Sharpe Line on the way to Bethany

So, What’s This All About?

In the early stages of planning a trip, cycling tourists often look at a map, see an interesting looking place and wonder “Can we ride there? What route would we take? What are the roads and traffic like? Are there services along the way? Things to see and do? Accomodation? Camping...?”.

And then the time pressures of daily life intrude. Touring decisions are often the result of online searches that turn up routes already vetted by tourism boards, bike clubs or individual tourists who have blogged about their trips. Having a guide to work from makes things easy and eliminates a lot of planning time, which can be a major time sink and which many people really don’t like.

That’s good, and bad.

Good: Because less planning work usually equals more fun.
Bad: Because some great cycling destinations can be overlooked because of the lack of information available online.

That’s the case here.

Peterborough, Ontario at the south end of the Kawartha Lakes Region, is positioned at the heart of great cycling and is, itself, a nice little city to visit.

Until I had moved here however, almost no cyclists I’d spoken to had ever mentioned it and the only touring stories I had heard were nightmare accounts of the ride along Highway 7 to Ottawa. It was unknown, off the radar, invisible to day-riders and loaded tourists alike who tend to stick to the well know, well documented and I’ll admit, very nice, Waterfront Trail. 

It’s my hope, that with the ever expanding network of bicycle touring routes available in Ontario, including the new Greenbelt Route, that an official, mapped and signed route will someday replace this modest unofficial effort. Until then, I hope to provide interested tourists with a way up here and back down to the Lake Ontario waterfront that offers interesting riding with maybe a bit of a challenge as well.

The Philosophy.
  • I’m doing this just because I think it needs doing. It's not a business venture.
  • I’ll try to offer routes that mix decent road conditions, low traffic and regular services. I’m a lifelong cycling tourist and big-city bike commuter and realize that my traffic tolerance may be higher than others so if I have to make a choice, I’ll aim for a slightly longer but lower traffic route. I’ll also try to be up front about what conditions are really like and note the higher traffic routes for those that might want to use them.
  • Sometimes (and I’m thinking of the eastern non-Trans-Canada Trail route specifically) my choices may surprise those looking at the route on a map. But often, the most obvious route is not the most pleasant for a loaded cyclist, especially during summer-time in cottage country.
  • All roads should be viewable in Google Street View (all hail Google Street View! The best thing to happen to bicycle touring planning since the bicycle.) so that there will be no surprises.

Important-ish disclaimer

Durham, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Northumberland and Quinte West are all ancient glacier beds and the topography reflects that, it’s one big mass of drumlins, eskers and moraines. Riding in the region requires that you be physically prepared and appropriately geared for a good deal of hill climbing.

Once you’re here, there are day ride routes that are quite flat, but riding from and back to Lake Ontario in the context of loaded bike travel, will involve lots of hills. The only exception to this is the section of Trans-Canada Trail where the grades are (as with most rail-trails) gentle.