I’m often asked how I come up with the routes. Well, you can thank, or blame, my Mother. See, when I was in college, the early days of my cycling addiction, my Mother would pick me up for spring break, summer break or whatever, throw all of my stuff in the back of the car and start out on the 2½ hour drive home. Only, my Mother was not one for the straight road. We would take the back roads, the winding little side roads, past abandoned farms, along tree lined single lane roads. The drive would always take longer but I never seemed to mind. Later, when I started spending more and more time on skinny tires I selected my routes with the same curiosity and adventure as those drives home with my Mom. I don’t recall driving along any unmaintained road allowances with my Mother but I’m sure that the spirit of those drives is there when I ride them. So, this year when you thank me or curse me for the route, remember it was my Mother’s idea.

2018. The rain reigned.

183.3km | 722m of climbing

It wasn’t meant to be like that. I mean, I knew it was going to be a tough route, I planned that.  I knew it was going to long — longest yet — I planned that, too. The road allowances with the rocks and roots? Yup, planned that part, too. What we hadn’t planned for was the rain.

The rain turned a day that was going to be epic and made it so much more. Perfect, gritty, hard-packed dirt roads were turned into soft, energy-sucking and leg-killing marches. Road allowances that were firm, although rocky and rooty, were made slicker than greased owl snot.   Sand and grit turned to quick-drying cement, wreaking havoc on trusty steeds.

But the beauty of the day was that 20 teams, 80 people, completed what should have been a horrendous day on a bike.

Oh yeah, saving Hayes Line, Cottingham and BFH for the last 35 kilometers? I planned that, too.

2017. So much for the plan.

167.8km | 1415m of climbing

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you’ve planned it all out, researched the route, put rubber to gravel, looked left and right then ridden straight through past the no exit sign, Mother Nature always gets the last word.

After a year of research, planning and pre-riding, a route had revealed itself — a classic Noble Pursuit of sweet asphalt, winding gravel and a couple new road allowances. I was excited to share it with the riders on the day of the event. Mother Nature, however, had other ideas. Spring saw an abundance of rain that continued through early-summer making the key road allowance an unpassable swamp. Plan B was needed, only I hadn’t made one, so in late June, a new route was quickly designed, scouted, pre-ridden, tweaked and finalized. In the end, I was excited once again to find some new roads to share with the riders on short notice. A twisted ribbon of back roads and gravel took us through Hastings, Warkworth, Campbellford and Havlock. And while Mother Nature threw a tantrum of wind, driving rain, hail and lightning on the riders, everyone pressed on to complete the 168km route with stories to tell and smiles to share.

2016. The lake effect.

172km | 1428m of climbing

Peterborough and the surrounding area is known for its lakes, small, rocky little lakes scattered across the map, to some they would say it defines us, to a cyclist we would we say it’s an added bonus. These lakes make our roads twist and turn, they make our rides more interesting with rocky shorelines, quiet cottage roads and a cool breeze from the water on a hot summer day.

Now Lake Ontario, that’s a different beast. Riding around it is not an afternoon jaunt, the breeze is typically more like a gale (it seems rarely at your back), but the roads…ahh. The roads are worth the trip, ribbons of asphalt along the limestone shores, over hill and dale through the Northumberland hills with views that those of us from Peterborough rarely get a chance to see.

Many from Peterborough have ridden along the shores of Lake Ontario at some point, few have ever ridden from Peterborough to the shores of Lake Ontario and none had ever ridden there and back quite like this. In true Noble Pursuit style we took the back roads, unmaintained road allowances and a few asphalt rollercoaster country lanes, but what else would you expect?

2015. Devil’s diamond in the rough.

172km | 1158m of climbing

Devils 4 Mile Road… that’s the type of thing I see on a map and the gears start turning. Found this beauty a couple of years ago and kept it in my back pocket for future use. Always knew it would end up in the Noble Pursuit but was waiting for the right moment and needed some time to search out a few other roads to connect it all together. In 2015 it all came together.

From rolling farm lanes to beautiful rolling asphalt, sleepy little cottage roads to roller coaster, smile-inducing cart tracks, this ride is everything the Noble Pursuit is meant to be. Coming in at 175kms, with 1375m of elevation gain, this ride is literally, a diamond in the rough.

2014. Pretender to the crown.

149km | 1259m of climbing

A couple of years earlier my friend David Blondel and I set off on a friendly challenge to ride the Triple Crown Challenge. A collection of long rides that Kieran Andrews had designed and challenged others to ride and write about. All the routes were roughly 200kms long, covering some of the best of what our region had to offer. The idea of the challenge was to ride a route, any one of them, maybe two or all three them through the summer and share your story on Ptborides.com. Well, I got it in my head to ride all three of them, back to back to back, over one weekend. David was the only one foolish enough to sign up. We never did write about it. I’m not sure either of us were able to put our experience into words.

This route is in memory of one of our days, which took us around Rice Lake and few other spots that this year’s Noble Pursuit route did not. The memory of rolling hills and beauty of the Northumberland Hills was my inspiration for the route. Of course, to make it a true Noble Pursuit a few gravel roads and unmaintained goat paths were added for good measure.

2013. Doughnut run.

162km | 1386m of climbing

When I was starting to put together this route I had two things in mind. One, to show everybody a new road. Two, doughnuts. The mill at Tyrone had been a destination for a couple of years now for great, fresh, being made right in front of your eyes; doughnuts. Enjoyed on the dock of the mill pond and a quick exploration of this 167 year old mill makes for a great break from the saddle. Really the Tyrone mill and its great doughnuts were the main inspiration for the ride. But as far as showing everybody a new road…Success.

2012. The ride that began it all.

139km | 752m climbing

The ride that began it all. This route came out a combination of a couple of other great rides that I had done over the past couple of summers when my interest in gravel riding was really just beginning. The goal was to stretch the capabilities of each and every rider, to throw rubber down a few unexpected roads trails and take in all that the Peterborough region had to offer in terms of beauty and fine roads.

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