“I haven’t been stuck yet and so far there’s a lot of bets that I’m going to get stuck today.”
That’s what a confident and excited Mike Holmes said to us shortly before he and about 150 other ATV and UTV enthusiasts hit the trails for some fun at the Sixth Annual ATV Ride in Support of the Holmes Foundation. We don’t think he’ll be quite so confident at next year’s ATV ride, but we’ll get to that in a little while.
It’s not every day that we get to gear up and hit the trails with a genuine celebrity, so when the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs (OFATV) invited us to ride with Mike Holmes and his crew in the Township of Springwater we were all in. Located just an hour’s drive north of Toronto, Ontario, the Township of Springwater is just minutes away from the city of Barrie and all the amenities you could hope to find.
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Mike Holmes, for those who don’t know, has starred in a number of shows in Canada and the United States that focus on fixing bad renovation jobs and dealing with poorly done home inspections and shady contractors. He even had a show called Holmes in New Orleans that followed along as he built a new home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans to replace one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Brad Pitt appeared in an episode as two worked in partnership on this and two other projects.
Holmes’ television career has been devoted to helping people by giving them a better place to live. He created the Holmes Foundation to continue that trend by helping bring more skilled people into the trades with scholarships and bursaries. More skilled trades’ workers should hopefully mean things get built properly the first time, which might actually put Holmes out of a job. The annual ATV Ride is one of the ways money is raised for the Holmes Foundation.
“It’s all about the next generation of skilled trades. It’s no longer about me. We need to get more into the trades. We need to make it easier to get into the trades,” says Holmes. “I talked to the Prime Minister and I said ‘We’re all thinking green, we’re all talking green, but who’s going to build it?’ We need to train. We need to teach the new technology.”
Before everybody took off for the trails, the mayor of the Township of Springwater presented some awards and gave us all the green light to have a blast. It seemed like everybody took her up on her offer. The folks at BRP were kind enough to hook us up with a Can-Am Commander for the day, which we used to try and keep up with Holmes and his crew. BRP has been a major part of the Holmes Foundation ATV ride since its inception.
The beauty of ATV riding in Ontario is how quickly and easily you can go from the middle of a town to the middle of the bush. The Central Ontario ATV Club has carved a beautiful trail system out of the local forest. It’s hard to believe that millions of people live just an hour away, as you feel very much like you’re in the wilderness.
The first part of the day was pretty easy going and everybody arrived at the lunch spot without issue. Though we had to navigate through a little mud, most of the machines were still pretty clean and spirits were high.
“So far it’s a lot of fun,” Mark Hamerton, OFATV marketing director, told us at lunch. “Mike’s having a great time, I’m having a great time. We were very lucky to get some rain yesterday, which has been a big part of keeping the dust down. We’ve got a little bit of mud, it’s just perfect.”
Perhaps Hamerton was being coy when he said “a little bit of mud,” because after lunch it was a whole other story. One of Hamerton’s goals for the day was to get Holmes stuck in the mud and after plenty of trying he found a way.
Hamerton led Holmes and his crew to a particularly nasty spot he was pretty sure would be too much for the handyman to handle. Though he certainly sensed the trap, with a crowd of people watching Holmes put caution to the wind and rode his Can-Am Commander into the slop until he could go no further. The onlookers let out a roar of approval as the man who can fix anything reached his limit.
Despite being covered in mud (including untold gallons of it sloshing around inside his hip waders), we never saw a smile leave Holmes’ face. Hamerton, being a good sport, jumped into the mud and helped hook up the winch to pull out the filthiest celebrity we’ve ever seen.
To call this event merely a success would do it a great disservice. Not only did everybody involved have a fantastic time, but the Holmes Foundation received checks totalling $17,500 from Ontario Can-Am Dealers and the OFATV at the after-ride reception at the Horseshoe Resort, in addition to nearly $2,500 from a silent auction.
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