Hi, I’m Kieran and the Peterborough Small Roads Project is kind of my thing. You see, Wild Rock employees do interesting things all the time and we are asked for advice and guidance on a daily basis. For as long as I can remember, I have been sharing my local cycling knowledge and passion for exploring as far and wide as I think it reasonable for a bike to travel.
Although core to our business at Wild Rock, the Small Roads Project became my personal thing after I was asked to join the Shimano Gravel Alliance. I consider myself about as lucky as a cyclist can be first to live where I do and second to have been given, as a Gravel Alliance member, the opportunity to explore the gravel cycling scene all over North America. The conclusion I have drawn is that we have some of the best gravel cycling anywhere in North America. Our roads are quiet yet beautiful; the network extensive yet still yielding a sense of exploration.
Follow my wanderings:
A long ride around Peterborough and the Kawarthas is likely to have a bit of everything. We are lucky to have just enough population to have a “complete” road network but we are even luckier that our population is small enough that much of the road network is virtually deserted. That said, with sparse population comes sparse tax revenue so our roads don’t get the attention that they might in more densely populated parts of the province. Although there is plenty of asphalt in and around Peterborough, we at The Small Roads Project like to take the roads less traveled. In an effort to keep to the quiet roads sometimes even our paved routes will feature short sections of gravel in order to avoid a busy or dangerous road. Our commitment to you is that our route descriptions are honest and that we will do our best to give you fair warning. In many of our descriptions you will see the following terms:
Asphalt – This is the black beauty of road cycling. Fast rolling and smooth as butter but mostly found on busier roads. All road bikes are suitable on Asphalt.
Chip Seal – Also know tar-and-chip this is a hard surface typically found on roads with low traffic volume. Chip Seal is laid in a huge range of quality with larger aggregate (chip) generally leading to a more coarse surface. But, hey, no need to go down the rabbit hole…. Essentially, Chip Seal is rough pavement, which we have a lot of in Peterborough County. All road bikes are suitable on Chip Seal but 25mm-28mm will be more comfortable for most riders.
Good Gravel – This is the stuff we love. Generally hard packed, these roads are much smoother feeling than most cyclists expect. Truly the roads less traveled, these gravel sections take riders to some of the most beautiful places in the area while seldom encountering cars. These roads kind of define cycling for us and we love them for it.
Riders with experience on dirt roads will feel fine on a standard road bike with robust tires although a gravel or cyclocross bike will inspire more confidence on these mixed surfaces. The perfect tire choice would be a slick or semi-slick 28mm-32mm tubeless run at 45-60psi.
**The gravel roads of Peterborough and the Kawarthas are the quietest roads anywhere. Although the gravel sections are normally hard-packed and fast they do, on occasion, get graded. This grading leaves the roads softer and, sometimes, difficult to ride. If the conditions look soft when you turn onto a gravel section consider changing your route-plan… But come back another day. You won’t regret it!
Road Allowance – These are sections of land that were set aside years ago for the development of roads that were subsequently never completed. Typically, they are used by hikers, ATV drivers and, well, the odd road cyclist. Remote and adventurous, riders willing to venture out on these road allowances will see some remarkable places. Unmaintained, there is an element of surprise on these routes so riders must be self-sufficient and confident in their equipment and ability.
These are roads where a gravel bike or cyclocross bike are almost a must. In the height of summer a slick tire in the 28mm-32mm range would be fine but in the shoulder seasons a cyclocross tire or file-tread that could handle some mud would be a good idea. A tubeless set-up run at 45-60psi would be ideal.