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Trio of retired steelworkers take to the backwoods (13 photos)

Dennis, Eddy and Tom share their Enduro off-road adventures and and tear up retirement stereotypes while they're at it

Although some may consider the prospect preferable, when you retire and become a senior it does not mean it's mandatory to take your leisure to the rocking chair. Enter Eddy, Tom and Dennis who, after retirement, have never looked back.

The trio of retired steelworkers now spends countless seasonal hours pursuing their passion for riding Enduro motorcycles through local back roads and forest spaces.

In youth and as young men all have riding backgrounds - Eddy had a motorcycle and rode with his two brothers; Tom rode with his sister and Dennis participated in ice racing. Although Eddy and Tom were friends during this time both met Dennis through riding later in life.

After retirement Eddy was riding his mountain bike one day and happened to meet up with Tom who had already been riding with Dennis for some time up to that point.

"I always owned bikes. Then, my sons more or less took over the 2 motorcycles that I owned. I decided to get back into it after Tom convinced me while I was riding my mountain bicycle, that I should get another motorcycle because of all the fun he and Dennis were having. I put my bicycle in my truck and a half-hour later I bought a new motorcycle and the following year Dennis and I bought 2 new ones together." explains Eddy.

The choice of Honda was easy for Eddy as he felt he had heard nothing but good things about them so there was no research necessary. Both Eddy and Dennis choose to ride their 250 Honda Enduros while Tom rides his 400 Suzuki Enduro, which is also an awesome bike.

They chose these bikes specifically because of their ease of use. There is no loading and unloading to get to a location. They simply leave home and head to the woods and if they choose, ride back home on the highway if they have to.

Generally, whenever Eddy is not game fishing he is riding and the group will ride whenever they can while conditions allow. "I am lucky that I am riding with 2 other awesome riders with high skill levels. Every day should be an adventure and this was a good way to fill in the gaps when not fishing!" he exclaims.

For these gentlemen a typical ride generally can be between 7 - 9 hours, can be on / off-road from Hwy 17N to mile 38 road, to Domtar, to Whitman, to Searchmont and then back home again.

If out for a short ride it often would be from Old Goulais Bay Road to Goulais and back to Island Lake.

The return home is almost always on the back roads, or the beaten path, rather than the highways.

During rides the men take their time stopping for breaks, to take in sights such as waterfalls or to observe animals they may come across and even to socialize with others they meet along the trail.

When setting out they are equipped with their cell phones, extra gas, food and a lighter for safety reasons. Generally, they know where they are heading and someone at home has been made aware of the group's plans.

Some of the most recent rides these men have taken were from the Sault to Elliot Lake via Ranger Lake Road and Black Creek Road, and to Searchmont starting at the Mile 38 Road at the Chippewa River then accessing the Domtar Road taking them back onto Whitman Dam Road and back to the Sault. Also to Garden River at Highway 17b via the backwoods by starting out on the Searchmont Hwy onto Ranger Lake Road and cutting across Reserve Lake Road; and even to Blind River via the back roads and logging trails.

"We have travelled almost all the dirt trails between highway129 and highway 17. We also do some riding in Michigan's back road trails and Manitoulin Island. I guess I could go on and on where we ride. The trails are endless. If there is a trail we have not done yet done we will research it and then give it a go if we think we can do it."

When other groups invite this small group to join them on some of their outings the trio rises to the challenge.

It has also become important to mentor and guide their grandchildrens' riding interests to give them the best start possible and to strengthen the bond between the two generations. They teach them that they can have fun on these bikes but it must be met with the same measure of respect because not doing so can turn on them quickly. Riders should always, be prepared for the unknown and learn to make wise decisions. The two generations will often ride off-road on private property until the time when the youngsters can be licensed for street driving if they choose.

"Enduro riding is not a beginner sport for seniors. You have to remember, we each have more than 50 years of riding under our belt. To know how to ride is a must and you must make safe decisions when encountering and crossing obstacles. Yes, it does hurt when you fall!"

"We involved grandkids because it is a great way to get outdoors, learn new skills and to get off the cell phones, etc. The grandkids think it is really cool that their grandfathers can still rock the motorcycle riding and do it with the younger generation (instead of being grandfathers rocking in the rocking chair). It is always important to pass down your skills to the younger generation. That is the only way that they will learn. We, as grandfathers, find it is cool for us to ride with the younger fellows too. When you are riding, you feel like a kid again. We are very fortunate that we can do this at our age."

"Riding is a good way to keep your agility and balance and focus. When you are riding, all the crazy things happening in the world are forgotten, because you have to focus on the trails and on 2 wheels. "

"We don’t do the wheelies and jumps that we used to do when we were young, but we do like to open them up once in a while to throw some dirt. It makes you smile. We live in an area with awesome trails and scenery. What a way to explore them and experience the awesome views!"

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About the Author: Violet Aubertin

Violet Aubertin is a photograher and writer with an interest in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma's great outdoors
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