Thursday, April 15, 2010


By Luke Lester

Close to the end of this season I got the chance to do yet another story I have wanted to do for a while. Winter was winding down and I really needed to get away from the office for a few days with my pals for a multi day ride.

Ontario is home to a very unique multi day loop ride called the RAP tour. RAP stands for Round Algonquin Park and as the title suggests, the ride consists of 900 kms of some of Ontario’s best trails.

This ride started in my back yard with two of my oldest friends, Joel Potter and Stefan Bjelis. First part of the trip was a long stretch towards Pembroke Ontario and took us across the lakes, then on to the town of Whitney. This is part of a single day loop I ride all the time, but once we got past Whitney, I was in unknown territory. Good thing the OFSC does such a great job of signing the trails and the maps for the RAP tour are so detailed it was a lot easier than I thought.

The second leg of the trip is the route along the top of Algonquin Park from Pembroke to North Bay. It was by far the fastest and least populated. We rode perfectly groomed trails for well over 300km and saw very few other riders.

This part of the ride seems the most remote, but is actually extremely well serviced. We even found a cool little cafĂ© called the Gingerbread. Make sure you stop and check it out if you’re ever in the area.

We rolled into North Bay with no issues at all and had a great stay. We took off the next morning well rested and ready to get home. This was also going to be the most technical in terms of mapping and the longest because of the more complex trail systems we were following. Fortunately we had no issues heading south from North Bay towards home.

We did run into a few minor trail closures but the clubs had done a great job of working with what they had. Up to this point we had been riding nothing but HUGE snow. North Bay lacked an abundance of white stuff, but the clubs know how to spread that snow out as far as they need to.

We finally rolled back home late that evening and finished the ride off with some stories, complaining about sore muscles and an overall sense of achievement.

The RAP tour will test your ability to follow your map, trust the signage and not look back. It will also give you a great opportunity to spend 3-5 days worth of quality time with your friends and riding buddies. Ontario’s RAP tour should be at the top of your list next season.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lake Running In Ontario

By Luke Lester

This winter we did a story that I was really excited about and I want to share a bit more about why Lake Running holds such a special place in my heart.

From the time I was just a young sapling my dad would plop me on the seat in front of him and we'd ride his favorite loop of lakes from my home in Minden Ontario.

We'd head north to the small town of Eagle Lake, then west through the famed Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve to Dorset, then back south to Minden.

In total we'd run about 30 lakes, put on just under 150 miles and would ride through some of the most beautiful, scenic and untouched landscape Ontario has to offer.

This ride was something I looked forward to all week and it was something my dad and I loved to do together. More than once we'd stop along a particular portage between lakes, or if the stars were out and it was dark we'd stop out in the middle of a big lake and say to each other, "lets always remember this moment" and you know what, 20 years later I still do.

You need to understand that we didn't poke around these lakes. When dad and I would be out riding together we'd be running fast. It was these times with him that solidified my love for riding and my addiction for speed (going fast).

There aren't many places in North America you can actually do this type of running and Ontario is special because of its large concentration of lakes that freeze so solid and are networked so well.

Lake running is about more than just opening up the throttle and trying to break the sound barrier though. Being able to cover so many miles so quickly means you can go further from home easier.

Many riding areas keep you to one set of trails, but in Ontario's lake country you can run every day for weeks and never hit the same trail twice.

The last thing that draws me to running lakes is the freedom. In Ontario there are no speed limits on lakes. I'm not suggesting that everyone should hit these lakes and run 100 mph, but if you're going to, there's no safer place to do it than on a lake.

I do need to stress the importance of safety and common sense if you plan to run lakes. Don't think you should just unload your sled and take off on some random lake. If you're not familiar with the lake your on, or running lakes in general, you simply shouldn't do it alone. Go with someone familiar with the area.

A person with a solid knowledge of the area will know what lakes freeze safely, where dangerous spots might be and where the entry and exit points on that particular lake are. They'll also know what else to watch for, like pressure cracks, rocks or stumps and ice fishing huts. If you don't know what to look for and how to spot these things you can get into trouble fast.

Lake running is something that just ingrained in me. Its what I know, its what I do and its what I love. Its one of Ontario's unique natural attractions and something every snowmobiler should try.

Visit and plan your lake running vacation for next season and click here to watch this segment!