Bonjour Bromont in Quebec
10 Sep 2014
After seven bike parks across New England, the East Coast Road Trip finally took us in to Canada. And not just any part of Canada – Vive la France and all that Quebecois stuff! Time to dust off the old French language skills from way too many years ago and see if we could ‘Bonjour’ our way around some trails with a little Gallic flair! It wasn’t far to go from East Burke, and you’ll be glad to hear we didn’t have any rubber glove issues at the border! When you first roll up to Bromont resort there’s obviously a lot more going on than just mountain biking. The resort buildings are all flowery colours, and the very obvious water park sits just behind with all the slides on full display – we knew we’d end up in there at some point in the visit!
The ECRT crosses the border in to Canada for a week or so.
We started out with a guided tour of the trails with Fred Bernard, head of Bromont Patrol in both summer and winter. The peak of Mount Brome stands at 1,863 feet, and there are 2 sides of the hill with bike trails. The main lift runs up from the parking and resort area, but from there you can drop down on to the ‘back’ side of the mountain, to a different lift with it’s own separate parking and ticket area. However be warned, this lift, and the trails on this side of the mountain, are only open on the weekends. There are plenty of signs to stop you inadvertently dropping down a trail that leaves you stranded, but it’s still good to know as there are trails on this side that you will definitely want to ride, so if you only get one day to visit then make sure it’s a Saturday or Sunday! The chairlifts on both sides are equipped with bike trays. But during the week, as rider numbers are lower, they actually run a smaller (and slower) parallel chairlift to combine with the mountain toboggan traffic. And for this, the lift crew will load your bike for you, hooked on the back of the chairs.
The colorful Bromont Resort.
The trail map is printed with 2 sides as well, although both sides cover the whole mountain. The difference is that one side presents the main bike park trails, with all standards, and the other side presents what are considered the progression sequences at Bromont – the ones to ride if you’re just starting out, or are beginning to move on from a basic newbie. And with that in mind, we happened to land at Bromont on one of the Rocky Mountain Initiation/demo days called Ini-descent (downhill initiation). This is a great opportunity to get started in the sport, as it basically provides free instruction with Justin, Stephane, Annie or Alex, Rocky Mountain/Procycle reps that know the bikes and know the Bromont trails. They run these demo days 3 or 4 times a season so there’s more than one chance to get started. And for info, the normal progression sequence is La Grande Douch (21), La Ligne Verte (56), and La Pittoresque (51). After that, fill yer boots!
All aboard the main lift at Bromont.
In the afternoon we hooked up with a few guys from the local bike brand Xprezo Bikes, to shoot some riding on probably the most popular trail at Bromont, No.7 Bing Bang. Xprezo Sales Director Antoine Larose, Production Manager Philippe Benoit, and Antoine’s girlfriend Catherine Petre, bombed down the honors, and a massive thank you has to go out to Fred and Delphine Dumas, who supported us the whole way down with ATVs for moving the equipment and us!
A helpful map of the whole bike park at the top of the lift.
There’s a very well established bike park team at Bromont, and we got the lowdown on the overall bike park direction from Johann Dumont-Baron - Trail Crew Head for a number of years now. Jason Decelles is the chief builder and a team of 8 others supports him. Although not all are full time, this still makes a team of 10, which is comfortably one of the bigger trail crews on the East Coast. It’s a very rocky mountain, we spotted 3 riders with flat tires just on the first day, so it takes a lot of work to build and maintain using dirt. There are a few ‘dirt pits’ on the mountain where the crew can get hold of it to build features and control erosion, but this of course involves moving it around the mountain first – a lot of work! They recently moved around 200 tons for working on trail 9 Boomerang (which opened in August), creating some constant radius berms with small tabletops to act as a next progression trail from beginner to intermediate.
Plenty of options off the top.
Other recent trail work includes a new section on the La Pittoresque trail, providing 2 different lines, including a new jump line established which takes you in and out of the berms on the old trail. Just keep an eye out for other riders when you rejoin the original one! Here’s a little video of the trail crew giving it a test…
Otherwise, the aim for 2014 at least, has been to control erosion, add features, and otherwise improve the general flow of the existing trails, rather than developing any brand new one’s that are not really needed at this stage. And their general approach to the trails is to make them more accessible to more people. Bromont averages about 20,000 riders per summer, but with such proximity to Montreal there’s scope for more. However, many of the trails are old school tech-gnar, narrow and rooty, and steep in places. With frequent use and natural erosion, these black diamond trails get more difficult to ride year on year, and Bromont feels the trend here is actually away from the trails that need full-on 8-inch travel downhill bikes. So development is leaning towards trails that cater towards the enduro, or all-mountain market. It’s still downhill, but is less hardcore and more accessible to those without a big-hit bike. Time will tell…
One of the great wooden features on the Bing Bang trail.
One of the many super fast rollers and takeoffs on Bing Bang.
There are plenty of other trails in the area, and the guys work closely with the Bromont Municipal Parks and Trails, for discussing trail development throughout the region, although the bike park trail crew is not responsible for these other trails. There is a separate map that you can pick up – the Carte Topographique des Sentiers Municipaux de Bromont! There’s a great XC trail called C1 that runs all the way round the back of Mt Brome. And we were told that the C14 trail is an awesome excavator built flow trail that’s a local’s favorite. There are basically loads of other trails on the mountain – you just need time to explore and maybe a bit of local knowledge!
The big wooden bridge jump at the base - right under the lift.
Of course we couldn’t come to Bromont and not check out the official dish – Poutine! A big pile of fries, gravy and cheese curd – with various additional toppings that you can choose, pretty much along the same lines as a pizza. We drove in to the nearest big town of Granby to check out Chez Bens – a famous poutine fast food place which did not disappoint. You’ll just have to offset the damage with broccoli for about a week!
The amazing poutine at Chez Bens.
Rolling in to the finish area.
The guys from the Ini-Descent head back up for another lap.
One final launch to get sideways over the bridge.