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  • Nicolas Parent

Mountain biking top priority at Centre Vorlage this summer

Formerly known as Ski Vorlage, Centre Vorlage in Wakefield, Quebec, is gearing up to become a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This summer, the ski resort in the heart of Wakefield, will introduce mountain biking as part of its offerings.

Alexandre Gaboury, president and general manager of Centre Vorlage, said he’s been a passionate mountain biker since the late 80s. He has traveled across North America to research downhill biking resorts and trails, learning that certain elements are key to a good downhill biking resort.

Trail building is one of the most crucial aspects of any biking resort, he said. For this reason, Centre Vorlage has hired trail builders who’ve worked on trails in Squamish, B.C., and areas neighbouring Vancouver and Quebec City. Just as ski trails' levels of difficulty are designated by colours, so too are mountain biking trails: green for beginners, blue for intermediate, and black for experts. The resort plans to build five

trails in the first phase of development, starting with one blue flow, two black natural, and one blue natural. A second blue flow trail will open a few weeks after the season's inauguration in July.

Flow trails are purpose-built trails that are designed to create a continous fl ow of riding with many different features. Google images

Flow trails are purpose-built trails that are designed to create a continuous flow of riding with features like berms, jumps, and rollers that are carefully sculpted to provide a smooth and fun ride. Natural trails, on the other hand, are trails that have been created by the natural terrain and landscape, without any significant modifications or man-made features. Natural trails can be narrow, rocky, and

technical, with obstacles like roots, rocks, and drops that require more advanced skills

and techniques to navigate.

The resort also plans to offer lodging facilities for its visitors, including an area for small recreational vehicles in the parking area this summer. As part of Gaboury and his partner's multi-year vision, which would bring 30-40 mountain bike trails to Centre Vorlage, they said they eventually want to build off-grid cabins throughout the

mountain and serviced cabins near the main chalet, adopting a ‘bike in, bike out’ model in the summer. During winter months, this will transform into a ‘ski in, ski out’ model, with mountain bike trails becoming repurposed for fat biking, snowshoeing, and touring.

The first phase of development is to open mountain bike trails serviced by a single chairlift this summer, with plans for a second chairlift to serve the beginner trails in the 2024 season. Centre Vorlage aims to eventually have all three chairlifts operational year-round.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $3 million for mountain biking and lodging facilities, with an additional $500,000 allocated to revamp the main building.

Until May 15, visitors can take advantage of an early-bird discount of $200 for

the season-long, downhill pass. Although exact pricing is not yet available, the resort will offer full-access day passes, “enduro” passes that allow for three lifts per day, and trail passes that do not include the chairlift.

Pointing out that direct proximity between mountain resorts and neighbouring communities is not typical, Gaboury said he looks forward to Centre Vorlage becoming increasingly connected with the ongoings of neighbouring Wakefield.

“People who come here will go out to enjoy and support the local community, life, and

energy. This is part of how we see this project,” he explained.

Food and beverage options will also be available to visitors, and the development team is looking forward to hosting local, regional, and international competitions, music events, and other recreational events.

Centre Vorlage plans to open its downhill trails from noon to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The season is expected to begin in July.


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