In the heart of South Western Ontario sits a 760 kilometre bikepacking loop named the BT700. The route is only a few years old, but has been a very popular summer challenge for anyone looking for back county roads, steep gnarly gravel climbs, unopened/unclassified road allowances, no winter maintenance sections, single track and rail trails. The course covers every type of terrain you could ever wish for and with approximately 6,500 meters of climbing you can be sure to come across a few hike-a-bike sections.
After a little research, I discovered that people were either riding it in one complete go with a few hours of rest, or spreading it out over five days or so. I personally had no desire to ride it straight, nor did I have four or five days to spend gradually making my way along the route, so I decided three days was appropriate, from Thursday to Saturday, leaving Sunday as a back up if a fourth day was needed.
Since large portions of this route is very remote, I recruited a friend to accompany me along the journey, attempting to keep the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Typically the BT700 ride has a 'Grand Depart' on the summer solstice in June, but it can be ridden during any time from April through October. Our window of opportunity was July 1-3, 2021. With some pretty long riding days planned, we would need all the daylight possible. Normally the route starts in the small town of St Jacobs, right in the heart of Mennonite country. However, since we live on the northern portion of the route, we decided it was best to start our journey right from our homes.
Planning was tough. To crunch the BT700 into three days, it meant riding some very long, hard kilometers. Lucky for us, the hardest portion of the route, with the most climbing was right in our back yard. Day one would be the hardest, with 260 kilometers and 3,500 meters of climbing. Day two would cover a longer distance of 290 kilometers, but much of that over flatter terrain. The third day would be a shorter day of 190 kilometers, but the climbing would be back to help slow us down.
My biggest take away from this bikepacking trip was that I loved all the off-road portions of the course. Anything that was gnarly, off the beaten path and something I would normally love riding. Certain sections I would love to tackle again, but maybe in the opposite direction next time.
The BT 700 is now part of larger bikepacking collective in Ontario. Several similar routes in other parts of the province have now been assembled and are available for download to suit your adventure needs. For more information, check out their website at bt700.ca
For those looking for the full course for download to do your own planning, you can find the route here komoot.com/tour/533850984
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: April 26, 2022
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