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May 2, 2023

Have you heard of the Great Northern Bikepacking Route? Uncover the origin story of the Great Northern Bikepacking Route with founder Matt Kadey. Matt will walk through the vision for the first West to East Cross Canada Bike Packing route. Through 10 provinces and a brief sojourn into the U.S., the GNBR covers a whooping 8700 miles. Like all bikepacking routes, GNBR will evolve over time and local contributions are encourages to continue to improve the route.

The Great Northern Bikepacking Route Website

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Unearth the fascinating tale of the Great Northern Bikepacking Route's conception.

  • Embrace the sheer beauty, multifaceted trail systems, and wide-ranging terrain difficulties to expect on this adventure.

  • Gain valuable insights regarding the accessibility, security, and services availability for a well-rounded experience.

  • Probe the grueling provinces and exceptional trail characteristics that set this route apart from others.

My special guest is Matt Kadey

Meet Matt Kadey, an accomplished bikepacker who has made it his mission to design the ultimate off-road adventure by connecting Canada's diverse landscapes through the Great Northern Bikepacking Route. His dedication to creating an engaging and challenging experience for fellow bikepackers has resulted in a route that encompasses 8700 miles across ten provinces. Matt's expertise in route planning and collaboration with local riders ensures that adventurers can enjoy a memorable and ever-evolving journey across Canada's stunning terrain.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Visit the Great Northern Bikepacking Route website ( to explore the 8,700-mile route across Canada.

  • Join regional bikepacking Facebook groups to connect with local riders for input and suggestions.

  • Utilize Ride With GPS as a user-friendly platform for plotting and editing bikepacking routes.

  • Consider a more rugged bike setup for tackling the diverse terrain of the Great Northern Bikepacking Route, as seen on's Rigs of the Divide or other similar races.

  • Reach out to Matt Kadey and offer input or suggestions for the Great Northern Bikepacking Route, particularly if you are familiar with specific segments.

  • Keep an eye out for future alternative route options on the Great Northern Bikepacking Route website, offering more manageable options for some sections.

  • Explore bikepacking routes in your local area, such as the BT 700 in Ontario, to gain experience and build up to longer routes like the Great Northern Bikepacking Route.

Bike Selection for the Route
The Great Northern Bike Packing Route encompasses various terrains and conditions, challenging riders to be prepared for anything. As such, choosing the right bike for the adventure is crucial. Matt Kadey recommends a sturdy setup similar to those used in long haul bikepacking events like the Tour Divide, Silk Race, or Moroccan Atlas Race. In the episode, Kadey explains that while some sections of the route can be navigated on a traditional gravel bike with 700x38 tires, other areas require something more robust due to rocky, trail-heavy, and sharp descents. His practical advice helps riders better prepare for the upcoming journey and ensures they have an enjoyable and safe experience.

Segmenting the Route
To make the Great Northern Bike Packing Route more accessible to a broader range of cyclists, Matt Kadey has divided the route into individual province and state segments that can be tackled separately. This innovative approach allows cyclists to experience the beauty and challenges of the route at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer distance of the entire project. During the podcast, Kadey talks about the difficulty of piecing together existing bikepacking routes and finding the best off-road stretches to connect them. He mentions using local riders and Facebook groups for advice and direction, as well as employing the Ride With GPS platform to make changes and edits to the route easily. This collaborative process demonstrates his commitment to creating the best possible experience for all cyclists.

Bypassing Problem Areas
During the development of the Great Northern Bike Packing Route, Matt Kadey acknowledged some potentially dangerous areas that warranted bypassing. One example is a stretch of road in northwestern Ontario that is heavily trafficked by trucks. To avoid this treacherous section, he discovered an existing bikepacking route through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Kadey discusses incorporating this southern United States route into the Great Northern Bike Packing Route, thus bypassing the hazardous area and ensuring rider safety. His proactive approach to addressing problem areas further emphasizes his commitment to creating a remarkable and enjoyable cycling adventure for all riders.