July 31, 2017 (Quebec City, QC) – Sunday was the first stage of the inaugural Quebec Singletrack Experience but you wouldn’t have known it. The organization was operating like a well-oiled machine. Breakfast was served, buses were loaded and a short 30-minute ride had us at the race venue. When we arrived our bikes were ready and waiting along with a spectacular ribbon of 95% singletrack that had been designed to test each rider’s climbing and descending abilities.
Finally! Day 1 has arrived at the Sentiers du Moulin! Riders officially start the experience © Québec Singletrack Expérience
The stage featured a 15.3km loop and would be run as a Prologue with riders starting four at a time in 15-second intervals. This protocol served to minimize the bottleneck at the trailhead as well as giving everyone time and space to put in their best effort. Timing for this stage would be used to “categorize” riders into three start groups for the balance of the event.
Start © QSE
The QSE format also includes a timed climb and a timed descent each day so riders are battling for the overall title as well as two other races within the main event. Each stage a “leader” plate is awarded to the top male and female riders with the fastest combined climbing time as well as a separate award for the fastest descender. It certainly keeps things interesting out on the trail.
Wooden bridge © QSE
The non-racing highlight of the day was a visit from Canadian Olympian and Commonwealth Games GOLD medalist Raphaël Gagné who introduced the stage as well as the first trail we would race named “Raph” in his honour. As the riders lined up for the start Raph entered the start grid and shook hands and wished riders well. Many of us racing the QSE2017 will be going to Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA) on Sunday to watch Raph take on the best riders in the world at the UCI World Cup XCO celebrating its 27th year at MSA.
Raphael Gagne © Christopher Keiser
The race started like clockwork exactly on time. The course was comprised of many short sharp climbs punctuated with twisty and sometimes rocky descents. Some areas had clearly marked “A” lines and “B” lines to allow some of the more skilled riders to challenge themselves while providing safe passage for those who would rather not risk it all on Day 1.
Singletrack © QSE
As much as one might like to start a 7-day race at a controlled pace this format had many riders, including myself, going full gas from the start. The stage winner Greg Day [Rocky Mountain] was the first to cross the line in a time of 59:24 and the women’s winner Sarah Kaufmann finishing in a time of 1:12:10. There is great competition amongst all the age categories and I was pleased to take a 3rd place finish in the Men’s 50-59.
Campfire in at the hub © Paul Craig
Upon returning to the hub we were treated to live music and an amazing meal. The folks at Boreale served up ice cold beer and as the sunset over the city riders gathered around the campfire to tell their stories of the race. By all accounts everyone had a fantastic time and are all eager to see what the trails will be serving up on Day 2 – results below.
QSE2017 – Jour/Day 1 – Sentiers du Moulin from Québec Singletrack Expérience on Vimeo.
1. Sarah Kaufmann
1. Chantal Petit
1. Tanya Martin
1. Greg Day
1. Emmanuel Morel
1. Brigham Seigl
1. François Amyot
1. JRA Cycles
1. Momma And Poppa Wheelie