The Rouge River valley hosts some of the best gravel in all of Quebec so we needed to check it out. Read all about our adventure in the valley here:
Across running rapids, long twisty gravel descents, casse croute hot-dogs and the seemingly endless climbs the gravel roads of the Harrington region did not disappoint. The 115 km Big Red Gravel Run Public Route tours the Rouge River region of the Laurentian's between Arundel and Grenville. The route is comprised of 80 km on rugged gravel through the most beautiful scenery the region has to offer.
We came about the idea to ride the route in preparation for this Augusts Big Red Gravel Run, an event hosted in the region as a 120 km gravel race on a mix of public and private land following the same general area as their official Public Route that we followed this past weekend. Three of us including Gordon, my dad and I starting from Arundel and another two were coming up from the city so they would be riding the route backwards to meet us at some point along the route.
We started the route up in Arundel, a little town 15 minutes outside of Tremblant. Starting off right into the rolling gravel terrain making our way down the valley to the banks of the Rouge River. The gravel is light at this point as some might say “luxury gravel” with little traffic but enough to keep the road firm and free of any loose sandy patches. Eventually we met up with the river for about 10 km. This part in the route is one of the coolest for its truss bridges with steel driving platforms so you can see the rushing water below. As we meandered our way down the river it was hard to resist a little splash in the river before we climbed back out of the Rouge’s banks and back down into Grenville. The descent into Grenville boasts a 70 km/h gravel descent under the highway onto the main road into town.
Once in town and at the half-way point we stopped for a much needed casse croute stop to fuel up for the gruelling climb up out of Grenville. Climbing for about 20 km out of Grenville beginning on a paved road for about 7 km then changing to loose chunky gravel for the rest. For this part the larger tires I had definitely helped a lot. Frank the Tank and its 2.0 Michelin Wild Grippers destroyed the loose chunky gravel. With the triple on the front and a 34 tooth cassette its like Frank was design for this. Although, the friction bar end shifting was a little cumbersome next two the Stinner Refugio and Gordon’s Cervelo Aspero with GRX Di2. The loose rocky climb out of Grenville on Scotch road seemed to never end, on pitch after another they kept coming. Eventually the climbing came to an end but it had taken its toll. Bottles empty and sore legs we still had another 30 km to the end, after a bottle fill from the hose of a nice stranger we had solved at least one of our problems. Along the wind swept meadows and rolling hills we rolled along. Finally, we knew the ending was near as we came back up alongside the Rouge River. With its red sandy banks and the wind head on the last few kilometers were not the easiest but certainly some of the most beautiful.
After 115 km we arrived back in Arundel. Bottles empty, dirty bikes, sore legs and sun burns we knew we were excited to be coming back to the region in August for the main event!