Part VI - Blacktop Bliss
The goal today was to complete a 400km loop from Bancroft to Calabogie and back - that we were informed by Brian would involve some incredibly fun, twisty, scenic, and entertaining paved two-lane roadway. While being well aware of how easy it would be to exaggerate how entertaining this route really was - I can say in all honesty - that this was unquestionably the most entertaining ride I have ever experienced. It's a gem. Really. Granted - it could have been even better if the weather worked more in our favour and didn't spit down on us as often as it did. As luck would have it - each time we attempted to leave the camp - it would begin to rain again - like we were being mocked by mother nature. Still - once we were under way it was clear that the weather wouldn't dampen the grins we were sporting behind our misty visors.
Such conditions require desperate measures. Boy do they ever look Glad. Surprisingly - both David and Bishop claimed that these last-minute make-shift rain garments actually kept them reasonably dry.
Here's a photo of the team just before setting off on the group ride. Apparently two of us were less self-conscious of our bed-head.
And here is what our ride looked like for the day. The route took us from Bancroft, up to Maynooth, north east to Combermere, southeast to Denbigh, east to Calabogie, then southeast to Lanark, west to Plevna, then northwest and back to Denbigh, and west back to our starting point in Bancroft.
The posted speed limits on these highways is 80km/hr - which ironically - seemed actually too fast at times. And while we were riding the twists and turns a little faster than that - it soon became abundantly clear that even adhering to the posted limits along these two-lane roads still promised plenty of thrills. While we knew enough to not create a race out this group ride (sometimes appropriately referred to as a "Ride and Crash") it became clear once we started riding together that we could trust others to ride confidently and safely. Still - while all were competent - at least one was a little more competent than the others. Brian not only supplied the route - but he led throughout the entire course of it. Often from what looked to be about 1 km ahead. The fact that he regularly races a ZX10R and a FZR400, and had some familiarity with these roads meant that it would be foolish to try to stay with him on this ride. Still - with some effort, I managed to trail some distance behind him. While it would be great to brag about how far ahead I was from the other group - there really wasn't a large a gap separating them from me - and I think this had more to do with the extra performance of the 150R rather than anything to do with riding ability. If there was any bragging - it would center around how suited the twists and turns were for the CBR125Rs. This was highlighted when Richard - who was bring up the rear of the group on a CBR600RR - commented that he wasn't able to take the tight corners as fast and easily as the 125Rs were attacking them. He would no doubt catch up in a flash - even on the smallest of straights - but the advantages of a feather-weight, sharp handling bike along a twisty roadway soon became evident.
Any highlights? I remember catching up to Brian who was waiting for the pack at an intersection. He said "I think the pack is going to be quite a ways back on this one" attesting to how challenging this particular section had been (surprisingly, right after he finished saying this - the group appeared in the distance). As the group approached I was still giddy over what we'd just completed and commented "That was an absolutely fantastic ride. What road was that?!?" He said "Centennial Lake Road". There you go. If you want a great representation of the kind of riding in store for you in this area - ride Matawatchan Road to Centennial Lake Road for an excellent representation of what this area has to offer. Not only was the route entertaining - it was largely void of traffic. Brian felt that this was due to its location that places it just beyond a comfortable day ride from Ottawa to the east, and Toronto to the west.
It was challenging to find a straight-away that provided a suitable place to stop, rest, and take some photos. The group behind all agreed that I had Hi-Vis down to an art form. My outfit apparently acted like a lighthouse beacon - leading the way through the wet and sometimes foggy - route.
Eventually, we made our way into Calabogie. As we stopped for fuel and lunch at Munford's Restaurant in town, Bishop asked me if I had heard an aircraft circling overhead as we were approaching town. I replied "Yes - I heard it and saw it many times. It was Adam and his Hindle exhaust." No joke. When Adam's Hindle exhaust-equipped CBR125R was anywhere in the viscinity - it sounded like we were riding on a runway right next to the DHC-2 Beaver featured earlier in my report (see video at the beginning of Part IV of this report for all these aural details). Hindle should try to capitalize on this in their advertising. If you ever wanted to know what it's like to fly a Beaver and ride a CBR125R at the same time - the Hindle now makes it possible. Just purchase the Beaver Edition - slip-on exhaust. With this pipe - you can even brag to your friends that you are "piloting" a CBR125R. As we were eating, Zac Kurylyk from CGM Moto Guide.com approached our table to handed out his card and informed us about the upcoming Dusk 'til Dawn small displacement bike rally on the east coast. (http://rallies.canadamotoguide.com/d2d-about
We knew that our group ride would coincide with the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally (http://rallies.canadamotoguide.com/about
) that occurs every two years in the area. Their 800km route extends from Belleville, ON and encompasses the same region that our group ride covered. It was a common and welcoming sight to wind around a bend and suddenly see a pack of small scooters working their hearts out coming the other way. At one intersection we were taking a rest when two female riders approached the stop. One was singing loudly. Both were using their feet "Fred Flintstone"-style to help them brake to a stop. We all agreed that everyone we saw on scooters seemed to be having tons of fun.
One Mad Bastard (see below) was riding a Honda ZB50 with a sneaky not-immediately-noticeable - not quite 49cc - Piranha engine upgrade. On the other side of the pump you can just make out a Super Dave Osborne impersonator filling a Honda CT70 Mini Trail - also with a not-so-Honda-but-similar-configuration-ish Piranha engine. Top speed for a Honda CT70? About 45 mph. Top speed for these bikes? About 75 mph. Now that
would be fun.
Near the town of Ompah, ON along Buckshot Lake Road. Another fantastic section of blacktop.
After returning to camp - it looked like everyone had just finished a tasty multi-course gourmet meal. We were all tired - yet the look of utter satisfaction on everyone's face was a testament to how much fun we had that day. I recall both Bishop and David thanking Brian for the best day-ride they had ever taken. Others agreed and thanked him too. It was pretty epic. Later while we were discussing potential locations for next year's gathering - someone mentioned that it would be hard to top what we had just experienced that day. We all agreed. Though we vowed to try again anyway next year.
Stay tuned for Part VII.