The Early Bird Gets the Power Tour

Two Northern Ontario snowmobile teams joined forces and won a coveted award.

From the Kapuskasing Times (Monday, January 25, 2016): The Northern Corridor du Nord Snowmobile association is thrilled to announce that two clubs within the association have been selected as this year's 2016 Ontario Tourism/Yamaha Motor Canada Early Season Riding Tour winners!

At 4:52 pm on Monday Jan. 18, 2016, the combined efforts of the Cochrane Polar Bear Riders and Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Arctic Riders opened the “Gateway to the North” loop.

Congratulations again to the Cochrane Polar Bear Riders and Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Arctic Riders on a well-deserved award!”

All their hard work paid off, and together, the members of both the Cochrane Polar Bear Riders and the Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Artic Riders were gifted with an adventure of a lifetime.

Kenny Johnston, President of the Polar Bear Riders in Cochrane, welcomed the opportunity for the members of his club with open arms. “It was great to test out the new Yamahas since I'm a two-stroke guy. It was great to feel the tourque of the four-stroke engines and the new power steering on the Vector and Apex models.”

He saluted Yamaha Motor Canada for the opportunity. “I'm a firm believer in that this is how you sell your product: Put it out there on the trails for riders to try.”

“The Yamaha riding was great,” Raymond Labonte, President of the Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Arctic Riders Snowmobile Club, agreed. ”It gave us the opportunity to try out new machines, from the comfort of the Venture to the torque of the Vipers. The riding of the Vipers and the Apex gave us an adrenaline rush of youthfulness – we’ve still got it in us! The opportunity was given to those that were (perhaps) skeptic of the performance of four-stroke versus two-stroke engines; we were able to test and enjoy the response of four-strokes. Overall, it gave us a few days of meaningful riding on different machines, and that’s something you just can’t get from trying out different machines at a dealer’s.”

Both gentlemen extended kudos to Ontario Tourism as well. “This ride also allowed us [volunteers from neighbouring clubs] to meet one another and do a little socializing as well, which was great,” says Kenny.

Raymond agreed wholeheartedly. “It was nice as volunteers to be thanked and acknowledged for our work by a manufacturer. The Yamaha rep did a great job of relaying the message to us from Yamaha, and on behalf of the Arctic Riders, I’d like to thank both Yamaha and the Ministry of Tourism for sponsoring the event. Great days of riding and fun were had by all!”

So, how did the clubs qualify for the Power Tour? “We had to be the first group in the province to have a tourism loop officially open ‘green,’” explained Kenny. “We opened the ‘Gateway to the North’ loop, a 215-km tourism loop. Our biggest challenge on this loop was getting the river crossing to freeze properly so we could cross snowmobiles. Winter came about one month late here this year.”

Raymond elaborated on the challenges that both clubs had to overcome in order to make everything happen. “To be able to make the Gateway to the North the first to open, we had to be ready when Mother Nature finally brought us the snow and the cold. It involved long days doing ice bridging, signage, and trail maintenance that could not be done prior to grooming.”

A “snowmobiler’s salute” and “job well done” to all of the members of both clubs, and make no mistake… their countdown to next season has already begun!


A little bit about the winning clubs…

The Polar Bear Riders club maintains about 300 km of groomed OFSC trail with two groomers. It has been in existence for about 25 years. We are blessed with great snow conditions here in Cochrane which makes it a great destination for die-hard snowmobile enthusiasts who want to enjoy the great outdoors on snow. Tourists often drive 6-12 hours to experience our great riding opportunities, especially early in the season or late in the season.

This past season, our trails were open here over a month longer than most areas in the province. We had late-season riders even crossing on a ferry in the spring so they could continue to ride our A103 trail to the Abitibi Canyon.

Cochrane is an awesome snowmobiling Mecca. We usually have snow from December to mid-April; we’re one of the first places to open our trails, and one of the last places the trails close. We typically have about three feet of snow. Most trails are 18 feet wide and are usually groomed to perfection. Trails consist of old logging roads, utility corridors, and trails primarily located in the boreal forest.

Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Arctic Riders Facebook page

The Smooth Rock Falls-Fauquier Arctic Riders Snowmobile Club operates from the towns of Smooth Rock Falls and Fauquier. We have approximately 20 dedicated great volunteers, and have 227 km of snowmobile trails. We are part of OFSC District 15 called the Corridor du Nord. In our trail system, we have the main snowmobile trail called the “A” trail, and also share two Snowmobile Loops with the Cochrane Polar Bears: the “Gateway to the North” and the “Abitibi Canyon” loop. Both clubs work great together, as evidenced this winter when we shared the building of a warmup shack where our “A” trail meets.

In Smooth Rock and the District 15, our grooming season usually is between 13 and 16 weeks. In our area, we get lots of snowmobilers from all over, from Texas to Alaska to the southern part of Ontario. The consistency of our smooth trails, along with our vast area, makes it possible for a snowmobiler to log in lots of kilometres in one day; you can easily put in between 200 and 300 km on a good day. You can enjoy riding the Boreal forest to the openness of Power Line Corridors, and maybe see some wildlife while snowmobiling too.

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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