Use discount code VMBTA400 at checkout for a $400 CAD discount on registration.
Quebec Singletrack Experience registration is now open! We sat down with François Calletta, organizer of the event, to get the details about this year’s 7-day stage race through the Quebec City area. The dates this year are August 4th – 10th.
Sum up the Quebec Single Track Experience in your own words. How do you define the event?
Finally a stage race in the East! The QSE, while being a race, is more a 7-day mtb fest paired with the UCI mtb world cup at Mont Ste-anne (day 8 and 9), that makes it the dream MTB vacation for any bike enthusiasts. Our approach is that the event is accessible to all riders, and that we have something for everyone. Everyone gets 3 times per day: Full stage time, timed ascent, and timed descent. Whatever your objectives, you can have fun. All of that based in a single base camp downtown Quebec City that makes it so simple. A real MTB vacation. Plus the proximity of historical Quebec City. I think it is unique.
What is your roll in the event?
Im a GM of the non for profit organisation that manages the event.
What is your background? How does one come to take on such a large endeavor?
I worked for over 20 years in industrial marketing. In 2006 I decided to quit all of that to go to my passion, which is sports events. I decided with friends from our MTB club to develop an event so we can keep in touch with the members in the winter: The Pentathlon des neiges. The event has gown and is now the worlds biggest winter multi-sport event with over 5,500 participants every year.
I have been mountain biking for years, travelling the world, and doing some bike camps and stage races. After doing BCBR and other events and knowing that millions of $ were invested in trails close to Quebec city, I felt that Quebec had something unique to offer. Having – finally – a stage race that would be easy for everyone logistically, and based in a historical city. I loved the stage races I experimented with but always came back tired — not from biking but from the the logistics of unpacking and packing every morning with long travels after or before the stages. I will always remember that one morning at BCBR, where, after being up at 5AM, taking a bus, waiting on a pier for 2 hours for a ferry, we finally got to the start. After being up for more than 7 hours, someone next to me at the start said: “Finally, we can relax and do what we are here for: Ride our bikes.” I knew then, we had something different to offer in Quebec, and that was a need for a simple stage event.
Quebec is unique for having incredible trail networks within 1 hour of the historical city. We can therefore ride incredible trails everyday and spend our nights downtown, a UNESCO world heritage city, where our permanent base camp is located. No packing and unpacking every day and no long transfers. That is unique. Summing all of that, we felt that the QSE would be the perfect summer complement to our winter event.
Quebec is one of the most cycle-centric communities in North America. Over the past decade there has been a tremendous amount of investment into QC’s riding infrastructure. Did this play a roll in the timing of starting such an event? How has the community evolved to make an event like this possible?
MTB is a priority of the Quebec Tourism Bureau and Quebec (Mont Ste-Anne) is the only permanent stage if the UCI World Cup, but still our trails remain too unknown to a lot of riders. Everyone involved in the region wanted a project that would promote our trails and act as a catalyst to gather all communities around the same goal. THE QSE was the answer. Everyone has stepped to the plate. Over 250 volunteers were involved last year and are working year-round to improve the trail network and the QSE. Every community has a stage and everyone wants to make sure their stage is the best. It has been quite spectacular what everyone has put together around the event.
After cutting your teeth last year, will the event change at all in year two?
The survey we ran amongst participants from last year clearly said: Please don’t change a thing! The satisfaction of Qué-Bikers – name given to the participants – was at over 95%! Basically, in 2018 it will be the same except that all 7 stages will have new sections to their trails to improve the experience.
We’ve discussed that this event is not only for the ultra-athletes among us. What does the event offer for the average rider looking to try multi-day stage racing?
It is very accessible. You need good preparation but any decent mountain biker can complete the rides. Of course there are elite riders but most of the riders are good week-end warriors. We even had a participant last year who was a beginner. She is a good athlete but had very little MTB experience. She completed the 7 stages and had a ball. She bought a new bike the day after the QSE.
Another unique fact is that since the event has a permanent base camp downtown, it makes it very easy to bring your family so you do not have to empty your bank. You can bring your family and have them enjoy Quebec city while you ride. There is so much to do on top of biking.
What advice to you have for attending riders?
Just come ride and have fun! And for anyone not familiar with French at all: No worries! Every document and all services are bilingual at the QSE and in the old city.
What was your favorite memory form last year’s event?
Wow, that is tough! I will bring 3 moments:
- The first night when we had the fun night-bike tour of old Quebec escorted by the police. Thousands of tourists walking the city were cheering at us. The QSE was for real. That was big.
- Then, after the Shanahan stage where was a rider who did multiple BCBRs that told me: This was the best ride I ever had!
- And then after day 7, when two 45 year-old riders were crying when they were saying goodbye to each other and one of them turned at me and said: That was the best summer camp I ever had. At that point, I knew we had reached our objectives and confirmed the potential of the QSE.
Learn more & register at quebecsingletrack.com. Use discount code VMBTA400 at checkout for a $400 CAD discount on registration.