…and time to ponder life.
Sometimes you just need to be alone and clear your head. Saturday was one of those days for me. A bunch of friends had decided on going on a great group ride on some nice country roads and up through Algonquin Park. Personally I just needed to be alone though.
I started out around 7:30am and as I arrived at the meeting point for the group ride, I saw the group of 20 or so bikes parked in the lot of Haugen’s Chicken just outside Port Perry. I just kept going, only glancing as they were preparing to depart. I continued heading northeast towards the ominous rain clouds on the horizon.
As I pulled into Bobcaygeon, I saw the roads were wet indicating recent rainfall. I figured it would be a good time to take a break and while listening to the Thunder off in the distance, it was also time to throw on the rain gear. The timing was perfect as the rain started falling just as I was mounting my bike again. Rain doesn’t bother me and at this point it wasn’t falling hard. It was actually quite peaceful listening to the wind in my helmet and the tick tick tick of the rain drops hitting my visor.
As I rode on, I was able to spend some time thinking as I watched the lightening off in the distance and hearing the thunder behind me. I was riding between storm cells. As I turned north on the 507, I once again passed my group of friends as they were refuelling. They obviously passed me while I was stopped earlier. Once again, I continued on, just wanting to ride alone. 30minutes later they caught up to me and I made a detour to Haliburton for gas, which made for another good chance to stretch and ponder life. Although it was raining slightly and the cloud cover was heavy, it was still lovely overlooking the lakes.
I carried on my way and continued along the route knowing that I would eventually pass them again. It wasn’t anything personal, I just needed to be alone with my bike. There really isn’t anything like riding a motorcycle and the peace that comes along with it. The sights, the sounds even the smells. Spring is always a great time to ride as the forests begins to rejuvenate from the winter and you can smell the trees coming to life once again. You can even smell the road when transferring from asphalt to tarmac.
At one point while stopped on the side of the road, taking pictures of a nice lake, I heard the sound of a couple bikes approaching. It turned out to be a couple friends of mine (James and Margot) who had been riding with the larger group but decided to turn back. We chatted for a bit, took a few pictures and we went our separate ways.
As I neared Algonquin Park I once again passed the same group of riders where they had stopped for lunch and once again, I continued on. It was becoming common for us to pass each other just as much as riding in and out of rain clouds. Once in the Park I was certain the weather had turned for the better and the sun would stay for good. Turns out that only lasted for about 40km and I had to stop to put my rain gear back on…for good this time.
Showers followed me on and off but stopped for a while in Mindon, which seemed like a good time to eat and refuel. Despite the rain, it was still a great day riding. Up to this point anyway. I could hear thunder off in the distance getting louder and more frequent, coming from the southwest, which was the direction I was going. I prepared myself for what I expected to be heavy and continuous rain all the way home. What I got was far worse.
As I approached Kirkfield, the weather got bad to nearly biblical proportions. The wind picked up to over 60km/hr with gusts up to 100km/hr and this was only the beginning. The crosswinds increased and I slowed my pace as I fought to stay upright as branches and debris was being blown across the road. Turns out I rode into “tornado warning” conditions and at one point was blown clear across the road into the opposite lane. It happened twice more, once into traffic. I was lucky to pull my bike back over in time to avoid hitting a car head-on.
I took shelter at a small gas station and came across a couple other riders who had been there for about 30minutes and was lucky to of missed the worst of it. Once things settled down a bit, the three of us continued on together for the added safety that comes with riding with a small group in case something went seriously wrong.
Finally reaching home 12hrs later, tired, sore, shaken, I was left thinking that even though life can be bad, rides like today remind you how great it is to feel alive…especially on a motorcycle.
The tranquil calmness, the twists in the road, the intense demands of fighting mother nature. It’s all part riding and it provides a feeling unlike anything else.