I've now updated the BT 700 route to include additional accommodation options and some route tweaks based on my scouting mission out there last week.
In case anyone did not get my recent BT 700 update email blast here is what I sent out.
After my ride around the BT 700 route last week I was able to make some improvements and fix a few routing errors. So here is what I hope is the finalized route. I’ll continue to try to add additional accommodation options for riders.
Segment One: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28398957
Segment Two: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28605780
Segment Three: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28512655
Segment Four: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28552088
Full Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28798353
I found that it was better to upload the route as smaller sections (the four segments above) onto my Garmin device since it really does not like dealing with large files. The full route can be downloaded onto the Ride with GPS mobile app (https://ridewithgps.com/help/mobile/). Riders are reporting that they find this app to be very helpful. You can use it to navigate even when offline and all the Points of Interest will show up. Just tap on a POI and the additional information will be displayed. You need to zoom in on the route as some POI’s overlap and all of them can’t be seen when zoomed out.
There are plenty of rugged sections along the route (made even more adventurous by the wet spring) so for riders who are using gravel-style bikes I strongly recommend using the fattest tires possible, ideally nothing smaller than 40’s. Some tread is definitely also recommended.
I encourage riders to attempt the route as plotted for the ultimate BT 700 experience, but if for some reason things need to be simplified such as dealing with harsh weather I have marked the hardest sections with a generic I Point of Interest that will provide a suggested easier detour.
As plotted, the route is coming in at 5,400 metres of elevation gain. This is inaccurate. Measured values by riders who have completed the loop are closer to 8,000 metres. So for riders using gravel/cross bikes it’s ideal if it’s outfitted with a climbing-friendly gear ratio.
I have also noted several “wild” camping options along the route. These are places that I thought could be good for discreet tenting as they appear not to tramp on private land. However, I can’t guarantee these and all riders are responsible for safely securing their own overnight camping – and absolutely leaving no trace. There are also a few areas of crown land where Canadian citizens can camp for free.
You’ll come across numerous No Exit signs along the route. Those can be ignored because lucky for us all of them do exit for those on two wheels.
Some wise advice regarding keep in your bike in good working order. There are a handful of muddy sections along the route – hopefully many fewer if we get some drier weather – and I found it really helpful to hose down my drivetrain and relube whenever I got the chance. Letting gunk build-up is a recipe for poor performance.
As you ride around the BT 700 route it would be great if you could mention to local businesses that you are taking part in it. This is not an ego thing, but just a way to make more people aware of this bikepacking route which will hopefully improve services available to future riders. I am always on the hunt for land/business owners looking to get involved such as providing tenting space and, in a wonderland, half off butter tarts.
Again, I must stress that all riders are responsible for their own decisions and well-being on the route which includes making route diversions as one sees fit and securing accommodation.
The list of riders for the Grand Depart has grown nicely so it should be a fun time to be on the loop.
Keep in mind that services are limited on the Sunday departure date in most towns along the route to Lake Huron.
I've had a few requests for tracking during the Grand Depart event. So I will go ahead and set up the BT 700 on Trackleaders (http://trackleaders.com/). If you would like to make use of this service I can get you a form to fill out and it will cost you $15 USD to get on the tracking board (paid to them not me). You can use your own device (SPOT or InReach) or rent one from them for about $70 USD. They have told me that it is cheaper if all rental units are shipped to me at once and then I distribute them to riders who ordered them. After the event, riders are responsible for shipping rental units to Trackleaders. Let me know if you want to be on Trackleaders.
I received this message from BT 700 participant Mark Horner. If interested in taking him up on this awesome offer he can be contacted at email@example.com or 519-747-2920
I have a farm just outside St. Clements and wanted to offer to the BT700 group a place to camp out in the yard before the ride if someone was coming in from out of town and looking for a plot of grass to pitch a tent and park a car. I am about 15km to the start. I have a truck to shuttle over bikes in the morning.
On Saturday July 13th there will be a get together for BT participants at The Village Biergarten in St. Jacobs (1381 King St N, St. Jacobs, ON), which is operated by Block Three Brewing. The time of this meet-and-greet is 6:30 to 8:30pm. Both food and drinks are available for purchase.
On the 14th, I’m suggesting a depart time between 8:00 and 8:30am, but since this is an “unofficial” ride you are free to leave at any time you please.
EcoCafe (https://ecocafestjacobs.com/) usually does not open their doors until 11am on Sunday, but they will be open early to caffeinate and fuel riders before the depart. Since they are opening extra early on the morning of the 14th just for the BT 700 please stop in if you can. Riders can gather in the parking lot behind EcoCafe (off of Front Street) for the departure since it’s possible to hop on the trail right from there.
There is a bustling farmers’ market on Saturdays in St. Jacobs if you are arriving that day before the ride on Sunday. This can be a good source for some provisions.
I’ve been able to secure multi-day parking in St. Jacob’s for the week of the Grand Depart (July 14th to 21st). And the township is providing it for free. If you are in need of parking space let me know and I’ll get you a parking permit closer to the event.
If you are planning to ride the BT 700 at a different time of year than the Grand Depart and would like to park in St. Jacob’s for multiple days I can also work to get you a parking permit. But please provide me several day’s notice if possible.
St. Jacob’s Accommodation
If you are looking for roofed accommodation close to the start line here are three options:
July is a crazy busy month in St. Jacobs so be sure to book ahead.
There are also more budget-friendly options in Kitchener-Waterloo.
As for camping, these are likely your closest spots to St. Jacob’s: https://www.grandriver.ca/en/outdoor-recreation/Laurel-Creek.aspx
First Day Camping
There are a handful of good camping options for the first night after departing from St. Jacobs.
Saugeen Riverbank Campground – just outside of Walkerton. They contacted me and are eager to service BT 700 riders
Eden Springs Campground – beside the Brant Tract trails (140km from St. Jacobs)
Private landowner who has camping areas on land. Seems eager to host tenters.
Hidden Valley Campground – outside of Paisley. I stayed here on my BT 700 ride and they have lovely sites down by the Saugeen river.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park – for riders who want to make a bigger push to Lake Huron. Nice sunsets.
After a great deal of hesitation, I’ve decided to add a donation button to the BT 700 homepage (www.bt700.ca). I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating this route and overwhelmed by the support among bikepacking enthusiasts, but between scouting, plotting, working with businesses along the route to increase services for riders and communicating with BT 700 participants it has become a pretty major project requiring a great deal of time. But by no means is this a requirement for riding the route and donations only need to be made if you have completed the route and found it everything you were hoping for. Any amount is appreciated to help me buy some extra kale.
Here is an excellent, detail ride report from Greg Andre-Barrett who recently became the first rider to complete the BT 700 route. Some good tips in this document.
Just learned about this great sounding live tracking app that may interest some BT 700 riders. Can be used for the Grand Depart week and at any other time along the route as well. The app can also be used to display weather updates.
SPOKZ Cycling has created a virtual public event for this year's BT700 allowing you to share your ride location and stats in real time on a public feed. With the SPOKZ app you can also add friends and family to share your BT700 or any training ride in real time. SPOKZ makes
it a breeze to meet up with friends for a ride and lets your loved ones keep an eye on you when you're out on the bike.
For more information see http://spokz.bike and the BT forum post here http://bit.ly/2Rna1aH
Sometimes shit happens and a rider can’t complete the route. If you are in need of transport back to where you started it might be possible that the Waterloo franchise of Driverseat (https://driverseatinc.com/) can transport you and your bike in one of their minivans. Contact: Tom Warren | Owner | (226) 887-1850 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Collingwood franchise of Driverseat will likely be able to provide a chauffeur service starting in August.
Greyhound Bus (https://www.greyhound.ca/) may also be a viable option if you are in one of the bigger cities along the route. Not sure what their bike policy is.
I have set up a public forum on the BT 700 website: http://www.bt700.ca/forum.html
Feel free to start-up new topics as you please. I will also use this forum to mention any route updates so it can be a good idea to check in periodically.
You can also start up conversations on the BT 700 Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BT700/groups/
I’ve also set up Instagram account for the BT 700 for some riding inspiration.
I’m creating a rider gallery page (http://www.bt700.ca/bt-hall-of-fame.html) that includes photos of those who complete the BT 700. So far it’s 3 riders strong, including yours truly. So if you have a photo of you and your ride taken during the trip feel free to submit it to me and I’ll get it posted.
If you would like to post your finishing time for the BT 700, you can do so by sending me the information in this link: http://www.bt700.ca/finishers.html
Waterloo Hydrocut Trails
If you arriving a day early for the BT 700 and are touring on a mountain bike (or trail capable gravel bike) you may want to consider taking a rip around The Hydrocut – a singletrack trail system located fairly close to St. Jacobs. You can definitely get in a couple hours of fat tire fun there. Here is the trail map: https://www.trailforks.com/region/hydrocut/
In partnership with Toronto's Cycle Solutions, a proud supporter of the BT 700, participants can take advantage of 15% off parts and accessories, 20% off clothing, and 10% off a new bike (applicable to regular-priced items). Simply send any requests to Mike Nyby at email@example.com. In store pick-up and shipping is possible.
Another bikepacking option in Ontario is the COLT. You can find more information about that route here: http://www.bt700.ca/colt-bikepacking.html
And if you are looking for a good excuse to escape the North American winter, Tabi and I have spent the past couple winters scouting out bikepacking routes in Costa Rica. All the details are here: http://www.bt700.ca/costa-rica-bikepacking.html
Keep an eye out for the route to appear with more details on bikepacking.com
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