As 2018 winds down, I am starting to look ahead into 2019. I’ll be writing a 2018 cycling summary post in the next couple of weeks, but looking ahead, new cycling adventures are already appearing on my radar.
In particular, Ontario’s first multi-day bikepacking event (at least that I’m aware of) is scheduled for 2019. The BT700, is a 700 km loop through southwestern Ontario, covering gravel roads, rail trails and back roads.
Race organizer Matt Kadey is no stranger to long distance bike touring. A freelance writer, Matt has toured on his bike all around the world, most recently in Costa Rica and Portugal. His personal website includes photographs from many of his bike adventures, not to mention recipes (he’s a nutritionist and has published three books).
Matt and I, along with my brother Greg and a friend Hal, bikepacked the Central Ontario Loop Trail in 2017. More details here.
For the BT700 (the BT stands for “Butter Tart”), Matt has created a route that starts and ends in St. Jacobs, Ontario, just north of Kitchener-Waterloo. From there, it heads north-west towards Lake Huron before turning towards Owen Sound and Meaford. Cyclists will then turn south, away from Georgian Bay to experience the hills of Beaver Valley, before turning back north to Collingwood. From Collingwood, the route winds south through the towns of Creemore and Mono towards Albion Hills Conservation Area. The “final stretch” takes the rail trail from Erin to Elora before linking back to St. Jacobs.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? To get to a distance over 700 km, with over 5000 metres of climbing, Matt took many trips to various locations across southern Ontario to map out paths and gravel roads and to connect them into a continuous route. He also mapped out interesting places along the way, including campgrounds, trail heads, road closures, grocery stores, breweries.. all important for those of us seeking distraction during the multi-day event.
BT700 is advertised as simply a route. There will be an organized start, or Grand Depart, in July 2019 (on Sunday the 15th). There are no entry fees, no insurance, no prizes, nor is it sanctioned. Every rider is responsible for their own safety and must be self-sufficient. The route even has “options” for the more adventurous. Announced only a week ago, BT700 already has over two dozen people signed up for the Grand Depart! I’m on the list, and I’m looking forward to it!
I’ll be blogging about my preparation, my bike setup and the gear I’ll be using as the date gets closer. As it looks now, I am imagining 6 days to complete the route. That’s about 120 km per day. In July, there will be plenty of sunlight hours to get in longer days, but I won’t be in any hurry. I’ll camp some nights and possible find a motel/shower on other nights. I imagine there will be some folks who will attempt to complete the route in 3 days (or less?). That won’t be me!
So get this in your calendar. Contact Matt if you’re interested. And let me know if you have any questions!