On any dry summer day, Ontario’s Highway 507 will be filled with sport bikes. It’s a smooth, wide road with fast sweepers and some tight corners, heading north-south for about 40 kilometres beside Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, north of Peterborough and just a couple of hours from Toronto. Hwy. 507 is one of a dozen or so roads that are on every “must-ride” list for the region.
Just west of Peterborough, on any summer day, there’s a good chance that Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will be filled with sport bikes, too. It’s a smooth, wide track with fast sweepers and some tight corners and it was packed this past weekend with the double-header final races of Canadian Superbike, among other series.
There were crashes on both stretches of asphalt, and they were very, very different.
On Hwy. 507, at about 12.30 pm on Sunday, the OPP report that a northbound motorcyclist, one of a group of 11 riders, strayed across the centre line on a curve and hit two southbound riders, who were part of a group of three. Right afterwards, another northbound rider hit a car that had stopped at the scene, and yet another northbound rider went off into the ditch.
Three riders were killed, all men in their 40s with families, and another is still in hospital. It’s unclear from the initial reports which groups they were in, but it’s likely two of the dead were the southbound riders initially struck. It doesn’t really matter. They’re dead. The assumption is that the northbound rider was travelling too fast for the curve and went over the line. The southbound guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The previous day, on the track, CMG’s old adversary (and new friend) Jacob Black was racing his Kawasaki Ninja 300 and heading for fifth place when he misjudged his speed through the curve on slightly damp asphalt. His front tire slid out and he went down. He bruised his shoulder and banged his head hard enough to send him to hospital, where he was given a CT scan for a suspected concussion and then released.
Jacob wanted to get back on his bike and race the next day but his wife Stephanie – who is far lovelier and more sensible than him – would not let him. So he sat out the race in a bit of a grumpy mood, with his wife and daughter, but is already planning for next season.
See the difference here? The circumstances were similar, if not identical: riding fast through a corner for the sheer thrill of it, but carrying just a little too much speed. On the track, there are basic rules and hay bales, but on the road, there’s nothing except patrolling police and the hope that’s nobody’s coming the other way. The outcomes could not be more different.
There are risks with everything in life, but you can minimize those risks. If you’re going to speed, don’t ride faster than you can see and dress properly. And if you’re going to speed, do it on a track. If you make a mistake, you might end up having a grumpy day on the sofa, like Jacob. You don’t want to end up dead.