While on the ferry I hear the fellow behind me on his cell trying to get a motel room, he explains to his wife that the town is sold out. I do a bit of phoning around and sure enough every hotel I phoned says the same thing. The sun drops just before we land it the rain begins like rain I havent seen in years, Drops the size of golf balls and lightning flashing up the sky. Baie Comeau is pretty far out there and the nearest town is over a hundred clicks away. I get a lady at a gas station to let me use her phone and I phone around for a hotel in the next town (Forestville) and again I am presented with a sorry sir we are all sold out. The next town is a good 3 hour drive, its dark, late and raining like heck. Finally I get through to the Four Seasons Hotel and indeed they have one room left and its a nice suite the lady informs me. We make the reservation and hit the road. The water in town was up to my axles on the bike, SERIOUS rain
Not much to say about those 100 km's, miserable, cold and wet.
Rdiding around Forestville we cant seem to find the fancy Four Seasons. Now let me tell you about what was running through my head, a nice hotel with a pool and sauna...maybe spend the next morning just lounging around the pool and enjoying the good life as we had been pushing pretty hard up until this point in the trip.
Lets just say that there is a BIG difference between the Four Season Hotel and the Quatra Season Motel
The suite only has one bed and the plave is a bit of a dive, to be polite. Ah well its warm and dry. A Granola bar for dinner as everything was closed in town and got my gps out and discovered I has inadvertantly erased the gps files for the TCAT in Western Quebec..ARG! Juames to the rescue as he set me up and I reloaded the GPS.
Fabrice created the TCAT section from the end of the Trans Lab (Baie Comeau) to the town of Chibougamau. It begins with a 380 km section of logging roads that lead to a gas station and general store in the middle of nowhere (Labrieville which is a hydro plant and entrance to a Zec). Next up is a 250 more km's of logging roads to a lodge called KM31 where gas and lodging can be had. I expect this would be a huge day for folks and suspect most end up camping along the way and make this a 2 day ride. From the lodge its another hour or so to Chicoutimmi which is a city of 200, 000 people. The roads from the lodge into Chicoutamii are a bit narrow and have loose rocks. One section has been penned as Fab's Hill and will be a highlight (or lowlight) for most folks. Loose rocks the size of soccer balls require you to keep momentum and pick your line carefully. The hill climbs for a few hundred meteres before levels out for about 30 feet and you round a corner and have another climb equal or larger in size than the first. Fab's Hill WILL be talked about in future reports of the TNE and the TCAT. For us it wasnt crazy but for larger bikes and less experienced riders it may very well be a daunting climb
After Chicoutimi Fabs section continues on to a town called Chibougamau, this is where the TNE heads north up the Rue Du Nord and the TCAT heads southwest towards Ottawa. I expect most folks will take between 2-5 days for this section of the route (Baie Comeau to Chibougamau). This section makes the Trans Lab look over populated. For about 600 km you are unlikely to see anyone otyher than maybe a hydro worker. This is what the TCAT is all about, showing people places in canada that never get seen. Fab created something special and I think many other folks will enjoy it as much as I did
Since we had lost some time we werent able to ride Fab's entire section but the parts we did ride were amazing. the scenery and the roads were great. The road surface is similiar to the Trans Lab, sandy with rounded rocks. I was surprised at the size of the mountains in this area, it reminded me a lot of the Squamish area in BC. Large cut faces of rock on the hills reaching 1-2 thousand feet in height. Both Sean and I were blown away with the scenery.
The must find gas station. Waypoints for the gas and Lodge31 have been taken and will be added to the gps files. Learn from my mistake, call ahead for reservations if you plan on staying indoors as the lumber and hydro industries seem to book entire motels/hotels for their staff
Your going to get dinged about ten dollars here as you'll be riding through a ZEC. A ZEC is a managed forest area where recreation is allowed (fishing, hunting and riding dual sport bikes). Like a national or provincial park except logging and hydro dams are prevalent.
All filled up with gas we hit the road. I carry a Dromedary bag for extra fuel. Works well (smells a bit as the fumes leak through the material) and packs up small when you dont need it. It holds ten liters of fuel and if you plan on using one switch out the cap for a Nalgene water bottle cap as the stock one will leak. All told its about $40 at Mountain Equipment CoOp