When the inaugural BT 700 depart takes place this July, it will bring together two things held dear by many cyclists: adventure and snacks.
The new route, charted by Matthew Kadey, looks to bring an annual multi-day bikepacking event to southeastern Ontario. The region has more than enough wilderness to live up to the promise of a true adventure, and Kadey figured it was time there was a proper route to tie these natural areas together.
“It is no secret that bikepacking has become very popular in recent years, and there are several established routes with a yearly group ride/race, but nothing much in eastern Canada,” Kadey says of the reason he started connecting the BT 700 loop. “So I thought it was a great time to remedy that.”
Kadey has been riding gravel around Ontario for years, and started looking for ways to connect these sections of trail together. “I started wondering if I could piece together a fun multi-day off-road loop,” he says, “which I think has come to fruition.”
The result is the BT 700. Starting from the historic village of St. Jacobs, Ont., the route forms a 715km loop using a combination of gravel roads, rail trail, double track and forest singletrack. Plus, a small hint of pavement, when absolutely necessary.
“The plan was always to make it a loop as this helps a lot with logistics,” says Kadey. But connecting the BT 700 took time, on and off the bike. “It took several scouting missions to figure out how to put it together, and many, many hours on ridewithgps.com plotting things out and becoming bleary-eyed looking at satellite images.”
As for the name? BT stands for Butter Tarts. “I thought it would be fun to come up with a name for the route that pays tribute to this quintessential Canadian treat.” says the BT 700 organizer. Once you’re on route, the name adds some motivation to keep moving, “There’s so many great butter tarts along the way!”
For riders interested in taking on the first BT 700, a common “Grand Depart” will take place from St. Jacobs in July. The route is 85% off-road, which Kadey says opens it up to a range of different riders. “There are now many types of bikes well suited for off-road touring. I recommend either a gravel style bike with at least 38 mm tires, or a nimble mountain bike with at least 2.1″ tires.”
Riders looking to keep a steady pace for the BT 700 can expect to spend five to six days on the route. If you’re looking to race? “My guess is the speed demons will get around the loop in about three ride days,” Kadey predicts. If you’re looking to bite off a smaller chunk of the full BT 700, the route can be accessed at numerous different points to create shorter adventures tailored to individual abilities and time availability.
The route is open for riders to take on, in full or in part, throughout the riding season, not just at the July group start. Interested riders can access all the information needed to take on the route, including detail route data from GPS tracks as well as accommodation and food options (Butter Tarts and otherwise) along the way, through the BT 700 website.