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Old 09-06-2009, 01:01 PM   #16
matts1050
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So, WTF Mark-where are ya?
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Old 09-07-2009, 05:53 AM   #17
markbvt OP
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Sorry for the lack of updates, everyone. No Internet access till now.

We just pulled into Churchill Falls and are about to have breakfast. No major issues on the way here, aside from one of Dan's panniers falling off (it's in the jeep now) and Keith denting his front rim on a big pothole yesterday. It wouldn't hold air anymore, so we installed a tube and all's well.

I'm planning a big RR update tomorrow from the ferry. I'm typing this on my iPhone, which is a pain.

Until then...

--mark
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:51 AM   #18
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Here's a minor preview: James (left) and Dan Skyping on the free wifi in the Churchill Falls restaurant.


And here's the view from the restaurant window.


--mark
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014

markbvt screwed with this post 09-07-2009 at 07:24 AM
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Old 09-07-2009, 07:59 AM   #19
alcontrast
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hey Mark
I just sent you a pm last night. In Newfoundland you should definitely check out some of the Trailway that runs parallel to Route 1 most of the way. Essentially old railbed that was turned into an ATV route. the whole corridor is a provincial park so it's no deadends or missing bridges and you can jump back on route 1 very often if you want to get back on the pavement.

Also there is a nice ride from Badger Newfoundland to the south west (route 370) that goes north of Red Indian Lake and eventually meets up with the Bourgeo Highway (route 480) that connects to Route 1 on the west coast of NF. there's something like 60+ miles of gravel road there that is just a little rougher than the TLH (more washouts, washboard surface, etc) but was a great ride.



looks like that.. The only tricky part is when you turn off route 370. It's a left turn about 5-6km before Buchans where there is a sign for some Adventure Camp.. Then take your first right turn. There are a few other intersections in the dirt area but they are either signed or just stay on the road that looks like the more traveled route.
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Old 09-08-2009, 03:22 AM   #20
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:49 AM   #21
markbvt OP
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In Goose Bay now; arrived last night. Big post coming tonight hopefully.

--mark
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:45 AM   #22
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No windows in my office, so hoping for some great ride pics to come.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:28 PM   #23
markbvt OP
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Day 1: Friday, 4 Sept 2009

The day started early, with James pulling up promptly at 6am. We loaded up the Jeep, I finished loading my bike, and we were on the road by 6:30. We stopped off briefly at McDonald's to grab a bite to eat, then headed out Vermont Rt 15 and Rt 100 to Newport, then 105 to Derby, where we were due to meet up with Dan and Keith at the Cow Palace restaurant (conveniently located).


Dan and Keith showed up a while later.


And off we went, crossing into Quebec. We headed up past Sherbrooke and Thetford Mines towards Quebec City. Approaching Thetford Mines, we were detoured over a rather fun little road that wound its way through one of the mining areas.


We lost a lot of time by having to search for a portable gas grill, which I had stupidly forgotten to put in James's Jeep. Then we lost even more time getting stuck in heinous traffic in the Quebec City area.

But eventually we made it past Quebec and onto some nicer roads.


The sun was setting as we approached the Saguenay fjord, and the moon rose as we waited for the ferry.


Our original plan was to ride 15 or so miles past Tadoussac, but since it was getting dark out we pulled into a campground in Tadoussac. We squeezed onto a site that was a little too small for us, cooked a great dinner of steak and salmon in the dark, and enjoyed our evening.

Stats for the day:


Track for the day (fully interactive -- zoom in as much as you like, although GPS Visualizer simplified the track somewhat so it's not as detailed as what my GPS recorded; also note that using the toggle menu in the upper right-hand corner, you can change the type of map that's displayed):
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014

markbvt screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 10:03 AM
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:29 PM   #24
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Day 2: Saturday, 5 Sept 2009

Saturday morning we got up early, cooked a great breakfast, broke camp, and headed east on Rt 138 towards Baie Comeau. This road winds along the northern shore of the St Lawrence River and offers some beautiful scenery.






James exploring:


Taking a break:


In Baie Comeau we turned onto Rt 389 and naturally had to make the obligatory stop at the famous roadsign:


Rt 389 is wonderfully twisty, but the pavement is rough. A short distance out of Baie Comeau you come to the Manic 2 power station.


Further down the road, we decided to stop for lunch at a pull-off on the side of the road.


We also passed a forest of electrical towers.


At some point, the rough road vibrated one of Dan's panniers off. It fell onto the road, he failed to notice, and a car some distance behind him picked it up and returned it to him upon catching up. It got stuffed into the Jeep along with the other pannier.

And so eventually we arrived at the massive Manic 5 dam.


This also happens to be the spot where the pavement ends and the gravel begins.


The road is wide and fairly smooth, and conditions were good. Keith and I soon began running at a consistent 55-65mph (which I found makes the gravel less sketchy than slower speeds, oddly enough... and was also fun as hell). The road offers up beautiful scenery.




After about an hour, with the sun getting low in the sky, we arrived at Relais Gabriel to get gas.






We asked the proprietress about camping, and she offered to let us camp for free, so we set up our tents on the boat launch tucked away on a lake behind the relais. It was an outstanding place to camp with an incredible view.




The moon rose and demanded some night photos.






We had another great steak dinner, James and I shared a bottle of red wine (one of the luxuries of bringing a Jeep along), and we all turned in early. It was an amazing evening.

Stats for the day:


Track for the day:
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014

markbvt screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 09:47 AM
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:30 PM   #25
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Day 3: Sunday, 6 Sept 2009

Morning dawned misty and very cold.


It dropped into the 20s overnight.






The mist soon started to burn off though.


After breakfast and showers, we set off up Rt 389. The landscape in the northern Manicouagan region is so awesomely beautiful that at times I had to fight back tears at the sheer stunning wonder of this place. Pictures do not do it justice, but here are a few anyway.






After an hour or so got to Gagnon, a former mining town. When the mine was shut down, the company, which owned the entire town, took everything, including the buildings. Everybody who does this trip comments on how weird it is to see a divided road with driveway entrances on each side, and they're all right.






After Gagnon, the road remains paved for about 55 miles to Fire Lake. We took a quick break...


...and then started the narrow, twisty gravel section leading to Fermont.


We would find out later that this section is called the Mini Trail by the locals, and accounts for the vast majority of wrecked cars, trucks, and bikes pulled out by the authorities along the length of the Trans-Quebec-Labrador road. And I can understand why -- this was by far the sketchiest section of road we'd ridden (or would ride). It was fun, but I had a few pucker moments... and we definitely kept the speed down. We all made it without incident (unlike a guy we'd end up meeting in Labrador City, who crashed his KLR on this section; fortunately he was okay, picked the bike up, and kept riding).

And so we came to Fermont.


Keith:


A short distance past Fermont, we arrived at the Labrador border for another obligatory roadsign photo.


Then shortly afterward, we arrived in Labrador City, shopped for a few supplies, grabbed a quick lunch, and stopped off in Wabush to pick up an emergency satellite phone (offered free of charge by the provincial government due to the Trans-Lab's remoteness).

And so we turned onto Rt 500 towards Churchill Falls and got back onto the gravel. The countryside turned mostly boggy, with occasional patches of higher ground featuring sparse, scrubby vegetation and spruce trees. The words that kept echoing through my mind were those of Buzz Aldrin upon seeing the surface of the moon: magnificent desolation.










About 100 miles east of Lab City, Keith and I stopped at a place that looked suitable for camping. While I hung around waiting for Dan and James, Keith rode another few miles ahead to see if there might be any better camping spots.

Dan and James turned up and agreed that the campsite was suitable, and while we were discussing it, the owner of a cabin located beyond a few trees walked along with his wife and dog. We asked him if it was okay to camp here, he said we were welcome to camp anywhere we liked as long as we didn't set fire to the vegetation, and if we needed a crap, he had an outhouse we were welcome to use. We all roared with laughter and thanked him. A discussion ensued about the cabin -- this guy (I think his name was Alec Smith) worked on the crew that built the Trans-Lab, and when it was done, he was able to point this spot out on a map and apply to the provincial government for a lease. And so he was granted approval, and pays $100 a year for this place (plus, of course, the cost of the cabin he built on it... but he milled the timbers and built the cabin himself). He offered to let us come down and see it, but we were starting to wonder what had become of Keith, who hadn't returned yet.

And so James and I headed out to search for Keith, and we found him a mile or so down the road with a flat front tire. He hadn't found any better places to camp, so he turned around and headed back... and with the sun in his eyes, he rode into a massive pothole that put a huge ding in his front rim and flattened his tire. The dent in the rim was bad enough that the tire wouldn't hold air. So we pulled the front wheel off the bike, tried and failed to pound the dent out, and finally just dismounted the tire and installed a tube. It's been fine ever since.

We headed back to our makeshift campground and set up our tents as the light was dying.


Stats for the day:


Track for the day (it's interesting to note how inaccurate Google's map is of the Trans-Lab):
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014

markbvt screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 09:49 AM
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:31 PM   #26
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Day 4: Monday, 7 Sept 2009

It rained a bit overnight and was cold and damp in the morning. Not very pleasant. We made haste to Churchill Falls and gratefully had breakfast when we got there.


We took our time eating, checking email (first wifi we'd found on the trip), etc. By the time we got going, the clouds had moved out, and the weather was cold but beautiful.

Another obligatory roadsign:


The scenery along the road continued to be beautiful.






Here comes James!


The road conditions for most of the Trans-Lab were actually pretty easy to deal with. We did encounter the oft-lamented loose gravel where a grader was operating, which is definitely sketchy, but for the most part the riding wasn't difficult at all. One caveat to this: this road requires constant attention. The moment your attention or eyes wander, the bike wanders into loose stuff or the road offers up a big pothole to remind you that this ain't the place to be daydreaming. As a result, I didn't see nearly as much of the surrounding scenery as I would have liked because I was busy focusing on the road.

Also, the gravel is pretty hard on tires. These TKCs are only about 1000 miles old.


After a great few hours' ride, the landscape started getting sandy, the trees started mixing in leaves with the needles, and then it happened: the gravel ended and a ribbon of fresh black asphalt appeared beneath my wheels. I thought, with a twinge of regret, "Well, that's it."

And then my bike ran out of gas. Well, it hit reserve, so I switched over and kept going. Ten or twelve miles later, the engine died again, and this time I really was out of gas. "Damn," I thought. "I was really hoping to make it to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay sign."

I pulled in the clutch and coasted around a curve, and started laughing uproariously inside my helmet, because there it was: the Happy Valley-Goose Bay sign. I coasted up to it and stopped.


Ten or fifteen minutes later, James pulled up with my spare gas, and after the obligatory photos we continued into town. Some kid at a gas station advised Keith that we could camp at the Gosling Lake park, so after having dinner in town we headed up to the park and settled in.


It was a great feeling to have made it to Goose Bay, but there's a certain sense of sadness as well. This has been a hell of a trip so far, and the Trans-Lab is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I simply don't have words to describe it.

Stats for the day:


Track for the day:
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'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe

My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014

markbvt screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 09:53 AM
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:14 AM   #27
KILLBILL
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Can't wait for more updates Mark......here and on NESR
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:55 AM   #28
matts1050
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It sounds like a great time so far, Mark. Enjoy!
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:43 AM   #29
bikerjarrel
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Great post. Great pictures. Great writing. I'm reading this at the office and spending way too much time staring at the photos.
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:10 PM   #30
Dave Noel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markbvt
It was a great feeling to have made it to Goose Bay, but there's a certain sense of sadness as well. This has been a hell of a trip so far, and the Trans-Lab is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I simply don't have words to describe it.
Relax you only done about 2 thirds of it. Once you get off the Cartwright ferry you still have 323 kms of gravel road. When you get south of Lodge Bay that is when it will look desolate, when you get up on the higher ground there are no trees hardly.

Good luck with the remainder of the trip and like VO1MX said when you get close to Central Newfoundland give one of us a PM.
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