OK, I’ll confess, I love Northern Ontario. Gimme trees, rocks, lakes and streams and I’ll be right at home for days. Sure, my body lives in the city, but my heart lives deep in the wilds of the north with the bears, moose, wolves and bugs. So it’ll come as no surprise that this is my fifth year doing the Temiskaming Loop to attend the Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard.
While my first few years weren’t as great as my fourth (check that story here) nothing will ever top the fifth. I’ve been riding and writing about Northern Ontario for so long that I sometimes lose perspective on just how majestic this space is, but our route from Toronto to New Liskeard and back trying to avoid every major highway reaffirmed that this is truly one of the best motorcycle touring ground in the world.
Starting from Toronto, we inched across the city on Rutherford Road until we could finally make it to Highway 35. It was not fun, but it was worth it. While the southern sections were full of cottagers, soon enough the traffic lightened and the disappeared and we cruised is one seamless string of back and forths until we hit Highway 60. From there it was all backroads until we got to North Bay, where we took Highway 63 across to Quebec. Crossing into Quebec here has got to be one of the nicest rides in the province.
Highway 101 north to New Liskeard through Quebec was stunning – fresh pavement, a beautiful sunny day and three iron steeds from Harley-Davidson. When I said I had a new appreciation for these roads, I wasn’t kidding; I was like a kid again, with a goofy smile as I whipped around descending corners feeling the G’s holding my bike firmly to the ground.
When we arrived we participated in the spectacle of the Bikers Reunion; the lawnmower races, the roller derby girls, the death defying feats going on in the centre-ring. But it was the Freedom Ride that, at the end of the day, every rider looked forward to, and I was no different. This epic ride covers so many feelings – as we rode through each town, I was struck by how incredibly…genuine and without irony this event is. Bikers come in to raise money for cancer, but they’re not removed from the people they help – they bring them flowers while on the ride. And the people who live in the town all gather around to wave and say “thanks for helping us.” When was the last time anyone thanked you for doing something nice?
This, in a nutshell, is why I believe the Bikers’ Reunion is such a great event, and why you should go.