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Old 08-27-2012, 08:20 PM   #1
guzzirelic OP
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Location: near Espanola Ontario Canada
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Chapleau and back- a day and a half in north eastern Ontario

No exotic locales, no exotic bikes, just like the title says: a day and half in north eastern Ontario. I thought some of you might enjoy a few pictures of the route. I started a week of vacation on Sunday, August 19th and with permission from the wife I took off for the first couple of days, solo on my DR650.
I've wanted one of these bikes for a few years now and finally after attending the ADV NOFAR on the May long weekend, (look it up in the "Regional"-"Canada"-"Northern Riders Sign In" thread) where I got some great advice and prodding, I pulled the credit line trigger and found a nice 2006. Actually purchased from an inmate. (thanks Jon!). I've added an IMS tank, a Pro Cycle fender brace, GPS76CSX on a Ram mount and Wolfman tank bag to the farkles the previous owner had installed.

Here's the DR as I'm ready to go on Sunday morning.



I live about 10k west of Espanola Ontario. That's a little west of Sudbury and about two hours east of Sault Ste. Marie On (or Michigan). Some local back roads moved me west and my first stop was at the junction of Hwy 17 and Hwy 108. 108 runs north to the town of Elliot Lake and is the start of the "Deer Trail". (or the end I suppose if you do it backwards)
Thus the tourist information setup that you see here. It is a nice facility on nice grounds but is rarely open. That seems pretty typical for Ontario and the way we treat tourism. But that is a rant for another day.
At about 40 minutes from home this makes for a good place to check my luggage, straps etc and chug a bottle of water.



I stayed on 17, the Trans Canada Highway, such as it is in this area; two lane with a post of 90kph until I was west of Blind River. In a former lifetime I passed this way on a regular basis to work in the Soo and I always wondered where this cool bridge over the Mississagi River just west of BR led to. Today I'd find out.



Before making the crossing I stopped to take in this sign. I'm guessing this was put up in 2008 as that would have marked a hundred years since the opening.



The road is Dean Lake Rd. and it heads south past Dean Lake and and ends at the north channel of Lake Huron. Back near the south end of the bridge is Chevis Rd that runs west and I turned there. Chevis is a dual sport riders delight. Turns, hills and no traffic. The photo doesn't do it any justice but suffice to say it ended far too quickly. Portions were narrow with the trees totally covering overhead. Cool!



Chevis Rd led me to Dayton Rd and this one swapped gravel for hard pack and bush for farms. It was good though because it wasn't the highway! The final piece to this little back road jaunt was Maple Ridge Rd and at it's western terminus I was deposited back on Hwy17, not too far east of Thessalon. All in all, I'd skipped over 30 kilometers of the TCH.

My next stop was in Bruce Mines for fuel. (I'd left home with a less than full tank.) Gassing up provided one of those "OH SH***T moments...the previous owner had lowered the DR by doing the factory thing, moving the rear shock mounting to the other hole and then raising the fork tubes in the triple trees which is a good thing for me because I'm short, BUT he didn't shorten the side stand. This is ok as long as you are careful about where you park. Trying to have the tires on high ground or the stand aimed at a bit of a hole helps. The added weight of camping gear, tools and a change of jockeys loaded on the bike doesn't help. As I got off the bike to tend the nozzle the DR just about fell away from me. The young attendant was a touch startled and I remarked that everything was ok...side stand is too long...I'll just pull up on the rear to lift the suspension and she'll stay put. I think I was trying to convince myself more than the young fellow...and of course as soon as I let go she tried to lay down again. So I asked the attendant to put a hand on the rear rack and keep the bike from falling while I pumped the $1.33 per liter liquid gold into the tank. He happily held the DR up all the while looking at me like I was crazy. After the fill I walked the bike to a location better suited for her lop sided parking requirements and the drama was over.

From Bruce Mines I left Hwy 17 again and this time I detoured on 638 through Rydal Bank, (sorry Greg, still no ATM's in town) and past Ophir, Leeburn and through the Sylvan Valley.



638 is now one of my favorite roads, ever since attending the NOFAR and riding it from end to end on my DT400. It is paved but the ever changing scenery and topography keep it interesting. Towards the western end of the road I passed this...HEY! I know this place!



That's an inside comment and only those on the NRSI thread will recognize the location. Sorry to the rest of you.
638 rejoins Hwy17 at Echo Bay and having never traveled the new four lane section of the highway from there to the Soo (and feeling more than ready for lunch) I powered on through. Sault Ste. Marie is a very nice city and I've spent lots of time there over the years. Today I grabbed a sub, topped up the tank and blew that popstand...



Sorry, no photo of the sandwich. It was a foot long assorted with lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing...boring! But it's a fast food that I know I can survive on. Just north of the Soo I carved right onto 556 and made my way to Searchmont. I stopped for a pic of the rail bridge over the roadway. This bridge carries the Algoma Central Railway Agawa Canyon Tour train. I've ridden this rail line from the Soo to Hawk Junction, (near Wawa) along with my brother in his track motor car. You may know these little rail personnel carriers better as "Speeders" and before Hi Rail trucks came into being they toted track workers the length of the railway. Now there are clubs for owners of these little guys that get permission to travel sections of line both abandoned and active. That was a great experience.





Searchmont is home to a ski resort and not much else. But I wanted to say I'd been there and it's only a few k off of my route. From Searchmont I headed back to 556 which is better known as Ranger Lake Rd. It is 80 k of gravel and on this day it was a mix of hard packed high speed fun. Loose "marbles in the corners", a little less fun and arm shaking, bolt loosening, bone shaking washboard. Lots and lots of washboard. The road's namesake appears to be a nice body of water but the highlight of this part of the journey is the road itself. In the entire 80 kilometers I passed two vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.



Ranger Lake Rd ends at Hwy 129 and from there it's a 126 kilometers to Chapleau. My loose plan was to fuel up and grab some supper in the town of Chapleau and from there back track to Hwy667 which becomes the Sultan Industrial Rd. I was going to camp in Wakami Lake Provincial Park for the night. As I made my way up 129 I noticed the sky was becoming overcast and the temperature was dropping. We've enjoyed (or endured) one of the hottest, driest, summers on record in this part of Canada and wouldn't you know it? When I set out to sleep in a cheesy, thin sleeping bag for one measly night, a cold snap erupts. Ok, so I'm a wimp. Upon arriving in Chapleau I cruised around town looking for somewhere to eat.
I happened to notice that Chapleau has the odd motel here and there. One was located across from the Canadian Pacific Rail yard and mainline. Said motel appeared to have a vacancy. And I imagined the room would have heat. And warm water. And a bed softer than the ground.
A stop at the office confirmed all of this and the cost? Only a few dollars more than the camping site would run me at the park. That is either a comment on how cheap motel rooms go for in Chapleau, or how expensive Provincial Park camping in Ontario has become. Take your pick. At any rate my decision was made!









Note the intermodal "stack" train passing by just a short distance from my motel room door. I bet most of you would be bothered by the noise of regular rail traffic and "busy rail line proximity" is not an attribute you'd go searching for in a motel location but me? This is ok as I can watch trains for hours. I'm not a foamer, (look it up) by any means but I've always had an interest in railroads.
After booking in I checked out the restaurant that the motel owner suggested but Gus' was closed for a few days. So off to Subway for the my second sub of the day. Back home my wife asked, "how can you eat the same thing for lunch and supper?". "It's not the same" says I. "Lunch was an assorted from Mr. Sub. Dinner was a melt from Subway. Way different."

The 76CSX claims it was a 500 kilometer day. For you non metric types that's only about 300 miles. But it was all day in the saddle on some roads I'd never ridden, on a recently acquired bike, by myself. So I was pretty satisfied.
Day two will have to wait until tomorrow.
This ride report stuff is tiresome. All these buttons to push and photos to process...geeeeezzze! I have a ton of respect for inmates that carry reports on for weeks and weeks. Especially for those of you who are actually "adventure" riding. (where the roads have no numbers and motels are not an option)

Relic
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1989 DR750 Doctor BIG
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1976 Yamaha DT400C;1960 Panther M120
1970 Yamaha 100 L5TA Trailmaster

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Old 08-28-2012, 07:50 PM   #2
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day two

Monday morning and the weather network tells me that the current temp in Chapleau is 5 degrees celsius. (Thats just over 40 degrees F) I'm glad I opted for the motel room. I wouldn't have gotten any sleep in the tent at that temperature. Plus; I had the bonus pleasure last evening of watching trains rumble through town, interspersed with a couple of episodes of Seinfeld.
Before heading out on this little tour I wired my cheapo heated vest to match the battery tender lead the previous owner of the DR had thoughtfully left me. The vest hasn't seen the outside of my closet since I sold my TW200 a few years ago. All my other bikes are vintage machines and their charging systems are working hard to keep the lights on with no extra electrons for luxuries. Before leaving Chapleau behind I stopped and checked out the CPR steam locomotive on display in town.



5433 is a 2-8-2, Mikado style loco built in Kingston Ontario in Aug of 1943. The CPR used this type of engine throughout Canada and it's nice to see this one in such good condition. Surprisingly with no 10 foot high fence around it the loco still has the bell and it's builder's plate. That wouldn't be the case if she was displayed in a more populated area.
I gassed up the Suzuki and headed south on Hwy129 enjoying the warmth from the vest. The sun continued to elude me and it felt like if precipitation was to start it could be snow. It wasn't really cold enough for that but I suppose after six weeks of very hot and humid weather I was feeling the change. Not too far along and I stopped for the obligatory photo of the bike by the watershed sign. The small print explains that this point is the dividing line between the arctic and the Atlantic watersheds. (Rivers north of this line flow to the Arctic Ocean and south of here they are making their way to the Atlantic.)



DR650 riders might note from this picture that I'm running a Spitfire windshield. Again it is thanks to the previous owner and I put it on for this trip thinking it would cut the wind off my chest and make the miles less fatiguing. Well it does reduce the wind on my torso and there is little to no helmet buffeting but noise? Wow does it set up a horrendous amount of wind noise. Riding along I was trying to figure it out by placing my left hand at various points just above the screen and too each side. It didn't seem to make any difference what I did. Even with ear plugs I couldn't hear myself think and I wished I'd left it at home. I'd easily trade the extra push on the chest for the reduction in howl around my helmet.
Not long after getting back on the highway I had a black bear cross in front of me. Not close enough to require any action on my part other than to wish I had the camera at the ready. I ventured off 129 a couple of times for short breaks but for the most part I just put the miles behind me until I reached Ranger Lake Rd again. From here it's 100 kilometers to Hwy17 and the town of Thessalon. And from here the road is all new to me. And this 100 k is the good part of the hwy129 riding experience. High rock faces on one side, the river on the other, and rapid changes in elevation. What more could you ask for in a "bike" road? How about lack of traffic; yep! Almost none. How about decent pavement? Yes again!
I snapped a few photos as I rode hoping to capture some of the fun but alas; again the pic's just don't do the road justice. Of course the best parts didn't allow me the opportunity to go one handed and point and shoot the camera. Someday I'll invest in some sort of fancy bike mounted rig but then I'd feel the need to ride in more interesting places...



I made the left turn onto Hwy554 a little north of Wharncliff rather than revisit Thessalon, thus avoiding a little more of the Trans Canada Highway, (17). 554 opens up the bush and presents some farm country to enjoy. And at last I felt a touch of warmth from the sky and unplugged my vest. This road joins 546 as it meanders down from the top of the Deer Trail which ends at Hwy17 and the town of Iron Bridge. I had kept a half of my assorted sub from Sunday's lunch, (I'm not a big eater when I'm on the road through the day) and I decided to stop for a bite at a rest area on the Mississagi River just west of Blind River.



And that's where the photos for this ride end. After fighting off the seagulls for a seat at a picnic table I polished off the sub, snapped the above pic and headed home. I grabbed a few more "off highway" back roads to complete the trip but as they are pretty routine routes for me I neglected to take any photos. For any of you wanting to leave the TCH for spell when making your way from Sudbury to Sault Ste Marie (or vice versa) you can run north of the highway from Spanish to Walford, and jog south of the highway from Walford to Massey. From Massey you can find a route on either side of Hwy17 that will deliver you to the bustling metropolis of Webbwood and onto Espanola, which of course is the gateway to the famous Manitoulin Island.
I fueled up in Massey with 318 kilometers on the tankful I purchased in Chapleau; and still not on reserve. I like the 18 liter capacity of the IMS! In fact I can't say enough times how much I love this motorcycle. The complete Chapleau and back mini tour came in at just under 900 k (about 550 miles).
Adventure is something different for each of us. For some of you it means Alaska or Siberia. For others it means doing the incredible on less than a quarter liter of displacement. Some can find adventure in riding to the coffee shop in the next town. I think for most ADV Rider inmates our time is spent somewhere in between. I know I fall into that category. If time and finances ever permit I'll be off on a real adventure but for now a day here and there like this past couple will have to do.
Oh yeah; and what did I do for the rest of my week off? You may have noticed back in the very first photo of this report I have a 1975 Dodge camper van in the driveway. Mrs. Relic, our dog Guzzi and I took off and spent some time in Pancake Bay Provincial Park on Lake Superior via the old green monster. Eleven miles to the gallon, inoperative wipers, a steering box that to say the least is "a little slow to answer the helm"... Now that's adventure!

Relic
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1976 Yamaha DT400C;1960 Panther M120
1970 Yamaha 100 L5TA Trailmaster
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:52 PM   #3
Nanabijou
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Hey Relic,

Thanks for the great trip report!!! Appreciated the humour too. I feel your pain regarding the long kick stand. Like you, I am constantly looking for uneven pavement to park my WR250R. And thanks for the steamer photo. It's worth heading into Chapleau for that alone. And how do I get an opportunity to ride in a track motor car? That is awesome that you've done that!

Sounds like you are loving the DR650. That's what it's all about. What kind of fuel economy were you getting on the trip?

Mike
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:59 PM   #4
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Nice to see a report from close to home! I've been working on a route from Mattawa to Sudbury area on back roads and ATV trails. Now I just have to ride it! Would be nice to have a few days with camping gear to enjoy the details.

JB
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:46 PM   #5
FINNDIAN
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Looks like you had a great ride. Glad your enjoying the Dr

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Old 08-29-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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Nice ride report relic.
It's great to see the backroads in parts I've never been. The 129 looks to be a great M/C road.
Glad your enjoying the DR.
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:51 PM   #7
guzzirelic OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanabijou View Post
Hey Relic,

Thanks for the great trip report!!! Appreciated the humour too. I feel your pain regarding the long kick stand. Like you, I am constantly looking for uneven pavement to park my WR250R. And thanks for the steamer photo. It's worth heading into Chapleau for that alone. And how do I get an opportunity to ride in a track motor car? That is awesome that you've done that!

Sounds like you are loving the DR650. That's what it's all about. What kind of fuel economy were you getting on the trip?

Mike
Hey Mike, thanks for chiming in. The DR has been pretty consistently offering up low to mid 50's per gallon to which I can't complain. What's that in metric? Hhhhhhmmm... I guess somewhere around 5 liters per hundred kilometers?
And in U.S. gallons? High 40's???
AAARRRRGGGHHH! Too much Math! My brain hurts!
Relic
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:00 PM   #8
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thanks for posting. Loaded dualsport bikes are a balancing act on the kickstand. If you shorten it, weld a nice foot on the bottom too if you havent done it already. Carry a stick also, and when the bike unloads off the suspension, onto the kickstand, put the stick on the other side like another kickstand to stabalize it....works pretty good.Keeps it from leaning back and falling down.

sometimes the adventure you look for is right in your back yard....
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 1Down-5Up View Post
Nice to see a report from close to home! I've been working on a route from Mattawa to Sudbury area on back roads and ATV trails. Now I just have to ride it! Would be nice to have a few days with camping gear to enjoy the details.

JB
thanks JB. I don't get east of Subury too often but I've been looking at the south side of NIpissing, (Port Loring etc) and loop back across the north of the lake. If you sort out some good roads/trails please share them with us. Could make for a nice fall colors day trip.

Relic
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1976 Yamaha DT400C;1960 Panther M120
1970 Yamaha 100 L5TA Trailmaster
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
FINNDIAN;19476112]Looks like you had a great ride. Glad your enjoying the Dr

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[/QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2whlrider View Post
Nice ride report relic.
It's great to see the backroads in parts I've never been. The 129 looks to be a great M/C road.
Glad your enjoying the DR.
re enjoying the DR---the gas is going stale in my vintage bike tanks this season...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hektoglider View Post
thanks for posting. Loaded dualsport bikes are a balancing act on the kickstand. If you shorten it, weld a nice foot on the bottom too if you havent done it already. Carry a stick also, and when the bike unloads off the suspension, onto the kickstand, put the stick on the other side like another kickstand to stabalize it....works pretty good.Keeps it from leaning back and falling down.

sometimes the adventure you look for is right in your back yard....
Since returning I've cranked up the preload on the rear spring and lowered the fork tubes in the trees raising the bike about an inch all around. Made a big difference for the sidestand issue and I'm still comfortable in the saddle.

Relic
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1974 MotoGuzzi Eldorado/sidecar outfit
1976 Yamaha DT400C;1960 Panther M120
1970 Yamaha 100 L5TA Trailmaster
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:11 PM   #11
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You should have given me a call when planning to overnight in Chapleau. The train noises at my house are not very loud.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:27 AM   #12
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Awesome

I saw your recent post in the DR BIG section of which I used to be a full fledged member and since I was born and raised in Espanola, I did some research and found this (among other) threads of the area.

I just have to say that even this small ride is a great adventure!

I unfortunatly hadn't been bitten by the adventure bug until after I relocated to Alberta and have always wished that when I am back visiting that I was on a dualsport! Does a ratty old F150 count? Ya I didn't think so.

It sure is nice to see quite a few members that are enjoying the serene and beautiful places that are sometimes right in our back yard.

Epic Report!!


Barry
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:32 AM   #13
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Chapleau Roads

Ken,
Great trip report, Just found it - loved it!

Nick
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