....no bears, no moose, one panther! 3 more days in northern Ontario by old Guzzi

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by nick949eldo, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,169
    Location:
    Inverary, Ontario, Canada
    In keeping with my tradition of inflicting my Eldo excursions accounts of you, here’s the latest.

    Once again, it was a quick, three day blast around part of northeastern Ontario, and again I had an objective: to see about / organize a vehicle shuttle for an up-coming canoe trip.

    The bike was running beautifully, the weather was wonderful and there were very few bugs. I began to wonder whether this trip would just end up being a boring lap around the north-east. In the immortal words of Marriot Edgar:

    “there were no shipwrecks and nobody drownded,
    in fact nothing to laff at at all!”

    (http://monologues.co.uk/Albert_and_the_Lion.htm)

    But the road to Eldo-love never seems to run completely smoothly and this trip was no exception.......but don’t expect a cliffhanger or any unscheduled off-roading like last time.

    Here is the route:

    [​IMG]

    If you want a closer look: http://goo.gl/maps/SBC2b

    Stats: 3 days, 1901 kms (1181 miles),
    time in the saddle = 30 hours

    SUNDAY

    I followed my normal route up through eastern Ontario to the Ottawa River, turning north at Mattawa, then crossing over into Quebec to ride up the east side of Lake Timiscaming.

    Ottawa River, north of Mattawa
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    Ottawa River, just south of Temiskaming
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    Fishing below the dam at Temiskaming
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    I hadn’t ridden up the east side of Lake Timiskaming before and it takes quite a while since its over 100 kilometres long. The scenery is a pleasant mixture of forested, rocky hills and outcrops mixed with fine farm land with a Gallic flair. I encountered this magnificent denizen in Ville Marie.

    Sturgeon
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    As it was Sunday, I stocked up with some Rickards Dark before I crossed back into Ontario to spend the night in an adequate, but vastly overpriced motel in New Liskeard, watching re-runs of ‘Big Bang Theory’ while I waited anxiously for the arrival of the new Royal baby (yeah, right!).

    MONDAY
    I choked down a quick, ready made breakfast at the motel and was on the road by 6.45AM.

    This part of Ontario is unexpectedly flat, and even more unexpected, given the vicious winter climate and the latitude, is covered in massive farms. Not so long ago (ie. between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago), the whole area was covered by glacial lakes Barlow and Ojibwa - massive bodies of fresh water trapped between the Canadian Shield and the retreating ice front. After the lakes had drained the remaining sediments became the Clay Belts of northeastern Ontario and western Quebec. The growing season may be short, but the soil is very fertile.

    The road to Elk Lake crosses part of the Clay Belt, and would have been enjoyable, had it not been for the endless road works.

    Clay Belt field - towards Elk Lake
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    Past the small town of Elk Lake you are soon back into the world of rocks, trees and water of the Canadian Shield. I know these probably get a bit repetitive, but I like them, so here goes:

    On the road between Elk Lake and Highway 144
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    Shining Tree Road 1
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    Shining Tree Road 2
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    Shining Tree Road 3
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    Thirty years ago, the road across from Elk Lake to Highway 144 through Gowganda and Shining Tree was a winding gravel track. Nowadays it is paved, but it retains much of the charm and excitement of its predecessor. It is a road of almost constant curves, swooping up and down low, rocky hills, across streams and swamps and around hills. It is not a road for speed - in some areas the road bed has sunk where the heavy trucks and the annual freeze-thaw effect on the underlying gravel road bed has collapsed or heaved the road bed - and it keeps you busy, adjusting to the constantly changing road camber and watching for logging trucks. Some of the corners have signs warning that trucks will be taking up much of the road. They are not kidding! Nevertheless, it is a wonderful road; lightly travelled, picturesque and entertaining. I’d recommend it to any motorcyclist.

    ‘Watershed’ at Highway 144
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    At Highway 144, I stopped at the ‘Watershed Car and Truck Stop’ to stock up on comestibles for the road (beef jerky, granola bars, chocolate milk) and gas for the bike before heading west on the Sultan Industrial Road. This time I was determined to head straight for Sultan. No unscheduled divergences along washed out roads this time.

    Sultan Road
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    Eighty kilometres of well groomed gravel highway to Sultan. Unfortunately the graders were out and it was being constantly groomed, so instead of a nice hard packed surface, it was like marbles on hardboard. I took it easy, letting the front wheel skitter around as it pleased and all went well.

    Sultan Road heading west
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    It’s a logging road - the drivers are reasonable, but its their road.
    [​IMG]

    I was through the community of Sultan before I was really conscious of it. Walk around with Google Streetview if you want to see what I mean. Beyond Sultan the road is paved and arrow straight, all the way to the intersection with the Chapleau Highway. In this part of Ontario, it’s a safe bet that if the terrain is flat, you are driving along the bed of an old lake. The Sultan Road runs along the bed of Lake Sultan, another massive, and relatively short-lived pro-glacial lake which eventually drained violently down the nearby Wenebegon River.

    Sultan to the Chapleau Highway - long, straight, flat
    [​IMG]

    After a quick refreshment break at the junction of the two roads, I headed south on the Chapleau Highway (Hway 129). This is one of the quieter roads in Ontario, usually carrying less than 300 vehicles per day. The first few miles are standard northern Ontario - gently curving road passing through a seemingly endless tunnel of trees.

    Chapleau Highway - north end
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    I passed Burying Creek - starting point for a number of past canoe trips down the Wenebegon River.

    Burying Creek
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    At the Aubrey Falls Lodge I had a nice chat with a young lady regarding my canoe shuttle plans. The lodge is run by an Ojibwa family and, like so many outfitters in the region, caters to hunters, fishermen and canoeists and offers accommodation, a small resturant / shop and gas. No gas for me though - they were out.

    Aubrey Falls Lodge
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    At this point, Highway 129 closely follows the Mississagi River, sticking closely to its east bank for miles. Although most of the surrounding hills are rounded and forested, in some places sheer cliffs and rocky headlands add variety to the scenery. The road twists and dips with the river, providing some of the most delightful riding I have ever encountered.

    Mississagi River
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    Along the Chapleau Highway
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    Up to this point the Eldo had been running flawlessly, the weather, as you can see, was about perfect (high 60's, low 70's). I was having a good time.

    PART 3

    OK, I’ll come clean. Wildlife was not an issue or even an interest on this trip. I did pass one startled deer on the way up from eastern Ontario, but I saw no bears, no moose, and, sorry if I got you all excited, but no cougars either. There were a few squished porcupines and raccoons, rapidly turning into greasy smears, but no big game.

    As we have continued to create to manipulate the environment to suit the purposes of our species, we have created optimal conditions for deer. Cougars have made a comeback in many a parts of Ontario - but sightings are extremely rare and frankly, a bit disconcerting.

    But..........this is the only Panther I saw, and I was darn pleased to see it.

    Panther
    [​IMG]

    Over the last couple of years I had been in touch with Ken (who rides a 74 Eldorado combo with homebuilt sidecar), once I found out that he was rebuilding a Phelon and Moore, Panther 120. In my youth, I had owned a couple of Panthers and they still hold an important place in my heart. If I had something as irritating as a ‘bucket list’ to see a fully restored Panther would probably be on it. To ride one......well!

    Ken generously let me play.........
    [​IMG]

    Anyone who thinks loop-frame Guzzis are tractors really need to ride one of these. Torque is incredible and the feel is totally agricultural. I only rode it for a couple of minutes, but boyhood memories came flooding back. I swear the grin on my face must have been out to my ears.

    From Ken’s place, I rode east to Espanola and once again, paid far too much for a motel room. I always carry my camping gear, but the bottom line is, I always find it easier to pull out my credit card than my sleeping bag. I guess I must be getting soft.

    I had intended to drop in at the Lavigne Tavern, but since I left Espanola shortly after 5AM, and since Lavigne was only 150 kilometres away, I decided it probably wasn't a good plan. Instead, I just plugged away, heading east on Highway 17, bypassing Sudbury then turning south on Highway 69 towards Huntsville.

    Although I didn’t see any in the flesh, the wildlife warning signs were common.
    [​IMG]

    The Eldo gradually developed an annoying stutter, periodically backfiring, particularly under light load at low revs. Then suddenly she just stopped dead. The computer shut her down and displayed an error code on the dash. Just kidding - she just switched into ‘limp home’ mode instead.

    I stopped endless times, making micro-adjustments to the timing, pulling the gravel dust choked K&N filters and changing the plugs. I must have pulled over to fiddle more than a dozen times. Frustrating!

    Eventually I pulled in to a small park to check and clean the distributor. As I pulled the cap, the lead from the coil came away in my hand. I had recently replaced the outer leads with fresh, sexy new ones, but had been too lazy to pull the tank to get at the lead from the coil.

    Coil lead - rotted through
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    The brass lead cap was also completely corroded.
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    I trimmed the lead, cleaned the cap then put it back together. It would be stretching the truth to say that the bike performed flawlessly afterwards. She definitely ran better, but the belching and farting continued all the way home. Clearly I need to do a thorough cleaning of the carbs and sorting of the ignition system, but as usual, we finished the journey without any real problems.

    I know, I know. I led you on with talk of exotic wildlife and mechanical disaster, but the reality was, I had a pleasant, relatively traffic free, three day ride through some attractive countryside and best of all, got to ride a bike from my formative years. Fabulous!

    On the way home
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for reading.

    Nick
    #1
  2. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Long timer

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    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Love the unique ride.

    I have fished the Mississagi River several times...beautiful area.
    #2
  3. xhungus

    xhungus Misadventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    93
    Location:
    Ottawa - Gatineau
    Great read!

    I grew up in Northern Ontario and clearly need to get back up there for some riding. Beautiful Guzzi btw... what a great way to tour!
    #3
  4. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    207
    Location:
    near Espanola Ontario Canada
    The pleasure was mine Nick! It was great to meet you.
    Now, about the grin? How's this---

    [​IMG]

    Relic :clap
    #4
  5. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Inverary, Ontario, Canada
    Who is that old fart on that fabulous bike? Wait - that's me! Ken - thanks again for such a wonderful opportunity. Its not often you get to roll back the clock 45 years like I did at your place. The bike indeed feels terrific, sounds and feels absolutely normal, and, with the advance/retard properly adjusted, runs like a dream.

    Nick
    #5
  6. dave6253

    dave6253 aka. dave62538675309

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Nick, Thanks for keeping with your tradition of inflicting Eldo excursions accounts on us.
    #6
  7. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    England. Somewhere on the Canal.
    thanks Nick, and nice looking 120 too:clap
    #7
  8. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Thanks!
    #8
  9. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

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    Great fun and a delightful read, thanks! :D
    #9
  10. Vinbowie

    Vinbowie Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Maryland
    I did a little research on the Panther.
    It is a single cylinder with 2 exhaust pipes
    and the engine is a frame member.
    A very cool and beautiful machine. It would be a thrill
    to ride.
    #10
  11. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

    Joined:
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    I should have been more expansive about Panthers - I grew up with them and tend to forget that they have become rare beasts and are not known by everyone. Thanks for checking them out and providing the info.

    They are now quite sought after and collectible - a sad end, because now so few will actually get ridden, and they were designed to be ridden, usually with half a ton of sidecar and family in tow. They were the quintessential working man's bike, before small cars like the original mini became affordable for everyman.

    There's more info here: http://www.pantherownersclub.com/PantherPage/index.html

    Nick
    #11
  12. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    Location:
    England. Somewhere on the Canal.
    No such worry over here Nick, they are still used as full on touring and camping bikes:clap would you like me to show you some pictures :deal
    #12
  13. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    You bet - but perhaps as a thread in "Old's Cool'?

    Nick
    #13
  14. Motorrev

    Motorrev Semi-Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
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    Location:
    Texas Panhandle
    Another great write up Nick. You have a gift for this. Great camera shots of a beautiful part of north america. Whats really appealing is the lonely roads and the quiet. Getting harder all the time to find that. Coming from west Tx, the amount of water up there always amazing me too. Take care, Bob
    #14
  15. Conundrum29

    Conundrum29 Unter den Linden

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2014
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    27
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Just stumbled across this. On a cold/gloomy February day like today...soothing!
    Thanks again for posting.
    #15