Small town Ontario: there’s nothing better. Where most of the shops close on Sunday and traffic jams generally involve farm equipment rambling down a back road, you’ll also find beautiful rolling hills of golden crops, cows gently grazing in fields and culinary delights that can only be found this close to where the ingredients are grown. This summer, discover the heart of Ontario’s agricultural hub in Oxford when you ride one of the loops through the southern part of the county.
Those Looking for a Long Ride
Terrain and Difficulty: Paved, advanced, long-distance road riding
- Options: Leisurely riders have the option of staying overnight along the route and breaking it into a two-day ride
Starting in downtown Woodstock, grab a coffee and a snack to fuel up for the day at Beantown Coffee (places to lock up nearby) before heading out on the road. The bustling downtown quickly turns into quiet back roads that will have you feeling zenned out in no time. Middletown Line offers up a slight descent and brings you all the way from Woodstock and into the villages of Norwich and Otterville.
A quick stopover in either village showcases Dutch flavours, heritage and more. If the weather is nice, stop at Ritchies Ice Cream and BBQ on your way down to Otterville where they serve up local burgers, ice cream and more with picnic tables to chill out on and rest your legs for a while.
Photo Credit: Oxford Tourism
Heading west the road changes names a few times but continues through from Cornell Road to North Street in Tillsonburg. Those looking to cut their ride in half can stay the night in Tillsonburg, a small town with a big heart. Just steps from the downtown, Seven Gables Bed and Breakfast is an Edwardian home with old world charm and modern amenities. Nearby, you’ll find downtown shopping, restaurants with a relaxed atmosphere and Annandale National Historic Site, the home of Tillsonburg’s first mayor.
Continue on to Brownsville Road, before turning north along one of the more popular cycling roads in the County, Dereham Line. Roads with vast farm fields will guide your way into Ingersoll at around the 75km mark where you may want to stop and lock your bike up in the downtown. Enjoy a bite to eat, do a little shopping or just grab a coffee to enjoy in one of several downtown parks. This Feet Forks and Finds itinerary may serve as a little inspiration!
Finally, you’ll cruise from Ingersoll along Beachville Road and back into Woodstock to round out your ride. Consider enjoying dinner at one of many local restaurants that serve everything from locally-inspired fine dining and British pub food to Indian cuisine and so much more. You earned it!
Those Looking for a Short Ride
Photo Credit: Dudek Photography
For those looking for some of the charm and scenery of the previous ride without logging all those kilometers, the Norwich to Otterville Loop is the perfect fit. A real treat, you’ll see some of Oxford’s most scenic farmland and can squeeze in some interesting stops along the way.
Starting on Airport Road and heading east onto Windham Road, you’ll enjoy a flat, easy-going ride. Taking Coal Line into Otterville, a lush tree tunnel that is beautiful all times of the year will line the road as you come into the charming village. Here, enjoy a light lunch from Market by the Falls or visit Otterville Park by riding over a stone bridge. You can even enjoy the outdoor pool if the weather is nice! Those who love heritage should consider visiting the African Methodist Episcopalian Cemetery, one of Ontario’s only remaining preserved Black cemeteries and the former site of the African Methodist Episcopalian Church.
Cruising into Norwich, there are loads of hidden gems and more to be uncovered. The Main St. is home to a bakery you’ll smell in the air before you see, small town shopping and a charming restaurant. Consider grabbing a seat on a patio and chilling out post-ride.
Photo Credit: Dudek Photography
Cruise down Stover Street and you’ll come upon the Norwich Museum where you can learn about Norwich’s Quaker heritage among other fascinating stories. If you’re interested, sign up in advance for their Churn Back Time Experience where you’ll get the chance to churn your own fresh butter and enjoy on bread from the local bakery with some other toppings and additions! Yum!
Want more ideas for cycling in Oxford County? Visit RideOxford.ca for gravel road routes, cycling trails, itineraries and more.