Biker's Paradise: The 4,000km Route Verte
Québec is bike crazy, and it's got the goods to justify it. In summer 2007, the province officially inaugurated the new Route Verte (Green Route), a 4,000km (2,485-mile) bike network that stretches from one end of the province to the other, linking all regions and cities. It's modeled on the Rails-to-Trails program in the U.S. and cycling routes in Denmark, Great Britain, and along the Danube and Rhine rivers, and was initiated by the nonprofit biking organization Vélo Québec with support from the Québec Ministry of Transportation. Route Verte won the prestigious Prix Ulysse, one of the grand prizes given annually by the Québec tourist office, right out of the gate. The National Geographic Society went on to declare it one of the 10 best bicycle routes in the world.
The Route Verte website (www.routeverte.com) provides maps of all the paths by region, with a "Bienvenue Cyclistes!" link that lists B&Bs, campsites, and hotels that are especially focused on serving bikers. Accredited accommodations display a BIENVENUE CYCLISTES! sticker or sign, and they provide a covered and locked place for overnight bicycle storage, access to high-carb meals with lots of fruits and veggies, a bike pump and tools, and information about where to make repairs nearby. The guidebook Cycling in Québec: Official Guide to Bicycling on Québec's Route Verte, published by Route Verte, can be ordered from the site.
Included in the network is the popular P'tit Train du Nord bike trail through the Laurentians to Mont-Tremblant and beyond. It's built on a former railway track and passes through the villages of Ste-Adèle, Val David, and Ste-Agathe-des-Monts. Cyclists can hop on for a day trip or a longer tour, and can get food and bike repairs at renovated railway stations along the way. The trail is free to ride on, and maps can be found on the regional tourist office's website (www.laurentians.com/parclineaire). The office also publishes the free Official Tourist Guide to the Laurentians, which always has a section on "cyclo-tourism." If you decide to plan a big trip, keep in mind Transport du Parc Linéaire (tel. 888/686-1323 or 450/569-5596; www.transportduparclineaire.com), which provides baggage transport from inn to inn.