Trés Bon Trails at Bromont
11 Sep 2014
We were severely impacted by the weather on this stop – with a good couple of days of very heavy rain that closed the bike park for a day. However as luck would have it, the water park remained open – I mean once you’re in it you’re already wet, who cares about a bit of rain right?! And it just happens to be awesome fun as well – deserted on a bad weather day so absolutely zero queue for any slide, although some are not open, or only open at specific times of day. A bike park day pass is $40, but this being Canada you have to remember to add the tax, so it actually comes out at $46. You can add $13 making it $61 including tax and you get full access to the water park as well. So if you hammer out the laps for 4-5 hours there’s still time to go for a slide around and make one massive day of it!
Hugo and Philippe go large over the stream on La Zigzag.
When we finally got back on the trails, we first hit up the backside of the mountain and the La ZigZag trail (52). This is the main jump trail at Bromont, starting with sweeping berms and tabletops that get bigger and bigger, before incorporating some kick-ass wooden features that launch you over a stream or gulley. We were joined for some filming by Hugo Langevin and Philippe Ricard, sponsored by Cycle Performance / Niquet, and by Lama Cycles / NS Bikes, both of whom are on the Bromont Trail Crew, looking to get in some final practice laps before heading to Mont Sainte Anne for the World Cup on the coming weekend. And in a nod to the bike parks overall direction, both guys had no worries launching the big stuff on their efficient looking enduro bikes!
Just in case it wasn't clear - there's a gap...
We also found time to explore a few other trails. Rock’n’Roll is a steep rocky, technical black diamond trail, which pretty much sums up the black trails at Bromont. But you need to remember that the trail grading system here is like Europe, not the USA. So rather than the green, blue, black, double black, that you might be used to, Bromont actually grades their trails as green blue, red, black, when progressing from beginner, to intermediate, advanced and then expert. So black here equates to a double black in the States. The ‘red’ section of the Radical Trail (20) is a great trail – almost a perfect halfway house between a red flow trail and a black technical one, fast, and at a perfect gradient. And we also found a daunting alternate line feature near the bottom of the red La Coulée trail (17). Marked as a black feature, a huge rock drop required you to thread the needle through some trees on the takeoff, and try not to catch pedals on the trunk. There were plenty of scrapes to show that many had given it at least a ‘kiss’!
Tech in the woods - the tricky final section of teh Radical trail.
We got the lowdown on the Bromont bike shop from Audrey, the bike shop supervisor, who runs things together with Suzanne (sales product supervisor) and Yannick (bike shop crew chief). Her specific responsibility is the rental fleet, with bikes supplied by the park sponsor Rocky Mountain Cycles. All brand new for 2014, they have 25 Flatlines ($110 per day, and remember it’s Canadian money!), 8 Altitudes, and surprisingly 40 (yes forty!), of the XC bike ‘Souls’. It turns out that the XC bikes are to cater mainly for the visitors to the water park! With a standard water park ticket, you actually get the opportunity to take a XC bike on for as long as you want - helmet and lift pass INCLUDED! The catch – you are only permitted to ride the beginner green trail La Grande Douce (21), which can be ridden in either direction, and is essentially a winding gravel path. If you stray on to other trails and they catch you, then you’re done! But this really is a great way to try and introduce new people to the bike park, and mountain biking in general. Once out there, they’ll progress, see what the more experienced riders get up to, and potentially get over any initial fear they had of joining in. Anyway, Bromont intends to sell the whole fleet of bikes at the end of the season, so keep an eye out for some good deals starting in about a week’s time – check out their website and Facebook page. And in March, they stage a huge bazaar of both winter and summer stock, so there are often a few left over and even better deals!
Great technical trails to supplement the flow - the black in to red Radical trail is a cracker.
Bromont operates an experienced Patrol; Jace Findlay is Chief of Ski Patrol and doubles for the bike park in the summer. There’s a team of 10, and a minimum of 3 are on ATV’s on the mountain each day, with a fourth on call at the base. Their role obviously includes first response, but they also conduct trail sweeps when there’s been bad weather overnight. They work closely with Jason in the Trail Crew, and can call them in quickly to deal with anything that comes up. Interestingly there is a higher concentration of incidents and accidents on the green and blue trails, rather than the red and black ones, but like any bike park, the frequency of accidents is heavily dependent on weather and rider numbers on any given day.
Tricky when wet - the roots and rocks of teh Radical Trail.
Bromont also plays host to one of the oldest and most experienced mountain bike schools on the East Coast. Owned and run by Jeff Silas, Dirtcamp.ca provides residential 5-day courses for 7 to 16 year olds, but can cater to riders of any age for specials. The school operates independent to Bromont Bike Park but does work collaboratively for the lessons, providing instructors when Bromont is in need. They also operate the awesome VeloBus, which runs from downtown Montreal, giving city based riders without their own means of transportation the chance to get out of the big smoke and hit the trails. And it’s available to anyone – not just the dirt-campers.
Some final practice berms before the guys head to the World Cup.
There’s a strong racing history here, including a round of the UCI World Cup back in 2009. They staged the Quebec National Cup at the start of the year, and every season sees an awesome series of B-Maxx events, providing racing for novice and experienced riders alike. It’s their third year running them and by all accounts there’s a great vibe, with live DJs, a Red Bull truck, and basically one big party.
Not sure what Hugo just spotted but it's frightening!
There’s plenty to see in town at the end of your ride. The old town of Bromont is picturesque, with little boutiques and a chocolate museum, which you have to visit to stock up on amazing specialized chocolates and sweets – for the kids obviously! For a beer and some food, check out the popular rider hangouts of Edgar and the Broue-mont Bar. We hit up the latter, and it was definitely worth it for their rousee d’erable beer – with maple syrup, and of course for some more poutine! Season ends at Bromont in October so there’s still plenty of riding left before the snow arrives. It’s definitely worth making the trip to Quebec.
The final booster at the end of La Zigzag.