The 2012 Canadian North East Late Summer Loppet

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by stfmkr, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. stfmkr

    stfmkr 2up Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario
    CeaCea and I spoke last night about what happened to us in Red Bay at the end of the gravel road. It was interesting as always and it stirred something yet again that we’d felt that night and hadn’t really spoke of since. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to decipher what actually takes place on a long ride.

    It’s been several weeks now but the feeling is still there and we’ve realized that we’ve left a bit of ourselves on that road, a piece of something in us that we can connect back to and something that will bring each of us into an immediate calmness and sense of well being. These are the things I believe that adventure riders search for along these remote routes we ride and yet they are obviously manufactured from within us.

    At that point on that night in the Basque whaling house where we stayed it didn’t matter anymore that we still had well over 4000 km and another few weeks to go in the trip. It didn’t matter that we would see and experience amazing things and places here in the country we live in. We had our nourishment and the rest would be dessert.

    What did matter was that we had done something special together and we knew it, we felt it and it was tangible. Electro-magnetically speaking we were sitting within each other’s personal space for days on end and sharing everything together from our own individual perspectives which are VERY different. We would go for hours without speaking yet we could hear each other’s reactions to the skies, the land, the road and the bike as clear as if we had paid the money for the communication head sets, which of course we didn’t.

    It is very difficult to explain but I hope you can get a sense of what it was like for us, it was magic and yet there was so much more to come. We were truly meeting the future head on.




    [​IMG]
    Manicouagan magic


    [​IMG]
    Red Bay reverence
    #21
  2. ceacea

    ceacea m2xtra n00b :))

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Muskoka Ontario
    I have no words to describe the magic that came with that trip, to me it was close to a spiritual experience. All I can say is that I am grateful for the gravel road, and I do feel a pinch in my heart when I read how fast they are paving it. I know pavement is handy and safer, etc... the gravel however has to be earned, it needs preparation, and thinking and awareness and attention and that make the whole experience deeper and richer. In the same manner I am still grateful that we did not get the headsets, because I am convinced that it would have prevented a much deeper and subtle connection between us and THAT is priceless.
    #22
  3. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    203
    Location:
    S. Ontario
    Thanks for the detailed route description, it's a great help. So here you are, up in Lab., end of Sept. You've gotta be keepin an eye on the weather, since early Oct. snow is not uncommon.
    #23
  4. stfmkr

    stfmkr 2up Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario
    We left Red Bay and rode out eastward along the southern edge of Labrador. The road was paved and it would be for the rest of the trip. After a few minutes of twisty riding we came up to some construction and it conspicuously looked like they were detouring around a nice curvy road through a valley with a very straight looking slab up and over a small mountain. The detour wasn’t open yet but it soon will be, definitely before the snow comes as it was nearly complete. Once the road crew let us pass we entered the Pinware River Valley, wow, beautiful road! The road meandered high up along the river bank and there was a long drop down to the river to the right. I must admit I got excited with the newfound traction and seductive curves. I ran wide in a very sharp corner into the oncoming lane, fully loaded and of course 2 up. I hadn’t done that in years and it scared me a bit, CeaCea was not pleased. I had forgotten about all that weight because the transition from gravel to pavement was so dramatic and the bike was handling great, at least up until then, I had found the bike’s limits. I toned it down a bit and we had a nice ride along the river and along the coastal road. The scenery along the southern edge of Labrador is wonderful, barren hillsides with small windblown trees clinging on for dear life in the strong winds of the Straight of Bell Isle overlooking small picturesque towns.

    We stopped for a break and met 2 guys from Montreal on large Hondas that told us about their adventure in Newfoundland and the TransLab. They told us that they were not able to get on the ferry at Port-aux-Basques and that they rode all the way back and were going to go through the TransLab again. We shared some stories and they graciously supplied some cookies to munch on as we talked. There was some concern that the older gent’s tire was completely bald on his Silverwing but he was ok about it, he had many miles of long distance riding under his belt and I had no doubt that he would arrive safely home with the fuzz of the inner tire cord showing. The younger fellow was certainly game for the challenge with his older Honda CB1000 Custom and he only had his bike license for one month. I won’t forget these guys. If you want to see a picture of the bikes check out Hellcat650’s RR as they would meet them the next day.

    We had no reservation for any ferries (or hotels for that matter) and the two Montrealers made me a bit nervous about getting a spot on the boat. CeaCea believed it would be no problem and she’s usually right about these things. We arrived at the terminal in Blanc Sablon, checked in and were 3rd in line to wait for an unreserved spot which we received after waiting in line for about 45 minutes, not so bad. The ferry was pretty cheap too, $17.50

    We got into the ferry and tied the bike down. I had brought straps and was happy about being able to use them for this instead of for tire changes or tow ropes which would be their other purposes if need be.

    We saw the Big Land drift away and wondered what was in store for us on The Rock, one thing for sure is that the rest of the provinces need cool names like these places. The ferry ride was short at about one hour and a bit. We were last on and last off, the exhaust fumes were unbearable while we were waiting to disembark at the terminal in St Barbe. Rolling off the ferry we met a group of riders heading out to “do the Translab”. It was yet another inmate named Stretch. We had good chat and we warned them of the bad spots on the road, wished them well and rode onwards.

    Hungry and a bit tired we stopped for a small rest and a snack whilst we fueled up at the first gas stop and tried to look for a map which of course they didn’t have. We decided to head south instead of checking out the Viking route and there was some weather approaching, the wind was starting to gather some steam and we like to stay away from the rain whenever possible.

    We rode sideways down the coastal road leaned right over because of the strong wind, this is a very windy place as evidenced by the gnarly trees everywhere. It was like one really long right hand corner except we were going straight for a couple of hours. Newfoundland has a very different “feel” to it than Labrador and it was somewhat harsher and more choppy by nature. Windy places always seem to have a different atmosphere that is more rugged. It’s the first thing CeaCea picked up on and she loved it here because it reminded her of home which is a similarly windy place by the sea albeit a lot warmer.

    We didn’t ride too far and got a room at a roadside inn with a restaurant and a bar. We unpacked, had a good seafood meal and found the bar. We had some whiskey which was more akin to paint thinner than anything else but was ok once we got over the initial fumes. It was time for us to decompress a little.

    We took our time the next day and had a great time riding the coastal road and heading into the wild looking beauty of Gros Morne, absolutely outstanding! The road through this national park is built like a racetrack so unfortunately there are no pictures, we just had fun instead. I almost turned around to do it again but we were getting hungry so we pulled in to Rocky Harbour and ate at the Family Restaurant. It’s right across the street from the water, great food and a great view of the Harbour. We ordered fish and chips and monster onion rings with Iceberg beer and it was very good. We also decided it would be our last fried food as we aren’t used to it and it wasn’t doing us any good, but it was very yummy nonetheless.

    We looked around a bit and found a carwash and finally got to rinse off the bike. The super fine dust of the TransLab had gotten into everything and was good to get rid of. We left a considerable amount of grit on the wash bay floor, very deceiving because the bike didn’t really look that bad. The suspension and brakes and all the moving parts sounded and felt better as we were on our way again.

    Riding inland along the Trans Canada highway the road to Deer Lake was scenic enough but nothing like where we had come from. We explored the town, did some shopping and found a room at the Deer Lake Motel. We were able to do some much needed laundry that night and had a light supper in the room using up the last of our food on the bike.

    During the morning bike packing ritual we met another inmate, Sideways17 who had come from Vancouver in a very short period of time on his R1200R, most of the way on the back wheel by the looks of it. After speaking with him I had this picture of the road behind him still in flames because he passed by so quickly. We were to meet again on the ferry as we had to get to St Johns the next day and he would run around the small coastline roads.

    Continuing along the Trans Canada to St Johns we and had an uneventful ride along the super slab. I really wish the road planners in the rest of the provinces would take some notes from these guys. It’s basically a 3 lane road and the 3rd lane is always switching back and forth to each side to allow for passing,..smart! Mind you the folks who travel these roads go so slow that a passing lane is mandatory. I have driven all over North America and Europe and have never seen slower drivers than here. That would change however...Nova Scotia would be much slower in the days to come.

    I’m not sure if it’s just me but I found Newfoundland surprisingly unpopulated. There are many beautiful small coastal fishing villages and a few bigger places like Deer Lake and Gander. I would have thought that the sheer beauty and the resource rich economy would attract more development but it seems to be only concentrated in St Johns.

    Earlier it was decided that we would do some more camping on the trip and we found out that in the city of St Johns there was a campground famous for having world travelers from all over. It was called Pippy Park and we got a spot on the tent field. It was a grassy open area which had a fair incline to it but it was ok for the price we paid. A flat private spot was quite a bit more. We undressed the bike and set up camp and then took a spin around town to do some shopping for supplies. I had forgotten how nimble the bike was without all the luggage.

    Our new neighbors were an old school couple that were living on their Harley for 3 months already, pretty cool. They showed us their mega route on some maps and they had been everywhere all across Canada taking the time to see everything. Very impressive because the bike was a Softail and they were riding 2 up. Now if you don’t know, there is nothing soft about a Softail except the damping which is non existent and because of the many modifications over the years there was no ground clearance either. It just goes to show you that it’s not about the machine, it’s about the ride, they were having the time of their lives too.

    The next morning the weather was pretty good and we were to see some friends later that day for dinner. Exploring the area we visited “The Toy Box”. It is the BMW Motorrad dealer in St Johns and the guys there were great. We had the rear fender repaired under warranty in a very quick fashion even though he didn’t have the parts in stock. The owner took the parts off his bike and put them on mine, I’m sure that wouldn’t happen at any of the Ontario dealerships. The guys were great and offered many tips about the road ahead, very much appreciated Sirs!

    Later in the day we ended up at Cape Spear, the easternmost point in the country and our only tourist stop of the trip. We didn’t walk down to the ocean or up to the lighthouse, what we did do was sleep on the edge of the cliff on the super soft mossy area near where we parked the bike.

    It started raining a bit so we headed back to the campsite to change out of our gear and put some regular clean clothes on, it was really weird. We were to be picked up in a car and CeaCea was having a bit of trouble with this as we’ve gotten so used to the bike. We had a good laugh about it and waited for our friends to arrive.

    We had a guided tour of St Johns and a very classy meal at Blue on Water. Great conversation, fantastic company and a good time. Our friends made us feel very welcome and later we stopped at a “Screeching In” bar that is famous for its impromptu live music,.. great fun. Back to the campsite and ready for the long ferry ride tomorrow.

    Today we woke to find it raining and we were again happy to be able to pack everything except the tent itself within the confines of the huge dry vestibule that the tent provides. I like this tent, it’s a bit heavy to carry on the top box at 13 lbs but it is worth it.

    We rode to Argentia to the ferry terminal without fuss and went through with no trouble. I had made a reservation by internet 2 days before when we were in Deer Lake just to be sure. We heard that there was definitely trouble getting on the boat even with a reservation so best to be safe, and glad we did. It took some stress away for our stay in St Johns.

    With the bike tied down in the bottom of the ship we had some dinner and settled in for the long ferry crossing to North Sydney, it’s about 14 hours. This was a very big ferry and the first time for me on such a big boat, very nice way to travel and very sophisticated with airplane style seating, a free movie theatre, shops, free internet and a restaurant and bar with live music, pretty cool. The weather was calm and it was smooth sailing for us. One day we’ll have to go back to Newfoundland with trail bikes, in the meantime, Cabot Trail here we come!





    [​IMG]
    Construction around the Pinware Vallley


    [​IMG]
    Labrador


    [​IMG]
    Labrador south coastal drive


    [​IMG]
    Good bye to The Big Land, sad to see it go.


    [​IMG]
    Ferry at Blanc Sablon, the Apollo


    [​IMG]
    Ferry crossing


    [​IMG]
    Coastal Drive, Newfoundland, very windy


    [​IMG]
    Gros Morne, an amazing place...to see it just go!


    [​IMG]
    Rocky Harbour lunch


    [​IMG]
    Family Restaurant in Rocky Harbour


    [​IMG]
    Clean bike again


    [​IMG]
    St Johns


    [​IMG]
    Cape Spear


    [​IMG]
    Megadieseltour! We get better mileage and can fit in smaller trails and have bigger smiles!


    [​IMG]
    Dormir en plein aire - Cape Spear


    [​IMG]
    Packing in the rain


    [​IMG]
    Good bye Pippy Park, nice camping in the city!


    [​IMG]
    Argentia NL to North Sydney NS ferry, The Atlantic Vision


    [​IMG]
    Myrtle snuggled in for the night crossing


    [​IMG]
    Good bye Newfoundland, we'll be back


    [​IMG]
    Calm seas at sunset and looking forward to tomorrow
    #24
  5. stfmkr

    stfmkr 2up Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario
    We arrived at the North Sydney ferry terminal at 5:30 am and we were rolling at 6 am towards the Highlands of Cape Breton. I slept very little on the ferry and CeaCea had no sleep at all, it’s not a very comfy ride without a bunk to sleep in and the airplane style seats just don’t do the job. We were both tired from the crossing and this was the earliest we’ve been able to get going on this trip, of course we were already packed. I had filled the bike yesterday in St Johns so we wouldn’t need to stop for fuel today. The ginormous 33 litre tank on the GSA was very much appreciated on this trip.

    It was a cold, clear and crisp ride onto Cape Breton and we had no idea what to expect today or know where we were going to sleep and that’s a wonderful feeling, to just have trust in the powers at be. We rode along and got onto the island and found a small church where we basked in the morning sun. CeaCea had a nap and I went for a walk and also had a rest.

    After an hour or so of basking in the bright morning sun we rode up the road a little further to find The Dancing Moose Cafe, absolutely marvelous! We had a great breakfast of pannekoeken; a proper dutch pancake with whatever you want cooked right in. We had ours with bacon and a couple of eggs on top. A proper coffee and real gouda cheese would end our meal...this stop really made the day. Our host Ton made us feel really welcome. If you are looking for it, it’s 42691 Cabot Trail, just about an hour from the ferry in Birch Plain which is just before the twisty highlands on the east side of the island.

    After the meal we were feeling much better and decided to head out to explore the Cabot Trail some more. We rode to Meat Cove which is off the Cabot Trail. Accessed by a short dirt road it’s the northernmost community on the island. We thought we might set up camp here but it was extremely windy and a camper had fallen to his death over the cliff just a few short nights ago. We stayed for a bit and met some other riders with whom we chatted for an hour or so just enjoying the sun and the surf. The view is spectacular and the photo does not do it justice at all. We also spoke with the woman who tends the food wagon there and she is a direct decendant of the original settlers. The cove’s name comes from the old sailing days when ships needed to reprovision for the long voyage home. Caribou, moose and deer were plentiful here and they hunted for the meat, hence the name.

    We rode back down to the Trail and continued towards Cheticamp where we ended up that night. The road on the west side was even more spectacular and we were flying through the corners pretty good. I noticed the bike sliding at the back end and I had to stop and check the rear tire to see if it was starting to come apart. There was no way that we were drifting with this much weight even though we were scraping the center stand around the corners. All the lugs on the rear tire had small tears around them and the tire was roasting hot, we had reached the tire's limits, time to slow up a little.

    The road straightens out coming down from the highlands and the scenery changes again to the small now familiar fishing villages with lobster traps patiently waiting for the season. We stayed at the Acadian Motel which was reasonably priced and very clean and quiet. We ate at the huge Acadian restaurant Le Gabriel and walked back to the motel with a full belly for a good night's sleep.

    The next morning we rode down the rest of the Cabot Trail which was very flat so we decided to hug the coastal road along the Ceilidh Trail instead. It turned out that it was a tunnel of trees along it’s full length with only a slight glimpse of the ocean a couple of times along the way. We did however find a distillery of some fame and stopped for a scotch tasting, very nice and worth the stop.

    Continuing along we enjoyed the ride to Halifax where we stopped at the Best Western on Chocolate Lake. We didn’t find any chocolate. It was going to be stormy the next day and we decided to stay for a couple of days as the weather system passed. We even had a chance to see a movie and do some walking around and it started to feel like a holiday rather than an expedition at this point, everything had changed now and we missed the gravel road back in Labrador. We spoke about heading back but we had made ourselves the promise of seeing the rest of the Atlantic Provinces and so the mindset would have to change, it’s now just a holiday.

    Leaving Halifax behind we rode along the coast of the Bay of Fundy and around the point of Cap D’Or. It was a very good coastal road and one of the best of the trip so far, lots of turns with elevation changes and no one in sight, we again had the road to ourselves. We stopped a few times along the way and made it a point to ride up the dirt road to Cap D’Or to the lookout and glad that we did. It was a powerfully magnificent experience, the wind was really whipping up on the towering cliff overlooking the pointed cape jutting out into the center of the bay.

    We continued along and enjoyed the ride so much that we lost track of time. Before we knew it it was already dark and we were in the middle of nowhere in farm country with no towns to look for lodging so we rode up to Moncton on the highway to find a place there for the night.

    The next morning we did the daily packing up the bike dance and by now we were getting pretty good at it. We went to the BMW dealer in Dieppe, looked around a little and bought some more oil for Myrtle, the bike is addicted to the stuff and she drinks a litre every 5000 km as the motor is still not bedded in. We sat on a few Ducatis and some big touring rigs and were very happy to have the GSA, it is still the most versatile machine I’ve ever seen.

    The ride up the coastline towards the Confederation Bridge was relaxed and there are many stops through the small seaside villages. We crossed the huge bridge onto PEI and when we got on the other side it was as if time slowed down, this was a sleepy place, maybe it’s all those potatoes, they are everywhere. We rode to the western tip of PEI and camped for two days at the provincial park there. While we had nice flat ground to set up on and red sand beaches nearby we also had the worst night weather wise on the trip. The wind was gusting to over 100 kph and driving rain. I had to move the bike to reposition it to break the wind for the tent. Thankfully the gear was up to the task and we stayed warm and dry. The next day the storm cleared and we were able to get a good rest and enjoyed our time on the island.

    The next day we had a good ride to Bathurst New Brunswick where we stayed overnight. The weather was really starting to cool off and it was very nice for riding. The province has many off road trails and the ATV and snowmobiles are more plentiful than cars. We found New Brunswick to be much like home scenery-wise especially in the northern half. It is very sparsely populated and the people we met were very nice. Everyone spoke french and english fluently which was great to see.

    We headed out the next morning looking forward to being home again so we made good time and arrived early in Quebec City where we were able to explore the city some more.

    The next day we said goodbye to to the city and made our way home and our last day on the road we re-entered the sweltering humid heat of Ontario, nothing had changed weather wise and the heatwave was still in full force. Upon our arrival we found our house sitter waiting for us with a cold one and he did an amazing job as the cats were still alive and the house was perfectly clean. Even the grass was freshly cut! Thanks Tom!

    Over the 21 days we travelled 8000 km through 6 provinces, 8 latitudes (parallels) and over 26 longitudes (meridians). We filled up with awe, imbued ourselves with wonder and most importantly experienced life on two wheels at speed.:clap

    [​IMG]
    Cape Breton Island


    [​IMG]
    Cabot Trail early morning ride


    [​IMG]
    Siesta, I wonder if John Cabot slept here too


    [​IMG]
    Dancing Moose Cafe


    [​IMG]
    The best breakfast of the trip


    [​IMG]
    Meat Cove, camping with a view!


    [​IMG]
    Checking the tires, very hot and sticky!


    [​IMG]
    Breathtaking road


    [​IMG]
    Small villages along the Trail


    [​IMG]
    Ceilidh Trail


    [​IMG]
    Glenora Distillery


    [​IMG]
    The best road bread available, this loaf has 5000 km on it so far:rofl


    [​IMG]
    pack much? dunno what we would do without these hotel buggies:eek1


    [​IMG]
    Motorcycles get the worst spots here


    [​IMG]
    Chocolate Lake Halifax at dusk


    [​IMG]
    Gravel road on the Bay of Fundy


    [​IMG]
    Bay Of Fundy at low tide


    [​IMG]
    Bay of Fundy at low tide


    [​IMG]
    Cap D'Or


    [​IMG]
    Cap D'Or


    [​IMG]
    Confederation Bridge to PEI


    [​IMG]
    Bridge from PEI side


    [​IMG]
    Red dirt roads everywhere on PEI


    [​IMG]
    more taters


    [​IMG]
    Camp windy


    [​IMG]
    West Point PEI


    [​IMG]
    Great beaches all to ourselves


    [​IMG]
    Leaf drawings in the sand


    [​IMG]
    Going to be cold tonight


    [​IMG]
    The mighty Miramichi River


    [​IMG]
    New Brunswick trail system


    [​IMG]
    nice


    [​IMG]
    South shore of the St Lawrence near Montreal
    #25
  6. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    203
    Location:
    S. Ontario
    Thanks for the great pics.!! I was able to spend 3 weeks hiking in Gros Morne with my family some years back. The next year we went to Ireland, the two are eerily similar.
    #26
  7. HellCat650

    HellCat650 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    85
    Location:
    Quispamsis, NB, CANADA
    Great ride report! It certainly brings back memories...

    We too were pretty emotional pulling into Red Bay.

    So, where are you guys heading next?

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

    Matt
    (Hellcat650)

    Ps. Love the tent.
    #27
  8. stfmkr

    stfmkr 2up Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario
    Hey, great to hear from you too and Happy new year! We're thinking Death Valley in February, we've got too much snow here :(
    #28
  9. tvbh40a

    tvbh40a PSUViking

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,453
    Location:
    Idaho home of the fiesta bowl champ BSU bronco's
    #29