In which two riders (who shall remain nameless in order to protect their identity, and safeguard their reputation), nearly lose pieces of themselves to frostbite while moto touring the Gaspé Peninsula due to negligence and ignorance.
|The Rivière Nouvelle, Nouvelle QC|
Brian and Ron planned the ride with (Oops! There goes the anonymity and here comes the libel suit!) their usual attention to detail:
|Brian is proud of that Coffee Pot|
Note the careful research including road conditions, traffic, routing, reserving camping spots and weather reports, all taken into consideration and planned right down to the most insignificant detail...
In point of fact, Brian was able to get the Friday off, and as I was happily watching movies, I failed to see his text until 21:30 that night, and started a series of frenzied pre-trip tasks such as testing an alcohol stove, and ascertaining the correct height for the pot above the flames of the burner. It turns out that it is best just above the blue flame and into the yellow for best heat, so I found a sturdy old style wire coat hangar and fabricated a pot stand using a technique that I'd seen on a YouTube video. I was quite content with the results and nodded off into slumber land at around 2400...
Day 1 Borden-Carleton PE to Nouvelle QC - 426 km
|Day 1 Borden-Carleton PE to Nouvelle QC - 426 km|
Then woke up in time to see the sunrise and hurriedly loaded my 2009 Kawasaki Versys KLE650 down with everything I'd need for three days camping (you never know, do you?). I even discarded some clothing in favour of a lighter pack weight for the weekend, and piled my bags just outside the door where I could roll my Versys up and begin to load the bike.
Oops! I almost forgot the cord for my heated vest! I'd better throw that back on the bike before I forget that it's up here on the shelf.
|Sunrise over Kelly's Cross PE|
It's time to let the clutch out and meet Brian at Anna's Country Kitchen in Crapaud PE for breakfast before we head out for the Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail!
Over breakfast it turned out that Brian had never been to the Gaspe Peninsula, so we opted to ride North West towards Quebec as opposed to South East to Nova Scotia. We are flexible like that.
We didn't get any further than Richibucto before I needed to stop on an off ramp, apologize to Brian as I donned another couple of layers, a second long sleeved shirt over top my thermal shirt, and my heated vest over top, then my leather jacket over it all. I made sure that I plugged myself in. As Brian pulled on two more layers including his sweatshirt, he commented that he had his liner already in his jacket, and he was regretting that he had left his heated jacket hanging from a peg in his garage at home, and that he was envious as he saw me carefully position the cord for my vest through a loop in my tank bag.
Two hours into the ride and we are now wearing every layer we have less our rain gear. Do you think that would question our plans or destination? Nah. Let's get going!
I was hoping to arrive at the Portage Restaurant in Miramichi just in time for lunch as I seem to recall liking the food there. lol.
The bridge in Miramichi that spans the Miramichi river is under construction, and with only a single lane timed by traffic signals, and only minutes before our turn to cross, we watched an angry rain front surge along the river straight towards us and the bridge! It seemed like we could avoid it if only te light would turn green! Seconds before it did, the rain caught us with an edge, and as the slow traffic lumbered down the North slope ahead of us, I urged them on, desperately hoping not to become soaked in a place where there was zero possibility of stopping to don our rain gear.
Further up the road we were able to ride out from under it, and I kept on keeping on until Brian took the lead and led me into a gas station where we did the rain dance and put on our rain gear, as Brian said "Given the choice, I'd rather be just cold than cold and
wet." and he was right. While the rain was coming in patches, the cold wind was in our faces and our gas mileage was horrible. The temperature claimed to be 14 degrees celsius, but it felt quite a bit colder, and I regretted not packing my heavier thermal long johns rather than my summer light weight (that were stilled rolled up in my side case!).
North of Miramichi NB I led Brian onto a truck inspection ramp where we found an elderly husband and wife selling hazelnuts in the back of their truck, so we stopped for a chat and I bought a small bag. That beer mug scoops up ten dollars worth of hand picked nuts, and Brian asked whether they were found on trees, bushes or underground like peanuts. The old man (older even then Brian if you can credit that), told us that their chief competitors weren't happy at all as he and his wife picked them from the trees, and the squirrels would remain quite loud and almost threatening until he and she left the squirrels stock of winter feed behind. Essentially I have legitimized the starvation of the squirrels by enabling the industry. How do you feel about that Brian?
Check the gas and Fill with oil.
It's a KLR.
Brian proudly showed me two litres of oil, "One for the trip there, and one for the trip home." He rides a 2008 and enjoys resisting the urge to spend money on the 685 Big Bore upgrade that would see an end to his oil burning issues. We make a pretty good team in that regard, as I'm a cheap bugger, but like to have the right gear. (Except on this trip!)
|Check the gas and Fill with oil|
It was still cold going, and my heated vest, assisted by the rain gear started once again to pay for itself, as it kept me warm enough to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride as we left the rain clouds behind North of Bathurst NB.
|Campbellton NB just ahead!|
Cambellton was just ahead, and as we got closer to the Restigouche River that spills out into Chaluer Bay, the hills along the river were a beautiful sight to see for this homegrown Ontario boy. In fact, Brian grew up about a half hour drive away from Richmond Hill, so we were used to creeks, hills and farms, and while both had relocated to the East Coast, I have a particular affinity to taller hills and bigger water than what I was used to seeing in Ontario.
If you come this way and have a bit more time to amble along, Route 134 NB follows the coast from Bathurst through Dalhousie and is a scenic, slow tour along this beautiful coast. Unfortunately we had only a couple of days to do this trip, and wanted to be deep into Quebec before night fell around seven or eight that evening, so the highway was our best option until we hit the fun stuff on the other side of the Restigouche.
|Looking West towards Campbellton on Highway 11 NB |
We had to stop for a few essentials in town, such as montreal smoked meat, garlic butter, a baguette, a bottle of whiskey, then it was over the bridge and into Quebec!
|Crossing the Restigouche River|
I've a hard learned rule that you gas up near the end of the day so that your tank is full in the morning, and we'd done just that before crossing, so went East along Route 132 QC aiming for a campsite that I'd stayed at a few years ago while riding the Gaspe with my dog Suzi
. I can't even remember the name of it, but found it on google maps under something that didn't fit on the sign they had out front, lol. Société de Restauration et de Gestion de la Nouvelle Inc
|Suzi on the Nouvelle River QC|
I didn't mention that to Brian at the time, as it was bit of nostalgia and I found that if I let it get to me, it could bring a tear to my eye as I'd lost Suzi in the spring of last year, and her favourite ride of all time had been around the Gaspe with me. It must have been the french poodle in her.
|The tents are up fast.|
It was warm enough to peel off my jacket, but still cool, and I was happy moving and setting up my tent and getting my gear into it.
We were both pretty cold, and the note on the office door said that they would be right back, so we opted to use the light we had to take a site and get our tents up before returning to the office to book the site. This late in the year we had our pick, and actually didn't see many tents if at all. That should have been a clue of some sort, but of what I wasn't sure.
Once it was all set, I headed back up to the office to pay the bill which turned out to be a bit higher than it was three years ago, at $29 after taxes, so Trudeau must be doing something for the people that lobbied his party. Argh, such is life. I felt a bit guilty at the cost, as it would be $15 dollars each for a site that I chose primarily because I wanted to imagine Suzi running around greeting the other campers. To be honest, I also knew it was there and that we could get in and get our tents up before dark without wandering looking for a spot to wild camp, stealth camp, guerilla camp, etc.
A picnic table sure is nice, and between the both of us we managed to lay our gear out across the top of it in short order.
I'd messed up when reassembling the SVEA123R, and found that I'd cranked the valve over to the left too far and it wouldn't line up with the windscreen port, a minor hassle at the time. All I needed to do was to boil some water to drop in a couple packets of the smoked meat to heat them through before laying them out onto the baguette, for which the SVEA worked admirably.
|Note the angle of the valve stem?|
I messed up when I reassembled it last night.
Meanwhile, Brian had sipped out for a bag of ice, and with the plastic glasses and ginger ale he'd purchased in Campbellton, the party got started! That's what I'd like you to believe, whereas in actual fact, we sat at the picnic table as night began to fall and and drank.
|Royal Reserve, a part of this well balanced meal|
I tend to keep a mental list of gear that would be useful to have for the next trip, like a cutting board and a kitchen paring knife with a serrated blade for cutting bread and meat or for spreading butter. As it was I used my combination hatchet/hammer multi tool that I keep for driving in my tent pegs to get my dinner ready, using a shopping bag on the picnic table as a cutting board. It works, but makes me think I could be better at this. I used to pack it along, but as I made a huge mistake overloading the bike I'd adopted more of a minimalist approach, and as I intend to camp more often, need to look at better cooking methods.
|Rivière Nouvelle QC|
It's a beautiful spot, albeit with cool night air and a strong breeze that warranted a wind screen for the stove that night. And while the mosquitoes bothered me enough to don my bug net while setting up the tents, by the time supper was ready, they bothered me less and less. The whiskey might have helped with that on second thought. An effective general anaesthetic? I must conduct more research into this theory... Hmm. Perhaps a published paper?
|Brian is getting warmer...|
The more whiskey we sampled, the more the conversation would get steered back to the KLR and how perfect a bike it was, and as I'm not the fighting drunk type, I was happy enough when Brian stumbled off to his little North Face 2 man tent and I made my way to my own tent later on.
|The park dog comes by for a visit and a drink|
I started facebooking in the tent, and posted up the temperatures, so here they are for our American cousins, and the more enlightened global community who use the Metric system: (just kidding folks)
|Chilly tonight yes, but look at Saturday night!|
|Frost Warnings for tomorrow!|
So here we were riding with light fall gear in what was going to be essentially winter riding conditions, and the fact that we had sat at the picnic table all night with most of our gear still on, and neither of us had anything in reserve other than our rain gear. It was going to be a true test of my Alps Mountaineering Lynx 2 tent
and my Chinook sleeping bag tomorrow night.
Night had fallen quickly and was full dark by 2000 which sort of surprised me, and as we went to bed just afterwards, I found myself awake at 0200 and took a trip up to the washroom to find that you should not drink the water. The manager said that they had failed the water test by a smidgen this past year (well water), and that boiling was recommended. This notice made me far happier that I'd lugged six kilograms (13 pounds) of water with me, 2 litres in my camel back (I bit through my bite valve during my Nova Scotia ride and forgot to order a replacement!), and another 4 litres in my MSR Dromedary water bladder. Brian and I would be all set for breakfast tomorrow, without worrying about water quality or even worse, getting the runs later on while riding the Gaspésie later on tomorrow if all went to plan (what plan? Scroll back to the top for a reality check, dude!)
|Don't drink the water|
Back to the tent and to sleep, to awake as the need to pee overwhelmed the need to remain warm and cozy in my fart sack. (sleeping bag) Brian made the decision just before me as I heard the zipper on his front door, and that got me moving and complaining about the cold in unison with Brian shortly afterwards.
Day 2 Nouvelle QC to Cap Marsoui - 460 km
Day 2 Nouvelle QC to Cap Marsoui - 460 km
A chilly start to the morning, but the sun was out, and the daytime high was forecast at slightly warmer than yesterday, so we had something to look forward to after breakfast, but for now it was back into full gear, the dress code required for our formal breakfast reserved at the fancy french picnic table.
|What a lovely view from this restaurant!|
I must admit, I had some stove envy as Brian set up his MSR whisperlite, dragonfly, bull roaring rig, compete with tank, pump, burner and hose, reflective base and collapsible windscreen, and my SVEA123R, even with it's fresh polishing on Wednesday night, looked a bit medieval in comparison, until Brian began carefully putting away his stove into it's five pieces along with the little bag of spare parts. He commented on how brutally simple the older brassie was to prime and light and admitted to a slight bit of envy. Now I'm much happier with the stove myself, lol.
Breakfast of Champions, instant oatmeal and tea with powdered milk and we had the tents rolled up and packed onto the bikes and were off and rolling at around 8am.
There is quite a bit of traffic on the more populated south shore, and we were to follow cars from time to time, as well as pass them. Brian had told me that he preferred to keep his revolutions down to around the 5,000 mark, and it turns out that is about 105 kph indicated, or 92kph actual and we were quite happily tootling up and down the hills as passing or being passed as the occasion warranted. Yesterday we had found our gas mileage suffering due to the headwinds, but today was turning into a chilly, wonderful ride with new vistas just up around the bend.
|A quick photo opp along the shore of Chaleur Bay QC|
We popped into the Tim Horton's in New Richmond QC and had a cup of coffee while making use of the porcelain, and we both felt better as the coffee and warm sun began to make itself felt.
I was expecting to see more bikes this weekend, but it was obvious that they had read the weather report that Brian and I had missed (ignored!), but there were a few hardy souls out and about and on their way to see the famous Perce Rock.
Brian was in the lead when I saw this beach, and I pulled over expecting to see him come back over the brow of the hill and pull in beside me... so I waited, and then sent him a text message... and got a response that he was stopped at the gas station ahead waiting for me. Alrighty then, time to get some pictures!
|Anse a Fullum QC|
|Anse A Fullum QC|
I filled up at the gas station, and Brian mentioned that he wanted to grab something, and motioned for me to take the lead again, so we rode along until I spotted a local restaurant, Resto Chez Marie, but I think the waitress who spoke no english was terribly happy with our french, and the meal was a bit of a disappointment in truth.
|Resto Chez Marie, Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, QC|
It was clear that we were getting closer to the popular tourist destination as the traffic began to increase, and the scenery improved as
|Ile Bonaventure in the distance|
I'm a bit jaded as I've been through here a number of times, so I didn't get many pictures of Rocher Perce and the Obelisk as I could have, in fact I only took one.
|Rocher Perce QC|
There is an overlook of the rock round the bend and at the top of the hill, so be on the look out for it as it is just before the main town itself. To be honest, the view from the hotel parking lot just over the crest of the hill is a better photo spot, especially if all you have is a boy scout point and shoot.
But it is a popular spot to stop as it is the first clear view of the rock, and the this parking lot will fill up with everything from backpackers and cyclists, through to coaches and towed cars, so be careful to wedge yourself in carefully.
Brian and I pretty much ignored the cruiser crowd, and they quite happily ignored us, but when this '08 Blue KLR pulled in, Brian's face lit up and he strode forward to greet the rider who we now call Chicago Bob. When I saw the load on his bike, and the wee stick that he wedged under his bash plate in order to balance the bike to prevent a tip over, I saw the MacGyver of KLR riders in all his glory, complete with lumber and recycled beer can exhaust shields.
Bob was pretty happy to be the center of the spotlight, and regaled us with tales of derring-do and a few erring-oops as well, to which we are all accustomed when you decide you are going to see what all this "Adventure" nonsense is all about and point the bike at a totally inappropriate area and let out the clutch... Later on it becomes adventure, but not at the time.
|I love the stick. Simple, like a KLR|
|This tire is pretty much toasted|
Bob has been on a three week riding vacation, and his rear tire shows the proof that he's been around a bit, having been to the Cabot and Meat Cove.
|He's a bit worried as he has less than a litre of oil left|
|Brian had him pose with his Oil, something only KLR owners will understand|
|Rocher Perce fades into the background|
Chicago Bob had a few stories and we enjoyed ourselves until he put his helmet back on and told us he really hoped he could find a replacement tomorrow, a holiday Sunday of a long weekend, and we wished him well. It was time for us to get rolling again as well, and once through the tourist town of Perce, we hit the exciting bit of Route 132 QC as it winds up and over the rocks along the shore. Neither Brian nor I relished the idea of a tow truck back to the island, so we took our time (got caught behind a mini van!) and carried ever onwards, our destination Parc Forillon.
|Yes, it is this much fun. |
There was a truck pulled trailer ahead of us, so I pulled in for another photo. There is a seal in the shot below, but you aren't going to be able to see his head out in the water unless you have a decent telephoto lens. Sometimes that bothers me, but my camera is water and shockproof (tested) and works well strapped onto my clutch side mirror for those quick shots.
|Can you spot the seal? (Find Waldo)|
We hit the town of Gaspe itself, and stopped at yet another Tim Horton's for coffee and a rest break, and met this gentleman, and his immaculate wing. He spoke no English, and we spoke no French, but we all three spoke "bike". lol
It's getting later and we had to decide if we were going to hit Murdochville QC, a small town that dried up and almost disappeared when the copper mine closed it's doors. I've been there once before with Suzi
and loved the experience and wanted to share it with Brian, but our time was getting 'condensed' with the forecast and how far we had yet to go, and Brian reluctantly let me cut it from our itinerary and we headed North East along the 132 towards Parc Forillon, which I completely missed the entrance for! By the time I realised we were half way across the peninsula and I hoped that Brian hadn't noticed that I was short cutting us across 197 to the West of the Parc. (We are going to have to go back to play in the interior one day. Lots of gravel and more of the Parc Forillon and Gaspésie, wanna come along?)(Is now a good time to tell him that we also passed the historic Marconi installation? I'll leave that for now, shall I?)
At this point, now riding through the interior and then along the coast, the roads were just motorcycle magic, with elevation changes and curves until we ran into the back of a camper and tootled along hoping for a passing opportunity that never presented itself on those tight curves through the rocks and trees.
I'd told Brian that I was going to stop at the rest area on the North shore at Anse de l'Etang and take a picture or two.
|Try to look warmer!|
|Anse de l'Etang QC |
|Anse de l'Etang QC|
Now that we were on the North side, the sun felt a bit warmer, but I knew that it was going to go down to 2 degrees Celsius tonight, and Brian had expressed a desire to guerilla camp that night, that is to find a spot and pitch our tents without paying for the privilege of freezing our delicate bits off while enduring the discomfort of an air mattress and tent. It was about five, and we would lose our light at seven, so I hoped that with Garmin's help I could get us to the top end of Route 299 QC that would put us through Parc Gaspésie tomorrow morning. Right, we'd better get this show on the road! And, I wanted a full tank of gas before trying the run through the Parc tomorrow, as it's about 140 kilometers from the pumps of Saint-Anne-Des-Monts and those of New Richmond.
I apologize for the sun in these next shots, I was hoping that I'd be able to get pictures of Brian and his KLR on the North Shore, as this truly is a spectacular place to ride, and equals the Cabot Trail easily for majestic views and entertaining roads.
|Brian flogging that big single up the hill|
We'd only gone about 86 km from our last fill up just this side of Gaspe, but I wanted to do that last fill up before we left the main road and headed for the interior and the hook up with Route 299, so we made a last fuel stop of the day in Mont Louis QC, then Brian led me down the hill and onto the beach front rest area.
|The sun will be setting soon, and it will be very cold!|
The local kids think nothing of a rip down the beach, and I was a bit envious... The Versys just won't do it with this load and tires, and I knew it. *sigh*
He must have still been smarting over the heated vest and the SVEA stove or something, and next thing you know he's off and rolling on the beach, something I'd seen him do last year at Advocate Harbour
that didn't end so well... lol.
I resigned myself to once again helping pick up his KLR, but this time he surprised me and made it back on two!
|Don't drop it now...|
Okay, now I was jealous and almost wishing I had a KLR again as well, almost... Damn you Brian!!!
|Making it look easy for the camera. |
Garmin was determined to send us both on an adventure, and it plotted the shortest route from Mont Louis as being down this logging road and straight into the Chic-Choc mountains. "Adventures by Garmin™" did manage to find us a nice little campsite in the middle of somebodies wood pile in foot hills of the mountains, but it was sadly over optimistic that this trail would ever hook up with the 299 later on the next day.
|Adventures by Garmin™|
If the road was like this for the next 30k the Versys would have been fine if I kept my head and speed down, but two other sources confirmed that it wouldn't make it unless we set our bikes on fire and continued on foot over the rivers and streams ahead.
|Laying out the North Face 2 man tent|
The tents went up quickly, almost as quickly as the mosquitoes found us, tiny ones that needed some insect repellent applied. It was warm enough to strip our gear off as we worked, and I was happy to be able to field test my new Aotu chair
for the first time, use some wood for tables and a chair for Brian. Time to get that stove going for some supper!
We didn't really notice the mosquitoes anymore as plummeting temperatures, combined with the anesthetic prescribed by Dr. B kicked in.
|Putting the table to good use.|
|Oh yeah, it was good. I had to wipe my greasy fingers on the bag.|
We were still drinking PEI well water, and it looked as if we would have enough for our breakfast of the next morning, provided we survived the night to come.
|Frost warning in effect!|
Some conversation and more anaesthetic, and we were ready for bed. It was going to be cold, and I brought my emergency foil sleeping bag into the tent, still all taped up in the original package, but if it got intolerable, at least one of us would survive to be the bearer of the sad news to the next of kin.
Darn that was a cold night! I got all my electronic bits plugged in and charging, replaced the battery in my tent flashlight / lantern, (I use a small single AA size LED flashlight that lasts for about eight hours on a single charge of the rechargeable batteries I pack, one battery per day plus a couple for the Garmin if needed) and then found that my sleeping bag had a neat feature that I'd glossed over in the warmer weather of previous experience with the bag. There are two pull cords on the rectangular bag, one for the hood, and one for the neck. If you zip in and pull the cords into the sleeping bag, it closes up and leaves you with your head covered and you can then dial the aperture size smaller and smaller until only your nose and mouth are exposed, and that is how I went to sleep that night in the damp night air, snug as a bug in a rug, or that is how my conscious mind chooses to remember it. My hind brain is a creature of a different stripe, and does not like to be confined, and I found myself trying to ignore that claustrophobic feeling of being trapped. *sigh* I need more anesthetic for this to work properly.
Day 3 Cap Marsoui QC to Borden-Carleton PE - 637 km
Day 3 Cap Marsoui QC to Borden-Carleton PE - 637 km
I woke up in the morning warm, but very reluctant to get out of the sack into that cold morning air! I lay there watching the morning sky lighten the interior of the tent until it was clear that the day had begun and it was now time get moving. I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but I wanted to change into new underwear and socks, and was really not looking forward to collecting them from the side case of the bike at all.
|COLD!!! That is ice on the seat!|
I took my rain fly off and draped it over the wood pile as it was covered in condensate that would make my tent wet if I packed it away "as is", and then wiped off the dew on my seat, then did the same for Brian's KLR until I found the ice on his seat, and had to take a picture after writing "COLD" with a fingertip.
After boiling up some water for my tea and hot oatmeal, I offered the still roaring SVEA for Brian's use for his morning coffee, and we started to pack away our gear and get ready for the road. That tea cooled down so fast, it was almost heartbreaking to sip that last mouthful of lukewarm tea that only minutes before had been too hot to sip.
|Do you think he can get product placement for this?|
While it hadn't rained that night, both tents went away wet, and my windshield and mirrors were covered in dew that made them pretty much useless unless you like droplets of water flying back into your face as you ride.
We reversed our course of the previous evening and headed in to Saint-Anne-Des-Monts... An easy 27km away along the beautiful North shore of Gaspe.
The road is so close to the water, that you are frequently warned that waves and water may cause problems for motorists. Sections of the highway are under constant seasonal maintenance to repair the ravages of the previous freeze thaw cycle and pounding waves.
It really is this beautiful, and you need to see it for yourself. Tack this onto any ride you do in this part of Canada.
Thankfully we found a Tim Horton's in Saint-Anne-Des-Monts right on the corner where we would head south into the Parc, so we stopped for more coffee and for some porcelain. I wanted tea actually, but my execrable french wasn't up to the task, and instead I got handed a Medium coffee with two milk, and while it was warm, I had trouble with the first few mouthfuls...
|This seems to be a giant Cafe Race for Brian and I|
It took a while to get us rolling again, and we had decided while sitting there that we needed to cut the trip short. Brian used highly descriptive words and phrases to express his disappointment, such as "Wuss" and "You've let me down, Ron. I thought more of you." in that straight dead pan delivery style of his, until he grinned and said that he doubted he could stand another night like that last again and still call this an good ride. Right, we had a warm day to look forward to with a high of 21 degrees, although it was only about 14 in the sun at the moment, and about a hundred kilometers to go to get to New Richmond and the return leg home.
Do we opt to leave the parking lot like normal people? No, not for us, for after seeing a few Harleys, touring bikes and the like setting off ahead of us, I choose to cut across the grass, jump the curb and let 'er rip up the road leading towards the parc, and Brian is right behind me... I love the Versys...
|Looking south towards the Chic-Choc Mountains of Parc de Gaspésie, Quebec|
The climbs into the hills, and you soon leave the coast and enters the parc in less than 20 km, where it follows the meandering Riviere Saint-Anne into the Chic-Choc Mountains, and then trades off to follow the Riviere Cascapedia that empties into Chaluer Bay to the south.
|A beaver was working hard here...|
It was colder away from the coast. I thought it was going to get warmer, but we were largely riding in shadow, and as we climbed in elevation, once again the temperature began to drop until it felt pretty darned cold. Brian had donned his rain gear at the last stop that hadn't been so very long ago...
|The view from Route du Parc de la Gaspésie, Quebec|
|Trying to ease the Monkey Butt I was developing|
Breathtakingly beautiful, but now I was so cold, that I began to ride along and look for a sun lit spot to warm up in for a bit, at which time Brian suggested that I throw on my rain jacket as well, and that worked a treat, as it blocked the air getting through to my unprotected arms and allowed the heated vest to catch up and beat the heat loss. My legs and feet were okay, although I'd wish that I'd packed my thicker thermals rather than my lightweight, but there you have it. As I type this, I'm reminded of a fall run into the Catskill mountains in New York where I bought the track pants that I'm wearing tonight, although at the time they were purchased to wear underneath my jeans on that trip. lol. Riding has influenced much of my life. Obviously not my ability to read a forecast though, or I would have worn my insulated overalls that rock at keeping me warm while on the bike. Maybe I should invest in the Dickies version of an Aerostitch Road Crafter... Insulated coveralls from Wally Mart. Hahaha.
|It's a repeat, but I'm too lazy to delete it.|
Then we get passed by a few riders, and I figure it's time to get rolling again if we ever want to see Prince Edward Island before the rain begins later tonight...
That rain jacket was doing it's job, and once we stopped for fuel and coffee in New Richmond, I was feeling much better, as the sun began to warm things up around us.
At our campsite the night before I'd seen that when I'd replaced the wheel bearing on the Versys, that I'd completely forgotten to bend the cotter pin I'd reused, and that it had hung on and enjoyed the ride since the beginning, and when I mentioned it to Brian he offered his ever ready tool kit (it is a KLR, after all) to bend it back, but at this point I knew it wasn't coming out without a pair of pliers, and it made me perversely happy to just kick it back down with the toe of my boot.
|Fly! Be Free!|
If you love something, set it free...
My Continental Trail Attack2s had lost most of their giggle factor and I was finding it harder to wrestle them into the corners unless I was to hang off the bike into the inside of the corner. I got my money's worth, so I can't complain as they'd been brilliant in Nova Scotia the first couple of times I'd rode them with intent this year.
|Yep, that's a flat spot.|
I really didn't relish riding them in the rain, yet another good reason to get this bike home and into the garage before the three days of rain in the forecast.
There was more traffic heading towards Campbellton, and for the first time it was enough to slow us down and throw us off pace, but passing each and every one would have to wait until we hit some of the dual lane uphill passing sections, and even then you would find another pickup and trailer ahead of you.
|New Brunswick at last!|
I'd mentioned to Brian that I would be happy with lunch at Chez Wes in Campbellton as I've never been disappointed with their french fries or desserts, and it was so warm waiting for our meal that I felt hot for the first time this trip, and had to take off my vest as we sat on the porch in the sun waiting for our lunch.
|The fries and coleslaw were fabulous!|
It was time to belt up and get moving on down the highway if we wanted to be back on the Island today, although we both agreed that we would stop and camp if we weren't up to it. What wasn't up to it was my butt. All that highway just got to me, and I squirmed around trying to rest one bit of my gluteus maximus, then rest another.
We breezed through Bathurst until the next Tim Horton's brought us screeching to yet another halt, and I enjoyed a nice cuppa while chatting with away with bikers and Bell Aliant.
Miramichi went past in a blur, the traffic fairly light, and we fuelled up for the second last time while donning more gear as that warm sun started to fade away as the shadows lengthened.
Inevitably as we drew nearer to the big city of Moncton NB, the traffic picked up and we joined a conga line of cars being led by a couple of pied pipers, the ubiquitous pickup and trailers that seemed unable to go much faster than the posted limit of 100 kph. Up hill it was worse, and our speed might drop off to between 80 and 90 as they struggled against a head wind to climb.
|What does Darlene have to say, Brian?|
We got delayed a bit by bridge construction across the Buctouche River, but soon after it was clear riding but for that ever present conga line.
|And we thought we are hard core bikers...|
Peeling off 11 south and onto 15 was like being on the home stretch, but we found a cut in the bank and stopped on the gravel road paralleling the highway to get geared up again, as we were feeling the cold again, although it wasn't quite bad enough for my rain jacket again. I was plugged in and had the heated grips turned up.
|Dad rides lead, and Mom brings up the rear on her Quad.|
Brian pointed back towards Moncton and the dark clouds that were sweeping East towards us, and it was time to get back into the saddle and keep on keeping on with only an hour and a half left before we made the island.
|Are we there yet?|
Sadly the gravel didn't last very long, and I was forced to lead us back out onto the highway leading back to the bridge.
If you've ever been to the Island, then you will know that as the only fixed link, the Confederation Bridge is very busy, and active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so for bikers trying to make time, you will find yourself behind some slow moving tourist on Route 16 determined to see every blade of grass and stick of wood lying by the roadside. I suppose the "Caution, Moose" signs might have had something to do with it, but if you want to avoid all of that and remember why you chose to ride a motorcycle in the first place, you want to have a look at Route 955 New Brunswick that runs you out to Murray Corner NB and then loops you back onto 16 just before it hits the bridge.
You will be happy to know that 955 only boasts a few straight runs where pictures like this are possible.
That setting sun was lighting up the landscape wonderfully, and I vowed I'd stop for at least one "Golden Hour" photo or two before we hit the bridge. I hope you like them.
|Robinso Creek just this side of Murray Corner|
|Robinson Creek running in the Gulf of St. Lawrence|
|There are two sides to every creek |
It would appear that the best time to order new tires in for the Versys would have been the Monday before we started this trip... I'm going to try a set of the Shinko 705s as I hear good things about them from JDRocks on KawasakiVersys.com and he's been running the 120 front with 170 rear as they don't make one in the 160 width. Do you hear that Kawasaki? You made street bike out of the Versys, when you should have copied the V-Strom for tires. (It handles like it's on rails in the twisties though, one of the most nimble bikes in the corners that can still handle the gravel that I've ever owned)
|No more riding in the rain for me, but gravel roads are going to be fun!|
I really should have stopped and taken a picture of the marsh in that light, but it was unsafe to do so, and I hope the opportunity presents itself in the future.
|The coast at the foot of the Confederation Bridge|
|And we're almost done the trip, just 11km or so to go|
|Yep, it's an engineering marvel, but truly boring unless there is a high wind.|
|Sunset over New Brunswick|
Brian and I met a couple from Montreal riding some fantastic bikes, a VFR and a Concours.
|One last blurry shot to prove that Brian has a heart of gold.|
We tried to help them find their way to a hotel for the night, but as you know, little PEI rolls up the sidewalks at 7, and the hotel in Victoria was full, so we left them looking for a spot in Cavendish, as she wanted to see Anne of Green Gables in the morning before heading back for Montreal. If they had a tent, sleeping bags etc. I would have offered them a spot on the couch or floor.
I hope they made out alright.
And that my friends, is that. Thanks for following along with Brian and I, and I hope you are the type who learn from others mistakes and will gear up properly for a ride on the East Coast for this time of year. That hurricane stirring things up didn't help at all, as the previous trips I've taken I have sweated uncomfortably and I honestly thought I had packed enough for the weekend.
Look for #rottenronniedotca on facebook and instagram if you want to follow along on the next one.
Awesome journey.. I wish you have uploaded more pictures for us to feast, Go-pro or equivalent action cam would be a worthy addition :)ReplyDelete
Thank you. Some accuse me of uploading too many photos. :)Delete
I'm looking into adding video content to the rides, and need to get a 3D part printed for an older helmet camera.
Keep the shiny side up!