Saturday, October 08, 2011

Freedom Riders North Bay Ride

The fall has been unseasonably warm and the forecast for this weekend was no different. I put out a call to the Freedom Riders yesterday to see if anyone was up for one more ride and got replies from Dan and Rob that they would be heading for North Bay today. Doug said he and Carol might join us too.

This morning was clear and dry with a forecast high of 24C. Couldn't ask for better. Rob said we would leave from Tim's on Levesque Street at 10:30. Sandy and I left the house at 9:55, stopping for gas on the way. When we got to Tim's, Rob, Dan and Tracey were already there. We waited to see who would show up. Doug and Carol arrived on their V-Strom right at the appointed time.

Dan, Sandy and Tracey waiting at Tim's

Tracey and Sandy in deep discussion

Rob took the lead, setting a leisurely pace about 10 KPH above the posted limit. We didn't get far because the railway crossing gates at Coniston came down just as we got there. Rob made it through while the rest of us waited for a seemingly endless inter-modal train to go by. It was long enough that they had helper engines in the middle and at the end.

Rob waits for us as we wait for the train to go by

CN helper engine at Coniston

Once the train cleared the highway, we continued on our way enjoying the unseasonably fine day. I don't know what you call Indian Summer in these politically correct days, but this is one of them. The trees were still showing some good colour.

Fall colours along Highway 17

More fall colours

Approaching Warren, an OPP cruiser came out of town and headed east ahead of us with the lights going. I noted the side marker lights as it came out of the side street weren't very visible. Half way to Verner, we found the reason for his rush. A car heading west had driven into a deep ditch. Asleep, forced off, swerved to avoid a moose? Who knows? It didn't look too serious.

We stopped at RL Equipment in Verner, a Honda/Yamaha dealer where I take the Wing for service. They had few bikes and fewer snowmobiles but there was quite an ATV selection. I was looking at a nice 11 HP tracked Honda snowblower but stopped looking when I found it had a price tag of $4,000. My twenty year old unit still works and I've only used it a couple of times in each of the last two winters. If necessary, I can get a good unit to replace it for less than half the cost of the Honda. Outside, we talked to a couple from North Bay on a new (to them) GL1800 who were headed to Sudbury for a ride.

RL Equipment in Verner

From Verner, we continued on to North Bay as the temperature climbed.

Lake Nipissing

Good group discipline on Highway 17

More fall foliage along Highway 17

Doug and Carol in North Bay

In the Bay, we stopped at Burger World for lunch. I had a bacon cheeseburger with soup instead of fries (trying to watch the calories) while Sandy had a corned beef on rye sandwich.

Rob, Tracey, Doug and Dan outside Burger World

Rather than go directly back to Sudbury, we opted to head north for a ways on Highway 11 to Marten River. That is spelled with an E because it is named for the member of the weasel family that is popular with trappers. Marten River was, in fact, home to a Trapper's Museum although I can't find anything that says it still exists.

At the crossroads that is Marten River, we turned right on Highway 64. This shortcut was opened in 1971 and I first rode it when it was still gravel. It is now a nicely paved road with sweeping corners and not much traffic. I was particularly impressed by the way Tracey rode. She was second to Rob and was rock steady the whole time.

Riding Highway 64

We passed through the small community of Field and continued on back to Highway 17 in Sturgeon Falls. There, we adjourned to Tim's for a brief comfort stop. We met some riders from the Valley who knew Rob and Dan and spent some time swapping tales.

Seen at Tim's in Surgeon Falls

I had planned to go south from Verner to Noelville and then swing back up to Hagar but it was running late and our friend John from Ottawa was due to stop by. Doug's hip was hurting so we both headed directly back, with a side trip up the Garson Coniston Road as we reached town. John was waiting when we got home.

It was an unexpectedly good day for a ride but i still need to work on my photos. I take some but, unlike Sherm, Stewey and others, I often don't think of getting the camera out and don't realize what I missed until I am writing the day up later. I'm going to try to make a conscious effort to do better in the future.

Soon it will be time to store the bike and RV but I bet I can get a few more riding days in before then.

Today's Route (206 motorcycle miles):

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