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Old 07-11-2011, 03:41 PM   #1576
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Nice pics, Ted! Can;t wait to hear the story. I'm still in for September. Anybody here have an interest in riding with us? Even for a day? Plan on being in Thunder bay by the 4th of Sept and heading to Kenora to scout that section.
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:53 PM   #1577
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Can I spill the beans?

We discovered a new gravel route that links... well almost Ottawa, up to the Route du Nord. Now you don't have to slab it up to Chibougamau! We think we're going to name it Rue du Ouje-Bougoumou.



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Old 07-11-2011, 06:36 PM   #1578
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:01 PM   #1579
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:53 AM   #1580
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Nice pics, Ted! Can;t wait to hear the story. I'm still in for September. Anybody here have an interest in riding with us? Even for a day? Plan on being in Thunder bay by the 4th of Sept and heading to Kenora to scout that section.


The section that Hardwaregrrl is pre riding looks like a beauty......from a computer screen anyways

It's got an old rail line, a long remote section between fuel stops, native reserves and what appear to be some excellent gravel roads.

Thanks ahead of time for helping out
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Old 07-12-2011, 07:21 AM   #1581
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I headed out last week to drive a section of the TCAT with a couple of friends. My buddy V who is a childhood friend and Rob who I have met through the internet. Rob shares a common interest in exploring, driving trucks and riding bikes and is an easy fellow to get along with. The TCAT is designed for both bikes and trucks and on this adventure we'd use the trucks to explore. I prefer travelling on a bike but but the truck lets me bring friends along who don't ride and also adds the luxury of room to pack stuff, which is a nice for a change.

The route that we intended to drive was a section in western Quebec. Fab has created the route from where the Trans Labrador highway ends in Baie Comeaux and ends just south of a town called Chigbougamau. Our goal was to connect the Ontario/Quebec border with Fabs section of the TCAT. Juames had created a proposed route that leaves the border and travles thorugh a wilderness park called Papineau Labelle and ending in a town called Mont Laurier. From Mont Laurier I had created a proposed route to a town called Parent. From Parent heading north east was a bit fo a crap shoot, you see maps are not reliable for this area of the world. Roads are typically created by logging companies and come and go over the years, none get names and very few show up on any maps (that I could find). The "blank" spot on the map was about the size of the province of Nova Scotia...LARGE.

This map shows gives a rough idea of what we intended to drive.


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Old 07-12-2011, 07:43 AM   #1582
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A few weeks of email prepping for the trip, the typical what to bring, where to stay, google and garmin map files, etc took place between Rob and myself. I get a call from Rob the day before saying his truck is having some issues and he may have to be delayed.

Leaving my place and heading for the city





V and I showed up and Robs on the Friday morning and after a few stops to get parts, etc we were on our way.










Quickly after leaving the city of Ottawa (capital of Canada, population about a million) we grabbed a ferry across to Quebec. The ferry marks the beginning of us being on the TCAT route for this trip. We'll be travelling the route in reverse so look at your screen in the mirror to see things the way you'll see them when following the route





Rob drives a 2004 Landrover Discovery (aka Disco2) and I'm in a Ford Ranger.







The route followed some pavement through a atown called Buckingham before getting onto gravel roads. Juames had created this next section based on park maps and internet mapping tools. Once again this whole project makes sense to me as what the web and maps show IS NOT what you'd expect at times. Creating a route like this across a country as big as Canada and not test riding it....well you'd never have enough time to finish. The pre riding once again proves itself as we end up in some weird locations that are unpassable or on roads that abrubtly end. Fun for us as we arent doing the entire route but for folks who want an overland route that covers huge distances I presume they wnt want to be turned around, get lost orrustrated by roads to nowhere, etc. For these reasons and many others the idea of a route like the TCAT makes great sense, you get the benefit of local input and get to travel a proven route. Of course even a proven route is bound to have unanticipated obstacles, closed roads, washouts, fallen tree's, decommissioned roads, flooded roads, etc. Sorry, I babble






The road became a trail and trail got muddy.

















After a while the inenvitable happened. Mud and a hill dont mix with a two wheel drive truck and I got stuck and had to rely on Rob to pull me back out to firmer ground.








It quickly became apparent that this was becoming unsuitable for the main route of the TCAT so we back tracked out of the bush. The first local we meet informs us there was a locked gate just above the hill I got stuck on. We decided to jump on some slab and head north to get a few miles done. It was now mid afternoon and we had barely covered any ground. After an hour for so we stopped and made some lunch before heading into Panineau Labelle park to jump on the route again. This part of the TCAT is close to home so I'll hand over my knowledge gained and let juames re work the route and we'll have some fun pre riding it later this summer I'm sure.






Typical houses in this area









Who knew the Quebec government was on board with the TCAT






Depending on the season you should be careful for snowmobiles or logging trucks







The roads in this area consist primarily of sand with round rocks.







This park is in an area known as the Gatineau Hills. The roads are fun and twisty and won't disappoint.


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Old 07-12-2011, 08:01 AM   #1583
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After a while the route says to hang a left, the road quickly disappeared and we were left driving through some small sand dunes. Eventually they ran out and we were presented with a wall of forest with no visible trail going into it. Again the two wheel drive came to haunt me, it was fine with momentum but didnt like stopping in the deep stuff. Another tug from Rob and we made ouor way back to the road we came in on.










About 2 km's back there was a turn off to the left, we decided to head back to it and see where it led. It brouoght us back onto the intended route after a few dozen km's.








We did a bit of poking around while we were there. There are a ton of lakes and places to camp....I wouldnt choose this one spot though





I presume it means this camp site is for shooting bears?


Here is one that is more appropriate, it even had the remains of an old rock chimney on it, a beatiful lake and whatnot.







(waypoint taken for this spot and wiull be included on the gps files)



We pushed on at a leisurly pace, taking photo's and whatnot














Eventually we came to the town of Mont Laurier and purchased some last minute forgotten supplies from the local grocery store. We decided to keep heading north, it was about 5-6 pm at this point, the goal was to find somewhere cool to camp before 7. The route follows some pavement for 30 minutes or so before getting back onto gravel. keep in mind I speak zero french, well maybe a few buzz words like beer and whatnot but practically nothing. We're driving along and there is an abondoned house with a stack of firewood in the fron yard and a bright sign saying privee. Long story short is privee does not mean free firewood! Busted as a car came flying up to use after I'd loaded the truck.....10 bucks setlled the deal and away we went.


The gravel started on a road called the Chemin Du Parent. Its a 190 km gravel highway to the small town of Parent. Fun and fast driving was had as we bagan scouring for somewhere to camp for the night. There were not alot of options as the forest is quite thick. Voila! The prefect spot. I nudge my front wheel into the lane leading off the road and we wait for Rob. There's Rob about 3000 yards down the road so we pull in assuming he had seen us. Well he hadn't (assume he was playing with the gps). About a hundred yards from where we pulled off was a another road shooting off into the bush. V and myself were out of truck walking around before we realized Rob wasnt with us. WTF did he pass by this place and not see us or did he turn down that other road to check it out.

We wait.......15 minutes later we are perplexed, what to do? Is he behind us or in front of us? It's getting dark in a hurry and we're a hundred clicks in eiother direction from any form of civilization.
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:34 AM   #1584
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Right on cue the clouds roll in, the rain becomes hard enough to warrant the wipers on full. So with lightning flashing all around the conversation began. If he is behind us would he stop and camp by hyimself in this weather? if he is front of us would he think we are total dick heads and not stop for hours on end? Is he behind us and had a flat or something? Is he racing in front of us and missed a corner and should we be checking the ditches?

The next town (Parent) was about a hundred km's away. We decided to head that way and camp on the side of the road in town. We figured he was eithewr going to be there when we showed up or he'd pass through it in the morning if he continues following the gps tracks we had. An hour later and we see Rob pulled off to the side of the road.




Happy smiles all around and alot of where were you, ah I see, I thought....


We decided to find a camp location as soon as possible as the lifght was fading. There are not a lot of spots to choose from so we picked a gravel pit. Scenery wise gravel pits lack scenery but they offer room top park, a flat surface for tents and typically have less bugs than in the bush or beside a body of water. Shortly after stopping the rain stopped and clouds lifted, this provided an hour ro so of decent light to setup camp and cook up some grub.

I should mention that Rob is the most prepared person I have ever travelled with, I mean it. he has everything including the kitchen sink. Gazebo? yep Stove? Yep Table cloth? Yep Every piece of recovery equipment known to man? YEP Me.....well I forgot shoes and clothes One pair of pants and flip flops dont mix with being stuck in the mud...ah well live and learn..... again.













What do people sitting in a gravel pit talk about after the typical "did you see that", "remember when" conversations are over ? Bears and bear attacks of course.

Around 2 am I wake up to the sound of sniffing right beside my head, then the sound of gravel crunching as something walked around to the other side of my tent and more sniffing! Heart not beating, lungs not moving I very quietly sit up so no part of me is within 2 feet of the tent walls. What to do? I grab my flash light and decide to head out to scare off whatever it is thats out there...and get close enough to the truck to get inside to safety. So there I am in my boxers (not a pretty site on a good day) and I sprint 30 feet towards my truck while scanning around the truck for signs of a bear. I spin around and start scanning the camp site and just as the scan gets close to my tent the light goes very dim then dies. So now here I am standing in the dark and to be perfectly honest I was very freaked out. Sleep in the truck...wake up the others....I decide to go back to bed and ignore the heart pounding adenaline rush. No easy means falling back alseep after this. Lesson learned....bring spray on butter next time and lube up someones elses tent as the screams will give me a fighting chance to get out of my tent
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Old 07-12-2011, 10:29 AM   #1585
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Great report Ted, looks like a good run
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Old 07-12-2011, 10:45 AM   #1586
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Sorry about the muddy gated stuff...didn't look muddy or gated on the map!



The good news is, we have some exploring to do!



Nice RR by the way.



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Old 07-12-2011, 10:50 AM   #1587
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It was like seeing an episode from the discovery channel. Maybe you should contact 'em and 've a camera crew follow you on your adventures.

Your writing skills are on par with your screen name ' Deadly' . I mean that in a good way like we say here locally 'Wicked good' eh.
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Old 07-12-2011, 10:50 AM   #1588
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The good news is, we have some exploring to do!
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:28 AM   #1589
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So we woke up and did the breakfast and repack thing and hit the road. On a side note the trucks enable you to bring more stuff but this also means more to upack and pack. Like all things in life its a trade off.

There was a nice section of the Chemin Du Parent left to travel first thing.





The town of Parent is small town that seems to serve all the fishing and hunting lodges in the area. two gas stations, a small store and a motel/restaurant are what seemed to be available. This is a pretty remote town and the people seemed colorful.

We filled up with gas





Then drove over to grab a coffee and use the restaurants facilities. There were some nice folks there who helped us plot our route. The intended route I had mapped out on the computer was quickly discarded and a new plan was hatched. The old timers told of us of a "new road" that has been built in the last year and would bring us to a town called Chibougamau. I was intending to get the route to a town called Poisson Blanc to meet Fabs section but this town is relatively close and hopefully we'll get the two end points connected in August when I'll be back up that way.

Now please keep in mind that these directions were anything but perfect Its 168 km to the turn, no its 148. Make sure you dont turn by the fallen tree but rather wait for the big rock. This kind of "locals knowledge" is...well it makes for fun exploring.

Exiting town you see this sign, based on our locals route we knew we were on the right track






Youll notice that not one of these are towns nor does any of them offer fuel Filling up in Parent is mandatory for any exploring to the north.

The roads heading north were more of the same, big gravel highways. Tons of fun and decent speeds meant we could get some good mileage done.







About a hundred km's down the road we peeled off to see the town of Clova. This small, in the middle of nowhere town, seems to exist because of the rail station. There is gas available and a small restaurant. The town is situated on a lake and it appears as if every one of the approximately 40 residents owns a plane. Suppose you'd have to as its a few hundred km's of dusty, bumpy gravel to get to any town of any decent size.















After visiting what there was to visit we backtracked to find the intersection that would put us back on the locals track. Here is the interesection we were told to turn off at, after this we were told to turn left at the chip wagon? then follow that road, it'll get bumpy then smooth then your there






A lot of fancy signs for fishing lodges..the small hand written one caught my eye as they sell fuel.

Worth mentioning that Rob speaks very decent French. Good and bad for us as he could find out much more info than we would have otherwise been able to, the bad is that I use these trips to Quebec to finely hone my charades skills.

An hour later we found the chip wagon






A seemingly nice lady lives out here and runs this business. You dont need to worry about line ups or crowds at the till :smile

She does sell gasoline soa fill up was done. When asked about the road she wasnt sure about it. Hmmm.....surely this is the road you'd use to get anywhere? Well she had some hand written instructions she passed on to us

So here we are, 187 km gravel to Parent, another 100 or so km's gravel to the chip stand and what looked like another few hundred km's of gravel ahead of us. hells bells baby this is rocking for the TCAT. Long remote gravel roads that bring you to places few get to see. PERFECT

The next section was about 200 km's of gravel, no technical challenges to speak of but the scenery was excellent, the road was nice and twisty with lots of hills. The surface is similar to other renmote roads up north in Quebec. A sandy surface and the roads have been built up with deep ditches. The sand can get thick in spots creating moments for bikes. The sand also creates legendary dust trails Wooden bridges and a few small murder towns along the way. Whats a murder town? Well let me tell you, these small little clusters of houses (presume owned by natives) in the middle of nowhere, very run down and usually with a dead looking dog on the porch. Here's a good example





These little towns arent somewhere I'd go for my vacation but to each their own I recall quoting the saying "squeal like a caribou" for a ride we did on the TT a couple of years ago and given this is to far south for caribou...perhaps "squeal like a beaver" is what I'd be afraid of hearing in the middle of the night if one was to choose this town as a place to spend the night. Visions of a beatup pickup truck with the box full of whiskey drunk idiots pulling up in front of your tent isn't hard to imagine No one seems to live in these small murder towns, suppose they are only used during the various hunting seasons or something. Dont take my word for it though, feel free to use them as a camp spot.....I look forward to hearing your tales when and if you get back home













This photo best sums up this section of road. Nice views and no one around for hundreds of km's in every direction. Stopping anywhere along this road really leaves you with that "holy crap are we out there" kind of feeling. I've ridden the Trans Lab, Trans Taiga, etc and this one is a real gem that surpases those in my opinion. Most of the other big ones up north have a lot of commercial traffic on them. This road isn't like those ones, its starts and ends in the middle of nowhere. Logging is very active in the area but the area is so damn huge that you dont see folks for hours at a time. These roads do not show up on maps and have no names. Given that this one is so long we decided Rob could give it an appropriate label for the sake of the TCAT and the guidebook A road that goes for hundreds of km's deserves a title, and this is going to be ..........







To be continued
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:43 AM   #1590
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It was like seeing an episode from the discovery channel. Maybe you should contact 'em and 've a camera crew follow you on your adventures.

Your writing skills are on par with your screen name ' Deadly' . I mean that in a good way like we say here locally 'Wicked good' eh.
Cheers, glad your enjoying the read
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