James Bay 2009

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Laros, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    Summer Solstice in the Quebec Far North.
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  2. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    The first picture was taken at 10 pm, not 10 am, without a flash, and no, I did not adjust the watch just for the picture. This was a main reason for going on June 21st - to experience the longest day of the year in the Quebec Far North. The longest day of the year is REALLY long up here. It was not dark until just before midnight when the sun set over the bay, and came up behind us again only a few hours later.

    Back to the beginning of the story. I had read a few ride reports about guys heading up to James Bay - the scenery is awesome, the road is paved most of the way, there is very little traffic, and you can get to what is essentially the Arctic Ocean. The water is salt water and bloody cold.


    I had met Dyno on one other organised ride last fall. We knew our bikes and riding styles were compatable, and we were both posting on the local Toronto ADV site. This was on Thursday - Friday night Dyno was at my house in Aurora, ON and we left on Saturday morning. Not a lot of preparation time or time to second guess the `Sudden Summer Solstice Tour`as Dyno dubbed it.

    Saturday morning the rain was coming down in buckets.


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    Our bikes were the right ones for a high speed blast up the James Bay Highway.:evil

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  3. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    The ride North for the first 3 hours was in pouring rain. No pictures - Dyno said we would ride out of it, and we did. By the time we hit North Bay there was nothing but blue skies for the rest of the trip.


    The route would be pretty much straight north and a little east from Aurora, ON to Chisisabi, QUebec. It is 1,650 km each way, to be done in 4 days.

    We did come across some loose gravel, and a lady standing in the middle of the road flagging us down. Seems she lost control and ended up in the ditch.



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    My French is very poor, and her English was even worse, so we were having trouble communicating, when along came another family that could speak French. She dropped us like yesterdays news and hopped in the car with the French speaking family. Oh well, c ├Ęst le vie.




    The first night was spent in a campground in Matagami, Quebec, about 9 hours and 900 km so far. Already it was noticably lighter at night. THis picture was taken at approx 10 pm.
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    The James Bay Highway starts here. It is about 700 km to Radisson, Quebec, and there is NOTHING in between. You have to register at the beginning of the highway and tell them when you are coming back. Not sure what they will do if you don`t come back.

    The highway was built for the construction of the large hydro dams farther north. It is a big, beautiful, well maintained road through the wilderness that sees very little use now. There is a posted speed limit of 100 km, but it is not enforced, and NO one drives or rides at that speed. Besides, we saw almost no one on the Sunday driving up to Radisson.


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  4. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    :lurk
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  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    It looks like some of your photo links aren't appearing.. looking forward to the rest of the trip.. and all your pics :thumb

    :lurk
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  6. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    Sweet! I really want to go there.
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  7. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    The James Bay Highway is a biker's dream!



    It is about 400 km to the only gas station - you really need to carry extra gas. When we did fill up at the mid way point, we calculated that, with the extra 3.5 litres we put in my bike, I could have made it with my 25 litre tank. Dyno would not have made it with his 22 litre tank. We also discovered that at "normal" driving speeds, the V-Strrom 1000 and the BMW 1100 got very similar mileage. At high speeds, the BMW got much better mileage than the V Strom.

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  8. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    It's a long lonely highway



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    The obligatory ADV salute!

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  9. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    There were information boards along the highway, and I felt guilty for blowing past them and thought we should stop and get a little educated about the highway, the surroundings, etc.


    But the signs were all in French and Cree. We could not read either, so we didn't stop for anymore information boards. Dyno, being from the States and all, said the signs should be in ENGLISH!!

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  10. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    The scenery is changing - the trees are getting thinner as we get farther north
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  11. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    Now this kind of scenery for hours on end would likely be boring in a car.
    On a bike this was a BLAST! The road just kept going, nice long sweeping turns. No worry about cars backing on the road, or people walking.
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  12. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    What?!! No Tim Horton's drive through?

    We made coffee on the side of the road with Dyno's Jetboil - awesome coffee and beautiful surroundings to enjoy it!
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  13. CrashBar

    CrashBar Just Wanna Ride

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    We were up there from Boston 2 weeks back. Great weather. We went out out to Chisasibi, and then down about 12 miles of washboard gravel road, and you can get right to where the locals keep their boats and stick your toe in James Bay. Made the 60 miles across 1005 out of Matagami seem like a walk in the park.

    We came back down on Sunday 6/15, may have passed you going up...

    Attached Files:

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  14. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    Next stop was the Rupert River. Amazing, wild, raging river.


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    This river will be damed this fall and diverted to make more hydro. We talked with some guys headed up river for a fishing trip. They were from Amos, Quebec, about 6 hours south of here. They have been coming every year for the last 13 years, - several dads and their adult sons. I commented that they must be sad to see this river being diverted and losing their traditiaonl fishing spot. They were much more pragmatic - they said that only 60% of the water will be diverted so it would still look similar for the tourists, and they could find another fishing spot. They felt the hydro generation was more important. You really get the sense that many people and businesses rely on the revenue generated by the hydro. This gentleman indicated that the water would actually fall through 3 different generating plants on its way to James Bay, so they were making very good use of this resource.
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  15. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    Bridge over the Rupert River.



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    Someone had painted on the railing of the bridge; "We don't own the land, we are just borrowing it from our children'. This, to me, was a protest against diverting the river. A project of this magnitude is going to cause lots of debate.


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  16. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    A forest fire, not too far away. No one seemed to be trying to put it out.

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    This was near the midway point where we could get gas and lunch. We asked about the fire there, and the gas attendant just shrugged. I guess losing a few hundred acres of scrub brush does not matter up here - there is just sooooo much of it!.



    Another river along the way. You could tell it had been diverted in the past, because the banks looked like they used to handle a lot more water.

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  17. verboten1

    verboten1 nein

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    beautiful, you are showing me what to expect next month when i head up there!:freaky
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  18. barnyard

    barnyard Verbal tactician Super Moderator

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    Awesome ride report. It seems like this type of ride is so doable for many of us in the Midwest, but seems like it is rare, compared to riding to Alaska.

    Tom B
    #18
  19. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    the highway ends in Radisson, where we filled up with gas and checked the local campground. It was nice, but we wanted to move onto the actual bay. The road from Radisson to Chisisabi is paved, and in good condition, but this is where we had the most worry about safety. It seems the Indians from the reserve at Chisisabi go into Radisson for supplies, and some of them drive like absolute maniacs. I almost met my Maker on that road. A van came barreling toward us, crossed the centre line through a curve and was coming right at me. I moved as far to the side as I could, but did not want to go on the gravel shoulder because I had some speed and would have likely spilled. The driver of the van realized she was across the line, and jerked the wheel back - almost rolling the van. She went too far back and hit the gravel on her side, spewing gravel at Dyno. We both had a slightly elevated heart rate after that.

    The road between Chisisabi and the Bay is gravel and rough: Biggest bump I have seen on a road:
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  20. Laros

    Laros Been here awhile

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    WE MADE IT!!!



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    We met a "First Nation" family here. We were a little apprehensive, as they were having a fire and picnic at the shelter we were planning to sleep at. We saW them eyeing us over as Dyno and I stopped to figure out what to do next. We had driven a long way to get here, and did not have a back up plan if we could not sleep here. The oldest of the group waved us over. What now? Were we disturbing some private land and about to be told to get lost?

    Quite the opposite. They invited us to set up our tents, relax, and come and join them for some tea. Nicest people in the world!

    I am in the house building business in Ontario. One of the men there said, "ya? Me too". I knew they were from the reserve at Chisisabi, so I was skeptical. Turns out they build about 10 new houses per year in the Community. This guy was a building techician, doing building permit drawings, getting the building permits, etc. Blew me away! I assumed, stupidly, that the Indians could do what ever they wanted on their reserve. No, they have the same regulations and beauracracy we have to deal with here. All of sudden there was not much of a gap between us - I always felt very far removed from the First Nations people - now I feel much more connected.
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