Too much of a good thing is a good problem to have, and in Ontario, that problem is too many destinations, not enough time. With the vastness of Ontario's road system, when planning a weekend moto tour beyond your local roads, you find yourself needing to solve the ever-present equation, time + distance = where to? While I can think off the top of my head a few routes that offer a satisfying answer this time around, it's The Lake Temiskaming Tour that makes the top of the list.
The 450-kilometre loop from North Bay to New Liskeard and back splits its distance almost equally between Northeastern Ontario and Quebec. It can be ridden in a day if you are nearby or can make for a satisfying two-day ride from most places in Ontario.
A personal favourite that I have navigated on several occasions, but in a way, this is a first. This time around, it won't be on two wheels nor four but three, yes three, to be enjoyed from behind the bars of the 2021 Can-am Ryker. In fact, the wheel count for our group of 5 is fifteen; you do the math and, yes, all trikes.
As mentioned, the Lake Temiskaming Tour loop makes for a good day ride, but we want more, and two days sounds better. The plan is to double the mileage on day one, easily done with so many road options in Northeastern Ontario and spend the night in New Liskeard. On day two, it's back to the start along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and then home.
For our weekend plan to succeed, our group trickles into the Best Western in North Bay on Friday night. An evening of good times at the on-site Farina Ristorante and the morning comes quickly, but spirits are high, and the sun is shining. While the official route heads north on Highway 11, we turn west onto Highway 17, looking for more.
Forty percent chance of rain are odds that I am happy to live with unless, of course, they turn against you. We are about to get wet, judging by the black cloud headed for a collision course with our plan. There is rain, and there is holy shit rain; we find ourselves immersed in the latter. With visibility plummeting to an arms-length and the road surface is resembling more river than pavement, at this moment, that third wheel of the Ryker sure is much appreciated.
Just like that, we are back into blue skies and sunshine as we turn north onto Highway 64. Traffic and civilization fade in the background; it's just us and the next turn. At Highway 11, we head south for a few kilometres for a photo op with a giant fish, then continue north. At Gramp's Place General Store, gas tanks are topped up, and we have a quick browse around the iconic store. The ice cream looks good; however, today's chill in the air defers that decision to maybe next time.
In Temagami, we take in the grand view from the Fire Tower and a delicious lunch at the Temagami Shores Inn, then north we go.
Hello New Liskeard, we again divert from the official route, turn left instead of right, and commit to another 250 kilometres on the odometer. We roll through the northern communities of Elk Lake and Matachewan, chase rainbows down some gravel tracks and enjoy the freshly paved twists and turns along Highway 66, despite another round of torrential rain.
Back on 11, the road sign informs that home for the night is 80 km away; we drop our bags at the Waterfront Inn in New Liskeard just as the day fades to night.
What a fantastic location on the shore of Lake Timiskaming. If the day was a few hours younger and the season a few degrees warmer, I'd be taking full advantage of the beach access from my room for sure. As is, we are happy to partake in a delicious meal at the on-site Rooster's Bar and Grill, a cold beer chaser and a good night's rest. What a day.
Day two, we are greeted by another fine morning as we follow the signs for Quebec and Notre-Dame-du-Nord. Highway 101, what a gem of a road, from charming villages, grand lake and river views and its remote vibe as you make your way south to Temiscaming. We are welcomed back into Ontario with a few big swiping turns along the edge of the Ottawa River; then it's back into the forest and the tight twisties of highway 533 bound for Mattawa.
Lunch is bittersweet; the ride is not over yet, far from it. It's still one hour back to our starting point, and then for most of us, home is a few hours beyond that.
Every adventure reaches a point where it goes from heading out to the unknown to heading back to reality, and unfortunately, that time is now. Looking back, what a couple of days, crazy rain storms, amazing roads, food, accommodations and of course company. The Lake Temiskaming Tour and Northeastern Ontario never disappoint whether your experience involves two wheels, four or, in this case, three.