Since ordering my GS last fall (my first one) and waiting impatiently all winter for it to arrive and then for our snow tire law to expire so I could ride, the expression has been going on and on in my head, "A clean GS is a dirty shame."
Well, there's no shame here, let me tell you!
With only about 200km on my new 2013 F800GS, I headed out early Sunday afternoon for a little ride. I had no planned destination or route and just wanted to ride my new beast.
My gas reserve light came on shortly after leaving home (with the trip meter showing 215 km), and since this was going to be my first fill-up since getting the bike, I had no idea how far I could ride until the tank was empty. But I had my new Rotopax with me, holding 3.8 litres of extra fuel, so I was able to test my reserve without worry.
I headed west out of Montreal and once I got off the island to Vaudreuil, I took small roads along the water (Lake of Two Mountains) to the little town of Hudson. Continuing on, I kept taking every right fork in the road to stay along the water and on smaller roads. I rode right up to the Carillon Dam and made my first stop for a photo and to get the wire out for my heated gear. The temperature was 3°C (37°F) and my heated grips weren't enough - I needed to plug in my jacket liner and gloves (which I was already wearing).
As I continued along, I watched my fuel gauge go from two bars above empty, to one bar, and finally to no bars. I was pretty sure I'd run out of fuel shortly. I made it to the outskirts of Hawkesbury Ontario and pulled in at the first gas station I came to. I pulled up to the pumps, put the sidestand down and climbed off the bike (this bike is TALL for me, and I can't manage to swing my leg over the bike without getting it stuck on the right-side pannier, especially when dressed with many layers of clothing and full ATGATT. So I've got to stand on the left peg to get off (and on) the bike. Once on the bike I can't flat foot it, but am on the balls of my feet on level ground. Anyway, I pulled off my gloves, removed my helmet and earplugs (I never needed earplugs with my K1300GT at any speed, but with this bike even with the larger BMW touring windshield, I need them from about 110kph and higher. I opened the fuel filler cap, inserted the gas nozzle and... nothing happened. I went inside and the attendant said to try another pump. I pushed the bike over to another pump and same thing. Turned out they were out of premium gas!
Now with the bike really running on fumes, I donned my gear and continued on a few more kilometres to the next station. The tank is supposed to hold 16 litres, and I managed to fill in 15.824 litres! Pretty darned close to empty! The reserve light had come on at 215km on the trip meter, and now it was at 286. I got about 70 km after the light came on. Without the Rotopax with me I wouldn't have chanced running out of gas and would have filled up back in Montreal before leaving. (But gas was 12 cents per litre cheaper in Ontario on Sunday than it was in Montreal!)
Now since I was already in Hawkesbury, I decided to cross the bridge to Grenville Quebec, and turned west along Route 148. I wanted to at least take a look at the beginning of a road I'd been hearing a lot about... the Chemin de la Rivière Rouge. I turned right on the Kilmar Road, crossed Hwy. 50 and continued a couple of kilometres further until the Chemin de la Rivière Rouge turn off to the left.
The Chemin de la Rivière Rouge is a brown sand and dirt road which winds for miles along the river. There are river rafting companies along the road and lots of private cottages. I've heard that often the road is flooded with many potholes and deep muddy sections and I had no intention of getting in too deep as I have NO off-road skills yet. This was my first GS and I knew I had a lot of learning to do before tackling anything challenging.
I stopped early on by the river side where the road was still firm enough to support the bike on the sidestand without sinking in.
Continuing on, the road got worse and worse and at one point I managed to stop with the intention of taking a photo, but the road was so soft the sidestand sunk in and wouldn't support the bike. I couldn't get the camera out of my pannier. I thought the road was bad there but it got worse... a lot worse! The muddy sand road was VERY slippery and full of wet potholes. And then there was snow on the road and mixed with the mud it was a dangerous situation for this newbie. I was saying "Oh shit! Oh shit! OH SHIT!" to myself in my helmet and I was afraid to stop. When I'd slow down the bike was in great danger of dropping and I kept remembering advice I'd heard about the importance of keeping up speed in the rough spots and as long as I did that, the bike was relatively stable, but every now and then the front wheel would be pushed to one side or the other by the ruts and the back end would fishtail. I was certainly out of my experience and comfort level and I wasn't able to stop.
Finally in one place the road was more snow covered than muddy and the bike felt a bit more stable and I managed to stop and get this photo:
In that spot the road was GREAT, in spite of the snow. There weren't any ruts or muddy sections and I hoped the worst was behind me. There was no way I was going to turn around and go through that again as I feared my luck would run out. I continued on, and sure enough there were more tricky (for me) sections to go through. I feared going slow and dumping the bike and at speed I feared falling and getting seriously hurt. There wasn't even any cell service in that area and the whole time I was on that road, I didn't encounter any other traffic. Oh Shit!!!
Finally I came out at the other end of the Chemin de la Rivière Rouge at Arundel and I've never been so happy to see a paved road in my life! I continued along Route 364 to Weir, where I jumped onto Route 327 (a well-known winding paved road quite famous among motorcyclists) which I took all the way to Lachute. From there it was a simple highway run back to my home in Montreal. My little run was just under 300 kilometres.
I should have had my GoPro hooked up on the bike (but hadn't intended on making such a trip) and maybe I should investigate one of those weather-proof cameras that I could have kept around my neck while riding. Too bad I wasn't able to get shots of the really uh, interesting sections of "road".
GS dirty enough for a first outing?