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Don't Fear the Dirt

Don't Fear the Dirt

GTA's Adventure Route for the Beginner

Looking to get into the world of ADV? Saddle up, it's going to be a wild ride!

Adventure bikes, so whatʼs the deal? Made famous by a couple of guys that road around the world and made a TV show about it, Charley...... something. Every manufacturer is making them, dirt, street, touring, all in one, bikes that can do it all.

The adventure bike speaks to the explorer in us, itʼs ability to turn down any road or path and discover where it leads makes it a dream maker, and that puts adventure riding and adventure bikes at the top of the current buzzword pile.

So you have your brand new steed in the driveway, youʼre making plans to ride it down to the tip of South America, someday. For now though, you have to get this beast dirty. Itʼs not an easy thing to take your multi thousand dollar shiny new toy and aim it towards the first mud puddle you see. Donʼt fret, ODSC to the rescue.

The Ontario Dual Sport Club (ODSC) knows how to get dirty. They have been organizing dual sport rides for years. Their nearly famous Bethany Ride has become a GTA spring kick off tradition. In the years past, the route focus was smaller bikes. Big bikes were welcome but you better have had some skills (see photo below). 

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Realizing the need to introduce new riders to the sport the ODSC laid out two routes for this yearʼs spring ride. The Bethany proper for those who wish to get really dirty and a Big Bike route for those who want to get just a little bit dirty. The 250 km loop from just north of Whitby, traveling east around Rice Lake and back; 60 percent paved country roads, 30 percent gavel and 10 percent unmaintained roads, a nice ride any time of the season. Long enough for a day trip with just enough challenge to get your boots dusty.

14106993518 1410056533 zNothing like low teen temperatures, a grey sky and a promise of a good soaking to get the spirits riled up for a motorcycle ride. But as the saying goes, “Build it and they will come.” The bikes keep rolling in, a couple dozen big bikes in all. As hoped, a strong first timer showing, their dirt experience easily judged by the shiny clean gleam of their machines.

After all the formalities of an organized ride are done we split into smaller groups and hit the road. On gravel, within minutes of the start, the group stretches out but shows no weaknesses. Thirty minutes in, we turn right, the first unmaintained section is ahead, a short section of loose dirt on a gentle uphill. There is a go around available but despite signs of some apprehension in the eyes of the inexperienced, nobody ops out. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing. The fact is that the organizers did a spectacular job laying out the route making sure that itʼs a confidence builder not a bike breaker; everyone makes it through without issue. Now relaxed and confident, we cruise east along country roads, pavement, gravel, dirt lanes, a fabulous ride despite the crappy weather. Destination: Rice Lake and lunch.

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The Rhinoʼs Roadhouse loves dirty people. Located adjacent to the Ganaraska Forest, southern Ontarioʼs dirt biking paradise you will always find motorcycles in their parking lot. In fact they have dedicated parking for just such costumers and no objections to muddy boots inside. On a warm, sunny day the lakeside patio is the place to be but given todayʼs weather, not an option. Bellies full, we linger much too long to the point where the desire to find a place for a nap started to cloud my judgment.

The afternoon takes us southwest, eventually skirting the shores of Lake Ontario before turning north towards the finish line, which by the way, is the parking lot of Haugenʼs, the areaʼs BBQ hot spot.

Unfortunately for us the BBQ chicken will have to wait as the morning promise of a soaking finally materialized. The clouds open up, rain, wind, visibility down to just a few feet; one word, misery. A quick vote and this time we choose the go around. We hit the 401 and sprint for home. Not a failure to finish, just a reason to come back and do it again.

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Doing my part to get a shiny bike dirty, I twisted the arm of a friend to give the ride a try.
His stats: Bike: Suzuki V-Strom 650, Riding experience: 1 year, Tire thread depth: pavement worthy First mud puddle experience: no problem. End result: a big smile. Introduction complete.


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