Thursday, October 08, 2009

Day Ride Through Muskoka

Leo called this morning to see if I was up for the ride we talked about a few days ago. It was cool but the skies were clear and I figured it would be good to take a spin. Despite the colourful leaves, I have no pictures because, like a bonehead, I forgot my camera at home.

The first order of business was to stop at Moores and get my sizing for the wedding tuxedo checked. I was measured back in June but you can amend the sizing for free if it is done more than two weeks before the event. After that, you pay a fee. Lucky for me, my critical measurements are still the same.

Leo met me at Moores. We left town about 10:00 AM at 12 C. Not far south, we got stuck in a line of traffic behind a float carrying a large haul truck. The first two passing lanes were shut down for construction so we were caught in the slow parade until the Killarney turnoff. Once past, we settled into a 108KPH pace, just 18 KM over the limit. This is a pretty safe speed with respect to keeping the driving record ticket free.

We stopped at the Visitor's Centre at the French River. I stopped here with Sherm a couple of years ago but it was closed. Today it was open and I got my first look at the inside. Many more nice exhibits than I had imagined. I'll bring more tourists through here in the future. We had a nice talk with Angie, the guide, about the exhibits including interesting ones about the native culture in the area. They actually had a sign like this at the entrance to the parking lot. I didn't get a photo myself because, as I said, the camera was at home. We have massasauga rattlesnakes here and obviously value them more than the folks do in the states.

The Visitor's Centre is at the south end of the French River Snowmobile Bridge, Canada's largest cable supported snowmobile bridge. It was built by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, fulfilling a dream that started when I was on the OFSC board back in 1995. It is an awesome structure and is used by tourists in the summer to get a spectacular view of the historic French River, which played a major role in the early fur trade.

From the French, we headed down past Parry Sound and across 141 the same way Terry and I did back in September. This time, we stopped at the Crossroads in Rosseau for lunch. It was a little pricey but the food and ambiance were very good. We each had a ham and swiss on marble rye bread with really good fries. There were several other riders in for lunch and the motorcycle traffic was busy here despite the lateness of the season.

Back at the bikes, a lady came over and asked us if we could help her. She and a friend were trying to move a large file cabinet and a credenza into their Bed & Breakfast, The Rosseau Retreat (c. 1873), just across the street and it was proving to be a little much for them. The four of us managed to get the job done and we were invited to stop in the next time we get through here.

From Rosseau, we continued across 141. Just out of town I got a call from Dave Butler, who just moved down to this neck of the woods. I had called his cell earlier but got a message that I was being sent to his uninitialized voicemail which would not accept messages. Dave had trouble hearing me so I said I'd call him back in a couple of minutes. When I did call, I got the voicemail message again. Near as I can figure, Rogers doesn't know how to find his phone when he is not in his home area of Sudbury, because I got the same result for several more calls. Oh well, we tried.

We left 141 and rode into Bracebridge. I had planned to cut over to Highway 11 before we got to town but the road was gravel so we went right through the middle. On the south side, we caught 11 and rode to Gravenhurst where we stopped for gas. The skies had clouded over back at the French and were looking a bit ominous, but the cell browser showed no rain so we continued south, accessing Southwood Road, aka Muskoka 13, via Beiers Road. At one intersection on Beiers, someone has an old Arctic Cat mounted way up in a tree. Another reason I should have had the camera.

Southwood Road is the one I wrote of back in August when we took it with the van. It is the gnarliest road I have ever seen in Ontario and rivals many in the American Southeast. All I could think as I rode north on it was that it would make a spectacular snowmobile trail. We rode easy, not much sand but a lot of leaves, past the Torrance Barrens Conservation Area and on up to Torrance, a blip on the map on Highway 169. At the end of this post, I put in a map of Southwood Road.

From Torrance, we headed back up Highways 169, 69, 400 and more 69. In Parry Sound, the four lane construction sign says "Completion Summer 2009". Oops. The ride home was uneventful although, as the shadows lengthened about 5:00 PM, the temperature started to drop. We got in just after 6:00 with another excellent day in the logbook. Not sure how many more there will be, but we'll squeeze as many rides as we can in before we store the bikes for the winter.

Today's Route

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Southwood Road (Muskoka 13)

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