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Following the Footsteps of Champlain: Velo Quebec

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Velo QuebecNext month, approximately 2000 bicyclists will be working their way up the trail of Samuel de Champlain’s footsteps, hoping to bring a positive impact on businesses and tourism throughout the area.

On August 7th, Velo Quebec Voyages will start their 17th Le Grand Tour, a weeklong biking excursion for avid cyclists. The tour will begin at SUNY Adirondack, head up north through the historic Champlain Valley, continue onto Potsdam, and end at Saint-Hyacinthe in Quebec.

This year’s theme, “Walking with Champlain,” is in accordance with last year’s Quadricentennial celebration, which marked the anniversary of the exploration of Lake Champlain. In order to participate, bicyclists must be willing to ride 40 to 75 miles per day, but the exertion is well worth it, for along these trails exist some of the best cycling roadways and topography, including wide shoulders and back roads that offer spectacular scenic views.

The first leg of the route takes cyclists up to Fort Ticonderoga, one of the important forts during the French and Indian War. But the history doesn’t stop there. Riders will continue along Lake Champlain. Discovered by Samuel de Champlain in 1609, the lake was used as a strategic waterway at a time when travel by water was one of the only means to get through rough terrain.

The excursion will continue onto Plattsburgh through the designated trails near the Richelieu River, another area that had a military impact, as it served as a route of attack between the French and the English.

The event will end in Montreal.

The Grand Tour runs August 8th–13th, and is equivalent to about 500 miles. Participants can also opt to take part in only the weekend festivities when the course travels through Clinton County.

Approximately 80% of those who ride in the Grand Tours end up returning the next year to revisit the sites, which boasts the opportunity for tourism in the area.

–Sarah Evans is an Assistant Editor of The Free George.

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