Last July, I had the pleasure of taking part in a ride organized by the Aventure Quad Québec club at the Némiskau outfitter. This Quebec-based club offers winter trails between Beauport and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures. It also organizes two-day outings almost every month, from May to October. These tours are open to all, and places are limited according to room availability. A list is available on the club’s Facebook page, but book early as they are very popular.
Meticulous organization is surely one of the reasons why the club’s rides are almost always fully booked. First of all, once you’ve registered, you’ll be contacted for a deposit to reserve your place. A month before the activity, you’ll be asked to pay the balance of the amount, which generally includes meals, lodging, tips and taxes. ATV riders are offered a choice of menu. The aim is to reduce the time needed for meals, especially when large groups are involved. The organization is responsible for receiving the menus, proposing them to participants, taking orders and forwarding them to the supplier. Finally, a final e-mail is sent with recommendations, what to bring, and the time and place of the meeting point. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced multi-day rider, these attentions make the experience all the more reassuring.
Day 1: Departure at last!
Finally, the big day arrives and we meet at Rivière-à-Pierre at 8 am on July 22nd. Both people and machines are ready for departure. The guide gathers us and explains the general course of the ride and the rotation system that will be used. The aim of this system is to avoid losing a participant in an intersection. The method used means that we don’t have to stay within sight of the ATV in front of us. So we don’t have to ride in its dust. Basically, the guide stops at every potentially problematic spot. He indicates to the following vehicle the position to be maintained, showing the group the direction to follow. The whole group overtakes the stopped vehicle, except for the Closer, who will ask it to return to the road ahead. This Closer is generally resourceful, as he doesn’t leave anyone behind. He’s the one who will help repair a broken-down vehicle, a flat tire or any other problem encountered. The weather forecast called for a rainy Saturday and a sunny Sunday. We left under grey skies for the Némiskau outfitter, not far from La Tuque, where we had dinner on the outward and return trips.
Mutual help and companionship are the key to these rides
We ride on forest roads, on small rocky trails, in the mud, and through the town of La Tuque. All at a good pace, with a group that’s happy to be riding together. One participant was able to see just how much mutual support there is in such a group. Indeed, one of his rear tires suffered a major breakage and was impossible to repair. Another participant offered to use his spare tire to get to the outfitter. Tires of the same size were installed on the rear and those of different sizes on the front in record time. Once at the outfitter, the very lucky participant was able to get a new tire and continue his ride the next day.
We arrived at the outfitter early enough to take advantage of the incredible facilities it offers free of charge: canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, paddleboards, inflatable megagame and spa. Unfortunately, the rain that had been forecast all day decided to fall. So we opted for an aperitif on the gallery of our pavilion while we waited for the all-you-can-eat Chinese fondue meal. I went to bed feeling a little tired but completely full.
Day 2: The return journey
By 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, the sun is shining and the day promises to be beautiful. We leave the outfitter for La Tuque, and the warmer it gets as the day progresses. The trails are magnificent and the dust is already starting to settle. We take a nice trail that has really suffered from the bad weather. We can see how much work has gone into clearing the path of countless fallen trees. After dinner, a few dozen kilometers from the finish, I notice a light in my dusty dashboard. I wipe it clean and see Overheating in the display. A quick glance and the little engine temperature bars are all lit up… Oh no! I stop immediately and pull over to the side to wait for the closer.
The damage is potentially serious
He arrives with another club volunteer. They run tests, check things and finally the verdict is in: radiator fan dead. The game plan is to get a shot at it while avoiding the big climbs as much as possible. This is the first time I’ve been towed. I listen carefully to the instructions and prepare to swallow a good dose of dust. I’m expecting to be tossed around a bit, but no! My ATV is all finesse, with gradual acceleration. It’s on descents that I work hardest, trying to keep the cable between us taut. On the way up, the ATV that’s pulling me lifts tiny rocks that hit me right in the face. I’m so glad I’m wearing a full-face helmet!
The participants didn’t fail to tease me light-heartedly, and made several remarks about the brand of ATV that was being pulled vs. the one being used as an engine. In short, we all made our way to our trailers in good spirits. Once again, I’d like to thank my friendly towing companion and the Aventure Quad Québec club for a great ride.