In cyclo-cross (CX) competitions, racers speed over varied terrain, such as pavement, wooded trails, grass and steep hills, as well as stretches where they have to dismount and navigate obstructions while carrying their bike. What does it take towin such challenging races? For Maghalie Rochette, the journey towards her CX titles started with The Great Trail. That’s where she, as a child, cycled to friends’ houses, took part in active family outings and set up training courses to improve her performance.
Even today, she does most of her training on the Trail section that runs close to her home in Montreal – the southernmost stretch of the 235-kilometre rail trail called P’tit Train du Nord (Little Train of the North), which is now a gravel path.
“When I was young, we would get together with family friends, pack a picnic and ride our bikes to a place where we could rent kayaks. Then we would continue on the river, all along The Great Trail,” Ms. Rochetterecalls. “And, at age 10, I set up courses where I could run and bike, and time myself. I was a very motivated kid.”
Having the Trail in close proximity has been a valuable resource, says Ms. Rochette, who won her first national title at the 2016 Canadian National Cyclo-cross Championships.“When I’m training for CX races, I use the Trail for easy spin and interval training or for getting to a bigger mountain bike network,” she says. “On my [rare] days off, I pedal along more slowly, take time to look around and stop at the river. I really feel at home on the Trail.”
Her active lifestyle and enjoyment of the outdoors create a strong alignment with the values of CLIF Bar, Ms. Rochette’s sponsor, she says, “CLIF Bar is also a dedicated supporter of The Great Trail. Since my job depends on having places to ride, it really makes me very proud to be associated with that.”
Ms. Rochette would like to encourage Canadians to “get out of the car, explore and experience the places along The Great Trail,” she says. “When you’re on foot or on the bike, you see things from a different angle. It really makes you feel better. It makes you smile.”