Getting away for a weekend of forest riding provides a lesson in avoiding heatstroke.
After four hours of driving from Ottawa, I stepped out of my air-conditioned car and felt like I was walking through a blast furnace. Yes, as promised, it was just as hot here as in Ottawa – 35 C plus humidity, which felt like 43 C. More than slightly unpleasant. That tipped the scales. I scrapped any plans of doing a few hours of evening riding. It was just too hot to wear any dirtbike gear, let alone ride a dirtbike.
I sported a homemade mask as I walked to the Sandaraska Park’s office, dry grass crunching under my feet. This campsite is 30 km southwest of Peterborough, Ont. I’d RSVP’d for my camping and bought my day passes for riding on Friday and Saturday in the Ganaraska Forest. The nice lady at the front desk gave me a giant map of the Ganaraska Forest, and I was floored by all the trails on the map. At $30 per day, the price of entry was going to be well worth it.
This was July, and my plans had been made a month earlier. Even though the weather forecast was horrible – 35 C for two days, followed by thunderstorms with 20 mm of rain – I believe sticking to plans that were made weeks earlier is really important. Mostly because I’m stubborn and it justifies my efforts expended on arranging my work and home life to accommodate a few motorcycle days away.
Plus, I was pretty excited to use my new aluminum 12-foot V-nose cargo trailer with its fold-down bed on one side wall. I felt pretty stupid paying the balance on this thing in March of last year and bringing it home at the very beginning of the pandemic. Since all my travel plans have been cancelled due to Covid, my wife calls it the Trailer of Going Nowhere or the Dumbest Purchase Ever. The purchase ended up being poor timing, as I had planned to use the trailer to pull me and my friends out of the snow for a Texas MotoGP motorcycle trip – but, of course, that never happened. Well, life is about disappointment. But sometimes it smiles on you in 35 C heat as you set up your trailer in a campsite and work on improving your chances of getting heatstroke.
I didn’t sleep well in the heat. There was no air conditioning in my aluminum box trailer, but I used the electricity to my serviced camping spot to power a fan that I took from one of my kids’ rooms. However, cell reception was excellent, so I was able to dial into work to run a regular Friday morning meeting. That morning was much cooler, at only 27 C, so as soon as my meeting finished at 9 a.m. I suited up and exited Sandaraska Park and headed to the P6 parking lot, about 1.6 km away, where I entered the Ganaraska Forest to ride its dirtbike trails.
This was only my second summer on my new 2017 Yamaha WR250R, and I was loving it. It has plenty of power for my needs and promises low maintenance for years. All I did was add Barkbusters and knobby tires for the woods riding I do…