I've been riding dirtbikes since I was 12 years old. About 5 years ago, I finally bought an adventure touring bike. I find adventure riding to be an extension of that early riding experience that I had on dirt. I've explored all over Ontario, doing long distance road-trips all over the place, in and around the province, down in the States, in Quebec and other places. I've ridden near and far, and what we have here in Algoma Country is really an untapped resource. It occurred to me that people outside of the area don't know about these routes, and I thought it'd be great if we could bring these resources to outsiders. Some of these routes, you can ride 100 kilometres of gravel highways non-stop, twin track roads on the big bore bikes, or rougher on the smaller technical bikes.
Of course, adventure riding is becoming more popular, and there's a large grassroots movement when it comes to adventure riders. The thing is, depending on your definition of "adventure", ADV riding can be a little more tricky than more conventional riding, especially for less-experienced off-roaders. So, this fall, a group of nine riders including myself took a tour of the Algoma Country region, with the aim of developing the ADV Algoma Route—a clearly mapped-out and organized route, including both on-road and off-road highways and trails, for all of those ADV riders out there who want to experience the thrills of Northern Ontario, but aren't sure where to begin.
Of course, you can't develop routes by just sitting in an office with a map. For adventure riding, you have to take into account the availability of fuel and rest stops, the nature and class of the roads being traveled. Dual lane, maintained, twin track roads. What we were looking for was roads that would lead you somewhere, so that you won't wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Our group of adventure riders really got out there. Together we covered some 1700 km of road, both asphalt and gravel, and distilled it down to a best in class route. Some of the roads we chose have commercial traffic nearby, and almost all of them are on the grid in one way or another. That being said, the problem is that some of the unmaintained ones may be washed out, closed down or otherwise compromised. The thing to do, of course, is ask the local outfitters and plot your routes in advance, and that's what we're helping people to do.
Depending on your bike, fuel range may also be an issue, but we kept that in mind as we mapped out these routes. A lot of guys don't mind carrying an extra fuel container. We try to space things out to no more than 200 km between gas stations. Some of it also depends on your bikes, how much you can carry and what sort of roads you're looking for. Some guys with aggressive knobbies, designed for off-road conditions, like to stay off the asphalt as much as they can to prevent tire wear. Along these routes, you'll see everything from maintained gravel road to twin tracks, it's a mix of on-road and off-road.
The Adventure isn't just about the road, it's about getting somewhere. The variety and the scenery. I consider HWY 17 along the west coast of Lake Superior as a bona fide adventure ride. It really looks like it's hewn right out of the landscape. This area is a goldmine when it comes to undiscovered roads, places to wander and reveal and enjoy. For the adventure rider, the ADV Algoma route is one not-to-be-missed.