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Old 09-27-2010, 07:16 PM   #1
rdwalker OP
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Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
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James Bay Road & North Road Solo Blitz, September 2010

Yet another "me-too" Ride Report...

Still, preparing the posts is fun and I hope that this will be of interest to some inmates here, especially those who are planning the ride or recently finished it.
So here it goes: my ride to Chisasibi, Quebec.

First, acknowledgements. Thanks to all others who posted their reports here, especially
donnymoto and RockyNH - the advice and info was invaluable. XMagnaRider from BMWLT forum: silk gloves in the rain - brilliant! Deadly99 - thanks for the encouragement to take the North Road. It was fun!

Let's start with some teasers, boys and girls.

You, too, can have your own GAS BOY.

We're goin' in.

Make room for the king of the road.
North Road, that is.

In slippery snot.

Done it! Got there!
But - boy, the Arctic Ocean is really frigid!

More power, Igor!

Time's ticking away - still 368 ticks to go...

We're not in Kansas anymore.

More to come.

rdwalker screwed with this post 10-02-2010 at 05:49 PM
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
rdwalker OP
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Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
Oddometer: 2,531
Day 1

I have been thinking about riding up the James Bay Road for quite a while now. I became aware of it when preparing for my ’08 Trans-Labrador ride: Walter Muma’s site,, the "basic reading" for Trans-Lab travelers, has a parallel section devoted to James Bay Road and to North Road.

James Bay is one of the few exotic adventure locations available within a reasonable driving distance from the US East Coast.

OK, so it certainly is not in the class of Charlie’s and Ewan’s "Long Way" ride, nor Colebatch’s Siberian Extreme - still, I do find it a challenge to battle distance and elements in order to reach the Arctic Ocean.

Getting to James Bay would give me the satisfaction of having ridden a bike to the shore of every ocean in Earth: Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific. Well, maybe with the exception of the Southern Ocean - though I have been a mere 5 degrees of latitude, 300 miles away from it in Ushuaia.

Nevertheless, the idea of this trip remained a "nice to do". I did not go on any big rides this season and did not even plan on any more, until I realized very recently that the remaining weekend schedule is very booked. Effectively, I had only one weekend open before the end of northern riding opportunities!

Suddenly, the trip was on and the preparations went into high gear. I secured a few days off before and after that free weekend in late September and laid out the route.

* North via Montreal toward Chibougamau, Quebec (point "C" on the map).
* Access the North Road and travel east on gravel to join James Bay Road about midway.
* Continue northbound past Radisson toward Chisasibi to reach James Bay ("D).
* Return trip would be all-paved: south to Matagami, then home via either Montreal or Ottawa ("F").

I checked out the bike and realized that the front Anakee has 11,000 miles on. Quick! - get a new one ASAP!

A week before departure, my dining room table became the preparation area. All the gear was collected and packed, then taken down to the garage.

September 15: Northern NJ to Plattsburgh, NY - 285 miles.

Finally, the departure day arrived. I was still working, but my itinerary called for putting in a good number of miles in the evening, to give myself a nice distance advantage for next morning. I sped home from work, changed into riding gear and pulled the bike out from garage. It was getting dark – a long night ride was ahead of me. Little did I know: it was a portent of things to come throughout the whole trip: night travel all around!

Riding at a steady pace, I went past the Adirondacks in surprisingly good conditions: dry and fairly warm for a night that season, in low 40’s. Just before midnight, I was bedding down in the Plattsburgh, NY Econolodge.

rdwalker screwed with this post 09-28-2010 at 05:42 AM
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:58 AM   #3
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Been Looking for this one Robert!!!! Signed up to ride along!

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Trip Report 2009 Trans Lab Highway

Trip Report 2010 James Bay & North Road Quebec
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:54 AM   #4
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:58 AM   #5
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:59 AM   #6
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Looks good.. thanks for the intro

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Old 09-28-2010, 08:09 AM   #7
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Hate to see you missed the old sign out at LG1

Little tricky to find here before you cross LG1 dam:

From what I've read it looks like they change it out once a year or so.

Nice times up there, thanks for sharing
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:35 PM   #8
rdwalker OP
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Originally Posted by Throttlemeister
Hate to see you missed the old sign out at LG1 ... Little tricky to find here before you cross LG1 dam: ...
Arrrrgh! Grrr!
And I was so prepared! Even had a permanent marker, still packed back home. All for nothing! Now I have to go there again.... how awful. Awful?

Originally Posted by billhig
..."I haven't gone any long rides this seasons ------ because my dumb ass riding buddy fell off a ladder" ...
I bet you that the titanium plate in my buddy's wrist is custom machined by a CNC mill - and beautifully anodized.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:52 PM   #9
rdwalker OP
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Day 2.

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
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:58 AM   #10
Francis P Monaco
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I'm enjoying the trip report so far. The pictures are nice and it sounds like you had fun on your journey.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:43 PM   #11
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Northern NJ, HHI SC
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Sounds like a great ride but I for one am glad he didn't finish his comment with "I haven't gone any long rides this seasons ------ because my dumb ass riding buddy fell off a ladder"

Not that I know why he would say that.

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