James Bay Road & North Road Solo Blitz, September 2010

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rdwalker, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Georgia Coast!

    Tis a good RR fvor sure... looks like quite a few of us road the JBH this year! :evil

    Pat in NH
    #21
  2. OldSilverFox

    OldSilverFox Let's Go!

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
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    Southern Ontario CAN
    Maybe we should have a JBH reunion ???
    #22
  3. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    The Badlands (of NJ)
    Thanks, guys. Finale is coming soon.

    Hmmmm...
    #23
  4. chilango

    chilango super-user

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    NYC
    I did the exact route last year, but clockwise... We even stayed at the same place in Chibougamau.
    For La Grande 2, you can take a guided tour, which we did - 16 generators in line are a sight!
    We camped on your first Roupert river crossing, on the North road. Just before the bridge, there is a turn to the left, and we had a rustic site, with wood, and all that was super memorable. Shooting stars, and some small Northern Lights.
    Another fun thing we did was to take the small ferry over to Fort George. Some Cree still live there in the summer for some of their festivals, only to go back to their houses when winter comes.
    Very nice area which I am planning to visit again next year, there is something about the trans-taiga that I can not take my mind away from...
    Nice report!
    #24
  5. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Yes, I was really hoping for the northern lights. Next season, then... And Trans-Taiga... sounds so inviting...
    #25
  6. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Last installment.

    September 20: Matagami to Northern NJ - 873 miles.

    Morning in Matagami. The bike is relieved of at least some weight: the gas cans are not needed any more. Next fuel is 180km south, in Amos - and from then on, in normal, civilized intervals.

    As I was unloading at Hotel Matagami (visible behind the pumps) the night before, I left the cans in front of an empty parking space. I went upstairs to write a note that the cans are "Free To Take" - but they were gone by the time I came back down. That was fast. Needless to say, I felt better when the receptionist let me roll the bike almost up to the office window, for more security.

    [​IMG]

    Along the road from Matagami to Amos, the change of scenery was quite perceptible. The stark, lonely, forested landscape was slowly giving way to rolling hills and an occasional farm.

    [​IMG]

    Along some southern sections of James Bay Road - and even more now, below Matagami - I observed a curious scene: it looked as if the land with fallen or harvested trees was plowed under. As if I was a Lilliputian in Gulliver's land and a humongous plow of the giants went through, breaking and plowing tree trunks like some grass stalks. Weird.

    [​IMG]

    I pulled over to take the above picture and almost dropped the bike right there. By then, I was used to the well-graded and firm shoulders of JBR and did not realize that this was a soft gravel trap. Luckily, I almost finished my braking while still on tarmac - the instant I rolled off pavement, the front wheel dug in. My boots sunk as well, as I fought to regain balance. Wow, that was close.

    I am guessing that such shoulder, in the same area, got the better of RockyNH earlier this season and caused his crash.
    It certainly did surprise me.

    [​IMG]

    Rolling into Amos. A feeling of re-entering civilization. Complete with an incongruously oversized basilica in the middle of town.

    The main street featured a few cafés - finally, the first decent cappuccino of the trip!

    [​IMG]

    I was definitely returning to civilization. About an hour south of Amos, I drove into a very busy town of Val-d'Or (Golden Valley). It is a big industrial center, with several mines operating in direct vicinity.

    I parked in the main street to have a look around. While I was getting ready, a car pulled into the spot behind me. The woman driving it was extra cautious maneuvering around my bike, so I smiled at her in appreciation. Once she got out, the usual conversation ensued: where from, where to.

    It must have taken a while for my story to sink in, while she stood in line at Tim Horton's across the street. Returning, coffee in hand, she walked up again and said in her broken English that she must have misunderstood what I told her. Where from? Chisasibi? We talked a bit more.

    As she was driving away, she rolled down her window and exclaimed: "I would like to go with you!" Then, pointed at the camping gear strapped to the bike's passenger seat: "But there is no room!"

    Wow. Wow! One of these once-in-a-lifetime chances, when an unknown, attractive female spontaneously volunteers to get onto the pillion seat and join you on an adventure! And it could not be done... I smiled back, nodded and replied: "Next time!"

    [​IMG]

    In a great mood from this cute encounter in Val-d'Or, I continued south on Autoroute Transcanadienne.

    It is my experience that Quebecois are very European in that respect: they do love motorcycles. Surprisingly many of them do ride and even the general public is very friendly. Apparently, there are not too many loud-pipe pirates around to piss them off.


    After about three hours of riding through picturesque forests and water reservoirs, I came to a decision point. Should I continue southeast and return home via Montreal - where I visit quite often, most recently only a few weeks ago? Or, should I turn right, southwest, and go through Ottawa, which I did not visit in last two years?

    Ottawa won - it's only a slightly longer route. Besides, what the heck is Montcerf anyway? I could not find it on my map.

    [​IMG]

    Well, Montcerf was a tiny settlement on a great side road. Enjoyable ride. It was interesting to be entering the Anglophone area of Quebec. Signs were bilingual and, suddenly, I noticed a Canadian flag in front of a house. Only then I realized that in the past few days I have seen plenty of flags along the road - but these were always provincial white-on-blue fleurs-de-lis, not the federal maple leaf. Not even on the Hydro-Quebec office building in Radisson.

    Route 105 into Ottawa was still picturesque, but now getting busy. I rode into Canada's capital by sundown.

    As usual, Byward Market area offered a choice of places to eat (and drink... not this time, though). After a pleasant seafood dinner, I walked into Timothy's, just behind my parking spot, and over a big bowl of café-au-lait contemplated my choices.

    [​IMG]

    There was no point in staying in Ottawa for the night anymore - I decided to press on, at least to Watertown, NY.
    When I arrived there about midnight, I still felt good on the bike and the soulless collection of chain hotels and shopping strips did not make a great impression. Well, how about Syracuse, then?

    Nearing Syracuse, I was effectively committed to continuing home overnight. I elected to ride on the NY State Thruway via Albany - instead of the 50-mile shorter route through Scranton - to have the rest stops with coffee and fuel available at all hours.

    "Press on" was indeed the theme of this trip. Bike ran well and I did not feel uncomfortable. However, I started getting sleepy and wound up stopping at every second Thruway rest stop to stretch out and to doze off momentarily.

    I reached my house in the morning and went straight to sleep. In the afternoon, as I unpacked the bike, I proudly read the trip meter: 873 miles, directly from Matagami in a day.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, it was total insanity - but, just like the whole James Bay trip, gave me a great feeling of accomplishment.

    A great ride!
    #26
  7. bumper1871

    bumper1871 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    375
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    Montreal Qc
    Nice pictures and great ride report. :clap
    #27
  8. OldSilverFox

    OldSilverFox Let's Go!

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    470
    Location:
    Southern Ontario CAN
    Glad to see you made it home safely. 800 plus miles in a day is a long ride by any means of travel. I have enjoyed you report. Thanks.
    #28
  9. bradatlarge

    bradatlarge Insha'Allah

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    12,608
    Location:
    Chicago
    Summer of 2008, similar perspective....

    [​IMG]

    and from the "observation point" along the James Bay Road, again July 2008

    [​IMG]
    #29
  10. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Big difference and even when I was passed through last year I'd heard some diversion was occuring at that time. Circa 09/2009:

    [​IMG]

    Kinda sad to see progress sometimes:
    [​IMG]

    raging boiling mess of water!
    #30
  11. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Wow, bradatlarge and Throttlemeister - great comparison shots. The rapids really are diminished.

    I do not recall the exact numbers, but remember reading that the flow of Rupert is reduced to about 50% of original.

    That's actually an impressive project: a big section of Rupert's basin is "fenced off' by dams and the waters are re-routed through a tunnel to another river's basin - all in the middle of the sub-Arctic.

    Indeed, no such thing as free electricity.
    #31
  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    4,100
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    This one was a lot worse in Labrador at Churchill Falls:
    [​IMG]

    And the aftermath:
    [​IMG]

    The Rupert could have been worse I suppose:cry
    #32
  13. cleanair

    cleanair Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    204
    Location:
    just past resume speed
    great rr & pics
    have seen a lot of it from a cage
    #33
  14. stromsurfer

    stromsurfer Stromsurfer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
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    Maine
    Great report. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I did the TLH Newfoundland, NB, and NS this summer solo and am eagarly reading and researching the James Bay road for my next summers adventure.

    Ride safe
    #34
  15. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Stromsurfer: my feeling is that the James Bay Road is not as much of an adventure as the Trans-Lab. However, once you have done it, you will have covered yet another exciting section of the Far North and you will feel quite proud of yourself. I did feel proud, for sure.

    In other words: on the Trans-Lab, you had to cover 1000km of gravel (assuming you did that before the new Cartwright - Goose Bay connection) and the whole trip took you at the very least some 10-12 days. North Road offers 400km of gravel and the whole JBR-NR trip can be done in as little as a week (if you rush it as much as I did).

    James Bay Road requires less effort than Trans-Labrador Highway. Still: it was a great adventure! I very much enjoyed it!
    #35
  16. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
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    Location:
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    Saw a TV show the other day and it briefly showed two new projected dams and had the roads lined on a map. One was about 500 km north of Raddisson and the other was north east of Radisson and looked Trans Taiga long (maybe longer). As long as hydro is in demand we will keep getting nice long gravel remote northern roads :super

    Great rr, wow that was a long day you put in :pynd
    #36
  17. rinho

    rinho Rinho Féroce

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    Jul 19, 2009
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    Location:
    back in France but Soul still in North America
    There's the same sign with the same channel on the other side of the narrow curve area
    So, each truck driver in this area announce themself and listen this channel and then know if another truck is comming to be able to stop or slow down if necessary
    #37
  18. OUtback UFO

    OUtback UFO GLOW IN DARK SPACEINVADER

    Joined:
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    NOT HERE

    That is such a pitty... the rappids were amazing prior to the diversion. taken in 2008... the roar of the rapids was near deafing in 2008... almost made you queezy to look at it from that viewing platform on the edge of the cliff that dropped into the river.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #38
  19. Hello all:
    I've been here before but was banned for having a mind of my own.

    Marrakesh Red

    I'm taking a trip to the Quebec Hydro stations in August.
    TRANS-TAIGA ROAD Camping along the way.

    Anyone interested?
    #39
  20. Dudley

    Dudley Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Chaska, Minnesota, Palm Desert, California
    I'm heading out on 8/29 from MPLS headed for James Bay then on to the Trans Lab.
    Dudley
    #40