Georgian Bay Run 2016
Photos & Text by: Christoper Butters
A MONDO WEIRDO MOTO TRIP...
It most certainly is mondo, things occasionally get weirdo, and there sure are a lot of motos.
Originally started in 2012 by Chris Young and Neil Patterson, the GBR has expanded from a handful of close friends on a rainy camping trip, to roughly 110 riders from all over southern Ontario - and it continues to grow every year, even having its own chase truck!
The GBR takes place in June, usually early middle of the month. Riders meet on the Friday morning at the Go bus station at Major Mackenzie and 401, in Vaughan, and some light ground rules are established. The GBR is all about freedom, and doing your own ride, but not at the expense of others and their well being. Last minute bike and equipment checks are made, chains are quickly lubed, and luggage straps re-tightened.
The organizers, now swelled in ranks from attendees of years previous who help run the show, begin to assemble the riders at the entrance to the station. Hand motions are made, motors are revved, and off goes the "pack". On the highway, the sight of so many bikes elicits bewildered looks from drivers, who will generally either move ahead to pass, or drop back - there is certainly safety in numbers.
The pack heads up Highway 400, passing Barrie, and heading straight up Highway 69 towards Point Au Baril. Gas stops are made along the way, as bikes range from the capacity endowed KLR650, to peanut tank choppers, and home built cafe bikes. Everyone and every kind of bike is welcome, just "run whatcha brung" as the saying goes.
There's also the option to do your own ride, which the organizers encourage as well. People have showed up after dark having picked up total strangers on the road, with stories of 6 hour long detours to visit a waterfall or two.
The first night's stop is at Loon's Landing near Alban, ON. Chris and the GBR folks usually procure a decent amount of liquid refreshments, and campfires are started pretty quickly. People head down to the docks on the French River to fish and swim, and raffles for prizes are held at the sprawling campsite. Proceeds from the raffle cover costs, and the leftovers go to fireworks for the weekend.
On the second day, people pile into The Hungry Bear diner, just down the road from Loon's Landing, to be treated to a couple of people in mascot costumes; feelings on the costumes are mixed. Groups generally fragment a bit more for the ride to Manitoulin island, which heads northwest from 69 to 17, and through Espinola. The ride down Highway 6 onto Manitoulin is visually stunning, with hard scrabble pine and Canadian shield dotting the landscape.
Hutchinsons Cabins in Sandfield, is the second campsite on the run. Located on the shore of Lake Manitou, there's space for camping, and some pretty rad wooden cabins that include woodburning stoves. Another night, another massive bonfire, and a bunch of total strangers get to know one another while swapping stories and taking in some massive fireworks displays.
The final day includes a stop in South Baymouth in order to board the MS Chi Chimaun, for the final leg across Georgian Bay towards Tobermory. The crossing itself is pretty calm, and usually motorcycles are given priority for loading and unloading. Disembarkment is a ton of fun as people scramble to wake up from on-deck naps, secure their gear, undo ratchet straps, rope, and whatever else has been used to secure the bikes.
As bikes are freed from their moorings, engines are started again, and the pack jockeys for position to unload. The ramp slowly lowers, deck hands direct people into traffic lanes, and motorbikes come rolling off the ship.
This is where the trip officially ends, and people exhange contact info and goodbyes. There is an optional night however, in Sauble Beach for those with a little extra time. Somehow, another arsenal of fireworks is procured, and the night usually comprises a beach and bonfire hang.
For a ride that started out as a small venture between buds, it's definitely come a long way through the tireless efforts of all involved. Special thanks to Chris Young, Neil Patterson, Jon Horvatin (for designing/printing tons of awesome swag), Liz Wimbush (for securing sponsor swag and wristbands), the folks in the chase truck, and anyone else who made it happen. If you're a new rider, or an experienced one, the trip is a great way to meet new people and just generally have a wicked time.