KITCHENER, Ont. — You know those leather-clad motorcycle riders you see on some of the scenic roads in southwestern Ontario?
They’re not so tough.
They love ice cream, for heaven’s sake.
These same riders, members of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club (Chapter 270 in Kitchener), recently finished designing eight riding tours for motorcyclists that follow roads in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, plus North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich townships.
With help from Cambridge/Guelph Club (Chapter 501) a group of seasoned riders has spent countless hours riding finding routes that are scenic and safe — all are paved — but have enough “twisties” to keep it interesting.
“A dozen of the road captains spent their own time and money on weekends and rode every road in Waterloo Region,” says club member Len Luksa, who oversaw the project with his wife, fellow rider Karin Morell.
Luksa and Morell double-checked the suggested routes, riding them all to ensure there wasn’t a gravel section that had been missed, or a left-hand turn on a busy road that could be avoided.
Earlier this year the eight tours were posted on the website of the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corp., the club’s partner in the project.
You can view the maps at the website, download them to your computer or download them directly to your GPS system.
The tour maps don’t tell you exactly where that unusual building with a castle turret is, or those pretty paths made by Mennonite buggies, but those are pretty clear when you’re riding by.
The maps are marked to show garages where you can service your bike if you run into any mechanical trouble — and a list of towing companies will be posted as well.
And soon, in a nod to the passion that club members show for ice cream, each map will be dotted to show locations where riders can satisfy their craving for hand-scooped hard ice cream — and not the wussy soft stuff, they say.
“Maybe the bad boys have beer runs. We have ice cream runs,” Luksa says. “We’re hard-core, hard ice-cream riders,” Morell adds.
When the weather is right, the local club has a Friday Night Ice Cream Ride in which 12 to 18 riders head out together with a sense of purpose. Luksa’s favourite flavour is pistachio almond. Morell’s is Rolo ice cream.
The various routes take anywhere from an hour to a full day to ride. The longest tour, called the “Grand Tour” takes riders to all corners of Waterloo Region.
Luksa, who has a consulting practice in organizational and people development, and Morell, a bookkeeper, have been riding motorcycles for five years and have been members of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club for two.
On their maxi-scooters — his bike is a Suzuki Burgman 400 and hers is a Honda Reflex 250 — they have explored other communities with riding tours.
“The motorcycle (tourism) market is growing like crazy,” says Susan Cudahy, the marketing corporation’s general manager. “It has really come into its own. It started 10 years ago and in the last five, it’s a vital market.”
Cudahy, who isn’t a rider, says the club’s passion and professionalism is impressive. She gave them a huge map of Waterloo Region’s roads and the riders went to work.
Using one member’s auto repair garage as an office, they cut the map into four pieces for four teams and rode, rode, rode, every single road.
Riders discovered rivers, streams, lakes and places they had never seen before and often couldn’t wait to share their discoveries with the others.
“We said, ‘Do this between now and spring.’ They had it done in two weeks,” Luksa says. “They were supercharged.”
The Southern Cruisers Riding Club is a free riding club with chapters all over North America and in Europe. The chapters are family-oriented groups known as riding clubs. They don’t wish to be called motorcycle clubs because it raises the spectre of bad boy bikers and outlaw riding clubs, Luksa says.
Members come from all walks of life and ride everything from older, fixed-up models and sport bikes to Ducati motorcycles and impressive-looking maxi-scooters.
“Motorcyclists understand why dogs love sticking their heads out the window,” Luksa says, laughing.
There are riders who bring out their “garage queen” for an occasional ride, and there are riders like Luksa and Morell for whom riding is as necessary as breathing.
“We put 10,000 kilometres per season on bikes,” Luksa says.
In short, these are people who are passionate about riding and take safety seriously. They like to laugh and contribute to the community doing something they love.
The Kitchener chapter raises money for charities, including the Ride for Dad campaign to fight prostate cancer and the Children’s Wish Foundation. It also keeps a section of Nafziger Road clean as part of the local Adopt-a-Road program.
Now that the local tours are launched, the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corp. is designing special packages for motorcycle riders that would include, say, a night’s stay at a bed-and-breakfast where riders could also take a cooking class or perhaps get instruction in digital photography. The packages should be ready by September.
The motorcycle riding maps can be found at www.explorewaterlooregion.ca. Click on Tours & Trails icon and then on the icon for Motorcycle Tours.