Inspired by completing two grand tours in the United States, motorcycle rally organiser, Wolfe Bonham, owner of Lobo Loco Rallies, introduced a home-grown rally to Ontario that runs from April 1 to October 31st. Canadian riders hit the open roads to collect photos, earn points and enjoy mural art.
A motorcycle enthusiast from Niagara Falls Ontario, Dan Klaassen had this to say about his experience on the rally:
Islington is definitely eye catching, that’s for sure! I’ve been having a great time on this rally, it’s a fun way to inject an objective into a ride and the murals add a depth to the ride that was quite unexpected. Normally, cities and small towns are just pockets of civilization between the twisty country roads that bikers seek out, but when you spot a mural down a side street or alley and go to check it out, suddenly you are getting a quick lesson on the town’s history, culture, and in the artistry of the painting itself. It may offer a peek into what the town once looked like, an homage to the foundations of the settlement, a reminder of the natural heritage of the surrounding area, or a depiction of an event or local lore that captures the imagination and sheds a different light or colour on the otherwise plain cityscape.
John Kuna’s murals have been a highlight of the rally so far for me, and I’m sure for many of the other riders, as they are some of the finest artworks I’ve seen, let alone the fact that they are painted on a wall, which can present many unique challenges for an artist. They have also been very well maintained which is also something that I’ve noticed during this rally. Some townships let their murals fall into neglect, be it through a lack of funding or lack of vision. The paint fades or chips and before long the once vibrant and beautiful works begin to reflect apathy towards a once treasured history. Others simply move on, and murals are covered up or torn down altogether to modernize infrastructure, but the apparent impermanence of a mural has inspired me to appreciate them all the more. Now when I ride through a familiar town, or into a new place, I always have an eye out for any kind of wall art, and I always try to take a moment to look at it in more detail, sometimes doing a quick google search to see what I might learn.
Learning while having fun discovering murals by motorcycle sounds like a great way to explore Ontario. With their rally flags stowed in their motorcycles, over 60 riders ventured across the province viewing murals found in Ontario communities. On the Grand Tour, participants were required to photograph their motorcycle and flag in front of murals; each mural photo earned points, with one submission per town allowed. Extra points were awarded for finding significant or historic murals identified by location. Each month new mural coordinates were released to earn points for in that month and the adventure continued. At the end of the riding season, points will be tallied and winners will be selected, with prizes for the top scoring riders and a pro-rated number of entries placed into a prize pool. This way even low scoring riders will have a chance at some prizes!
For more information about the Paint the Town Red Grand Tour Motorcycle Rally, check out their Facebook page.