We lit out from there at around 1130hrs. We decided we would take the well-travelled road to Merrickville, with a stopover at the Tim's in Manotick. The pace was casual, as I don't think we ever really had the bikes above 90kmh during the entire ride. Whenever I caught myself creeping over that speed, I'd let off the throttle and we'd resume our loping style. We actually averaged 80kmh over most of the ride.
The weather couldn't have been better. A little cool but sunny, with a breeze flaring up every now and then... sometimes with some real oomph behind it. We didn't really get to spy many critters, asides from the ubiquitous earth-pigs and the odd wild turkey. But it was a very pleasant romp all the same. Every now and again, we would roll around a bend, to be greeted by some wonderful aromas of spring. Notably in farm country, where the soil had just been tilled. It was truly nice.
I rode lead on this journey and kept him in my right-hand rearview mirror. He followed the inside line with aplomb and precision. I found myself checking his stops and take-offs, after I had already left the line. I smiled approvingly as I watched him come to a dead stop, bike motionless and his feet still on the pegs. His departure was equally controlled and smooth. He rides well and I was not apprehensive on the few occasions where I found him riding very close on my starboard quarter.
Stopping in Manotick, we grabbed a small coffee each at Tim's. We met an older couple who were out for the day as well. He on a cookie-cutter Harley and his better half on a very stylish and well-appointed VTX 1300R. I complimented her on her ride and we also commented on the script on the back of her helmet, which read: "Bas Ass Toys Are Not Just For Bad Ass Boys!" As we stood in the parking lot, we chatted about riding and the weather, as riders always do on a nice day. They were both retired and had the world as their oyster. I thought of how nice that would be... We eventually bade one another a safe ride and saddled up.
The ride along the Rideau River Road is familiar. It's pleasantly scenic, with predictable curves and traffic patterns. There are some who grow tired of this route, but I'm not one of them. The challenge and excitement of a new road, a new destination, is always welcome. But there are only so many roads which lead to a specific destination. And today, that was Merrickville... Then too, there is something comforting about travelling down a well-known stretch of road. It can feel like meeting up with an old friend... it can conjure up memories of travels past.
I was anxious for us to get to the turn-off for Kemptville, which would lead us to the river's edge once more. My son-in-law had not taken this route before and to me, it was the most enjoyable part of the ride. It was normally taken at around 60kmh and it wound through farmland, horse farms, broad fields and charming stone houses. The road twists and bends, dips and rises as it snakes it's way through tableaus of peaceful and aromatic scenery, always with the Rideau River as a backdrop on the right-hand side.
Arriving at the end of Route 19 (Rideau River Road) we enter the small roundabout which would send us off towards downtown Kemptville, we encountered a little bit of construction, with a small trek through some gravel-strewn roadway. We picked our way through without incident and soon were cruising past the McEwen's gas station, on our way to the intersection of Rte. 43 and Rideau Street. At the lights, we hung a right and trundled off down Rte. 44 and finally, banking left onto River Road which would take us into Merrickville. We passed the big right-hand turn at Acton Corners and the second one further down, where River Road meets Rte. 23. I always enjoy passing by the riding schools and their many paddocks on this section of road, where one can always observe some fine horses either grazing or engaged in literal horseplay. The road surface was great, the scenery beautiful.
Coming off the River Road, we rode a brief stint along Main Street East, which in actual fact is Rte. 43. Before long, we were cruising under the little train bridge and entering Merrickville proper. As we pulled up in front of the Goose and Gridiron on St.Lawrence Street, we found a vacant parking spot right outside the front doors. It was as though it had been pre-ordained.
Over lunch, we brought each other up to speed on what all we were up to, he briefed me on a riding club he had hooked up with recently and we discussed the better points of living 'off the grid', as well as a variety of upcoming rides. Outside, the sun was just getting warmer all the time. After settling up the tab, we headed out for a meander down the street. We couldn't help but admire how good the bikes looked in the bright sunshine, as they rested there side by each.
We took a stroll down to the village's notorious fudge shop, where he bought a half-pound of goodness to bring home with him. I demured, as I still had a pound or so sitting on the kitchen counter, courtesy of my last visit there. We were just leaving when I spied this wonderfully carved wooden rabbit, perched in the display window facing the street. I had not seen it from the outside as we entered. It was very lifelike and I felt that my lady might like it's company around the house, seeing how fond we both are of our own visiting rabbits out back. I snatched it from it's perch and had the clerk wrap it for the trip home. We meandered back towards our trusty steeds and began suiting up for the ride back.
We decided to exit via the village's back road, hooking up with Route 16. This route followed basically the same road back, but on the opposite side of the Rideau River. It would eventually take us onto Prince of Wales Drive. We kept the pace mellow and enjoyed rolling along through the countryside, surrounded by small farms, fields and trees... all dressed in the varigated soft greens of spring. There were no tense moments, no near misses, no cagers doing the ridiculously stupid... It was great! All too soon however, we had once more hooked up with Prince of Wales and were cruising past Barrhaven, on our way back into town.
We parted company at Hunt Club, with me veering towards the airport. Down Limebank, left along the airport road, right down Bowesville. Retracing roads I've taken dozens and dozens of times, each one a new physio session, these days. Building my strength, my ability, my capacity, my endurance. All in preparation for that one day when we will strike South, towards the Blue Ridge Parkway and beyond.