Following the Path of Least Resistance

How the Ride the Highlands roads became the best in Ontario.

As a fan of horsepower, two wheels and lean angles, eastern Ontario's Ottawa Valley and the area known as, Ride the Highlands has been a staple in my moto routine for years. I love the never-ending twisties, landscape, and hospitality; it's no surprise that Ride the Highlands is considered Ontario's best motorcycling playground by many. But as it often happens, you don't know how good you have it until somebody reminds you.

"Roads will never be built like this again in our lifetime."

"The men who originally built these roads had to choose the path of least resistance."

"Leaving us with roads that are perfect for motorcycles." 

Wise words credited to Lee Perkins, as the Director of Public Works for Renfrew County and a rider himself, he's a man that knows.

So true; think about any recent road construction; everything in the way is blasted to go straight and flat. We are lucky indeed to have these roads at our disposal. What's even more fortunate is that a few of my moto friends and I are about to partake in their bounty for the next few days. 

As I drop my bags at Sands on Golden Lake, home base for the next three nights, my day one of Ride the Highlands experience is in the books. I will say, if there is a more deserving place in Ontario of the saying, "Getting there is half the fun," I don't know where that place is. 

With my Honda Gold Wing packed, I punch the destination into the GPS and press go. While most of the time I don't relinquish control of the day's plan that easily, knowing that in the Highlands, there is no boring way to get from point A to B, I let the electronic brain lead the way. And yes, getting here was half the fun and then some, thanks to the GPS sneaking in a bit of gravel to spice things up.

Day two, rise and shine, who is ready to ride? Judging by the smiles and shuffling feet in the parking lot, the answer is, let's go. We stage into a follow the leader formation. Today, there is no need for maps or a GPS as Lee, our local know-it-all (I say this as a compliment), is leading the way. 

It doesn't take long to get into the rhythm of the day, lean, throttle, smile and repeat. 

While I will take a day ride in the Highlands and Ottawa Valley any time, more is better, and with time on our hands, we can explore. Stop number one is at the Bonnechere Caves in Eganville. The site is home to a series of caves that were carved into the surrounding rock roughly between 400 and 500 million years ago. It's my first time here, and as so often is the case, you don't know till you try and touring the caves and learning about the fossils, very cool. Motorcyclists enjoy dedicated parking spots and get $1 off admission!

Lunch is delicious at the Redneck Bistro in Calabogie, and equally good is the mandatory ice cream stop at Rosie's Café & General Store

Along the way, the onslaught on Ride the Highlands top ten best roads continues, Centennial Lake Road, Calabogie Road, Schutt Road, Letterkenny Road, check to all.

Back at the Golden Sands, the lake provides a refreshing retreat, and the on-site restaurant refuels the body. We cap the day off with a campfire on the beach, accompanied by some cold refreshments, Square Timber Brewing, Whitewater Brewing, Calabogie Brewing, all locally crafted and much appreciated. Tales of favourite moto moments past fill the air, and by past, I mean earlier today. Only one word is needed to summarize today, perfect.

Day three, after yesterday's epic ride, today, the vibe is mellow in comparison. With Lee shackled to his desk at the office, we are on our own. Not a problem, unfold the official Ride the Highland map, and you will find routes aplenty. We take the long way to Barry's Bay via Round Lake Rd and Hwy 60. The coffee at Madawaska Coffee Co. hits the spot, but the pastry, oh, so good, will definitely be back for more.

Gas tanks are topped up before we make our way through the rhythmic sweepers along Siberia Lake Road. There is a quick stop at Kaminiskeg Lake Lookout for a spectacular view of the surrounding area and some fascinating information on the Mayflower tragedy on the lake below. Lunch is at Heartwood Restaurant in Combermere, and, surprise, surprise, it's worthy of the I will be back list.

In the afternoon, with the sky above brooding with the threat of rain, the road count continues, Wilno Road, Opeongo Road, Brudenell Road, some so good we ride them twice. A stop at Crooked Slide Park, a reconstruction of an original log chute used in the early 1900s, offers today's local history lesson number two. And a round of BeaverTail's is surprisingly history lesson number three. Did you know Killaloe Ontario is BeaverTail's birthplace? 

Back at Sands on Golden Lake, we set yesterday's evening routine on replay, kick back and relax.

Day four, bummer, we are all still buzzing from the three-day highlight reel of Ride the Highlands, but life is calling, and it's time to point the front wheel for home. Under normal circumstances, the ride home should gently ease us back to reality, but unfortunately, we are well into what is forecasted to be the rainiest day of the year. Waterproof layers are fitted, and it's time to roll. Thanks to the Gold Wings sure-footedness, heated grips and seat, adjustable windshield, and the always impressive waterproof qualities of Klim's Gortex gear, all in all, the ride was not all that bad.

Ottawa Valley and Ontario’s Highlands, thanks for the good times and kudos to the men that followed the path of least resistance, providing us with the best moto roads in the province. Till next time.

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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