The Journey Is the Destination
Editor's Note: Jess Kline recently attended the Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard - you can read all about her take on the event here. But her ride to the event and back was just as important; avoiding all the 400 series highways as she made her way north. Read on for her story on the ride that made the event that much more epic.
Four days, 1500 kilometers, 3 amazing Harley Davidson’s and an adventure that I will never forget. Looking at the map of our motorcycle route, I can’t believe how far I travelled from my little neck of the woods in Southern Ontario. It’s such an accomplishment to return from a successful motorcycle trip with a new set of stories, pictures and memories to last a lifetime.
My last trip to Northern Ontario was in early May, and as much fun as it was, the cold weather and rain was something I was hoping would not be part of my next trip north. This time, I was invited to join in on a new adventure with the What a Ride crew to head to the New Liskeard Bikers Reunion. I checked out the online motorcycle trip planner, and saw that we would be riding some of the best roads in Ontario. The weather looked great, the crew was amazing, and the bikes… well, they were brand new Harley Davidson’s, need I say more?
I was on cloud 9 when I arrived at Deeley Harley Davidson that first day. We were given three motorcycles to ride for the weekend; a Dyna Low Rider, Night Rod Special and Electra Glide Ultra Classic. Mike took the Electra Glide, Claude was on the Dyna Low Rider, and I grabbed the Night Rod Special. I’ve seen the Harley Davidson Vrod before at motorcycle events and on the road, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to ride one!
Route to North Bay – Day 1
The hustle and bustle of Toronto was something I was happy to leave behind. I had just been given a new Harley Davidson Night Rod Special, and was itching for the space and freedom of an open road. I wanted to see what this bike could do!
We left Markham, and made our way along Highway 48 through Ontario’s Highlands. We rode through the small town of Cannington, known as ‘the heart of Ontario’ and continued down highway 9 towards 35. I was amazed at how the landscape had changed since my last trip to the area two months ago. Flowers were in bloom, trees were lush and green, and the sky was powder blue. Oh, and that open road… I had found it.
Highway 35 took us through Minden and Dorset, towards Huntsville. A quick jaunt across highway 60 brought us to highway 11 and through South River. I recalled being in the Mattawa area in the winter to film a snowmobile video – it was amazing how the scenery had changed with the seasons! We rolled into North Bay just in time to catch a beautiful sunset over Lake Nipissing. The orange and red glow of the sun setting over the water was something you can’t fully capture in a painting; you have to experience it in person. It was a great way to end a full day of riding. We parked the bikes at the Best Western North Bay, and I settled in for the night in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in!
Route to New Liskeard – Day 2
“Bikers Reunion 2014!!” I woke up to Mike’s text message the next morning, and felt sheer excitement in my stomach. We were headed to the largest motorcycle rally in the North! Cruising along highway 63 towards Quebec was absolutely beautiful. The sparkling, smooth pavement made for a beautiful ride, and combined with the greenery, rolling hills, and farmland, I thought at one point that I might have been in heaven. A quick stop for lunch at La Bannik Restaurant proved to be the best view for sitting down to eat a delicious meal.
We made our way along highway 101, and took route 66 to New Liskeard to check out some of the day’s events. Roller derby, lawn mower races, motorcycle stunt show, there was something for everyone! The sun that day was so hot, so we took a fresh-squeezed lemonade break by the water. The light breeze, shade, and lemonade was just the break I needed.
Freedom Ride / Temiskaming Shores Route – Day 3
Our third day of riding was all about the Freedom Ride at the Biker’s Reunion. I had an idea of what to expect from watching the 2013 Bikers Reunion video, but after participating in the flesh, I must say it’s something you need to experience in person. Thousands of motorcyclists departed from the New Liskeard fairgrounds, and made a short stop at the Temiskaming Hospital to show their support for the local cancer ward. From there, the group continued on a 120 km route through the towns served by the hospital. Highway 11 south took riders to the beautiful, but very small town of Cobalt. I loved riding down the windy roads while Lake Cobalt glistened ahead of me. Local residents cheered, waved, and held up signs welcoming us into their town. Riders then rumbled along Temiskaming Shores and through the town of Haileybury to New Liskeard. Following the TransCanada Highway, we made our way to Earlton and then looped back to New Liskeard. The ride was beautiful, oddly peaceful despite the roar of all the motorcycles, and above all, it was a humbling experience that made me appreciate the simpler things in life.
The day ended with pictures on the King’s Landing Wharf in North Bay, and what looked like the ‘perfect storm’ making a B-line for our crew. We got out of there just in time, but the storm eventually caught up with us and made for a wet ride back to the Best Western North Bay.
Discover Muskoka Route – Day 4
The trip home was bittersweet; I was happy to return home to my own bed and the comforts of home, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop taking in the beautiful sights of Northern Ontario on a Harley Davidson! Regardless, it was time to head back. We headed south on Highway 11, and took 124 back to Parry Sound. What a great road to ride! This road has very little traffic, and offers a beautiful tour around lakes and waterways. Highway 124 connected us to 169, where we cruised through some quintessential Muskoka towns before heading back to the Greater Toronto Area. The purpose of this trip was to head to the New Liskeard Bikers Reunion, but I had the chance to explore so many new roads, towns, and landscape along the way. I learned this weekend that the journey is just as important as the destination, and I can’t wait until my next adventure!