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Cyclists venture forth on Valley roads

The Valley was home to around 1,600 cyclists over the long weekend, as Vélo Québec brought the 27th edition of its Petite Aventure to the region. Designed with families in mind, the cycling tour included meals, evening entertainment, and overnight tent accommodations at a lively “village” that took over the grounds of Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR) in Ormstown.

The cyclists departed from the Huntingdon fairgrounds under cloudy skies on June 29 for the three-day tour, which featured stages ranging in length from 14 to 92 kilometres per day. Cyclists pedaled through much of the region, with stops for lunches in Franklin, Saint-Etienne-de-Beauharnois, and Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, before returning to Ormstown in the afternoons.

Several activities were available to end each day, including games for children, massage or yoga sessions, and evening shows, one of which featured CVR’s performing arts department’s cast of the Little Shop of Horrors and the After Hours choir.

Jean-François Rheault, the president and director general of Vélo Québec, says the event went well despite a wet start. “If we look at the overall weather of the weekend, we had rain on Saturday, and then we had heavy winds on Sunday. Overall, this made it very challenging,” he admits, before suggesting the organizers were pleased the forecast was not enough to deter most people.

Rheault says having alternate plans was key. Participants were able to set up their tents the night before the start of the event due to the rain, and their baggage was delivered inside the gym at CVR so fresh clothing was dry when the soggy cyclists arrived. “Small details like this really made a difference,” he explains.

It was just as important that the cyclists felt safe and supported on the road. Tour vehicles were available to collect riders at all times in case of fatigue, injury, or mechanical issues, and Vélo Québec employees and volunteers on two wheels were also available to support participants. “This way, people can take a bit more risk and shoot for a longer distance,” says Rheault.

 

Around 1600 cyclists took part in the Petite Aventure organized by Vélo Québec from June 29 to July 1 The cyclists departed from Huntingdon and camped overnight in Ormstown during their stay PHOTO Kieran Ward

 

“When people face challenges in an event like this, they exceed their limits,” Rheault explains, suggesting the event is unique in that it is accessible to all ages with no experience requirements.

The Petite Aventure was developed by Vélo Québec following the success of major events such as the Tour de l’Île and the Grand Tour. Rheault says the organization wanted to do something to encourage people to discover the province by bike in a family-friendly and accessible way. He says the event has been successful for so long because of the different communities that welcome the cyclists each year.

“We are very grateful to the Chateauguay Valley Regional High School and the staff that made this possible,” says Rheault, who notes the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent was also very helpful.

“It is a lot of work for the different teams, but it is very rewarding,” says Rheault, who was participating in his third Petite Aventure since joining the Vélo Québec team just under four years ago. Around 200 people, including volunteers and employees, are involved in running the event, with many coming back year after year. Together with the participants, the group becomes a community over the three days.

“You see all these people that have pushed their boundaries while working together to make the event possible,” says Rheault. “It is something very special.”

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