Whether you want to pay less at the pumps or feel the wind on your face, a motorcycling holiday in Atlantic Canada may be just the thing for you.
Atlantic Canada has many incredible roads to travel and places to see, and one of the best ways of viewing them is on a motorcycle. Whether it’s a journey to Newfoundland in the spring to look for migrating humpback whales or a tour through Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley during apple-blossom time—or whether you make the circuit in New Brunswick’s Miramichi region during the long days of summer or the highways and byways of Prince Edward Island anytime during the season—the Atlantic provinces offer endless opportunities for motorcycling adventures.
What attracts so many folks to this freewheeling form of travel? For some, it’s a way to pay less at the pumps. Depending on the size of the machine, owners have reported getting between 64 to 112 kilometres to 4.5 litres of fuel, or 40 and 70 miles to the gallon. For others the joy comes from the sense of unity and the sensory overload riding provides; you can relax and notice things in the landscape that you wouldn’t normally notice, such as hearing birds singing in the trees or smelling the earthy scents from each stand of trees you pass.
You’ll feel the sun beaming down on your shoulders and the breeze in your face—yes, even through a full-face helmet—and the sense of being at one with nature, which a ride in a four-wheeled vehicle, often referred to as a “cage,” doesn’t give you. (It also won’t give you a sunburned nose and bugs in your teeth, but that’s why we advocate wearing a full-face helmet!)
No matter what type of road you like to ride, you’ll find it in Atlantic Canada. Speed demons tend to like the long straight stretches, such as those on the divided highway between Moncton and Saint John, N.B. Some friends told us they enjoy the Moncton to Confederation Bridge route via Memramcook for its beautiful scenery, twisty-windy roads and minimal traffic.
Bitten by the biking bug
Luc K. “Snag” Levesque of Upper Island Cove, N.L., a former medic in the Canadian Forces and a Gulf War veteran, began riding a motorcycle full-time when he was 26. Now 41, he bought his first motorcycle—a Harley-Davidson Sportster—after becoming hooked on the sound, look and feel of a classic icon. Today he and his wife travel the highways and byways on a midnight-black 2005 Harley-Davidson Dyna Glide. “I like the long open roads Newfoundland offers,” says Levesque. “Nothing is better than looking out into the ocean and seeing a pod of whales as you ride along. The scenery is great no matter where you ride.”
Lyndell Myers of Mount Uniacke, N.S., began riding when she was 27 but sold her motorcycle one year later to help finance her first house. In 1997 she left a career in the accounting field to care for her aging parents, but the “call of the road” was still strong. A succession of motorcycles has led to her current one, a Harley-Davidson FatBoy “with fuel injection and lots of chrome,” she says fondly. “I would have to say the best route for me is any route that follows the beautiful Nova Scotia coastline. I like to leave from home and take the old No. 1 Highway through the Annapolis Valley, which winds through apple orchards and farmland. Riding out of Digby and along toward Yarmouth, you really have to stop a few times to appreciate the view: some rugged coastline and sparkling water; maybe you’ll see a few fishing boats returning home with their catch. I like to stay on the secondary route that takes me right into Yarmouth. It may take a bit longer, but if you’re on a motorcycle, there’s no rush.”
In the Arsenault household, the pilot of our 1979 Goldwing GL 1000 (my husband, Tim) waxes almost poetically about his favourite route to the Bluenose rally near Kentville, N.S., one that winds and twists through the Rawdon Hills. On the other hand, the navigator (me) favours the stunning seascapes view of the route edging Malpeque Bay, P.E.I.; the Acadian culture, cuisine and hospitality of the Pubnicos on Nova Scotia’s southwestern shore near Yarmouth; and the friendly small-town feeling and attractions of Parrsboro, N.S.
Cecil Murl of Charlottetown, P.E.I., has been involved in the motorcycling community in that city for years. “I’d always envied people who had motorcycles,” he says, but his busy schedule as a bus driver—and later, as a depot manager—didn’t allow him the freedom to pursue the lifestyle. In the 1980s, Murl bought his first motorcycle and joined the P.E.I. Motorcycle Touring Club, of which he has been a staunch supporter for more than 20 years. For much of that time, the youthful 70-year-old has helped organize the annual rally hosted by the club and has been its co-chair for the past four. He says the same people return year after year. “We saw people coming to our rally 20 years ago and bringing their children,” he says. “Now those folks are still attending, and their children are bring their kids. It’s a family affair.”
Mount Uniacke’s Lyndell Myers agrees. “There are times when I will be on my way to an event with my granddaughter, Courtney, on the back of my bike, my husband on his RoadKing and my daughter and her man on their Heritage Springer, and I have to ask myself, ‘Can it get better than this?’ Biking has brought me a circle of wonderful friends; people who are always willing to help you if you need a hand, laugh with you if you need cheering up or simply ride along and share the scenery.” Her advice to the uninitiated: “If you read this article and say to yourself, ‘I wish I could try that,’ then buy a bike, take a safety course and get out there and ride.”