Come Wander
Cycling in Ontario's Highlands

My first memory of cycling… When I was five years old, I broke my arm. I watched my friend ride her bike down her grandmother’s driveway, pop up over the garden hose that was stretched across it, and thought, “I can do that too.”

As it turned out, I was wrong. I started down the driveway, approached that dreaded obstacle, caught my tire, tumbled to the side, and fractured my humerus bone. Before you ask, no, it was not funny.

It was a fluke accident, a minor tumble that should not have resulted in a broken bone, and ever since that fateful day, I’ve had a slight aversion to cycling. Sure, I continued to peddle my way around town to visit friends as a kid, but I was always much more cautious, and once I got my license, my bike quickly took up residence in the garage.

Recently, I’ve had a change of heart. You see, I have a cousin who loves cycling and is incredibly persuasive. Knowing my fear, she convinced me to strap on a helmet, get back on the bike, and go for a ride. After the initial nerves wore off, I was able to experience exploring on two wheels for what it truly was; an invigorating opportunity to connect with the roadways leading from one memorable moment to the next, transforming a head full of noise to a calm state of mind.

I felt strong, empowered, and in full control of my motion. Each breath of fresh air entering my lungs offered a deeper appreciation for the surrounding naturally beautiful green space. From the satisfaction of reaching the top of the hill to the rush of excitement as you soar down the other side; I felt alive.

I quickly started looking for my next cycling adventure, which resulted in an extensive Google search and the realization that Ontario’s Highlands is an epicenter for cyclists. The gorgeous natural landscapes seem as though they were handcrafted for exploring on two wheels. Whether you are looking to spin tricks and hone your skills at The Construction Yard, rush downhill through the lush Haliburton Forest, or defy the odds by completing the Tour de Bonnechere 100km loop; whatever your niche of cycling is, there is something for everyone.

Forest Lea

As you I’m sure you can imagine, 30kms of trails winding through a pine forest offers a tight, technical, rocky and rooty ride. Some go as far as to call this “the best riding in Eastern Ontario..”

Bonus: You can download the map outlining all four loops right to your smartphone!

Sir Sam’s Ski and Ride

Overlooking picturesque Eagle Lake, 23 kms of cross country and downhill trails traverse through Haliburton’s finest landscape. Don’t be fooled though, the advanced trails are as challenging as they are charming.

Bonus: The ‘time tunnel’ offers an easy walk-on, walk-off ride to the top.

Valley Cycle Tours

Whether you choose the one-day or multi-day package, the guided or self guided option, or want to contact Cindy personally to craft up a custom route just for you, exploring the Ottawa Valley on two wheels has never been easier.

Bonus: One of their routes ends with a tour and tasting at the Whitewater Brewing Co. Now that is my kind of cycling!

Cycle Haliburton

The Haliburton Highlands are aptly named for their hills and significantly rocky landscape. The beauty and complexity of the Canadian Shield is present in almost all of the routes with the exception of the rail trails.

Bonus: The website guides you to both Mountain Biking and Road Riding options in the area.

As someone looking to get back into the scene (it’s as easy as riding a bike, right?), it is exciting to think of all the options in my immediate area to explore this new pastime, and I’m sad to think of all the time I wasted with my bike in the garage. I probably won’t be taking on garden hoses or jumps anytime soon, but I’m looking forward to rediscovering that fearless five-year-old who loved nothing more than feeling the wind in her hair.

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Storyteller: Jennifer Gilmer. Hometown: Port Hope, ON

Jennifer is a lover of cats, small towns, and everything chocolate. When she isn’t looking for opportunities to try out new recipes or dishes, or reading countless books, she’s busy planning her next road trip and encouraging others to search out hidden gems. Some of her happiest moments include basking in the sun at the end of a dock, laughing the day away at a backyard barbecue, or letting her creativity flow during an evening of sketching with a glass of wine at her side.

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