There’s no excuse for not having updated in years. Plenty of reasons, but no excuse! So I’ll welcome myself back with a bit of a ride report from the trip to Canuckia.
Day -1: Final Prep Jeff rode in to Bklyn Saturday afternoon with a borrowed trailer hooked up behind his Wrangler. Thankfully I had time to get the VFR mostly prepped before he arrived – new shoes, new brake pads, erl change, sorta-rebuilt rear brake caliper that Paulie helped me with … long story that, which comes back to bite me on Day 1 of the trip. I took Jeff out for sushi in the slope, packed up my gear when I got home, and we loaded up the bikes for an early Sunday departure.
Day 0: Road to America’s Hat
Dock in a Box. That is all.
Day 1: I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed!
Day 2: Ft Irwin / Algonquin Route
After our daily waffle ration, we headed East from Hunstville on Rt 60. A slabbish run to warm up, but we quickly got onto Rt 35 / N Shore Rd. It had a ton of open sweepers, some decent elevation changes, and we had the whole damn road to ourselves. I mean, seriously, not a car for miles on a Tuesday morning. I was breaking in new pads, newly flushed brake lines, and new tires, so the pace was barely North of scenic, but who cares, right?
Our next big change-up put us on St Peter Rd, which ran by one of the myriad lakes in the area. The road started fully rough, with a load of potholes, bad surface, many cracks and worse, but soon just settled into a rough surface. It was fairly technical, with some good blind turns and swift drops and rises, and we dug in with gusto.We went around Eagle Lake (County Rd 19 now), to Ft Irwin, and down into Haliburton. We suburbaned it on 121 (118?) heading Southeast, and turned left on Country Rd 4. Past Essen Lake into Wilburforce, onto 648 … then to the real gem of the day – Elephant Lake Road. This was a peach! Mostly sweepers, with a lot of hills … again, we were alone on the road. It became Peterson Rd, and just stayed perfect. Tighter sections came more often, with some relaxing open bits thrown in. All the way to Maynooth, then NW on 127 for some not-boring-yet-not-mindblowing blacktop.
We stopped at the Portersville Diner for the best pizza in Ontario (no really, it was teh bizzomb) and some local color. We really felt welcomed. And the older gent repairing seat upholstery in the diner was glad we were there since he wasn’t allowed to work while customers were eating! The rest of the route consisted of mostly Rt 60, which took us East-to-West through Algonquin Provincial Park. Gorgeous scenery, a little more traffic (but nothing which got in our way), and yet more sweepers.
Important safety tip: check your gas gauge before entering the park, as there may be dozens of miles between options to fill up. You know, speaking theoretically of course, it’s not stressful to be on one blinky bar for 15 miles while you’re charging up hills with no gas stations to be found.
Anyhoo, back to Hunstville for a chill evening and a tasty meal at The Cottage by the waterfront. This town makes for an excellent home base, by the by … good restaurants, a movie theatre, a Wal-Mart … lots to do, cheap hotels, and everybody’s quite friendly.
Day 3: Parry Sound / Muskoka Lake
We got a late, late start on Wednesday. Garmin made some huge problems with BaseCamp a few months ago, resulting in all the via points on your route being deleted on your Zumo — sometimes. So we got lost in our EconoLodge parking lot for an hour while trying to figure out how to get our route to load. An hour later, in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, we figured out the problem. Sigh.
We sprinted up Rt 11 to Katrine Rd (exit 235 to Rt 592 to Katrine) … this crossed and re-crossed the highway for over a dozen miles, providing smiles and zippy open turns. Rt 530 to “Unpaved Road” (which was paved, and fairly rural) … a turn-off for Gordon St / North St and hey! No more road! Rather than get stuck on a dead-end, we backtracked a bit and navigated to Rt 124.
This was more open sweepers, but it brought us to Hurdville Rd, which will be an AWESOME moto road chock full of twisties — when it gets paved. For now, it’s a striped-section deep-gravel enduro challenge, with 100m of pavement, 200m of gravel, repeat until cranky. Eventually we got onto the old pre-stripped section, and had some fun. Rankin Lake Rd, then Rt 400 for some slab to get to the next section.
We went through the Wahta Mohawk territory (Dr-38), which was pure, clean, twisty asphalt and a ton of fun. Big thumbs up. 169 North after that, through Bala and our Hook & Ladder lunch stop (more poutine, anyone?) … some forgettable stuff for a while (118) … Peninsula Rd wasn’t that bad … 632, 141 … then came the next challenge in our Off Road Spectacular: Turtle Lake Rd / Star Lake Rd. Another recently-stripped gem with a fair bit of gravel, this one will be a road to remember when it gets re-paved. For now, it was a slow trek to the final legs of real twisties.
Rt 518, Stisted, and Ravencliffe Rd brought us back to Huntsville. This was the reason we woke up in the morning (other than the angry swarms of bees that attacked us at a rest stop). We charged up and down hills, through tight sections and great elevation changes … not too challenging but a total hoot. I finally felt like I remembered what good street-riding form could feel like. Jeff figured that either I was angry and was trying to lose him, or I was having a blast — and since my grin was splitting my helmet in half, it was clearly the latter.
Day 4: Rosseau to Haliburton
I have found the reason we came to Canadia, and it is Southwood Road!
We loved the roads from the end of yesterday’s ride so much, that we put them into today’s route so we could ride them the other way. Ravencliffe, Stisted, Rt 518 … 45 minutes of pure yum. What a great way to start the day. And instead of wrassling with gravel and crap on Star Lake / Turtle Lake, we found a great alternative: Tally Ho / Sword’s Rd, which was twisty and had a nice smooth surface. Excellent stuff.
After the extra 40 miles we had tacked onto the front of the route, we were back on the “fishy” route (it looks like a fish on the map). I won’t go into the gory details, there were some lovely fast roads here — but please allow me to rave about Southwood Rd. We picked it up in Torrance, by Black Lake. This road was the reason we put fresh rubber on the wheels, the reason we filled our tanks with 91, the reason we have a right wrist. 30 miles long, and ruly inspiring with its variety of curves, excellent elevation changes, and wildlife (I almost killed a suicidal chipmunk who ran BETWEEN my wheels, and I saw my first and only deer of the ride). It also provided us with the opportunity to get a little air (!) off a convenient ramp-like outcropping on the edge of some train tracks. I was hooting and hollering in my helmet for miles after that one. But this road, oh, man, you have to get on it if you’re anywhere near Eastern Ontario. It’s that good.
The other “highlight” of the route was Bobcaygeon Rd, off of Rt 118 outside of Haliburton. Oh, it was bendy enough to have fun, but it had 3 different surfaces in its 8-or-so mile length. Crap, crappier, and kidney-busting. Someone had told Jeff it was not to be missed, so he put it in there, but we now think he was being messed with.
In any case, a great end to a great trip. Time to pack up and head back to NYC tomorrow, so I can get ready for my Neuro clerkship. So much to do this weekend.
Oh, and Eck, congrats on the upcoming nuptials! Sorry I won’t be there.