The End: Finishing the Moto Season on a High Note in the Highlands

A 3-day ride from the GTA to the Ontario Highlands is the perfect way to end the 2021 riding season.

That's a wrap; the end is here, finito! Sounds severe but not really, just the reality that, like the fading fall colours on the trees, another Ontario motorcycling season is coming to an end. As we prepare to push our moto companions into the safe confines of the garage, the weather is looking promising, as is the opportunity for one more go at it. With three days at our disposal, where would one go to leave a lasting imprint on a motorcycling season? Of course, the Ontario Highlands and the Ottawa Valley, where the roads are seldom straight.

Let's ride!

Day One: GTA to Best Western in Pembroke

The road gradually reduces from many lanes to two and gently eases us into the anticipated barrage of twisties that are the heart of the Ottawa Valley. You know you're in for a good time when just getting here has you grinning; such a great day.

Day Two

We set our sites on ticking off as many of the Top Ten Roads on the Ride The Highlands map as we can. 

I punch in Calabogie as the day's first destination; three routes pop up. I choose the most indirect one because you know it's all about the ride. Again we are gently guided into the good times. Highway 41 progresses from straight to big sweepers, and radiuses tighten from there. By the time we roll into Calabogie, the grins are back and aren't going away any time soon. The day is young, and everything in town is still closed, but the ride must go on, Centennial Lake Road, Calabogie Road, Schutt Road, Letterkenny Road, Rockingham Road, so good.

The on-road experience is matched nicely by the delicious lunch at Heartwood Restaurant in Combermere then it's back at it. We follow Old Barry's Bay Road north, grab a coffee at the Madawaska Coffee Co. then it's time for some exploring.

On the map, Paugh Lake Road presents itself as worthy as any road in the area with more curves than straight lines, but as I have had the pleasure of riding all the roads we've experienced so far on several occasions, Paugh Lake Road I have not. 

It starts as moto-worthy perfection with a freshly paved ribbon of tar that often changes direction horizontally and vertically. Halfway along its length, the super fun pavement changes to equally fun gravel; good times, at least for my adventure bike but, for my sport touring companion, doable but I imagine less fun, lol.

We do get through it and let Round Lake Road lead us back to Pembroke. The day is celebrated at the on-site restaurant with a good meal and the clink of beer-filled gasses, locally brewed, of course, Calabogie Brewing, to be exact.

Day Three: Homebound via Algonquin Park and Muskoka

All good things must come to an end, but no need to shed a tear here. Already satisfied by a couple of days of the Ride The Highlands experience, the ride home promises to provide more of the same. Bags packed, breakfast done, and the sun is shining as we roll through Pembroke and beyond. We have Red Rock Road to ourselves, and Highway 60 is not much busier. With the fall colours mostly gone, the calm as glass lakes reflecting every detail of their surroundings are the stars of the "wow" show. As always, the big sweepers through Algonquin Park are a pleasure, as is the fine coffee at the Portage Store

South Portage Road, I don't recall ever riding this road, but now it's on the list of favourites, so good. Highway 11's two lanes swell to more, and just like that, we are eased into a perfect end of another Ontario motorcycling season.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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