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Old 08-23-2011, 09:22 PM   #16
WaywardSon
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Loving your ride, route and report. Thanks for taking the time to include us.

You sent me to the dictionary with seigneurial. I don't think we have any of that in Kentucky...maybe up north in Indiana at French Lick
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Old 08-24-2011, 05:33 AM   #17
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love it.

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Old 08-25-2011, 01:48 PM   #18
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Day 4

Day 4 Happy Valley to Port Hope=Simpson


Before leaving Happy Valley I had to find some replacement gloves for the pair I had accidentally left at the side of the road once the pavement started, and fill up with gas again. The young lad who served me in the Home Hardware, really surprised me by saying "nice Guzzi", until I noticed the massive patch of road rash on his arm and the old Yamaha parked outside. Clearly he had recently had a lesson in the need for proper protective clothing.

It is 409 kms (254 miles) from Happy Valley to Port Hope-Simpson - the most recently completed section of the Trans-Labrador Highway and the longest stretch between gas supplies. I was fairly confident that with the extra 10 litres I was carrying in the can on my back-rack, I would have enough - but it would be close.

I was expecting the newest section of highway to be a nasty mess of fresh, loose 3inch aggregate and had been steeling myself for some slow and painful riding. The reality was quite different.

The new road (Highway 510) diverges from Highway 520 a few kilometres out of town and almost immediately crosses the Churchill River via a long bridge. The road bed on the bridge has been constructed of welded re-bar by someone with a death wish towards motorcyclists. The ribs of the bridge surface grabbed at my front tyre and shook it like a terrier with a rat the whole way across. Perhaps most of the riders who travel this route on 'adventure' bikes, sail over this bridge without noticing its evil inclinations. I'd be interested to hear.

Beyond the bridge, the road was in excellent condition. I had already noticed that those sections of the Trans-Lab which were constructed from crushed rock aggregate tended to be less pleasant and motorcycle friendly than those made from aggregate derived by sorting and sifting local glacial till. The natural materials pack down into a smooth (usually reddish) surface, providing a wonderful road surface which could be ridden at virtually any speed, even on a jalopy like mine. In contrast, even when well packed, the road surface left by the man-made materials was a constant mine-field of loose gravel patches which sit like marbles on a billiard table.

Today the weather was a bit grim with dull leaden skies and the promise of rain. A little rain wouldn't be a bad thing since it would dampen down the dust and help consolidate the loose gravel. Too much rain though, would turn the gravel dust to mud and create a whole new set of riding issues. Fortunately for me, it didn't do that, although I it did rain hard enough for me to stop, put on my industrial strength rain gear and hide my video camera.

Since I am fairly tall, the standard screen on the Guzzi isn't quite tall enough to shield me from turbulence - especially at highway speeds. Much to the distain of my VFR riding son, my solution is to duct tape an old helmet visor to the top of the screen. Despite looking like a dog's breakfast, it works remarkably well.

Initially, I had taken it off once I hit gravel, but with the higher speeds possible on the excellent road south of Happy Valley, and for added protection from the rain, I decided to remount it - a laborious process that takes perhaps two whole minutes. I immediately noticed an improvement in my riding in the softer gravel sections. The higher screen forced me to look further ahead; whereas before I was probably looking 10-15 feet in front of my wheel, now I had to scan the road at least 20 feet ahead, and usually further.

It was about this time that I started to notice some unusual tracks - narrow half moon shapes which diverged from the heavily flattened areas where the majority of the vehicle tracks ran. After another hundred kilometres, they became more common and now I could beging to trace more of a linear path. Something was heading down the road, leaving tracks no more than an inch or two wide. On the straight stretches they were hard to follow. Up hill they were easier to trace as they seemed to weave from side to side.

I gradually became certain I was following a bicycle. What kind of a person would ride a road like this? I soon found out as I eventually caught up with him about 120 kms past where his tracks clearly showed he had spent the night. The cyclist wasa 58 year old gentleman from Gatineau, Quebec. He had been on the road many days.

I pulled up next to him and after brief hellos, handed him two bottles of beer from my pack. Once, cycling in Spain in the seventies, I had been the recipient of a similar unexpected kindness.

The last few miles before reaching the Labrador coast brought a considerable change in the scenery. The endless spruce forest, interspersed with large areas of bog gave way to a bare, rolling landscape of krummholz and lichen. The influence of the cold Labrador current in the nearby waters was plainly evident.

As on previous days, the Eldorado had behaved flawlessly. As I parked in front of the hotel in Port Hope-Simpson, I wondered whether the riders of the expedition equipped KLR's parked outside had had as pleasant, comfortable and trouble free journey as me.

Photos: left- typical road conditions, right - Port Hope-Simpson

Nick
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:15 PM   #19
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Great bike indeed!

Helped my cousin go through the Eldo he bought in the early 90's.
Still does its thing to this day. Slow but fun.

Note: The Tonti framed engine uses a 14# flywheel. The loop framed engine uses a 36# flywheel. Yep, it is true.

Check out the vids of GuzziV7(channel) over at youtube for rough roading a loop frame in SA.
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Old 08-25-2011, 05:55 PM   #20
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Nick - thanks for sharing your trip and your excellent writing with us. The quote below speaks volumes about your character.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nick949eldo View Post
I pulled up next to him and after brief hellos, handed him two bottles of beer from my pack. Once, cycling in Spain in the seventies, I had been the recipient of a similar unexpected kindness.

Nick
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Old 08-26-2011, 01:49 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Jim K in PA View Post
Nick - thanks for sharing your trip and your excellent writing with us. The quote below speaks volumes about your character.
Jim,
Thanks for the kind words.

While cycling through Spain, down through to Morocco, back in the seventies, I had passed a truck unloading at a hotel. The guys shouted at me, but I was labouring uphill, feeling a bit grumpy, and not in the mood either for conversation or harassment. A few minutes later, the same truck followed me for a while, then drew level. Oh here we go, I thought - trouble.

The next I knew, the window was down and an arm passed me two bottles of beer. Then they drove off..........

I just happened to have a couple of beers in my bag - and was delighted to be able to pass the gesture on.

Nick

Here is one tough dude! Makes m/c riding the Trans-Lab look like a cake-walk (which it is).
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:02 AM   #22
Oatmeal Bonewell
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Great ride, Nick! I love seeing the old Guzzi out and about, getting dirty and getting used. It's great motivation for me to get out to the garage and get my Eldo adventure ready.

Please tell me about the oil filter .

Thanks,

Ian
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:23 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick949eldo View Post
In remote areas (and this applies to more than motorcycling), its yourself, your state of mind and your knowledge it is best to rely on. Because it will probably be all you have to fall back on.
Nick
Funny you mention this. I do solo canoe trips (three to 5 days on the river, out of contact) with a wood and canvas canoe. Sure it's more "fragile" than modern boats. I have however, managed to repair it enough to keep going. And it forces you to develop skill as opposed to just banging the boat through things.

I also ride an 80's vintage BMW all over. Like you say, short of a DRT (Dead Right There) issue like crank, transmission, drive, I can nurse it along with duct tape and wreath wire. Technology just multiplies the possible DRT issues in my opinion.
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Old 08-26-2011, 01:21 PM   #24
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ambos and eldos rule

nice one!! i just finished a short ride as well on my 73 ambassador, check it out on
cafeborealmoto.blogspot.com
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:39 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by nick949eldo View Post
Oh here we go, I thought - trouble.

The next I knew, the window was down and an arm passed me two bottles of beer. Then they drove off..........

I just happened to have a couple of beers in my bag - and was delighted to be able to pass the gesture on.

Nick

Here is one tough dude! Makes m/c riding the Trans-Lab look like a cake-walk (which it is).


HellfreakinYeah......giv'R b'Y



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Old 08-27-2011, 01:12 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by More_Miles View Post
Funny you mention this. I do solo canoe trips (three to 5 days on the river, out of contact) with a wood and canvas canoe. Sure it's more "fragile" than modern boats. I have however, managed to repair it enough to keep going. And it forces you to develop skill as opposed to just banging the boat through things.

I also ride an 80's vintage BMW all over. Like you say, short of a DRT (Dead Right There) issue like crank, transmission, drive, I can nurse it along with duct tape and wreath wire. Technology just multiplies the possible DRT issues in my opinion.
The impulse to adventure is alive and well in our society. The success and popularity of this web site is testimony to that.

Any trip in a remote area involves risk. There's no getting around it. Anyone can crash (or hole their canoe) or have a mechanical problem, regardless of the machine they are riding. Personally, I can't see shopping for the best bike (most suitable, most reliable, most lauded in the M/C press), then filling the pockets of my $1000 riding suit or my indestructible aluminum panniers with cell phones, GPS, Emergency trackers in an attempt to make all risk disappear.

I'm not suggesting that everyone should take old clunkers on their adventure rides - that's just my preference. And I'm not anti-GS. As I've said before, I suspect they are fine bikes, although they are absurdly large and have become a bit of a caricature. Most GS's I see have never seen a spot of dirt (and probably not a spot of rain either).

Its like we want to take a cocoon of safety with us wherever we go. Better to stay home and wear a helmet when you go out to walk the dog. Especially since one is far more likely likely to encounter real danger on the streets of downtown Toronto, Vancouver (substitute your favourite US, European or Third World city) at any given moment that on the Trans-Lab.

Nick
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:44 PM   #27
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Day 5

Day 5 (Port Hope-Simpson to Blanc Sablon 339 kms)

I left Port Hope-Simpson early. I had enjoyed supper with the two KLR riders in the hotel the previous evening - one an experienced dirt rider, the other not. I think the bikes were bought especially for the trip. Regardless, they seemed to be enjoying their big adventure and didn't seem put out by a garrulous old geezer and his antique Italian steed.

This section of road traverses rolling terrain inland from the Labrador coast for 140 kilometres and the village of Red Bay. Trees cling in a few small hollows. The rest of the land is bare rock, krummholz and moss. This may be the country Jacques Cartier described in 1534 as "The Land God Gave to Cain" but I loved it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the road.

Generally I'm fond of gravel and dirt roads - indeed, in the part of eastern Ontario where I live, I regularly search them out for some 'Eldo Abuse'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oJQFZML_b0
But this stretch of road was a nasty mess of potholes and washboard with just enough good sections to get you sped up and to lulled into increasing speed and looking at the scenery before the next grim patch hit.

The constant jarring had worked the generator bolts completely loose, and while it was still functioning properly, held roughly in position by its centreing pin and my bungee, it was clearly time for a fix. Nevertheless, I ploughed on, eating a perfectly respectable breakfast at a hotel in Mary's Harbour, and visiting the Parks Canada Basque whaling exhibit in Red Bay. When I'm on a riding trip, I generally make it a policy not to stop at cultural attractions, since such things are far too redolent of how I make a living. But my wife had worked on some of the textiles from the excavations and I wanted to see whether they were on display (they were). Glad I did actually - the interpreters were charming.

Below Red Bay, the road is paved as far as the ferry at Blanc Sablon. It stays near the coast, passing through a number of small villages, which create the illusion that the whole area is well populated. Its a delusion. Settlement is strictly limited to the narrow band along the coast. The interior is solely the domain of caribou and blackflies.

I arrived at the ferry dock with a couple of hours to spare, so I thought I would finally get to grips with the generator problem. One of the great things about really getting to know a bike is that you can strip it down virtually anywhere without a second thought. I know which wrenches fit which bolts and had made sure I brought them in my tool kit.

Within a few minutes the bike was naked and next to it was an increasingly large pile of gear and motorcycle parts. Both the tank and seat had to come off, then the aluminum generator cover so I could free the belt. Once the bungee was unhooked I could see just how loose the retaining bolts had become (very), so I removed the generator - or more strictly speaking, moved it aside so I didn't have to undo the wiring - and set about tightening the bolts which hold its cradle to the engine cases between the cylinders. Its a tight fit to get at those bolts, but I thought I had done a creditable job of tightening them. Turns out I was wrong.

Once I was done, I rode the bike up to near the ferry office to wait until they would deign to sell us tickets. Don had just arrived on his 1994 GS, leaking from both fork seals and drooling from a front caliper. After swapping road stories for a while, I started to have some sympathy for the bike. He had ridden the Trans-Lab a heck of a lot faster than I, and had arrived at Blanc Sablon, from BC, via Yellowknife.

The ferry crossing was pleasant, calm and uneventful and we arrived on the Newfoundland side just as the sun was going down. I briefly considered staying at at the local hotel, but the line-up to sign in convinced me that I would be better off finding somewhere to hang my hammock. I rode on in the increasing darkness, keeping and eye out for moose and periodically checking out likely spots, but I guess I was getting finicky since nothing met my requirements. In the end, I took the side road in to Port au Choix and settled in to a dismal, and somewhat overpriced motel.

Nick

A: Generator (turned sideways)
B: The offending bolts
C: Generator belt
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:51 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Cafeguzzi View Post
nice one!! i just finished a short ride as well on my 73 ambassador, check it out on
cafeborealmoto.blogspot.com
Great blog! Fabulous photos. And I bet the old Ambo gave up nothing at all to the newer bikes. The one photo of her covered in mud is priceless. These old Guzzis are just so simple and durable, as shown by Paul from the Netherlands at
http://www.guzzigalore.nl/log/route.php

Nick
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:42 AM   #29
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Day 6

Day 6 Port au Choix to ferry at Port aux Basques (500 kms)

I wasn't ready for Newfoundland. I hadn't been able to see much the night before when I rode from the ferry to Port au Choix, but now it was light and the sun was shining. Originally I had intended to spend a few days exploring western Newfoundland, but within a couple of hours, I threw that idea out of the metaphorical window. (edit: I did this because I liked what I saw so much, I decided I wanted to explore Newfoundland with my wife at a more leisurely pace).

The road south was wonderful; nice pavement, wonderful scenery. The Gulf of the St. Lawrence lies to the west, the Long Range Mountains - the long chain of low hills which form the spine of the Northern Peninsula - to the east. The road hugs the coast, passing by a number of small fishing villages such as Bellburns, Daniel's Harbour and Parson's Pond which, because they are oriented to the sea, are barely touched by the highway. I was impressed by the virtual absence of roadside development. Long may it remain that way. Too many scenic roads have been ruined by unregulated strip development.

Mist shrouded my first view of the Gros Morne Mountains. I could see the shape of the table-top massif looming over the coast. As I rode closer, the mist lifted and I enjoyed excellent views of this World Heritage Site. From Rocky Harbour the road turns inland, seemingly through the heart of the mountains, rising high over forested mountain shoulders before diving down to lakeshore. It is a wonderful road through remarkable scenery, made even more pleasant by the relative lack of traffic and the absence of gimcrackery.

At the top of one long climb, I pulled on into a rest stop / picnic overlook and cruised to a stop. Only one other person was there - his tent was discretely set up to one side, and he was sitting at one of the picnic tables.

"Is that a 750 or an 850" he said, as soon as I had switched off the engine.
"Its a 1000 now" I replied, "but it used to be an 850".
"Ah, so its an Eldorado, not an Ambassador!"
What are the chances that the only person at a rest stop atop the Gros Morne Mountains would speak Moto Guzzi? Bill and I swapped Guzzi knowledge and lies for a few minutes, I snapped a couple of pictures and he took a couple of me, then I hit the road again.

At Deer Lake I joined the Trans-Canada Highway - the single tarmac thread that extends from St. John's on the east coast of Newfoundland, to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, off the west coast of the continent. Not surprisingly, this is a large highway with some divided sections. I was conscious as I continued,that there was an extra vibration at certain rpms, and assumed that the generator had managed to do its magic on the mounting bolts again. Never mind - she was still humming along nicely, and had no trouble matching the ambient traffic speed - where there was any traffic at all.

I reached Channel Port aux Basques in the late afternoon. Its a pretty little town, completely dominated by the ferry terminal, but with a host of small wooden houses scattered seemingly at randon across the small headland overlooking picturesquely named Shark Cove. I rode around the winding streets for a while then headed to Canadian Tire for some essentials: another bungee, some heavy duty cable ties, some 1/8th inch aircraft wire and clamps. That bloody generator was going to get clamped within an inch of its life!

After about 20 minutes in the parking lot, I had the thing fixed to my satisfaction. It looked a bit like a rats nest, but the generator could no longer bounce around.

The ferry started to load at about 7PM but didn't leave the dock until 9. That left plenty of time for something to eat and a couple of beers to help me sleep. I managed to get a couple of hours of sporadic sleep in one of the recliners on the rear deck as the ferry glided over amazingly quiet waters towards North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Nick
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:08 AM   #30
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Final day

FINAL DAY (North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Inverary, Ontario. 1755 kms)

By 2:30AM, I was out of the ferry and in a line of traffic heading out of town along the Trans-Canada Highway. Just about everyone stopped at the first Tim Horton's coffee shop, and many, including me, were disappointed to find that only the drive-through was in operation. I didn't really have a clear plan at this point, but since it was chilly, I took the opportunity to put on my riding suit, checked the status of my gas, and headed off down the highway.

At first it was busy with ferry traffic, so the dim glimmer from my low beam wasn't really an issue. Gradually though, the traffic thinned and I had to rely on my own marginal light source for navigation. Blessedly, there were no nocturnal insects, so I was able to shed my eye protection and venture naked into the night.

I love riding at night, even when I can barely see where I was going. There is little to distract you from the road ahead (what I could see of it) and the wonderful, consistant clatter from the tappets of that glorious v-twin, and the booming sound from her pipes.
Before dawn, the Eldo started to stutter - the inevitable sign of fuel starvation. Usually, while she's still complaining, I just reach down on the right side of the tank, turn on the secondary petcock, and carry on using the reserve supply. This time though, with no idea how many miles I would have to cover until I found an open gas station, I opted to stop and pour in the contents of my 10 litre auxillary supply.

I saw nothing of Nova Scotia except that black ribbon of road. Another time! By the time I got to New Brunswick it was light, I had eaten some breakfast and found some fuel, so I was able to enjoy the wide relaxing highway and the higher permitted cruising speeds, although I found the $4 toll for part of the road a bit stiff, especially when cars pay the same fee. At the Quebec border, the road reverts to two lanes and roadworks, more or less all the way to Riviere du Loup on the St. Lawrence River. By this point I had ridden just over 1000 kilometres since the ferry and may have been getting a bit punch-drunk.
"Heck, I'm almost home" I shouted to myself (I'm not sure whether this was out loud or not - it had been a long day........).

The last 700 kilometres are a bit of a blur. Highway 20, past Quebec City and Drummondville to Montreal is a big, wide highway, busy with friday afternoon traffic. I stuck to the inside lane, travelling slightly below Quebec's normal highway speed of 120+ kph. I hovered around 103 kph (GPS speed - 78 mph on my Veglia speedo!) which the Eldorado seems to like just fine for hours.

Interestingly, I saw many of the cars which sped past me many times over. They would go racing past in Mercs, BMWs and the occasional Harley, while I plodded along like a tortoise. A couple of hours later, there they would be again, looking somewhat perplexed as to how I had got ahead of them. Some distinctive cars passed me at least three times.

I didn't want to have to worry about gas while traversing Montreal, so I filled up in Drummondville. I don't mind riding in traffic, but Montreal has such a convoluted system of through-ways that I wanted no distractions. As it turned out, I was able to sail through Montreal without any difficulty, although it took its toll on my stamina.

By the time the urban area was behind me and I had made it to the Ontario border it was pitch black again and heading towards midnight. I could tell I was starting to loose concentration, even arguing with myself as to whether I was awake and conscious of reality, or already asleep. Not a good sign! I pulled off at the first service station and slugged back a large coffee. That, and the cool night air did the trick for a while, although by Prescott I was beginning to flag again.

A second cup of coffee and a few minutes off the bike seemed to work. I rode the last 100 kilometres in a state of hyper-real focus and concentration, pulling in to my driveway at 1:30AM - 22 hours (adjusting for the time zone I'd crossed) after I'd left the ferry terminal in Nova Scotia.

Tired? You bet!

Nick

PS Many thanks to those of you who have had the patience and/or endurance to read my trip report.
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