Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thunder Bay to Winnipeg, the senic route

I left Thunder Bay nice and early. I wanted to get in to Winnipeg at a decent time but I also wanted to see something different too. I wanted to ride a different road than Highway 17.

The weather was beautiful and I had decided I was going to get to my destination via Mom’s Choice Highway – Highway 11. 

What a beautiful road! I took some video which later on this fall I will begin to edit and post here as well as on BDB TV and on the Great Canadian Day Rides Web Site.

I was glad that I had decided to take Highway 11 after I encountered a driver from Manitoba who decided the speed in a construction zone was not to his liking. I wanted out of the rat race – that’s for sure!

The MOM’s Highway is named so because it links Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota. It also has the distinction of being part of Younge Street in Toronto and its claim to fame is that it is the longest street in the world! The highway starts on Younge, goes north through North Bay, up through New Liskeard, down to Thunder Bay and over to Fort Francis. From Fort Francis you can either dip down into International Falls and on to Winnipeg or you can turn north again and head up highway 71 to Kenora…guess which route I took!

I stopped in at Atikokan; the name drew me off the highway into the town. 
The name in Ojibwe means Cariboo.

I took some video of this little town. It has a huge recreational area and is known as the Canoe Capital of Canada. After a ride through town it was back out to the highway to continue my journey.

I stopped at some road side turn outs to take in the view, and had lunch in Fort Frances.  Cameras rolling, I headed to Nestor Falls.  Highway 71, like highway 11 had little traffic on it which made riding so pleasurable.
headed to Nestor Falls

The road is windy, not twisty, but so pretty.  As you get close to Nestor Falls, the lakes become more frequent and the scenery becomes amazing. I got off the bike at Nestor Falls and walked down to the river to go see them. They are small but lovely.
There is a nice picnic area where you can eat lunch or a snack and just sit in relative peace.
Nestor Falls
Nestor Falls
 Nestor Falls is located on the eastern shore of Lake of the Woods on Sabaskong Bay and is a popular place for fishing.

The rest of the ride to Kenora was peaceful, serene and a delight for the senses. As I said, the lakes, the hills and curves make for a soul reviving ride. I passed by Rushing River thinking to myself, one day soon I want to come back here.

After a brief fuel stop it was off to Winnipeg. 

Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay

water front in Sault Ste Marie
water front in Sault Ste Marie

I never get tired of the water front in Sault Ste Marie, and even though this was a day of steady riding, I still took some time to go for a walk.

As I left the Soo it was sunny and warm but 120 Kms later the story would change.  

I made it to the Agawa Indian Crafts Store just in the nick of time to miss a huge deluge of rain.  
I took shelter in the store and had a coffee while I waited things out. I wasn’t alone either, pretty much every bike that was on the highway pulled in – you could not see 5 feet in front of you it was raining that hard!

We all got a kick out of reading the tee shirts in this place. They are freaking hilarious. They have a good selection of biker gear too and I took advantage and bought some boot covers – mine wore out and plastic bags suck!

After a two hour wait the rain settled down to a drizzle. 

All bundled up in my Froggs Toggs and new boot covers I had no fear of getting wet. It amazes me how many riders here in the east know about Froggs Toggs and what great gear they are and yet very few in the west seem to have any knowledge of them. 
I will have to do a review on these before too much longer!

I pulled in to the NorWester Best Western just in time for supper. Vi and Dave met me and we ate at the hotel. The meal was awesome as was our waitress!

After our meal, we visited for a bit more and then it was time for good byes…I hate that part. 
It will be a while before I get to see these wonderful folks again!

The Nor'Wester Best Western offers a lot of amenities. You can host a wedding,  a private party, a training session or a rally here.  They have a pool, hot tub and sauna and are in a great location.
Their beds are very comfortable, the showers have great pressure and pretty much anything you need is either provided or readily available.

Check them out the next time your wandering takes you to Thunder Bay:

2080 Highway #61, Thunder Bay, 
Ontario, P7J 1B8
Phone: 807/473-9123               
Fax: 807/473-9600

I was in bed early as I had a good day of riding ahead…Winnipeg is the next stop.

Sudbury to Sault Ste Marie

I left the Super 8 Sudbury under glorious sunshine and as I rode along, it was with a sense of anticipation.

I took the turn off to Espanola and went to the Tim Horton’s, sure enough I ran in to a local who told me the directions to one of his favourite little loops that would bring me back out on the highway before Elliot Lake.

This is Mennonite Country; all over the place there are signs to remind you that there are horse and buggy rigs liable to be present.  Leigh Valley Road is a very pretty chunk of asphalt that will take about 20 minutes to traverse, there is nothing special about this road, other than it has gentle curves and pretty farming scenery and I am so glad I rode it.

At Serpent River I decided to wander through the art gallery. This region has some fabulous artisans. There were some serious art works and then there were fun and quirky things like stuffed beaver “teddy’s” and stuffed black bear teddy’s. 
The Ojibwa Indian Nation has deep, deep roots in the area.
Add caption
black bear teddy’s
Black bear teddy’s

Next stop: Elliot Lake and the Deer Trail

The city of Elliot Lake was established as a planned community for the mining industry in 1955 after uranium was discovered in the area. It is named after the small lake on the northern edge of town.

I took in the museum of mining – it was filled with artefacts and information on the mining industry and while not really my cup of tee I still enjoyed knowing a bit about the history of the area.  

I headed down to the Miner’s Monument. 
What an absolutely gorgeous memorial to those whose lives have been lost either through mining accidents or from work related illnesses. The names of the dead are inscribed in plaques laid in to the side walk and in the monuments themselves.

The Horne Lake Escarpment is a pretty backdrop for this monument and park.

miners who have lost their lives
Names of the miners who have lost their lives
I left the memorial site to go ride the Deer Trail (this is one ride I have wanted to do ever since I heard about it 4 years ago), it is approximately 75 miles long and I was warned that the first bit was under construction.  The whole trail needs attention as far as the asphalt goes, but the scenery, my word it is gorgeous and so it the riding – filled with curves and hills to pull, valley that roll out before you…mother nature really has some fantastic feasts for the eyes in this, the Algoma District!

I did not get a lot of photography of the trail as there are very limited areas to pull off and with it being a narrow road that is moderately travelled I did not want to take the chance of causing a crash!

At the end of the Deer Trail, I finally got to see a horse and buggy, it was a cool blast from the past to see on our modern day highways.
I stopped for a late lunch at Bobbers in Bruce Mines and continued on the Sault Ste Marie with a big grin on my face. I had managed to take a 310 kilometre day and turn it into just over a 600 kilometre one!

I would be once again staying at the Comfort Inn in Sault Ste Marie, this time I would be sleeping fast because I have a big day of riding ahead to get back to Thunder Bay where I would be having supper with Dave and Vi Alderdice.

From New Brunswick to Sudbury

Day 34 of the Conga was a riding day, an 820 Kilometre ride from Grand Falls NB!

The ride had been a hot one, filled with drivers that had short tempers and I am sure heat stroke because I witnessed some really silly stuff out there!

I arrived at my hotel, the Comfort Inn West Kanata around supper time. The gal at the front desk was busy but cheerful and working with other customers when I arrived, she made sure I was acknowledged. When my turn came to be assisted it was accomplished quickly.

I love this hotel, the staff are always pleasant and helpful and this night I was going to appreciate the bed and hot shower the most! 

I called Scott from the Biker Coffee Company and he and I met at a little Vietnamese restaurant up by the retail location that Biker Coffee is sold at. After we went to Starbucks for a coffee, had some great conversation and then I headed back for the hotel.

Soon I was pealing off the gear and getting ready for bed. I WAS BEAT from the heat and the dumb drivers I encountered during the days riding.

At three in the morning I had a wonderful surprise. Cookie and Tim were here, at my room and they were going to ride with me to Sudbury! Sometime I can be slow on the uptake but now the reason for her text asking what the hotel addy was and what room I was in was all about!

If you are looking for really rider friendly accommodations I suggest you check out the
Comfort Inn Ottawa West
222 Hearst Way
Ottawa, ON K2L 3A2
Tel: (613) 592-2200

Fax: (613) 591-9600

I truly enjoy this hotel, it's staff and it's location!

Breakfast at Comfort Inn West Kanata
The breakfast room at the Comfort Inn West Kanata
Tim, Cookie and Bob waiting at hotel checkout
Tim, Cookie and Bob waiting for me to check out
On the morning of day 35 we got up early, having breakfast and getting motorcycles packed up. Bob Godin met us for coffee. Tim, Cookie, Bob and I would all be heading out to Arnprior and the Antrim Flea market, the home Motorcyco Beau's!
Inside Motorcyco Beau's
Inside Motorcyco Beau's

Beau and Bob Godin
Here I am with (L) Beau and (R) Bob Godin,
Out front of Beau's
Out front of Beau's
We had a good time shopping for new helmet stickers and there was a good amount of chin wagging that took place too! After filming a Motorcycle Awareness PSA with Cookie and doing photos with Bob, Beau and the rest of the gang, it was time to head for Sudbury.

We had a mixed weather day for riding, alternating between rain and over cast but as we got closer to Sudbury the sun began to shine again.
Super 8 Sudbury
The Super 8 Sudbury
My room, on the ground floor right by the back entry, nice and close to my bike!
I checked in to the hotel, the young desk clerk was very helpful and had lots of menus on hand for us to get some food delivered. Cookie and Tim were only staying for supper and then riding out to the Lindsey region as both had to be at work in the morning. After a feed from Swiss Chalet it was time to say good bye. 
I had no problem falling to sleep this night! The room was comfortable, the shower was fantastic and the sleep much needed! I was grateful to wake up to text messages from Cookie saying she and Tim had made it to their respective towns and homes safe and sound.

I went to get some coffee and have a walk about the hotel. 
Coffee in hand and I walked around the outside of the hotel and counted 8 bikes in the lot including mine.  

I talked to some riders who were doing the Superior Lake Tour. 
After some jabs and bantering I wished them safe journey and went to have breakfast and then get Black Betty packed up.

When I was planning the Conga, I had asked one of the members on, Timothy Gordon, for advice on a room to check out in Sudbury and he recommended the Super 8 and now I can too.

If you find yourself in the Sudbury area, consider staying with this Rider Friendly Business Association® partner!

Super 8 Sudbury
1956 Regent Street
Regent/Paris/Long Lake Rd.
Sudbury, ON P3E 3Z9
Phone: 705-522-7600
Web Site: Super 8 Sudbury
I had no one that I was meeting, and a whole day on the road to me so I decided to do a few things I have always wanted to do. I wanted to ride a local rider’s favourite ride and then I wanted to head to Elliot Lake and ride the Deer Trail.....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Barrie to Ottawa - Day 22

At breakfast I was asked if I heard the fire alarm or the thunderstorm and nope – I had not!

Heather in the breakfast room asked me about my bike and chatted with me about riding and made sure I knew that wipe down rags and buckets were available. 

Wenda with the wicked sense of humour!
She also served up bacon, sausage and cheese omelettes along with the usual fare of yogurt, fruit, waffles, coffee and juice and Wenda on the front counter, well she was a doll – she had me in stitches with her sense of humour but more importantly she was extremely efficient and friendly on that front counter!   
John, the maintenance guy was up and at em early changing bulbs and fixing the little things that break down over time – he keeps this place perking along and seems well loved by his colleagues.  Then there was Don, the guy who checked us in the night before. 

John and Nancy
John and Nancy
He was so sweet and again, had a great sense of humour but was very efficient too. I can’t thank him enough for making sure we knew about the parking of our bikes under the canopy, breaky time and all of the wonderful amenities along of the hotel served up with quips about offering us wipe down rags but then looking at the rain and laughing saying he didn’t think we really needed them just yet!

Mellissa is the housekeeper on my floor and she does a fantastic job of keeping the rooms she is assigned to very clean and tidy. In a busy hotel that is no small job!
The Hotel Lobby
The lobby is so warm and inviting and the chairs, well you sink right in to them

I had the deep pleasure of meeting Nancy O’Halloran, the regional sales manager for Pacrim Hospitality and the hotel’s Manager Mirka Rollason – these two very dynamic women were an absolute pleasure to talk to. Nancy took me for a tour of the hotel and showed me all of its rooms – each nicer than the last. 
Big Bedroom Area

The Jacuzzi Suite was amazing – next time, that’s the room I want to book!   
The hotel boasts a great meeting/reception room along with an exercise room, pool and hot tub. The parking lot is perfect for a show ‘n’ shine and both Mirka and Nancy would like to have groups that want to do charity fundraisers and ride nights take advantage of their facility.
meeting/reception room
meeting/reception room
Hotel's Outside view
If any of you riding clubs are interested in taking them up on the idea – give them a call and check out the place – it’s in a great location and has lots to offer!

Super 8 Barrie
441 Bryne Drive
Barrie ON L4N 6C8
Latitude: 44.3358319
Longitude: -79.6905132
PH: (705) 814-8888
Toll Free: 1-866-867-6070
Fax: (705) 814-8889
Web Site:

On to Ottawa...

On this day I was supposed be riding with Jason and Christine from Rider’s Quest Magazine out of Peterborough. Sadly for me they could not meet me, they had an opportunity to be on local TV and needed to take it, plus they had the chance to sell some advertising for their magazine and needed to meet with a client – good for them!

I road the route I was supposed to ride with them – one they had sent me. I was wonderful – and although the weather very overcast, my German riding companion, Michael and I never got rained on. I had my Froggs Toggs on, but never got to give them any kind of real work out.

The road that Jason and Christine had mapped out was a wonderful ride, hilly and curvy, lots of trees and streams; it was the long sweet way to Ottawa and I know that both Ratman and I enjoyed the road!  We went through small communities like Gooderham, Bancroft and Denbigh. Visit Riders Quest Magazine’s web site to see what other Ontario Rides they recommend!

Lots of trees and streams

I arrived at my room at the Comfort Inn West Kanata at about supper time.
That smile...makes you feel soooo welcome!
I was checked in and given the biggest smile and low down on the amenities of the hotel and then headed to unpack the bike. I needed to get some laundry done and this location has a small and much appreciated laundry room. I went back to the front desk and picked up some soap and some fabric softener which are complimentary when you use the laundry room facilities!  

I headed back to my room and proceeded to start the copying process from my three cameras and their memory chips. A good night’s sleep was on the agenda!

Heading to the Soo – Day 20

I headed out from Thunder Bay bright and early with Sault Ste Marie as my destination for the day. It was cool and overcast, quite the contrast from the weather to date but it made for pleasurable riding. I stopped in Nipigon for a coffee and breakfast sandwich – you know there is something to be said about riding a 100 Kms before breakfast – sure makes it taste good!
German tourist - Michael
A German tourist named Michael, the Ratbiker
While there I met a German tourist named Michael AKA Ratbiker. He is riding a 1982 Suzuki GS580G – painted flat black with his web site address in yellow across the tank.

We got to talking and he said he was heading to the Cabot Trail and so we agreed to share some time on the road.  After finishing breakfast, we headed towards the Soo and at Pays Plat we took in the Pow Wow. One of the elders took time to share with us the history of his 108 year old drum, handed down to him from a medicine man or shaman – this elder was also a shaman.
 younger generation drum
We listened to the younger generation drum and sing and took in the vendors that were setting up.

Here is the video I took of  the drummers and singers at the Pays Plat Pow Wow:
Hand painted feathers
Hand painted feathers

A fabulous artist by the name of Sharon Girdwood had many of her handi works on display with each hand painted feather, each pencil drawing telling a story of her ancestor’s heritage and beliefs.   

Visit her site and be prepared to be moved!

There were all kinds of trinkets on display as well, everything from medicine and tobacco pouches to hand beaded necklaces and dream catchers. 

My German companion found the Pow Wow as interesting as I did and we discussed the beauty of the culture of the native community.

Pretty soon it was time to saddle up and head out – Sault Ste Marie here we come!

The highway was filled with bikes and at one of our fuel stops Michael commented that his arm was sore from waving!

My hotel room was very comfortable – the Comfort Inns does a very good job of being consistent in their basic amenities and their room and bed quality. I unpacked cameras, charged batteries, and unpacked my lap top, set up coffee for the morning, brushed my teeth and hit the bed. 

Linda - so warm and caring...
One of my most farvourite things about staying at this particular Comfort Inn are two very special ladies, Judy in the breakfast room and Linda on the front desk.

Judy, she serenades  you while you eat, always a joke at the ready, a true gem!
Judy is this vivacious lady with a clear singing voice, a sharp wit and a love of entertaining and serving. Judy goes about her job making customers feel like they have spent time with grandma, a favourite aunt or a sister depending on your age, she sings you through the morning brightening your day! She has an infectious sense of humour too!  And then there is Linda. Not only did she remember me from last year but her service was just as friendly and just as bang on the money as it was last year.

It was truly an enjoyable stay – the breakfast was great as usual, the service was wonderful and I look forward to staying another time in the near future.
If you should find yourself in the Sault Ste Marie region of Ontario, I hope you check this place and its amazing staff out.

Comfort Inn
333 Great Northern Road
Sault Ste Marie ON P6B 4Z8
Latitude: 46.5350192
Longitude: -84.3187734
PH: (705) 759-8000
Fax: (705) 759-8538