https://www.strava.com/activities/1610585681 for full route and pictures
With my new Garmin programmed I set out Friday thinking maybe 2 hours and 60km at most. Dissolving into total bliss I zig-zagged across West Carleton and 103km and almost 4 hours later my ride finished. Beginning in sunny humidity, cloud cover gradually arrived creating a cool refreshing breeze as I heard distant rumbles of thunder. At the end a few reinvigorating sprinkles and simultaneous sunshine capped off one of the most enjoyable rides I've ever done.
My first trek onto gravel was the always peaceful roads of Breezy Heights/Grainger Park. A nice gravel grinder up to pavement, then a descent back onto gravel where you meet up with Upper Dwyer Hill Rd. At 70km Dwyer Hill Rd (or Upper Dwyer once you go over Hwy 7) is the longest road within Ottawa. Scheduled to be repaved it currently is the closest thing to cobblestones in West Carleton. Thankfully it's just a short jaunt to the ghost town of Panmure and a right onto the aptly named Panmure Rd, one of the best paved roads in the area. When we moved out here Panmure was a disaster. Now it's perfectly smooth except the part leading out of Ottawa towards Mississippi Mills. To my pleasant surprise I saw wooden pegs in the ground indicating that it was soon to be repaved! (Yes I know I'm talking about a paved road) Traveling up Panmure Mountain (as I call it) I dodge the potholes and continue to two gravel roads on the itinerary, Ridge Rd and Mountain View.
Ridge Rd as the name implies travels alongside a beautiful forested ridge. It goes by Ramsay Conc 11b, a sweet unmaintained road I discovered last year (that eventually brings you to the traffic circle in Almonte). Arriving just before Blakeney you turn right and when the road meets Panmure again you just keep going straight on Mountain View. Again the name aptly describes this twisting road with a picturesque view of the Pakenham Hills hard to get anywhere else.
Originally I had planned on taking Blakeney Rd into Pakenham but decided in the spirit of gravel riding to keep going straight on Needhams Sd Rd to Pakenham Conc 12. Not the greatest gravel road in the area but it allowed me to connect to scenic ones I've previously described like Darks, Hanson, Ritchie & Ivy Acres for which the only vehicle I saw was a truck spraying down the gravel. Thankfully he stopped spraying when he saw me approaching. I dipped and weaved until I came out on Galetta Sd Rd, turned towards Galetta and as always took Mohrs Rd over the Mississippi under the railroad overpass and over the two bridges. I climbed up to Mohrs Corners turned left on Riddledale and descended past the quarry turning right onto paved Loggers Way. I went back onto gravel turning right on Hunt Line. This part of Hunt Line is completely open and wouldn't be fun with a headwind. My goal was to get to the "V" section made up of Yucks Lane and Rabbit Path. These two unique roads are some of the few that don't follow the normal lines of the rest of the roads and provide unique views of the area as they skirt around a ridge.
At the end of Rabbit Path I met up with John Shaw and turned right crossing a scenic bridge over the Carp River where the road bobs up and down on rough pavement until coming to Kinburn Side Rd. John Shaw becomes gravel again and descends towards another bridge over the meandering Carp River. Approaching Marathon the road becomes paved again but due to it's state of utter disrepair wooden stakes have been placed down meaning it's been marked for resurfacing this year. Thank goodness.
I had planned to turn north and head home but in the spur of the moment decided to keep going. Old Coach Rd was right there and I always enjoy its unique bending nature and perfect views of the Carp Ridge as it crosses Diamondview and comes out on Donald B Munro near Carp. Another road where you're more likely to encounter a tractor than a car.
Diamondview is a busy road heading towards March but the hidden gem of William Hodgins makes the journey worthwhile. Turning right just before the Shell Station William Hodgins parallels the 417 a bit before it escapes into lush green and quiet. Years ago it crossed where the highway now is but like many roads it was cut off and a new section was created connecting it with Diamondview. A left on Vaughan Sd Rd and a right on Shanna and I'm just a few kilometers from home. The first 500m of Shanna is disastrously paved but turns into smooth gravel going past farm fields. The last kilometer is the most scenic as it dips a couple times through trees and over streams as it comes to Panmure Rd.
Having just been sprinkled by rain and with the sun coming out I feel refreshed and alive. I feel like I could keep going but at some point I've got to return home. Daddy duty awaits!
My kids are too young to ride with me but I'm enjoying the trailer; not in a rush. My oldest Kyle has already seen most of the gravel roads in the trailer. When Quinn hits one year he will too. I can't help but feel extremely satisfied in the knowledge that when the time comes beautiful roads await them right in their backyard. Either riding or spectating when it comes to the joys and serenity of gravel riding you can never start too young!