Last year, motorcyclists across Ontario and beyond were given a special treat with an extended riding season due to abnormally warm weather. Many bikers eagerly put on an extra layer and enjoyed riding Christmas Eve and even New Year’s Eve, while others opted to put their bike away early. So this leads me to ask the burning question: when will your last ride be this year?
For some, the answer to this question depends on the type of rider you are. Maybe you’re the cautious rider, concerned about oblivious drivers on the road during off-peak times, combined with increased debris on the road and the effect of cooler temperatures on your tires. Then again, there are those of you who are die-hard adventure-seekers, riding anytime you can, and in any condition.
As Mother Nature toys with our emotions with roller coaster weather patterns, many of us are just hanging on to the riding season by a string. Some of you may have winterized your bikes already and are preparing for a wintery season on two skis. With the cooler weather here, and the Farmer’s Almanac and Jeff McGirr’s forecast both predicting an early winter, combined with bitter cold and lots of snow, it means our riding season is quickly nearing its end. Whether this is it or not, what matters is that we get the most out of our riding season that we can and enjoy that one last epic ride.
Any biker remembers that last ride of the season. I can just envision my own group, sitting around a wood fire in the middle of winter, holding onto warm drinks and reminiscing about the past season. There’s usually a story associated with the last ride—how else are you supposed to get through winter bike withdrawal without a good story?
This year, my last ride was made possible courtesy of the ‘Last Ride Muskoka’ event, hosted by Yamaha Motor Canada, and held at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. The event gave riders an opportunity to enjoy the bounty of beautiful fall colours and those few remaining warm days of the season. Held on October 14-15, the two-day event offered riders the opportunity to test ride the new fleet of Yamaha motorcycles, while also enjoying the orange, red, and yellow leaves that will soon disappear and be replaced with white fluff.
Some motorcyclists rode hours to attend the event. Dressed in warm gear, they braved cooler morning temperatures and in good Canadian spirit, they arrived at Deerhurst Resort on a brisk Saturday morning for the start of the first (and hopefully annual) Last Ride Muskoka.
On a Yamaha XSR 900, I joined custom bike builder, Rob Chappell and his wife, Amy, for the Wild Coyote poker run taking us all over beautiful Muskoka. Riders were given a total of twelve locations to ride to throughout the course of the day, spanning from Huntsville to Parry Sound and everywhere else in between.
POker Run time!
In search of windy, twisty roads, my group headed straight to Rosseau along Highway 3. A quick stop at the Rosseau General Store gave us our first poker card of the day, and it gave me a competitive boost to score the best poker hand possible. Lots of great prizes were up for grabs, and one of those had my name on it! We departed the historical landmark, and made our way down Highway 7, along Lake Rosseau to Barn Boarded Antiques in Port Carling for our second stop.
The area is known for its gorgeous lake views and fall foliage that attracts visitors from across Canada and beyond. Our ride continued down 118 West to Bracebridge which is another favourite riding destination for me. We balanced riding and sightseeing well, quickly taking in views of the Muskoka River and Wilson’s Falls as we navigated through the quaint town. The weather couldn’t have been better; the bright warm sun combined with cool crisp air was the perfect combination to ride in.
Sometimes, random unplanned stops turn out to be the best. We veered off from our original plan to stop at a burger joint in Bracebridge, called what else, but the “Burger Shop.” As we neared the parking lot, I saw a few motorcycles leaving. One thing I’m sure of is that bikers always know a good burger joint. I’ve never been steered wrong from a biker burger recommendation, and this proved to be a good one.
As we dined on gourmet burgers, Rob, Amy and I got a chance to get to know each other better by sharing our stories about our travels and love of motorcycles. The break also gave us a chance to strategize and plan for the next few stops on the poker run.
We grabbed our next two cards at Muskoka Brewery and Bracebridge Yamaha before heading to Lake of Bays and Baysville along 117. A visit to Lake of Bays Brewery awarded us one last card before our time ran out. We cruised back to Huntsville along Highway 2, admiring the fall colours and leaves that draped over the road.
Our return to Deerhurst Resort was welcomed by Yamaha staff eager to check cards and determine who had the best poker hand. With a pair of 9’s, I was still eligible for one of the many prizes that were available. I quickly snagged a four-hour lesson from Flat Track Canada as my prize, excited to continue my riding adventures next spring.
Refreshments were available as riders stayed for the Brat Track 110 Invitational, where special guest riders raced on a makeshift track against each other on Yamaha TT-R110E mini bikes to earn bragging rights and a customized trophy fabricated by Rob. Yours truly joined the fun and put my childhood dirt bike skills to good use.
So there you have it, my last ride was The Last Ride, and it was an epic one complete with awesome riding, epic views and some great stories that will keep my friends entertained throughout the winter months.
Big thanks to Yamaha Canada and Deerhurst Resort for the hospitality. This was by far the best fall ride I’ve been on in one of Ontario’s top riding destinations. It may be getting cooler day by day, but there is still time to get out for your last ride!