If you’ve stepped inside any of Waterloo Region’s locally-owned, independent bike shops lately, you’ll notice a startling shortage of bikes. With the pandemic entering its second year, cycling is once again an extremely popular activity for physical exercise, mental health, and safely getting around our community.
The cities and townships of Waterloo Region are home to a fantastic collection of cycling and mixed-use trails you can use to explore new restaurants, cafes, and breweries. From adventurous trails like the Hydrocut to the paved paths of the Iron Horse Trail to the protected cycling lanes across Kitchener and Waterloo, there’s something for cyclists of all skill levels.
To celebrate the Waterloo Region 2021 bike map launch, we’ve put together some ideas for your cycling adventures.
The Bakery Tour on the Spur Line Trail
Tour de France cyclists load up on carbs – and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Start with a coffee and treat from Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters next to the Downtown Kitchener GO Railway Station. Once you’re fueled up, get on your bike and head towards Waterloo.
Make a quick right on Wellington Street, and you’re at the first stop – LenJo Bakes at 132 Ahrens Street West. Pick up one of their famous cinnamon rolls or gluten-free macaroons and head back to the Spur Line for the next stop.
As you cross Roger Street, you’ll see the oasis that is Cafe Pyrus Outpost. Located right off the Spur Line, Cafe Pyrus Outpost the second location of the popular downtown vegan restaurant and bakery, Cafe Pyrus. The Outpost serves coffee and delicious baked goods with lots of vegan and gluten-free options. On Saturdays, the Outpost hosts a mini vegetable market from the folks at Milky Way Farms that you can pre-order for pickup. (It’s an excellent excuse to get a basket for your bike too!)
Hope back on your bike, and you’ll reach the CE Food Experience right before Moore Street. They’re a great local artisan bakery with sweet and savoury options for everyone’s tastes.
Burn off that energy with the final leg of the Spur Line into UpTown Waterloo for our last stops. First, for the traditional baked good fans, grab a muffin or scone from Seven Shores Cafe on Regina Street. For the untraditional baked good fans who know that the best part of baked goods is licking the bowl, pick up some edible cookie dough from The Crumby Cookie Dough Co. right next door to the Seven Shores Cafe.
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A short note on a long ride: Waterloo to St. Jacobs
For an adventurous ride with a delicious end, start in Waterloo off University Avenue and Bridge Street West on the Avon Trail. Head along the trail through the beautiful countryside north. The Avon Trail connects you to the Heath Valley Trail into St. Jacobs. The end of the trail brings you to a cold beer at Block 3 Brewing or the Village Biergarten, and a peanut butter bar at the EcoCafe.
Looping around the Grand River in Cambridge
Explore historic downtown Galt along the Grand River using the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail. This 9km route starts off Water Street in Galt, where you’ll head south along the bank of the Grand River. Ride past Churchill Park down to Footbridge Road and cross the Grand River. Next, head back North on West River Road back into Galt. Make a right on First Avenue and explore the Hancock and Waterworks Parks. Ride through Waterworks Park to Grand Avenue and on to the Cambridge Sculpture Garden where you can enjoy a picnic next to one of ten heritage trees in Ontario – a 130-year old oak tree.
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Explore the breweries (and brews) of the Iron Horse Trail
You’d almost think it was by design when you see the number of breweries found along the Iron Horse Trail. Starting off Kent Street and Hurst Avenue, stop in and see Rob and the crew at Short Finger Brewing Co. Try a glass of one of their local beers like their ongoing Lando series – an ever-evolving beer with each new version being aged in different types of barrels and on different fruit. You can also pick up homebrew supplies to try your hand at crafting your own hoppy creation.
Grab your bike and head back onto the Iron Horse Trail. You’ll cycle through beautiful Victoria Park and then to our next stop at Red Circle Brewing inside Catalyst 137 on Glasgow Street. The brewery is known for its “core four” beers named after local landmarks – including the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards bronze-winning Iron Horse American IPA.
After you’ve refreshed yourself, you’ve got one last stop in Belmont Village at Arabella Park Beer Bar for some of their chip truck fries and their constantly changing draft beer wall with 18 different beers and ciders to try.
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Taking a butter tart inspired bikepacking adventure
Each year, cyclists from across Ontario tackle the BT700 Grand Depart. It’s a 760 km loop across Southwestern Ontario that starts and ends at the EcoCafe St. Jacobs. The route takes cyclists north through cottage country, west through Owen Sound towards South Hampton, and then south back along Lake Huron. It’s the cannonball run of cycling tours – there’s no registration fee, no support, and no prize money (but there are butter tarts along the way). If you can’t make the Grand Depart, the route is open-sourced and available to ride any time of the year.
Check out the Waterloo Region 2021 Cycling Guide for more cycling suggestions to explore our community!Cyclists in St. Jacobs, ON
Alex Kinsella is a freelance writer and marketer based in Waterloo Region. He’s the guy behind TL;WR – Waterloo Region’s weekly events newsletter. He’s worked with some of Canada’s most well-known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing.