Take eight experienced women riders from across North America, give them brand new touring motorcycles, set them loose in Northern Ontario for a few days and there are bound to be adventures. Add in the facts that they’re motorcycle journalists and communities are expecting them and you’ve set the stage for what will undoubtedly be many memorable experiences.
This June, Ottawa Valley Mae Hong Son Motorbike Tour Association and Go Ride Ontario sponsored a five-day women’s tour through the Ottawa Valley and Algonquin Park. Motorcycles were generously provided by Deeley Harley-Davidson, BMW Motorrad Canada and Honda Canada.
One doesn’t need to look far to see evidence of the explosive growth in women’s motorcycle touring. The latest stats from the US Motorcycle Industry Council in 2008 reveals that 23.7% of riders are women. Tourism providers, awakening to the fact that there is a large demographic ready to travel, are responding with a growing number of creative options.
While southern Ontario destinations with their close proximity to Toronto are more familiar to riders, the northern portion of the province has been relatively unnoticed. Until now. The area is easy to access, has amazing roads, beautiful scenery and very little traffic. Its pioneer heritage is still evident and just riding through it takes you back to much simpler times. Tucked throughout the area are unique attractions that offer an appealing, adventuresome twist to a Girls Getaway trip.
After converging in Ottawa from across North America, renewing acquaintances and matching up bikes with riders, it was a short one-hour ride northwest to Calabogie, our first destination.
The last half of the ride hinted at the amazing roads and scenery we could expect in the Ottawa Valley. Calabogie Peaks Resort, our host for the night, is set in the centre of delightful riding country and would make a great weekend destination. On-site restaurant dining or the seasonal beach-front bar and grill mean you don’t have to saddle up again after a long day of riding. An outdoor hot tub, hiking, golfing and boating offer are all available at the resort.
The surrounding area is a rider’s delight. Known for endless twisties that cut through forests and between lakes, you can ride for long periods with little traffic and few signs of civilization. Nestled in nearby Burnstown and well worth the stop is The Blackbird Cafe, tastefully decorated with historic artifacts. They served an outstanding lunch with delicious salads and tasty, artistically presented entrees. The portions are very large and two girlfriends could easily be satisfied sharing one meal.
A highlight of the day, and a great idea for a Girl’s Weekend is a Track Day at Calabogie Motorsports Park. Hidden from the main road, the 5.05 km track is carved out of the surrounding forest. As a special treat, track manager Jane Blinn led us and our touring bikes around the track. All I can say is I need to go back.
Leaving the track behind, we enjoyed more twists, turns and a few picturesque towns before a meandering scenic ride along the Ottawa River led us to London House Inn and Spa. The tranquil woodland garden setting for the historic buildings is a juxtaposition to the high-adventure white water rafting expeditions offered by professionally managed River Run Rafting on the same property. White-water rafting followed by a spa treatment, capped off by unwinding in the outdoor hot tub or pool is another great idea for a Girl’s Getaway Weekend.