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Old 09-07-2012, 07:37 AM   #31
markbvt OP
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012: Chance Cove PP to somewhere in the North Atlantic

Today was the day we were scheduled to take the ferry from Newfoundland to Cape Breton. There had been a number of recent service disruptions, and last we'd heard the schedule had changed slightly, so one of today's tasks would be to check the Marine Atlantic website to see our ferry's status. We stopped in Trepassey for breakfast, and the place had wifi so we were able to confirm that the ferry schedule hadn't changed further.

The ride over to Trepassey went over some stunningly desolate, wide-open landscape, shrouded in fog.






After Trepassey, the road followed the coast a little more closely, and we continued down to Beckfords to pick up Rt 100.




Rt 100 ended up being a big surprise -- fantastic road that folows the coastline atop the cliffs, then steeply drops down into coves, curves around them, and climbs back up the other side. Fun riding, incredible scenery. This eventually brought us to Argentia and the ferry dock, where we were among the first to arrive (got there around 1:30 for a 7:30 ferry).

We took the opportunity to relax in the ferry terminal, and when I noticed the men's room there had showers, I availed myself of that opportunity and got cleaned up.

Eventually, the MV Atlantic Vision backed into her dock and began unloading.


We headed outside to find that we'd started quite a trend.


Turned out that the 40 or so bikes lined up behind us were mostly headed to the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, Nova Scotia. And then David and I noticed our Ottawa friends riding in and getting at the back of the line.

David and I, being Cheap Bastards, had opted not to get a cabin for the 14-hour overnight crossing, so we simply found ourselves a place to sit in the lounge after we'd finally boarded the ferry (bikes were put on last, but at least we got a whole lane to ourselves).


Shortly thereafter, the dinner buffet opened, and we relocated to the dining area and spent the next few hours sitting comfortably at a table, eating modest platefuls at a time in order to make our dinner last until they kicked us out. Well, they didn't actually kick us out, but they did stop serving food, so eventually we moved back to the lounge and found some benches to sleep on.

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
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:20 PM   #32
sevenpointsixtwo
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Day 11: Chance Cove, NL to Argentia Ferry

This being our last day in Newfoundland and Labrador, we decided to explore the cape south of Placentia on our way to the ferry via Route 100. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, as it was some of the most scenic and fun roads we’d ridden to date.

The road winds its way through tiny coastal coves, gaining and losing about 500 feet in elevation each time it drops from the bluffs overlooking the sea to the small towns nestled in these sheltered inlets. It was a roller coaster ride, and I found myself grinning in my helmet every time I flogged the DRZ around some switchbacks or straight up the immensely steep inclines.

We arrived the Argentia ferry dock quite early, and we snagged the first spot in line. Little did we know, this wouldn’t count for much in actually boarding the ferry.



I thought the ferry from QC to NL was big? This thing is HUGE!



Apparently, it's a decommissioned cruise ship, presumably from the Mediterranean as all of the signage is in Greek.

There were something like 40 other bikes on board, headed to a rally in Digby, NS. When I first heard Mark refer to them as “wharf rats,” I thought he was using a derogatory term, and that they would start calling us “astronauts” in return. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that was the official name of the rally!



Luckily, if the ferry was set adrift in the North Atlantic with disabled engines, we happened to have about 40 shiny anchors on board:


The ferry ride took about 14 hours; about 6 of which were spent making return trips to the buffet! Stretched out on a couch in the lounge area (yeah, we’re too cheap for a cabin!), we attempted to get some sleep.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:33 PM   #33
markbvt OP
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Wednesday, 29 August 2012: Somewhere in the North Atlantic to Meat Cove, Nova Scotia

Sleep proved to be a somewhat troublesome proposition. David and I each managed to get a couple hours or so of it, but both found ourselves awake in the wee hours of the morning. Eventually we both drifted back off to sleep and slept for another couple of hours. We were starting to contemplate buying coffee at the snack bar when we learned that there would be a breakfast buffet in the dining room, so when that opened we were among the first customers. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then went out on deck to watch our approach to Cape Breton.


Eventually we docked and were allowed back down to the vehicle deck, and thankfully we were not the last off.

From leaving the ferry, we rode straight out of Sydney and over to the Cabot Trail. We got rained on along the way (it became a joke between us that each province we entered welcomed us with rain), and headed north on the eastern side of the Cabot Trail, making for Meat Cove.

We got there in the early afternoon and spent a little while debating whether we wanted to stay there or continue onwards and camp somewhere on the western side of the Cabot Trail. It was a beautiful spot, and the weather had improved, and we were feeling lazy, so we decided to set up camp.






Since it was still only mid-afternoon, David explored a little.


It was a beautiful afternoon, and we both enjoyed just taking it easy for a while, but unfortunately in the evening the weather turned and we got rained on intermittently for a while.

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

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Old 09-07-2012, 01:43 PM   #34
sevenpointsixtwo
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Day 12: North Sydney, NS to Meat Cove, NS

The next morning, after putting in another few hours at the onboard buffet, we put ashore in North Sydney and were promptly welcomed to Nova Scotia with a sudden squall. Luckily, it passed quickly and we headed up the Eastern side of the Cabot trail in the sun.

Having never been to Cape Breton, I had no idea what to expect on the Trail. To me, Newfoundland and Labrador was really the “point” of the trip; everything else was just transit there and back. However, the twisty roads and gorgeous scenery of the Cabot trail rapidly became some of my favorite parts of the trip! It was an adjustment to be back in “civilization;” all of a sudden we were again battling traffic and passing cars with gusto, but that just added to the fun of the road. I stopped caring how much oil the thumper was burning or how much packing had blown out of the muffler over the last 3000 miles, and just twisted the throttle through the steep switchbacks, blowing by tourist-bus-packed scenic overlooks at full song. At this point, the rear Shinko 700 was starting to square off, and the front IRC was still quite knobby; not the best combination for pavement shredding, but the DRZ felt composed and steady with no regard for road surface or lean angle. Granted, I think it felt like we were traveling at higher velocities than we were, but I was impressed by the little ‘Z’s capabilities nonetheless.

We turned towards the northernmost tip of Cape Breton and followed the road out until the end. After 10 miles, it turns into dirt. 5 miles of potholed gravel later, we arrived at Meat Cove, one of the most scenic campsites we’d had to date. Turns out these “transit” days were getting better and better!



The scenery reminded me very much of Hawaii; the water was almost as warm too, as I discovered when I went for a swim down at the beach:




The evening started off sunny and gorgeous; by dinnertime, though, it had clouded up and started drizzling. Good thing dinner was delicious:


We returned to our site and tried to make a fire with the quite-damp wood available for sale. A little magic from the roto-pax (and vigorous fanning with my mess plate) and we had ourselves a roaring little bonfire! The campsite rapidly filled up with "foreigners:" Ontarians, Quebecois, and more than a few Americans. After the isolation of Labrador and parts of Newfoundland, our first night on the "mainland" felt almost too close to home. It was going to take some getting used to, being back in the world.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:53 PM   #35
markbvt OP
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Thursday, 30 August 2012: Meat Cove to Five Islands Provincial Park, NS

This would end up being the Day of Incidents on this trip. It all started out pleasantly enough, with good weather and a nice sunrise at Meat Cove.

I had my morning shower, came back to camp, and began packing up my gear. Pulled everything out of the tent, then pulled up my tent stakes and turned around to put them in their bag. Yeah, you know what happened next... a sudden gust of wind caught the tent, lifted it up, and sent it tumbling over the edge of the cliff.

Shit.


David and I spent a while looking for ways to get to the base of the cliff to retrieve my tent. There was one way down that a good climber could probably have managed, but I'm not a good climber. I was going to attempt it anyway, but David talked me out of it. Eventually I gave up and left my poor tent at the base of the cliff for the seals and cormorants to do with as they will. Goodbye, poor Eureka; you've served me well for years!

(Truth be told, I was planning to replace it soon anyway, as it was beginning to leak and the odd wings formed by the rain fly are useful only for catching the wind.)

And so, slightly delayed, we rode off down the western, more spectacular side of the Cabot Trail.














We stopped for breakfast in Cheticamp, then kept going, eventually crossing the Canso Causeway and getting on the TCH to head west, stopping at a Canadian Tire en route so I could pick up a replacement tent (nothing great, but only $30, so I can't complain). That was a miserable ride -- it was windy as hell all across Nova Scotia, and the gusting crosswinds and headwinds made riding very unpleasant. David tried his best to present a small cross-section to the wind.


Before very long we'd both had quite enough of getting blown around on the highway, and we'd given up on our idea of making it to Fundy National Park to camp that evening, so we got off the TCH and rode along the shore of the Bay of Fundy. I noticed signs for Five Islands Provincial Park coming up, so we pulled in and checked out the camping situation. Nice park, so we decided to give up on this day and take it easy for the evening. Best laid plans and all that...

We got a nice campsite that was reasonably protected from the wind and set up camp.


A nearby campsite (much less protected from the wind) offered a nice view of the sun setting over the Bay of Fundy.




As I was hanging around in camp looking at photos on my camera or repacking gear or something equally trivial, David decided to explore a trail off the back of our campsite heading into the woods, thinking it might lead to the shore of the Bay of Fundy. A little while later, he came stumbling back into the campsite in great distress, hands over his chin and mouth, blood on his hands. He lowered his hands to reveal a very bloody chin and bent over and spit out a big mouthful of blood. This included a blob that I initially mistook for a tooth (thankfully it was just a bubble). He grabbed a towel, and I retrieved the first aid kit from his pannier. A little cleanup revealed a nasty gash below his lower lip, with a matching one inside his mouth (not all the way through, fortunately).


It seems that while David was exploring the trail, a branch he was bending out of the way broke off just below his hand and came whipping back into his face, causing the gash on the outside, while the inner one was caused by his lip being crushed against his teeth. David's mother and brother are both doctors, so he's got a pretty good idea of how to handle minor injuries. He cleaned himself up with the first aid kit and applied a butterfly bandage to the wound while I hopped on my bike and rode to the registration station to look for help, since the wound would clearly require stitches.

One of the guys on duty, Doug, is a medical first responder for the local fire department, so he came to the campsite with me and looked David over. By this time, David had bandaged himself up quite well, and Doug told him that with only his first aid kit at his disposal (which wasn't equipped any better than David's), he couldn't do anything more for him on site than David had already done himself. All three of us got in Doug's car and rode back to the registration station, where phone calls were made and discussions ensued. We all agreed that the most sensible course of action was for David to visit the nearest emergency room, half an hour away in Parrsboro. He was ready to jump on his bike and head over, but being in less distress than he was, I was thinking about the possibly much greater risk of riding a motorcycle for half an hour over completely unfamiliar winding roads, at dusk, in a rural area with a large deer population, after taking a blow to the face that may or may not result in some amount of shock before arriving at the hospital. Fortunately Doug agreed with me and told us he'd drive us there. David didn't want to impose on him, but Doug insisted that he didn't mind, it was better than sitting around doing paperwork, he'd get paid for the mileage on his car, and if it took longer than his 11pm shift ending time, he'd get paid overtime, so he really, really didn't mind.

Let me just take this moment to say that the people we met throughout our trip were all super friendly and unbelievably helpful. But Doug really stood out -- super nice guy, and I'd like to take this opportunity to issue a huge public thank you for his massive assistance. If any ADV inmates stop off in Five Islands Provincial Park and run into him, tell him Mark and David said hi and thanks again!

Doug drove us back up to the campsite to collect our wallets, ID, etc, then we headed off to the hospital in Parrsboro (as we drove out of the park, who should we pass riding in but our Ottawa friends?). On the drive there, David agreed that riding wouldn't have been the greatest idea, as it turned out to be a twisty road mostly through the woods.

We arrived to find the staff waiting for us -- the park folks had called ahead -- and there were no other patients, so after filling out the necessary paperwork, David was ushered in and told to lie down. Surprisingly, they let me in too to collect photographic documentation.


There was no doctor on duty this late on a weekday evening, but there was an advanced-care paramedic who's qualified to do stitches. He started by cleaning David's wound.




Then injected a local anesthetic.




And began sewing up David's face.






Four stitches on the outside did the trick.






Then it was time for the inside.




All done...


...and all David got to show for it was a bandaid!


Doug had been waiting outside, so he went to get his car and David finished up his paperwork. Then Doug drove us back to the campground. It had all gone so quickly that it was still only about 10:30, so we built a fire and sat for a little while before turning in.

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

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Old 09-07-2012, 02:20 PM   #36
sevenpointsixtwo
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Day 13: Meat Cove, NS to Five Islands Provincial Park, NS

I woke up with a “motherfucker” from outside my tent. The rain had ceased in the early morning, and sunny skies had returned. As the barometer started rising, a fair amount of wind had picked up the overnight as well. Groggily, I unzipped my tent to find Mark standing in the morning sun at the edge of the 100-foot precipice atop which we had pitched camp the previous afternoon. He gave me the following advice: pull the poles from the tent before unstaking it, and keep a hand on the fly until everything goes in the bag. A sound recommendation, considering that, not 30 seconds before, the wind had gusted, caught Mark’s tent like a sail, and gently deposited it at the bottom of our lovely bluff.

(As seen above:)


I talked Mark out of climbing down after it, and we quickly abandoned the idea of rescue, opting instead to continue towards civilization and pick up a replacement along the way.

The rest of the Cabot Trail was phenomenal; we set out early enough to avoid any other cars on the entire west side of the Trail, and were able to carve up the twisties with abandon.

Breakfast in Cheticamp was excellent, and the Francophone eye-candy waiting our table certainly didn’t hurt. Mark looked up tent options on the patchy wifi, and off we went.

Earlier decision making, based largely on my discomfort on the DRZ and both our desire to not have too many detours at this point led us to skip our intended PEI loop, and head straight to the Bay of Fundy.

What followed is very well described in Mark’s post, above. He has better pictures and a better recollection of the events in question, so I will defer to his post and the oh-so flattering shots of myself, and add a few pictures of my own, below.

Mark getting some nice shots of the Bay at low tide during sunset:




At very least, I was able to snap a couple of good photos at the end of the walking trail before I was injured! A nice view of one the Five Islands for which the town is named:









The aftermath, part deux:


A huge THANK YOU to Doug from the provincial park for all your help, letting me use the office phone, driving me to and from the ER, and being the friendliest, most patient, awesomest dude ever; Drew the paramedic for patching me back up and for your sense of humor in stitching up the poor Yank; Ellen, Doris, and the rest of the crew at the South Cumberland ER for making my unplanned visit an excellent one.

Oof. I needed some Screech after all that was done. Had to make due with orange juice to soothe my raging hypoglycemia. What a day!
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Old 09-07-2012, 02:35 PM   #37
markbvt OP
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Friday, 31 August 2012: Five Islands PP to Farmington, ME

We took our time packing up the next morning. We were ahead of schedule anyway, and after the previous evening's events I figured David would want to take it easy. Not so much, as it turned out. He'd slept okay, and the swelling in his lip had actually gone down a bit. We got underway and stopped off at the hospital so he could pick up copies of all the paperwork for his insurance, then had breakfast at the Tim Horton's in town. Then we kept going.

This morning it was especially evident that autumn was in the air. So much for summer; the colors were already showing on quite a few trees.


The ride included some nice views of the Bay of Fundy, and some nice countryside in general.




But I didn't take many photos, as at this point we were on the homeward slog. We crossed the border into Maine, passed a lot of likely-looking campgrounds because it still seemed a little too early to stop riding, and then ran out of decent campgrounds (ie, ones that weren't infested with RVs) when we actually did want to stop riding. So we kept pushing on through dusk to a campground I knew of in Farmington, Maine. We stopped at a Subway to grab subs for dinner, then rode up to the campground, set up tents in the dark, and proceeded to be annoyed until morning by loud, obnoxious neighbors.

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

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Old 09-07-2012, 04:39 PM   #38
sevenpointsixtwo
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Day 14: Five Islands, NS to Farmington, ME

My injury never really hurt; initially, I'm sure it was shock and adrenaline that kept the pain down. After that, it was swollen and irritating, but never caused too much pain. The biggest issue was the bandaids kept getting unstuck and blown off my face by the constant breeze in my helmet.

We made great time from Nova Scotia to Maine; a lot of it was a monotonous, slab-filled ride once we hit New Brunswick, and the stiff headwind kept up so some of the highway stretches were strenuous. I felt like I was flogging the DRZ at WOT just to keep up a reasonable pace. If a 4-hour torture test doesn't pop that engine, I don't know what will!

After a long day in the saddle, I was almost ready to push through the night and sleep in my own bed. However, the only option I had for riding after dark was my O-frame goggles, which left my face, and fresh injury, very open to the air. This was uncomfortable enough that I was glad to stop when we did.

Mark looks sad to be crossing back into the US. I know I was.


We got a great sunset to finish off the trip. This may not be the most scenic riding we had done, but I was strangely energized by being near home again. I was very ambivalent about the end of this trip; on one hand, I wanted to keep going, keep exploring, visit amazing places, and meet wonderful people; I also wanted to take a break, sleep in a real bed next to a beautiful girl, have a real shower, and cook myself breakfast the next day without having to throw a leg over the 'Z and point the bars down the road toward uncertainty.

It had been an adventure, all right. Newfoundland and Labrador might feel "old and done" to some inmates, but I can't express how deep of an experience it was for me. Maybe I would have been more comfortable on that GSA, but mabe it wouldn't have been quite the same experience. I left a lot of things in Labrador; some of my bike, some of my gear (bye, Chewie!), and quite a bit of myself. And not just in blood loss.

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Old 09-07-2012, 04:54 PM   #39
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Great report and picture taking. I agree the lure of Newfoundland is very strong. Went to Lab/Newfoundland(TLH) in '08 then had to show my wife this place; Newfoundland and St. Pierre/Miquelon(France). You missed it..when you get the urge to go there again make sure that these French Island are on your itinerary.

By the way since you were medically treated in NS(Canada) and they have universal health care for all. Mind, telling us how much did it personnally cost you..which of course will be reimbursed by your US insurance!

cheers...
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:24 PM   #40
markbvt OP
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Saturday, 1 September 2012: Farmington, ME, to Georgia, VT

We awoke early, as usual, to find our obnoxious neighbors still being obnoxious. By the time I'd showered and we'd packed up, they seemed to have finally gone to bed, so as we rode off David gave them a few revs of his rather loud DR-Z.

We rode to Rumford, ME, where we'd heard there was a good diner to stop for breakfast, and indeed, the Rt 2 Diner in Rumford Center serves a delicious breakfast! I had a lobster benedict (consolation prize for STILL not having gotten a damn lobster roll since my little incident on the previous Trans-Lab trip). From there, we rode to Conway, NH.


In Conway, David and I parted ways, as he headed south to Boston and I headed west to Vermont. I took the Kancamagus Highway west, a beautiful, scenic, twisty road that was utterly ruined by Labor Day weekend traffic.


At this point, back on thoroughly familiar roads, I mostly just wanted to get home, so I rode all the way through except for a short hydration stop just over the Vermont border. Made it home at about 3pm, none the worse for wear, though the Tiger was a little dirtier.


I'm thoroughly impressed with how well the IRC front tire wore on this trip. A knobby with 4000 miles looking this good? Wow!


The Full Bore on the back still had a good amount of tread left too, though that was more expected since I've run one before.


Stats for the day:
249.8 miles (unfortunately I forgot to reset the GPS's trip computer before heading out, so no screenshot)

Overall trip mileage: about 3970.

Track for the day:
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My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:38 PM   #41
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So fun reading your report! Great pictures too! Thanks a lot for taking the time to map out and post your google map routes, that makes it really interesting to look at and is a trove of information to help plan potential trips; after reading yours I've gotta make it up there! Do you guys speak French? I've been thinking of a trip up to Quebec and not sure how much you'd need to know. Also, if you don't mind me asking, whats the going price on a ferry crossing?
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:46 PM   #42
markbvt OP
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Originally Posted by ThanatosF View Post
So fun reading your report! Great pictures too! Thanks a lot for taking the time to map out and post your google map routes, that makes it really interesting to look at and is a trove of information to help plan potential trips; after reading yours I've gotta make it up there! Do you guys speak French? I've been thinking of a trip up to Quebec and not sure how much you'd need to know. Also, if you don't mind me asking, whats the going price on a ferry crossing?
I speak a little broken high school French; generally I've found that the Quebecois very much appreciate it when you make an effort to speak to them in French instead of just assuming they speak English, and will usually switch to English if they know it.

As for the ferry crossing, the long way (Argentia/North Sydney) is about $220 for bike and rider, one way, while the short way (Port aux Basques/North Sydney) is about $100. That's not including a cabin or meals.

--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 09-07-2012, 05:54 PM   #43
donnymoto
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Nice report! Hey how much gas did you use on the new stretch of TLH? I've got a Rotopax but am wondering it it's enough extra for my V-Strom. Could do about 320 mi on pavement, but on gravel...
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:56 PM   #44
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Fat lip

nice souvenir from 5 islands and this ride that you won't ever forget. Enjoyed reading your RR. Probably passed you on the road as I was in Quebec the same time/date. At Manic Cinq on the 23rd heading south. Thanks for posting.

YK
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:18 PM   #45
markbvt OP
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Originally Posted by donnymoto View Post
Nice report! Hey how much gas did you use on the new stretch of TLH? I've got a Rotopax but am wondering it it's enough extra for my V-Strom. Could do about 320 mi on pavement, but on gravel...
I see it's a 650, not a 1000... I rode it on my Wee-Strom the second time I was up there, and didn't need to top up at all. But I also never found a speed the Wee liked on the gravel so did the whole thing at about 50mph.

You should probably be fine with just a spare gallon; chances are you won't need it.

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

Bennington Triumph Bash, May 30-June 1, 2014
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