The Making of a Cross Canada Route

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Deadly99, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Ever wished there was a route across Canada? A group of us from www.ADVCanada.com (soon to be www.GravelTravel.ca) have decided to do just that. Seems simple, or so we thought. I've started this thread to chronicle the making of a cross country route.

    I hope you enjoy reading about our "making of" story as it unfolds.
    Where to begin? Canada is huge.....9.9 million square kilometers! The population of Canada is only about 31 million and the bulk of that is spread across the southern strip of the country that borders the United States. What does that mean to us? There is a whole lot of wilderness up here and some damn fine riding. Given the scope of this project and the reason I suspect it hasn't already been done is that taking on a project like this is.... well a bit overwhelming. We've decided to take this project on in two phases. Phase one will be the Eastern half of the country. Our goal is to have this half completed by the fall of 2011 (yikes that less than a year and a half away). The other reason to start this thread is as a motivator. It will make it much more embarrassing and shameful to back out now that we've made it public knowledge :)

    The goal: To make a route across Canada that can be ridden by dual sport bikes that are loaded with gear.
    The route will primarily be gravel back roads. Some days will have sections of off roading and some will have sections of pavement. Wherever possible we are trying to have as little pavement as possible but it becomes unavoidable at times.

    We have chosen to do the bulk of the route as a road book. This decision wasn't an easy one to make. We all have gps's but we certainly wouldn't consider ourselves experts at using them. We spent a lot of time researching the different ways to make the route. Tracks or routes or roadbook? In the end we felt a road book will make it much more of a navagation challenge and really that's what we want. Following a green line on a screen seems to easy. Having maps and a roll chart just seems....well.....more "adventurous". We plan to have the eastern half of the route completed by next fall and it will be available as a free download from our site. We certainly aren't doing this to make money, but rather to share what we think Canada has to offer: good friendly people, tons of remote wilderness, long gravel roads, great off roading, an abundance of wildlife, a very diverse landscape, a safe place to travel and ..... good beer :)

    A few pictures to get us started.

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    #1
  2. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    The first section of the route to get made was Eastern Ontario.

    I met Juames on a pre arranged spot on the side of the highway.

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    Many many emails had gone back and forth between the two of us over the weeks leading up to today. A potential route was created that we intended to follow. This section of the route starts at the Quebec/Ontario border.

    After some gravel/paved roads we took this old rail bed

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    After a Tim Hortons break (the Canadian version of Starbucks, but better abd cheaper :evil ) in the town of Renfrew we made our way to the start of the K&P Trail. The K&P is an old rail bed that is open to motorbikes and is a fun double track run.

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    The trail passes several lakes and through a few small towns.

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    A couple of larger "puddles" during the spring season or after a heavy rain

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    A detour of off the K&P trail on some gravel roads bring the route to a fun hydro line (Triple Tower Hydro Line)

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    A couple of rocky sections

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    A few water crossings

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    Some nice vista's of the trail curling into the horizon :D

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    After finishing the hydro line the route takes some nice twisty back roads

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    A section or two that gets muddy during the wet season

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    Lot's of nice lakes along this section of the route. This one is at Granite Lake and would make a great spot to spend the night or have a swim on a hot day

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    Many miles of these types of roads


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    A great day where nothing went wrong and the riding was fast and fun :clap
    #2
  3. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    :lurk

    :thumb
    #3
  4. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

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    I have always wondered what the absolute mileage would be for all the dirt roads in Canada, not including the logging roads. It must be in the millions.

    On one of our East Coast tours we found this gem in central New Brunswick. It turned out to be absolutely spectacular. I'd recommend it for your cross country route.

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    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=d&amp;source=s_d&amp;saddr=Plaster+Rock,+New+Brunswick&amp;daddr=%2B47%C2%B0+29'+11.87%22,+-67%C2%B0+0'+21.04%22+(47.486631,+-67.005844)&amp;geocode=FcC-ywIduLH7-yl9C4re6DqjTDEnzMJcW3rAAA%3BFaeW1AIdbJIB_A&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=ls&amp;sll=47.212106,-66.927338&amp;sspn=1.061595,2.772675&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=47.211173,-66.935577&amp;spn=0.59017,0.46598&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Plaster+Rock,+New+Brunswick&amp;daddr=%2B47%C2%B0+29'+11.87%22,+-67%C2%B0+0'+21.04%22+(47.486631,+-67.005844)&amp;geocode=FcC-ywIduLH7-yl9C4re6DqjTDEnzMJcW3rAAA%3BFaeW1AIdbJIB_A&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=ls&amp;sll=47.212106,-66.927338&amp;sspn=1.061595,2.772675&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=47.211173,-66.935577&amp;spn=0.59017,0.46598" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    DW
    #4
  5. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    We've had an unusually warm spring here in this part of Canada, thanks Global warming :freaky

    On April 2nd we headed out to do a recon mission of some of these trails. Things were wet but we had a great day. The weather was sitting at a comfy 30 degrees celcius (keep in mind we are typically riding our snowmobiles at this time of year).

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    A few of these trails made the route and others didn't. One of the big challenges in this portion of Ontario that we are running across is water. Many of the fun trails involve a water crossing. Our intent is to have this route be doable all season long, this means cutting out some really fun sections that become too deep during sapring and after heavy rains. Always in the back our minds are thoughts like, could a fully loaded bike manage this? Also there's a fine line between hardcore enduro and doable with a travel enduro bike. The suggested bike for this route will envitably be something between a 400 cc and a 990 cc on/off road bike. What about a big gs? I've seen some guys do some amazing things on one and for sure they'd have no issues but for the fellow who picks up a new shiny big bike at a dealership and heads out on this route ...... :huh I don't think so :wink:

    There will be many days of long gravel roads where the larger bikes will be in their element. The flip side is that there are going to be several back to back days where a small bike will be advantageous. I don't believe there is a perfect bike for this route.... and that's a good thing. Wrestling a fully loaded big bike through some of the terrain WILL be a challenge. Riding a small bike for thousands of miles of long remote gravel roads is in my opinion a challenge. There it is .... no brand preference, no size preference....heck we all know it's the rider and not the bike anyways :super
    #5
  6. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Thanks for the tip :freaky In four weeks we head east to the maritimes for 2.5 weeks. I hear they enjoy the brews out there as much as I do. Look forward to enjoy the famous "East Coast hospitality" .
    #6
  7. New Braunfels Kidd

    New Braunfels Kidd Adventurer

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    Looks like a great idea. Keep up the good work! "Subscribed"
    #7
  8. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Hi ya Ted-

    I hope this trans can route will take the Nord Road and the TT with a airplane shuttle flight to Schefferville to continue on TL road:deal


    It could really only be right that way right?
    #8
  9. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Sorry to dissappoint John, but the route will encompass another big long gravel road up that way :brow
    #9
  10. tommythecat

    tommythecat Vive ut vivas

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    I will keep a very interested eye on this.

    Especially if you guys find something in QC and Eastern Ontario.

    Thanks for doing this! :freaky
    #10
  11. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Looks good! Gpx files for each section would be great.. but attachments are not working all the time. :lurk
    #11
  12. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Had a great day pre running and mapping another couple of trails with Gary in early June. There was going to be a larger group but the impending rains made a few of the lads shy away.

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    Another fun fast day was had :D The rains did eventually come. If you see black earth it gets real slippery when wet, in contrast the sandy roads actually benefit from some rain to add traction.

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    Great ride Gary, we'll have to do it again :freaky

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    #12
  13. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    What did they open up another one longer than TT:ear

    I'll be watching:lurk
    #13
  14. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Thanks, as stated this will be available as a road book file at no charge. Along with the road book files will be some Google Earth files to show the entire route that can be transferred onto paper maps. Having a paper map along with the roadbook should be a good combo to follow this route. As we move along we'll add a few gpx tracks from our travels but this gets a bit tricky as our tracks usually involve back tracking, taking wrong turns, getting into terrain thats very aggressive and doesn't end up on the route or roads that looked good on the maps but terminate unexpectedly. This was one of the reasons we have opted to use a road book. Add in that a lot of mapping software only shows roads and it makes it hard to make an after the fact route properly. As stated we aren't gps wizards, maybe some day one you folks will ride this route and provide us with a nice gps route that we could share with others ?


    A quick high level look at the intended route.


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    #14
  15. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Nah, the Trans Lab will be a part of the route along with a couple of other long gravel roads though. Definetly hummed and hawed the Trans Taiga Scheferrville route but at the end of the day this needs to be doable. Sending folks down a rail line with active trains just didn't seem wise :lol3
    #15
  16. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    There's always the TT road then plane ride to Wabush/LC needed no rail tracks, just a stupid plane ride:lol3

    Looks like an awesome project, keep up the good work man:clap
    #16
  17. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    So not all day's go as planned :eek1

    A group of us met at, where else but a Tim Horton's :D I swear there is something addictive they add to their beans.

    A gas fill up before heading out

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    Some slab to catch up to the route


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    Re run a section of the route just to see how others feel about it

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    The backroads in Eastern Ontario are FUN ! Arcol, Hydro Line rd, etc

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    The ADV salute...or he just doesn't like me :huh Oh wait this is early in the day, he doesn't hate me yet.....it must be the adv salute

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    Richard's first day of off roading on his 800gs, what a first day ... lol


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    It always surprises me when your riding on one of these roads and you run across a mini van full of happy little soccer kids with Mom driving and she's all smiles. Yes these are roads, not trails. Ontario is fairly liberal in what they call a road around here :D


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    Around this point in the morning we headed over to a snowmobile trail that would push the route further west. A great little trail that went up/down/left/right and I was thinking hells bells baby, this trail will work out fine :D Then a steep rocky decent that leads into a water crossing with a soft bottom :cry A couple of the fellows indicated that they wouldnt be able to go back up the decent. No worries as the water was low and we all made it through with no issues. BUT this trail would have to get removed from the route. After some serious rain or a typical spring thaw, the water crossing with the muddy bottom and rocks and logs in it just doesn't fit the bill, too bad, we 'll have to re route another day.

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    On we go

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    Now keep in mind that we have spent alot of time researching these trails before we go. Paper maps, internet sat maps, locals input, etc. Well the route was GOING TO follow this snowmobile trail and bring us across a big void in the map. Looked great from all the research we did. After finding the trail it had private No Tresspassing signs on it. Bummer, but we figured it's probably only one section of the trail across some famers fields and we should be able to find a go around to catch up to the trail a bit further on. A bit further on and we come to an atv trail climbing up over the bank. Logic suggested that this trail would cut across to the main trail and this is what local's must use to get a round the closed section. WRONG :eek1

    100 feet into the trail and we came to this

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    Full of rocks, tree's and VERY slick mud. Seems like everyone wanted to turn around...but me. I now apologize formally to all who were involved. Bad call, big time ! So off I go, get stuck, bury the bike and end up dragging it across the last few feet (not easy with a 500 lb bike). Look back and see faces like this

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    That's the look of "this is a bad idea".

    Looking up at the trail, yes that is the trail :eek1

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    Oh before I forget, a local on an atv came up on us and promptly turned around. This should have been a BIG clue. Well I was born stubborn and kept thinking ya but the trail will get better just around the bend, this is still doable :rofl WRONG !

    What followed was around 2 hours to cover 3km's of trail. The black earth was some of the slickest ground I've ever ridden a bike on. On level ground you would be stuck, tire just spinning away, get a buddy to push type of terrain. Add to the that the fact that I don't think this trail had been ridden in YEARS. How many tree's were across the trail? Dozens. Did I bring my saw? Nope :cry How many bikes tipped over? Every damn one of us. Were the bugs bad? CRAZY bad (and I normally don't complain about bugs). Was it hot? about 36 degrees celcius with 100 % humidity (think sauna temps) And finally how many people liked me at the end of this trail? ZERO :lol3 :lol3 :lol3

    As stated above I do formally apologize, this section is now known as the trail from hell and will NEVER be ridden again.

    After completing this section everyone split up, pissed off and went their seperate ways :eek1 It was only lunch time and we had a huge day planned, ah well ......it was not too be. I seriously thought I was going to get lynched out there. Lesson learned the hard way but a lesson learned :freaky


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    Do you see the trail? It's there...


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    #17
  18. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    A few more pics from "The Trail From Hell"

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    Do you think me taking pictures during this fiascal made things any better:bmwrider


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    Heat stroke, check
    Piss off buddies, check
    Add more to the route, negative
    #18
  19. tarzan30

    tarzan30 Been here awhile

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    Subscribed!

    Good work :clap !

    I am sure i will be helping out with this one. By helping out i mean both of us coming to a point and you give me the "you first, i just did the last one" and off i will go!

    I know some of the route you have in there and it is by far some of the best roads/trail i have ridden.

    Keep up the good work and keep us all in the loop with the pics and updates.

    Cheers
    #19
  20. GISdood

    GISdood Been here awhile

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    Wow... just found this thread and I have to say I'm impressed with the magnitude of such an undertaking.

    I just wanted to say kudos for taking the plunge and developing something that will certainly rank right up there with the TAT to the south.

    I also wanted to offer any assistance you might need - in a digital sense. You mentioned that you weren't GPS 'experts' and thats why you're opting for a road book. I agree that having a road book will provide the end user a little more sense of adventure and force them to pay more attention to their surroundings instead of the green line on a little gadget strapped to their handlebars. That being said, if there's any combining of data or conversion of gpx files or any other GPS format, I'm fairly certain I can help you out.

    As my nick implies, I'm a GIS technician by trade. I worked for over 10 years at a mapping company serving the various resource sectors in BC, and I'm now working for a large engineering consulting firm with offices from Vancouver BC to Halifax NS. I'm the 'data processing lackey' these days. I do a lot of work processing data from GPS survey units accurate down to 0.02m and combining that with more conventional survey data which is accurate to a fraction of a millimeter, so helping out with data thats accurate to +/- 5m is really no ordeal at all. If you need a hand with anything at all, just drop me a PM.

    The brief glimpse of what you're mapping out so far looks amazing... can't wait til you start out west in BC! Keep up the good work. Cheers!

    ~GIS
    #20