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A Beach of a Ride

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A Beach of a Ride

• Credit: Martin Lortz

7 Spots to Visit Before the Fall Colours Arrive

Summer's gone and so is the traffic. If you're more of a rider than a swimmer, then this motorcycle tour is the perfect outing for these in-between months.



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Summer’s done—time to hit the beach. Hmmm, that sounds a bit unfitting; allow me to explain. Calendar-wise, the end of summer is still a couple of weeks away. But it being past Labour Day, and with kids back at school, the summer switch has been toggled to off in Ontario's beach towns—making it a perfect time for a moto beach hopping excursion. It just so happens that I have a 2016 Kawasaki Versus visiting my driveway for a week, and as a gracious host I feel the need to show my guest around. A couple of days of sand, sun and 1,000 km of open road sound like just the ticket. 

 

Wasaga Beach

Perhaps the most famous beach in Ontario. Just a couple of days ago, this place was abuzz with thousands of beachgoers and the smell of suntan lotion. Today, finding a parking spot was a breeze (lol). Wasaga Beach is no stranger to the two-wheel moto crowd, hosting an annual motorcycle rally that attracts thousands

This being a sight-seeing tour, there's no time to partake in beach activities; a quick look around and it’s time to hit the road. We follow the Georgian Bay coast north to the community of Wiarton then west to the shore of Lake Huron.

 

Sauble Beach

Taking your bike to the beach takes on a special meaning at Sauble Beach. This is the only beach in Ontario that I'm aware of where you can ride on and park your bike next to your beach towel. Keep in mind that it’s paid access during the summer. The sand can be soft—be sure to bring something to put under your kickstand so your bike won’t fall over. That said, it’s so cool. 

The rest of the day is spent with Lake Huron over our right shoulder as we make our way south.

 

Southhampton

Southampton's maritime-like atmosphere is soul-warming: historic cottages, white sand beaches and grand lake vistas. The town’s history, which stretches back a hundred years, reflects proudly in its charm. We hug the coastal roads as long as we can, as they twist and turn amongst manicured cottage front lawns on one side and grass-covered sand dunes on the other.

Back on Highway 21 for day one’s home stretch. On the map, the next 50 km shows four turns; welcome to the Ontario prairies.

 

Grand Bend

We drop our bags at the Blue Water Motel in Grand Bend. The motel’s sparkling blue swimming pool is just what the doctor ordered after a 10-hour day on the road in what felt  like 40°C temperature. Dark clouds threatened rain all day, but the temperature was stinking hot, leaving little doubt it’s still summer. The town’s main street, lined with beach theme storefronts, and the beach itself seem restfully at peace, a far cry from the energy of just a couple of days ago. 

Day two begins with pleasant cruising along roads that stretch to the horizon along with everything else in our peripheral vision. A grand landscape dominated by just that: land. Definitely feeling like a small fish in a big pond. 

Small towns, big farming equipment, and windmills fill the time. I can’t remember the last time we passed a set of traffic lights. In need of food, we make our way to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a town with one stop sign. Wow, the place is packed; not much of a surprise with just four tables! We squeeze in and enjoy a delicious breakfast accompanied by a no-rush atmosphere, local chit-chat and laughter. 

Onward south, eventually memories of the blue waters of Lake Huron are replaced with milky grey waters of a stirred-up Lake Erie.  

Port Burwell

The beach at Port Burwell receives less attention than some other spots along Lake Erie, making it a bit of a hidden gem. Today the beach-goers are outnumbered by seagulls, maybe 1,000 to zero.

Just one day immersed in Southwestern Ontario's open landscape, and already we are developing an appreciation for the peaceful solitude of empty space. If sand between your toes is not enough incentive to make the trek to Port Burwell, then maybe the area’s top tourism draw might spar some interest. The HMCS Ojibwa, a retired Cold War submarine, was placed in a permanent site as part of a Museum of Naval History. 

 

Long Point

It’s tough to get a shot of bike and beach at Long Point. The beach's grandeur is hidden by rows of cottages and  some impressive sand dunes. But believe you me, this is one spectacular stretch of sand. With Long Point Provincial Park offering campsites practically at beach edge and the warm waters of Lake Erie, the area's moto camping potential is undeniable.

Port Dover

If you ever visited Port Dover on a Friday the 13th, when thousands of motorcycles descend on the town, then you would not recognize it today. But the fact is that Port Dover is a top motorcycle touring destination any time of the season. In fact, it might just be at its best when you can have it all to yourself.

Two days, 1,000 kilometres, seven beaches and three grand bodies of water—four if you count skirting Lake Ontario on the way home. What Southwestern Ontario lacks in twisty roads, it more than makes up in points of interest and grand vistas of land and water, plus a laid-back atmosphere that only beach towns can deliver. For more information on the area visit the “Cruise the Coast”, “Ride the Counties” and "Visit Georgian Bay" websites for maps and route ideas.

As for my touring companion, the 2016 Kawasaki Versus 1000, I loved the adventure bike-like siting position, roomy saddle bags, umps of power and sport bike handling. It was a pleasure.

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