Text by Adrian Grant
Photos by messkit magazine / Adrian Grant
Day Three. The typically one of the hardest days of any long-distance bike trip. It’s when the initial euphoria that can carry one through the first couple of days is replaced by general discomfort, occasional knee pain, and the realization that your pathetic attempts to hand wash your kit had done nothing to combat that particular odour emanating from your bike shorts.
Day Three on the Butter Tart 700 (BT 700) for me was no different. It was also the day when the climbing began in earnest. That’s not to say that the first two days were a walk in the park. While according to the route’s elevation profile, a significant portion of the first 300k consisted of a gradual descent to Lake Huron, followed by a (mostly) flat ride to Owen Sound, the reality was that while there no significant climbs, the rolling terrain, open fields, slight headwind, heat/humidity, various rugged unmaintained sections, and long days in the saddle combined to make this initial portion of the route a real slog. So much so that for many riders (including myself), the planned 150k ride to some wild camping spots south of Georgian Bay on the second day was aborted, in favour of a well-earned beer (or three) and the relative comforts of an $80 motel bed in the town of Thornbury.
Meanwhile, the planned route for Day Three included the start of the Blue Mountains portion of the trip. While the term “Mountains” is most certainly a stretch, the amount of climbing – approximately 2,000 meters over the course of a single 140k day – was enough to give me pause. I’m not afraid to admit that serious consideration was given to sleeping in and taking the most direct way to the next campsite, which was less than 15k away along a rail trail, thereby avoiding that day’s climbing altogether.
Alas, the route prevailed, as it always does. And so began a series of punishing ups and downs, followed by the inevitable cursing directed towards my lack of climbing gears, my failing legs, various deities, the route organizers (with sincerest apologies Matt Kadey and Tabi Ferguson, the wonderful organizers of the BT 700), and especially the hordes of deer flies, who extracted their pound of flesh during each arduous climb. Meanwhile, the amazingly fun and fast descents afforded by these hard-earned climbs were tempered by the knowledge that I would soon have to earn back every meter of lost altitude.
The day ended with a brake cooking descent off-route down the Niagara Escarpment to Craigleith Provincial Park. Expecting quiet site nestled beside the shores of Georgian Bay, I was instead greeted by a park nestled beside a busy provincial highway. Using my cell phone’s white noise app in a vain attempt to replicate the outdoor sounds I was missing, I spent a restless night comforted by the roar of heavy truck traffic.
The next morning included more of the same – except with the added bonus of an additional 260 meter climb back up the Escarpment over the course of three kilometers, just to get back to the main route. I was also treated to a humid fog that blanketed the route for much of the morning, adding a sauna-like quality for the first half of the day’s ride, as well as several more sections of rocky unmaintained roads and singletrack (much of the latter I admittedly bypassed in favour of the approved gravel road alternatives).
Day Four was also the day I became reacquainted with the old adage “a bird in the hand”. After satisfying my mid-afternoon hunger with a grilled cheese from the Hockley General Store, I was tempted to pick up another couple of sandwiches to go (along with a beer or two, natch), before riding the remaining 20k to the village of Palgrave and my eventual campsite for the evening. However, I decided to forgo the additional sandwiches and beer in favour of dinner in Palgrave. Much to my chagrin, it turned out that the only restaurant in town – a charming church-pub conversion – had been permanently shuttered for some time, leaving only a small variety store to forage for my evening repast. Turns out that a man can survive on Pringles and Slim Jims alone…
Lesson learned, the next morning I eagerly set off the final day of the BT 700, during which I learned another valuable lesson – I’m not good at taking lessons to heart. So yes, after cycling 20k in the morning heat, I decided to forgo stopping at one of several nearby convenience stores located in the bustling town of Caledon, and instead pushed on to the small village Inglewood, a further 10k away. After all, Google Maps had assured me that there was a single general store in which to replenish my dwindling water supply. No prizes if you guessed that this store also had all the appearances of having been closed for some time. Thankfully, much of the remaining route was on mellow rail trail all the way back to St. Jacobs, where a cold beer at the Block Three Brewing Company and a hearty congratulations from Matt awaited.
This was my first bikepacking trip using the Panorama Katahdin and overall the bike acquitted itself admirably throughout. The bike handled the rough and rowdy unmaintained sections with aplomb, with much of the credit going to the bike’s ability to clear the 700×45 WTB Riddler tires. It also helped that the stock rims allowed me to run these tires tubeless, as I saw several riders with pinched flats over the first couple of days. I also found the bike very fun to ride, even strapped down with all my gear, and extremely comfortable during my long days in the saddle. In hindsight, the only thing I would have changed prior to the trip is the chainset or rear cassette, as some wider gearing certainly have been appreciated on the third and fourth days of the trip.
And a special thanks to Matt Kadey and Tabi Ferguson, the creators for the BT 700 for developing such a fantastic and challenging route!
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All Terrain Bikes*** It’s time to reserve your 2023 Taïga EXP. Use the promo code taigaexp during the transaction in order to complete your 50% deposit for the reservation. Deliveries are scheduled for Feb/March 2023. Contact us for any questions. *** *Please refer to the component list for 2023 specifications. Selected as one of the best off-road touring bikes by the renowned blog Cyling About, the Taïga EXP is the dropbar version of the Taïga mountain bike. This makes it ideal for long-distance off-road tours and mixed terrain bikepacking expeditions. It was also the bike that led Cory Ostertag to first place at the 2022 BC Epic, and the same bike that helped Marie-Pierre Savard and Cory Ostertag set new record times (FKT) at the 2022 Log Driver's Waltz for women and men respectively. The Reynolds 725 frame is packed with useful features: adjustable rear sliding dropouts, seat stay opening for use with belt, compatible with 100mm suspension fork, compatible with dropper seat post. The carbon fork has internal cable routing for dynamo hub usage, and all the necessary mounts for your equipment. A true 'mullet' setup with Gevenalle GX shifters controlling a 12-speed SRAM Eagle mountain drivetrain. Hunt XC Wide MTB wheels fitted with WTB Trail Boss 29"x2.25" tires are fast and comfortable. The Ritchey Beacon 52cm wide handlebar gives enough space for a bulky handlebar bag, while providing excellent stability when the terrain is more demanding. *Frameset comes with wheel axles, headset installed, seatpost collar and frame protectors.1,649$ – 3,549$ (CAD)
PartsThru axle for the front wheel. Bolt-on type (no lever), install with 6mm hex key.40$ (CAD)
Fatbikes2022-12-05 Update: A few units left for the season. We are shipping everyday! The Chic-Chocs has proven its abilities over the past few years in endurance races and winter expeditions. Whether it's for the Raid du Fjord, the Wendigo Ultra, or riding with confidence on groomed trails, the Chic-Chocs delivers. A stable geometry with a long wheelbase increases traction and flotation on soft surfaces. In addition, the Chic-Chocs is designed with a 205mm q-factor, the narrowest available for use with tires up to 5" wide. Not to be overlooked for an ergonomic position. Two Shimano drivetrains available with RaceFace cranksets and cockpit. Quality SunRingle rims and hubs (ready for -30degC!), and studdable tires that can be easily converted tubeless complete the package. Throw on some 29x3" wheels when the snow melts, and you've got a 4-season bike ready for backcountry bikepacking trips!3,899$ – 4,399$ (CAD)
Gravel Bikes*** SOME UNITS OF 2022 KATAHDIN RIVAL STILL AVAILABLE! ALSO SOME BIKES WITH MINOR PAINT TOUCH UPS AVAILABLE AT SPECIAL PRICE, CONTACT US FOR INFO *** ***Read BikegearDatabase's review on the Katahdin.*** The first generation of the Katahdin has proven itself both in races, gravel events and in bikepacking trips. For its second iteration, the Katahdin gets a makeover with progressive gravel geometry and new features to make it even more versatile. A relaxed 70deg steering angle, longer reach, 75mm bb drop and 430mm chainstays increase the wheelbase of the bike and place the rider in a stable and comfortable position. The goal is less fatigue, and more speed for long outings and / or races. The internal cables for an adjustable seat post, the fork adapted to the use of a dynamo hub, a threaded bottom bracket shell and all the mounts necessary to install bags and accessories are among the features of the Katahdin. The frame is dressed with the Hunt wheels fitted with WTB Venture 650b or 700c tires, as well as the Shimano GRX 2x11 or Rival 1x groupset, which make for a versatile and efficient bike.3,799$ – 4,249$ (CAD)
Mountain Bikes*** If your size is currently 'out of stock' on our website, please contact your closest PANORAMA CYCLES dealer to know what they have on hand. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be the first informed of when the next pre-sale will be launched. *** In between a trail bike and a multi-day adventure bike, the Taïga has multi purposes. Take it on your local mountain bike trails, or for a bikepacking outing in the more rugged backcountry paths. The geometry of the Reynolds 725 frame is developed with stability and comfort in mind. A steering angle of 67deg and saddle of 75deg strikes the balance between a modern and progressive geometry, without however falling into a too radical design. Hunt Trail Wide MTB wheels fitted with WTB Trail Boss 29 "x2.6" tires, SRAM NX drivetrain, and a choice of FOX 34 Float or rigid carbon fork complete the package.2,899$ – 3,099$ (CAD)
PartsTransform your hardtail mountain bike into a lightweight and versatile bikepacking bike with the Taïga carbon fork.565$ (CAD)
- Axle to crown length of 500mm. Corresponds to a suspension fork for a 29in wheel with 120mm of travel, at 25% 'sag'.
- Boost 110x15mm spacing.
- Tapered 1-1/2 x 1-1/8 300mm long carbon steer tube
- Offset/rake: 51mm
- Triple cargo cage mounts
- Clearance for tire: 29x3.0 or 27.5x3.25
- Post mount 160mm brake standard.
- Wheel axle included
- Weight: 675g