In my hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo, we’ve been extremely lucky to have one of the best mountain bike trail systems in Ontario. The Hydrocut has been a favourite mountain-biking destination for many years, with as many as 40,000 riders visiting each year. I first rode these trails more than 20 years ago (around 1992) when I heard a rumour that there were some trails “behind the landfill”. After lifting my bike over a fence, I discovered a hidden gem of a forest with a confusing network of trails with elevated platforms built between the trails in some areas.
A lot has changed since then. The Waterloo Cycling Club now has a stewardship agreement with the Region of Waterloo to manage these trails. There’s now over 25 kilometres of continuous, flowing singletrack. This past long weekend, I introduced my blog buddy Colin to the Hydrocut (check out his blog here).
We planned the ride for Monday afternoon and the weather forecast called for a chance of showers. With Colin driving all the way from Scarborough, we had a contingency plan in the event of rain and trail closure: we’d ride some gravel roads in the area. We also invited a few locals: Colin’s high school friend Tammy (whom he hadn’t seen in over 25 years) and her husband Joe, plus Ty Plante, from Barn Door Creative, an avid mountain biker who’s putting together a video of The Hydrocut.
The five of us headed out on the trails just after 12:30pm. The sky was overcast but it wasn’t raining. As we started our ride, my lack of fitness became evident very quickly. This was my ride at the Hydrocut this year, and my first real mountain bike ride since the summer of 2016 (unless you count the few kms I rode at Turkey Point last month). Colin, Ty and Joe were very fast and I couldn’t keep up to their pace. Tammy and I rode together for a while before she and Ty left while the remaining three of us completed our ride.
I should mention that Ty carried two Go Pros and he had Joe wear a third. Hopefully some of us will appear on a video!
I’m sure (or at least I hope) TeamColin will blog about this ride. As you can see from the above photo, everyone is smiling! These trails are so much fun!
A few tips for riding the Hydrocut:
- Avoid the trails when muddy. The website (and Twitter) are updated with trail status. If it’s too muddy, the trails will be closed.
- Read the signs. Some expert features have been added. If you’re unsure about any of these features, unclip and walk.
- Bring bug spray. The mosquitoes are hungry (I gave more than my share of blood to them on this ride).
- Use the map. There are several map kiosks, and you’ll often run into a local rider who knows the trails. You can miss a lot if you don’t know where you’re going. Conversely, you can end up at the far end of the trail system if you don’t plan accordingly. There are two main sections: The north-east side (also called the Landfill or Glasgow St. side) and the south-west side (the Snyders Road or Pines). The two sections are connected by trails along the hydro corridor.
- The map is also available in print format. Visit the local bike shops (King Street Cycles, Ziggy’s Cycle, McPhails) to buy one for $10 (I designed them, and all proceeds go to the trails!).