We have a general rule at Cyclelogik that we don’t talk about cross before Labour Day. But we’ll break that rule this year since we’re so excited about this year’s CX season. And every year CX seems to spill a little further and further back into summer, and it’s no surprise, CX is fun as hell. Gravel roads and smooth single track are fun, an adventure, and generally free of traffic.
Ottawa has a great CX racing series but for those who aren’t ready to race or just love to cruise, there’s still plenty to be excited about! Cyclelogik’s Danielle recently picked up one of Felt’s new 2018 F4x CX/gravel bikes and she never stops talking about mud time, gravel time and the Dirt Church. And where does Danielle worship? Ottawa/Gatineau is home to some amazing gravel riding! Check out some of the routes we enjoy here at Cyclelogik!
TCT Rip – 73km – 250m
The TCT is a gravel rail trail that begins near Corkstown Rd and runs all the way to Carleton Place. It’s perfect for beginners and riders who want a hard fast ride free of technical features. You can do the whole ride to Carleton Place and back from Corkstown which comes in at just over 70km or you can do a short rip out to Stittsville for a stop a Quitters.
Bike: Road with 25s or larger will work fine for this ride.
Gatineau Park P16 Loop – 37km – 665m
There are lots of places to have fun on a gravel/CX bike in Gatineau Park, and we encourage you to explore some of these great trails and paths! But our personal favourite is the P16 loop around Lac Phillipe. Park at P16 near Wakefield and cruise along the gravel paths and smooth single track trails around Lac Phillipe. This ride is short and sweet and there are lots of opportunities to add mileage. Pick up a park map at the Chelsea office and go exploring!
Bike: Road Bike or Gravel Bike with 28s or larger.
Wakefield to Low – 53km – 820m
This out and back ride takes you from Wakefield all the way up to Low on some spectacular gravel roads. Follow the river on the west side beginning at the bridge in Wakefield. Follow Chemin de la Riviere to Maxwell, from there you can ride all the way to Low, QC. You have the option to loop back and return via the route you came, or you can cross the river in Low and have a hard fast asphalt rip back to Wakefield. If you cross the river at Low and are looking for a little more grave riding, you can take Fieldville and explore the backroads in and around Low.
Bike: Gravel Bike with 30s or larger.
California Road – 81.5km – 866m
Head out towards Almonte and Begin the ride with a little road rip. Peneshula Rd is one of the funnest road rides in the area with fresh pavement and short roller coaster hills. From there you turn Left and find yourself on California Rd. It looks a lot like like a off-road path, and in some ways it is, but its an incredibly fun and twisty gravel road that snakes through beautiful forests! Look out for folks on dirtbags and four-wheelers, but for the most part this trail is empty. At the end of California, follow Darling back to Tatlock and head back to Almonte!
Bike: Gravel/CX Bike with 30s or larger.
Don’t have a gravel bike yet? You certainly have some options! While it’s possible to ride some gravel and trails with a robust road bike that has the clearance for wider tires, we recommend at the very least a dedicated gravel bike for most off road and gravel road riding.
If you plan to ride mixed terrain, asphalt, gravel, and trails on the same ride, you might consider a gravel bike rather than CX bike. CX bikes generally feature a single small front chainring, which is needed for aggressive climbs and technical features of CX racing. Gravel bikes like the Scott Addict Gravel straddle the line between road and CX. They feature the geometry and handling of a CX bike with the groupset of a road bike. With a double chainring in the typical compact or standard size chainrings, you’ll be able to handle gravel routes and still be able to ride comfortably on asphalt. Disc brakes and larger clearance make a dedicated gravel bike a versatile machine that can be used as both a road bike and a mixed terrain machine.