Editor's Note: Steven Fox-Radulovich is a seasoned adventure rider, from dirt to asphalt to gravel, wide open highways and remote access roads, logging routes or technical tracks, Steven's done it all. His skills and knowledge about adventure riding, both in general and within the broad and varied landscapes of Northern Ontario and Manitoulin Island, is unparalleled. We asked him his thoughts about adventure touring—read his responses below.
Why is Ontario such a great place for adventure touring?
Well, in Ontario you have such a terrain… the Canadian Shield, the Niagara Escarpment… there's such a range and variety of turns and elevation. It's just fantastic for riding. And of course, there's what goes with it—the scenery, the hills, trees and lakes. It's a feast for the eyes, if you will. I mean, if you're into performance riding, there's that. But if you slow it down a little for the scenery and destinations, there's that too.
What will riders find adventure touring in Northern Ontario?
There's not a lot of distraction. You've got open roads, well-maintained asphalt, gravel highways, small technical tracks… everything that an adventure rider could ask for. For those who are into pushing the limits a little, there's also a lack of other traffic on the roads and along many of the off-road routes. Well-skilled, experienced riders with proper equipment and safety in mind will find ample opportunities to test their limits. It's funny because, when you get to the really extreme riders, it's ironic because if you publicize the routes too much, then they don't want to go there. But the routes are definitely there.
Where are your favourite places to go adventure touring?
Manitoulin, because it's my own backyard. When I take people out for rides or tours, I start to see it through their eyes too. I'm reminded of just how beautiful it is, how lucky we are to have what we have here.
The North Shore of Lake Superior and Algoma Country, I can keep going back there again and again. There's such a wide variety of on-road and off-road assets. For visitors, these areas are ideal because there are all sorts of routes that someone can plan a weekend over, but there's also a huge number of options for longer adventure rides. So, it's really the best of both worlds.
Some people like to stay off the asphalt, but adventure riding is about the adventure itself. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? Hitting the twists on HWY 129 is a kick for anyone, no matter what bike you're on. I'm on my bike pretty much all the time. Algoma Country, and Northern Ontario generally, is a goldmine of off-road trails, old logging and access roads. For the adventure rider, the level of the untapped resource is pretty astounding.
Do you have any recommendations for adventure tourers to visit?
Beginner: The Algoma area, because they do have Black Creek Road, Ranger Lake Road, not to mention access to Hwy 129 and the Deer Trail. So, a lot of variety and very do-able routes. East of Searchmount, there's a lot of choice roads for a day trip. This is one of the richest areas for gravel riding as well, even on a street bike. North of Sault Ste Marie is great, all the way west to North Bay and beyond.
Intermediate: Same area, but then what you would do is look at some of the smaller roads, the more remote or challenging routes, and rougher terrain… On the bigger bore bikes, you tend to want to do about 300 km a day or so, depending on the terrain, which can slow you down considerably. But if you're day-tripping and don't mind slowing it down a bit, taking photos… it's a great area to just enjoy the ride.
Advanced: These are roads that often aren't even on the GPS, and there's more of them than there are mapped roads. There's heaps of them. So, what you want to do is get a topographical or backroads map. If you're looking for more extreme or advanced adventure… there are more of these remote, unmapped roads than there are known roads, and that's really something.