MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Spring 2019

SPRING 2019 ML BLUE 53 words & photos :: Matthew Kadey Lushly overgrown, the Garden of Eden Road through Noisy River Provincial Park is everything a gravel grinder yearns for—challenging terrain in breath-stealing surroundings. From here a cyclist has a bounty of some of Ontario’s most alluring gravel roads to choose from. It was a ride through this region south of Creemore in the summer of 2018 where I hashed out an idea to bring more riders here by creating the first bikepacking route in this part of the province. It’s almost impossible to ignore the rising popularity of bikepacking over the past few years. Bike shops are now stocking more gravel-ready bikes and bikepacking-specific bags, while reports of off-pavement journeys inundate social media. In layperson terms, bikepacking is self-supported mixed-terrain cycle touring that can range from local overnighters to more ambitious multi-week outings. It appeals to those who yearn for a bike adventure that greatly limits time spent on car- heavy pavement. Think of it as cycle touring meets backpacking. To date, numerous bikepacking routes and events have been well established in western North America. But as I spent more and more time exploring the backroads and trails of southwestern Ontario on two wheels I was positive that we also possessed a wealth of worthy terrain. It just had to be harnessed into a seamless route—one that didn’t require a plane ticket. One that I now call the BT 700. The BT 700—the “BT” idolizes the ubiquitous sugary butter tart ready to fuel any rider, and 700 stands for the approximate kilometre distance of the route—started when I began poring over maps to identify gravel roads and trails that could be weaved together to form one big loop. And from there, I was tasked with hopping on the saddle and scouting these to determine what worked and what needed refinement. Much THE BT 700: NEW BIKEPACKING ROUTE HITS CLOSE TO HOME WHEEL WELL