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2017 Lavigne Rally Report
Joli Voyageur Campground, Lavigne, Ontario August 25-27, 2017

There were some big changes for the 2017 Ontario rally and the general opinion is that these, and the great weather, worked to make it one of our best rallies ever. Luckily, my new Guzzi, a V7 III Stone was out of the shop in time so that I wasn’t in the embarrassing position of having to drive a car to our own rally. Since I’ve had the bike it has had an oil leak from somewhere around the right hand cylinder. It’s not enough to worry about, even if I take it on a fairly long ride, but it does make the engine messy and sometimes even the muffler and my boot. I love the bike, but a 2017 Guzzi shouldn’t behave like a 1960’s Triumph or a 1980’s Harley!

Since 2010 our rally has been held in the northerly village of Lavigne and our host has been Guy Fortier, Guzzi owner and proprietor of the Lavigne Tavern, the rally headquarters. Basically, Guy saved the rally after some rather unfortunate events caused by the previous Canadian Moto Guzzi importer, and we owe Guy a big thank you for helping us out and providing some memorable, happy times. Fortunately for Guy, maybe not so good for the rally, he and the Tavern have become much busier over the years and these days fitting a rally into his schedule is not so easy, so we've moved the headquarters a little bit down the road to the Joli Voyageur resort and campsite. They have been very supportive to us over the years and Rodney and Carole, the owners, are more than happy to have us as their guests for the weekend and go out of their way to make things better for us and now Rodney is even buying a Moto Guzzi!

The weather forecast was also in our favour this year. It was a pretty wet and miserable summer, but our weekend was forecast as, and turned out to be, the second completely dry Ontario weekend of the summer.

As usual, the rally got off to an unofficial start on the Thursday afternoon with the arrival of Leon Karlak, Dan and Bev Klestorny and myself, although Floyd and Sally Kantz, from Mayfield Michigan, were eager to get in on the action and had actually arrived on the Tuesday during an extended trip with their EV1100 and tent trailer.

Friday morning was spent as usual, getting everything set up and waiting for the hordes to arrive, and with the greeting of old friends, catching up on who’s done what and the important job of making new friends and making sure they feel at home. Among the arrivals were old friends Randy and Louise Peterson from Michigan, Keith Smith from the Adirondacks, Nick Adams, Bruce Brown, Klaus Schulz, Geoff Helmes, Filippo Sumaria and a whole host of others, mostly on Guzzis, some on Brand X machines, but we don’t mind, we welcome them all. Who knows, one of these days they may see the light and come over to the good side!

Although the Tavern is no longer the focal point of the rally, it is only a short walk from the JV and for the Friday evening meal Guy was serving burgers for everybody. Then, after the burgers and some good craft beer, we had to make a difficult choice. There was Bill Durst playing blues at the Tavern, or a local group called Roadhouse playing classic rock back at the campground. As I was supposed to be the organizer of this event, I felt it was my duty to return for the registration desk so I went back to the camp, greeted a few late arrivals and listened to some great tunes from a very good band. Saturday morning came around and we all had a great buffet breakfast organized by Rodney and Carole. Pretty much anything you wanted, scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, fruit, beans, hashbrowns, even an omelette station and of course, gallons of coffee! During the after breakfast socializing and waiting for the ride to begin, Dave Grummet, the Canadian rep for Piaggio turned up on his Stelvio and stayed with us for the rest of the day - it's great to see him at our rallies, makes us feel like somebody up there cares!

The ride was lead by Rodney on a Can-Am Spyder this year, but next year he says he will be riding a Griso. Around a dozen of us took a ninety minute ride through some great northern countryside to a small northern town called Temagami where there is a fire tower that is now open to the public. A fire tower is a lookout tower on the highest point around where they used to watch for forest fires. It is no longer used for fire watching, but it provides an incredible view for those feeling fit and adventurous enough to climb it.

After the firetower, we stopped for lunch at the local Subway beside Lake Temagami, watching the floatplanes of the local air service come and go before we headed back to camp. For a while I thought that I would have to give the "Best Hard Luck Story" award to Keith Smith when I saw him having a roadside chat with one of the local constabulary, but there were no tickets involved, Keith swears that it was just a friendly chat. Back at the camp It was time for more socializing for most folk whilst I was sorting out the awards and looking after T shirt sales before supper.

Supper was spaghetti with a choice of spicy meat sauce or not so spicy meat sauce and salad. I believe Rodney is of Eastern European heritage, but he learned to cook his spaghetti sauces from an old Italian lady and she taught him well, everyone was very happy, even Filippo! After dinner was the usual awards ceremony and the Great Door Prize Giveaway.

  • Long Distance Guy award went to Luca Loria this year as he rode from his suburban Toronto home to the rally going around Nova Scotia on the way, for a total of 5440 km, or 3380 miles.
  • Long Distance Gal went to Louise Peterson from Honor Michigan with 724 km under her tires or 450 miles
  • Long distance 2 up went to Floyd and Sally Kantz, from Mayfield Michigan. Not sure how far they rode, but it was a long way!
  • People's Choice went to Randy Peterson with his beautiful red Norge (almost makes me feel sorry I let mine go)

We felt that the Best Hard Luck Story award should go to Pat Castel. We don't know why, we may never know, but after starting out from Ottawa very early in the morning, he arrived at the rally then had to turn right around and go home. That has to be a hard luck story!

Then there were the door prizes. We had a good haul this year from Corsa Meccanica in Concorde, Two wheel Motorsport in Guelph, J & R Cycle in Stayner, RoadRunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel magazine, AND THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPLIED THE TENT. Also, thanks to Jack deMille for supplying the flashlight/screwdrivers that were given away at registration, Thomas Strzlebicki for the T shirt design, to Pat Castel for soliciting some great door prizes and to everyone who helped with the rally. I'm really sorry if I haven't mentioned everyone by name, my memory is terrible, but we really appreciate your input.

After supper and the awards ceremony a fairly quiet evening was spent just socializing in the usual way before Rodney started screening the Mayweather/McGregor fight on the big screen. I'm not into that sort of entertainment, so I continued the rounds catching up with people I hadn't seen for a while and trying to see if there were any ways we could make the rally better for them.

Sunday morning everyone rose early to make their way home, but some of them stopped long enough for a continental breakfast before they left, and once again, the party was over for another year.

Rodney and Carole and the whole Joli Voyageur staff and family really helped to make this a great rally. The facilities at the JV are being improved all the time. Since the 2016 rally they have installed several "Bunkies" small cabins without facilities, but providing shelter and comfortable beds and they plan on installing several more before next year. They are constantly trying to think of new ways to make our rally better. Their business card says "Arrive as our guests and leave as our friends" - a great philosophy. They are already talking about the possibility of having a National at the JV....