Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to the start of the ride? (GWTA 2019)

New for 2019

1) Meet in Barrie

GWTA pre tour Meeting location and Free Long Term Parking – Georgian College in Barrie

We recommend that you stay overnight in Barrie on August 27th. Georgian College are offering extremely preferential overnight accommodation rates to our riders.

Drive to Barrie  and park in the free long-term parking.

Take the GO Train from Toronto to Barrie. The GWTA will be offering a free shuttle from Barrie GO station to Georgian College.

Bikes will be packed securely by our volunteer team in preparation for early morning departure by coach to Sault Ste. Marie.

Pick up your bike plates and jersey ( if you ordered one). We will have free long-term parking available for the week at Georgian College.

Purchase charter bus tickets from Barrie to Sault Ste. Marie here. Charter bus fee includes a light grab and go Tim Hortons breakfast in Barrie and a light lunch in the Spanish.

2) Meet us in Sudbury

We will have a limited number of long-term parking spaces available for those of you who wish to meet the coach bus in Sudbury.

Purchase charter bus tickets from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie here. Charter bus from Sudbury does not include any meals.

3) Meet us in Sault Ste. Marie

The group will arrive at the Delta Inn in Sault Ste. Marie at around 2pm on July 28th. A limited number of long-term parking spaces will be available at the Delta Inn for those who wish to meet us here – please email Tour Director Jo to reserve a long term parking spot.

How do I get home or back to my car? (GWTA 2019)

Participants will have the following options available to them to return home from the 2019 GWTA on Friday 2nd August:

  • Pick-up from Sudbury accommodations by family or friends.
  • Coach bus back to long term parking at Georgian College, Barrie. The cost of transportation is not included in your registration. Purchase tickets from Sudbury to Barrie here.
  • We are not able to offer coach transportation back to Sault Ste. Marie. For those people wishing to return to Sault Ste. Marie, we offer the following options:
  1. Ontario Northlands bus service from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie. Please prebook yourself, bike and luggage onto this service.
  2. One way vehicle rental – pick up from Sudbury, drop off in Sault Ste Marie – we recommend using a cargo van or pick up truck.
  3. Drive your car to Sudbury Long Term Parking at the Travelodge Hotel on or before July 28th, park your car in Sudbury for the week. Pick up our charter coach bus from Sudbury to return you to Sault Ste. Marie. Book the charter bus here.

Please contact Tour Director Jo  if you wish to be put in touch with other people who will be travelling back to Sault Ste. Marie.

Can I leave a vehicle at the ending or beginning town? (GWTA 2019)m

Yes,  there will be free long term parking available at our meeting point at Georgian College in Barrie.

There will also be limited free long term parking available in Sudbury.

There will be limited long term parking at the Delta Inn and Suites in Sault Ste. Marie for those that wish to meet us there. Please contact  the Tour Director to reserve a space.

Is the GWTA a fundraiser?

The GWTA was created by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust in 2008 to promote the Waterfront Trail. Having created the 1400 km Waterfront Trail from Windsor to the Quebec Border, we wanted to make sure it is well-used and well-loved. Learn more about the charity here.

The GWTA is priced to cover most of the costs associated with the planning and operation. Months of work go into working with over 200 communities and businesses to prepare an outstanding experience. Most charity rides will require you to raise thousands of dollars to participate in them, this is not the case for the GWTA.

In 2019 you have the option to pay a registration fee or to do some fundraising.  Check out the registration page for more information.  If you would like to make a donation to the Trust click here.

By participating in the GWTA you are helping our charity with its primary goal of completing, enhancing and promoting Ontario’s Waterfront Trail along the Canadian shores of Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and the provincial shores of the St. Lawrence River.

How do I get a heavily discounted rate to the GWTA?

Become a volunteer! Although we have recruited all of our cycling volunteers for 2018 we are searching for volunteer drivers to drive support vans and the luggage truck.  Meet new friends, discover new communities, and have some fun while supporting and encouraging the cyclists. Application forms can be found here.

What should I bring?

  • It is very important to have your bike looked at by a professional mechanic before the start of the GWTA.  Mechanicals that could have been avoided by a tune-up affect your Adventure experience.
  • Luggage: Camping Participants are permitted to bring 2 duffel bags, including camping equipment. Suitcases, boxes, cases, are NOT allowed. Baggage may not be tied together and must include a luggage tag with the participants name. You will be required to carry your baggage to and from the luggage truck each day SO for your sake and the health and safety of the volunteers, who load and unload the truck, please pack light and tight! Remember the truck must be unloaded whether the weather is wet or dry so place your belongings in plastic bags or use waterproof duffel bags to keep them dry. Check out this video for more information, and to be entertained.
  • Camping Equipment: Duffel bag, sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground sheet, rope, stakes and a flashlight.
  • Toiletries: Towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue (just in case). It is also recommended that you bring chamois creme.
  • Street Clothes: 3 T-shirts, 3 shorts, a pair of pants, a jacket, 7 pair of underwear,3 pairs of socks, 1 pair of off-the -bike shoes, flip flops, sleepwear, swimsuit, and possibly sweatbands/bandannas.
  • Cycling Clothes: Bike gloves, 3-4 pair of cycling shorts, 3-4 bike jerseys, light jacket, arm warmers (optional), rain gear ( essential – we wil ride rain or shine!).
  • Bicycle Equipment: Helmet, bike lock (essential), water bottles, electrolyte powder( e.g Gatorade)/snacks and a small repair kit to carry on the bike with you that includes a spare tube, tire irons, and a hand pump. The CAA mobile bike assist and volunteer cyclists and support vehicles will be on hand to help with more serious mechanical problems. You may also want a rear view mirror and paniers to carry light items such as snacks and a rain jacket. Support vehicles will transport any purchases you make on route.  For information on what kind of tires you should have on you bike click here.
  • First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first aid cream, lip balm, sun block, insect repellent, safety pins, and sanitary protection if needed with disposable bags. Access to emergency medical treatment will be available in each campground.
  • Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock/watch/ cellphone, spare glasses, sunglasses, camera, earplugs, ID, money, credit cards, snacks, journal, pens, pencils, address book, several plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag.
  • Ebikes: If you plan on riding a pedal assist bike then we require you to bring an additional fully charged battery. The GWTA cannot guarantee that there will be adequate power for charging at all of our overnight campgrounds.

Do I need my own camping gear?

  • Yes. A list of suggested items can be found at the top of this page under “what should I bring”
  • You can also book the outfitting services of Comfy Campers.  They will bring all the camping gear and set it up every day as well as tear it down the next day! They even bring you a chair and a daily clean towel. Otherwise You will need to bring camping gear with you.

Do I have to camp?

  • No, you do not have to camp. There are hotels and Bed and Breakfast locations along the route that would love to have you as a guest. We recommend that you make reservations in advance, including transportation from the overnight site to the hotel and return. A list of GWTA 2018 supported accommodations can be found on the accomodations menu to the right.
  • Comfy Campers may also be enticing to you. They provide the tent, air mattress, chair, towel and do all the set up and tear down of the tents every day.  Did we mention early morning coffee and cell phone charging stations too?

Can children participate in the GWTA?

The GWTA 2019 is considered unsuitable for children under 15.

In 2020 children are definitely welcome, but must be accompanied by a guardian or responsible adult who is riding. Parents and/or Guardians must be within eyesight of each other at all times and accompany their children in the support shuttle if needed. Parents are not permitted to leave their child in the care of a volunteer. Volunteers are responsible for group safety and may have to stop to deal with various issues along the route. Children should know the rules of the road and know how to ride in traffic, with both other cyclists and vehicles. We recommend Can-Bike courses for new riders.

Are meals included?

The following meals will be included in the 2019 GWTA:

  • All Breakfasts.
  • Opening night meet and greet dinner in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday July 28th.
  • Closing night dinner at Science North, Sudbury on Thursday August 1st. This will be a Celebration of our week together.
  • Two cyclist lunches.
  • All other lunches and one remaining dinner in Espanola on July 31st will be on your own.  We will be riding through many communities with a variety of food options.

Should I bring my own snacks?

  • We encourage you to bring your own snacks and ride with more food than you think you will need, especially if you have allergies or there are specific foods that you like to eat during a ride. There will be several places to stop and refuel during the ride
  • If you like a particular brand of energy drink – we recommend that you bring your own powder/packets. Whilst there will be access to electrolyte drinks and snacks on the GWTA shuttle vehicles we cannot guarantee that they will be your preferred brand. There will be many opportunities to stop and fill your bottles.
  • We strongly advise you to ride at all times with electrolyte drinks ( eg Gatorade) and snacks at all times even if you would not normally do so.

Will there be vegetarian or gluten free options? Will nuts be served?

We work hard with the host communities to make  sure that nut free, vegetarian and gluten free options are  available – please let us know of your dietary requirements in advance to ensure that we have enough vegetarian/gluten free meals available. Likewise, if there is a particular food allergy that we should be aware of please let us know. Should you have more questions  please e-mail the Tour Director.

What kind of bike should I ride?

  • Much of the GWTA Route for 2019 is paved, however there are some longer, unavoidable sections of gravel. There are also some sections where you will be required to ride a wide paved shoulder along Highway 17 – shuttles will be provided for those that wish to avoid longer sections of Highway 17. It will NOT possible to ride the entire route comfortably on a road bike unless you choose a more robust tire more suitable for the gravel sections.
  • All kinds of bikes have travelled the previous editions of the GWTA and had a great time; however, please ensure that your bike has been tuned-up and is in EXCELLENT working condition.  Mechanicals that could have been avoided with some maintenance before the GWTA will affect your joyful experience.  Bike shops are busy in the spring and summer, so schedule a tune-up a few weeks before the ride.
  • Mountain bikes will be more comfortable with a smoother tire instead of ones with a lot of tread.   Here is a video explaining the differences between tires.
  • People ride road and mountain bikes, folding commuter bikes, tandems, hybrids and recumbants – we recommend that your bike has a variety of gear selections and that you are able to use your gears confidently. You must also be comfortable riding on sections of gravel and have suitable tires.
  • This years ride is hilly in sections and suitable for experienced riders- we do ask that you are comfortable riding at least 50km in a day and are able to maintain a minimum speed of 15km per hour.
  • Ebikes – we welcome pedal assist bikes but require riders to bring a spare fully charged battery. The GWTA cannot guarantee that there will be adequate charging facilities at overnight campground locations. Please be prepared to assist volunteers in lifting your bike into shuttle vehicles.

Can I rent a bike?

Please contact us if you are interested in renting a bike for the GWTA.

How much money should I expect to spend?

  • There are several restaurants, cafes, ice cream stands, chip trucks, wineries, breweries and fruit stands along the route, as well as unique shopping. It’s a good idea to set aside some shopping money, especially with the support vans stopping to transport any purchases you make along the way.
  • If you choose to stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast (rather than camping), factor those rates into your budget.

What if I can’t come?

CANCELLATION POLICY: if you must cancel your registration, the cancellation fee will determined according to the policy outlined below. Exceptions to this policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving the trip early.

Up to January 31, 2019
Registration fee paid less $75 processing fee
February 1 to March 31, 2019
50% Registration fee paid
April 1, 2018 to event day
NO Refund

The fees retained reflect the costs to the Trust of administering the GWTA registration and are not intended to be punitive in any way. The Trust realizes the majority of those who cancel their registrations do so out of necessity.

If you wish to cancel your registration, you must request a refund by email on or before the above noted deadlines. No exceptions to the deadline or amount of refund will be considered.

TRANSFER OF REGISTRATION: After March 31, 2019 the Trust will not issue refunds.  However you may sell or transfer or give your registration to someone else. The Trust will not facilitate these transactions. To transfer a registration, the Trust must have an email ([email protected]) (subject line=Transfer Registration) from both parties (seller and purchaser) saying the transfer has taken place and is accepted by both.

REGISTRATION CARRY OVERS:  All registrations apply to the Tour year only–2019. No year to year carry-overs will be granted.

How do I know if I’m fit enough to participate?

  • In previous years, 44% of participants were surprised by the amount of distance that they could do!  Anyone in reasonable cycling shape should be able to enjoy the 2019 GWTA.  The route this year does have some hilly sections and some unavoidable gravel sections. The most important thing is to get comfortable riding your bike all day and in particular get comfortable with your gears. If you have never done a ride like this before we recommend that you give yourself plenty of time in the saddle so that your butt and shoulders get used to being in a cycling position.  Every year people come with only a handful of training rides under their belts and do just fine. If you ride at least twice a week for a couple of months before the tour, you will decrease your chance of injury, sore butts, and sore necks. Work up to being comfortable riding 50 – 70 km in one day, include practice at climbing some short hills and maintaining a speed of 15 km/hr or faster and you’ll have the confidence to finish the tour.
  • We recommend that you are comfortable riding on roads – please note that there will be sections riding along a wide paved shoulder on Highway 17.
  • Don’t forget that we will have shuttles operating on all days from designated stops that give you an option to ride just part of the distance and then get a ride back to camp.
  • If you would like to join in the fun but are concerned with the distance, consider the Personal Support Vehicle option. Under this option you bring a friend or family member who drives the GWTA.

What is a personal support vehicle?

A personal support vehicle is a non-cycling registrant who brings a vehicle and is a driving participant and who accompanies and supports their registered cycling family and friends. This gives you the flexibility to end your day when you like and take in more side trips or other activities such as shopping, kayaking, theatre. Most of all it is a way for cycling and non-cycling friends to share this incredible experience.

What if I don’t want to ride all day or all week?

  • If you would like to join in the fun but are concerned with the distance, be aware that there are support vehicles that will transport you from designated shuttle points to the next rest stop or the end of the day’s ride. We recommmend that you are able to ride at least 50km per day to get the maximum enjoyment from your cycing holiday.
  • Want more flexibility?  Consider the personal support vehicle option.

Will I need a passport to travel from the U.S.?

On June 1, 2009 all U.S. and Canadian citizens who are 16 and older traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), will be required to present a valid passport or other alternative documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.  U.S. and Canadian citizens who are 15 years old or younger will still be allowed to travel with just a copy of their birth certificate, as will teens between the age of 16-18 if they are part of an adult supervised school, religious, cultural or athletic group. (from US Customs & Border protection website)

What time can I start biking in the morning?

  • Remember you are on vacation.  However we realize weather conditions and personal anxiety may push you to an earlier start. The rest stop and meal schedule is based on a 15-25 kph rate of average speed and a 8:00am am start.  Breakfasts will typically be available from 7:00am to 8:00am. Please remember that our lead cycling volunteers also need to eat breakfast before they get on the road. If you leave before 7:30 am we can not guarantee that we will be able to assist you if you run into a mechanical problem. All times listed in the itinerary section are the times when the rest stops will be “open”.

Will we encounter much traffic on the route?

  • The Lake Huron North Channel expansion of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is mostly signed quiet roads with some off-road trails. There are also some sections (50 km) that use paved shoulders of Highway 17, a provincial highway. We cannot close roads, but we do work with all of the communities involved to establish awareness of road conditions and temporary signage where necessary.  There are a few busier sections along Highway 17, but for the most part, we are riding on quiet roads when we are riding on the road. As a rider, you should always be aware of your surroundings and stay far right and in single file.
  • As cyclists riding on the road, we are subject to certain provincial and municipal laws. Please take a few minutes to review the Ministry of Transportation cycling resources.

Great Waterfront Trail Merchandise

Souvenir cycling jerseys will be available for the 2019 GWTA. More information will be coming to the website shortly.