“The concept of the Roaming Rally is to create the framework for folks to go out and have an adventure. Participants are self-reliant, need to do their own navigation, and make their own decisions. This is unique in a world where most events consist of following a leader, having a sweeper rider/driver, a formal schedule, and so on. Sitting around a campfire at the end of the day is to us just as rewarding as a day of exploring. Meeting like-minded individuals who share a passion and who come from different walks of life is a big part of the experience.”
“This was our 8th year hosting the rally and we aim to continue to do so as long as there is interest in it.”
What draws these marathon riders back and what can they expect for this year’s routes?
“Several of the bike riders return year after year. Many of these folks come for the challenge and to ride terrain that is not available to them in their local riding areas. The routes we provide for the bikes are an endurance test to say the least. Most years have a finishing rate of approximately 10%. This year the conditions made the route very difficult and no one made it past the half-way point on day one.”
Do you plan to change next year’s rally?
"2018 will have two events. Both are expedition routes: a seven to ten-day expedition across the mountains of Western Canada and then a four-day expedition through the backcountry of Ontario and Quebec. Technically, next year's rallies will have easier terrain (paved and gravel roads and a few easy trails). The intent is to explore different backcountry locations while being self-sufficient. Bikes and trucks will share the same route. Details will be posted on GravelTravel.ca early in the new year."
So what do you intend to put me and my truck through?
“For the trucks, we do our very best not to make the routes difficult. The emphasis is on exploring the backcountry on gravel roads and easy trails. The trails are best suited to a truck with a modest lift, AT tires and equipped for backcountry travel. Of course, Mother Nature can wreak havoc on trails that, when dry, are normally stock friendly.”
We have had a lot of rain this spring. Are there any routes you’ve closed or modified?
“No, but for both the trucks and the bikes the provided routes are suggestions. This means we do our best to ensure it is suitable, but people need to use common sense while following it. Water crossings should be suspect unless the bottom is visible (walk them first if you are unsure), each corner should be taken with caution for oncoming traffic, washouts, trees down, …”
Sorry, was that important? I wasn’t listening...
I want to add a few brief comments to this article, specifically about that water crossing mentioned at the beginning. I was navigator for Team OutHEREadventure.com and this was my first overland rally experience. As we sat in the truck looking over what was clearly a washed-out part of the trail, which was nothing more than two tire paths, I had serious misgivings about agreeing to this.
Len kept a slow and steady speed, so that we would not spin out the tires, even when we lost sight of the front of the hood. Yup, I am buying hip waders and packing them under the seat if I ever do this again. Within moments the hood broke the surface and we crawled up and onto the little muddy rise. There was a short distance of more water, but it was not deep, and then we were back on the dry trail.
About the authors...
The brother and sister team behind OutHEREadventure.com consists of Len and Ursula Toelke who grew up in Huntsville, Ontario. They spent their youth exploring the lakes, forests, and rocky outcrops in and around the regions of Muskoka and Haliburton. In the winters, their parents would close the family business, pack everyone into a van and drive to sunny Florida for camping adventures in the Keys, Everglades and state parks.
Ursula Toelke, the magazine’s Senior Editor and Photo Editor, can also be found on Facebook @UrsulaToelkeFineArt and on Instagram @UrsulaToelke.
As with any form of back country travel, leave no trace: stay on paths and trails, travel slowly through waterways and water bodies, do not disturb or feed the wildlife, follow local fire burn warnings and use propane stoves, carry out everything you carry in, and leave this beautiful place cleaner than you found it. We hope that your kids and their kids will enjoy this land too and be proud that you helped to protect it.