It was early on in the planning stages of a trip up to the New Liskeard Bikers Reunion that my mind was already made. Sure I knew this would probably be a fine way to spend the weekend, checking out the motorcycling scene in this part of Ontario, but I didn't really expect much more than that. As a civil servant working in tourism for 20 years, I had been going to roughly 15-20 events a year. I figured by this point I'd seen it all. But in this case I would be going home. I'd grown up in Temiskaming Shores and had fond memories of snowmobiling at the Monster Poker Runs so a trip back to the old stomping grounds couldn't hurt.
One of the members of our crew had secured a deluxe RV from Bolton, Ontario's Motor Home Travel so at least we would be comfortable. At the 11th hour Mike Jacobs suggested we contact BMW Motorrad Canada and see if they'd lend us a bike. Sure enough, they came through and now we had an R1200RT in the mix. Things were shaping up.
I arrived in North Bay under stormy skies and met up with the crew. We rode up to New Liskeard using the west side of the Temiskaming Loop Tour. The party was well underway by the time we got there and it didn't take us long to get into the swing of things. I was connecting with a lot of old friends from highschool and people I hadn't seen in ages. We were all having a great time getting lots of great shots all throughout the day on Saturday.
We woke up Sunday morning with a lot of work to do before the 1pm meet up at the arena to begin the Freedom Ride. We were still brainstorming what the story was going to be about so my mind was busy with work when we pulled up to the staging grounds. When we got to the front of the line it was a feeling of sheer intimidation seeing the number of bikes lined up.
I knew last year's Bikers Reunion had raised about $100,000 and I knew there was a cause but I didn't know what it was. Seeing that massive crowd assembled I was moved in a spiritual way understanding the magnitude of care that exists in this biker community. A community that comes from far and wide to raise money for this hospital that I had known as a child. To see that outreach from so many strangers was nothing short of emotional.
It's hard to describe if you weren't actually there. Fortunately Mike Jacobs was and he's written an excellent artilcle for motorcycle.com that really gets to the heart of what the Bikers Reunion is all about. I encourage everyone to have a look at it and to book the Bikers Reunion into your calendar for next year's Canada Day Weekend. The fact that it was so well organized points to the possiblitly of many more great reunions to come. Even with over 2000 bikes in attendance they could have had hundreds more taking part. The location and facilities are more than ready to host bigger numbers. With an event this moving, they better be ready!