How hard work, collaboration and vision are turning Kouchibouguac National Park into a year round cycling destination.

This past week I had the pleasure to travel to Kouchibouguac National Park for their Fat Bike Week festivities. It was great to see the turnout for such a successful event, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and collaboration from the entire Park staff.

 

When I got invited to be a part of Kouchibouguac National Park’s Fat Bike Week, I jumped at the chance. Having done a Trail Care Crew visit this past summer there I knew the park staff and trails very well and I was looking forward to seeing what they were doing with winter trails and fat biking. Having been our first partnership at a Parks Canada site almost 10 years ago, the park has always been pushing cycling and mountain biking opportunities and their Fat Bike Week was no exception. In the shoulder season the park staff designed and groomed a 10km fat bike loop that they unveiled for the event and what they produced was some excellent singletrack that had new and experienced riders alike returning with big smiles all week long.

 

What were especially great to see was the commitment, dedication and collaboration of the entire park staff to not only the event but also fat biking in general. At any given time throughout the week someone from the staff could be found on a fat bike on the trails with their friends and families showcasing how great their park is and the fun you can have. No stranger to winter activities, Kouchibouguac is well known in the area for having great cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. However, the excitement over fat biking was different. “I feel like a kid right now, now I know why you guys love to do this!” said Eric Tremblay, the park ecologist. Those comments along with many others were all I heard from the staff throughout my visit and it was great to see. The staff also did a fantastic job of trying to get every visitor to try a fat bike even if they were there for another activity as well as fat biking was all that staff were talking about.

 

Kouchibouguac was one of three National Parks doing pilot projects with fat biking as Parks Canada is in the process to introduce fat bikes at Park sites nation wide. Bringing aboard local partners in Consolvo Bikes out of Moncton and Incline Cycles out of Miramichi ensured that they had the proper partnerships in place to ensure positive growth in the future. My roll was to work with their partners to provide guided rides and fat bike workshops to those visitors that had never ridden a winter trail. The fleet of 12 Norco Bigfoots was well used and in good hands all week. The only negative aspect of the week was that some visitors had to wait for bikes to return as they were all in use! What was seen as a pilot project that hoped to introduce people to fat biking turned into a hugely successful week with roughly 500 individual visitors coming to the park specifically for fat biking.

 

With the trails they have and the plans to create more I know that Kouchibouguac is definitely making a name for itself as a year round cycling destination. Not only is the staff on board, but also with the positive community partnerships that they are creating they are poised for a lot of success when it comes to cycling opportunities. I would like to thank the entire staff at Kouchibouguac National Park for their outstanding hospitality. I definitely look forward to making another trip!

 

For photos from my visit to Kouchibouguac National Park click here!

 

-Justin Truelove