This is not the year for international travel. Instead, Canadians have taken to looking for adventures in their own back yards. Much of this exploration has been on gravel roads and paths—cyclists across the country are creating and sharing their routes with other local gravel grinders. In Ontario, the BT 700 and GNR routes have exploded in popularity this season, as residents of the Golden Horseshoe and around the province come to see what kind of bikepacking fun they can have close to home.
Now, cyclists in and around the Ottawa Valley and Outaouais region of Quebec also have a multi-day gravel bikepacking route to challenge themselves with. The Log Driver’s Waltz (LDW), created by Matthew Kadey and Ottawa-based riders Eric Betteridge and Jen Adams is a new 800 kilometre bikepacking route, consisting of 80 per cent unpaved riding surfaces with an elevation gain of roughly 8,000 m.
Cyclists travel along a rowdy mix of winding gravel, forested paths and long forgotten roads. The LDW route passes through small towns, explores Gatineau Park and Ottawa, and features backcountry camping on the shores of quiet lakes.
The developers of the route spent time scouting, researching and planning what would become the LDW. “We think this multi-day bikepacking route ticks off all the boxes for a memorable fat tire adventure and is sure to become a classic,” says Kadey. “Riders can benefit from all the attention to detail that people have come to expect from the BT 700 and GNR routes.”
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The route is entirely unsupported and unsanctioned with no insurance provided. It will probably take most riders 5 to 7 days to complete it, depending on speed. Starting in the town of Almonte, where free parking is provided, but riders can start or finish the route wherever is most convenient (e.g. Sharbot Lake, Carleton Place or Ottawa).
Log Driver’s Waltz follows the natural contours of old roads, trails and waterways that continue to play an important part of life in the region. It was named after the 1979 National Film Board short film Log Driver’s Waltz. The film depicts log drivers in the area of the LDW route, braving rocky rapids to keep logs moving downstream for export.
Many different setups would work, but the creators of the LDW say that a hardtail mtb with tires in the 2.0”-2.25” range is a great choice. If you’re taking it on with a gravel style bike, they recommend 29-inch or 650b wheels and fatter rubber. The recommended minimum tire size on 700 wheels is 40c, and they say some sections will be more demanding with this setup.
Completing the LDW
The LDW website has more information about preparing for and riding the route. As the route also passes through Quebec, the developers are also aiming to offer the details of it in French in the coming months. Those who complete the challenge can submit a photo which will be added to the LDW Hall of Fame.