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Old 09-20-2010, 03:09 PM   #24
jdrocks OP
Gravel Runner
Joined: Jul 2007
Oddometer: 4,554
Day 4: Continued

The next stop is for fuel at Relais Routier, commonly known as Relais 381 for it’s location at the 38lkm marker. This is the only reliable 24/7 fuel stop between Matagami and Radisson, a distance of 630km. I pull up to the pumps and my “gasboy” is quickly over to assist, except this ain’t no boy.

All smiles, no English, she tries what a number of the French attempt with me. Immersion. She’s into the process about ten minutes before it dawns on her that she’s dealing with a freakin’ foreign language dummy, and gives up. I would meet others that didn’t give up anywhere near that soon. Into the gas shack to run my card, she reaches under the counter and pulls out two English language instruction books. Aha!, now the roles are reversed and she wants me to hang around for a little tutoring. Sorry honey, I need some miles, and I was gone to Radisson.

Now I’m runnin’, I have the fuel and can’t go wrong, only about 150 miles to my stop for the day. I pass the Route du Trans-Taiga intersection, hello and goodbye, I’ll be seeing you soon. I’m a river man, so I don’t ride by many without taking a photo. No, I don’t get tired of it, each is unique to me.

I’d been on the gas hard, still into the wind, and get a fuel light at the Chisasibi intersection. I slow a little, but I’m sure I can make it to the pumps at Radisson. Past the airport, left at the police station, and I find fuel as I enter town. The smiling Frenchman owner is the gasboy, and I find out that the public campground is up the hill across the road. Fueled, I run up the hill to check out the campground, find one large motorhome, otherwise deserted. Looks good to me and I’m back down at the combination bar and café, looking for something to eat. Almost 600 miles, and I was tired and hungry.

The café was busy, a mix of French and Cree. Service was very slow and while waiting I watched a Cree fella spend $150 on dinner for his large family. Plenty of money floating around. I waited a week for my so-so meal to arrive, ate it, and couldn’t get out of that hot greasy air fast enough. The bike was parked right next to the deck steps, and even the outside seating was full. The locals must have known better than to sit inside and have their lungs slowly fill up with lard.

Jacket on, helmet on, and I’m back on the bike. Let’s get up the hill and set up camp. I’m about to hit the starter when a drunk Cree stumbles down the stairs and is now straddling my front wheel. Christ, what next? I’m tired, just had crap for dinner, and I’m about to lose my sense of humor. I’m trying to figure out my escape when he reaches over the bars to shake my hand, “I’m your brother!” You want to be my brother, I suppose that’s ok, so I shake his hand. Now the ice is broken, and he figures that’s the green light to repeat this ceremony again, except louder. Then once more, he’s shouting, and now we have a growing audience.

I started the bike, but he still has the wheel trapped between his knees. I try to motion him out of the way, but he stays planted, really getting agitated. I’m pissed, and thinkin’ “If you don’t move out of my brotherly fucking way, I’m going to run over your brotherly fucking drunken ass with this brotherly fucking bike!” and followed that thought with two quick blips to almost 10 grand. I don’t think anyone had heard a sound like that before in Radisson, at least not lately. Everyone jumped. I saw a gal on the deck get about a foot and a half of air. Not bad, except she had a beer bottle in her mouth at the time. Mighta chipped a tooth, the landing wasn’t pretty. My Cree buddy tried for air, never made it, tripped on the stairs, and went down in a heap with the three people behind him. Now I had plenty of room, increasing by the second. Let’s go camping, and I was out of the parking lot, tossing some gravel around with the TKCs, ya’ know, just for good measure.

I had the tent set up and gear stowed in record time, a nice grassy spot for the tent and I just wanted to stretch out and call it a day.

The start of the “big gravel” tomorrow.

(To be continued…)
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