What a fabulous weekend I had, discovering one of Portneuf’s beautiful gems, La Vallée Bras du Nord. Two different experiences, two different areas, two different groups, one mountain bike.

La Vallée Bras du Nord (VBN) is a huge playground with different terrains for all types of riders. The first area I discovered was the St-Raymond area, a beautiful valley in a country setting. Conveniently located beside the village, the trails start from the parking lot beside the Roquemont Hotel and the Frenette Bike shop. One can warm up in the pumptrack directly in the parking lot.

The 33km of narrow single tracks are worth discovering over the two small hills. The climbs weren’t anything too hard, except maybe the “La Montée Belvédère” though the descents had awesome flow. My favourite was the “La Tablerone” trail with it’s nice berms, bridge and jumps though one can easily avoid them using the chicken pass beside them. I also enjoyed discovering the “Echo des Juliens” which recently opened. Totally worth the detour, this new trail is a 5km intermediate loop. At the moment it’s a bit too muddy for small families but once all dry, it’ll be an amazing!! Great terrain, berms and great flow. On that note, we ended the day by savouring a delicious beer from their microbrewery at the Roquemont restaurant.

I then discovered the Shannahan area, a short 20min drive from St-Raymond. This beautiful picturesque valley, composed of 70km of singletracks has trails from beginner to intermediate level. This place simply has it all. With 10 other rad riders, we rode beside a beautiful river on technical rooty trails, rode fast and flowing pump tracks and through smooth winding trails. The quality of the trails are simply top notch. Many thanks to the volunteers and land owners whom without them, this beautiful gem wouldn’t be possible.

Being still fairly new to the sport, I joined Les Chèvres de Montagne for what I’d consider an epic outdoor therapy weekend of mountain bike! They organised an amazing weekend for 34 ladies, where they simply took care of every single little detail. Offering us great mountain bike lessons which also included Marin bike rentals for those who didn’t own a bike, serving delicious healthy vegan meals, to making sure we all had a great time. Many thanks to all the sponsors!!

The weekend started off at l’accueil Shannahan parking lot, where we all met up and divided into groups depending on our category. For our intermediate group of riders, we had coaches Melanie and Sabrina which were top notch. On the first day, they brought us on many great trails “Boul Gérald” “Sentier Delaney”, “Grande Evasion” Barbe a Gendron” as well as “Beurre d”Erable” The day started going over basic stuff which I always find useful. Quick check up of our bike to make sure everything is working well. The correct body positions, neutral and ready position, when to brake, where to look etc. Most important thing I learned that morning was how to let my body move on my bike, from side to side.

We then went into some more technical stuff like how to properly ride berms, do wheel lifts, flat hops, bunny hops, weighting and unweighting over jumps, ride multiple jumps in succession, learn the correct way to land on varied terrain and lots more. We had a great group of ladies, lots of fun and many smiles. Ending the day with a very refreshing dip in the river before enjoying a fabulous happy hour hosted by Glutenberg. The day ended around a campfire where we were all sleeping for the night at camping Shannahan. Many thanks to North Face for lending us great tents to sleep in for the night. Important note about this camping is that it has no water so you must come prepared. And water is always available at the nearby l’accueil Shannahan.

Day two started with a short early morning ride, followed by a healthy breakfast then back on the trails. A grueling 3km climb in the hot sun up “Connecteur” was all worth it to then discover the popular “Neilson” which is one of their most popular trails. It’s unique, lots of adrenaline, technical, bridges, rocks with a beautiful river on the right hand side. I’ll be the first to admit this trail got me way out of my comfort zone as I’m not yet at that level so I’ll wait till next year to give it another try.

Les Chèvres de Montagne is a community of women in the outdoors. They offer a series of outdoor events that allow women to surpass, learn but above all have fun amongst women. Keep it simple, have fun!

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