Born out of a curiosity to explore Southwester Ontario’s lesser known nooks and crannies, the BT 700 (now about 790 km, but who’s counting) is a grand, multi-day jaunt that makes use of a combination of gravel roads, rail trail, bounding two-track, forest singletrack, rugged unserviced roads and just a whisper of tarmac to take riders through varied landscapes and the rugged beauty of this chunk of Ontario. It should be consider a mixed surface, all-terrain route and more mountain bike oriented than a pure gravel ride. Along the way, you’ll come into contact with inviting rivers, widescreen vistas, lush green pastures, charming communities and plunging waterfalls. A somewhat demanding route full of two-wheel challenges for cyclists of all abilities and one that benefits old-fashioned ‘rough stuff’ attitudes. It is not designed to be the easiest, most direct or fastest route, but one that inspires a sense of adventure. As always, take a breather, and a photo opportunity. A bikepacker’s toil is invariably worth the effort. Of course, butter tarts are the terrior of the route. Covering the route under your own steam will surely work up an appetite for routes namesake treat.
Matthew Kadey, curator of Bikepacking Ontario.
This is based on my experience racing the BT700 and setting an FKT.
Overnight Rest Stops:
The BT 700 will put a physical toll on your body. While large parts of the route are easy going on rolling gravel roads and smooth rail trail, there are many bouts of singletrack that will challenge your body’s ability to control a fully loaded bike as you wind your way through Conservation Areas and Provincial Parks. To make things even more demanding the route is peppered with rugged trails that throw massive climbs and descents your way. Completing the entire route will put a lot of strain on your legs and may even require a bit of hike-a-bike in order to get up some of the steeper hills.
In terms of technical skill required to complete the BT 700, the skill level needed to ride every section of trail along the route is greater than that needed for other similar distance bikepacking routes in the region. With the constant change from gravel to singletrack, hiking trail, unmaintained roads and disused roads, you need to constantly be aware of what is coming up next on the route and prepare yourself accordingly. The more physically demanding the route it, the harder the technical sections will be, so be sure to rest not just your body, but your mind as well, and be prepared for a really amazing and fun time.