Editor's Note: Waiting for the sun to go down so you can head out into the woods and spend hours wandering around at sub-zero temperatures may sound like the plans of a lunatic. You want to do that? On purpose? And while it's not uncommon to come across an ATVer who's a few fries short of a Happy Meal, a winter night ride is actually a perfectly rational and exceptionally fun thing to do. You're out there with a capable group who're interested in having fun and taking care to make sure everyone has a safe ride. It's all planned out with warm-up breaks, solid communication between riders and yes: it's exhilarating!
The winter lineup of rides kicked off for the Nation Valley ATV Club on January 17, as several members loaded up and headed over to our neighbour club, The ATV Club of Eastern Ontario (ATVCEO), for their Annual Winter Night Ride. Usually this event coincides with the Winter Carnival in St. Pascal, Ontario; however, due to the growth in popularity for the ride, it has switched weekends away from the Carnival to accommodate the parking required for the number of ATVers who arrive.
ATVCEO's ride is unique for us, as the by-laws in our area do not allow ATV's to operate past sunset, so it's novel for us to head out for a night ride. It is a completely different riding experience.
The temperatures were dropping quickly as we rolled into the St. Pascal Community Centre to register and head out for the ride. As the sun was dipping below the horizon, my truck said we were at -26° and the wind was picking up. Crazy as the temperature was, it wasn't the coldest Winter Night Ride we had attended in St. Pascal!
Though there is no cost to attend this ride (other than being an OFATV member or purchasing a day pass), as soon as we unloaded our machines, we headed inside to get out of the wind and say hello to the local club executives that were busy selling memberships and day passes.
As the 5 pm departure time crept up, we headed back outside to the harsh temperatures and got bundled up for the ride. The clothing, layering, footwear, and gloves of choice can be the make-or-break that decides if you have a good time or a freezing time! Those with handlebar warmers and windshields were definitely at an advantage for this ride!
ATVCEO Wardens led us out onto the trail departing the back of the St. Pascal Community Center parking lot. We hit the well-groomed trails at a comfortable pace, we love the way the trails look with the headlights glistening off the snow.
We travelled the long loop around to Plantagenet, stopping briefly here and there to re-adjust a balaclava or our mittens before swinging around to the ATVCEO Club House, where club volunteers had a roaring bonfire going for us! Inside the club house the wood stove was pumping, and hot dogs and warm beverages were provided as a thank you to the participants for supporting the club!
It took a little while for everyone to get warmed up, even at the bonfire! A couple of the ATVs were upset about the cold, so a few were rolled closer to the bonfire to thaw things out so they would fire up again for the return trip back to the starting point.
After the bonfire, the temperature came up a little bit and the wind died down, making it a much more enjoyable trip back around to the starting place. The truly hardcore did a second larger loop before returning. There was also a shorter route available for those feeling Jack Frost nipping at their toes! The trails were in fantastic shape, so it was smooth sailing whichever way you took!
All said and done, 45 participants braved the cold temperatures, and good times were had by all! We look forward to next year's ride already!
Looking to take on an adventure of your own? Located on Highway 17, the Motel Champlain can accommodate large groups and has a restaurant that's prepared for the appetites of the ATVer.