Winter has arrived and even though he lives in Québec, Jean Prévost has not panicked. He has a plan. A winter cycling plan to be exact.
And no, it is not Zwift, it is Empire 47. What is Empire 47 you ask? Well, it’s 45 kilometers (28 miles for those of you not living in metric friend Canada) with a variety of World Class perfectly groomed snow trails. Or in simpler terms: fat tire heaven. It’s also home to great social events, a fleet of fat tire rental bikes and hours upon hours of cardiovascular goodness. Prévost is fortunate because it is only 20 minutes from Québec city and he is taking full advantage, having already rolled through the lavish snow 39 times last winter.
Provost is a MTB racer and team manager for the Felt bicycles MTB team. His first race ever was a muddy MTB cross-country race at a ski area near his hometown on a borrowed new carbon bike back in 1995. From then on he hasn’t stopped racing and doesn’t plan to anytime soon. The first bicycle that he owned was a Red CCM brand single speed with a back pedaling brake. He was about 6 or 7 years old and remembers learning to ride it like it was yesterday; Just him and Dad on a summer day in a large high school parking lot with no choice, no helmet, and asphalt everywhere he got it right off the first push.
When fat biking or just riding out in the cold he recommends you to get some pogies for your digits. He is using CE Unik handlebar pogies, which he proudly mentions are a Canadian product. He is switching from the Artik Voyager, the more insulated model but are a little bulky compared to the Urban the lighter version that are a windbreaker Provost likes for any weather.
Provost is like a Boy Scout, always coming prepared and having others in mind because he takes a mini-tool and electronic pressure gauge, " in a way to help others riding fat bikes. " Provost said.
Bilvet Boddi is the name of his small secret hot pouch he takes with him on his winter trips that keeps his phone close to him, warm, and working in case he wants to snap some action shots. This particular one is very sentimental to Provost because it carried his dad’s old ski season pass who unfortunately passed away not long ago. " I like to think he is still close to my heart protecting me while I ride, " Provost said.
Provost has discovered many different interesting beer and beer products when traveling that he cannot get at home, though he does bring some back. He has to be cautious because there is a limit to how much a person can bring across the US-Canadian border which leaves him making tough decisions but gives him another reason to travel again.
For a living he takes charge of the building maintenance in a very large Lab named Scientific Complex. They make sure every HVAC system / components as well as Fire protection, access control, elevators and many others are running smoothly.
“With more than 400 researchers and laboratory technicians, some days it is like a real beehive," said Provost.
Provost has been riding for Felt Bicycles since 2005 as a single rider for the first few years then in 2009, senior management mandated him to recruit athletes and form a team of 6 total including him. Later they got the authorization to go up to 8 riders then 10 riders but most of the original 6 are still with the team to this day. For him it goes well beyond a relationship between athletes because they are all now personal friends of his.
Provost can go into the new season with confidence with all his new 2020 whips locked in for his various riding styles.
For his fat bike this year Provost will be going with Felts 2020 DD30 hardtail. He was excited to pick this bike because of the new racing geometry and the exclusive dark green paint job he thinks you can’t go wrong with.
His 2020 MTB Cross-Country set up will be Felt’s Edict Advanced XT with new Shimano 12 speeds and Reynolds carbon wheels that peaked his interest and is ecstatic to be trying for the first time.
The Cyclocross/Gravel set up he will be going with is the 2020 Felt FX Advanced GRX 800 with a full new Shimano Gravel specific group, which should be super light and reliable for those long fire road climbs he hopes.
With all your new fat bike knowledge, a new location to check out, a link to some pogies, and snow on the ground you’re ready to bundle up and hit the trails again or for the first time. If you get yourself in a situation on a ride hopefully Provost will see you and come introduce himself and lend you a hand but now you know you should think like a boy scout before your next bike adventure. I hope learning about Provost and his love for fat bikes sparked your interest in trying as much as it did mine.