A Community Coup

The Quebec City skyline is a mix of modern buildings and historic monuments, displaying the unique history and heritage of the region—and creating a beautiful reflection on the calm waters of the St. Lawrence river. The city’s establishment on such a prominent river was crucial to its success as a trade hub and later played a big role in the ease of access to necessary timber resources. Photo courtesy of Ville de Québec.

A Community Coup Quebec's Systemic Riding Revolution

From the outside looking in, the Canadian province of Quebec is a lot to wrap your head around.

Geographically, it’s massive. At 644,000 square miles, it’s 2.4 times the size of Texas, though most of it is uninhabited wilderness and arctic tundra. Its two largest cities, Montreal and Quebec City, are on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River and feature some of North America’s oldest, most European-style architecture. Culturally, and perhaps most importantly, it has a distinct identity: More than 80 percent of Quebecois are native French speakers and 95 percent of residents are fluent in French.

The mother tongue is so vehemently protected in Quebec that even the stop signs are in French. They say “arrêt” instead of “stop” (by comparison, even stop signs in France say “stop”). The place is undeniably independent, but also welcoming and laid back. Quebec has 8.4 million inhabitants, but excluding Montreal and Quebec City, only one other city is home to more than 200,000 residents. Rural communities, mining towns and abandoned villages line the province’s many rivers, lakes and highways—visible proof of Canada’s dependence on cyclical demand for natural resources.

Quebec is a rugged landscape of large hills, black dirt and endless granite. Loamy pockets of pine forest lurk in the shadows. Its people embrace the outdoors, despite having some of the world’s most brutal winters. The Quebecois adopted mountain biking early and invested in sanctioned racing programs and athlete development that left a structured legacy of speed that still burns from local races to the world’s fastest stage. Now, the sport is riding a wave of popularity made possible by a decade of trailbuilding and government support. Quebec is unconventional by nature, but mountain biking has long had a home here.

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