“Drumlins” explains Kieran Andrews, one of our two guides from Wild Rock Outfitters, are “400 – 800 metre long hills that can be steep with the worst of them on this morning’s ride”.
Later – as in 90 kilometres, a shower and a glass of wine later – the truth comes out. Kieran proceeds to tell me “that the Tour of Flanders in Belgium, one of the hardest one day cycling races, shares the same topography as the Peterborough and the Kawarthas area.”
Good to know after the fact! Mostly it makes me feel proud of my day’s accomplishment – and I’m pretty sure the other cyclists on the tour had similar feelings.
I love hills, I really do. But I was seriously surprised at just how many drumlins there are in the Peterborough area – and I can tell you now that I’ve done a three day bike ride, that there were just as many drumlins in the afternoon.
I had traveled to Peterborough for a travel media conference and had signed up for the three day pre-tour so I could explore the area in some depth. Although I’ve driven through Peterborough several dozen times, I had never stopped.
Introduced to our guides over breakfast at the Silver Bean Cafe in Peterborough, the day ahead did not look promising. At 9:30 AM it wasn’t just raining. It was pouring and discussions about what else we could do were taking place.
But we had a tough, keen group and amazingly no one was put off by the rain. So we lingered over breakfast until the rain turned to drizzle.
Hopping on our bikes, we quickly learned that the beauty of any bike ride in the Peterborough area is that within 10 minutes you’re on country roads and the road traffic all but disappears.
Our first day of cycling took us from downtown Peterborough to the Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake. Greg Elmhirst, the GM of the resort, joined us for 1½ days of the ride. Not only was he an enthusiastic cyclist and a great addition to our group, but as a fourth generation Elmhirst, he had lots to share on the history of the area.
The ride took us mainly through farm country as you can see in the photos.
Lunch was at the Pastry Peddler Cafe in the small community of Millbrook – at about the halfway point of our ride. The cafe is a great destination – even if you’re not a cyclist. Their food is amazing – and after cycling hills for 40 kilometres I had no problem chowing down on flatbread pizza with a mushroom duxelle-parmesan topping, followed by to die for lemon squares.
Leaving the restaurant I had an affliction Kieran calls “cafe legs.” It takes a while to get moving again – but move we did – up the drumlins with the reward some awesome downhill!
Towards the end of the day we hopped on a section of the Trans-Canada and made our way to the Lang Pioneer Village. Although it was closed we still walked around with Greg Elmhirst acting as our tour guide. From there it was a surprisingly quick ride – thankfully, to get to Elmhirst Lodge.
We only had a night at Elmhirst and most of it was spent eating, drinking and sleeping. As we’d arrived at about 6 PM, there was only enough time to have a shower before we met up again for drinks, followed by dinner with a killer view of Rice Lake. After dinner, we all trooped to the underground wine cellar. Greg pulled out a Cabernet Franc (2006) from the Foreign Affair Winery. It was a taste bomb – cherry, coffee, leather – pure deliciousness. If you do make it to the resort it’s definitely worth arranging a wine tasting.
On our second day, the plan was to cycle about 65 kilometres to Lakefield. Again the riding took us through farm country but come lunch time we’d left the drumlins behind and entered cottage country.
Our lunch at the Lantern Restaurant & Grill on the shores of Stoney Lake was also delicious. As big fans of the eat local movement and a reputation for pouring cocktails with home grown herbs, the owners Geoff & Lesley Kirkland have done a super job of the restaurant. With a patio and a view, it would be easy to spend an afternoon here.
The ride after lunch was far mellower than anything up to that point. The landscape flattened and we could really make good time. By about 3:30 we were ensconced in our hotel rooms at The Village Inn in Lakefield.
Some of the group elected for an afternoon nap. Others wandered through the cute town that is Lakefield. Our routine, fashioned in short order was to meet for drinks before dinner. We sampled beer paired with cheeses (who knew?) at the Canoe and Paddle Gastropub (18 Bridge Street) before heading over to Nutshell Next Door for dinner.
Our third and final day of cycling took us full circle and within a few hours we were back in Peterborough. Most of the cycling was flat and easy along the Otonabee River. We passed houseboats, Trent University and ended up just before lunch at Lock 21 on the Trent Severn Waterway. Our timing was impeccable as a boat was in the process of being lifted the 19.8 metres that is enough to make this hydraulic lock the biggest in the world. There are boat tours you can take to experience it.
With food as a popular theme on this bike trip, it was fitting to end at Ashburnham Ale House. Boasting a great menu, that will make you chuckle as you read it, and food that will make you smile, this is another must visit restaurant if you’re in the Peterborough area. Try the Sweet Mother of God Coconut Chicken Curry.
If you’re looking for a cycling experience that’s interesting and different – and one that is relatively unknown outside the cycling community of Peterborough, this is the one for you. You don’t have to grind your way up the drumlins; there are lots of easy trails as well.
Here’s a map of our route.
A huge thank you to our two guides Kieran Andrews & Dee Hutchison of locally owned Wild Rock Outfitters. They were kind, helpful, warm and a pleasure to ride with.
Further reading on biking in Canada
- Biking Le Petit Train du Nord through the Laurentians
- The Best Bike Rides in Canada You Can do in a Day
- 7 of the best bike rides in Ontario
Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.
A huge thank you to Peterborough Tourism for underwriting this trip. As per usual, all thoughts/opinions are my own. I can say with complete confidence that if you love biking and food you will have a fabulous time in the area.