Jiff (Geoff's Islander name) came up with the idea to ride out to the Rock via the Trans Labrador highway, a trip I had in the planning stages, but was content to let sit on the back burner until now, as what better way to face adversity then with good friends?
The group I belong to, www.gtasportriders.com, started to toss the idea around in the touring thread, then we finally threw out a date of the 16th of July and were committed. 265 days seems like a lot of time to prepare for a trip, but as the date drew closer, I seemed to have more and more loose ends that needed tying up, to the point that the weekend prior to the trip I found that my fuel economy needed to improve or the 5litre gas can I was going to be bringing wasn't going to be enough to get me across the longest stretch from Happy Valley Goose Bay to Port Hope Simpson, a distance by road of 410 kilometres.
It's the little things that keep you on your toes. ;)
At any rate, I'm sitting in St. Anthony Newfoundland waiting for the rain to die out before continuing further South to Gros Morne National park.
The Trans Lab is behind us, we've conquered it, and return with our shields. :D
Darlene suggested we meet up at the Fifth Wheel in Oshawa at Waverly Road and the 401, but we had to wait for Chris to nail down a time. It was like a game of poker, I'd say 0700, she'd up the ante to 0600 and Chris would suggest 0540. GROAN!
** Jul 12 Tue 17:51 ** Ron ￼ ￼ Chris, Darlooney picked a spot to meet up in Oshawa, 401 and Waverley Road, exit 431 the Fifth wheel truck stop. What time did you want to meet us there as you have the farthest to come? I'm good with an early start. ** Jul 12 Tue 18:01 ** darlooney I am flexible with whatever time to meet at the 5th wheel. Since u r coming furthest away chris, let us know ** Jul 13 Wed 11:10 ** Chris Oliver ￼ It looks like that is about 1h35m from me. I'd like to get an early start as well. 6am is a number that keeps comming to mind to meet. I will leave home @ 4am. I would like to get a quick bite there as I will prob just get up and go. If I sleep @ all. I'm to excited. :D ** Jul 13 Wed 11:56 ** darlooney Ok, so let's meet at the 5th wheel for 6am. If you need to take a nap please let us know. 4am is way to damn early for me! ** Jul 13 Wed 12:06 ** Ron ￼ ￼ Damn! I'll have to be in bed early!!! What happened to the all night pre tRip party?! ** Jul 13 Wed 12:07 ** Ron ￼ ￼ At least we'll get a lot of road behind us in the cool morning. That sounds about right. Where are we stopping for breakfast? ;) ** Jul 13 Wed 12:15 ** darlooney Breakfast is at 5th wheel. Apparently food is pretty decent there ** Jul 13 Wed 12:15 ** darlooney We'll have to figure out lunch ** Jul 13 Wed 12:26 ** Ron ￼ ￼ Lunch will happen about four hours later I'm assuming. :D ** Jul 13 Wed 12:28 ** darlooney For me, eating is every hour...I am a grazer. Might be harder to do when on a bike trip tho. :p ** Jul 13 Wed 12:29 ** Ron ￼ ￼ Stuff the helmet with snacks and chew slowly. Listen for my bike and you'll be fine. ** Jul 13 Wed 15:54 ** Chris Oliver ￼ I have also heard 5th wheel breakfast is good. I would like to eat there. ** Jul 13 Wed 15:55 ** darlooney I might just drag my butt out earlier and grab brekkie with u, then, chris, but don't wait for me! ** Jul 13 Wed 15:59 ** Chris Oliver ￼ Cool. I should be there for 540am ** Jul 13 Wed 16:00 ** Ron ￼ ￼ You said 6!!!! ** Jul 13 Wed 16:03 ** Chris Oliver ￼ Yep meet @ 6. If I leave home @ 4am if all goes well I'll be there @ 540ish. I don't want to slow us for me to eat. ** Jul 13 Wed 16:03 ** Chris Oliver ￼ Unless we are all planning on eating there ** Jul 13 Wed 16:04 ** darlooney That's ok ron, u don't have to eat breakfast there. U can chew on the oats when I attach the oat bag set up onto your helmet...like what u suggested for me! :p ** Jul 13 Wed 16:05 ** Chris Oliver ￼ =)) ** Jul 13 Wed 16:06 ** Ron ￼ ￼ I'm eating there as well, I guess oatmeal. :( ** Jul 13 Wed 16:08 ** darlooney If u want u can cook up the oatmeal I am bringing along...u have a stove and water! ;) ** Jul 13 Wed 16:09 ** Ron ￼ ￼ I'd just use my exhaust. It'll be hot enough at 5:15. :( ** Jul 13 Wed 16:11 ** darlooney Well I am being optimistic about getting there early enough for breakfasst but that may not happen!
And now you see what I was dealing with, adversity and humour or was that sarcasm? At any rate I did manage to load up the bike, although I started calling it a freight train around this time...
Overloaded fugly bike
I always take a picture of my start and end odometer reading, it makes the calculation easier.
This is way too early for me!
Breakfast wasn't even memorable. I'm not awake yet.
Darlene and Chris
La Belle Province!
Yep, we're definitely getting closer to Montreal. :P
Traffic was BADDDDDD!!!
We made Montreal through weekend and construction traffic. Stop and go with 2 KLR's running close to the red temp zone, and I was beginning to worry that I'd soon damage my engine if we didn't get some air moving over the radiator again. Darlene on her BMW F650GS said Chris and I both blew black smoke when traffic cleared and we rolled on. Remind me to completely avoid this place in future, as I think if we'd looped North of it, I think we'd have made better time, even on the secondary roads. Well, perhaps not, but it would do much for my peace of mind.
This tunnel had become my goal, for I knew I was on the right track for it goes under the river and takes you East of Montreal. It would pretty much be clear sailing after this while en route to Quebec City.
Thankfully it's pretty much a straight line to follow now...
An end is in sight!
Can we really leave civilization behind?
We should make it past Quebec City if we keep up the pace, but the heat is oppressive, and we've yet to stop for lunch. Quebec has these lovely rest stops along the highway that offer trees for shade, a cantine and restrooms. Just the thing after our battle royale with Montreal traffic.
We met up with this modded Yamaha R1 at a rest stop on the East side of Montreal at a rest stop along the highway.
I love that front cowl on this Yamaha R1!
Darlene said "I know this place." so we followed her until right here, where a gravel road seemed to make them both nervous? Or was she just taking us on another Adventure by Garmin™?
Yes, that's gravel. We have to do a whole bunch of it later on. Why not get a head start?
*sniff* They made me turn back. :(
Success! She found it!
There were a whole bunch more bikers representing Quebec than there are in Toronto.
Poutine and Sand. viande au fume. :D
We crossing the River to the fun side!
As with any ride, as soon as we left the super slab highways behind us, I began to enjoy myself more, and to butterfly watch. We just had to put some kilometres behind us and meet up with Jiff &Vee (Geoff & Viviane) on Sunday night.
Chris was on a mission to find Tin Tin's Rocket in Batiscan QC as we'd be passing close to it on our trip East. We were all looking forward to playing tourist and posing beside it, but alas, it was not meant to be. We rode through Batiscan twice without seeing it, and I think Chris was worried about delaying us too much, so we headed further East in the direction of Quebec City.
A Photographer took this on Panaramio and subsequently Google Earth places it at 46.500816, -72.247148 but my Google street view can't locate it there, so if you're in the hood, have a look and if you by chance parlais francais, perhaps you could help us out by refining the Lat and Long? ;)
I didn't turn out as well. :P
We're East of Quebec City, and now the road parallels the St. Lawrence Seaway, sometimes so closely that but for the guardrail you could ride along the river's edge.
Apple sauce in a convenient squeeze bag! It was very refreshing, although I did feel horrible throwing apple peel into the landfill site. :(
East of Quebec City on Route 138 Est
The bikes! There are so many more here than around the GTA. I love the variety. We even waved at scooters today.
So, our plans of getting a cheap motel on the East side of Quebec city fell through as they were all "complet", and the campgrounds were stuffed full as well for some local festival. We pushed on thinking that we'd have better luck further away from the city looking for camp grounds or a motel.
Now when you see this in the sky, it's time to look for a place for the night pdq. Especially if you're riding in the hills or mountains, as the sun disappears behind the trees or hills long before it sets on the rest of the world, quickly leaving you in the dark.
We're not in Kansas anymore Toto, the scenery is enthralling, yet I'm losing my light and will have to put the camera away shortly.
He couldn't afford the Chalet either, no doubt.
And so we found ourselves riding for about forty minutes further East towards Baie-St-Paul on 138 and found an off season Ski Chalet that wanted $180 dollars for three people as late check-in! No thanks!
We headed towards a campground, although they foolishly let me lead with my garmin set to "shortest distance" and of course we ended up on a gravel road in the dusk. AWESOME! The freight train handles well and hooks up really well in the rear, so I'll mind my front tire and enjoy the ride! I suggested a vacant building lot for stealth camping, so we're set for the night! During the planning stage we'd all agreed to carry food with us, and settled for the MRE style of meal, and after pitching our tents in the darkness, sorted out our dinner shortly afterwards. All agreed that food waste should be kept far away from the site, so it's about a 100 feet away under a rock, to take away with us in the morning. The mosquitoes are hardy and the stiff breeze just slows them down. :P
But I did manage to find them this lovely little camping spot out in the middle of nowhere...
So... We had a great first day on the road, although we stopped a few times and ate up our travel range, as the heat was getting to us, and all that super slab was mind numbing. A bee decided that a helmet might contain pollen, but BCH4 made it unwelcome and it may or may not be on the hives MIA list. Tat2 is great to ride with, as you're guaranteed to finish with a clean drivers abstract, but I road raged a bit in Montreal. The traffic there reminded me of downtown Toronto, with fewer exits, although they seem to respect bikes quite a bit more here. http://maps.BlackBerry.com?lat=47.39403&lon=-70.57039&z=5&address=150+Boul+Monseigneur-de+Laval&city=Baie-Saint-Paul®ion=PQ&country=Canada&postalCode=G3Z Our campsite triangulated via cell tower. It looks like we're five hours behind the lead riders Viv and Geoff who are currentrly toasting Marsh mallows in Baie Comeau. That's what you get for leaving a day later. :P Sausage patty, hash browns and toaster pastry is on the menu for this one star resort in the hills along the flood plains of the Great St. Lawrence river. The scenery east of QC is comparable in parts to the blue ridge parkway. Stunning, along with some great views of the river. We've all really woken up on the hills and curves of 138, and more in store tomorrow! We'll lose cell soon, and will check in when possible. If I haven't already said it, it's going to be a great adventure with some wonderful companions, in fact, the adventure has begun. Cheers!
Day 2 - Baie St. Paul QC to Manic Cinq QC - 529km
Day 2 - Baie St. Paul QC to Manic Cinq QC - 529km
This is where the roads get FUN FUN FUN!!! A sport touring rider would have really enjoyed them provided he eased up his suspension and watched out for the odd pressure crack in the race line here and there. While not much in the way of knee dragging roads, they are twisty and scenic.
It had been our first night of camping, and it took us a while to get sorted out in the morning, but the meal kits we brought along were great as we only needed to get one pot of water on the boil to cook up for three people. It worked out quite well.
Crappy old tents get put away faster than new fangled ones. :P
We were all packed up and just about ready to turn on the bikes to hit the road when a pick up truck pulled into the lot. An older gentleman asked me a few questions in French, but all I was able to do was reply in English and tell him that we'd spent the night but cleaned up all our garbage. I think he was more surprised that we camped on a rough gravel lot than anything else, and with a smile and a wave reversed back out onto the road and headed off West along the road.
Chris is feeling it this morning too. :)
The ride is fast becoming that adventure we wanted, as we leave Toronto far behind and revel in the scenery and ambience of La Belle Province.
That's the St Lawrence there, and in the distance we can just make out the opposite shoreline. Just.
We three, we happy three.
We're fast approaching the ferry across the Saguenay River where it enters the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Taddoussac - Baie Sainte Cathererine crossing.
There are no tie-downs on this crossing, the bikes were on their kickstands the entire time, and we only really were nervous when the boat was turning and approaching or leaving the landing as well as docking of course. Rougher weather and I think I'd want to strap it just in case. We were waved on as priority and loaded right to the centre up front, and were first off when the ramps were down.
This river scenery is so beautiful that I vowed to come back another day and ride the shore along Route 172 QC north to Saguenay and see more of it.
The road ahead
The road behind
My bike turns 75,000!!!
Snowmobiles? These frenchmen must be mad to ride them in the summer time!
See this sign? It's an indication that the snow banks are so high, that motorists must be warned by tall signs indicating that a snowmobile may be approaching through the plowed snowbanks with the intention of crossing the highway here. That means they regularly expect banks that are taller than say four feet.
What IS this? What are they doing?
I had to. Sorry.
While in Quebec... Stop at the cantines.
I think this was may favourite roadside lunch in Quebec, from a tiny little Cantine.
That looks like rain!
If you are a rider, you know what happens when you see skies like this...
Can we get past it?
The answer is no, and we performed a rain dance by the side of the highway once Darlene saw that Chris and I were pulling over to begin the first act. :P
In fact, this rain storm highlighted certain problems with the footwear I'd chosen, as I'd decided that I might be doing a lot of walking and sightseeing while on this trip, so I wore vented Icon Superduty 2 boots which are leather ankle boots that I've been wearing for a few years now, and I find them extremely comfortable, but in no way waterproof by any stretch of the imagination. So I bought boot covers distributed in Canada by Kimpex and sold by GPBikes in Whitby Ontario. While they do their job at keeping your boots dry through, they will eventually, in a hard, long rain let your boots get damp, and trying to mount your pegs while wearing them had me almost face plant into my seat as my foot slipped off the boot cover, which did not slip off the peg, you understand? My boot shifted around inside of them while trying to mount. I still use them, but I'm on the lookout for something better, like the Sidi Adventure waterproof boots.
Kimpex Roadpak boot cover
Ummm. You have to be careful wearing these. I put my foot onto the foot peg to mount up and my leather boot slipped on the rubber sole of the outer boot, and I almost face planted into the dash of the KLR! What an embarrassing moment!
Baie Comeau towards Manic Cinq on 389 Nord. Beautiful roads!
These roads weren't in the best of shape, and later on we would run into ridges and pressure cracks that had me slow down and not be so darned heavy handed on the throttle.
South of the hydro electric damn at Manic Cinq
This was our last stop before meeting up with Jiff & V in Manic Cinq, so when I spotted a gas station just before the dam, we pulled in and fuelled up our bikes, but this motel didn't agree with the GPS coordinates that I'd plugged in earlier, so we agreed to head further up and see where it would lead...
Darlene made it to the top and back down again without mishap. She was happy about that. :)
It is one big dam. This picture doesn't do it justice or give you a good sense of scale.
Dam that thing is huge!
The Garmin GPS indicated that the motel was further ahead, but I was wary of being misled into another Adventure By Garmin™ , as it had us proceed up to the top of the dam, then across the top to the other side, so our RV with Jiff & V must be back at the motel/restaurant/general store back where we'd fuelled up the bikes, so we retraced our route back to the motel, to find their bikes hidden from view on the higher level where the motel had built a new block of rooms. Down in the Parking lot were a few more bikes, a BMW 1200GS with Nova Scotia plates, and a few KLR's of various vintages fully loaded, but they were heading out to a campsite just back and down the way a bit.
That weather is headed this way and the motel is fully booked up! Damn!
The clouds looked dark and angry as they rolled across the top of the man made lake at the top of the damn, and if we were lucky they'd pass right over us, but our luck wasn't with us, and the stray drops became a torrential rain that bucketed down onto our packed bikes and tents while we watched from the doorway of Jiff & V's motel room.
Oh yeah, it's bucketing down out there and windy as heck!
So what do we do? Sit in Geoff and Viv's room and eat chips and wait for it to die out, but it doesn't look like it's ever going to completely stop. Erect tents in the parking lot between cloud bursts and try to ignore the lightning strikes that are the closest I've ever seen in my life. They're striking in the treeline next to us, possibly hitting the hydro towers in the distance obscured by the trees. The strikes are close, plentiful and noisy, as if to announce the second coming. I had my tent up quickly, as I've had five years practice with it to get it right, and went on to assist Chris, asking him how I could help, and in reply he asked me to assemble an aluminium tent pole, so here I am clutching an aluminium lightning rod when a huge CRACK split the air seemly right over my shoulder! I tossed the pole away as if it were on fire and involuntarily jumped back! Later I sheepishly admitted to Chris my fear of becoming a North Face kebab.
We got the tents up and then went and showered up in Geoff and Viv's room before heading back out and trying to catch some sleep. Chris got some sleep, later on Darlene was heard to say that I snored almost as loudly as Chris, but while I couldn't hear myself, I could sure hear Chris! Picture me with ear plugs in AND my helmet on trying to get to sleep. I must have, for I don't ever remember taking off my helmet. I was a slow starter that morning and we put our tents away sopping wet.
Day 3 - Manic Cinq QC to Labrador City NL - 372km
Day 3 - Manic Cinq QC to Labrador City NL - 372km
Thankfully the sun began to make an appearance after breakfast, and as the rest of the group weren't quite ready, I wandered off to get a couple more pictures.
You end up sharing the highway to quite a few of these trucks...
The top of the dam
Slightly out of order, these three photos were taken at the top of the dam, just where our Trans Labrador Highway adventure would start, just East of Manic Cinq the real fun would begin.
Of all the riders in the group, I had the most dirt experience and was elected to lead the way from the top of the dam and down the now gravel road, and it was a blast! I found a happy spot and was just ripping along enjoying the ride when I entered a downhill left hander that had my rear end step out under throttle, and I let it drift the corner, loving it the whole time, that is until I hit the washboard on the exit, and my light front end went into a tank slapper and down I went at about 70 kph into the gravel, straight towards the only man made pit on the entire highway! Thankfully the bike shook to a stop near the edge, but I was a bit leary of tipping it into the ten foot hole, so I opted to wait until the others caught up, so instead checked myself and my gear over to make sure that I wasn't hurt. Just my pride and my ankle, and that boulder that had worked it's way into my ankle boot had to go!
It's nice to have friends who will pull you out of the ditch.
That will buff right out...
My poor fender...
The boulder has to come out of the shoe.
And this is why
FYYFF! Let's get moving!
There are some emergency phones out on route 389 but they are few and far between. Very few, as in one or two, not three.
Can I make a collect call?
Your tires don't get a ton of bite in this stuff, and my bike is way overloaded.
Kenda 270s. The rear tire was decent but the front tire was sketchy in spots along the railway where the road was much sandier.
It's pretty remote up here, but there is enough traffic that you would get some assistance. Eventually.
Lac Manicouagan QC
You won't get to see "Crater Lake" often, but here it is...
Our destination this morning was Relais Gabriel opposite Lac Manicouagan
This is it, your gas and lunch stop. Don't miss it!
Darlooney is catching up on some sleep
We picked up some strays! Apparently adventure riders think of the trans lab as some sort of, well I don't know exactly, perhaps as an adventure? We met a group of KLR riders at the hotel commanded by Scott, and a BMW GS1200 piloted by Dave and his flight crew Kathy. If you ride all day long in the same direction, you are going to meet up and pass the other groups, especially if your pace is relatively relaxed (especially after my get off). We met them at the gas/lunch stop at Relais-Gabriel, stopped at the side of the road taking a wizz, and again and again. Darlene announced that Kathy would be joining our group, and Dave would receive honorary membership as well, which was fine with the rest of us, as Dave and Kathy were kindred souls, smiled easily and butterfly gazed with the best of us. It probably won't come as a shock to you when I say that I stop for an awful lot of pictures, and some I don't even bother stopping for.
Next stop, a hotel at Labrador City... Only another 270 km to go, or 3.75 hours saddle time. We really need to get moving, and perhaps we need to bite off a little less mileage per day when riding on gravel.
I'm sorry I didn't take more photos of the Fire Lake area, but I can tell you that for me it was horrible. The front end was sliding around and I just didn't feel like keeping up to the rest of the gang, and was thankful that Darlene hung back and took it easy with me. I think it was just an off day, but there you have it. I was totally sucking and was very happy to get back onto some firmer gravel that the tires would bite into. Fire Lake is basically a sand and gravel that crisscrosses back and forth over a set of train tracks. Most people have no issues on it at all, but as I say, my bike was overloaded, and I was having an off afternoon. I was very happy to put that behind me and ride up closer to the mining area...
Would you believe this is lake water?
ArcelorMittal Mines runs Mont-Wright iron ore extraction mine, and is one of the most extensive open-pit mines in North America with a surface area of 24 square kilometres.
That red lake? That isn't a mistake. The mine tailings turn the water to a blood red that looks like one of the plagues of Egypt right here in Canada. All man made though.
24 Square Kilometres of open pit iron ore mine.
Less than 30 km to go now, an end is in site and we've opted for a hotel room for the night.
Heavily over-loaded KLR makes it this far...
And we've made it! Labrador straight ahead!
"Da key is behind the sign. Let yourselves in and crack the juice!"
Gotta love this place. :D
We all had our helmets off, and I wanted to see who had the best hairstyle going after all those kilometres we did today...
Hair by Shoei
Hair by Suomy
Hair by Shoei
So with only one hotel in town, it would seem that all of the bikers are going to be able to find and use it.
I thought I'd have a good look at my bike post get off and get a list of the damage I did to it... :(
Left hand mirror broken
Right hand mirror snapped off at mount
Rifleman windshield broken
Front Fender broken
Front birdcage bent
Case Right hand side scraped
Nerf Paris guards rashed on right hand side
Garmin GPS mount for 60cx broken
I learned a few things from this ride.
Play it a bit safer when you are that far away from home.
Pack far less gear to reduce weight and improve handling
Good friends are indispensable
These cases proved to be too heavy,
but they took a huge hit meant for my leg
I had rocks in the tank panniers for weeks and weeks!
Scott shows up and asked us if anyone is missing a blue bag off the back of thier bike as a trucker stopped his group and told him that "That blue bag fell of one the bikes heading towards Labrador City!"
"Hey! That looks just like my tent bag!" says Darlene... "Hey! That IS my tent bag!"
Remember the snoring from last night? Now there are three of us in a hotel room, and poor Darlene is the only one who doesn't saw logs.
And the sun sets in this part of the world too, but I'm too tired to walk outside and show you what the bugs think of it.
Day 4 Labrador City NL to Churchill Falls NL
Day 4 - Labrador NL to Churchill Falls NL - 244km - 3:50 hours
And we are away on the next step of our journey, off to Churchill Falls!
It doesn't take very long at all to leave the city behind you.
The trees really are beginning to appear stunted this far north and east. I feel like I'm not in Kansas anymore.
And that's it, a while later and we were once again back on gravel, paying attention to our lines, and trying not to fall off the edge of the road, as it's raised up quite a bit in some areas.
The good stuff ends here
I imagine this is what the Arctic tundra would look like to some extent. I really should head up to James Bay some day.
This gavel some nasty as it rolls out immediately so all you can do is point and throttle up. Forget about any kind of leaning while cornering, not that there are many corners out this way at all.
Most of this is fairly fresh, and well graded, so we aren't seeing a lot of pot holes and bare patches, although I now understand why the Inuit have so many words to describe snow. I feel the same way about riding on gravel.
The next sequence shows an oncoming tractor trailer, and the dust cloud it makes. By the time it reaches you, that cloud obscures everything!
Day 3 - Manic Cinq QC to Labrador City NL
I had a tough night of it, as Chris was sawing logs, and at one point I had ear plugs in and my helmet on and still couldn't quite get to sleep, so I gave up and went outside to take a few pictures and wait for people to stir and head for breakfast.
Our campsite at Manic Cing at 0430
The mist is so thick, you felt it like a misty rain.
You could almost hear the wolves howling in the mist... The pack is coming for you.
Aviciouscycle.ca my sponsor. ;)
Here begins the test of the Kenda 270's I had mounted for the trip
We assembled at the top of the Dam, and after a few pictures, we're ready to roll!
At the top of the dam, Manic Cinq lies behind, and 389 Nord and Labrador City lies ahead.
To be honest I was a bit concerned as I've never really gone on a long adventure ride, and as I tend to pack like a pessimist and ride like an optimist, it meant I was carrying a ton of equipment, but riding like I was in Ontario, a cellphone call away from CAA and an ambulance, so I took the lead and began to bury their headlights behind me, confident that my four seasons experience with dirt riding, and knobby tires would see me through...
20km later, I hit this beautiful flat corner doing about 60kph, I let the bike tip in underneath me, got on the throttle and enjoyed the sensation as the rear end stepped out in a bit of a power drift past the apex. I was really beginning to enjoy the ride, and stayed on the throttle. That was when I hit the washboard with the front end, and rear end weight became very apparent as the light front end began to oscillate, and then quickly turned into a tank slapper, and before I could say "This is not good!" I experienced my first gravel get off at speed, and of course my bike was aimed at the ONLY man made pit on the entire highway! A huge 16'x16' crater that was about 8 or ten feet deep, and now as I picked myself up and ran over to the bike to kill the engine, it was poised on the edge ready to go over. If I tried to pick it up myself, it'd go in for sure, so I waited until the others had found a spot to put there kickstands down and join me. Already a truck had stopped and a couple of people were out, Darlene had quickly got her first aid kit out, but I said to her "Where's your camera? Get pictures!" as Chris and Jiff were now helping me to pull the bike back from the brink...
My poor mirror!
You're darned right this is an ADVenture!
What am I going to do with all those lovely stickers now!?
The Ammo cans and Packrack that I'd borrowed off of Dan took the slide and shrugged it off. A little sandpaper and they'd rattle can right back to pristine. Did I mention they saved my leg?
Stones made their way into my boot as I slid down the road on my face.
I'm good, the bikes a bit beat but ready to roll with a half of one mirror. An ADVRider salute and I need to get back on this pig and regain my confidence or I'd tuck my tail between my legs and head home now.
Yeah, I'd crashed hard, bruised my knee, my wrist and my ego. Bugger! The first one down, and I was the one with the experience! But obviously not enough brains to take it easy. lol. Well sunshine, now you have to get back on the bike and after a test ride, get it back up to speed, and get it going faster than when you crashed, or you'll lose your nerve and wuss out the rest of the ride. Yeah, the next corner made me nervous, and i didn't drift it, but I kept my speed up and conquered my demons, trying to use my broken half mirror to see if the others were keeping up, so I backed off the throttle and let them rejoin, then just took it easy. It was going to be a long day and I'd remodelled my bike enough, and had to spend the rest of the trip looking at the damage and cursing my stupidity for power drifting a bike that was carrying suck a heavy load over wash boarded road. I need a steering dampener if I want to do that again. ;)
Hello? CAA? How much to tow a bike from the 51st Parallel back to Richmond Hill? What do you mean you don't accept collect calls? Hello? Hello?
It really is this beautiful. Just go.
Crater Lake. I made it.
The camera just didn't do this shot justice.
Those KLR riders that I mentioned we'd seen at the hotel at Manic Cinq? There they were again! It seems that if you're all headed the same way, you'll end up leap frogging each other time and time again. :D
We didn't get a lot of sleep in the past couple of nights...
Soon after Relais Gabriel we hit pavement near the abandoned mining town of Gagnon, and you can really fly again, although the pavement is rough in spots, so the eight inches of suspension travel makes for a nice ride. Later on, the pavement ends at a fork in the road where you are encouraged to head towards Fermont/Labrador City. This is where the ride got a nasty, as there is a base of sand with gravel over top of it, and it curves and winds it's back and forth across some hills as it criss crosses the rail line. In the distance you can see hills, and as you get closer, you see the mine tailings, and the streams and lakes full of iron ore from the filtration process. It turns the waters red with iron oxide.
For the record, the Fire Lake section and later on Port Hope Simpson to Red Bay were the two worst sections of the trip. You'll wish you had full knobs for those two bits, so I'd advise you to take it easy, and yield corners to the tractor trailers, they'll need much of the road to negotiate the tighter corners.
We made it! Let the adventure... Continue? :D
We made it! Mostly in one piece. ;)
Can you guess who this is by the helmet head?
Hair by Shoei
The specs? Those are black flies.
She's battered but still running strong.
These cases and rack are very heavy, but they saved my leg and only need a bit of rattle can to restore to their forner glory.
I put these Paris Dacre Nerf bars on for this trip, and they saved my fairing and radiator reservoir. I'm happy.
I rode another five thousand kilomters with that broken windshield and half mirror.
We had enough of wet tents, and when someone caved in and suggested we get a motel room split between the four of us, I had visions of a warm shower and a dry bed, but of course I lost the toss and ended up on the floor in Labrador City. :)
Unloading the bikes for the night
We left the room in search of some food and ran in Scott and his fellow KLR riders in front of the variety store, Jubbers, where Scott removed a blue dry sac from the back of his bike and asked us if it were ours, and as he did so, Darlene looked on and said "I have one just like that!" and when she examined the contents, discovered that her tent was inside, and it must have fallen off of the bike some time ago, down the road.
Scott said they'd been stopped by a trucker heading in the opposite direction, who handed them the bag and told them it had fallen off a bike heading towards Labrador City. It made me feel that Labrador was more inviting than certain parts of Ontario, let me tell you.
We can only stay for a minute...
The best part of an adventure like this is the people you meet along the way, and when you run into them time and time again, they become your friends in adversity as you meet up and share your stories and talk about the ride. We ran into Dave and Kathy, the Nova Scotia BMW riders again as they pulled into the hotel, and the group of us went over to Pizza Hut as nothing else was open but for McDonalds.
Arms full and looking forward to a peaceful night.
This is how you get some rest and relax. :)
That screen? It keeps the black flies out. It's a GOOD thing. :)
Day 5 - Labrador City NL to Churchill Falls NL - 243 Km - 3:17 hours
Day 5 - Labrador City NL to Churchill Falls NL
Labrador City is rather a small place after all, and we left it behind us very shortly as we journeyed East towards Churchill Falls NL.
This stuff requires a bit of concentration as it rolls the tires out from underneath you.
There are what appear to be work camps here and there along the highway.
I'm just going to have a look on the verge over here...
Lichen... I'm liken it!
There is moss all over some of these rocks, and it is very much like a thick carpet. It springs back so quickly that it can be hard to get a photo of the impressions my boots are making in it.
Something wicked this way comes
A wee spruce tree... Fancy that.
It appears to be bird shot
I can't help but wonder if they were shooting at the black flies in a desperate bid for peace... Peace at any price?
And we get a bit more asphalt again... It's a nice change of pace, we can butterfly watch for a short while.
What follows is a series of pictures that show two transport trucks passing in the distance, and the dust clouds raised by them. The camera doesn't quite capture how low your visibility is as it passes you...
121 km to go to Churchill Falls!
Up ahead were a couple of cyclists that seemed to have had a blowout, so the group pulled in, and at the time I was pretty sure that we could handle any sort of blown inner tube problem, but Dave Greene and Adrien Rawley had four flats on her tire, not just one, and while Dave was an expert at bodging a repair, it looked as if he wouldn't be able to get this one back on the road.
"Tomorrow we begin our sprint to Churchill Falls covering 250 kms in 3.5 days before starting our long-awaited canoe trip... ...Our latest adventure has included 4 flat tires in the 3 days it took us to ride from Labrador City to Churchill Falls. "
When you think about how little you can pack on a motorcycle, your gear load really pales into insignificance when you see how little a cyclist packs.
A pickup truck stopped at the side of the road, and Adrien and Dave managed to get a lift for their gear and Adrien herself, but Dave will continue the ride on his bike, less some extra weight, and meet up with Adrien in Churchill.
We did manage to feed them, as the trouble with all that exercise is the need for carbohydrates, so we volunteered a couple bags of boil in the bag pasta, and Dave filled up on that before heading off to Churchill after making sure Adrien was sorted out.
Everybody stops to ask if they can help on this stretch of highway
Adrien gets a lift for herself and her gear into Churchill
Sometimes you have to wait for them to finish building the road...
40 km to go!!!
Darlene is having fun
Churchill Falls NL - Made it!
2038 km into the trip Kenda 270s
My Kenda 270s appear to be holding up well, although the rear is show signs of wear now at 2000 km into the trip.
With the hydro electric dam diverting much of the water flow, it's not nearly as impressive a river as it once was. In fact, the falls are essentially no more... From Wikipedia:
Churchill Falls is a 245 ft (75 m) high waterfall in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. In 1970, the waters of the Churchill River were diverted to the reservoir of the Churchill Falls Generating Station so water flowing down the falls is just a trickle. About once a decade, when the reservoir hits maximum water levels, there is a controlled release of water over the falls, when flow is at about 10 per cent of what it would have been before the construction of the reservoir.
Not much water is flowing today.
We found that the town was allowing us to camp on the lawn of the Churchill Falls Community Church, and to use the facilities at the highschool, which was very kind of them.
This GS rider has PEI plates and is going the opposite direction as we are.
Dave made it! He crawled into the tent that Adrien had set up, and promptly fell asleep.
Meanwhile, I sorted out some supper, and decided that I had lost enough sleep, that I wanted to snooze instead of explore and while the others went on a tour of the Hydro Electric Dam, I opted instead to get stuck into some wobbly pops and be fast asleep before Chris was in his tent beside me. :)
Tent City, Churchill Falls NL
Black Horse beer
Mmmm... Passed out on beer and sour worms. I got a good night's sleep at last!
Day 6 - Churchill Falls NL to Happy Valley - Goose Bay NL - 291 km - 4:35 hours
Day 6 - Churchill Falls NL to Happy Valley - Goose Bay NL
We awoke to the rain, and had to take our tents down in a steady drizzle, and the morning temperature was only just better than 10 degrees Celsius.. It's mid-July!!! Someone tell Labrador that it's the summer, will you?
Rain hat by oxford
Chris decided he needed a hat more than his tank bag did.
The camera went away for much of today, as It doesn't work terribly well in the rain, as in "Not at all.", and it wasn't until Darlene decided to take a dirt nap with her motorcycle, that it came out again to record something. In fact, This is Chris Oliver's shot if memory serves me, as I am trying to get a rock under her kickstand so it won't fall over again.
What happened you ask? The Trans Labrador Highway is still very much under construction, and graders have been working the road, but they leave behind about an 8" berm that is made up of loose dirt and gravel. If you try to get round the grader, you can pass on his left straight into oncoming traffic, or you can jump or bump over the berm and pass the grader on the right hand side.
My own experience is that when I try to get over riding parallel to the berm, it becomes a roller coaster ride that leaves me uncertain as to whether I can finish it before begging to get off, as the front and rear try to go in different directions at the same time. I found the best plan was to hit it perpendicular then resume my direction of travel.
Darlene had chosen a spot to cross the berm that was very soft, and when she came down on the opposite side and tried to turn, the front dug in and down she went. Thankfully it hurt her ego far more than her, but she did manage to rearrange some plastic on her BMW as a result of it, even smashing the plastic bubble over top of her speedometer.
Trying to get a rock under this kickstand.
While we all rushed to Darlene to make sure she was alright, Geoff has a wee mishap as well, and had a zero speed tumble in the VERY loose shoulder of the TLH.
Scott and the KLR crew caught up to us, and we managed to sort out Darlene's spare plastic bits so she could keep going on towards hvgb.
The Consultants have arrived
Someone has to get some pictures of all this...
Humpty dumpty is almost back together...
Oh my god! MacAdam! Tarmac! Asphalt! With luck this will take us all the way into Happy Valley-Goose Bay!
I was a bit premature here. Haha.
The asphalt didn't last, but it was less than a 300 km stretch, so we made it at last, and opted for a hotel room for the night. Showers! Luxury!
I added a few pictures here to show you how the Beemer fared after it's mishap earlier today.
Hotel North, Happy Valley - Goose Bay NL
I'd seen this photo while doing some trip planning for the TLH, and I was chuffed to take one almost exactly like it!
Polar Bear fur, and whale vertebrate
Hi Honey, I miss you. :)
Chris was making is nightly call to let Farrah know that he was alright, and that he missed her.
Day 7 - Happy Valley - Goose Bay NL to Port Hope Simpson NL - 411 km - 5:37 hours
Day 7 - Happy Valley-Goose Bay NL to Port Hope Simpson NL
2300 km on the tires now
Kenda 270's, although next time I want something with more bite, and I'll buy a new one on Newfoundland. :)
Chris had a different combination on his KLR, a TKC80 up front with a Heidenau k60 on the rear. It was working out for him quite well, especially through the fire lake section that had defeated the Kenda 270 that I mounted for a front.
Dave was mounting TKC 80s front and rear on his GS, but he had overestimated the amount of tread left on his rear.
Now that is a fully loaded KLR!
I think he can get a bit more on that bike...
CFB Goose Bay
And it's almost time to quit talking and get going...
We few, we happy few...
In order to get the shot above, you first have to herd some cats. :)
We all had some fun and rode out along the dirt track to get back onto the road up ahead, but Dave misjudged his clearance riding two up on the GS, and managed to bottom out on the uphill incline, and slowly topple over. Kathy gracefully abandoned ship and left him to his ignominious fate, asking for help to right his very heavy (492lbs dry unloaded) GSA. His one mistake caught on film. Sorry Dave.
Where's Charely and Ewan when you need them to help pick up big bikes?
The stretch from HVGB to Port Hope Simpson is the longest without fuel, approximately 411 kilometres. This is why I've had a 5 litre gas can on my bike for 2,700 kilometres, so long that the mounting position is starting to rub grooves into the plastic.
It's beautiful. Just incredible scenery.
Eriophorum (cottongrass, cotton-grass or cottonsedge) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cyperaceae, the sedge family. They are found throughout the arctic, subarctic and temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere in acid bog habitats, being particularly abundant in Arctic tundra regions.
They are herbaceous perennial plants with slender, grass-like leaves. The seed heads are covered in a fluffy mass of cotton-like fibers which are carried on the wind to aid dispersal. In cold Arctic regions, these masses of translucent fibres also serve as 'down' – increasing the temperature of the reproductive organs during the Arctic summer by trapping solar radiation.
Paper and the wicks of candles have been made of its fiber, and pillows stuffed with the same material. The leaves were formerly used in diarrhea, and the spongy pith of the stem for the removal of tapeworm.
There is a tale about the Inuit that says they have dozens of words to refer to snow and ice. When we finished this trip we felt the same way about gravel roads, and you may see an attempt to catalogue them. Darlene was really going to great lengths and I enjoyed photographing them.
She has a real eye for detail.
Over the years I've learned not to cross water without taking a look to see it, and to consider taking a photograph of it. I've rarely been disappointed.
The road just seems to head straight on into the horizon... On and on.
Now I'm getting bored. How do you like my mirror?
That dreaded sign again... Take heed!!
You see these everywhere, and in 2011 we were passing them three and four times a day, but I expect that has tamed down a bit now that more of the highway has been paved.
The kings of the TLH
Darlene has a go!
Darlene considers a career change...
No Darlene! Look twice for bikes!
Alright, people ask are the bugs in Labrador really that bad?
We would stop whenever one of the party got caught short and needed to make a splash, but while waiting for them, the bugs would come out and swarm us, flying into our faces, onto our necks, then crawling up into the helmet. You haven't lived until you feel them biting the inside of your ears!!!
We quickly compromised on stopping... Drop down into first gear and continue with the clutch out until they catch back up to you. Don't stop for longer than a minute or you will become a casualty.
The bugs took this picture. I nearly died while waiting on Chris.
I'm reminded of that old Ontario song about the black fly that is very appropriate for Quebec, Labrador and much of Canada for that matter:
I actually did a lot of research in preparation for the trip, and found quite a bit of research that suggested using 30% DEET products coupled with mesh hats or jackets. The Labrador Bug Jacket being one of them.
We're getting there! 258 km to Port Hope Simpson
Time to boil up some lunch on the roadside, and Geoff was eager to trot out his MSR Pocket Rocket and show it to us. It's a great system, but one of the reasons we were able to stop is that this stretch of road had a really nice breeze going that effectively kept the black flies at bay, so while his stove was working away, the wind was blowing the heat right out from underneath the pot, and it took a bit longer than we expected before a hot lunch was ready. Note to self, bring windscreen if using an ISO Butane/LPG stove.
We also took our spare fuel and dumped it into the tank at this point, as we were all down by the five litres, and this would get us into Port Hope Simpson without any drama later on. That little plastic jug finally performed it's job.
More gravel up ahead.
It requires more concentration to ride the gravel, and I prefer asphalt as I can butterfly watch to my heart's delight.
Beavers all the way out here... Go figure. Why not?
YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!
We had almost made it, just another 106 kilometres to go, although one day I would love to visit Cartwright NL some day.
This stretch was dry enough for even the bikes to raise a cloud of dust, so we spaced ourselves further apart to breathe less of Labrador...
The Highway approaches the Alexis River that is the reason why Port Hope Simpson was founded back in the 1930s.
The Alexis River, Labrador NL
We've been riding in dust kicked up by other bikes, by the odd car, and trucks. it's getting everywhere.
The Kenda's are now 2700 km down range on this trip, and I hope to get 7,500 km out of the rear, maybe even all the way back to Richmond Hill before mounting a new one.
Port Hope Simpson is on the other side of the estuary. We made it!
The bridge spanning the Alexis River in Labrador... A gateway to civilization. Fuel and an end to the days ride await on the other side.
If you are heading back to HVGB, it's only 410 km without gas
P & K
After fuelling the bikes, and collecting some souvenirs, we headed over to Campbell's for dinner, and place to spend the night before heading further East.
This is the first time I got the chance to indulge in "Toutons" pronounced "t-OW tons", a plain yeast bread dough fried in pork fat then drizzled with molasses. Mmmm. I enjoy them quite a bit with my tea.
I posted this in the GTASportriders forum:
We made it to Port Hope Simpson with a couple of mishaps, I had a wee get off mid corner on the gravel at about 70kph 20km north of Manic Cinq and modified my front , bruised my wrist, knee and ego. One of these will never recover. We had another rider high side at low speed crossing an eight inch high berm and bruise a couple of her bits. Another toppled in soft sand trying to get the kickstand down. Yet another had a zero speed tip over when he tried climbing a ditch out from in front of the hvgb sign where we'd all posed with our bikes for "THE" shot. One rider has yet to fall off of the five. Tat2! That means you're not pushing the edge and you can go faster! :P The weather is far colder than I was expecting, so I brought a few super light MX shirts instead of heavier ones.It's working out, I'm enjoying the trip and the team it builds while riding. We saw two bears so far, no Caribou at all! And the Moose were in hiding with them. Cheers for now.
The view from the dining room
The hovercraft can reach areas of ice and water that would stump ordinary vessels, and is much cheaper as a rescue vehicle than a helicopter.
Day 8 - Port Hope Simpson to Saint Lunaire-Griquet NL - 391 km - 8:25 hours
Day 8 - Port Hope Simpson to St. Lunaire-Griquet NL
The bikes are right where we left them...
Darlene is doing some more load rearranging. While she likes the Wolfman panniers, they seem to require a bit (a lot) of tweaking to make her happy.
Gravel #7 The Rolly stuff
We say goodbye to the river Alexis
Geoff's chain guard got swallowed by his chain, and he finally stopped and chopped that mother off his bike for more peace and quiet while riding. I'd have done the same, but I wouldn't have had such an awesome multi-tool to do the job.
If I recall correctly, the stretch of gravel from Port Hope Simpson to Red Bay was the worst bit of all. The ground was hard packed on a raised road, with a layer of sand upon which marble sized rocks sat. This was a true test of the rider, as you needed to pick a path and power out of front wheel slides, but also try not to end up riding too fast.
Dave and Kathy were having a fine time of it, as he told me later on, "I've got this sorted. The bike is big and heavy and rides like it at slower speeds, but as soon as I hit 80 or 90 on it, it tracks true and just rides right."
I wish I could say the same about my KLR. The front was sliding left and right at a pretty quick pace.
Dave and Kathy making tracks up ahead
Red Bay, the unofficial end to the Trans Labrador Highway, the new bit that is
That's quite the bank!
It's a pedal bike!!!
These guys have some pretty wicked pedal bikes!
He wants to trade up...
Red Bay boasts a very fine whaling museum in the town, and we really enjoyed learning more about how and why this coastline was settled. From the Newfoundland Tourism site:
In the 1500s, the waters of Red Bay were thick with right and bowhead whales. Whalers from the Basques regions of Spain and France established a major whale port here. On the shores of Red Bay, the Basques rendered whale oil that lit the lamps of Europe. Today, you can wander around the former whaling town and UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse yourself in the traditional life of a Basques whaler.
Between 1550 and the early 17th century, Red Bay, known as Balea Baya (Whale Bay), was a centre for Basque whaling operations. Sailors from southern France and northern Spain sent 15 whaleships and 600 men a season to the remote outpost on the Strait of Belle Isle to try to catch the right whale and bowhead whales that populated the waters there.
In 1565, a ship—believed to be San Juan—sank in the waters off Red Bay during a storm. Other, smaller vessels, such as chalupas, have also been recovered from the waters.
Another galleon was found 25–35 feet below water in 2004. It was the fourth trans-oceanic ship to have been found in the area.
A cemetery on nearby Saddle Island holds the remains of 140 whalers. Many of the people buried there are thought to have died from drowning and exposure.
I must say that I particularly enjoyed visiting the museum and seeing all the displays.
Sea shells for sale
I bought a couple of sea shells from these lads, and they flopped around loose in my top box for another 5,000 km. I had to toss them when I got home as they'd been beaten by everything I was carrying and were no longer in one piece.
And with no fanfare or applause, we had reached a sign that told us we were entering Quebec and our trip across the Trans Labrador Highway was done and behind us.
Trans Labrador Highway survived... Mostly.
Google claims we did 2,921 kilometres of riding to get there. I for one am looking forward to pavement and leaving the gravel behind. Bring it on! Newfoundland awaits!
The ride was glorious! The road was a bit beaten up, but so much easier to ride than gravel, and we picked up our speed and tried to remember how to lean into corners again.
That's snow up there... Yep, snow in Mid July in Labrador. Dress warm if you go..
Someone else on their way to brave the Trans Labrador Highway... Best of luck!
This is just stunning.
This is one of my favourite photos of the couple. I sincerely hope I find someone to be my friend and companion in adventure like the two of them.
Dave and Kathy
Hah! I've never ridden a bike this overloaded since... I hope not to.
Eight kilometers off of the highway was a light house that Darlene or was it Kathy wanted to visit, so just when I thought we were done with gravel, off we go on yet another excursion. :)
It's a bit close to the ocean, isn't it?
Later on I found it was name the "Cove of Death" or "Anse aux Morts"
Point Amour Lighthouse
And it was off East again, well sort of south west strictly speaking, as we were enroute to Blanc-Sablon and our ferry across the Strait of Belle Isle.
Wait a sec... What is that in the distance!? A frickin' Ice Berg!!! Okay, it was a small ice berg, but there it was.
An ice berg in the strait of Belle Isle
The landscape is decieving for you see so much green, but it's moss and other ground cover. You have to walk carefully, as it may conceal holes and other pit falls
Labrador is checked off on the bucket list
We headed into Quebec and arrived in due course at the ferry terminal where we queued up with everyone else, around 1800 if memory serves, but Geoff was going to miss the crossing as his Vivianne had not yet made her ferry connection as her adventure had taken her from Manic Cinq back down to Kegashka Island where she would take a ferry that served coastal Quebec when the roads ended, and take her to Blanc Sablon where she would meet Geoff.
The ferry takes a while, so you get some people walking up and talking about bikes, the weather, and whatever strikes their or your fancy. It really is a friendly place to be, and being on a vacation we don't have a lot of stress at the moment, especially as we'll be on Newfoundland later on this evening, the start of a whole new adventure for some members of the party, but no so much for Chris and Geoff who were born there.
We'd seen a Gold Wing today, once or twice, and here it was again in the queue waiting for the ferry as well. It turns out that Paul and Lori had been day tripping in Labrador, away from their home in Saint Lunaire-Griquet, NL
As a biker, there is a fellowship with other bikers in most cases. We are all on the bikes for different reasons, but there is a vulnerability and strength to us, that when meeting others, you respect the fact that they choose that lifestyle. It makes you feel good to be numbered among them, yet still remain an individual. That accounts for the wave you may see us giving each other in passing. It's hard to describe, but it means that people will walk up to you out of the blue and start chatting about motorcycles, the ones they have at home, or the one they used to ride many years ago when they were younger, and you give in to the camaraderie, exchanging smiles and good wishes along with good stories and more.
I wasn't prepared for the Newfoundland experience. I mean we all have heard stories about how friendly they newfs are, but Paul and Lori asked our group what our plans were once we hit the Island off of the ferry and when they heard that we had nothing concrete, just riding off the ferry and looking for a camping spot to the north along NL 430 as we planned to visit the Viking settlement L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. Paul and Lori wouldn't hear of it. They invited our group to spend the night in his heated garage up in Saint Lunaire-Griquet, NL, which would put us right on track for the Viking settlement in the morning!
Paul and Lori C., waiting on the ferry, chatting with Dave and Kathy
Darlene can make friends anywhere. It must be that smile of hers
We watched the sun begin to set while still on the ferry, and it was getting darker by the time we rolled off the ferry, with Paul taking the lead on his Wing, followed by the others, then me at the very tail end on my old KLR.
Saint Barbe NL is about 1:30 hours and 130 km from Paul and Lori's, so we did a long stint of riding in twilight then full dark as we left "Civilization" meaning the coastal area, and headed through the interior of the province. It was a conga line of headlights, with Paul's Wing the star of the show, with his headlamp and auxiliary lighting, along with rear and side lighting making him look like a wee tractor trailer up ahead, followed by Dave's Beemer and it's lights, then Darlene, Geoff, Chris and I, in last place, with the weakest headlight of all. I'd see Paul hitting the brakes which would have all of us slowing down, then picking up speed again, a number of times that had me wondering what he was avoiding, as all I saw was blackness ahead and to the sides. When we were all in his driveway, he asked us this question:
"How many moose have did you see?"
And received a few different responses and a bit of excitement from us Ontario folks...
"I saw five moose!"exclaimed David.
Chris and Darlene seemed to be somewhere in that area and they tossed figures out while I shook my head in wonder.
"I saw three!" said Geoff
Until it got round to me:
"I didn't see anything! Just you guys hitting the brakes like you were Sunday driving on your way to church!"
I shook my head in wonder at what I was going to hit while riding here, and never see it. Clearly the lights on my bike need an upgrade!!!
We got settled into the garage quite late, and a couple of us opted for a late meal before bed, Dave and his MSR Whispterlite roaring out a happy tune while my SVEA123R chugged along
Now that's a fire!
Extracted from a post made to GTASportriders.com:
(Day 8) Heh heh. One of these days I'd love to get out to California and do the PCH and interior BC, but this was the last Eastern Province to scratch off the bucket list and a great ADVRide as well with friends. We conquered the Trans Lab yesterday and rode back onto pavement in Red Bay Labrador, where is was an easy run down to the ferry at Blanc Sablon where we met Paul and Lori who invited us to camp out in their heated Garage in St. Lunaire-Grigoet Newfoundland. (Day 9) We woke up to a home cooked breakfast and then Paul took us out into the bay on his boat where we were able to touch one of the many icebergs in the bay, then we watched his wife lori jigging for cod and come up with three fish in as many minutes, none big enough to keep so they were tossed back.He has a four legged visitor to his property, as moose will come out of the woods and snack on Lori's lilac bushes. In fact we saw two males just off his driveway, then a doe and two calves and the mother crossing the road. Moose were introduced to the island in 1904 as an alternate source of meat, and Newfoundland has the highest moose population in North America as a result. We headed up to L'Anse Aux meadoux to see the Viking settlement and ran into Rob Harris and Jim who are doing the TLH tomorrow on a Yamaha Super tenere and a BMW F800GS counter clockwise. We traded tips over lunch and it was off to find a camping spot until we heard the weather warning for rain. Our tents are still wet from the last rainfall, so we opted for a room for the night. Tomorrow we should be in Gross Morne for a couple of days before heading over to see Tat2 relatives in Badger, then up to Bonavista if we have time before St. John's. Cheers for now from St. Anthony Newfoundland.Re the ego? I'm used to crashing offroad, but a gravel get off was totally my fault for riding as if I were in Ontario on unknown roads in remote Quebec. I learn the hard way. I wonder how many of my students will take their cruisers or sportbikes on the TLH? Should I warn each class?
10 in the morning, 19 in the afternoon, 25 in the sun, although Paul mentioned they'd had a run of rain the past week or two. It's a beautiful place and I've only seen a small portion of it as yet. For whatever reason I can't log into yfrog, picasa or Photobucket, so you'll have to wait for pictures or send me a fb friend request.It's raining at 0630 here, and they're calling for an inch or more of rain, so perhaps we'll make it a late checkout after breakfast. Cheers!Oh, the carriage returns on my blackberry are being ignored when I submit.
Day 9 - Saint Lunaire-Griquet, NL to St. Anthony NL - 53 Km 1 hour
Day 9 - St. Lunaire-Griquet NL to St. Anthony NL
Darlene gets the couch
Waking up early in the garage, I heeded the call of nature, and as always, decided that I needed to get a few pictures of my surroundings.
They've got a lovely place here, but I can't figure out why they chose to have a stunted little runt of a shrubbery out front in the yard.
I walked down to the end of the driveway to find that Paul and Lori get visitors here! Maybe I'd actually get a photo of a moose or two this trip?!
Bullwinkle was here
Chris has already got his sticker mounted, which is fair, as there is nothing like hauling something for a few thousand kilometers on a KLR and expect it not to be vibrated out of existence. :)
Lori was in the house making breakfast, and Paul invited us to join them in the kitchen, where we feasted on the remains of the contents of their refrigerator. Seriously, I don't think they had an egg, a piece of bread, or strip of bacon left after they shared their meal with us. Paul offered to take us on a boat tour of the local harbour where his relatives and in-laws might be out and about that day, and he said we were in luck as there was still a large number of small icebergs out in the bay for us.
Paul told me that the moose were responsible for eating that shrub out front of the house, and went on to say that they had bought the lilac bush to enjoy the flowers in the spring, but they had never seen any, as it had become a favourite snack of the local moose, who managed to refrain from outright killing it so far, but it didn't have much growth as they pruned it back now and then.
Paul hitched up his boat trailer to the truck, but we didn't even get down to the community center for the turn around before spying my first moose... and then another one, and another!!! They were all over the place, and plainly not terribly excited at trucks and boats.
MooseAlces alces StatusNative to Labrador.Introduced to Gander Bay, NF in 1878 and to Howley, NF in 1904. (They aren't native to the island of Newfoundland!) HabitatMoose are found on the wooded hillsides of the rocky western mountain ranges, along the margins of ponds, lakes and rivers of the boreal forest, swamps, bogs and also on the northern tundra. They also can be found in fresh water feeding. RangeMoose extend from the Alaska boundary all across Canada to the eastern tip of Newfoundland. FoodDuring the winter it feeds on twigs and shrubs - about (18 - 22 kg) (40 to 50 pounds) a day. In the summer moose eat many types of leaves of trees and shrubs such as birch and maple. They also feeds on water plants consuming a total of (22 - 27 kg) (50 to 60 lbs.) a day Predators/ThreatsBlack and grizzly bears are the main predators. Wolves kill them in winter when the snow is deep to their advantage or on ponds and lakes where it is easy for the moose to slip and fall. Wolverines and cougars are also known to kill calves. On the Island of Newfoundland, moose is an important game animal, with approximately 22,000 being harvested yearly. LifespanMoose can live 20 years or more in the wild.
Four moose were introduced to the Island of Newfoundland near the town of Howley in 1904. Positive and negative, the (estimated) 150,000 descendants of these hungry herbivores have left an indelible mark on this province's identity, culture and landscape. Moose were originally introduced as part of a wider government initiative to develop the Island's interior. It was hoped that the animals would attract big game hunters - a new market for Newfoundland's new railways. The meat would also sustain workers needed in the burgeoning mining and forestry industries - a key to diversifying the country's fishing-based economy. With few natural predators and finding Newfoundland the perfect habitat, moose thrived and the rest is history. Today, moose are so numerous that they pose a hazard to drivers, and their voracious appetites are altering the native forest. But the moose is none the less an important part of this province's identity. Moose meat is a feature on the BBQs of community festivals and the menus of gourmet restaurants promoting local food, and the annual moose hunt is celebrated in story and song as an opportunity for people to reconnect with the land.
I can't tell you how happy I was to have seen those moose today... :)
But then we were off to see the icebergs, and I lost all interest in moose for a time as Paul and Lori launched from the Harbour and out into the waters surrounding the islands that make up the picturesque landscape.
From the ocean it is hard to read the shoreline, and I think we are very fortunate to have access to google maps and GPS as compared to John Cabot and others such as the Vikings that navigated "By Guess and By God." It was clear that the couple knew their way around these waters, and Paul told us stories of maintaining a viking longboat and taking tourists out into the bays, but here we were getting our own private tour.
The icebergs drift into the bay with the currents, then get caught along the shore line, where they eventually run ashore, then get pounded by wind, waves and tide and begin to melt in the sun, and get pulverized into smaller pieces from below. This ice calved off of glaciers in Greenland and Nunavut and may be thousands of years old, from a time when pollution was simply burning firewood and CO2. Paul encouraged us to pull a piece out of the salt water.
Kathy lands a big one!
I need a rum glass big enough for my ice cube!
Dave and his ice cone... Au naturel
Paul encouraged us to give the ice a lick, and I would have bet you that it would taste like salt water as it was still wet, but Paul explained that the fresh water covered the surface of the ice, and displaced the salt somehow. I forget the science involved, sorry, but the ice tasted exclusively of fresh water!
Lori has the catch of the day...
Lori is no stranger to jigging for cod
You really should look at the impact that the North Atlantic Cod fisheries has had on Europe. In fact, look at the history of Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island for a wee glimpse into how important this food source was to the old world. For now, I invite you to look at what Wikipedia has to say about the history of the Atlantic Cod
Cod has been an important economic commodity in international markets since the Viking period (around 800 AD). Norwegians travelled with dried cod and soon a dried cod market developed in southern Europe. This market has lasted for more than 1,000 years, enduring the Black Death, wars and other crises, and is still an important Norwegian fish trade. The Portuguese began fishing cod in the 15th century. Clipfish is widely enjoyed in Portugal. The Basques played an important role in the cod trade, and allegedly found the Canadian fishing banks before Columbus' discovery of America. The North American east coast developed in part due to the vast cod stocks. Many cities in the New England area are located near cod fishing grounds. The fish was so important to the history and development of Massachusetts, the state's House of Representatives hung a wood carving of a codfish, known as the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, in its chambers.
I can see why the fish was so popular as it was extremely easy to catch, as all you had to do when jigging for cod was to set up a number of hooks on your line, sink it overboard, and "jig" the line up and down until you felt a strike, and as Lori had grown up here, she was an expert and brought one up in no time for Paul to do his show and tell for us.
If you can see the rivulets of blue ice in the iceberg below, they used to be meltwater on the glacier, running down in a stream during the daylight hours, but freezing at night, leaving a clear band through the berg.
Paul was cautious bringing us up to the icebergs, and was always on the lookout for dangers to it's fragile hull. No titanic reenactments for us.
Chris is still looking for a glass big enough for this ice cube.
I understand now why they call Newfoundland "The Rock"
Captain Paul and his first mate and crew, Lori
If I remember correctly this was Lori's brother out jigging for cod on his day off.
This used to be part of an iceberg, and with the motor shut off, you could hear a crackling and popping as oxygen trapped in the ice was released. It was amazing!
Eight years later I still have a souvenir from this net attached to my bike, a bit of scrap green cord.
Repairing the nets is nothing new.
It was a tough go, thanking our hosts for such incredible treatment in the day and half that we had known them. It was a trip highlight, that ride through the dark, then breakfast and the tour of the icebergs. So, I have to invite you to see Newfoundland for yourself and experience it first hand. The land and the people.
Thanks again Lori and Paul!
And it was off to see the Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. It wasn't until we were in the parking lot that I snapped a couple of pictures of fellow travellers motorcycles:
A Yamaha Tenere "S10" that I had heard so much about. It was a huge bike for an adventure bike, and I wondered how it truly handled off road
I didn't know it at the time, but I'd see that sheepskin again and again in the future.
It's the new Yamaha Super Tenere!
Just inside the door of the visitor centre and museum of L'Anse Aux Meadows were two motorcyclists on their way out, Rob Harris and Jim Vernon of CMG Fame, and as Darlene had attended the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally MBSR that Rob had hosted with CMG, she knew Rob quite well and immediately began chatting with the two about how she managed to be so far away from home.
The Norsemen were fishing the banks of Newfoundland in AD 1000
Jim Vernon and Darlooney
It transpired that Rob and Jim were headed towards the Trans Labrador Highway, and had to catch the ferry later on tomorrow to take them across, but for now they were going for lunch just in the Norseman just down the road.
Rob Harris and Jim Vernon about to ride off into history.
On our way to the Norseman
Slumming with Rob Harris, the editor of Canada Moto Guide
It seemed that our group were the only visitors of the afternoon, so we got quite a bit of time to chat with the knowledgeable reenactors that inhabit the longhouse who dressed in period clothing and worked around the campfire. When the weather is this perfect in Newfoundland it would be a shame to stay cooped up in the longhouse.
They have the foundations of the original settlement marked, and David is working hard in the settlement's workshop as you can see.
Working hard, or hardly working?
They have some fantastic artwork at the site, made by modern artists, and I was particularly taken with the dragon on this piece.
Geoff and Vivianne rejoined us in the parking lot, and we welcomed "Vee" as the newest member of the party! On the best bike for all this asphalt, a BMW F800 with touring luggage with proper sport touring tires!
We headed south into Saint Anthony and rented a motel room for the night, as the forecast was calling for some pretty rough weather that evening, and I'm very glad we did.
Hotel North, St. Anthony NL
Yeah, that's what rain looks like alright.
Darlene wanted to see if she could fix up some of the accident damage that had happened on the other side of the pond, more specifically, she was worried about waterproofing her dash cluster and while she worked on her bike, I thought I'd take a look at my air filter for giggles... Ummm. Perhaps if I do a trip like this again, I should bring a spare filter preoiled in a zip-loc bag, or use the nylon trick, wrap a nylon stocking over the air filter, and dispose of it mid trip to get rid of buildup.
It's pretty nasty looking alright, and I'd like to see to cleaning it later on in this trip.
Day 10 - St Anthony NL to Shallow Bay NL - 304 km 3:35 hours
Day 10 - St. Anthony NL to Shallow Bay NL
That ride south was hard going, and I still recall it as one of the worst times I've spent on a motorcycle, due to the wind and remnants of that rain we were riding through. The KLR has a high centre of gravity, so when it is hit by a gust of wind, to the rider, it seems to tip a bit, and wander out of your track, so the correction is to lean and counter steer it back into the track. But when you get hit with wind so strong that it takes a ten foot wide correction, you begin to wonder if you should ride so close to the shoulder and it's ten foot high pile of granite rocks, or pray that there is no oncoming traffic at all. It felt as if the front tire of my KLR was "folding" under, and only way to save it was to go with it until you could add correction steering and throttle inputs. Two hours of it was enough, and I was very happy when we stopped for a late lunch that day.
Admiring the single wheel trailer.
I've seen these trailers before, notably a version sold by a retailer based in Quebec, then a friend of mine rode with one while sport touring in the states, managing to keep his entire load in the trailer instead of on the back of his bike, and he did not hold back while riding his bike at all!
We spent much of the day in rain gear, and it was chilly! You would ride out from behind a stand of trees and get hit with a gust of wind that explained in minutes, why the brush and scrub in the area was so twisted and ground hugging, and it was one of those rides that I wondered what I was doing here when I could have been at home with my feet up waiting for the pizza guy to ring the doorbell.
The sun is coming out and starting to dry everything out, but it's 1830 on Sunday, and I think it's time to think about pitching a tent somewhere.
And so Dave and Kathy led the show to a campsite in Shallow Bay NL, where we had back tracked from Saint Pauls just a tad to get settled for the night. Once the tents were up, we had a wee mission for some alcohol, then it was time to get some supper made.
Gee thanks, Darlene. I was ready to call National Geographic with this one.
Darlooney photo bombing my "Roughing it far from civilization" shot
Black Horse beer, proudly brewed and sold in Newfoundland.
I call it Dead Horse, but Geoff and Chris would correct me every time.
Once supper was out of the way, it was time to get the party started, but first we made good use of those Labrador bug jackets that we'd paid so much for (and never used while in Labrador).
Chris is modelling the latest in
Geoff doesn't need them as he is immune to their stinging, I'm not sure if it's something he was born with or he poured it out of the bottle that night.
Chris shows us how to filter out beverages with mesh.
What did you think of the good stuff?
Dave is convinced he can make this work
Without liquid Boy Scout
Okay, now that is a fire.
Dar and Kathy hard at play.
Sunset over Belldowns Islands, NL
Sunset over Belldowns Islands, NL
It's a spectator sport
And now it's time for some serious drinking...
A wee pull on the bottle. Ahhh. Mother's milk!
Maybe one more.
I am feeling no pain.
If you drink on a full stomach, you won't be as hungover in the morning.
Clearly I was surrounded by Pros
Flashes don't work so well this late at night.
Dave and I sat up talking and drinking and drinking and talking late into the night, and after wishing him a good night sometime after midnight, I stumbled off to my own tent somewhere over that-a-way.
Extracted from GTASportriders.com:
Tat2 has taken on the role of culinary guide, and I'm determined to sample local cuisine when on a trip, so I had Cod tongues and chips my first night in Goose Bay, and have had bologna with every breakfast as well. I'd a lovely mug up at the Alexis hotel in Port Hope Simpson, and later that night had the cod and chips. Heavenly. They know how to do it right!Yesterday morning I had a side of Toutons to go with breakfast and shared them round as we had breakfast with Rob Harris and Jim Vernon before they had to make the ferry over to Labrador. They should just be waking up in Red Bay this morning, as we stayed in a motel in St. Anthony last night as they received 35 to 40mm of rain. We'd a late lazy checkout at 1300 and made it down the coast in high winds.The winds were so bad that the bikes were tossed around and I'd a very real fear of being blown into oncoming traffic as did we all, even the GS1200 piloted by Dave and Kathy was having difficulty, while Tat2 and I on KLR's felt as if our front tires were being swept out from beneath us. Thankfully the wind abated further down the coast where we stopped for lunch and I sampled some very fine Chowder and rolls before ordering a side of fries, gravy and dressing. The dressing is seasoned breadcrumbs flavoured similarly to bread stuffing you might find in a turkey, sage, savoury, salt and chives or parsley. My first thought was it was very similar to Colonel's spice blend for his chicken. As Tat2 says, "It sticks to your ribs".There are a very small number of restaurants licensed to serve Moose, and we've yet to run across one yet, although I did have Caribou sausage in Red Bay.The mosquitoes want their breakfast and I need the facilities so I'll leave you for now.Penned from my tent in Gros Morne, near Cow's head.
Day 11 - Shallow Bay, Cow Head, NL to Norris Point NL - 60 km 50 minutes
Day 11 - Shallow Bay NL to Norris Point NL
It wasn't a long trip by any means, but what you don't see on the map is a four kilometre hike we made at Western Brook Pond where we parked
Day 12 - Norris Point NL to Badger NL
We didn't get far yesterday, we camped at Shallow Bay, had a lazy start and didn't leave the campsite until ten or eleven, got to western brook and hiked in to the lake, but didn't take the lake boat, hiked back out and carried on down the road a bit past Rocky Harbour, but we stopped long enough for me to drop my bike. :P I was taking pictures of the coast and saw a rutted track that led onto the bluff so I followed it until it reached a ditch that was a bit too steep for me to try while riding solo, parked the bike, walked a couple hundred metres further on to snap a couple of shots and turned to find that the kickstand had sunk into the soft earth and was now lying on its side. Lol. I was more worried about the gas leaking from the tank than damage to the bike as it's got crash guards front and heavy ammo can panniers on the rear. Getting up was a bit of a chore while fully loaded, but I managed to right it and get it back onto the asphalt and down to Norris Point where we found a Bread & Breakfast run by an older gentleman, Terry's Place. His name was in fact Terry, with a Yamaha V-Star and a dog named Scrubbs. Terry sent us down the road to his relatives restaurant for dinner where I had some lovely pan fried cod, chips and gravy with dressing. We headed back to Terry's and he told me wear I could best view the sunset over western point. I did a wee bit of off roading to get there, but the view and resulting photo's a re spectacular! I'll add some to this thread when I get to my sister's place on PEI next week. Terry cooked us breakfast, and it was then that I said farewell to Kathy and Dave as they'd decided to play tourist with their final days on the island and stay on the Western side and visit Stephenville, Corner Brook, and make their way down to the Ferry at Port Aux Basque. One of my friends elected to stay with them, while wanted to see the East Coast, St. John's, and Bonavista where I have some relatives, so I packed up and hit the highway to meet up with Tat2. The roads south out of Gros Morne were fun and beautiful as I wound my way towards the Trans Canada and turned towards Badger NL. The bad part is I hit reserve at 269 which was a bit unnerving as a fuel search showed 53km to the next station, but badger was 39km away. I backed off on the gas and took it easy, thinking that I MIGHT have to message Tat2 to meet me on the road with a can of gas, but I made it into the Irving station in Badger, and later on sat down to lunch of toutons, beans and bologna at his Aunts. He's unloaded his bike and road about 20 km of the T'railway round trip and said that it was whooped out by the quads and that 1st and 2nd was fast enough to make him nervous in the deep crushed rocks. He said 50 was the best he got going, but when the front sunk into the deeper gravel he felt like moses parting the red sea. A smaller dirt bike would have had a fun rip. Steak dinner after a walk down to the convenience store for beer and we find ourselves yawning as we plan our ride to St. Johns tomorrow where we'll visit Signal Hill, St. John's harbour and Cape Spear. "Trew de air, oer de ocean, for da first the time, ever" Tat2 has been saying the whole trip. :P After that we overnight in New Harbour on his uncles lawn, then I head up to see what family I have left in Bonavista and he heads south for the Argentia Ferry. I'm booked on Sat from Port Aux Basque where I'll meet up with D, Dave and Kathy.
Map Missing here:
Yesterday Tat2 and I left his Aunts place in Badger and made tracks for St. Johns, but the four and a half hour ride seemed to take forever. We stopped for gas and I realized I'd left my wallet at his Aunt's house and back I went (1.5 kilometres), stopped at the roadside to don rain gear and rode ten kiometres before finding that I'd left my camelbak insecured on top of my canoe bags and it had parted ways with me, so back I went, all the while entertaining visions of pickup and trailer running it over, burst seams and a dark blot of water to mark it's passing only to find it unharmed at the roadside not far from where we'd stopped. We stopped at Gambo, at the overlook and took a few pictures, and who should pull up trailering his bike back to St. Johns but Brian, a Honda CBF1000 rider that we'd met in Rocky Harbour a couple of days ago. There was talk about where to find a Jiggs dinner and an emergency screech in for I've "Come from away" to their beautiful island. The fog and rain closed in once past Clarenville and we rode without music and at times closeted in by the fog so we slowed down to 80 on the TCH East and at the previous pee break I'd donned a highvis vest that I take along for conditions exactly like that so the townies rushing home from vacation don't run me down on the road. The road winds it's way through Terra Nova, then the Avalon Peninsula, up and down hills to our exit of 41A into Mount Pearl and on into St Johns harbour area where we got turned around looking for the road to Cape Spear and ended up back tracking along the highway to an exit three kilometers up the road and took town streets back the way we came until we finally sorted out exactly where Garmin was asking us to make that all-important right turn, leading you away from downtown St. Johns to the South then finally turning East once you crest the hill in the fog to see the park sign. Unfortunately, as we heard from the locals, we'd chosen the one day this week NOT to see the sights, as that fog obscured most of the coastline and had left us cold and miserable, but we were still elated enough to walk out along the boardwalk, ignore the numerous "Danger" signs and get some shots out on the rocks. Credit me with enough intelligence to stand only on the dry rocks well back from the crashing surf. :PIf you had visions of me dipping my tire into the surf, I imagine it could be done with a 150 foot rope, but the rim would have some back up all twisted and broken. A helicopter flew overhead, but for the fog it was invisible. We mounted the bikes again, after deciding that at 1700 we weren't going to see anything from Signal hill, or much of Petty Harbour, and Brian had sent an email saying that I could replace my scratched clear visor at one of the three dealerships on Topsail road (their Yonge Street) that runs from St. Johns through Mount Pearl and on into Paradise where I found that 1745 is fifteen minutes too late for any of them to be open, although I did meet with someone turning the key at the Kawasaki dealer who, if I was around tomorrow, offered to bring in the visor from his RF1100 to see if it would fit for the trip home. I thanked him kindly and said I was on my way west this evening to New Harbour. How can you top generosity like that?!We had dinner after refuelling at the Kozy Kitchen in Paradise, where I'd a Pineapple Crush and a fisherman's platter of two pieces of battered cod, fries, dressing, gravy, onions and peas before donning our rain gear and heading for New Harbour where Tat2 had directions like "turn left at the bridge, and if you end up in the Atlantic and see whales, you've missed us". Well, we missed them, but as soon as we came to a stop, a couple of guys asked where we were to, and soon sorted out that it was Carl we were looking for and needed to go back a ways and turn right when we passed the camper van. Success! Tat2 had his family reunion and I'd a nice hot cuppa and some great conversation before bed. Today Tat2 is leaving for the ferry while I pack up and get a move on to see Bonavista to search out some distantly related family in the area, then I'll head back to Port Aux Basque to meet up with my party who have been enjoying the West coast. Rain and fog and a high of 13 so I'd best get moving before that system hits, as. Port Aux Basque is 884 kilometres from St. Johns. Perhaps I'll camp in Corner Brook or Stephenville tomorrow before riding a section of the Trailway.Oh, check out CMGOnline for the latest from Editor 'Arris and Jim who suffered a setback on the TLH. Cheers from New Harbour (up the road from Dildo NFLD)
Maps Missing again:
I had a cuppa tea and a bowl of cereal with Tat2 before loading my gear on the bike just as it began to rain. I said my goodbyes and hit the road, but I didn't get very far as a sign said "Dildo" with an arrow, so I went down and snapped some pictures of the harbour and town before heading southwest back to the TCH west, but on the way I saw an EAGLE!!! Just sitting on a rock just in the bay, about twenty metres from shore. I made a quick U-turn to go back, and found my aftermarket muffler startled it into flight before I could get anything. I have one crappy cellphone pic of it winging it's way across the harbour as far from my ISD2 Supertrap as it could get. Once on the Trans Canada it was a bit of a slog until I reached the Clarenville area where I turned off the TCH bound for Bonavista. Once out of the town the road became highly entertaining for almost the entire hour it took to get up to the tip of the Peninsula. You pass through towns with names like Trinity Bay, places I'd heard of in stories and songs, and now was seeing in person. The landscape varies incredibly, from rocky lichen covered tundra, to mixed forest, and rocky coastline. I found myself stopping again and again to capture as much as I could with my camera. Bonavista was a bit of an anticlimax, as with many large towns out this way, it's more of a sprawl than a built up city, so the two and three story buildings are the tallest ones you'll see, but the homes are tightly packed together, with few trees, and cover the rolling hills.It was lunchtime and the cereal I had that morning was long gone so I was on the lookout for a local restaurant when I spied a rider on a Honda 250R so I pulled in beside him and we talked the universal language of bikes. What displacement, how do you like the abs etc etc. Cory, a fisherman who'd caught his government allowed qouta yesterday offered to show me the way to Cabot's Landing out on Cape Bonavista, so I followed him out, set the kickstand down, threw on a sweater to take the chill out of the cooler ocean breeze. Cory pointed out some whales in the bay, but I was unable to make them out, confusing a rock in the heaving swell for a minute before giving up. I did see Puffins though, perched on rocks, paddling in the more protected nooks and coves, and winging their way from stony perch to stony perch. The lighthouse on the Cape began to sound it's fog horn, and I watched a bank of fog slowly begin to obscure a grassy island where Cabot had landed sheep and goats to graze on. Newfoundlanders still use similar islands for their sheep, as there are no predators and they don't like to swim, so it makes ideal pasture for them. Cory shook my hand and said farewell after recommending a local restaurant just down the road, the Dairy King, where you could have anything from burgers to scallops. A bacon mushroom melt with fries, dressing and gravy hit the spot, although I noticed that the mushrooms were canned. Perhaps they don't have access to the fresh foods that we do in Ontario, and it's certainly shown in the dearth of farmland I've seen on the island. In Onterrible, when the trees disappear you usually will see cultivated land with fences, tractors, and barns, but for the most part all I've seen are lobster traps, fishing boats and the odd small sheep or dairy farm apart from a few vegetable plots.After lunch I donned my rain gear once more and set off towards the Trans Canada Highway once more to head as far west as I could. The weather turned from foggy drizzle into a harder, cold rain, and by the time I got to the lookout over Gambo, I was cold, damp and miserable, wondering if I'd ever see the sun again. Just after my brief stop in Gambo, I felt water between my legs. My rainpants had sprung a leak right at the crotch and I was subjected to wet balls for the rest of the trip. Gander passed in a wet, cold blur. My heated grips were on high, vinyl rain gloves on, overtop "waterproof" (HAH!) snowmobile gloves and my hands were almost cold, but not quite. Was that a light blue edge to the cloud in the distant horizon?! Was I finally going to leave this rain behind?! Hallelujah! The Sun!!! The roads were drying up and my gear began to dry out so I stopped for fuel in Badger and took the time to don a base layer after shedding my rain gear, as the day was getting on. Just a note about the rain gear I'm using. The Kimpex overboots keep the rain off your boots, but will allow water in over the course of a few hours or longer. I've promised myself to wear my waterproof Alpinestar web gortex next go around. I wore a pair of motorcycle ankleboots that are very comfortable for riding and walking in, but aren't waterproof by any stretch of the imagination. Still, they'd be on my feet for three weeks... My problem with these is my boots will sometimes slip off the rubber soles, and at one point while trying to mount the bike, my boot slipped off the rubber sole, the peg, and I nearly faceplanted into the seat. I was careful with mounts and dismounts afterwards. I rate them a 5/10. They'll perform in a downpour, but there has to be something better. I bought an MSR hydroshell pullover at Royal Distributing at the suggestion of my good friend Willie who rode more off road than anything, and he said his friends used them as they fold up into a small pouch that can be worn on a belt. It has surprisingly good neck and wrist gaiters, is light and can be stowed in a tankbag. It rocks!!! It gets damp on the inside, but not enough to wet my riding jacket as badly as some others I've tried. It's been brilliant! 9/10My venerable Teknic rainpants are a bit snug when worn over my riding pants, and the velcro closures at the cuffs are useless, leaving large wings that flap as I ride along. You might as well use duct tape or cyclists bands in it's stead around your ankles, and the suspenders need to be crossed over your head else they'll slip off and you'll be constantly trying to "shift your bra strap" through three layers of clothing. They do their job, but don't breathe, so if you ride out of the rain need to be removed or else you'll be as wet on the inside as you are on the outside. I tore off both ankle straps through wear and tear, and as mentioned the seam at the crotch gave up, but they are four years old. 7/10 FXR Snowmobile gloves with "Hypora" waterproof lining? Yeah, maybe for thirty minutes. Bring vinyl gloves, they stop the wind and keep your hands dry but for sweat and can be worn under your favourite gloves, and for messy roadside repairs. They saved my bacon this trip. The gloves are a bit thick, awkward, warm and dry until they soak through, although great for riding in temps around the 0 mark, they suck when wet. No wonder they were on sale. 4/10Two days of riding in the cold rain will make you obsessive about gear that works. After Badger, the sun began to sink in the west, and with all the moose warnings, I let a tractor trailer pass me, and got in behind him until we hit Deer Lake where stopped for a meal of Liver and onions and chatted with the staff about her trip from Brampton to "Back home" last week and the two days in montreal she'd spent. While standing in the parking lot, her friend ran out with a tourist brochure to assist me in finding a room for the night. What a lovely gesture! I found a motel for the night. "Found" isn't the best word to use in this case. The GPS told me it was there, and driving around in circles at night did nothing to help matters. Corner Brook has hillsides, one way streets, rivers and a harbour. I had to pull out my crackberry and use google maps to show me that the gps was out by 700 metres and I'd have to crest a hill before the hotel was visible. A room! Who cares that Hotel Corner Brook was just this side of a dive?! It was warm, dry and had a vacancy after the five others I'd tried were full. I laid out my gear to dry, had a shower and crawled into bed.
I had a cuppa tea and a bowl of cereal with Tat2 before loading my gear on the bike just as it began to rain. I said my goodbyes and hit the road, but I didn't get very far as a sign said "Dildo" with an arrow, so I went down and snapped some pictures of the harbour and town before heading southwest back to the TCH west, but on the way I saw an EAGLE!!! Just sitting on a rock just in the bay, about twenty metres from shore. I made a quick U-turn to go back, and found my aftermarket muffler startled it into flight before I could get anything. I have one crappy cellphone pic of it winging it's way across the harbour as far from my ISD2 Supertrap as it could get. :( Once on the Trans Canada it was a bit of a slog until I reached the Clarenville area where I turned off the TCH bound for Bonavista. Once out of the town the road became highly entertaining for almost the entire hour it took to get up to the tip of the Peninsula. You pass through towns with names like Trinity Bay, places I'd heard of in stories and songs, and now was seeing in person. The landscape varies incredibly, from rocky lichen covered tundra, to mixed forest, and rocky coastline. I found myself stopping again and again to capture as much as I could with my camera. Bonavista was a bit of an anticlimax, as with many large towns out this way, it's more of a sprawl than a built up city, so the two and three story buildings are the tallest ones you'll see, but the homes are tightly packed together, with few trees, and cover the rolling hills. It was lunchtime and the cereal I had that morning was long gone so I was on the lookout for a local restaurant when I spied a rider on a Honda 250R so I pulled in beside him and we talked the universal language of bikes. What displacement, how do you like the abs etc etc. Cory, a fisherman who'd caught his government allowed qouta yesterday offered to show me the way to Cabot's Landing out on Cape Bonavista, so I followed him out, set the kickstand down, threw on a sweater to take the chill out of the cooler ocean breeze. Cory pointed out some whales in the bay, but I was unable to make them out, confusing a rock in the heaving swell for a minute before giving up. I did see Puffins though, perched on rocks, paddling in the more protected nooks and coves, and winging their way from stony perch to stony perch. The lighthouse on the Cape began to sound it's fog horn, and I watched a bank of fog slowly begin to obscure a grassy island where Cabot had landed sheep and goats to graze on. Newfoundlanders still use similar islands for their sheep, as there are no predators and they don't like to swim, so it makes ideal pasture for them. Cory shook my hand and said farewell after recommending a local restaurant just down the road, the Dairy King, where you could have anything from burgers to scallops. A bacon mushroom melt with fries, dressing and gravy hit the spot, although I noticed that the mushrooms were canned. Perhaps they don't have access to the fresh foods that we do in Ontario, and it's certainly shown in the dearth of farmland I've seen on the island. In Onterrible, when the trees disappear you usually will see cultivated land with fences, tractors, and barns, but for the most part all I've seen are lobster traps, fishing boats and the odd small sheep or dairy farm apart from a few vegetable plots. After lunch I donned my rain gear once more and set off towards the Trans Canada Highway once more to head as far west as I could. The weather turned from foggy drizzle into a harder, cold rain, and by the time I got to the lookout over Gambo, I was cold, damp and miserable, wondering if I'd ever see the sun again. Just after my brief stop in Gambo, I felt water between my legs. My rainpants had sprung a leak right at the crotch and I was subjected to wet balls for the rest of the trip. Gander passed in a wet, cold blur. My heated grips were on high, vinyl rain gloves on, overtop "waterproof" (HAH!) snowmobile gloves and my hands were almost cold, but not quite. Was that a light blue edge to the cloud in the distant horizon?! Was I finally going to leave this rain behind?! Hallelujah! The Sun!!! The roads were drying up and my gear began to dry out so I stopped for fuel in Badger and took the time to don a base layer after shedding my rain gear, as the day was getting on. Just a note about the rain gear I'm using. The Kimpex overboots keep the rain off your boots, but will allow water in over the course of a few hours or longer. I've promised myself to wear my waterproof Alpinestar web gortex next go around. I wore a pair of motorcycle ankleboots that are very comfortable for riding and walking in, but aren't waterproof by any stretch of the imagination. Still, they'd be on my feet for three weeks... My problem with these is my boots will sometimes slip off the rubber soles, and at one point while trying to mount the bike, my boot slipped off the rubber sole, the peg, and I nearly faceplanted into the seat. I was careful with mounts and dismounts afterwards. I rate them a 5/10. They'll perform in a downpour, but there has to be something better. I bought an MSR hydroshell pullover at Royal Distributing at the suggestion of my good friend Willie who rode more off road than anything, and he said his friends used them as they fold up into a small pouch that can be worn on a belt. It has surprisingly good neck and wrist gaiters, is light and can be stowed in a tankbag. It rocks!!! It gets damp on the inside, but not enough to wet my riding jacket as badly as some others I've tried. It's been brilliant! 9/10 My venerable Teknic rainpants are a bit snug when worn over my riding pants, and the velcro closures at the cuffs are useless, leaving large wings that flap as I ride along. You might as well use duct tape or cyclists bands in it's stead around your ankles, and the suspenders need to be crossed over your head else they'll slip off and you'll be constantly trying to "shift your bra strap" through three layers of clothing. They do their job, but don't breathe, so if you ride out of the rain need to be removed or else you'll be as wet on the inside as you are on the outside. I tore off both ankle straps through wear and tear, and as mentioned the seam at the crotch gave up, but they are four years old. 7/10 FXR Snowmobile gloves with "Hypora" waterproof lining? Yeah, maybe for thirty minutes. Bring vinyl gloves, they stop the wind and keep your hands dry but for sweat and can be worn under your favourite gloves, and for messy roadside repairs. They saved my bacon this trip. The gloves are a bit thick, awkward, warm and dry until they soak through, although great for riding in temps around the 0 mark, they suck when wet. No wonder they were on sale. 4/10 Two days of riding in the cold rain will make you obsessive about gear that works. ;) After Badger, the sun began to sink in the west, and with all the moose warnings, I let a tractor trailer pass me, and got in behind him until we hit Deer Lake where stopped for a meal of Liver and onions and chatted with the staff about her trip from Brampton to "Back home" last week and the two days in montreal she'd spent. While standing in the parking lot, her friend ran out with a tourist brochure to assist me in finding a room for the night. What a lovely gesture! I found a motel for the night. "Found" isn't the best word to use in this case. The GPS told me it was there, and driving around in circles at night did nothing to help matters. Corner Brook has hillsides, one way streets, rivers and a harbour. I had to pull out my crackberry and use google maps to show me that the gps was out by 700 metres and I'd have to crest a hill before the hotel was visible. A room! Who cares that Hotel Corner Brook was just this side of a dive?! It was warm, dry and had a vacancy after the five others I'd tried were full. I laid out my gear to dry, had a shower and crawled into bed.
I woke up in my hotel room feeling refreshed, and after packing up the bike, decided to visit the Trinity Motorsports dealer to see if they carried any Shoei visors as my spectacular faceplant into the gravel on 389 Nord had done mine no favours. If I tilt my chin up just so, I have a clear spot to look through. No luck, so I thought I'd take Terry's advice (Terry's Place B&B in Norris Point) and ride out to the coast straight out from Corner Brook on the south shore towards Lark Harbour near Blow-me-down Provincial park.
Close to town the homes line the road and the speeds are slow, but as you get along, it opens up into some lovely twists and turns as it winds it's way along the coast, showing the coastline, with tall craggy hills and a waterfall in the background, I found it hard not to stop and take pictures, so I gave in and stopped when I could. Definitely an entertaining ride along with some beautiful scenery.
At Lark Harbour I stopped for more pictures, then decided a late breakfast of tea and toutons wouldn't be a bad idea, and stopped in at a waterfront cafe to find that the tea would be no trouble but they'd no toutons so I compromised and put molasses on my buttered toast. Yummy! While there I chatted up a couple of young kids who thought my bike was brilliant in all it's battered glory, and spoke of quad trails and dirt bikes in the area.
There was a couple I spoke to as well, we started on an innocent topic, the beautiful weather we were enjoying and as the topic turned to "Where are you to" I noticed Ontario plates on his truck. It turns out he was born on the Rock, but taught in Gravenhurst not far from where my father lives, and his wife was from Huntsville, and they've a retirement home on the Avalon Peninsula. Each trip they load a bit more into the truck to ferry over to the island.
The boys made sure to wave as I rode out past their homes, so I made sure to return the gesture. I saw a parked KLR, '09 perhaps, and considered stopping for an "I hate KLR's chat" that can take any where from a couple of minutes to a couple of days, but thought I'd rather see where that road led to, so made a right and headed further over to yet another cove with it's fishing fleet docked. On the way out you see a group of three or four men sorting the catch, every now and then throwing a juicy bit towards the gulls that flock in their hundreds over the boat stage. Essentially ramps over the beach, perhaps with a small shed at the top end for boat gear. This way the boat stays high and dry yet can be launched or ramped in seconds. I can see from other areas around the island that their fathers must have done the same thing for years if not centuries.
You have to ride out the same way you rode in, but now you know what to expect and can pick up the pace a bit as the camera is away and the Trans Canada south bound to Stephenville Crossing is calling loud and clear. I've got the rest of the afternoon to see Port Aux Ports, along with Long Point, then I'll have to head down to Port Aux Basque to meet up with the others and catch our 4am ferry on Saturday the 31st for Nova Scotia. Best get rocking with a quick stop roadside stop to adjust my gear and the bike for the highway, and we're off!
John Graves Simcoe never left Upper Canada to survey for the Trans Canada Highway, so even that is entertaining and scenic, but when you turn off onto Route 104 heading towards Stephenville, the road climbs, dips and swerves as good as any road in Muskoka. Add in the changing scenery, flora and fauna as you near the coast, and I knew I was in for some entertainment!
Now the whole time we prepped for the TLH, we had in mind doing part of the T'Railway, so a track on my GPS showed that it crisscrossed my path here and there, and then I saw a spur that headed straight towards Stephenville crossing, and although I was by myself, I'd keep my speed down and turn around if it got too knarly, so keeping that in mind I stopped and secured some loose bits, as well as got out the roll of duct tape to secure the last half of my left mirror, the only reflective surface I had left that was now beginning to slide out of it's case on occasion, so I thought I'd cram a roll of duct tape in behind and secure the bottom edge with a strip or two, but in the process I applied too much pressure, and now the mirror had broken in two, giving me two very small and different views. Bugger! Let's do this Trailway thing!