Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
OK, here we go.
September 16: Plattsburgh to Chibougamau - 516 miles.
First full day of riding ahead. Getting up in the morning, I was elated: only half an hour to Canada.
As usual, I got off the Interstate about 2 miles before the border, to avoid the Northway crossing. In my experience, the little customs posts on side roads are much quicker and, very often, much more pleasant: the staff will talk to you at leisure and not hassle you with the officialdom.
This is my "secret" crossing when going to or from Montreal: Lacolle. It is located between the two busy border points (I-87 and Rouses Point) and is not well marked - perfect.
As expected, there were no other vehicles at the checkpoint. The Canadian customs agent conversed with me for a while - she was very amused and intrigued by my destination. In short order, she wished me Bonne Route and sent me off.
First order of the day: Canadian Tire. While preparing for the trip, I was surprised to find out that nowadays - at least in NJ and NY - only so-called "spill proof" gas cans are available, with a whole valve contraption in the outlet. First of all, I never spill as much fuel as I do with these "spill proof" pieces of crap; they are so cumbersome to use. But, more importantly, I have been worried about dropping the bike and breaking the valve. Instant disaster.
Guess what, Canadians can still buy the old-style reversible funnels! Quick run into the store and I was well equipped for the road with the good stuff. At first I thought that one container should be enough, but I bought one more just in case. A wise move in retrospect: the GS would not have made the 381 kilometers on James Bay Road without the 2.5-gallon reserve.
Back on the road! I followed Saint Lawrence River on Autoroute 40, and then turned toward La Tuque. Now it was for real. Pretty views, winding road.
Stopping for a moment at Riviere Mekinac to just savor the moment. I really like being here again - Quebec is a great destination for motorcycle rides. I come out this way for several rides every year.
In the southern part of the province (that is, along St. Lawrence River and south of it) one can ride quite late in the season - although last year, mid-October, I had a bit of a snow fall around Quebec City en-route from Natashquan. In the northern sections, the season is basically limited to May through September.
Quebec roads are in very good shape (at least when compared to NJ!). The crews are working on them diligently in the short construction season, so one needs to be prepared for the frequent construction zones and the possibility of having to ride long stretches on gravel detours.
Guess what. Here it is - another construction zone. Everyone is stacking up patiently.
Many of these sites are controlled by automatic traffic signals. The cycles can be very long and, therefore, the remaining time is displayed. This one had well over 7 minutes indicated when I pulled up (!); by the time I decided to pull out the camera, it was down to 381 seconds. A good omen? As in Relais 381? Let's hope.
By the evening, the weather was clearing out. I was nearing Lac Saint-Jean - the lake is just peeking from behind the treetops.
As I entered Saint-Felicien in another 20 kilometers, I saw a curious apparition in the clouds. It was very bright and very distinct. Yet, it was not a regular rainbow - these form when the sun is behind the observer (for you anal types: at an angle of 42 degrees). In this case, the sun was shining from the side. My guess was that the phenomenon was either created by sun's reflection in the clouds or was a reflection itself. Unusual - another good omen?
It may have been good omen for the whole trip, but not for finding a place to stay that night.
I was going to overnight at La Dore, just a bit up Route 167, but found that all accommodations in that town were closed for the season, including two upscale auberges that were supposed to be open year-round. I was faced with the choice of backtracking some 25km to Saint-Felicien or biting the bullet and continuing up north to next town, 200km away (next town, indeed!).
So, of course, I rode up. It was actually a very nice run. Temperatures were swinging about 40F - I was well bundled and heated, even though the electric vest kept kicking off for some reason. The road was actually quite busy; I could follow the logging trucks. These were big and fast! I liked having them in front of me, to guide me and to hopefully clear any critters ahead.
The route took me to Chibougamau, the entry point into the North Road. Even though this was much, much further than planned, I did not mind - it gave me more time for next morning.
By 10:30 pm I checked into Hotel Chibougamau and, still before closing time, managed to sit at the bar, having a glass of red wine and using their Wi-Fi, listening to bartender's iTouch hooked up to the PA system - headbanger music...
Chibougamau is a real town in the middle of nowhere: strip malls, a bit of main street. There was even a taxi waiting in front of the hotel - and the bike was parked in the courtyard. Not like the Spanish courtyards, though - more like someone's construction shed.
rdwalker screwed with this post 09-29-2010 at 05:45 AM