|Suzi in Parc Forillon QC|
Preparation is the worst part of the trip for me...
... as I tend to pack like a pessimist, then ride like an optimist, which means you pack rain gear, but don't put it on until just AFTER you figure out that this rain is not going to let up any time soon. Well, I needed to include Suzi in that mix, so I procured a fullbody rainsuit for her from Neo Paws in Toronto, as well as a pair of Doggles for her. I was most concerned about her eyes exposed to the wind as she'd be riding up front with me in a Dog carrier suggested by Liz Metcalfe that strapped over my shoulders giving her a stable platform up front for her to ride in. I think we were pretty set for this... Now were we going to be able to find hotels that would accept dogs or should we camp our way out? I brought all the gear we'd need for either option, although I also made the mistake of bringing food which bulked a bit too heavy. The bike was loaded down pretty heavily. :(
|Ready to roll|
I was scrambling for last minute items to cram into my tank bag, and stuff into my luggage as was my usual habit at the time. It still is for that matter, lol.
I was about 21km into a journey that was going to top the 5,000km mark, riding east on Elgin Mills, getting used to the weight and handling of the loaded touring bike, when suddenly my rear tire blew right off the rim, and I found myself hurtling down the road with the rear end trying to beat me to the stop light ahead. Thanks to my experience in the dirt, I was able to ride it out safely and get the bike over onto the shoulder without trouble, but was unable to get it onto the kickstand as the back end was considerably lower than it normally was.
The bead on the tire was broken, the tube had a shredded hole slightly smaller than a credit card, and I'd no spares or tools to fix a roadside flat. Bugger!
Suzi was content to check out the grass on the side of the road while I examined my options... I knew my friend Mark was at home, so I called him and asked him to bring my car to collect Suzi and I, and when he arrived I unloaded the bike and stuffed everything into the trunk of the car and gave Mark a ride home after thanking him profusely for collecting us. Meanwhile the KLR was chained to a post by the side of the road.
|11:35 AM Houston, we have a problem|
Willie went out of his way and followed me back down to Richmond Hill, helped me pull the rim off the bike, and get the tire sorted out so I could ride the bike back home and reload it to try to start out once more the following day.
I gotta tell you, I was really touched on how many people were willing to lend their time and help to get us back on our way.
Saturday was a write off now, so I opted to start my journey afresh the following morning...
And once more... We were off!
After yesterday's flat, I decided I'd stick to the sideroads, and we found ourselves on Highway 7 for much of the trip, until I realized that I'd better get some miles behind us before sunset, so we dropped down to the 401 and booted on up the highway until six pm, when I checked my Garmin Nuvi 265W and looked for lodging. A motel in Cornwall said they took dogs and offered a reasonable rate, so rather than ride into the sunset and evening I opted to park it and take the room for the night, and while inexpensive, it was so old and musty that when Suzi jumped up into bed to curl up with me, she reeked of dirty carpet. That was the lowest we've sunk in accommodations so far, next time we'll hazard a tent by the roadside before we do that again.
|This is what Suzi thinks of superslab... I do too, but I can't curl up and sleep.|
|Day 2 - Cornwall ON to Rimouski QC|
|The rest stops in Quebec were a rest for me, playtime for Suzi and her new friends.|
Once we left the Trans Canada Highway, and got North of Riviere Du Loup, Suzi perked up to the smell of the farms along the side of Route 132 in Quebec, and when she first smelt the Saint Lawrence river, it was a veritable orgy of sniffing for her. We would ride past a dairy farm, the cows grazing in the field beside us, but she would be sniffing the wind, looking for the source of the smells downwind of the farm, and I tried to point out the source of the aroma with limited success, but once we were north of Rimouski and the shadows began to lengthen, we stopped in at a motel along Route 132, and once the owner assured us that they did indeed admit dogs, and were shown the room, Suzi and I went down to the shore to explore a small section of the coast. I think I spent more time watching her explore the beach than anything else, for even her body position as she sniffed tidal pools for the first time showed she was ready for instant flight if need be.
|Sunset over the St. Lawrence Seaway|
|Cautiously determining the source of that fishy smell|
|Time for bed|
|Day 3 - Rimouski QC to Kelly's Cross PE|
In the morning I awoke, loaded up the bike and took Suzi for a brief walk on the beach, and when we returned, it appeared that we had yet another biker wannabe.
|Is there room for one more?|
Yes, you will see this more than a few times, as the winter's frost heaves the roads, leaving cracks upon cracks which are patched, and eventually the road is resurfaced, so if you aren't on a long travel suspension adventure bike similar to the KLR, then you may want to soften up your suspension settings and be prepared to ride on a bit of gravel through some of the sections.
|Parc National Forillon, Gaspé, QC, Canada|
Okay, the day is moving on, Suzi and I are beginning to get a bit tired, and I was wondering how much longer it was going to take to get to my sister's place on Prince Edward Island, as well as dreading spending a third night on the road as my funds were rather limited, as accommodations and meals dig deeper into ones pocket than any other expense on a trip like this. I recalculated the route on the GPS to fastest route to find that if I took it, I would arrive in her driveway sometime before midnight, so if I continued on this very lovely scenic drive after arriving in the town of Gaspe, I thought I had better take the most direct route, and let Garmin lead me inland towards the town of Murdochville QC
More about Murdochville here
I made absolutely sure to gas up the bike before leaving as I had no idea where the next station would be, and if it would be closed before I arrived. I set off on Route 198, led by an optimistic Garmin that put me onto a graveled road not ten kilometers from the town. Well, it was an adventure bike with knobby tires, a full tank of gas on a beautiful dry day, so what could go wrong? I'd ride this for 150km, and if I hit a dead end or something, I could always turn back to Murdochville to spend the night and refuel, worst case.
|Route du Lac Sainte Anne|
|Which way do I go?|
|Route 299 QC - Fun with a capital F!|
The road winds its way along the coast of the Baie des Chaleurs, the naming of which is attributed to explorer Jacques Cartier (Baie des Chaleurs). It translates into English as "bay of warmth" or "bay of torrid weather". Light was dropping, and while I took many pictures on the ride, they weren't properly lit and as a result hit the cutting room floor.
|Campbellton NB, the bridge over the Riviere Matapedia|
Right, now I found myself back on the slab trying to make up time through New Brunswick, the Garmin now estimating my arrival sometime after midnight. I needed one more fuel stop to be sure that I'd make Borden-Carleton PE where the Island features a 24 hour Esso station just on the other side of the 11km long Confederation Bridge, but the temperature was dropping and fatigue was setting in, so I put Suzi in her rain jacket to spare her the wind and conserve body heat while I added another layer under my riding jacket.
|Do I really have to wear this thing?|
Here it was in August, with day time temperatures well over 25 degrees Celsius, but with night time falling, Suzi and I found ourselves in Port Elgin NB at the roundabout, and I was freezing! I pulled on a thick woolen sweater, cold weather gloves and a neck warmer before I was able to complete the ride and roll into my sister's driveway to be greeted by the pack. Now I ride with a heated vest in all seasons when touring, and stay mindful of weather patterns and night time temperatures. I suppose I learn the hard way.
|You rode 1800 kilometers in that thing?!|
|And Suzi hangs out with her pack. Jealous little girl, isn't she?|
|Zippy the Jerk Russell Terrorist|
|A KLR makes a trip for a haircut in Cornwall exciting on the Island clay roads|
|Sunrise over Kelly's Cross PE|
|Confederation Bridge - They charge you to get off the Island, not to get on.|
|Day Trippin' to the Bay of Fundy NB and return|
|Mike added a home made foot rest to his DL-1000|
|Ryan enjoying the ride.|
|Cape Tormentine as seen from the Confederation Bridge|
More on the Petitcodiac river here
|The Petitcodiac River|
Just outside of Moncton you head south on Route 114, following the banks of the river as it winds its way into the Bay of Fundy. The tributaries joining the Petitcodiac are amazing, and worth some pictures at low tide if you time your ride correctly.
Just past Hopewell Rocks Provincial Parks (Check the tide tables before visiting!) along Route 114, there is a a covered bridge across the Shepody River, just on the outskirts of Germantown NB, as seen from the road.
|Shepody Bridge, Germantown NB|
After lunch we took a couple of pictures before heading back, and yes, there was only the one road, straight back up Route 114 back into Moncton and back onto the slab bound for the Island.
|Kelly's Cross PE to Farmington ME|
|Farmington ME to Richmond Hill ON|