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Old 06-18-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
nick949eldo OP
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Inverary, Ontario, Canada
Oddometer: 1,044
Part 2


Its about 200 kilometres between Amos and Matagami and the start of the James Bay Road. I’ve ridden that stretch before, but for some reason this time it seemed interminable and I just wasn’t reaching my ‘Zen’ state. The kilometre marker posts seemed to crawl by and time itself seemed to have slowed down.

You would think that 200 kilometres of road flanked by forest extending endlessly to either side would give one a sense of being ‘out there’, but the real ride doesn’t start until you are past Matagami. The little town is about a kilometre off the main road, but bypass it at your peril - the next gas pump (and little else), is 381 kilometres to the north.

Needless to say, I topped off with gas, checked my oil, then rode the 6 kilometres to the checkpoint where you register your trip.

From this point on, there are no services, only a handful of (often uninhabited) First Nations cabins, usually tucked in the forest just off the road.

I derive a perverse pleasure heading out on to an empty road. I’m not sure why. I am conscious of the dangers. Misjudge a single corner or fall asleep in the saddle and you could fly off into the bush or swamp, leaving virtually no trace that you’d gone that way. You and your bike could simply never be found. Stop, and within a few moments hordes of blackflies descend. Its not wolves and bears you have to fear out here - it’s the blackflies that will tear you to pieces. The emergency phone installations only serve to remind you just how remote it is. It can be hours between vehicles.

Unmanned emergency phones

The landscape has a subtle charm. There are no outstanding features - indeed, featurelessness is one of its defining characteristics. At first it just seems as though you are riding through an endless tunnel of trees, but the further north you go, the trees get smaller and the bones of the landscape become more apparent. Here and there a bit of bedrock will be visible between the stunted spruce, or perhaps an area of bog. Occasionally you can get a glimpse of the true immensity of the landscape - it just seems to roll on forever. The road is a thin line across this enormous terrain.

Stunted spruce, bedrock and bog stretching to any horizon

Apart from what was in my mostly full tank, I was carrying an extra 20 litres of gas. Contrary to expectations, the weight of the gas on the rear rack had almost no perceptible affect on the Guzzis razor sharp handling characteristics. It wallowed through the corners a fraction more, perhaps, but not enough to be worrisome. So when I reached where the Trans-Taiga Road meets the James Bay Road at mid afternoon, I had more than enough gas to make the first leg of that journey.

But I dithered. Was it a premonition or just cowardice? I rode up the road for about 200 metres. The gravel was loose and dry, but neither better nor worse than roads I have ridden hundreds of kilometres on before. I turned around and decided to have one more night of luxury in a motel in Radisson, before setting out in earnest.

Twenty kilometres later, the Eldorado was DRT (Dead Right There) at the side of the road, out of cell range, with oil gushing from a broken feed line.

Beyond the Coffee Shop: Riding 1970's Moto Guzzis in Northern Canada (Kindle Book) Buy it - it's cheap and good! All my adventures and disasters in one place.

nick949eldo screwed with this post 06-18-2012 at 06:34 PM
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