Ride the Highlands Locals you need to Meet on your next Ride

/ August 18, 2022

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We’ve all heard, “The greatest part of the journey is the people you meet along the way.” This rings true for anyone who’s had the opportunity to Ride the Highlands. Yes, Ontario’s Highlands’ topography is a rider’s dream but it’s the people that truly make this place so special.

Ride the Highlands would not be what it is without the locals who make up our communities’ very colourful personality. If you can’t tell, we love our locals and how welcoming they are to you, our two-wheeled guests. It’s not rare for riders to meet a local who is keen to strike up a conversation, tell you about the area and share insider tips.

To show how awesome our locals are, here are a few individuals we think you should meet on your next ride.

Chris standing in front of cave entrance

Where to find him: Bonnechere Caves, Eganville

When you arrive, ask for the Caveman. Trust us; they’ll know who you’re referring to. Chris has been a local fixture in Eganville for years. Since he was just a young rock kid, Chris worked at Bonnechere Caves, and now as the owner of this must-see attraction, he’ll change your mind if ever you thought geology was boring.

Chris’ gift of gab transfers into his life philosophy of enjoying the experience. He’s a strong believer that if the information in a story is at least ten percent accurate, then it’s still telling the truth. Pull into one of the designated motorcycle parking spots, grab a bag of chips from the chip wagon and sit back and let Chris roll- rock and roll, that is.

Route: Deep Valley Run, The Highlands Loop, Pick-Axe Loop, Opeongo Loop

Where to find her: Iron Rooster Rotisserie and Grill, Marmora

Located on highway 7 is a motorcycle destination every rider should visit. Owner of the Iron Rooster Rotisserie and Grill, Shelley Chamberlain has created a restaurant that caters to motorcycle riders; from the motorcycle themed menu items to the vintage motorcycle museum located inside the restaurant.

Shelley hosts many motorcycle events including bike nights, as well as their annual Show n’ Shine to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital. Stop in for a bite to eat, come to one of the motorcycle events and meet Shelley who is definitely a fixture in both her local and motorcycle community.

Route: The Highlands Loop, Dynamite Alley

Woody (AKA David)

Woody in shop fixing motorcycle

Where to find him: Woody’s Cycles, Perth

Bikers like to talk to other bikers, especially if they have as much street cred (or track cred) as Woody.  Woody (aka David Percival) and his family run Woody’s Cycles just outside Perth, Ontario. It’s not an ordinary bike shop. It’s not even really a bike shop. It’s more like a Mecca for riders, especially those into dirt, trail riding and vintage restoration.

Woody has a big trophy case (his shop), and what he has learned from racing, he proudly passes directly onto you as soon as you walk through the front door. What he has out back is perhaps the biggest accomplishment of all. He has a motorcycle graveyard (salvage yard), with literally thousands of bikes methodically organized throughout the pine forest. If you can pin him down, a stroll through the woods with Woody is incredible.

Route: Rideau Ridge, Meand’rin Motorbikes

Where to find him: Charlie D’s, Barry’s Bay

Be prepared to meet one of the friendliest people you’ll encounter in Ontario’s Highlands. This says a lot, since almost everyone you will come across on your trip will be super nice. When you pull into Charlie D’s and park in the priority motorcycle parking area, Charlie will probably be one of the first people who greets you. Charlie D’s is a great place to take a break from your ride to grab a bite to eat and find locally made products for purchase.

Charlie D is usually found in the store and is very willing to scoop you some delicious ice cream. A motorcycle guy and having grown up down the road in Combermere, Charlie will let you in on his favourite local places to ride in the area. His employees say Charlie knows a little about everything and a lot about some things. So, grab a poutine with personality (16 varieties) from the food truck or ice cream cone, and take a minute (or two or three) to chat with Charlie D about the secret twisty roads in the region.

Route: The Highlands Loop, Deep Valley Run, Pick-Axe Loop & Valley Sally

Where to find him: Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Mississippi Station

Motorcycle rider and cheesemaker, Jeff Fenwick and his wife Jenna, saw an opportunity for a lifestyle change which they took over 10 years ago. They decided to move back into the country and take over ownership of Back Forty Artisan Cheese which was originally founded in 2000. Located in the small hamlet of Mississippi Station,  down a gravel road just off the 509, you can visit Jeff in his tasting room or outdoor patio. He is happy to tell you about the process of cheese making using traditional old-world methods, as well as his favourite roads to ride in the area including South Lavant Road (ADV bikes recommended). Jeff raced motorcycles in his past, and now loves riding the Highlands area with buddies like Woody. They enjoy riding trails together, including Jeff’s personal cut trails located on his farm property.

Route: The Highlands Loop

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