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  #1  
Old 27 Sep 2009
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Virginia to Chisasibi, Quebec

Full report is over at ADVrider.com. This is ashorter version.

In December 2008, I found a spot, way up on the James Bay close to the Hudson Bay, a spot where roads go out to a point. On that point, boats and a couple of buildings. This Google Earth/Maps photo of large canoes is what I saw.

At that time I thought, "I will ride to this place someday". I'm not sure why I wanted to but when people are asked why they climb mountains, "because it's there" seems somehow a good enough reason.



I heard the quote something to the effect that you don't take a trip, the trip takes you. This time the trip really took me. I'd planned a trip that takes me way up north 2 miles short of the 54th parallel, open landscapes and remote roads. That part of the plan I got. I didn't get the time I wanted though, unexpected things happen and sometimes the worst time, sometimes you get a break. I got the unexpected but I got a break as well and had a great trip.

14 days and 4,000 miles, I traveled from Virginia to Ontario Canada, then up the James Bay Road to Radisson and the furthest point north, Longue Pointe. Coming back, I rode to Lac St. Jean and down the Fjord Road to Tadoussac. Then around Quebec city to ride up Mt Washington before heading back home.

I wanted to do this on a single cylinder, dual sport motorcycle, and camp along the way. The roads will be more fun on this type of bike and 1,000 on this bike is like 2,000 on a big touring bike. More bang for the buck.

It's far enough north that the days are longer, bugs are bigger, crowds are few, temperatures are cooler and northern lights will illuminate an August evening sky.

So after a lot of planning, phone calls and emails, I got enough information, and time off work, to make this happen. I loaded up the bike with camping gear, a tarp, extra fuel.



On the first day I left northern Virginia in a steady rain, I'm all set for that though. It rains up there too.



More to come...

Last edited by donnymoto; 10 Oct 2009 at 15:59.
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Old 27 Sep 2009
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Pennsylvania

This is a bigger trip than I've taken on a bike. I got very settled and in the "zone" quickly along. First night's stop in Pennsylvania, on a lake. Excellent weather, local ice cream. Seems like a nice start.





My back had been bothering me. Pulled the lower left side a few weeks before the trip and was worried that it would sidetrack me. Last night, slept great and actually for the first time, woke up with no pain. Wow. Now I know what to do if my back acts up. Take a moto-camping trip.

The morning camp consisted of cooked oatmeal, local figs and coffee. Loaded the gear and proceeded up a road that was very cool, this road had nice twisties that woke me up more than the first daily hit of java, wow!

Got on a part of the Slab that I actually enjoy, Pennsylvania north to Wilkes-Barr. This stretch rolls over mountain ridges and highlands that feel the wrath of winter hard enough, the trees never grow that tall. Whenever I experience these places, the feeling of wide open lands and remote areas is a great thrill.

On my iPod, Jeff Beck wailed his guitar with impossible licks as I sped along. The single cylinder Kawasaki engine settling in around 5,000 RPMs, seems to like this speed, vibration dampens and just purrs along. Also puts me at about 69mph which doesn't seem to set off any radar units.



New York

Cat tails and birch trees always remind me of the Adirondacks. The first sighting was a good indication that I was paralleling that fantastic northern area. I rode up i-81 in high speed though because today I would cross over into Canada, if they'll have me.

Shallow by Porcupine Tree played, I changed the words to Shadow...



Crossing over the Thousand Islands bridge was great, I was getting very excited at this point. Canada was only minutes away.


The Other Side

I've been in the "penalty box" before crossing borders. It's not fun. There are no guarantees. No money back policy. Not that I'm worried about it, but in the back of my mind I always think, they don't have to let me in.



But they did, I bring $ USD! First exit after border crossing, gift shops and currency exchange. Of course, never get currency exchanged at a place like this, go to a regular bank and just get some cash out.





More soon...
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  #3  
Old 27 Sep 2009
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Ontario

Stayed overnight with an ADVrider, Ted. He graciously opened his house and I had a nice night's sleep. The next day he took a picture of me riding, the only one I've got so I thought I'd post it. Otherwise it looks like my bike took the trip with no rider....



Ted offered to ride with me to Ottawa. From there I said bye to Ted and stopped briefly in town.



Now the part of the trip I've been waiting for.

Quebec

Crossing over the Rideau River to Gatinuea, I cross from Ontario to Quebec. My day would take me out to the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, an area with a lot of lakes and backroads.

First I needed to get up the road a couple hundred miles. The day starts out well. Weather forecasts on Accuweather have been all over the place from sunny to cold rain. I stop in a small info center and get printouts of weather for Matagami and Radisson. Looks like rain tomorrow. Will be an accurate forecast. That's OK, today is great.



The ride is great, I stop in Maniwaki to get a fishing license, then I realize I'm really in French speaking country. I managed to piece together my quest, get sent to 3 different places none of them have it.



I decide my chances are better at any gas station near the lakes. There's a lot of fishing activity there. Bingo. My french isn't that good but when it's a picture of a fish, I can understand it.

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Old 27 Sep 2009
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I stop for an early coffee break at a place I'd seen photos of on Google Earth. I'm glad I did because I didn't know what a "chute" was before that. Waterfall and/or rapids is what you'll get.







Réserve faunique La Vérendrye

The road north of here gets more rural and population diminishes. I take a sidetrip through the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, an area with sketchy gravel roads and fishermen trying to get enough speed to launch their trucks and trailered boats into thin air, they were flying down these roads.











I rode for hours back here. It took longer than I expected but the ride was very nice. I smelled rain in the air well before I saw the clouds that were rolling in. Fresh air is a wonderful thing and it was plentiful up here.

Riding through the last parts of my detour, the road went to hard pack dirt, speeding through the birch forest at 65 mph was exhilarating. Light rain started.



Soon I needed another break so when the rain let up, I pulled over by a small lake.







Just before arriving back on Rt. 117 I came across a small hydro electric dam. Kids were fishing off to the side.

Was wondering if I was supposed to be able to ride over it or not. I see the tracks and head over. There were native kids fishing, I didn't get a shot. On the other side a village with what seemed to be all the residents out in the road. Again, I did stop for pics. They looked very surprised to see me. I waved and said hi, they waved back. Was a bit strange being surrounded by people on this dirt road so I didn't stop. Looking back I should have and asked about the village and what nation they were.



Setup camp at the first formal place around 8:30, it's already lighter at night than in VA. I like having a picnic table when it's wet for when I pack up. Only unpacked essential sleeping gear, the rest stays dry.





Say good night. I slept like a rock. Did NOT wake up until 7am, wow I slept in.

More soon...
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  #5  
Old 28 Sep 2009
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Ride to Matagami, Quebec

Morning coffee, a small break in the rain let me spend a little time with the bugs . Not bad though this year they say, I never once used the DEET I carried.
Peets--the official coffee of this trip.



One note:
Camp suds are kind of the swiss army knife of detergents. I use it to clean dishes, wash clothes both by hand and in a machine, wash my hair, hands, etc, also it cleans up the bike well.
Back to the trip. Took 113 north. Liking the scenery a lot now.



Since I skipped breakfast at camp I stopped in Senneterre for fuel and breakfast. Besides it's coming down now so not a bad time to head inside and warm up.



Good stuff here; eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and coffee, $5.00.
Back on the road I get the first taste of LOTS of roadwork that I'll see along the rest of the trip until I return to New York.



Found a loose fairing, probably from the previous days ride.



Missing in action, 1 nut and bolt. Dug out a twisty tie from my parts box.



Fixed.

The rest of the ride wound through Amos then up to Matagami.



Some photos along the way.









The ride so far was wet but fantastic. The landscape is slowly shifting and getting even more remote. I pulled over a few times to get dry and wrap up things that were getting wet like my wallet and iPod.

Arriving in Matagami was a milestone. This is the final town before heading up the James Bay Road and where my eyes had gazed on a map for months preceding this trip. 234 miles to the next fuel stop. No cell phone service along the way.

I stop to look at my GPS and a fellow stops to chat. He's a local and speaks a bit of English. Quite the resource of information although he was wrong that the info center was closed on Sunday, it was open and I visited there to get another weather forecast. Another day of rain, then, sunny skies for a while. Great!

A check-in station for the James Bay Road is manned 24/7 so that if you disappear, they've got a record you were there, not just hearsay from frantic relatives. I give them my info, tag # and they give me info and an emergency number to use on one of several SOS call boxes. Today I was only going 20 miles up to the campground though. I'd be back to get fuel. The trip had other plans though.



Lake Matagami campground is 20 miles down the JBR from Matagami the town, and is a real fantastic place to stay. A beach, excellent shower room, laundry and full time residents that are very friendly. The host, Scott was a real fun person to talk with. His English was very good and didn't mind speaking with me about all sorts of things. I settled in and the rain continued into the night.





Drying out.



Some college kids speaking English and French setup camp next to me, they were night owls for sure. I dozed off listening to their funny observations on life, etc. Age and the experience that comes with it like it or not, might change a lot of those views. Was good for a chuckle or 2.

Woke up to the sound of voices and saw flashlights lighting up my tent. The bike fell over! Oh no, I forgot to put something under my side stand and the rain saturated the ground, so the stand just ran into the ground. The boys were great, they helped me lift the bike up and got a large piece of wood for me. They wondered where I was from. Of course the further north I go, the more surprised people are to hear I'm from Virginia. I was probably good to them at this point for a chuckle or 2.
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Old 29 Sep 2009
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Sidetrip--This is where the trip takes me

Next morning was the day, I was to head up the remote road and leave civilization behind. I did some last minute laundry while packing the bike. Said goodbye to Scott and then pushed the starter, nothing. In fact, no electric at all. I couldn't believe it and though there must be something simple I'm not doing right here, maybe the excitement of the trip and all. This is where I lost 2 days. I took the stuff off the bike, puled out tools and found a blown fuse. Opps. this isn't good. To think, I was getting read to head out hundreds of miles away. Wow.



Looking for the problem... should have printed out those schematics from my Clymer...



It's a long story that involves Scott finding extra fuses, a guy named Paul who overcame his limited knowledge of English and had more fuses brought in from town to troubleshoot the problem, worked like crazy to find it himself. Then there were the guys I ended up with who picked me and the bke up, back to town to their shop where they didn't find the problem. At Matagami with Geoff (right) and Mike, the guy Geoff says is amazing with electronics. Well, he wasn't with my bike. Didn't find the bare wire.



Then there was the delivery driver, who, for $40 Canadian, took me on a wild ride of pickups and dropoffs with my stuff in the back of his truck 110 miles SOUTH to the town of Amos and a Kawasaki service shop.



I try to explain to the guy that I need to get to the Kawa dealer before they close, so I can get my bike in the shop before they lock up. No comprend pas. I also was wondering what he was saying with "ohwe". He said this when cars were in his way, when he dropped something, when he saw a note for a pickup, he saw a pretty girl, turns to me smiles and says "ohweee". What is this word. I think it's the swiss army knife of words, means a little of everything. Pretty efficient.

We end up getting to the shop at 6pm. They close at 6pm but tonight they were late closing so I lucked out! I stashed my stuff in a locked room, the bike was in the shop and first thing in the morning, a technician would look at the bike.
At that point, my bike in the shop, I started thinking throught he what-if options. I know this isn't always a great thing to do and my mind was going to towm. My wife didn't have her passport so she couldn't come get me, could I rent a truck and drive into the US, or fly to the US and rent a truck here, or just go home and get my truck.

At least there was a cool coffee shop I could ponder these questions.





All this was exactly as I hoped it would be, unnessesary. Mathew found the bare turnsignal wire that I had in my hand the day before, but he saw it was bare and fixed it. He also re-secured the wiring to handle the bumps and vibratiion of the gravel rougher roads I travel. All I had to do then was kick myself for not finding it, many times over! This appears to be the same harness that's in the recall for 08-09 KLRs.



THANKS MATHEW!

Cost: A few bucks and 2 days.
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Old 29 Sep 2009
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Back on the Road!

The weather had broken, wind at my back and I headed back to Matagami, where the bike broke down. This is also the start of the James Bay Road.

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Old 29 Sep 2009
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I stop to get gas and some food, and this fellow sitting with his buddies was waving an yelling at someone who must have been right behind me. No, it was Me he was looking for! This is the same fellow I'd met a few days prior in the rain. We exchanged greetings and he wished me luck... again. The world is getting larger spatially, but smaller socially.

I line myself up at KM 0 of the JBR. It'll be 614 KM (380 miles) to the end. I've got a tailwind, the sun is out, the bike is running great, all things are a GO. This is the real deal, the real trip I've worked so hard to get to.

A packed bike and open road into the Great North--fantastic!

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Old 1 Oct 2009
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I stop at the checkin station to txt the emergency phone number to my wife, and let her know I would check in again in 2 days from Radisson. This road is out there. Was built to support Quebec extensive hydro-electric facilities that harness the power of all that water up there. On the other hand, they did put SOS call boxes and emergency shelters along the way. Fishermen, delivery drivers, hydro-electric plant workers and tourists pass by every 10 minutes or so. Visa is accepted everywhere up here. I've felt more remote in parts of West Virginia. But the vast open areas of uninhabited lands, native hunting grounds and incredible numbers of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers is just amazing. What a great landscape to power a Kawasaki thumper through.



Day 1 on the JBR is warm. The miles pass by effortlessly and the views are sublime. I see that this will be a ride I'll never forget, the impact is strong. Black spruces, jack pine and glacial deposits are all over. The light from a low sun draws pleasing shadows across the road but the sun goes down much slower up here. It lasts longer this time of year.



I stop for a break and too cool off a little. Grab some water and hike to the top of a hill. The blueberries are absolutely the best I've ever eaten. Ripe, sweet and juicy. I eat a lot, actually turned out to be half my dinner. I get a nice view of the area up there, this is exactly what I came for.





More shots from the ride;





All the rage in modern teepee design, plastics.



The Rupert River. It's being diverted now and I could see it's already down a tad, but the power is still there. Wow it was a sight.



I found THE campsite of campsites with the Rupert on 3 sides of my tent. A small peninsula jetted out and barely had room for a picnic table. The open wind blew most of the bugs away, was a very pleasant campsite. Took a quick dip to cool off then enjoyed the distant sound of those big rapids and watched the sun set. Still glowing in the evening sky at 10 pm. A few small swigs of Cuban rum capped the day off well.



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Old 2 Oct 2009
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Might as well wrap this one up, here's a few more shots from up north. Adios















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Old 2 Oct 2009
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Standin in the Arctic Ocean


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