By Laurel-Lea Shannon
For the eco-friendly visitor, the Perth district has it all — rolling hills, dense forest and pristine waterways. Now “the prettiest town in Ontario” is putting out the welcome mat for a group of visitors well-known for their tiny carbon footprint: cyclists.
“The area has so much to offer. Why not explore it on a bike?” says Karen Rennie, heritage manager for the town of Perth. This summer, the town is busy telling cyclists from far and wide what local cyclists have known for years — the natural beauty of the area, with its abundant networks of lakes and rivers, rolling landscapes of farmlands and woodlands, and quiet county roads, is a cyclist’s dream.
To encourage cyclists to visit the area, the Perth & District Chamber of Commerce has designed detailed maps of 9 cycling routes, ranging from a 10 km ride in and around Perth to a challenging full-day 93 km ride through the hills of the Lanark highlands.
Nestled between Ottawa and Kingston, Perth is less than an hour’s drive from each city. “People don’t realize how close we are,” says Madeline Bouvier, co-manager of the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s easy to load up your bike and come out for a day’s ride.” For those who want to stay longer, there are welcoming accommodations in town or more secluded country getaways along nearby lakes and rivers. For hungry cyclists there are a variety of restaurants in the area—many use fresh-grown produce sourced from neighbouring organic farms.
In the last few years, the sheer volume of cycling-related enquiries received by the Chamber of Commerce visitor centre convinced Bouvier that the town needed a cycling plan. Five months ago, she and Rennie formed a bicycling committee, which has quickly grown to 12 enthusiastic members.
“What began as a Perth and District Chamber of Commerce initiative has expanded to involve community members, local cyclists and businesses,” says Rennie. “The first phase is to get maps out for four of the routes now. The remaining five routes will be printed by the end of summer.” The committee welcomes feedback and will evaluate each season as it moves forward to form partnerships with local businesses, hotels, B&B’s and restaurants eager to promote cycling tourism in the area.
The launch of the cycling maps was coordinated with a new design of the Perth & District Chamber of Commerce website, where the cycling maps can be downloaded.
For more information, visit the Perth & District Chamber Of Commerce website
www.perthchamber.com, or call 1-888-319-3204.