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Old 07-19-2012, 06:20 PM   #31
Nag'em
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Originally Posted by markbvt View Post
That's really interesting. Have they done anything to the twisty gravel section from Fire Lake to Fermont?

--mark
Nope nothing particular going on there for construction when we passed through. Just lots and lots of trucks, dust and gravel marbles!

--Megan
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:04 PM   #32
Paul G_ OP
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Hey all. Quick update... The weekend before last I went up to NH to get some dirt-road riding in. For people from the area, I did Tripoli Road from Waterville Valley, the awesome XB443 through the Bartlett Experimental forest, and Cherry Mountain and Jefferson Notch road (highest in the state). Tripoli had a lot of loose pebbles over hard packed gravel and moved the bike around quite a bit. It was almost impossible to break without locking the rear wheel there, and I also tried locking my front wheel up at low speeds on a few of the roads to get a feel for where that threshold was (better to find out when you're expecting it!).

Learned a couple things:
- The seat sucks - already got a Sargent
- The rear shock sucks - I couldn't put the side stand down without holding the bike up so it wouldn't fall to the right before taking my weight off. (I've since cranked up the preload and rebound, but I might have to get a new shock - ideas?)
- The Wolfman saddlebags and tank bag did pretty well, but neither were as big as I'd have liked. I travel light but I'm still going to end up with a good-sized bag on the seat-rear rack.
- First high speed wobble at 75 mph! Weird combo of changing lanes, going over an overpass bump and ducking out of the wind. I think the shock was partly to blame too. Backed right off the throttle and the bike came right out of it, but I'm hoping I won't have a repeat...

Also, got my new tires today. Conti TKC80 front and Heidenau K60 rear. Can't wait to get 'em on the bike.

Paul
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:54 AM   #33
existent80
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The difference is, in QC and Labrador, the gravel is deep. Really loose stuff. Slow down.

Also, air down your tires like 5lbs a bit for a little more grip. Helps a bunch.
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Old 07-25-2012, 04:25 PM   #34
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Paul let know when you hit North Sydney,the coffee is my treat.If you need anything shoot me a pm.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #35
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I can't speak to the road conditions (yet) but definitely take your time...

Lots of good info on this thread.

We're leaving Aug 17 going clockwise...

Matt
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:03 AM   #36
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We're leaving Aug 17 going clockwise...

Might run into you up there. We're leaving August 18 (from Vermont), also going clockwise.

--mark
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:15 AM   #37
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T minus 2 days....

Howdy folks. I'll be heading out on Saturday and going CCW. The bike's ready to go - just got a tune-up last week, and since they finally agreed my rear shock was busted, I'm getting a new one today covered under the warranty. It (2012 KLR 650) has about 3500 miles on it since I picked it up at the end of April.

Putting the Scout K60 on the rear rim was a PIA, I finally had to take it in to the shop to get it seated right. The TKC80 front went right on - piece of cake. I got a mini Slime compressor and 16oz of slime, so I'm hoping I won't have to take the wheel(s) off if I get a flat. I'll have patches, tubes and irons just to be safe. Also bringing a small ratchet set and the Clymber manual for anything else that comes up.

My other upgrades were a Sargent low seat, Kawasaki tall windshield, SW-MOTECH crashguards and center stand and Wolfman racks and bags. It looks pretty sweet I have to say. I was debating getting a rotopax for fuel, but ended up just getting a one gallon can at Sears for about $10. I'll have a North Face basecamp duffel on the seat/rack with the can on/in that.

I put some info online that you can find here:
https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B5...NISV9WTHM/edit

It has my schedule, a map of Fundy National Park and most importantly, a great doc about driving in Labrador - it's HIGHLY recommended.

Here's my more or less final route with planned stops:
http://goo.gl/maps/m50mh

@firefighter651 thanks for the invite. I'll be getting into Sydney after the longest day of my trip, with a reservation on the ferry for that night. Chance are I'll be pretty beat when I get in, but I'll let you know if not!

Looks like I'll be crossing paths with a bunch of you - hopefully we'll all have good weather and safe rides. Stay tuned for pictures...

Paul
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:16 AM   #38
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have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul G_ View Post
Howdy folks. I'll be heading out on Saturday and going CCW. The bike's ready to go - just got a tune-up last week, and since they finally agreed my rear shock was busted, I'm getting a new one today covered under the warranty. It (2012 KLR 650) has about 3500 miles on it since I picked it up at the end of April.

Putting the Scout K60 on the rear rim was a PIA, I finally had to take it in to the shop to get it seated right. The TKC80 front went right on - piece of cake. I got a mini Slime compressor and 16oz of slime, so I'm hoping I won't have to take the wheel(s) off if I get a flat. I'll have patches, tubes and irons just to be safe. Also bringing a small ratchet set and the Clymber manual for anything else that comes up.

My other upgrades were a Sargent low seat, Kawasaki tall windshield, SW-MOTECH crashguards and center stand and Wolfman racks and bags. It looks pretty sweet I have to say. I was debating getting a rotopax for fuel, but ended up just getting a one gallon can at Sears for about $10. I'll have a North Face basecamp duffel on the seat/rack with the can on/in that.

I put some info online that you can find here:
https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B5...NISV9WTHM/edit

It has my schedule, a map of Fundy National Park and most importantly, a great doc about driving in Labrador - it's HIGHLY recommended.

Here's my more or less final route with planned stops:
http://goo.gl/maps/m50mh

@firefighter651 thanks for the invite. I'll be getting into Sydney after the longest day of my trip, with a reservation on the ferry for that night. Chance are I'll be pretty beat when I get in, but I'll let you know if not!

Looks like I'll be crossing paths with a bunch of you - hopefully we'll all have good weather and safe rides. Stay tuned for pictures...

Paul
Have fun Paul--I'll be in Fundy National Park all weekend, so I'll watch for ya!

Megan
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:39 AM   #39
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Hi Paul,

By the schedule you posted, looks like we may overlap/pass-by on the 29th, on Newfoundland. That is, IF I can keep to my schedule, and you, yours...

Have a safe trip!

BTW, I'll be riding the dirty (by that time), gray, GSA...

Dan
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:27 AM   #40
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I returned yesterday from michigan-james bay- translab both ways on a klr. I blew the sidewall out of a new kenda 761 in james bay and had a heidenau scout sent up from amos. I should have never left with the kenda as it was the worst tire to mount on a rear rim that I have dealt with. I picked up a nail and after I fought the tire back on the side wall came apart. The scout went on ok but needs more air than my pump can put out to seat it on the rim. I learned my lesson and will never leave home on a tire that does not go on and off the rim easily. I ran the north road from the james bay highway and wandered over to Baue Como (don't remember the exact spelling) and over to Blanc Sablon. I was going to take the ferry to N.F. and ride down to Port Abauex but one of the boats to Sidney was out of commision and I was told it would be a week to get to Sidney. I turned around and road the trans lab the other way back and took 138 south and 132 into New York. I road around the south shore to Niagra falls and then home. I carried 10 liter's of fuel in 2 cans mounted on home made racks. The only time I needed fuel was on the North road because I skipped the Nemaska fuel stop. The KLR will do just fine on the stock fuel capacity. In my estimation there is about 635 miles of gravel left on the trans lab with agressive paving in both provinces. I would advise anyone to take it easy on the gravel and stay away from the edges as they will suck you in and ruin your day. I stealthed camped the entire trip and got wet for 2-3 days in a row. I tend to ride a little farther in a day than most people (2 days each way on trans lab) but I am still working and have to be moving a lot to keep schedule. I have ridden to 49 states and now all the provinces on a variety of bikes but this was my first dual sport ride. Other than the seat the little klr does just fine. I bought it with 800 miles at a garage sale for 800.00 and all I had to do was clean the gas tank and the carb. The bike was not ridden since 2004 and kept in a heated garage. I copied the pack rat rack and put on a couple of donated sea horse 720's for a total cost of less than 1500.00. I also upgraded most all of the bolts to 12.9 and locktite used. I tied in a home made light bar (mounted to the fender bolts) and used mondo moto 12's. All and all a good bike for the trip.
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:08 PM   #41
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trans-lab - done!

Hi all! Im writing from Quebec City after a successful ride on the trans lab and down 389 in quebec. No flats, no naps, a little rain and some cold. Lots of great wilderness scenery. Almost canceled my plans when I got to Gros Morne and decided it had to be explored on foot - the weather forecast put me back on track though. More info and pics coming soon...
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:21 AM   #42
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pics

Hey all - here are my pics! Gonna write more when I have a free minute.
https://picasaweb.google.com/pgareau/2012Labrador
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:24 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Paul G_ View Post
Hey all - here are my pics! Gonna write more when I have a free minute.
https://picasaweb.google.com/pgareau/2012Labrador
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:46 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Paul G_ View Post
Hey all - here are my pics! Gonna write more when I have a free minute.
https://picasaweb.google.com/pgareau/2012Labrador
Awesome pics. Been thinking that would be a nice ride to take. Due to the gravel, would it be a better trip on a VStrom or a DRZ? I have never had knobbies on the VStrom and am a bit nervous about getting in over my head out there by myself.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:46 AM   #45
Paul G_ OP
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Cool2

Hi all. Since I've been home almost three weeks now, it's about time I wrote something about my trip. :)

Again my pics are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/1143975...8/2012Labrador#

So anyone who's been following along knows that the KLR is my first bike and this was my first big trip on it. I bought the bike mostly as a commuter (was considering a Ninja first - eek) and between trips to work, to see my family in Rhode Island and up to New Hampshire for hiking, I had between 3500 and 4000 miles on it when I left to do the trans-lab. Things started to click at around 1000 miles for me and by the time I left riding was almost second nature. My dirt-road experience was still limited to the few side roads I could find in the White Mountains though.

I planned two weeks for the trip, with a few "buffer" days at the end and this ended up being just enough time to do the ride and take two days off the bike. Three weeks would be ideal and four would really let you explore - not scheduling more time for this was a big regret.

My second night was spent at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, where I could have easily spent a few days. There's a three day hiking loop that I really would have liked to do.

My third day was the longest of the trip, with some time spent at The Rocks, then the long road to North Sydney. I ended up rolling in about half an hour before boarding started. I had been to Nova Scotia several times before, as well as PEI and Cape Breton so rushing through it wasn't a big loss, but other people might want to plan for more time here.

Newfoundland was great from the start. After getting off the boat with some other bikers we headed up to Gros Morne planning to do some hiking the next day. Weather prevented that so instead I rode around the area and checked out the Tablelands. That night I got an email from my boss and I replied saying that I could spend a week there. After hitting "send" I thought - why don't I just spend a week here? The scenery was great, there were plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring and rushing through it seemed to defeat the purpose of traveling in the first place. So I had pretty much made up my mind and broke the news to the other riders at camp that I wouldn't be doing the trans-lab after all.

The next day I did the boat trip up the Western Brook Pond, which I highly recommend to anyone passing through the park. Afterwards I saw the weather forecast for the area and since it called for two days of rain I said F* it! got back on my bike and went as far up the coast as I could before dark. There are 4x4 tracks along the coast, not far from the highway, and I found one of my favorite camp sites of the trip on one of these.

From my campsite it was about 100 great miles to St. Barbe. The rain caught us during the ferry ride and my introduction to Labrador was cold and wet. Before I even reached Red Bay my "waterproof" pants were soaked through and I took the first hotel I could find.

Now here's where the "good stuff" starts. After Red Bay the pavement ends. At first it was scattered pebbles on hard packed dirt. It moves the bike around a bit but once I was used to it I was thinking - big deal, is this what everyone's complaining about?? Generally if you don't do anything drastic here, neither will your bike.

Well that progressively got worse - deeper and with small ridges made by traffic that had passed. I can't say I enjoyed it and I was swearing into my helmet on a regular basis. After fueling up in Port Hope Simpson and grabbing a sat phone and lunch I hit the road again knowing there wouldn't be services until Happy Valley Goose Bay. I camped about 10 miles past the Cartwright Junction by a small pond, down the hill from a few camper trailers. There were bear footprints, but I didn't actually see one.

The next day the riding was the same - demanding 100% of your attention at all times. From gas station to gas station I measured 259 miles. I hit my reserve at 236 (interestingly I hit it at 237 on pavement my first day). I must have been on fumes when I reached the gas station at HVGB and even though I had a spare gallon I was determined not to use it. For that whole section I averaged about 40mph (just a little below the speed limit) with my rpms around 3000. I didn't think that going faster would have helped with stability at all.

I had planned to stay around HVGB that night but there were still a few hours of daylight left and I thought I'd take advantage of that and the 60 miles or so of pavement. I made it to the infamous "Pinus River" and found a place to camp on a long unpaved driveway to some kind of shared cabin. A sign said it was for everyone, but to leave it as you found it. Unfortunately I found it with a locked door and no key.

I think it was this point where after the pavement ended the surface was similar to before, but with a different color that I found harder to read. I planned to camp on the road to Esker after passing Churchill Falls that night but there was a lot of construction where the road must have been and I missed it. The unpaved road in this area was the worst of the trip and I'd call it almost "deep pebbles" in places. The closest I came to a nap was putting my foot down at 30mph - that one gets your heart going... I did a lot of exploring after then looking for another good place but wasn't finding anything exciting so I went all the way to the campground on Lake Shabogamo. The road was mostly paved between Churchill and there and you couldn't ask for better riding. Brand new pavement through total wilderness - it was pretty awesome.

Labrador City didn't interest me much so I just ate and did some shopping and headed out, wanting to camp on Lake Manicougan that night. There was more tough riding right from the start in Quebec. Lots of curves with loose gravel - I took it really slow through there.

It was harder to find a place to camp on Manicougan than I would have thought, but eventually I found a road that went down to the shore, where some camper trailers were parked and there was a couple in an RV spending the night there. We ended up talking for quite a while and even though I had already eaten, they gave me some food. I slept in a small shelter at the end of the access road and for the first time saw the northern lights!

This deserves it's own line: if you do this trip - don't forget to get out at night to see the Northern Lights/ Aurora Borealis!!!

I've been to Alaska, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Iceland but always during the middle of summer when it wasn't possible to see them. It was one of the best parts of the trip for me.

Not much else interesting to say from this point on. Quebec City was great and while I spent a day there, two or even three would have been better. Montreal didn't do much for me, but since I only spent a night there I'm sure I missed a lot. I would have liked to see the "underground city" but I had to get back to work.

And now here's the advice I wish I had gotten (and some repeated advice)
  • Use the whole road when you can. Move over on curves and blind hills.
  • Make sure you're comfortable on the bike and you should do fine. I think experienced riders are more likely to be overconfident and get themselves into trouble. Other people/beginners who have had problems didn't seem to be using common sense. Use common sense.
  • When a truck goes by you'll be blinded by a cloud of dust for 5 or more seconds. Think quick! What's behind you? What can you see in front of you? Is there any traffic behind the truck? Does the road surface change ahead of you? Modify speed and course accordingly.
  • Never let another vehicle drive behind you - pull over and let them pass. If you slow down in a cloud of dust and they don't - you have a problem. If you fall and they can't stop in time, you have a bigger problem.
  • All The Gear All The Time!
  • Make sure your rain gear is waterproof
  • Use knobby tires
  • Get a loaner sat phone
  • Watch your wind profile - pack low
  • Watch out for crosswinds - you can expect them when there is an opening in the forest, or when you see the wind whipping sand off the road in front of you.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable seat
  • Add 50% to the time you think the trip will take if you really want to enjoy yourself!
That's all guys - thanks to everyone who's given me help/info along the way.
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