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: firstname.lastname@example.org.