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Toronto - Kincardine - Toronto

Toronto - Kincardine - Toronto

I’m always up for an adventure, as I haven't really been doing much of those lately—just riding the same loop over and over again for two months. I’ve never done a gravel adventure either, so it was a two-birds-with-one-stone kind of ride.

There wasn’t much planning to it, just point A to B. The day started pretty early, Sophie and I didn’t leave until about 7:30 am, and at that time, everyone was heading to work, so it wasn’t the best time to ride out. To make things worse, Strava’s route builder, if you choose "gravel," will find every possible non-road path in the city, which was quite frustrating to follow. I would advise against using it for gravel routes. Following the route took us out of our way a lot and didn’t add much to the journey; if anything, it made it worse. We had some close calls and I was reminded why I don’t ride in the Vaughan area anymore

Once we reached Caledon, everything improved significantly. The route took us on Humberstation Road, which I had never been on before (and have used many times since), heading north towards Hockley Valley. Finally, after about 90 km, we hit some gravel. It was slow going since mentally, I had been over this ride for the last 60 km. Not only that, but the gravel was quite deep and it was getting really hot. I had also been feeling pretty bad but couldn’t figure out why. It turns out, that once we hit Shelburne and had a cup of coffee, I started feeling amazing. Then I realized I hadn’t had any coffee that morning and was probably going through withdrawal or something.

After that, we hit the Shelburne Trail, which goes all the way past Dundalk. I looked this up online, and it was much nicer than I expected—a wider rail trail with fewer breaks. It was pleasant. I hit something, and sealant started spraying all over my bike, but thankfully it sealed itself. This was the best experience with tubeless tires I’ve ever had. If it hadn’t sealed, I think I would have given up on the ride altogether.

I enjoyed the trail, and once it ended, we got a bit lost trying to follow Strava and make the route shorter. I ended up just putting it into my Garmin and selecting the best gravel route. It took us on some amazing roads, but the only issue was we ran out of water in the last hour and a half because there was nowhere to refill or get any food. Sophie ended up finding a gel in her bladder pocket that we shared. We finally arrived in Kincardine and went into a gas station, where we crushed a bag of chips. Nothing ever felt so good.

The whole point of this trip was to do the Tour of Kincardine (which Sophie won—yay, Sophie!). I was pretty miserable; it was muddy and wet, and that’s just not for me.

We decided to ride back as well. That night, my foot was in so much pain from getting traction on the hills during that race that I couldn’t move it. I was shocked when it was fully healed in the morning. Naturally, we rode back because why not? And also because we didn’t have a car.

 It was a more relaxed ride back since we encountered minimal traffic. We followed the Garmin route to the Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail. The northern rail trails have been under construction these past few months, so we navigated on and off it for about 20 km until finding a steady pace. We made a stop at Anna Mae's Bakery for cinnamon buns and to refill our water. Continuing on the rail trail, which was beautifully serene, we covered about 70 km before transitioning to gravel towards Elora, reconnecting with the rail trail leading to Caledon. The ride was quiet and sunny, and we even found a cooler stocked with cold drinks left by locals.

Something I didn’t know was that the rail trail goes by Belwood, known for having some of the best butter tarts in the area. We opted for pizza and fries instead. I was tired of sweets, so it was nice to enjoy something salty. The food tasted so good; it might not have been as enjoyable on any other day, but today, it was pretty good.

We stayed on the rail trail until Caledon, but it becomes less fun up there because there are so many breaks in the trail, resulting in lots of stopping and going. At this point, we just wanted to get home. The last 40 km from Brampton to Etobicoke felt like forever, and when we finally got there, it was such a relief. We drove back uptown and unpacked everything. I swore I wouldn’t ride a bike for a week, until I rode the next day.

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