Vespa Ride Summer ‘21, Hamilton to Muskoka

bike ride muskoka rosseau scooter torrence barrens Vespa

I just completed the ride from Hamilton to Rosseau, it was a perfect day for it. Big, open blue sky, sun shining and a light breeze, couldn’t have been better. Many people ask me in the shop, "Where I ride the Vespa from?" So, I thought I’d share with you. 

I’m not sure how many times, I’ve made this journey now, it’s not always the same route (mainly because I can’t seem to remember the finer details to it). So long as I find my way to Southwood Road, I’m happy. Here you'll find the ever so cool, Torrance Barrens (Dark-SkyPreserve). Not that I’m traveling in the evening and witnessing the beautifully clear starry sky, the Torrance Barrens is something to see during the day as well. To me it feels otherworldly, perhaps Mars. It’s stunted trees and pink smooth rocky ground, makes you feel like as if you’ve landed somewhere off earth. The trip up Southwood road is winding and tree lined. If you don’t have your wits about you, you’ll likely ride right off it (killer curves). I like taking it because it helps me avoid the highways, it rides up right between HWY 400 and HWY 11. The miracle road! And if you keep your eyes peeled, you may spot a long county fence covered in Bras. 

Southwood Rd. Bra Fence

Torrance Barrens Dark-sky Preserve

I take the backroads mostly, avoiding the Hwy at all costs. This means, the time in which it takes me to travel is a lot longer than the usual 3 hours (give or take). I’ll usually average around 5 hours, stopping for fuel every so often. Unfortunately, the gas gauge hasn’t worked on my bike since I’ve owned it and I haven’t gotten around to repairing it. That being said, I stop for gas more than I probably need to but I’d rather be 'safe than sorry.' A 'chick' walking the country roadside to get fuel for her Vespa, is only glamorous on the silver screen. Though I did drive through a place called, Happyland, today. Maybe that would be where my Idyllic movie scene would take place? There’s a lot of daydreaming involved on my bike rides…

I travel through farm country mostly and it’s a beautiful thing. The reason why I continue to ride my bike is for these moments; Open rolling fields of long grass, the wind sweeping across it as if they were ripples on the ocean. Wild flowers at the roadside swaying whichever way the breeze chooses. I think if I had to choose one place to rest for eternity (because, “what if” games are the best IMO), I would be quite content with sitting in a field of long grass and wildflowers, listening to the birds and feeling the breeze brush across my face. The sun warm and illuminating everything it lands on. Again, daydreaming is a major part of my ride.

Today I rode through an explosion of Dragonflies, darting in every which direction. We seemed to be traveling along the same path for a little ways, so they swirled and soared around me as if I were one of their team. The breeze was warm and brought with it sweet scents of Honeysuckle and cut grass. Luckily today wasn’t the day they spread manure… Holding your breath while riding a motorized vehicle isn’t usually recommend, perhaps only on rare occasions? 

There are of course times when highways can’t be avoided (unless you want your trip to be 10 hours). So I travel along HWY 11 for what should be only 15 mins tops. Traveling this route allows me to avoid the 400 series altogether and so I’m willing to suffer the short term anxiety that it brings. Where the 400 is scary as f#*% (yes I’ve been on it on the Vespa…Another story for another time), HWY 11 is a LITTLE more manageable but not without its faults. Truth be told, I fear it and dread the 15min (that tend to feel more like an hour). Terrible, non merging, rest stops and exits. A highway that is marked as Max 90 speed limit, which in reality travels at 120 and could stop suddenly to allow for someone to gingerly pull out of Weber’s Dinner. It is shared by transport trucks, occasional drivers, cottage goers and an old leathery tanned dude riding a bicycle without a shirt (must have a death wish), all packaged terribly in a two lane high speed motorway. Fun times!

I use navigation on my phone and listen to it through headphones. Today I decided to try out the WAYZ app. It was pretty good, except that ‘Sarah(US)’, really wanted me to go on HWY 11. I chose my route as per usual, 15mins tops on the psycho road. As we approached near-ish to 11, every so often I would hear a little whimsical jingle through my headphones. Being that I was riding, I couldn’t look at my phone and just hoped Sarah was indicating a red light camera or something of that nature. Eventually I was directed to merge on to the HWY, though to me it seemed pre-mature from my past travels. But was too late and I was already halfway up the ramp heading to the highway from hell. To my left, a gang of crotch rocket bikes flying up my side, flashing me the peace sign and the ramp closing in on me ahead. There was a brief moment where I thought, “nope, nope, you can’t make me”, and actually considered stopping. These moments are fleeting, as you are quickly reminded what would happen if you stopped driving on the HWY (on a scooter no less). It reminded me of the time when I was convinced to go on a ridiculously large roller coaster, one I didn’t want to ever experience in my lifetime; I’m an old fashioned, wooden roller coaster, kind of gal, not a drop face first from the heavens kind. As we traveled up the never ending climb, something came over me and I decided I didn’t want to be on the roller coaster anymore. And seeing as I was very much strapped in and didn’t want to appear unreasonable (begging to be released from what was ahead), I instead chose to close my eyes. As one might guess, closing ones eyes to what is happening (falling from unnecessary heights) doesn’t make it not happen…
And so onward I went, telling myself that I just didn’t remember the landmarks I was seeing. My heart crying in my chest. I took little sips of breath, 'as if breathing normally would make me more likely to crash.' The winds were high and coming in from the side, knocking me around. My arms were locked in position and eventually I couldn’t feel the pinkies on my hands. After what seemed like an eternity (not the one I painted for you earlier), I decided to pull off the HWY to see where the 'F' I was. Body shaking and hands permanently like claws. As it turns out, the whimsical little jingles were Sarah’s way of telling me there was a more speedy route, ie. going on the highway 40 mins sooner than planned. And what was worse, I still had 20 more mins of HWY fun before my intended exit.

This was the highway portion of the journey.  The rest was lovely sunshine and Dragonfly adventures, which is likely what I’ll remember :)

Fun fact: Vespa translated is Wasp. The Vespa’s engine buzzes when driven and its rounded frame on smaller wheels moves about like a flying hornet.

Watch part of the Vespa ride here:

Music used in video:

Deja Vu & Our House, CSN&Y

Drive, Deftones

High Tide or Low Tide, Jack Johnson & Ben Harper

Wondering where the lions are, Bruce Cockburn

I'm on fire, Bruce Springsteen