Book It on the Trail

South­west­ern On­tario’s Bruce County of­fers five di­verse moun­tain bik­ing net­works for rid­ers of all abil­i­ties

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CRANKOLOGY - By Tara Nolan

It’s one of those frosty, windy au­tumn days that makes it hard to gauge how many lay­ers you’ll need for a ride. My hus­band and I roll into the park­ing lot of the Car­rick Tract trails, one of five ar­eas des­ig­nated for moun­tain bik­ing in On­tario’s Bruce County on Lake Huron. Lo­cated near Mild­may, Car­rick is at the south­ern end of the re­gion, about a two-hour drive north­west from Toronto, and fea­tures about 7 km of sin­gle­track. Our guide, trails technician Chris San­der­son, is all set to lead us through four out of the five net­works with trails man­ager An­drew Beumer. Each trail net­work fea­tures well-planned sin­gle­track. You sim­ply choose the area that matches your mood.

Bruce County is a mecca for sum­mer va­ca­tion­ers with its western border on the shores of the Great Lake, which means lots of sandy beaches and sum­mer ac­com­mo­da­tions. The famed 890-km Bruce Trail, which starts in the Ni­a­gara re­gion, reaches up into the Bruce Penin­sula and ends in Tober­mory. Beumer, who works for the county through mtb the Bruce, has been work­ing on es­tab­lish­ing the area as a moun­tain bik­ing des­ti­na­tion since 2001. Af­ter a chilly pic­nic lunch dis­cussing what we can ex­pect, San­der­son hops on his sin­gle­speed and leads us into the for­est. Car­rick hap­pens to be Beumer’s favourite net­work be­cause it’s dry all year ex­cept in the win­ter. “The ag­gre­gate-and-soil mix­ture al­lows for great drainage,” he ex­plains. “My favourite trail at the Car­rick is My First Time be­cause it has great flow and you can pick up some se­ri­ous speed.” The route is the first ma­chine-groomed trail that the county started work­ing on in 2012. Ma­chines have greatly helped the area’s small team, al­low­ing trail builders to carve out berms and other fea­tures, as well as to per­form grade re­ver­sals to help di­rect wa­ter and buff up the trails. And Beumer’s right: My First Time does in­deed have great flow.

Af­ter we’ve done the Car­rick trails jus­tice, we hop in the car and head to the Brant Tract trails. If you visit in the sum­mer, you’ll def­i­nitely want to bring your bug spray. Luck­ily, the mos­qui­toes are long gone. This 700-acre par­cel of land is where the in­au­gu­ral trails were de­vel­oped. In fact, 15 to 18 km of trail were hand-built dur­ing one year. The trails here are clay-based and fairly sim­i­lar to Car­rick, but with more roots to con­tend with.

Things get pretty tight and tech­ni­cal as we ride through Devil’s El­bow fol­lowed by The Shocker. There are plenty of scenic val­leys and steep gul­lies.

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