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The Road Less Travelled – The “Tail of the Beaver” Loop in Northeastern Ontario and Algoma Country

by Virgil Knapp the road less travelled turn

1106 Kilometers. 110600 meters. 687 miles. Or 1209536 yards. This is the length of a very strategically planned ‘loop’ through some of the most twisty and picturesque motorcycle country in Northern Ontario sometimes referred to as the “Tail of the Beaver” which combines Highway 129, 144 and Highway 64.

We don’t need much of an excuse to go for a ride, but when we head out, it’s typically with purpose and this trip would be no different. Eric Menard, host of the popular “Le Show de Moto” (airing on the RDS network in Quebec) was in town searching for something worthy of an episode for his show. With the gauntlet being thrown down, we had to deliver.

On September 10th 2013 the combined contingent of Ontario and Quebec rendezvoused in North Bay (picking up where they left off when Le Show de Moto was filming here earlier in the year). We headed north on Highway 11 eventually connecting with Highway 64, gradually making our way to Sudbury. If you’ve never ridden Highway 64 this is a must for your touring bucket list. Mike and Claude both proclaimed, “We couldn’t let these guys ride the area and not experience the thrills of Highway 64”. “There are a lot of gems in this area but 64 is one you don’t want to miss”. Not surprisingly it holds a ranking as one of the top 30 roads in all of Ontario.

Strangely enough the wide sweeping corners and exceptional asphalt aren’t all this area is known for. For example, Sturgeon Falls (of all things) has a reputation for their chip stands, paving the way for a great local rivalry with a legitimate ‘food beef’ (pun intended) existing between two stands.

Even more curious, they sit directly across the road from one another. ‘The Riv’ on one side, ‘Larry’s’ on the other. Both claim to have the best poutine around, so naturally it was our duty to indulge in a healthy sampling from each vendor and pick a winner. Unfortunately it was just too close to give one of them the edge, but I can say with certainty, these were the two best tasting poutines I’d ever consumed.

The roads and destinations weren’t the only fun part of this trip. We were fortunate to have a fleet of new Honda’s, which included the following models:

CTX700T- Sort of a cross between a cruiser and sport bike, ideal for both touring and carving up the twisty turns.

NC700X- A close cousin to the CTX, the upright riding position and healthy low to mid-range torque made this one a favorite between the crew.

CB500X- This model was essentially the enduro adventure version of Honda’s new 500 range. This made it a nice addition to the midrange market.

The entire crew alternated between the three new machines, getting a taste of what they were made of. Each bike performed extremely well during our filming and photo sessions but one moment in particular is etched into my memory. As I stated earlier, much of this route has long sweeping corners, the kind that truly test your mettle as a rider.

One section in particular was a high-speed “S bend”. I went a ways down the road to capture a good angle of the three of them coming through in succession. The only problem was trees were obstructing my view of the entry point, so I had to be ready, or I’d miss the shot.

As the approaching roar of their engines grew closer I trained my lens on the apex of the corner, waiting for just the right time. At that moment the three bikes all roared into view holding a tight triangle shaped formation. It caught me off guard because I wasn’t expecting the three of them so close at speed, but sure enough with the precision of acrobatic fighter jets they maintained position through the turn blasting off out of view.

All I could do was squeeze the shutter button on my Canon and hope I had the correct exposure. As the motor drive clicked off frames I knew I just captured something special. Reflecting back on this moment almost 2 years later, it still gives me goosebumps. Imagine what it felt like to be the one riding the corner!

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