even though long parts are in gravel, it is more than hard enough to be perfectly suitable for a road bike.  There is no traffic, not a lot of people to navigate around, places to stop and fill up bottles, and of course, it's nice to ride amongst the forests that line the path!

Camilien Houde on the Mont Royal is another classic, it's where the old women's World Cup race used to climb up, and now the men's World Tour races up the ascention in their September race.  Lots of riders like to do repeats on this climb.  When Montréal's public bicycle rental system (Bixi) came into effect in 2009, my first priority was to check out how well they could climb and I took one out to do repeats on the Mont Royal.  Whoever chose the gearing on those 3 speed urban cruisers was wise, they climb like a charm.  A year later I remembered my test and took the bike out to see the Pro Tour racers attack Camilien Houde, because my legs were toast from running up and down the hill.

There are a lot of cool places to ride and train in Québec, it's not tough to find one perfectly suited to my mood or training plan.  My next race is in Bend, OR (Cascade Cycling Classic) but for now I'm going to ride all over La Belle Province!

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