Robyn and Louis, owners of Moto 49, a motorcycle do-it-yourself garage, cafe and community drive motorcycle awareness, accessibility and break the mould of the motorcycle stereotype.
It’s spring in Winnipeg — and after a long winter, temperatures are finally above freezing. Every motorcyclist in the city is out on their inaugural ride of the season. You can hear the echoes of engines reverberating off the surrounding buildings. You can smell the crisp air mixed with gas as riders fly by — caution to the wind — a frenetic energy taking hold.
It’s here in Winnipeg, the world’s biggest small town, where riders on a variety of bikes, such as touring, sport, dual purpose and classic, forge a strong sense of community by coveting their short ride season.
Pre-covid, motorcycle shows and events, such as The Growler Motorcycle show and The Moto Social, became the perfect way to meet riding friends for life. They unified riders of all styles of bikes. In the summer of 2019, riders explored Winnipeg with events at Cafe Postal, Chaeban Ice Cream, High Tea Bakery, Moto 49 and King and Bannatyne in Old Market Square in the Exchange District.
In the era of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re spending time and money closer to home. Motorcycling has experienced a resurgence as a perfect social distancing activity and a great way to rediscover home as a tourist! Riding on two wheels can completely transform a familiar drive into one of more interaction with the environment around you.
Heading west down Portage Avenue to Assiniboine Park, Sargent Sundae or Joe Black’s Coffee is a good ride if you’re not looking to think too much about navigation. Heading south on St. Mary’s, down Kingston Row to Dunkirk Drive and Jubilee Avenue leads to the Bridge Drive-Inn for ice cream. Try taking Crescent, North and South Drives winding along the Red River. From Moto 49 in the northeast, through St. Boniface down Provencher Boulevard, over the bridge to Waterfront Drive is a slower, but pretty ride with many potential stops at local businesses. Criss crossing the gridded one-way streets in the Exchange District is a highlight of Winnipeg turn-of-the-century architecture.
Just outside the city, well within an hour ride, head north up Highway 9 to Lockport and stop off at the ever-popular Skinners or Half Moon for burgers or hot dogs. River Road offers a slower journey back to the city with amazing views of the Red River lined by rolling, grassy hills and old tree canopies.
Moto 49, by design, is a great place to start or end any ride. A cafe to get your fuel, before you get fuel for your bike. It is the place to chat up other riders about routes, bikes and everything in between.
In my experience as a female rider surrounded by mostly male riders, talking about bikes and bike maintenance can feel intimidating. But hanging around this motorcycle community, I’ve learned quite a bit. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment it gives me to learn more about my bike! Fixing up older bikes can be cheaper and more accessible for new riders. All you need is the Moto 49 garage, tools and community to support you in all your maintenance and riding adventures!