Oupelaille! The trail is a lot tougher than expected. However, the mountain biker always chooses trails of this degree of difficulty in the network he usually frequents. In this other center, he is now experiencing emotions that are a little too strong for his liking.

There are more and more beautiful mountain bike centers in Quebec. However, you have to deal with certain disparities: the signage differs from one network to another, a trail that would be considered intermediate for one would be rated very difficult for another. Vélo Québec would like to develop a national network of mountain bikes and oversized tire bikes (fatbikes) to further harmonize the practices of each other.

“We have more and more followers. The activity has become more popular over the past five years, says Mélissa Hébert, project manager at Vélo Québec. Due to the increase in traffic in our networks, we must better regulate the practice. »

The form of this national network remains to be determined. It could be some kind of seal of quality, for example. “It’s too early to tell,” says Ms. Hébert. For the moment, it should be seen as a collaborative approach with our partners in the field, who tell us about their reality and their needs. We take care of standardizing management practices and making them accessible. »

Vélo Québec thus organized a dozen virtual meetings in January and February with representatives of 63 organizations from 14 regions of Québec. A list of the main issues mentioned by the participants in the consultation has been compiled. Top of the list is trail difficulty that is not consistently rated. The organization intends to begin studying this question towards the end of the season.

“It is a site that requires work, notes Ms. Hébert. To begin with, we must validate what is being done elsewhere, both in the country and outside. We will work with our partners in the field to make sure that it fits well and that it is close to reality. »

The second issue among the most often mentioned is the increase in insurance premiums and the increase in the requirements of insurers. This issue clearly jeopardizes the survival of certain networks. Access to standardized procedures and management tools could help them.

“It’s a hot file,” says Mélissa Hébert. I cannot answer you with certainty about the results that a national network could have on this issue, but we are rather confident that it could not harm. It is by standardizing our practices, such as risk recognition and acceptance forms, that we could, we hope, help the situation. »

The lack of courtesy and know-how on the trail was also mentioned. “Mountain biking is an autonomous practice,” recalls Mélissa Hébert. We have more and more followers who are not necessarily aware of how to behave on the trail. »

Vélo Québec is working with the Association des stations de ski du Québec to produce a code of conduct that should be developed at the start of the mountain biking season. This code will be displayed on notice boards at the entrance to the trails. In particular, it will mention the wearing of a helmet and the appropriate protective equipment for the type of activity. It will also discuss the importance of checking the condition of the bike before launching it on the trails, so that it is safe, or the importance of always remaining in control of your bike.

The participants in the consultation also talked about the opportunities that could arise, within the framework of a regional or provincial consultation. “It validates that the idea of ​​a national network is something positive, desirable,” says Ms. Hébert.

Vélo Québec now intends to organize meetings with associations, municipalities and regions (MRC) to broaden the discussion. “The project is off to a good start. »

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