Day 3: Monday, 30 August 2010
I awoke just before dawn, as the clouds above were being painted in deep reds.
We broke camp as it began to drizzle lightly and headed over to Relais Gabriel for breakfast and expensive showers. While we ate, it began raining more. Great.
As we sat around waiting for each other to shower, a fascinating bike rolled up to the gas pumps -- a stripped-down Ninja 650 with Versys forks, a V-Strom front wheel, and knobby tires. Astride this custom ADV beast was David, aka jdrocks, who would become a recurring character in this story. We chatted for a while, then he set off down the road as we waited for the last of our group to get showered.
Finally we got going. We kept the pace pretty slow as it was still drizzling and the road surface was variable. Eventually we made it to Gagnon.
From there the road was paved to Fire Lake, and thankfully the weather improved. At Fire Lake, the road turns back to gravel, and the section known to locals as the Mini Trail begins. We took a short snack break.
We headed up the Mini Trail, which is a twisty road of loose gravel and lots of railroad crossings. It was slow, sketchy going, made more difficult by the trucks that would blow past and stir up so much dust that we were momentarily blind. Naturally this happened most often on blind, uphill, tight left corners. But we all stayed upright and stopped occasionally to catch up to one another.
Most of the way along this section, I rounded a bend and found David (jdrocks) snapping a photo of me from the side of the road. So I stopped and chatted with him while waiting for the others to catch up.
Here comes Jason.
Beautiful land up there.
David geared up and went on his way.
We took a short break, then followed. Soon made it to the big mine shortly before Fermont.
Here comes Martin.
Soon after the pavement began, and then, of course, we made it to the Labrador border. Time for another mandatory pic.
We grabbed a quick lunch in Lab City, then thoroughly enjoyed the 50 freshly-paved miles of Rt 500 before once again hitting gravel. I have to admit -- once the Trans-Lab has been paved, I'll go back just to enjoy the sweeping turns and the awesome scenery that I'll actually be able to look at when I don't have to keep my eyes glued strictly to the road in front of me.
But soon the pavement ended, and we were given loose, marbly, mostly trackless gravel to enjoy. It made for stressful riding as our bikes squirmed around beneath us. We stopped to take a short break at one of the easier spots along the road.
When there were tracks like that in the gravel, it was easy to ride. Trouble was that those tracks kept quickly running out.
We stopped to camp at the same place I did last year -- happened to be a convenient clearing a little more than halfway between Lab City and Churchill Falls.
Stats for the day:
Track for the day: