Pamela Crich For The Sudbury Star What: Rally Connex Nickel Belt Adventure Tour; Where: begins at the Sportsman Lodge on Kukagami Road; When: Sept. 2 Scot Harden Riding School, Sept. 3 and 4 motorcycle rally; How Much: $80 for the ride with additional costs for accommodations if need be. Call the Sportsman Lodge for room availability at 1-877-708-8882 or visit www.rallyconnex.com to register. It won't be like the Dakar Rally where motorcycles, cars and trucks race for 21 days across five Eurpean and African countries. But the Sportsman Lodge will help avid riders come close by holding Northern Ontario's first motorcycle rally next month. "This is a whole new sport for us," said lodge manager, Cathy Arlt. "We are very excited to host this event and expect it to grow." A Southern Ontario company, Rally Connex has been offering adventure rides for the last four years but organizers said The Nickel Belt Adventure Tour will be the most challenging and closet riders will get to the Dakar. "This is going to be the toughest two-day motorcycle ride we put on," said co-owner, Ed Strohak. "It's the closet we are going to get (to the Dakar) without the race competition." Not only will next month's rally be without the Dakar competition it will also be without the exhausting heat of the African sun and raging sand storms. Instead, riders will get first-hand experience of Northern Ontario terrain and wilderness. The official rally begins Sept. 3 at the Sportsman Lodge and continues East towards River Valley and loops back to the lodge. On Sept. 4, the riders will travel a similar route but north of Sudbury to Nickel Centre and Capreol and back again. "The Sudbury area is a dream come true," Strohak continued. "It has many trails, remoteness and great scenery. It's a perfect location for these kinds of rides." Strohak and other organizers visited in June to map out the routes the rally will use, and were able to create up to 250 km for each. The routes will take them through old logging roads, crown land and some fields. Each day gives riders a choice of two different routes. "We have one mapped out for regular stock tires and one for more aggressive bikes," Strohak said. "We are going to be in the middle of nowhere riding on less than 5 km of pavement. "The two routes will allow riders to take advantage of their skills and bikes' abilities." Not only will the participants have a map for reference, they will be able to us a global positioning system or GPS, which can be uploaded to their receivers the night before the event or e-mailed to the rider. "If they don't have a GPS they can either follow someone who does, rent one from our limited selection or purchase one through www.gpscentral.com," Strohak said. "But 90 per cent of our riders will already have their own." The event will bring in about 30 to 50 riders from Ontario and other provinces, as well as motorcycle enthusiasts from Missouri and Virginia. Riders have already fully booked up the Sportsman Lodge. Although Strohak has seen interest from a couple of Sudbury riders, he has yet to see anyone from the area register. "People have called, but we had to turn them away because they didn't have licensed motorcycles," Strohak explained. "It's a liability issue because we are not just using dirt bikes. These are street legal machines with long travel suspension and very large gas tanks." Strohak said anyone can participate, as along as they have a licensed, dual-purpose motorcycle - one that can be used on both the street and off-highway. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from a seasoned American racer - Scot Harden. Harden's career has seen 35 years of racing, including participation in the world-renowned Dakar rally. He is the manager of the Red Bull KTM USA Dakar team and serves as vice-president of media relations for one of North America's top motorcycle manufacturer, KTM. "Scot is a mutli-time winner and it's a privilege to have him teach a few things," Strohak said. "His riding school will teach the fundamentals of riding and takes place the Friday (Sept.2) night which will also include a short ride where he will teach a few tricks." Sept.3 will also see a video presentation of the 2004 Dakar Rally, with Harden and Bob Bergman, fifth Canadian to ever complete the Dakar Rally. Although Strohak said having a rally in Northern Ontario is probably the biggest investment to date, he expects to hold the event annually. "Considering current fuel prices, it's a big investment," he continued. "(But) Northern Ontario and the Sportsman Lodge have welcomed us with open arms. Northern Ontario will soon be the place to be and I hope this is just one rally of many."