“Ontario: Yours to Discover – By Bike.”
That’s the suggestion and slogan of Ontario By Bike, a project of Transportation Options, a non-profit organization and leader in cycle tourism development.
“Spring has sprung and wheels are in motion as cyclists are keen to get out there on the roads and trails in greater numbers than ever,” said executive director Louisa Mursell.
Seeing the countryside on two wheels by pedal power is a “documented growing phenomena worldwide and in Ontario,” the organization has confirmed.
In the province, 69% of cyclists have taken an overnight or day trip in the past two years and the Ontario By Bike Network, launched in 2010, is active with 1,000 bicycle-friendly locations in 28 regions.
“We were in London and Lambton County in the Sarnia area last week to expand the Ontario By Bike Network to those areas,” Mursell said.
There was “tremendous interest” from businesses looking to become certified as bicycle friendly and reach the growing cycle tourism market, she added.
Later this spring, it will expand to Brant County, North Bay and the Mattawa area.
The organization said London has “fantastic mountain bike and trail-riding facilities close to downtown and the 300 kilometres of bike paths and bike lanes for visitors to explore throughout the city.”
A scenic spot for biking is along the Niagara River near Niagara Falls. (Handout)
There is also the accessibility to great rural riding in the surrounding counties, urban cycling experiences such as 40 kilometres along the paved, off-road Thames River Parkway and the vibrant neighbourhoods and attractions in downtown London, Mursell said.
GREAT PLACES TO CYCLE
“Whether you are interested in meandering recreational trails, rugged mountain biking terrain or paved road riding, there are trail and route types suitable for any kind of rider,” Mursell said. Many rides are easily accessible, either close to urban areas or near “quaint, hospitable country towns.”
The association’s website provides an overview and videos of great cycling spots for Southwestern Ontario: Elgin, Lambton, London, Middlesex and Oxford; the Great Waterway/Southeastern Ontario; Frontenac; Hamilton and Halton; Lanark County; Kawarthas Northumberland; and Simcoe County.
Others are Manitoulin Island and LaCloche Foothills; Haldimand and Norfolk; Greater Toronto Area; Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island; Grey County; Durham, Niagara, Peel and York; Ottawa; Haliburton Highlands; Parry Sound District; and Ottawa Valley/Renfrew County.
In Ontario Lake Country on the shores of Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, the association said mountain bikers will not be disappointed with “a number of well-known and well-maintained private trail facilities that host regular events and competitions, plus activities and clinics for beginners.”
Lake Country tourism works with Cycle Simcoe to develop routes and another option is mountain biking along the scenic and hilly terrain of the Copeland Forest at Horseshoe Valley north of Barrie.
Sara Archer of Ride Guides said these rock-strewn paths are “some of the gnarliest, fastest and most technical trails in the country.”
The company provides bikes, helmets, guides and outlines the rules of the forest and tips on riding before heading out. Beginners, intermediates and advanced cyclists can use the cross-country riding trails, single-track terrain and paved rural roads in the area.
Ontario By Bike’s recently released 2015 Cycling in Ontario guide has a huge array of ride ideas, inspiration and detailed travel information.
It provides details on two-hour outings to 14-day cycling tours; quiet country roads well-suited for serious training rides; top technical terrain for mountain bike enthusiasts; and cycling events from fundraisers to leisurely weekend-and-longer tours.
There is information about gorge and wetland crossings by bike bridges; converted rail beds and world-class trail riding; ferries and island bike destinations; wineries, brew pubs, cafes and patios.
The guide has also lists lost islands, decommissioned submarines, agricultural museums and other sites for cyclists to explore.
NEED TO KNOW
For more information and to view or obtain the Cycling in Ontario guide: ontariobybike.ca.