Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
September 18: Lake Boisrobert to Radisson - 378 miles.
Woke up to a soggy morning. I hate to break down the camp in rain; at least, I got a chance to set it up in the dry.
Yesterday's perfect hardpack changed to wet snot. The dirt or clay in the roadway became very slippery; the Anakees could not bite in. I was glad that I camped near the end of North Road: I was ready for the pavement. Here it is: where Route du Nord joins James Bay Road at kilometer 275.
I entered James Bay Road pavement and rode north. In a little over an hour I reached the location of almost mythical significance on that highway: Relais Routier 381. This stage stop is the only place that provides fuel along the Road - and it is 381 kilometers from the southern terminus in Matagami.
First task, then, was to fill up the bike. Dutifully, I waited for my Gas Boy (!?), then went to the shop building to bring my tires back to normal pressure - I dropped about 10 psi for the gravel. There is a lot of high speed riding on James Bay Road - I did not want to risk overheating the sidewalls. The shop was closed, but thoughtfully an airline was stuck through the doors.
I do have to say that I never heard the term "Gas Boy" before - this was a source of continuous entertainment for the rest of the trip.
While I was pumping up the wheels, a white Honda sedan pulled up. The driver got out and we talked for a while - even though his English was very broken (and my French none). Apparently, he saw me taking pictures at the North Road junction and tried to chase me since, but I was too fast for him.
Now that the bike was taken care of, I went to the cafeteria. There was only one choice: linguini with meat sauce. A hearty dish! While I ate, my new friend joined me and told me most of his life story - I think. From what I understood, he lived in Chicoutimi (in Quebec's pretty Saguenay region) and was going up to Chisasibi as well.
In the time I spent indoors, the clouds were blown out and a bit of sun peeked out. Beautiful conditions for the remaining section north.
Open road, excellent pavement, blistering speed.
That's a reminder what James Bay Road is about: power plants! Just before the turn-off to Trans-Taiga Road, this sign points out nearby locations. "Centrale" is a generating station.
More of the ever-present power lines. Notice that the one on the right has only two conductors: this is the 450kV (900kV line-to-line) high-voltage DC feed that runs from Radisson to Sandy Point in Massachusetts. This gigantic interconnect carries 2000 MW over almost a thousand miles!
Of course, the AC lines (with 3 conductors, in the center and left of picture) are no slouches, either. Six of those lines carry power from the James Bay project south, at a voltage of 765kV.
(In case you did not notice - these technical factoids do interest me).
At kilometer 544 of James Bay Road, there is a junction with another route of adventure. The gravel Trans-Taiga Road is about 700km long. Along it, there are no settlements, except for some private Hydro Quebec encampments and a few outfitters catering to hunters.
The entrance to Trans-Taiga is quite unassuming, but this sign announcing rest areas show the promise of its remoteness.
A bit further in, this distance marker s quite impressive. Actually, Trans-Taiga continues past Brisay, to Caniapiscau - 666km total.
Wow, I find that exciting! A future destination, maybe?
I finally reached the Chisasibi turn-off. It was early afternoon, the clouds were just gathering - I decided to ride to the waters of James Bay, about 100km away, before returning to Radisson to overnight.
Just as I was turning, the warning indicator lit up: low fuel! What? I used up all the gas from Relais 381? How could that be?
Apparently, running at Autobahn-like speeds... ahem... carries a penalty. My fuel economy dropped to mid-30's mpg. Normally, US-style riding pace results in about 40 mpg for the GS, when fully loaded with travel and camping gear. Interestingly, traveling on gravel of North Road (and of Trans-Lab in the past) yielded about 50mpg: running with light throttle at a very steady speed does wonders for fuel consumption.
No problem. That's what the fuel cans are for, right?
A little side trip took me to the first of the power plants here: La Grande 1. Rather than looking at the plant, I was searching for a whiteboard where visitors to LG-1 do sign in. Donnymoto threw a challenge to fellow ADVriders to sign up near his name.
Too bad - even though I came prepared with a permanent marker, I could not find the board. I visited all four "belvederes" (over-look points) around LG-1, to no avail. As Throttlemeister posted above, apparently the board was in a parking area off the main road and I must have missed it. Oh well, it looks like I have to go there again...
Past Chisasibi, the paved road ends. The last stretch going west crosses a fairly flat terrain.
And here we are! Done it! Did it! This is it: the shore of James Bay. Arctic Ocean!
A great feeling of accomplishment! My high spirits did not even suffer when the gale-force wind blew my helmet off the bike while this picture was being taken. The retractable sunshield was shattered - oh, well...
When you look at Chisasibi on Google Maps' satellite view, while zooming in very closely, you can see some oblong white-silvery shapes on the shoreline.
These are the "freighter canoes", used by the Cree. Here they are, in real life.
To complete the celebration, walking into the frigid waters was required. Had to do it!
This is actually a location of historical significance. About 2 miles north of where I was standing, on the Island of Fort George, was a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company. The company was formed in late 1600's by an enterprising Frenchman - a certain Pierre-Esprit Radisson - who could not interest the French government and thus obtained a British royal charter for "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay".
Don't you just love this name? Adventurers? An early ADVrider? ADVsailor?
Needless to say, the town of Radisson was named in his honor.
And, in case you are wondering: yes, the Radisson hotel chain is also named after good old Pierre.
Hmmmm. What the heck is that? Apparently, rubber over-boots work great as long as there is no big hole that lets in water. That would explain why my left boot was completely filled with water when riding during heavy rain earlier that day. Duh...
I figured out the system, though: I punched holes in the rubber soles of the booties. That way, any water that got in could drain out, albeit slowly - rather than creating a deep puddle inside.
Last commemorative picture of the freighter bike with the freighter canoes. Time to head out - bad weather was coming in.
On the way back, a brief stop in the town of Chisasibi.
As someone wrote here, the Cree must be very much into Christmas: their alphabet surely contains a lot of candy canes.
I took a quick ride through the neighborhood, intrigued by the teepees in backyards of many of the houses. Even the arena / assembly hall was shaped like a teepee.
A quick stop for some Pimiiukimikw. I think.
Can't complain, though: this was the only high-test fuel in James Bay region.
Now it was getting dark and I raced back to Radisson. I did not feel that hot: the linguini with meat sauce from Relais 381 was beginning to give me a god-awful indigestion. I was badly distracted; I could not wait to be able to have some Alka-Seltzer.
When I finally reached my destination for the night, I was cold, tired and very unhappy. The receptionist at Auberge Radisson was very nice and let me park on the sidewalk. But: she was just finishing dinner at her desk - and it was linguini with meat sauce! That was almost too much!
First task upon getting into the room was to spread out all the wet camping and riding gear. What a mess.
Now, time for a well deserved hot bath - and a double Alka-Seltzer. As a final source of smiles for the evening, I read a warning note in the bathroom, asking to run the exhaust fan while taking shower. The English was pretty good, not machine-translated, but someone must have been using a dictionary too much: wrong word for "sensitive" was used. 'Our fire alarm system is very fragile'. Huh? I hope not.
rdwalker screwed with this post 09-30-2010 at 09:36 PM