Sunday, April 08, 2018

Freedom Riders Toronto Trip - Medieval Times and Spring Motorcycle Show

The Freedom Riders were looking for something to kick off Spring. The Spring Motorcycle Show in Toronto has usually been just such an occasion. President Rob thought that it would be nice if we went down to Toronto on Saturday, attended Medieval Times that night and then visited the motorcycle show on Sunday morning before returning home. He made the Medieval Times reservations while we each booked our own rooms at a Motel 6 in Burlington.


The first wrinkle in the spring motif was the major snowstorm we got last Wednesday. After an unseasonably warm February and March, the snow had been almost gone. Then winter decided to take another kick at the can. It was 15F and looked like a nice sunny January morning as we got ready to leave.

 This is a lot of snow for April

We didn't have enough people to make a bus feasible, so we made arrangements to carpool. Danielle would ride down with us and share a room with Jackie (who was travelling with Rob) when we got there. Percy dropped her off at our house at 9:00 AM sharp and we were rolling at 9:10.

After Zeke loaned us an audiobook on CD last year and we bought another one, we found we could borrow them from our local library, download them to our phones and play them through the car stereo as we travelled. The test worked fine but, with company in the car, we didn't listen to it on this trip. Next time.

We stopped at the Tim's at Seguin for a bathroom break and coffee refill, then again at the Innisfil On Route, where we had lunch from another Tim's. Chili and crackers for me. I was just picking up the phone to call President Rob and see where they were when he called. They were south of Parry Sound when they got a call from Sudbury saying Jackie's husband Gord might have had a stroke. Their convoy returned to Parry Sound where they met local member Lance, and he drove Jackie back to Sudbury. It turned out that he had suffered a severe vertigo attack.

The three of us arrived at the Motel 6 in Burlington at 2:40. It has been many years since we stayed with this chain, and it was even more utilitarian than I remember. No carpet, small room, few amenities. But it was a bed for the night at a reasonable rate. Southern Ontario members Barry and Bev had already checked in. Checking the club forum on Facebook, we saw the caravan had stopped to eat at Jack Astor's in Barrie and would be along a bit later.

Medieval Times

The five of us decided to leave for Medieval Times at 6:00 PM. Barry and Bev offered to drive Sandy, Danielle and me in her Acadia. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the rest of the crew arrived. They were just getting checked in so we said we would see them there.

Traffic was moderate as we followed the QEW to the Gardiner Expressway, but the parking lot at MT was crazy because the previous show was just getting out. We found a spot, not realizing we were on the opposite side of the building from the entrance. It was a chilly walk in a brisk wind.

 Lots of these in evidence

 Barry, Danielle, Bev and Sandy

There was a line developing in the lobby. Shaun & Jill from Niagara and Dave & Katrina from Ohio (our club is a bit spread out) came in right behind us. We told the staff we were Freedom Riders and they gave us tags directing us to the Red Section.

On the way in, we went through a big room that had more souvenirs and memorabilia than Disney World. There was a whole separate counter just for dragons. We managed to find our seats in the Red Section, where our server Rachel told us we had to cheer for the Red Knight and that the Green Knight was our enemy. While she got us drinks, the rest of the club arrived.

The show started on time and the food was served throughout. It included soft drinks, garlic bread, tomato bisque, 1/2 chicken, corn on the cob, lemon pound cake and coffee. Alcoholic beverages were available at an extra charge.

The whole spectacle was as I remembered it from two prior visits, except that there was now a pagan challenger. This was probably added due to the popularity of the TV series Vikings. The main event, consisting of eight challengers competing for the hand of the Princess, was the same. The contestants were aligned four against four and went head to head in jousting and other forms of combat. There were also displays of falconry and dressage. More than twenty Freedom Riders and our confreres in the Red Section cheered for our champion loudly enough to be noticed by the King but, sadly, he only finished second. The winner went on to vanquish the challenging Northman and the Kingdom was saved.

 The horses were amazing

 The King's representative explaining the rules

 Knight, squires, attendants and more

 Red, Red, Red!!!!!!

 The challengers assemble

 Time to get down to business

 Performing horses

 A falconer and his bird

 This is our man

 Bev and Paul discussing breakfast plans

 The Freedom Riders and our Red Knight

After the show, we mingled while we discussed options for breakfast tomorrow. Then we headed back to the motel, where a few stopped by our room for a drink. They were all gone and we were in bed by midnight.


Paul texted that we would be having breakfast at Perkins in Etobicoke. We left the motel following a couple of other of our vehicles and, after a stop at Tim's for coffee (the motel java was reported to be beyond vile), we followed the QEW to the 427 and north to the 401. The Perkins restaurant was adjacent to a Holiday Inn, and the parking lot required a pay ticket to get in. Paul had called ahead so they had tables set for us.

Perkins in Etobicoke

A fine breakfast with friends

Despite having a big breakfast, I wasn't feeling too well. I don't usually get too excited about motorcycle shows these days since I am not actively looking for anything new and motorcycle related. I am happy with my bike and would probably replace it with the same model/year if anything happened to it. Also, our gear is older but we don't ride that hard these days. With this in mind, I asked Sandy if she really wanted to go to the show. She said no. Danielle wasn't able to secure another ride home, so she generously said that she was also OK with missing the show. We broke the news to the other Freedom Riders, who wished us a safe trip back. Oh yes, the restaurant validated our parking ticket.

On the way out the door, we bumped into Doug Ford (the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and candidate for the Premier of Ontario in the upcoming election). All I can say is that he is bigger than life in person. I kicked my butt afterwards that I did not ask for a photo.

Heading north on Highway 400, we ran into a few snow squalls. We stopped at the On Route in Barrie where we used the facilities and got more coffee. I was going to fuel at the adjoining Canadian Tire Gas Bar, but the card reader wasn't working and they still wanted customers to pre-pay. Not much chance I was going to do that, so we went on up to Bayfield Street and gassed up at a PetroCanada station.

I see the sign but it is April for crying out loud

More snow squalls on the 400

We stopped again at Sequin. With about 120 miles to go, I looked at the GPS ETA and recalculated allowing for Garmin's inaccuracy on 90 KPH roads and our projected speed. My estimate was 3:00 PM. Things remaining uneventful and we pulled into our driveway at 3:00 PM sharp. Percy was there to pick up Danielle.

Even though we missed the show, it was a good weekend away with the Freedom Riders. We need to do more of these.