Determined to attend the Bikers Reunion again, I braved 500+ miles to get from the Soo to New Liskeard just to sample a bit of this monster biker event in the North, and I couldnít be happier that I did. I had a great riding partner in Roger Parsons from Motorcycle Mojo magazine, and we even re-discovered a great shortcut that Roger claims could rival another one of Ontarioís legendary motorcycle roads, Elephant Lake road. The route we found also shaved 60 miles off our trip from the Soo to New Liskeard making me doubly happy to announce Highway 64 from Field to Marten River as one of my new favorite roads in the province.
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We arrived in New Liskeard and spent an incredibly restful evening after our long ride at my second home, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. The attention to detail is evident throughout the hotel, with ultra-comfy beds, great soaps and shampoos, delightful décor and free breakfast (with my favorite, the pancake machine.)
That evening we dined at Roosterís Waterfront Restaurant, wolfing down mighty homemade burgers and some of the best fries Iíve had on my trip (and Iíve had quite a bit), looking over Lake Temiskaming as the sun set. The breeze moving across the lake helped cool us down after a long day of riding as we got ramped up for the Bikers Reunion the next day. Iím sure it did wonders for all the riders staying in tent city as well!
The next morning I set off to get my fill of all of the hustle and bustle of this giant biker fair, and rode the early bird ride to Tomville with a good 50-75 other riders. When we returned a cool homemade lemonade kept the heat of the midday sun at bay for a few minutes, but after checking out the vendors and a few of the live musical acts, I decided it was time to check out some more of the roads around the region.
New Liskeard is a hub for some great rides. Venturing out into the wilds of Northeastern Ontario while other would-be riders braved the mid-day sun in the heat of downtown Temiskaming Shores, I took Highway 66 out to Elk Lake for an incredible lunch at the Elk Lake Eco Centre. The ride back to Highway 11 from Elk Lake is another great road Ė almost like they just paved a logging road, complete with all the hare-scramble turns and quick ups and downs.
My second evening at the Bikers Reunion was spent at the Presidentsí Suites in Haileybury, a place I wonít soon forget. The history of the building that houses this high-end retreat is incredibly rich, going back to the silver boom that built the region. Iíve stayed at dozens of hotels, motels and cottages across the province and can honestly say thereís no place like this in the province.
That evening, I wandered down to the fairgrounds to take in the live entertainment and Canada Day is always best spent somewhere iconically Canadian, and there might be no better place than in the bosom of the boreal forest, on the shores of a lake shared with Ontario and Quebec. The firework display reflecting off the surface of the water reminded me of how lucky we are to live in a country with so many long, twisty paved surfaces that happen to ride through some of the most lightly travelled and scenic areas. Like the Temiskaming Loop (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) If youíre thinking of adding the Bikers Reunion to your event schedule next year, thereís no better route than the Temiskaming Loop.
The ride up Highway 11 from North Bay on the Temiskaming Loop offers some stunning views of the pristine northern lakes that the region is known for. Gramps General Store is a great spot to pick up a stowable souvenir. When arriving in New Liskeard the landscape opens up Ė from rocks, forests, lakes and rivers to wide open farmland. Taking highway 101 back south through Quebec offers an incredible combination of the two, with wide rolling farm land bordered by massive rock cliffs and a smattering of coniferous forests. The Grotto in Ville-Marie offers the best view, although the road up to the top is a bit tricky. Be sure to have a good footing. The ride back into Ontario from Temiscaming, Quebec into Eldee, Ontario across the Ottawa River is one of the prettiest drives in the province, with the highway winding alongside the river for a good 20 clicks. From there, youíre just a hop, skip and a jump from the picturesque town of Mattawa that holds the distinction, if only in my mind, as being one of the best fall rides in the province. The hardwood maple trees light up the Laurentian mountains on the other side of the river with blazing reds that no photo or painting has yet to capture accurately.
After the bands had finished, and all the fireworks had been launched, I settled in for one of the deepest sleeps of my trip at the Presidentsí Suites, nestled in the heart of this incredible region with the sound of the waves from Lake Temiskaming lapping against the shore singing me to sleep.
With this kind of weekend under my belt, I was almost reluctant to head back to the Soo to complete the second half of my two month road-trip. But the road knows no mercy, and as much fun as the Bikers Reunion was, it was time to head out on the highway once again, to find new adventures, attractions and of course, roads.
For more information on riding in Ontario, visit GoRideOntario.ca. If youíre looking to plan your motorcycle vacation, the website GoTourOntario.ca offers maps, itineraries and downloadable GPS files Ė and best of all, itís free!
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