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Club working to make cycling a year-round sport in Timmins

The Boreal Cycling Club currently maintains more than 25 kilometres of trails in the Hersey Lake Conservation Area
Yves Viel, president of the Boreal Cycling Club, at the entrance to the Hersey Lake Promenade trail

When the first snow falls, most people put away their bikes for the winter. But a new local club is striving to make cycling a year-round activity. 

The Boreal Cycling Club, which is in its first full year of operation, currently maintains approximately 25 kilometres of bike trails in the Hersey Lake Conservation Area. Volunteers remove deadfalls, clear brush, and groom the trails in the winter months to keep them smooth for cycling.

“When you look at the city of Timmins, there’s snowmobiling, there’s four wheeling, there’s dirt bikes, you have cross-country skiing. There’s a lot of stuff out there, but there was a lack of cycling,” says club president Yves Viel. 

“We want to continue the sport of cycling, and to eventually host events and that sort of thing, you need a bike club. It’s nice to sit on a motorbike or a snowmobile and enjoy it, but the health aspect is not there compared to cycling,” he says. 

Viel himself has been cycling for years with his family, and is a certified spin instructor at Rehab Plus, where he teaches a class five times a week. He is a paralegal at Girones Bourdon Kelly Lawyers, and began grooming the trails in his own spare time back in 2020. With the incorporation of the Boreal Cycling Club, he is now joined by several volunteers from the club and collaborates with other community groups to keep the trails in shape. 

The club has racked up 35 members this year, and Viel hopes they will continue to see more cyclists join. The trails see significantly more regular users in the summer months — approximately 80 cyclists compared to only about 20 in the winter

“They’re not all members of the cycling club, even though we would really like to have them all as members because if it wasn’t for the club, the trails wouldn’t be maintained,” Viel says. 

Club membership costs $50 a year, which covers insurance, trail maintenance, and helps cover the not-for-profit club’s operating costs. 

In addition to drawing in more new members, Viel hopes to eventually expand the club’s network of bike trails. 

“We only have these trails here that we maintain. We have a wish list of new trails and, of course, we have to get into agreements with landowners and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of work in the background before our wish list can come through,” he says. 

The club will host a year-end gathering sometime in April, and Viel is planning an informal event sometime soon where people can try out fat bikes — bikes with wider tires suited to off-roading and winter cycling.

More information about the club can be found on their Facebook group.