Making time to ride with friends and getting out of the city together is an important part of a healthy and well-balanced life in the city. If we let the grind of city life exhaust us, then we’ve been defeated, and Netflix will just take us down a spiraling black hole of false realities and fantasy. Or you could buy a motorcycle, make some new friends, and spend a fun day on the hunt for epic tacos on the epic roads of Muskoka cottage country like we did. Here’s how to make it happen:
Take the Lead
The first thing to do when thinking about planning a trip is to quickly become a leader. Take the planning by the reins and put the trip all together yourself. This way, all that your friends will have to do is show up and roll with it. Planning a day trip is simple but make sure you do it right so that everyone has a good time.
Start by picking a destination. I’m a big fan of tacos and so are most of my friends, therefore the Grand Electric taco joint in Muskoka was a no-brainer for us. We also have a Grand Electric here in Toronto, so for those of you reading from out of town and planning your Toronto Taco ride, the Toronto Grand Electric location is definitely worth a visit.
Plan Your Route
The second step to planning a successful day-ride is planning an interesting route. I’ve done the legwork for you on this one, and I’ve picked out the best (most exciting) roads to get you to Muskoka. The route is the most important part of a day-ride. If you pick your roads well your friends will be stoked and you will have a memorable time together.
If you don’t plan ahead, and decide to just use your iPhone for basic A to B GPS directions, you are almost guaranteeing a boring ride. Make sure to plan the route ahead of time. Lock in those fun twisty roads, and explore parts of the map that you wouldn’t normally visit.
I use “My Maps” by Google to plan things out and map them out. It’s easy to save locations, routes and you can make direction changes as often as you want. “MyMaps” makes it easy to share your routes with your friends, and also allows you to keep them saved in your account for the future.
NO HIGHWAY ROUTE:
Getting out of Toronto is usually the least interesting part of any trip, so for our ride I planned to cruise up HWY 400 to HWY 11 to get out of the city and onto the fun scenic roads as quickly as possible.
My favourite road so far near Toronto is Southwood Road. It’s a 35-km paved cottage road connecting Highways 11 and 169. It’s often technical and twisty and will have you grinning from ear to ear for about a half hour.
Since Southwood Road is a cottage road, be aware and adjust your riding to the occasionally blown in sand on the sides of the road. The road is often totally clear, but as the weather changes, so do road conditions. The rest of the ride through Muskoka is also quite exciting and scenic, with more sweeping turns and less technical corners.
Use a Timeline
The third part of the planning process is creating a timeline. The timeline is important simply to help you with the planning process. It’s not intended to be strict, or for you to really stick to and powertrip over with your friends. Creating a timeline during the planning process will help you be realistic with travel time, eating time and fueling-up time, etc. It will help make sure the trip happens within a reasonable amount of time for what people are expecting.
One thing I learned from planning and organizing larger group rides is to start early. Aiming to have lunch around 11 am with a group of riders is a good idea. Keeping your crew hydrated and fed will keep everyone from getting cranky and losing focus. Starting your day-ride early allows for more stopping time, fueling time, snapping a few photos, and other unplanned stops. Keep in mind that you’re out there to ride and to enjoy the road, so stops made too frequently will get annoying and tiring.
With your timeline, plan to stop for fuel roughly every 200 km or so. That’s a comfortable amount time on the bike and most bikes can travel that distance on a full tank of gas. Adjust that fuel stopping mileage to whatever range the smallest bike in your crew can travel. A fuel stop for one or two bikes is always at least a 15- to 20-minute stop, so add that to your time line. Lunch will usually take around two hours. Grand Electric is a really busy hotspot and they don’t take reservations, so plan ahead and be prepared to be waiting a bit for a table.
Being aware of these minor details will help you plan a better ride with your friends.
Picking locations that are interesting and different from the typical fast food joints or mediocre dive bars also just adds to the overall experience. There are endless exciting roads just north of Toronto that are perfect for a full-day ride. Get creative, use google maps and go see the places you wouldn’t normally visit. Pick a point on a map and find the little roads that will take you there. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you will likely have something new and exciting to tell all your friends about.