Canada’s tourism department sells British Columbia as the World’s Best Mountain-Biking Destination. They might be right, but I’ll be in Quebec. With hardwood forests, steep fjordlands, and 17th-century cities, the province has European culture and rugged terrain. Plus, it’s just a 90-minute flight from New York City. Three summers ago, I spent a week riding half a dozen trail systems on a west-to-east road trip through Quebec with a group of B.C. mountain-bike junkies. We started with downhill laps an hour east of Montreal at Ski Bromont, a 1,263-foot peak with three chairlifts, 19 downhill trails, and no crowds. Then it was twisting, technical singletrack through the rolling hills of Coaticook Gorge and beginner banked turns at a limestone canyon called Vallée Bras du Nord. But the choicest rides were on the 100 miles of cross-country trails at Mont-Sainte-Anne, a bike-friendly ski resort 45 minutes from Quebec City. An hour after finishing the nine-mile Le Ruissea Rouge loop, I was sipping beer at a bar with views of the Saint Lawrence River on one side and 400-year-old ramparts on the other. Try finding that in B.C.
GET THERE: Fly to Quebec City and set up shop at the Hotel Château-Bromont at Ski Bromont (doubles, US$177). Get your bikes at the mountains’ rental shops (US$60 per day at Ski Bromont; US$116 at Mont-Sainte-Anne).