Les Ami(e)s du Cycloparc PPJ Six bike rallies planned to celebrate Canada’s 150th

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Lynne Lavery

MRC PONTIAC – It may be the middle of winter but there’s an enthusiastic team busy working on a unique way to celebrate Canda’s 150th anniversary and promote the PPJ Cyclopark to locals and visitors. Heading the efforts to create a summer and fall filled with bicycle rallies and other events on and around the

Lynne Lavery

MRC PONTIAC – It may be the middle of winter but there’s an enthusiastic team busy working on a unique way to celebrate Canda’s 150th anniversary and promote the PPJ Cyclopark to locals and visitors. Heading the efforts to create a summer and fall filled with bicycle rallies and other events on and around the
PPJ is Tiziana Fortin-Rompelberg, the project manager for the Bike
and Hike Cycloparc PPJ Jamboree organized by Les Ami(e)s du Cycloparc PPJ (Friends of the PPJ).  Tiziana is a native of the Netherlands, married to
a Quebecois from the Lac-St-Jean region, and has been living in the Pontiac with her family for the past three years; as someone who “grew up surrounded by bicycles and cyclists” she is the perfect leader for this ambitious project.  
According to Tiziana the idea started with Léo Heise, who has a farm that runs on either side of the PPJ. Heise spoke out last year when the threats of ATVers gaining access to the trail was in high gear; she wrote letters to the Journal suggesting many ways that the trail could be promoted and used
more. Putting words into actions, Heise worked with Fortin-Rompelberg starting last fall to create the now registered non-profit organization and to submit grant applications to the Canada 150 fund and other agencies.
“We have six cycling and hiking tours planned, starting in May and running through to October.  We have used the PPJ Cyclopark map prepared by the MRC; the first will be a Beach Tour starting at the trail head in Bristol going to Portage-du-Fort and back; the Heritage tour, from Litchfield to Waltham; the Lakes Tour from Shawville to Otter Lake and down to Campbell’s Bay—this one is supported by Action Velo Outaouais with their members participating in it; a tour on Ile-du-Grand-Calumet and one between Sheenboro and L’Ile aux Allumettes. And, finally we are planning a full moon tour, using the concept that Ski Pontiac uses with their moonlight skis—where the route will be lit with torches or other methods,” said Fortin-Rompelberg. They also plan to hold two free bicycle maintenance workshops in April and August, as well as have passports for participants to keep track of their tours, prizes for kids that participate and a big party at the end of the season.
“It’s a big project,” said Tiziana. “Our goal is to
create an event that will draw everyone’s attention to the PPJ and what a wonderful asset it is to the Pontiac. Of course, we hope to find the funding that will allow us to go ahead with all our plans, but, even if we don’t, we will hold the rallies, just on a simpler scale.”
She has been busy promoting the event by visiting municipalities for financial and verbal support;  has gained support from the citizen’s committee Green PPJ Verte, who first drew attention to the threats to the PPJ; has contacted Will Amos’ office to find out about other possible funding sources; is working with the SADC on a business plan; has worked out cooperation with the CSHBO for elementary students to create a logo for the group and high school students to create podcasts (les balados) describing the natural, cultural, and historical points of interest around the trail; is working with the WQSB’s schools to get their students involved in the project; has contacted Patro, Maisons des Jeunes,  the Jardins Educatif and local daycares to get them involved; has participated in a round table with the MRC’s Sport and Leisure Department and representatives  from various RAs etc. to see what can be coordinated with them; and is planning a fundraising breakfast in the spring.
“We’d love the entire Pontiac to get behind this project….it’s a great way to discover your own backyard! Anyone interested should get in touch with me,” she said, adding:  “We want to create a website and a facebook page—is there someone who can help us with that?  We need people to volunteer on the days of the rallies, to help with our record keeping and with a membership drive. The list is long, but so far the response has been really positive and we are looking forward to the spring, when things will really get rolling. This could become an annual project and really put the Pontiac, and the PPJ on the map,” she concluded. 
For more information or to get involved in the Bike and Hike Cycloparc PPJ Jamboree contact Tiziana  Fortin-Rompelberg at tizianarcenciel@gmail.com.