The Moto Photo Memoirs

How to Deal with the Mid-Winter Blues

“When hell freezes over!”

As a motorcycle enthusiast I'm pretty sure that phrase refers to mid-January in Ontario. Welcome to stir crazy season—a time of studying long term weather forecasts, cheering on global warming (and feeling bad about it) and emotional visits to the garage. It’s easy to wallow in the misery of snowstorms and road salt, and yes, it takes effort to make a change. Out with the bad thoughts, in with the good—help is only a picture away. Images, be it photo, video or mental have the power to put that smile back on your face; this is not the time for misery, it’s time to relive the past and plan for the future.

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2012 was the year of my first two-wheel venture into Northeastern Ontario. I had just gotten back into motorcycling after a hiatus of couple of decades. With a past in dirt bikes, the adventure bike was my ride of choice. Researching Ontario’s potential for adventure riding, I came across an open invitation to come ride Manitoulin Island. That trip not only left me with new friendships, it also opened my eyes to the motorcycle touring potential of this region. Since then I have clocked thousands of kilometres of pavement, gravel and mud holes. Here’s to memories.

There are rides and then there are destinations. The annual Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard is a destination that just happens to have an awesome ride to and from. This is an event with a great cause and tons of bikes, but it’s the atmosphere that leaves a “see you next year” impression.

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We pulled into Gogama in the dark, beat from a 14hr day in the saddle. There were no rooms to be had, but being early October there were more than a few camping spots available. It was an exceptionally warm fall night, the Milky Way was burning up the sky, the waves were a lullaby. Perfect!

Traffic might be sparse in Northeastern Ontario but it makes up for it in bulk (can you believe there is a gas station behind that Goliath?). Located at the cross roads of HYW 144, 560 and the adventure bike favourite Sultan Industrial Road, I have probably stopped here more often than at any other truck stop in the province.

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It’s hard to tell from the smiles on my riding companions faces if this an “oh crap” moment. My bike has only stranded me once in our five-year relationship and this was the time and place. Thanks to my CAA motorcycle coverage it turned out to be just part of the adventure. I must say, this stretch of HYW 11 from Marten River, Temagami, and north with its old pines, lakes and rock cuts, is SO good!

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Southbound from Timmins, on the TCAT (Trans Canada Adventure Trail) we took this 54km optional technical section. I’m sure we were the first people through here in months. Two hours of mud, rocks, solitude and uncertainty.

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This day started out as a couple hour spin with a friend.  It turned into a 1250km, two-day adventure—to, from and around Lake Nipissing on a whim. The simplicity of the impromptu moto tour is that all you need is tank of gas; you can buy a toothbrush anywhere.

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Fancying yourself a photographer means that all your memories are of photos of others. Well no more, this is me exploring the amazing trail network in the forests of Bonfield. Photo curtesy of Jeff McGirr, thanks Jeff.

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Highway 64 south of Marten River, amazing. Enough said, come on spring hurry up!

That was then and this is now, so what’s next? With winter almost half over, well almost, it’s time to pencil in some plans for the upcoming season. For starters I left some unfinished business on my fall trip to Mattawa. I still have a 100km loop on my GPS through the heart of the Voyageur Multi-use Trail System. The Georgian Bay Costal Route is looking good—it appears as number two on the recent list of Northeastern Ontario’s Top 5 Motorcycling Tours. I heard you can ride your adventure bike all the way up to Abitibi Canyon. That would make for a couple thousand kilometres of northern Ontario gravel travel—sound interesting.

Yes, mid-January sucks but a bit of the past and a few plans for the future and it all seems bearable. Now excuse me while I make an emotional trip to the garage and share the good news with my travel partner.

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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