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Weeklong Tour 2017 – Cottage Country on Wheels

Sun. Shining Lakes. Humidity. Thunderstorms. Tornados. Bugs. That pretty much describes Ontario’s cottage country in late July / early August. Now superimpose a cycle tour 11 cyclists strong. That was the KVC Weeklong Tour 2017. Oh, and breweries. Lots of breweries.

This being the year for a remote start, the tour started in Bowmanville on Saturday, July 29th. Our itinerary took us through Peterborough, Fenelon Falls, Orillia, Barrie, Alliston, and Uxbridge. If that sounds like something out of Cottage Life, it very well could have been. Lots of beautiful vistas, plenty of cottagers everywhere, visits to some Trent-Severn locks along the way, Kawartha Ice Cream at every turn, and some nice campsites.

If last year we had rider attrition along the way (Montréal, to be exact), this year was kind of the opposite. Everyone stayed with the tour until the final day, when all but two abandoned the tour. You may have heard about tornados passing through cottage country about that time? That was the day, and as fate would have it, that the distances back to the start (Bowmanville) and to the planned destination for that Friday night (Pickering) were about the same. Most riders decided it was best to cut out that final day – especially since we could not confirm our camping site. Robert & Margaret, the only two who stayed in motels at each stop, were the valiant two who collected all possible kilometers for Weeklong 2017. Bravo!

The highlights and low lights:

  • Our first day’s ride to Peterborough was a challenging one, full of steep climbs and an afternoon headwind. We were happy to be greeted at our downtown campground by former KVC member Marilyn Freeman, who escorted us along local downtown trails to a patio dinner at The Only Cafe.
  • In comparison, Day2 was a breeze – mostly on a trail, and ending at the beautiful lock-side park in Fenelon Falls. The campers enjoyed a beautiful evening, dining at the campsite el fresco.
  • We had two days in Orillia – and for those familiar with the Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock – the little town is little no more! Orillia seems much bigger than its 31,000 population would suggest, and the downtown is fed by a network of bike trails. Lying between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, there is water all around, and several beaches. An unexpected highlight of the visit was the ½ price appetizer night at Studebakers, where many appies and drinks went down. Our group enjoyed a number of activities over the two days, including beaching, kayaking, looking at historic sites, shopping and – of course – cycling (day ride option up to Coldwater). The 6 km trail ride from the campground to town assured that we did not get lazy during our stay.
  • Thunderstorms started to pop up by Day 5. We had a wonderful ride to Barrie, and a great patio lunch and tour at The Flying Monkey Brew Pub. Our stay was extended by a heavy downpour that (conveniently) came through while we were in the pub. Several of us sought shelter in barns and porches as we rode to Alliston later that day, and on our ride to Uxbridge the next.
  • Uxbridge highs – visit to the Second Wedge Brewery; campsite in lovely Elgin Park; dinner at the Wixan’s Bridge Pub and Restaurant. Uxbridge lows – massive thunderstorms just as most of us were getting to town; nighttime visits to said campground by local kids, including golf ball attacks on one tent (don’t ask).
  • Final rides back to the start (whether over two days or one) from Uxbridge were beautiful – but again punctuated with severe weather. Margaret & Robert were almost part of a tornado as they proceeded to Pickering that Friday evening. It was wonderful on the return to Bowmanville to celebrate with lunch at a local eatery and to reflect on the excellent routes we had covered.

Don’t miss the weeklong fun next year – destined to be a Kingston start. Check in with ride organization Hal Cain for details:

Weeklong Tour 2016 – RURAL MEETS URBAN


This year’s weeklong cycle tour (July 23 – August 1) was a tale of two cities – Kingston and Montreal – with a whole lot of rural in between.   A record 17 riders took part this year, 11 of them camping and the others choosing motel or B&B accommodations.  This year also saw our first international participants – a delightful couple, Andre and Frankie, from Florida who joined the tour on the urging of KVC member Gordon Smith.

The ride started at the Cataraqui Recreation Centre on a warm Saturday morning, and the group began its meandering route to Mallorytown via Sunbury and Lansdowne. Mallorytown proved to be one of our best campgrounds, with quiet sites, cooking facilities and even an entertaining evening Bingo event. (Some of the campgrounds proved challenging due to the proximity of highways and train lines – but somehow most of us seemed to sleep through the noise.  Could it have been a “good tired” at the end of a day long cycle?).  Days 2 and 3 took us on quiet rural roads to the small towns of Winchester and Alexandria. On the way to Winchester, we passed through one of our riders’ childhood hometown; and it just so happened that the owner of the Winchester B&B where we overnighted (campers on the grounds) was her childhood friend. A highlight of Day 4 was a perfectly awesome lunch at the Vert Fourchette in Vankleek Hill (not to be missed) followed by beer tasting and a tour at Beau’s Brewery. For the rest of the day we rode tailwinds into our next destination, Rigaud, Quebec, where our camping and motel groups separated for the night. Day 5 started with a beautiful ride along the Ottawa River, followed by a ferry crossing over to Oka, PQ. Later that day we left the quiet rural roads behind as we navigated our ways through Montreal to our lodging at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) (not recommended in a hot summer – no AC, and lots of student noise if your windows are open). Most of our KVC group negotiated the traffic together, and found that the route actually followed designated bike-ways. This was a stark departure from our country daydreaming.

Day 6 was a rest day in Montreal and our resourceful cycle-tourists used the time in a variety of ways: a tour of the Marinoni bicycle factory was enjoyed by 6; several toured Old Montreal; some took a bus tour of the city; others climbed Mont Royal for a view of the city; and several checked out the outdoor festival venue of Just For Laughs, which was on full force during our visit. It was a great break, and due to the timely visit of Gordon’s wife Marilyn, 3 riders hopped a ride back to Kingston at that point.

The return ride for the rest of the group was literally a breeze – tailwinds helped us the whole way. Highlights of the return ride were riding bike routes along the waterfront through the west suburbs of Montreal; riding the off-road paved paths for the Waterfront Trail; a visit to the Ontario Power Plant in Cornwall, where we learned the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway; cruising the Long Sault Parkway; visit to Blue Church (eventually final resting place for one of our participants); our last group dinner in Brockville on the upstairs, dockside patio at Bud’s on the Bay; our final picnic in the park in Gananoque; and finally, that rewarding clink of glasses at the Kingston Brew Pub.

The most common question from people not on this tour, on our return was, “wasn’t it awfully hot”? Yes, it was hot. It was sunny most days. But we had tailwinds, so most riders were finishing off their days earlier than they otherwise might and found cold beverages. There was a lovely breeze most days, at just the right angles to cool things off.  Advantage of the hot weather? We found virtually no mosquitoes when we camped. It rained only one day while we were riding – the final morning, and it was a gentle rain that persisted only until the morning coffee break. Too much heat? Nothing that ice cream, ice water and a cold beer couldn’t handle.

Trip by the Numbers:
– 10 days total
– 9 days of riding (one rest day)
– Total of 714 km (not counting evening rides around town, etc.)
– 17 riders at the start, 14 at the finish
– 6 first timers: Maggie Cowtan, Jeremy MacLaverty, Gordon Smith, Lisa Kelian, Frankie and André
– 7 morning coffee breaks in charming rural cafés
– 3 ice cream stops (that we will admit)
– 2 birthdays (Vicki Ryckman & Jeremy McLaverty)
– 1 campfire ( no smores)

Check the KVC Facebook page for photos and comments related to the 2016 Weeklong.

Stay tuned for information on next year’s weeklong tour. Got an overnight tour you want to organize? Contact the Tour Director.

Weeklong Tour 2015 – AN “ERIE” ADVENTURE!


This year’s weeklong tour was the biggest ever! A total of 16 riders joined the tour for all or part of the journey from Dunnville, Ontario to Pelee Island and back. Along the way, our intrepid group of cycle-tourists enjoyed seemingly endless sunshine, the warmest days of summer, beautiful nights under the stars, and some pretty amazing campfires (thanks, Pyroman – Wayne!). We also endured some intense west winds and long stretches with no food or water options in the early days. Of course, those high winds were quite welcome as we wound our way back home. The 670 km tour took us through Simcoe, St. Thomas, Rondeau Beach, Pelee Island, Erieau, Port Stanley, and Turkey Point, with a brewery tour, two wineries, a museum and several ice cream shops en route. Great planning, Hal!

The tour was dubbed the “Survivor’s Tour” when we realized that several of the riders wouldn’t make it. We lost two riders to heat and exhaustion in the challenging early days, two to mechanical challenges, and seven riders cut the ride short due to other commitments. The seven “survivors” celebrated the end of the ride at the Dunnville ice cream shop, vowing to return next year.

As our leader Hal summarized the trip – by the numbers:
Days of riding = 9 (max)
Number of official KVC kms = 669
Max number of riders = 16
Min number of riders = 7
Max number of campers = 8 (on one or more nights)
Max number of non-campers = 7 (on one or more nights)
Number of tire punctures = 3
Number of broken spokes = 4
Number of sore bums = 2 (verified, but others may not have admitted)
Number of sore feet = 2 (one pair)
Number of insect bites = too many to count
Number of pints of beer consumed = 250 (just a guess)
Number of glasses of wine = 150 (again, just a guess)
Number of good memories to share and talk about = innumerable!

Highlights of the tour included our night of camping at the Walmart; swims in Lake Erie; our “dinner cruise” on the Pelee Island ferry; the barbeque lunch at the Pelee Island Winery; miles of dirt road that kept emerging from nowhere; and some pretty fantastic group dinners. Be sure to get the KVC 2016 weeklong on your schedule!