I love motorcycles — I ride one for a living and am the founder of the Motorsoul Riding School in Toronto. Although my job might sound like it’s all “freedom-of-the-open-road”-ish, it isn’t. My work keeps me pretty busy—and also pretty much an exclusively urban rider. I am, however, part of the select few who actually enjoy riding in the busy city. Due to the riding strategies I have developed and teach my students, I am very comfortable and confident riding in a city environment.
Despite this love of urban riding, I’ve been itching to venture out of the city, north of Bloor Street and away from all the 400 series highways. So you can understand why I was super stoked when I was invited on a special assignment to help with a project called “Ride the Highlands InstaMeet”. The InstaMeet project would follow the adventures of a few local influential Instagramers as they experienced the unique beauty of the Highlands of Ontario on motorcycles—all while documenting the trip on Instagram. Ride motorcycles with some other cool riders on some fun twisty roads in beautiful Ontario and Instagram it? Thank you, Universe! No brainer. Of course, I said yes!
When the day arrived, I picked up a shiny, brand-new, Honda CB500F loaner and met the rest of the InstaMeet crew at the Propeller Coffee Co. in downtown Toronto (voted 2016 Micro Roaster of the Year). After thoroughly caffeinating ourselves, we headed north of Bloor street and out of the GTA along the back roads to our Highlands destination.
I was surprised how close these awesome motorcycle touring roads are to Toronto. In less than three hours we were there! Taking the scenic back roads made our ride to the Highlands that much more enjoyable and also proved that any level rider could comfortably make their way out of the GTA and up to the fun and twisty riding roads that lay just above us.
Ontario’s Highlands stretch roughly from Huntsville to Ottawa and take in the southern section of Algonquin Provincial Park. There are a number of pre-planned motorcycle touring routes available to you once you arrive, or you can be adventurous and see where the roads take you. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
What’s wonderful about the pre-planned routes is that they have been developed by riders, for riders, with all levels in mind. You can choose a more relaxing touring route or get busy on some technical twisties. There are plenty of scenic stops, local attractions, and tons of good eats along these routes—all motorcycle friendly! Major bonus!
In between winding our way along what were my favourite twisty roads in the Highlands (such as Dyno Road, Loop Road, and Elephant Road), we checked out some of the quirky stops that were along the way. I was intrigued by the skills and art of the glass blowers at the Artech Studios in Tory Hill; we enjoyed some yummy food at The Olde Ridge Authentic Barbecue and we even challenged each other in a quest for the best butter tart! Our stay at The Bonnieview Inn, which sits along Kashagawigamog Lake, was amazing and is definitely a recommended accommodation for bikers.
Throughout our trip in the Highlands, I was continually struck by the common bond and community that motorcycles create. From the business owners that warmly welcomed us along these routes, to all the friendly fellow riders we met along the way, down to our InstaMeet crew that became the InstaMeet family, it was clear: the love of motorcycles brings people together.
I was fascinated to learn the story behind the Highland’s road builders by some local historians. If you read up on some of the history of these builders that created these roads in Ontario’s Highlands, way back when our Canadian infrastructure was being built, you’ll want to pay some serious homage to them with every kilometre you ride your motorcycle along their twisty roads. These road builders were visionaries, true craftsman who opted for scenic winding adventures over the usual boring efficient straight roads that were seen as the ideal. It seems as if they built these roads for the future—and for our two-wheeled machines!
The natural beauty of Ontario’s Highlands has to be seen to be believed. New stunning and inspiring views were revealed around each bend in the road. I was amazed by the fresh, sweet air that greeted us when we arrived. As an urbanite, used to the smoggy, traffic-filled air of the city, the Highland air was so clean and refreshing. Of course, anytime you’re riding a motorcycle the air always seems better—but not like this! I kept taking in deep breaths, hoping to bring some of this special air back to the GTA.
Ontario’s Highlands are made for motorcycle touring—not only because of the breathtakingly beautiful views that Ontario has to offer, with its sparkling lakes and tall trees, but because of the purposeful twisty roads that wind their way throughout all this Ontario goodness. Simply put, the roads in the Highlands were created differently—with a purpose. The creative road builders of the Highlands crafted those roads with a vision: to enjoy the journey along the way. And we, along with every rider that cruises on these roads, have truly benefitted from their vision.