Dirty Mayo (85km)
Updated: Jun 18
Route Author: Grant Burke
Location: Mayo, Papineau Regional Municipality, Quebec
Distance: 84.7km (52.6 miles)
Suggested Tire Width: 35mm or wider
Amenities: The village of Ripon, just short of the halfway point, has every amenity a rider could want including a couple of grocery stores and dépanneurs, and restaurants.
Estimated Gravel Time: 75%
Parking: Dirt parking at the corner of Route 315 and Chemin Mcalendin
This route has a special place in my heart, as it is the location of my first true gravel ride. And it kicked my ass. Having only ridden on the relatively flat farm roads found in the Ottawa Valley, my legs were not prepared for the extended climbs that are a regular feature of this route. So I ended up walking uphill.
More than I care to admit.
But I was absolutely hooked as a result.
I’ve ridden this route several times since that fateful day, just to remind myself how much of a better rider I’ve become these last four years. And while I no longer walk up any part of this loop, riders should still bring their climbing legs with them. Credit to Grant Burke for developing the route and for his limitless patience on that first ride.
Starting from the corner of Route 315 and Chemin Mcalendin in the village of Mayo and riding counterclockwise, the route turns right onto Chemin Roy and immediately transitions from pavement to gravel. Just over a kilometer later, turn left onto Chemin Burke where riders will be treated to an extended section of tree-lined gravel, which eventually shifts to exposed farm land before turning right onto Montée Dambremont.
Eventually, the route turns left onto Montée Binette and Montée Varin, two wonderfully twisty gravel sections – and where the climbing begins in earnest. This is followed by a left as the route briefly follows Route 317 (while traffic can move fast here, there is a wide paved shoulder), before the route turns right and back onto gravel via Montée du Gore.
The route eventually re-joins Route 317 and for the next 18km or so travels along several stretches of pavement including Montée Guindon, and Chemin de St. André, before entering the village of Ripon. Caution ought to be exercised on this section as there is no paved shoulders and traffic along Route 317 can travel at a high rate of speed.
The village of Ripon, little less than halfway along the route, is a convenient stop for hunters headed north and as such includes all the amenities a cyclist could want, including several restaurants, chips stands, grocery stores and dépanneurs. Exiting the village, the route heads west along Chemin de la Montagne before turning left onto Chemin de la Montagne Noire, leaving the pavement behind and beginning the loop’s most difficult climb, quickly followed by a sphincter-clenching descent down the other side of Black Mountain.
The road then continues for several kilometers of gravel bliss before returning to pavement for a short stretch, followed by a right onto Chemin Smallian as riders continue on gravel via Chemin Miller and Chemin de la Riviere Blanche. Eventually, the route rejoins Route 315 and heading south all the way back to Mayo.