5 Canadian Spots For Road, Gravel and Mountain Biking

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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5 Canadian Spots For Road, Gravel and Mountain Biking

Europe seems to get all the attention when we think about destination cycling spots, but the cycling opportunities in Canada are numerous and varied. Whether you long for never-ending gravel roads, world-class singletrack, gravity-fed trails or pro-tour level road riding, Canada has you covered.

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC

Canada has hosted several pro-caliber races including the Grands Prix Cyclistes Quebec and Montreal as well as the Tour of Alberta in the West. If you are looking for off-road adventures, then the longest-running world cup venue for mountain biking is at nearby Mont Sainte Anne. The ski mountain features world-class downhill routes and cross-country trails for all abilities in the summer. For roadies and newer cyclists, the Marie-Hélène Prémont Cycle Route takes you from just outside Quebec City to Mont Sainte Anne with several views of waterfalls and old Quebec villages en route.

TORONTO, ONTARIO

If you long for awesome gravel, consider flying into Toronto and heading north to explore the never-ending options through rural northern Ontario. Gravel and bikepacking are becoming popular disciplines in Canada thanks to route options that can connect big cities to numerous provincial parks and rural destinations. The BT700 bikepacking route and Simcoe County Loop are two existing routes you could use to guide your trip or piece together your own adventure.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

There is a reason British Columbia has been the home of so many top riders, including past world champion and Olympic medalist Alison Sydor and pro-tour riders like Svein Tuft. Many off-road riders gravitate to the west to take advantage of the elevation and innumerable trail systems for training. North Vancouver allows you to get into the mountains quickly and also allows for easy day trips to popular destinations like Squamish and Whistler. While the west is known for its off-road options, there are also events such as the Gran-Fondo Whistler and Ironman Whistler, which allow you exclusive access to the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway while extensive bike path networks allow for quick commutes, scenic adventures and long training rides.

WHITEHORSE, YUKON

A visit to Canada’s north may seem more appropriate for skiing than cycling, but there is a network of amazing trails in the Yukon (the territory that borders Alaska) — and its capital city, Whitehorse, offers some of the most beautiful scenery. It’s embraced outdoor culture and has developed more than 700km of off-road trails and a strong local club that has previously hosted fun cycling events, including a 24-hour race during the sunny summer months (no lights needed!). More recently it put on a bike festival with a focus on enduro and trail riding for all abilities.

CALGARY, ALBERTA

Alberta is Canada’s second most western province and is known for the Rocky Mountains. After an easy flight to the Calgary International Airport, you will be close to many cycling destinations including Banff, Canmore and Jasper. Calgary is a great spot to start whether you choose to mountain bike, road ride or bikepack through the mountains. If you want to stay in the city, Calgary also offers an extensive bike path network you can follow using Map My Ride. For mountain bikers wanting to stay close to the city, Canada Olympic Park hosted a Mountain Bike World Cup in 2004 and continues to offer a variety of sporting adventures including a cycling skills park and downhill mountain biking.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.

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