Thursday, October 27, 2016Light Rain 2°C
Sports & Play

The top 10 cycling events in Toronto for summer 2014

Posted by Derek Flack / May 27, 2014

Cycling TorontoThe top cycling events in Toronto this summer offer something for every type of rider, from the absolute beginner through to the weekend warrior and hardcore racer. Many of the longer rides on tap are affiliated with charities, so you'll have extra motivation to get in shape to complete your goal. The season is definitely front-loaded with events to take advantage of more reasonable temperatures, so take note of the dates below and plan accordingly. In addition to what's listed below, Toronto has numerous cycling clubs that host rides on a weekly basis.

Here are my picks for the top 10 cycling events in Toronto for summer 2014.

Ride for Heart (June 1st)
This annual chance to ride your bike up and down the Don Valley Parkway is the biggest ride of the year in Toronto based on number of participants. Less a high-paced race than a lazy jaunt along the wide-berthed highway, there do remain some faster groups who look to take advantage of the undulating terrain to kick it into high gear. The ride, which supports heart disease research, does sell out -- so it's best to register early.

Ride to Conquer Cancer (June 7-8)
Covering a minimum of 200km in two days can be a challenge for many riders, but that's the whole point of this event, which raises funds for cancer research. Now in its seventh year, the ride has continually grown in popularity such that last year it raised just shy of $20 million for its charity of choice. There's multiple ride options, all of which alternate between the Toronto and Niagara regions. The "classic" takes the scenic route to Niagara falls while other options include Toronto loops that return you to your starting point. You'll need to fundraise in the neighbourhood of $3,000 to enter as an individual, so best not to leave it to the last minute.

World Naked Bike Ride June 14th)
This isn't a taxing ride when it comes to physical fitness, but you'll want to be in good shape because you're going to be riding around naked for all to see. Ostensibly an event designed to shed light on oil dependency, that never seems to be the main talking point when the nude peloton passes by. There's no registration -- you just show and go. Just make sure to take a shower that morning, m'kay?

Toronto Ride Guide (June 15)
Not into getting naked? The Toronto Ride Guide is an 18km jaunt around the city, the purpose of which is to familiarize riders with some of Toronto's best neighbourhoods as well as bike paths. It's a good way for novice riders to get to know city roads within the safety of a group, and there's plenty of stops along the way for a rest. The ride comes in at a very reasonable $10.

24 Hours of Summer Solstice (June 21st)
One of the premier mountain bike events of the year, toast the official arrival of summer with 24hrs of riding/racing at Albion Hills. Don't worry, there are team options for those of us who cringe at the thought of putting that much time in the saddle (with only a few rests). Part of the fun, really, is the camaraderie of camping out with the other riders/teams and trading stories about the most epic rides you've done. Check the registration page for the various pricing options.

Evergreen Bike Works Festival (June 22)
What better place for a bike festival? The Brick Works is already overrun with cyclists on the weekends, so Sweet Pete's thought it'd organize an official celebration (which will also help generate awareness for its new store on the site). Expect a mountain bike obstacle course, guided bike rides, and half price tuneups at the shop.

Friends For Life Bike Rally (July 27th)
Ok, this is a big one. 600km in six days, from Toronto to Montreal with a group of 400 some-odd fellow cyclists. The Friends for Life Bike Rally supports a Toronto AIDS charity and has taken place for 15 years. The six day journey is fully supported with daily stops for lunch and overnight camping along the way. It's a bit of a slog for those who haven't done a lot of back to back long days in the saddle, but that makes it all the more rewarding. Riders my raise at least $2,500 to participate in the event and are this encourage to start well ahead of time.

Le Tour de Terra Cotta (August 4th)
The 10th edition of this "tour" in Caledon features a perfect breakdown of rides for cyclists of all ability levels. At 26km, 52km, and 104km, everyone can get in on the racing fun. The rolling hills in the area are also prime riding terrain, so participants can expect to test their legs, regardless of the length of race they choose to enter. For me the best part is that the race involves full road closures, so you can make use of the whole road, just like they do in the real Tour. There are all youth races on offer. Registration ranges from $50 to $95 depending on the length of race and date that you enter.

Ride for Karen (September 7th)
Held since 2002, the Ride For Karen is a challenging charity event that features to "centuries" -- a metric one (100km) and the true benchmark distance of 160km. Test your mettle on the rolling hills north of Markham in support of cancer research. There's also a short 25km jaunt if that's more to your liking. With modest but crucial fundraising targets, this is a ride that encourages people to set a fitness goal in the name of a good cause.

MS Bike Tour (September 7th)
The MS Bike Tour is a huge series of events spread across Canada with over 27 individual rides in different provinces. The Toronto iteration of the event takes place September 7th, departing from Centennial Park for 30km and 55km routes through Toronto. This easygoing ride doesn't have quite as ambitious fundraising goals, so might serve those folks who want to do a charity ride but have left their fundraising efforts a little late. You should, of course, aim to beat the minimum donation, but every bit helps.


What did I miss? Plug your favourite summer cycling events in the comments below.

Thanks to Pure Leaf for sponsoring our summer adventures. For more things to do this summer, check out our Best of Summer page.

Photo by PLTam in the blogTO Flickr pool



Reggie / May 27, 2014 at 10:05 am
YIKES I hope City of Toronto finishes the resurfacing of the Gardiner and Lakeshore in time for the June 1st Ride for Heart!!!
Jan townley / May 27, 2014 at 03:45 pm
Check out 7 days in May. A ride around Lake Ontario in 1 week in support of pancreatic cancer!!
Michael / May 27, 2014 at 07:23 pm
There's also the Tour for Kids Money raised goes to send children with cancer to summer camp. (Sort of like the Ride for Karen) - and unlike the Ride to Conquer Cancer all money goes to the cause I think outside parties (possibly registration fees) provide for all expenses. It looks like it's about 100~250km/day with one, two or four day options.
amature biker / May 27, 2014 at 08:41 pm
I know its for a good cause but do I have to register to ride for heart in order to ride a bike on DVP and gardiner?
Slowpoke / May 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Tour de Terra Cotta looked awesome at first but their site indicates a 90 minute cutoff for the 52km route. That works out to an average speed of 35km/h to just finish, which is rather peppy to say the least! My best average speed was 33km/h on the 2005 Ride for Heart 75km route, and I was in top shape then.
BigCrowdNOT / May 28, 2014 at 08:08 am
The attached pic totally illustrates the STUPIDITY of these many many charity rides and runs...the road is almost completely empty---probably no more than 40 cyclists total on the road, and yet they closed a major highway to have this ride, which could have EASILY been done using a multi-use trail. It is not a race, but a charity ride, so just ride together single file on a bike path or in a bike lane. Is that NOT what the bike lanes and multi use trails are for???

Literally no need to close the DVP or the Gardiner to have these stupid rides, or to close down Yonge Street or many other streets to have these stupid charity things.

Other cities use their trails and paths or at least less well traveled routes.
Brad replying to a comment from Slowpoke / May 29, 2014 at 08:51 am
Slowpoke - as with all races there needs to be a maximum time to finish as there is in this case 6 races that we need to complete. Last year 100 or the 126 participants completed the race in under 90 minutes. The course is very fast and the race ends (complete the lap you are on) when the leaders cross the finish line. You should not have a problem completing the distance if you were doing 33KM in your last event. Hope you decide to give it a try and see what makes this such a great event. Send me an email and we can discuss further if you would like.

Race Director
Janet Gunn / May 29, 2014 at 12:28 pm
The Second Annual Cycle 4 St. Joe's event takes place on Sunday September 28th at Glen Eagle Golf Course in Caledon, supporting St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto's west-end. It was a great event last year and this time there are three routes - 15km, 45km and 75km - so something for everyone. You can register now as an individual or team at
Ride for Unison / June 4, 2014 at 11:32 am
Join us for the 3rd Annual Ride for Unison on Thursday June 12, 2014. Ride either 25K or 50K for a leisurely ride around Toronto. The route is guaranteed to provide participants great fun while empowering the Unison Benevolent Fund to continue its support of Canadian music professionals in times of need.
Jeff Pinard / March 19, 2015 at 07:22 pm
I am not sure if this is of interest, but my company is putting on a Tuesday ride around Toronto very week until the snow comes back in November.
Our plan is to pick an iconic spot in Toronto and spend about 45minutes to an hour riding their. We ahve made a group on facebook for people to join. It is absolutely free.
We thought it would be a great way to meet new people an show case our talented Toronto based company while doing so.
Other Cities: Montreal