I'm still on the fence on participating. My concern is typical for all my bikepacking trips - where I set up my tent at night. I like to know where that will be. The last thing I want to do at the end of a big day is ride around for another 30-40km between full campgrounds. I've read quite a few times that July is a very busy time and to book well in advance.
And yet, I really don't want to over plan this. Matt's description of the route, all the trail-on-the-side options, butter tarts, breweries, and scenery all make me want to stretch it out a little. I could probably do it in 4 days, but I think I'd enjoy taking 6.
The list of people is growing. That's exciting. How many of you are planning each night's accommodations out ahead of time? Are you already having difficulty?
When I tour I usually stay at either a campground or stealth/free camp. Campgrounds are nice because you get a shower, bench, fire pit, hiking trails etc. Stealth camping usually happens when there is nothing else available. There is something to be said about waking up after a successful stealth camp though.
My favourite stealth campsites are usually old churches/graveyards. No one cares if you camp for one night and the dead certainly won't bother you. Bonus if there is running water at the back of the church!
I try to stay away from fields, forests, wooded areas for fear of poison ivy and...TICKS!
I find that campgrounds usually have space available without reservations if you camp Sunday to Thursday evenings as Friday and Saturday evenings are the big rush. For this reason, I have started the Grand Depart on Sunday. And I think some of the private camping options along the route such as Eagle Adventures at about the 419km mark of the route will probably always be able to find tenting space for you.
It can always be a balancing act between not reserving places so you can ride based on how you are feeling that day versus having the comfort of knowing you have a guaranteed place to rest for the night but that it might come before you are ready to get off the saddle.
I think for the grand depart week that there will be a mix of people who winging it and those who have everything all planned out and opting for a more casual bike trip.
I'm personally going to do the 'credit card bikepacking' approach (hotels/motels/AirBnB) so I can travel lighter. Not sure how many days I'll be able to join in on, but I think I'll book the Walkerton Inn Motel for the first night. That's about 120kms from the start. Southampton would be a logical Night #2 at the 200km mark, followed by Meaford at the 312 km mark, Lake Eugenia at the 390km mark, Creemore at 490kms, etc. Basically, I'd aim for about 100kms a day and would adjust to always land at a place that has a hotel, motel, cabin or AirBnB.
Coming from the Ottawa area, I'm lucky to have any number of Crown land camping options available to me, so I'm usually not one to overplan things. That being said, as southern Ontario will have limited options in this regard, I've already pre-booked my campsites for the trip. For several reasons:
1. If a large number of people are planning on participating in the grand depart, it will put a lot of stress on what limited "wild" camping spots are available, and people may be tempted to camp on private land without permission. Remember, it will take just a few bad eggs to spoil the ride for everyone (think the clusterf**k a few years ago during the Oregon Outback, already mentioned on this site).
2. I plan on hammocking, so I needed to select campsites at provincial parks that allowed for the easiest hang.
While I plan on covering decent miles (120-150k a day), it will be at a leisurely pace (an early start, combined with 30 minute to hour-long breaks every couple of hours).
As someone else has noted, all provincial parks set aside a few campsites for "walk-ups" which ought to be easily available outside busier Fridays/Saturdays.
I just booked camping spots at MacGregor Provincial Park - DAY 1 , Meaford Memorial Park - DAY 2 and Primrose Park - DAY 3 - for anyone that is doing the loop in 4 days.
Not all that much cost, you are certain to have facilities and I am a bit of a "wuss" as in, I like to know where I am sleeping at the end of a ride day.
Hope this helps!
My concern exactly regarding camping on private land. I'm all for "wild" or "stealth" camping, but I get nervous about trespassing. I live in Michigan. In northern Michigan, you never know when some yahoo feels he has to "exercise his rights" while I think I'm on public land and he disagrees. I want to respect private land, regardless of where I am. I definitely don't want to spoil it for anyone else.
Still not sure what I'm going to do, but count me in.
As I was riding the route this week I did spot a number of places that looked great for "wild" camping and no indication that they were on private land. I'll be updating the route files to include a few of these. But of course, common sense with respect to these things should prevail.
This event sounds amazing! We own a home with a pretty nice front yard in Flesherton and would be open to hosting Bikepackers with room for their tents and bonfire. Let me know if anybody may be interested and we can workout the details.