Exploring the Back Roads of Perth County

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.” Mae West, Wit & Wisdom of Mae West

I’m very much a ‘cat’s KAT’. Rather than travelling in a pack, I have found that I prefer practising the art of ‘solitary refinement’ and riding on my own. Although I do appreciate the pleasures of joining in a charity ride or occasionally travelling with a group, I pretty much keep to myself when it comes to my time on the road.

With that being said, this particular adventure was too good of an opportunity to pass up. After all, how can you turn down something with the word ‘wicked’ in the title?

Cathy Bieman, Perth County diva extraordinaire and General Manager of the Perth County Visitors Association, has an enthusiasm that is infectious and a love of both riding and of Perth County. Put all three together and you get The Wicked Ride, a ladies only event and brainchild of Cathy’s that celebrated its fifth anniversary this summer. “It keeps getting bigger as women spread the word about what a blast it is to share the experience,” Cathy volunteered as she surveyed the registration area on the day of the event in August. “This is one ride that is going to have a long history and a wonderful legacy.”

Proud of the fact that net proceeds of The Wicked Ride are earmarked for a different women’s charity every year (the 2016 recipient was Optimism Place, a women’s shelter and support services located in Stratford, Ontario), Cathy and her team suggested that I join them for this year’s anniversary ride and celebration. “You won’t regret it, I promise!” she wrote to me after I accepted her invitation.

Like I said before—it was an offer I couldn’t refuse… 

Perth County, Ontario is a beautiful area of the province, boasting lush, rural farmland and back country roads that mix with arts & culture, and where historic architecture mingles with some of the newest culinary trends. It is divided into four municipalities: North Perth, West Perth, Perth South and Perth East. 

And when the 75+ women all decked out in black, pink, and ‘bling’ hit the roads on their rides for the 5th anniversary in August, they explored all four areas and found plenty of reasons to plan on making a return visit.

Home Away From Home

I decided to head to the area the night before the ride and was warmly welcomed by Peter and Colleen Pola at The Swan Motel, a business owned by the Pola family since 1964. The original 1960's motel sign still marks this single story white brick motel just 3 kilometres south of downtown Stratford, just off of County Road 33, but inside, the rooms are modern and cozy and the grounds are nicely landscaped and include a lovely gazebo and large pool.

The motel is very biker-friendly and I had peace-of-mind knowing that Ruby was right outside my motel room window. There was free coffee, tea and muffins for guests in the morning, and I felt welcome from the moment I arrived.

Let the Fun Begin

The Wicked Ride itself was quite a different experience for me, and it made for a very full day of exploring Perth County and gathering trinkets & treasures at all of the businesses that had come on board to support the Ride. 

There was a fantastic bbq lunch sponsored by the Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers at the Feltz Warehouse parking lot in Stratford, followed at the end of the day by an amazing dinner served to all the ladies at the Mitchell Golf and Country Club by a fun-loving group of men all decked out in their own wicked way.

There were countless door prizes, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughter to go around.

Major stops on The 2016 Wicked Ride

North Perth

Includes the towns of Listowel, Atwood, Monkton and Gowanstown 

Listowel is located in the heart of North Perth and boasts a vibrant and strong downtown core—a great place to park the bike and grab a bite to eat or do a little shopping. Variety is the spice of life in North Perth, offering a wide range of activities from golf and nature walks to local theatre, farm fresh products and all sorts of shopping options. The area is rich with heritage and has all the amenities a community needs to continue to grow. 

Listowel places of business that participated in The 2016 Wicked Ride: Spinrite Factory Outlet, The Back 9 Golf & Sports Bar, Bakelaar Jewellers, Kitchen Cupboard & Icebox, and New U Personal Training Studio.

West Perth

Includes the towns and villages of Mitchell, Dublin, Staffa, Brodhagen, Bornholm and Fullarton

Year round events combined with opportunities to enjoy the area’s wildlife make West Perth a great destination! Annual events include Staffa’s Maple Syrup Festival, Mitchell’s Cornfest in August, the Mitchell Fall Fair at the end of August, and Brodhagen’s Chicken Barbecue in July.

Mitchell places of business that participated in The 2016 Wicked Ride: Scott’s Greenhouse, Wighty’s Repairs Inc., Motley Sport & Cycle, Stickhandler, Floral Treasures, and Maatzy’s. Also participating were Dublin Mercantile (Dublin) and Neubrand Country Produce in Monkton.

Perth South

Includes the villages of Sebringville and Kirkton

There are smaller settlement areas known as the Hamlets that include Avonbank, Avonton, Conroy, Harmony, Prospect Hill, Rannoch, St. Pauls, Whalen Corners, and Woodham.  The area is home to a scenic patchwork of tiny hamlets, productive farms, and sprawling forest.    

Also, located at the junction of Thames River and Trout Creek, south-west of Stratford and surrounded by the Township of Perth South is St. Mary’s. It is in the Perth census division but is independent of Perth County. St. Mary’s is a small town with a big personality. Nicknamed ‘The Stone Town’ because of the abundance of old limestone buildings, it’s both vibrant and historic.

St. Mary’s is always in season; with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, annual Heritage Festival, the largest outdoor fresh water swimming pool (a former limestone quarry) and more!

St. Mary’s places of business that participated in The 2016 Wicked Ride: Little Falls Crafter’s Market, Sun Rayz Tanning, The Flower Shop and More, Village Craft and Candle, and Sunset Diner.

Perth East

Streets and side roads of smaller hamlets lead into Millbank, Milverton, and Shakespeare

This diverse area of Perth County is deeply-rooted in Amish and Mennonite traditions. Interesting fact: Shakespeare has the highest concentration of antique shops per square kilometre in the country!

Perth East places of business that participated in The 2016 Wicked Ride: Country Meadows (Brunner), New To You (Milverton), Millbank Family Furniture (Millbank) and Anna Mae’s (Millbank).


Also part of the tour?  Stratford: Known for its world-class theatre, first-rate restaurants, unique shops and impressive Victorian architecture, Stratford has what it takes to create a memorable visit. You can take in a play at the Stratford Festival or a concert during the Stratford Summer Music Festival. Easy to navigate by motorcycle, there are plenty of hidden treasures along the side streets and along the banks of beautiful Lake Victoria. 

Stratford places of business that participated in The 2016 Wicked Ride: Stratford Antique Warehouse, Gallery Stratford, Treasure’s, Chocolate Barr’s Candies, and Stratford Tourism Alliance.

New Roads and New Friends

For me, the best thing about my Wicked Ride experience was travelling roads that were unfamiliar and exploring some beautiful countryside that I now plan on returning to in the near future. When you take part in an event like The Wicked Ride, you get to experience the best of what a region has to offer, and you get to do it in the company of new-found friends and road sisters / brothers.

Perth County is an area of Ontario that is well worth the trip no matter what your starting point. Easy to get to and with plenty to do once you’re there, you’re sure to have a wicked good time; I know I did….

Click here to go to The Wicked Ride 2016 Facebook page photo album

FYI:  KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is happily enjoying her explorations of Ontario. To share your adventures in riding, pass along a photo, or make a suggestion for a story you’d like to see from KAT, send her a quick message at kattales@rogers.com

About KimberleeAnna "KAT" Taplay

KimberleeAnna Taplay (more widely known as "KAT") is an empty-nester and newly-minted class M rider who has a game plan, a "BikeIt" list, and a VStar with a full tank of gas. KAT is happiest when she and her ride —Ruby— are exploring country roads and wandering from event to event and destinations throughout Ontario. Whether travelling alone, alongside her mentor, or joining small groups along the way, KAT will be chronicling her travels and sharing both her adventures on the road and her moments of quiet reflection about everything it means to be a part of the motorcycling world.

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