April 6, 2017
There is no doubt about the strong and historic riding culture at Mont Ste-Anne. It is the only original stop from the first year of UCI mountain bike racing that is still on the circuit today, so you can’t argue about the trails being great to race on. But what we wanted to know, are they simply fun to ride? Could MSA live up to the hype.
With over 100km of XC featuring over 50 trails, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why we headed to the local bike shop, Epic, for some trail beta. Sean, gave us a list of must hit trails, spread all over the mountain. It would be a long day to cover all of them, so we narrowed it down to a loop that was more manageable.
There are a few parking lots to start your ride from and many XC riders prefer to start near the campground. We were based at the bottom of the mountain for the UCI World Cup, so we decided to just ride from there. It meant starting with a long, continuous climb up the side of the mountain on dirt road and duel track.
After 45 minutes we were rewarded with our first bout of single track, a trail called La Germaine. It’s a relatively new trail and built to be fast and flowy. What a start it was. The trail winds down the side of the mountain in a long downhill with enough berms and switchbacks to make you dizzy.
After that we just went across the campground to climb back up on single track as we had enough dual track for the day.
After some good old XC climbing, we were rewarded with a cross ridge trail called La Chevy. It was a mix of smooth hard pack and technical sections that allowed you to keep your speed if you are willing to crush the pedals.
Back at them bottom, we were faced with a climb back to the top for the grand finally. We rode a double black “all-mountain” trail that was fast, rough and technical called L’Echappee that lead into the newest trail on the mountain, La Bouttaboutte.
L’Echappe will test anyone’s skill to stay on their bike as it bucks like a bull under you. Rock drops, roots, washouts and just general gnar are thrown at you non-stop.
Half way down, when your teeth start chattering, is when it’s time to move on to La Bouttaboutte. In contrast, it feels like a paved downhill pump track. The berms are smooth, there are no rocks or roots to be seen, and it’s simply time to go full out to the base of the mountain. The trail is a must ride for any ability. Beginners will enjoy the smoothness where advanced riders will have the option to push hard and air off bumps and get high on berms.
With our first day at MSA in the books and our legs sore from one of the longest rides of the season, we jumped back on the dual track to cruise back to the van to munch down some leftovers from the night before.
MSA lives up to the hype, so plan your trip now. Come in the start of August and enjoy the World Cup, with lots of riders and great atmosphere, or plan a late September trip if you prefer not to see anyone almost 115km of XC trails.