As anyone who lives north of the 45th parallel (or thereabouts) knows, 12 months of riding is available only to those with either a death wish or blood of ice. Having neither, I sadly have to bed the baby for a few months every year while mother nature does her best to drive us all south, or temporarily insane until she is once again beaten into submission by the longer days of spring.
That’s why the last ride of the year is so important because the afterglow has to last for months. So when the rainy weather finally broke and the sun came out last weekend, I took full advantage for “the last ride”.
I headed off to one of my favourite routes through Calabogie and then across along Highway 511 to enjoy some of the twisties that road has to offer.
The green leaves of summer had long since fallen to the forest floor leaving the trees as naked as a bunch of freshmen at a nude beach on spring break. Although thoughts of such activity were quickly dispelled by the temperature – a not-so-beachy 5C (~40F). Even the forest looked cold.
Turning southwest at Burnstown, I followed the Madawaska River all the way into Calabogie, at one point stopping at a picnic area to watch the water flow over the rocks while I enjoyed a mid-ride cigar and warmed up in the sunshine. Clearly I was not alone in my thinking as bike after bike cruised by – some solitary, others in groups, all enjoying the day. A couple of sports bikes pulled into the parking lot while I was there, but parked at the other end, afraid of H-D contamination I expect.
At Calabogie I swung southeast onto 511, and that’s where the fun riding started. Highway 511 is one of those hidden gems of a highway that is important enough that the government keeps it well maintained and the pavement in good condition, but it isn’t important enough to spend the money on to straighten it out from it’s long ago origins as a cart path. 511 and I go way back and it’s still one of my favourite routes.
But it doesn’t go on forever, and with the sun dropping lower and lower in the sky and knowing the temperature would quickly follow suit, it was time to start the homeward loop up through Clayton and then back across to Pakenham and home.
Much to my surprise Scoop’s was still open. What would a ride be if it didn’t involve a stop for ice cream – possibly also the last of the year? A double scoop of burgundy cherry didn’t do much to raise my body temperature, but it sure was good for the soul!
As I was having my ice cream, a school bus pulled up. The female driver got out with her last 2 charges – 5 or 6-year-old girls – and bought them both, and herself, an ice cream. I never had a bus driver give me anything but a hard time, and so I told them how lucky they were. They got back on the bus, all giggles and chatter, pony tails and striped leggings, and headed to the same place I was going – home.
P.S. The weatherman is calling for double-digit temperatures for next week – very un-November-like. Another last ride perhaps? We live in hope. But I know for sure Scoop’s is now closed for the season, so it just won’t be the same, whatever happens.