Saturday, June 11, 2016

DS ride: Montague Township, Lanark County

The route data with pics, etc. is published here on Garmin Adventures. Haven't tried this option before, so curious to hear how it works out. 

This is good afternoon dual sport ride leaving from Almonte, just west of Ottawa. It features a mix of paved, gravel, and rough bush roads suitable for all types of DS bikes. Skid plate and knobby tires, or at least 80/20 road/dirt tires, are recommended--especially if the route is wet. I rode it recently after a month-long dry spell and 99.9% of the route was bone dry. But some sections clearly fill up with long stretches of water that can hide rocks, culverts, and mud to trip you up. I wouldn't recommend riding the southern end of the route if there's been a lot of rain recently.

Total distance is around 150km and, if you slow down and take your time, it can be ridden in under 3 hours. My WR250R used one tank of gas (7.2l). You can ignore some of the side-blips in the GPX; my RotoPax fell off when I didn't tighten it after refueling, and I had to go back and find it.

If leaving from Almonte I recommend riding clockwise so the hard section is near the start and you have more time to get yourself out of a pickle. The bush section starts at the intersection of Heaphy Road off Upper Dwyer Hill Road. As far as I can tell it's all on publicly-accessible land, so there shouldn't be any issues as long as you don't deviate onto side trails which are clearly marked with no trespassing signage. 

The bush section is remarkably rugged and isolated considering how close it is to downtown Ottawa. The area, in Montague Township, was one of the first to be settled in Lanark County, originally by Irish Catholics and Protestants. They tried futilely to scratch an existence out of the unforgiving limestone and scrub before wisely giving up and migrating west to the Prairie frontier. Along the route you'll pass a few lonely log homesteads. It must've been insanity-inducing trying to live here with no soil, endless bugs, and rare sightings of neighbours. You'll certainly get a sense of that as you ride along. 

As some historical trivia, the "Montague" in Montague Township was pronounced as "Mon-tag" in the early days. Also, the hamlet of Numogate got its name from the local postmaster who discovered that his first choice of name was already taken and so made up Numogate as an anagram of Montague. 

This is essentially a route to "nowhere" and sees very little traffic as a result. When I rode on a nice Saturday afternoon, I passed only a handful of vehicles in 3+ hours. You are advised to ride with someone else and have a solid plan to deal with emergencies or being stranded. Access to the bush sections requires high ground-clearance vehicles so you could be pushing a motorcycle a long way. 

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