For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of owning a gleaming Harley Davidson. The concert of backfiring when several Harleys follow each other always set my imagination ablaze. I could see myself on my “hog”, hair blowing in the wind, revelling in that feeling of freedom that only a motorbike can give.
I had already owned three bikes in my youth, all Japanese. They were good bikes. But they weren’t Harleys. When I retired, I finally fulfilled my dream and four years ago became the happy owner of a beautiful Harley Heritage Softail.
And the adventure began. I felt rejuvenated. One morning, my wife asked me to pick up some almond croissants for breakfast. Now, Le St-Honoré in Rouyn-Noranda has delicious croissants. But that wasn’t far enough. Two hours later, I called my wife to ask her how many croissants I should bring back. She answered, “Where are you? I’m starving! You left two hours ago…”
“I’m at Chocolats Martine in Ville-Marie, and I’ll be back in another two hours with four croissants. Have a coffee while you wait.”
Témiscamingue has always been seductive for me. And strangely, overwhelmed by so many other sensations, I had forgotten I was hungry. Transported by the growl of my Harley, I travelled 260 km that beautiful summer morning before returning home where I nonetheless ate those very tasty croissants, images of the villages I had passed through still dancing through my head. The picturesque village of Notre-Dame-du-Nord on the tip of lac Témiscamingue, Ville Marie, a superb bloom-filled village, Angliers and its dam. Astride my throbbing bike, rolling through that rural decor lifted me out of my daily routine. I love riding in Témiscamingue. There’s so much to discover. All my senses were awakened. My eyes admired the mixed forest, wild grasses along the road, the impressive fields of canola shimmering with a thousand shards of light in the beaming sun, the magnificent agricultural lands, the spectacular lac Témiscamingue. And that flock of sandhill cranes, come to crown a vast field near Nédélec. Light is everywhere in Témiscamingue. My nose revealed the smells of nature: birch, pine and other conifers, manure in the fields… I inhaled deeply. Even the water launched a freshness into the air that whipped my face. That’s the joy of a motorbike. You ride to discover. You’re never lost on a bike. Just exploring. I love Abitibi-Témiscamingue. But my Harley showed it to me as I’d never seen it before. There are so many things to see in our immediate area, so many people to meet. That’s happiness. That’s being alive.
I like to ride alone. Total freedom. As Brigitte Bardot used to sing “Je n’ai besoin de personne… en Harley Davidson” – I don’t need anyone… on a Harley Davidson. But I also like to ride in a pack, hear that thunderous roar as we travel, and then share our impressions after rolling down the roads of Témiscamingue. Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a young region, but it has many stories to discover. And it’s even easier on a motorbike. The history you learn along these roads is impressive. Wasn’t it along this lake that the first explorers rested on their way to Hudson’s Bay, and then coming back weighed down with furs? Along these byways, we see the pride of the folk who live here, writ large on signs that border the road: vineyard, honey, cheese, deli, pastry shops, chocolate shop… The mouth waters! Témiscamingue, the great getaway. Nature, history, country roads. All of this, plus the rumbling purr of my Harley. Pure bliss.
You’ll understand. Abitibi-Témiscamingue is my country, and I appreciate it a lot, because I’ve come to know it. Motorbikes are my obsession, and I love my Heritage Softail. And I also love almond croissants.
– Patrice Dionne