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Old 10-10-2010, 03:20 PM   #136
jdrocks OP
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Joined: Jul 2007
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Originally Posted by Geek

I'm going to report this post... my bedtime story is 2 days over due!
today for sure, promise.
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:26 PM   #137
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Day 12: Wednesday 9/1/10-Cartwright, Lab. To Blanc-Sablon, QC. 265 miles

Up at 5AM, breakfast not available until 7, but I wanted to organize some gear before loading the bike. I was hungry after yesterday, I didn’t have time to eat much all day. The Trans Lab reporter said he might meet me for breakfast in case he needed more background, but I think I’m all talked out, the heck with it.

I've had plenty of adventures and can tell a real decent tale, but put an alcohol induced spin on top of it all, and my reporter dude was sittin' on the edge of his chair, eyes wide, camera rollin'. I was thinkin' here we, chartered jet, hollywood, agent, movie rights, got it made...then I remembered I was sittin' in Cartwright on Bingo Night, one Blue over the edge. This is going to be a shorter day of riding, less than 300 miles, but mostly gravel. Great breakfast, now I’m set to ride.

On the wall of the lobby is a photo of the first bikes over the new extension this past winter. They looked half frozen in the photo, still an honor to be the first. I settle up with the manager, and she says not all that many riders have come through Cartwright this season. Understandable, since there’s no need to take the ferry down from Happy Valley/Goose Bay anymore, the majority of riders will go straight through down to Port Hope Simpson for fuel and lodging. I came into town last night still on the main tank at 190 miles and could have easily run to the next fuel stop.

I get a road report from a truck driver who had come up from Blanc Sablon yesterday,“Real big rocks the last 100km”. I wasn’t sure what he meant right then, but would find out later. The carpenters working on the motel want to look at the bike, and are even more interested when I describe how easy and cheap it is to set up. One guy is serious and must have tools and a place to work, he’s looking for a winter project. I was about to ride across the road for fuel when one of the guys said “Watch out for that girl down at Port Hope.” Huh, “What girl?”, and the guys were all laughing. “Ya will know if ya find her.”, and that got more laughs, but no more information. I’m pretty good at watching for girls, shouldn’t be a problem.

The gas bar across the road is finally open and I ride over for fuel. The gasboy said he has seen some bikes, but I don’t think all that many. The talk turns to hunting and fishing, the main passions of his life. I don’t think he believes me when I say the deer in Virginia are running around like rats, come on down and shoot about a hundred of the damn things, they’re a hazard on the roads. When I mention that we’re also overrun with resident Canada geese, and you can legally shoot a truckload of those, he starts to fidget, maybe he wants an invite south.

My mirror experiment has held together so far, I need at least one in place.

I wanted to see the town and took the circle route along the water. There’s not much going on now, and I blame the extension once again. All the traffic can just stay out on the extension, no need to come in here.

The main wharf is so quiet I can ride right out there to photograph the boats tied up at the commercial fishing pier farther down the harbor.

I pass another motel and pub along the waterfront, possibly a better choice, but at 0 dark 30 last night when I arrived I wasn’t feeling like being choosey. Time to get on the road and I wave to the guys at the hotel when I ride by, a friendly bunch, but they had me wondering about that “girl”.

Now I can see what I was riding in the dark, some scary shit, I’m moving slower in daylight than I was in the dark. Those Piaa fogs had earned their place last night. Sixty miles to the intersection, but I have to stop for some road art, a pastime apparently enjoyed by many.

I couldn’t see much last night in the pitch black, so this is a brand new road this morning and I’m enjoying the ride again.

I pass more rugged country that I missed last night.

I just plain like this country, and never tire of the long view.

Down to the Trans Lab intersection, the signage is open to your own interpretation. The highway people must figure that if you’re on this road, you must already know the direction you’re going.

The start of the road southeast to Port Hope Simpson is as fast a gravel surface as you’re going to find, 70 cruise, and I could have gone faster. At that speed you can hardly turn and certainly not stop in an emergency, you need to hold back some. The fun ended when I ran back into the marbles and had to slow down, nuts.

Long views and rivers, I have to stop again, I rarely ride by.

Traffic has been light to start the day on this section, but the vehicles out there were raising some dust. You could see the dust long before the actual vehicle. Once again today, most of the traffic is northbound. All the traffic, vehicles big and small, is flying. The southbound traffic seems to come out of nowhere again, no matter how much I watch my lone mirror.

The lingering dust in the air almost looks like smoke as it drifts through the trees. Once traffic has stirred up the road, you would be breathing this dust for the rest of the day.

FortHope Simpson is in sight as I approach the AlexisRiver bridge, the village on the other side.

The river is wide here and only a few more miles southeast it flows into a narrow bay along the coast. The river must be fairly shallow, I see no large boats.

Once in town, I take the opportunity to ride around, get stuck in someone’s yard where it looked like a street, dodge a bunch of junk and stray dogs, and finally find fuel back on the road.

Besides fuel, this store sells a little of everything, food, clothes, sporting goods, guns and ammo…can’t forget the Stihl chain saws and Polaris snowmobiles. Ice cream too.

I got an ice cream bar from the freezer, found a Muggs root beer in the cooler, wasn’t expecting Muggs up here. This is a Mom and Pop store, and both were here fussing with the multitasking it takes to keep a place like this running. I was thinking about a souvenir t-shirt, but the bike on there just wasn’t quite right.

I was standing near the front door when a young woman came through with a rush, short shorts and a stretchy top that fit like skin. This just had to be the “girl” the boys over at Cartwright were talking about and I’m thinkin’ “Helloooooo darlin’, ain’t you a sight”. She marched right behind the counter, must be the Mom and Pop’s daughter. I’m glad she wasn’t the one that picked up my ice cream bar, the chocolate part would have melted. I was reaching for my camera, this is definitely worth a few photos, but then I thought about all the guns stacked along the walls.

The girl must have given her perv-o-meter to the Mama bear, because Mama was on high alert, her facial expression tuned to “Whatcha lookin’ at mister”? The alarm on that meter was about to go off like a freakin’ firehouse gong, might be some shootin’, and I wasn’t going to ride very far with a butt full of birdshot. Since they were already a Polaris dealer, she should have auditioned for the Miss Polaris Snowmobile 2010 calendar. It would have taken some creative tailoring to fit her in a nice snowmobile suit, she had a pair of really…well, really long legs too. You might have to get in line to offer her assistance with all those zippers.

I’m talking with Pop about the road and surface conditions south “Lot rougher than where you come from”, more good news. He also said there have been lots of bikes stopping here, confirming my conclusion that few were running into Cartwright anymore. Other men were coming and going, and I decide that the young lady is kinda keeping track of the guys watching her, she’s used to the attention and enjoys it. Nothing wrong with that. I need to get out of here before I get in trouble, and I’m riding the gravel again.
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:30 PM   #138
jdrocks OP
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Day 12: Continued

The road south of Port Hope Simpson is rough just like Pop said, my high speed runs are over for the day. Pot holes, washboard, loose gravel, deep gravel berms, the works, and I was pounding along. The river has widened as I approach Mary’s Harbour, great views out across the water.

The road was rough, some of the least maintained sections of any I had been on this trip, but I was about to find out where all the effort was allocated.

The road is following the water, and it’s getting wider as it approaches the coast.

I wanted to see Mary’s Harbour, so I take the short run into the village from the intersection. In contrast to Port Hope Simpson, this place has been shined and polished. Occupied for centuries, life here still revolves around the water. The residents were obviously very proud of their little village.

Out to the intersection and south, RedBay and the end of the gravel is less than 50 miles away. Looking down the road, I see the color change shoulder to shoulder, never good, and I had been there before. These must be the “big rocks” the truck driver told me about in Cartwright, course aggregate, some of the roughest finish gravel I had come across.

All I has to do now was figure out how to cross this section without turning the ride into a blood sport, and I would be at the bottom of the road. The terrain had opened up again, just small trees and low growth trying to root in solid rock. Traffic had been light all day, but now when I’m trying to ride these big marbles there’s truck traffic and more blinding dust. The road is tough when you can see it, and when you can’t…beyond tough. I was using the whole road again, watching my mirrors, trying to find a track through this stuff, but there wasn’t one. Twenty miles from RedBay I have to stop for a break, the road is making me crazy, I can only think about it using comforting cuss words.

At this point I’ve ridden 2000 miles of gravel without wrecking on these roads, now I’m struggling to get the last little bit behind me. Let’s go, and I slip and slide my way to the bottom, making some speed, but a fearsome ride the whole way down. The pavement looks good, and eight bikes pass northbound, the riders just starting the gravel. Good luck to ya, if you had stopped I would have given y’all some of my magic voodoo dust, ya might need it.

The gal at the RedBay store said the bikes hadn’t stopped for fuel, those guys must be confident of their range. When I asked about the ferry schedule, she checked on it for me. If I hurry, I might make it, so I’m headed west to Blanc-Sablon to try to catch the 6pm ferry. Naturally, it starts to rain.

The road from RedBay to Blanc-Sablon goes through some interesting country along the coast, the road itself full of twists and turns, up and down hill. Fun on a bike, less fun in the rain when late for the ferry. Some elevated, but other stretches are more a rocky plain.

So I race across this road and get to the ferry landing, time to spare, and plenty of space available…except, they are transporting an LP tank truck and aren’t allowed to take a full load, damn, how do you predict these things. I don’t get the logic, if the freakin’ thing blows, what’s a few more passengers?

So I can camp at the landing in the rain, or go find a motel, now there’s a tough one. Back to Blanc-Sablon, this town has two parts, and I find a motel that’s a rabbit warren of rooms with a dozen different room sizes and rates, pick one. The place was clean and well maintained, and I joked around with the owners trying to get straight on the local time and the ferry schedule which was on Newfy time.

Now that I was on pavement, my thoughts turned back to those gravel roads, it’s going to be hard to describe that part of the journey when I get home.

(To be continued…)
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:42 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by jdrocks
Boy, does that photo bring back some memories. I rode that narrow track on the side of the road all the way into Red Bay -- even when it moved right onto the shoulder, with my tires a foot from the rocky drop-off. Beat trying to fight those marbles...

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Old 10-11-2010, 03:07 PM   #140
jdrocks OP
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Originally Posted by markbvt
Boy, does that photo bring back some memories. I rode that narrow track on the side of the road all the way into Red Bay -- even when it moved right onto the shoulder, with my tires a foot from the rocky drop-off. Beat trying to fight those marbles...

i tried that shoulder too, but decided to get back up on the road. if the bike slid off that shoulder, you had a helicopter ride in your future.

there must have been a dozen different makes/models of bikes that went through there, most reported problems, so it wasn't just the rider and bike. i thought i saw a report that a rider went down in those marbles. unusual little stretch of road, tough finish, but also a tough start for the CCW riders.
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:32 PM   #141
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Funny how the conditions can change on those roads from month to month, when we through from east to west mid July I was amazed at how good the road from Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson was, 110-130kph the whole way, Great report and sure does bring back great memories!
Pain is the best teacher!
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #142
jdrocks OP
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Originally Posted by Weiner127
...I was amazed at how good the road from Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson was, 110-130kph the whole way, Great report and sure does bring back great memories!
i could have run 130kph below the Cartwright turnoff, but below PHS the road hadn't been graded for awhile and you can see in the photo that the subgrade material is now on the surface making for a rough road through there...then into the reddish coarse aggregate below that.

the trans taiga in the rain was much tougher riding than anything i saw on the trans lab.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:59 PM   #143
jdrocks OP
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Day 13: Thursday 9/2/10-Blanc-Sablon, QC. To BurntCape, NL, 181 miles

I still didn’t have a ferry reservation because the reserved space was already taken, 75% of normal capacity. That left the remaining 25% to be fought over starting two hours prior to departure, better get there early. I was out the door before 5AM because of the time difference and wanted to be first in line, no I didn’t want to spend any more time in Blanc-Sablon. I was the early bird when I got there, no one else around and the doors were locked, first in line.

Quebec is a “No Smoking” zone and this is what you see so many places that don’t have a place for butts, the ground was covered.

Slowly additional people drifted in and now there was a crowd, mainly men, and an orderly group. Truck drivers, commercial fishermen, salesmen, and all the rest. The doors were unlocked at the appointed time, and a newly arrived elderly couple elbowed their way through the waiting crowd without a word, darted through the door, and were now first in line. Round little man with an unpleasant looking wife who had applied her eyebrows with a black magic marker just that morning. Rude behavior has no age limit, and it would be a shame if someone didn’t get on after that long wait. Try that move in the States and there would be gunfire, kinda tends to make the line cutters think twice.

I was second in line, got my ticket, some ridiculously low price for a ferry crossing, now we just need the ferry and it was running late. I was faced with a long wait in the staging line, and that’s when it started to rain. There were some commercial boats coming and going at the side of the wharf, scallopers by the way they were rigged. I have always liked the commercial waterfront, something of interest going on constantly.

No other bikes in line, once again, where is everyone? This ferry is on the route, both CW and CCW for the Trans Labrador, but no bikes get off the ferry either. Onboard, and I used I own straps for the tie down, plus chocked the wheels.

You can get a good look at the headlands that mark this rugged coast, unchanged since first occupied by indigenous peoples or Europeans.

Even today, it appears an unlikely place to settle, but with L’Anse aux Meadows across the Strait of Belle Isle, it was chosen despite it’s unforgiving nature. The ferry ride to St. Barbe is a short one and it’s raining on this side also, although not hard. The bike survived the ride and I’m off and riding north on 430, rain or no rain, I wanted to get up to the end of the peninsula to take a look at the Viking site, although I didn’t plan to take the tour. The road north through the small spruce and low vegetation looked just like some of the bush roads except paved.

Small ponds were everywhere, water captured in rock bowls. This is moose country, I won’t mind if I don’t see any.

Looking out across the country, I keep thinking, why this place? Why not farther south? Maybe those early settlers did go south and we haven’t been able to prove it.

Lunch at Timmies in St. Anthony were I meet the Stihl salesman again after talking with him at Blanc-Sablon. He lives in Nova Scotia, but his sales territory is all of Labrador and Newfoundland, quite an area to cover. If you see how much spruce was cut for firewood around here you would know he’s got himself a good deal going. He says “Yeah, I do ok”, and when I laugh, he does too. When a salesman says that, it means they are printing currency in the basement 24/7.

Around the corner and up the road to L’Anse aux Meadows, the end of the peninsula. Some small groups of houses and waterfront sheds, but otherwise rock and water.

I can understand the need for color in this environment, although the natural colors have their own stark beauty.

The actual site of the Viking settlement is slightly elevated, but appears surrounded by low wetlands. I wouldn’t have picked this place, but then nobody asked me.

The parking lot is full, people wanting to see the reenactment, I’d rather read the book and use my imagination. Now that I have seen the lay of the land, I can pull the whole picture together.

(To be continued…)

jdrocks screwed with this post 10-13-2010 at 04:39 PM
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Old 10-13-2010, 01:02 PM   #144
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Day 13: Continued

The rain had eased, and I wanted to camp at the park close by so I was riding south, west, then northwest. A quick stop at Griquet for some spirits and I get a guided tour through the wine and liquor selections by the owner, finally selecting some scotch in a brand I’ve never heard of.

I’m about to get back on the bike when a local guy walks up and asks whether I’m on my way to see the show at L’Anse aux Meadows. In the States I would describe him as an unreformed hippie, but up here he might just be one of the Viking cast members. I said “Nah, just comin’ from there, don’t care to see the show”. Shouldn’t have said that, my Viking buddy was wild eyed, evidence that he thought controlled substances should be used as condiments. Thirty minutes of rant later, I got the history of Europe, Vikings, early ship building, indigenous natives, archeology, ancient tools…and in every scene, he was the central character, as in the present tense. I’m glad I kept my money in my pocket, I got the whole freakin’ show standin’ there in the parking lot, forget that stuff up there at the visitor’s center. He got up close to me to make his closing, and I could smell the weed smoke in his hair. When he said “Your President is a great man”, I knew right then that he had way more than weed in his system.

I went back in the store to get rid of my pop bottle, and find everyone looking at me, they had been watching the drama through the windows. When I said “I hate to be the first one to say so, but I think that guy has been smokin’ something out in the bush”, that brought the house down, everyone laughing. I have to go find a place to camp, and drink up some scotch.

The PistoletBayProvincialPark was my destination, easy to find off a connecting road to the coast. The kiosk at the entrance was empty when I rode in, but soon a young park ranger drove up, someone had called him on the radio. A long conversation started about my travels, Canada, and Newfoundland, he was interested in what I had to say, while he answered my questions like only a local could. When I mentioned that I still haven’t been able to find an official map, he gave me his desk copy. It pays to be nice.

I picked a nice spot for the tent and set up right away, it still looked like rain.

Can’t forget my scotch, “Golden Wedding”, now there’s a name for liquor. Drink much of this stuff and there wouldn’t be a wedding, period.

Camp is set up and no rain so far, let’s ride to the coast, maybe find some dinner. Moose country again, I need to be back to the Park before dark.

The coast has scattered homes, some grouped together, others standing alone. When I pass a small cemetery, I have to stop. The crosses are unmarked as if the occupants are unknown, the circumstances puzzling.

The coast in this area has the same rugged feel as the rest, each scene unique, each scene compelling.

I find a small café and get the waitress to make me two big sandwiches to go, I don’t have time to sit down. Dark was coming on and I still wanted to look at more coast.

Just twilight now, I had lingered too long. I can’t blame myself, who the hell knows when or if I’ll ever be back. Speed is tempting, moose encounters aren’t. I’m surprised when a 12GS passes in the other direction, where the heck was he going?, there’s not much out here. Back at the Park safe, a cloudy but mild evening, I can sit at the picnic table to write in the journal…and drink scotch with a touch of iceberg water.

I’m thinking of Vikings on this ancient coast as the day ends…my travels are nothing.

(To be continued…)
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:19 PM   #145
Will ride for food.
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Location: Prescott Ontario, Canada
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Ugh, I can't believe they let you leave the store with Golden Wedding.
You didn't try asking in french did you?
That might explain how you ended up with lighter fluid.
May I recommend a nice Dalwhinnie, or perhaps a Glenmorangie next time?

You must have a cast iron stomach, since your RR is living proof you survived with little or no permanent brain damage!

Keep it coming, I'm enjoying every line and photo!
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:42 PM   #146
jdrocks OP
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Originally Posted by Vikingtazz
You didn't try asking in french did you?
can't remember...
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:02 PM   #147
Is In Canada
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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Brutal rot gut ...

JD - loving this RR even without drinking the GW.
I am sure there is a story behind the name. If you have a map of this trip done up please post it. (mainly interested in Taiga)

Yellowknife - New France New Scotland (Nova Scotia)
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:15 PM   #148
jdrocks OP
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Originally Posted by yellowknife

JD - loving this RR even without drinking the GW.
I am sure there is a story behind the name. If you have a map of this trip done up please post it. (mainly interested in Taiga)


how was i to know GW was lighter fluid, the guy at the store said it was his best seller by far...then again, that might explain some of the things i saw around there. so i drank two new beverages, never had iceberg water either. tasted like tap water.

Trans Taiga is easy to find. google maps should show it off the Baie-James. interesting road, tough in the rain.
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:51 PM   #149
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Cool bikes; excellent RR! Thanks!

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Old 10-13-2010, 07:09 PM   #150
Ridin' in MT
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Actually, it is a little tough to find on Google maps. There are several locations with the names you give, and the roads only show up when you zoom in. If you zoom out for a larger view, the roads dissappear. I haven't tried in another map software yet.

It is a good ride report.

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