I have been meaning to write this ride report about my twice across Labrador ride this Summer, for months. I haven't had time to figure out how to post more than one picture at a time on this forum. Armed with a tip, kindly provided, by another inmate, here is a test picture. Closer Up That's me on the left, my son Bryn, then my buddy Tom and last but not least Bryn's friend Jeff. It was July, great weather, we had a plan to ride the Trans Labrador Highway, prompted by reading the many excellent posts on ADVrider. Bryn, Tom and I all ride KLR 650's Jeff has a Suzuki 650 street bike, maybe a Bandit, possibly a V-Strom. I should know, but that's what happens when you get to your mid 50's you still have a good memory it's just short. Bryn lives in Fernie BC, he had just purchased his brand new KLR in New Brunswick, he was home visiting for the Summer. Jeff and Tom both live in Saint John, NB and I live in Shediac, NB (The Lobster Capital of the World) We were all leaving from Shediac with a plan to ride counterclockwise through Nova Scotia to catch the ferry at North Sydney, NS to Port aux Basques, NL. From there we were to ride up to Gros Morne National Park, where Bryn and Jeff would spend a few days hiking camping before returning to the Maritimes to meet other friends. At Gros Morne Tom and I planned to split up from Bryn and Jeff and continue on to Labrador. The picture above was taken moments before our departure. Just after this breakfast at home We rode the Sunrise Trail of Nova Scotia on a beautifully clear day as far as Pictou NS and from there picked up the Trans Canada fighting a crazy strong crosswind to Cape Breton for a quick stop in Baddeck We had coffee and snacks across the street from this Inn and Bryn's bike fell victim to the wind and was blown off it's kickstand. Not much damage but the first scratch in a new bike is a heart breaker. Sorry I don't have a picture. I was busy trying to fix the throttle on Bryn's bike. It had stuck the granite curbing and became semi seized up. It was like he had cruise control. Were were getting late for the boat and Bryn limped his bike, with a sticking throttle and a slightly mis-aligned front end to the ferry. We just made it, spending about a half hour waiting in the line up and then boarding immediately. We had an uneventful trip over to Port Aux Basque, NL. We had a beer or two, ate, it was good food and we slept in a cabin that was very affordable, around $10 for each of us on the evening sailing. We arrived in Port Aux Basques near midnight and took two rooms at the Hotel Port Aux Basques which is nothing fancy but is clean and easy walking distance to Tim Horton's, the coffee chain with a cult like status in Canada. The next morning it was foggy and cool, we had a coffee at Tim's and and tried to fix Bryn's handle bars and throttle, borrowing a large wrench, screwdriver and hammer from a helpful mechanic at Canadian Tire. No luck. We rode on with a plan to stop at the Kawasaki shop near Corner Brook NL to have them repair Bryn's bike. The ride from Port Aux basque to Corner Brook is on Trans Canada Highway, wide two lane blacktop for the most part that is quite hilly with three lane sections to allow passing on the hills. There is a section known as Wreck House only about 20 miles from Port Aux Basque. Wreck House can have absolutely vicious winds. It is named for a telegraph house, the railway maintained beside the railway tracks through this section to warn of extreme winds and even report wrecks when a train was blown off the tracks by the wind. It can be that windy! The tracks are long gone now, part of a deal the NL government made with Ottawa for better highways in exchange for removing the tracks. We rode through a foggy crosswind but nothing severe. By the time we got to Corner Brook the sun had reappeared and all was good. We stopped at Rapid Power Sports, Corner Brooks' Kawasaki Dealer which is actually located in Little Rapids about 10 miles east of town. They were excellent. They had Bryn's bike fixed within an hour without any appointment! Great service! We continued on through Deer Lake, where we ate at Mary Brown's fired Chicken, which is the best fried chicken anywhere, to Gros Morne National Park our planned stop for the night. The ride from Deer lake to Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne Park is awesome. Twisting, hilly two lane blacktop with views of the water and mountains that are spectacular. As mentioned Bryn and Jeff intended to camp, while Tom and I looked for a Hotel, the boys went to set up camp. In our search we met Iggy Iggy is from the Netherlands and rides a 750cc Yamaha Super Tenere. Here is a picture of Iggy's Bike Iggy had shipped his bike from Europe on a Roll on Roll Off ship into Halifax, NS with the intention of spending the Summer in Canada and riding the Trans Labrador Highway. He got the bike to Canada for the reasonable price of $1100 westbound and the eastbound trip back to Holland is only something like $400.00. Iggy flew to Halifax, picked up his bike and discovered on his trip from the port to the nearest gas station that lane splitting is frowned upon in Canada. He had been riding as he would at home, splitting lanes but when he stopped for gas a passing motorist screamed "WTF is wrong with you you &*^%$'ing nut!" Duly Noted! When we met Iggy he had already found accommodation at the hostel in the old Hospital in Norris Point. It is a nice reasonable place to stay only 10 kms from Rocky Harbour which is the largest town in the Park. Tom and I however opted for a motel in Rocky Harbour where we had arranged to meet Bryn and Jeff after they had set up camp. We invited Iggy back to meet us all and have some supper and beers. Here is the view from the roof deck at the Hostel. We went to the Ocean View Hotel, checked in and headed to the Bar/dining room only to find out we could only sit there until 8PM as they were having a comedy show of some kind with a $25.00 Cover charge. Yikes! 25 bucks for a show in Rocky Harbour! Didn't matter if you were guests of the Hotel it was still $25.00 Ocean View $25.00 Cover We took the much cheaper option of buying a case of beer between us and a big pizza and heading to Tom's and my room. It wasn't too long before the hotel called the room and grilled us as to whether there were actually five guys staying in the room. Jeff fielded the call and his explanation seemed to satisfy them and they left us alone to eat our pizza and have a couple beer. Tom got an unexpected call that there was a family emergency that would require his presence back in Saint John. He had to make plans to turn back the next day. Bryn and Jeff were staying in the Park, Iggy and I decided we would continue the Labrador trip together, Why not? We had known each other almost two hours by now. We called it a night early, were respectful of the Hotel's other guests. Rocky Harbour is very small, but very beautiful The next morning, we had a great breakfast at Fisherman's Landing, a small restaurant next to the hotel before we parted ways. Tom, southbound, the boys hiking, Iggy and I headed for Labrador Iggy and I got as far as the Northern end of Gros Morne before it rained. It rained on and off all the way up Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. what a "Great" ride it is. Sparse traffic, awesome views of the Gulf of St Lawrence on your left and the snowcapped (even in July) Long Range Mountains on your right. We stopped for a packed lunch somewhere along the way on a nearly deserted beach. The sun was out but rain still threatened, hence the rainsuit Eventually we made our way to Hawkes Bay where we saw this huge deteriorating steel building that dominates the village skyline. It must have had some industrial application at one time. Likely storage for something they were mining in Hawkes Bay or nearby. This building was near the water and there were the remnants of a wharf behind it. Sometime in the past it had been converted to a hockey rink (how very Canadian) but it had fallen into complete disrepair. It looks like one of the teams that used to play there was the Pirates. The Old Wharf at Hawkes Bay After satisfying our curiosity at Hawkes Bay we pressed onward, Northbound toward Labrador enjoying amazing scenery And deserted beaches and Cabins We pressed onward until we finally reached the Ferry Terminal This is the young lady who sold us our tickets to Labrador. Tickets for the ferry were amazingly cheap, like $13.00 for rider and bike if I remember correctly for a trip that takes at least a couple hours. Here is a look at the Ferry Terminal Lobby and we met this rider from Yarmouth NS on a KLR650. He was soaked to the skin. The Ferry is owned by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the former Premier, Danny Williams chopped the fares in half a few years ago because people on the Labrador Coast view the Ferry as a vital part of their highway system and they use it to access Hospitals and other necessities on the Newfoundland side of the Straight of Belle Isle. It's not often any politician voluntarily chops any tax or rate but Mr. Williams did and he is viewed as a hero for doing so. We boarded the Ferry to Labrador, the Apollo Here is the Lounge It's not a bad boat, no "Love Boat" but not bad and it was nearly empty. Iggy had a serious case of Deja Vu and we found out that he had likely been on the Apollo before. It used to be a European Ferry before NL bought it. We relaxed in the Lounge for our crossing and then we were excited to get our first view of Labrador. Here it is. Pretty Foggy Eh! The Ferry actually lands in Blanc Sablon, QC a few miles from the QC/NL border. If you are taking this ferry be careful of departure times. Labrador, Blanc Sablon and Newfoundland are in three different time zones. I believe all ferry schedule times are printed in NL time but just be mindful of that when riding to meet the boat. In any case we got off the ferry that evening and rode in thick fog through the town of Blanc Sablon to a large general store. It was pretty much the last spot in Quebec. They sold beer like it was going out of style. (not to Iggy and Me but just generally speaking) because the price of beer in the Province of Quebec is about half of what it is in Newfoundland and Labrador. The store had huge cases, 36 cans 56 cans etc. Here is a picture of some of the stacks and the store. Barney's Iggy and I were tired and hungry by this point and we only bought a 6 pack that we split between us for later that night. We left Barney's store and almost immediately crossed into Labrador. We had made it! The Big Land. It was getting dark fast and Iggy and I rode up the coast though small villages over winding, bumpy, steep roads in a fog so thick we could barely see the ground let alone anything else. I stayed glued to Iggy's tail light and that was all I could see. I swear if he had ridden off a cliff I would have followed him. I don't know how he did it. I couldn't see a damn thing. The headlights of approaching cars would appear out of the gloom about 100 feet from us and look like they were a sickly yellow green, almost like they were under water the fog was so dense. Iggy had made a reservation at a Bed and Breakfast in L'anse-Amour prior to our meeting up in Gros Morne, of course that reservation was for just himself as he had been travelling alone up until that point. The lady at the B&B had recommended a restaurant between the ferry and her place. I wish I could remember the name because the food was awesome, once we found the place. Check this plate out! After that great meal we continued on in the dark and somehow found the B&B where Iggy had made a reservation. It was at the end of a long dirt road right on a small cove in L'anse-Amour. As luck would have it they were full and she didn't have a bed for me. The owner was very kind though and called a friend with a B&B about ten minutes up the road and arranged a spot for me there. She and the friend were afraid I would never find the place in the fog and I have to admit i wasn't that confident I would either. This illustrates how kind and helpful the people of Labrador are. I dropped Iggy off at his place made my way back up the dirt road to the main road turned right and continued north. I tried to pick out landmarks that had been described to me but I was looking for a car on a side road. The lady at the place where I was to stay actually got in her car at about 10PM drove from her pace out to the main road and waited for me, so I wouldn't pass her side road in the fog. How nice is that? I followed her to her place, a nice fairly new bungalow, and was so glad to be off the road. What a long day. We sat and watched the news together, her only other guest was a young chinese girl who was in Labrador buying fish to go to China. She had been stranded for two days waiting for the fog to lift so she could get a flight out. I drank two of my three beers and crashed. I slept like a rock. The next morning I was treated to a full breakfast, the fog had lifted to reveal a beautiful if kind of chilly day. 12C or about 54F. That didn't stop the local kids from riding their bikes in shorts and T-shirts. It was summer on the Labrador Coast after all. Here is a pic of the B&B and her sign. I highly recommend it. I'm sure you can Google this place if you are looking for decent accommodation on the southern Labrador coast. As you can see the next day was a good one weather wise. I woke up fairly early and after that great breakfast I rode back to collect Iggy at the place he had stayed. Iggy is a little slower to get going in the morning than I am but no worries we had a relatively easy day planned. We were riding as far as Port Hope Simpson that day. It's about 200kms or 120 miles to PHS and the last 140K is gravel. The gravel starts at Red Bay, NL from there there is about 750 miles or 1100kms of gravel across Labrador until you get to the site of the Manic 5 Dam in Quebec. Portions have pavement and Labrador is rapidly paving more each year. They paved some 100 kms or more this past summer. Soon this remote highway will be filled with RV's I'm sure. If you want to ride gravel across Labrador do it soon. What a great day we had. Iggy and I poked along the scenic Labrador Coast. We crossed the Pinware River, where people come from around the world to fish for Atlantic Salmon. What a stunningly beautiful river! An angler's paradise We reached Red Bay. Red Bay has been a small fishing village since the 1600's Basque fishermen came there for centuries to fish and for Whaling. There is a Basque museum in Red Bay complete with a recently recovered Basque whaling boat, dug out of the mud along the shore. They said this boat was about 400 years old! Imagine hunting whales in a boat this size along the Labrador Coast 400 years ago! No thanks! Iggy was fascinated by the museum. He has a family connection to the Basque area of Spain and even has a Basques sticker on his bike. After checking out the museum we ate at a restaurant just past the museum. I can't remember the name of it but it is a reddish place with a gift shop attached and I had one of the best cheeseburgers ever with delicious home made fries. After Lunch I noticed this excellent poster published by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Tourism Here is a snap taken from near from The Red Bay Museum of some abandoned houses that were fisherman's residences many decades ago. A look into the past. And here is a short video clip, a look around windswept Red Bay Labrador on a July day. <iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="320" height="240" src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/1721258120_WBgv2n9?width=320&height=240"></iframe> Having looked around Red Bay, eaten and taken in some local culture it was time to ride on. Here I am at the start of the gravel in Red Bay. It was cool in Red Bay around 12C or 54F but they had told us at the restaurant to expect it to get much warmer as we headed inland on the gravel. They said it was 30C or 90F just 20 miles up the road and they were right. Everything changes when you leave Red Bay, the weather, the temperature and you begin to encounter the Labrador air force. Blackflies! and another lovely bug, a huge Horse Fly or Deerfly the Newfoundlanders call Stouts. They will take a chunk out of you and they are thick! Every time you stop you are engulfed in clouds of flies instantly! I don't know what they eat if unsuspecting motorcyclists don't come along. Bring lots of bug dope, the flies love it! Here is look at my bug spattered helmet, can you see I have a black eye from bug bites? Iggy had one too. We looked like quite a pair every time we walked into anywhere. I think this picture was taken in the rain in Wabush a day or so later. Rain doesn't stop the flies. Anyway, leaving Red Bay we saw this sign. The TLH is a long road. The geography changes immediately from the hilly headlands and beaches of the coast to glacier gouged rock as you leave Red Bay. We passed a couple two up on a BMW who were travelling in the opposite direction. I'm not sure I ever got their names but I believe they are from Ontario. They told us they had ridden in Africa and several other destinations two up. They had a pickup truck load of gear on that bike. Amazing. Where we stopped to talk to them there was a crew of men working, using big pumps and hoses to spray the soil off of the rock in preparation for core sample drilling. They told us they were looking for rare earth minerals. Apparently China supplies the world with these minerals, essential to electronics now and there is some concern that prices may go through the roof. It is thought that Labrador may contain some rare earth minerals and the hunt is on. The water spraying and the disturbed soil had the flies in a feeding frenzy so we didn't talk long. We continued on to Port Hope Simpson. We had reservations for the night at the Alexis Motel. Port ope Simpson isn't very big but we stopped two kids at the side of the road to ask directions to the Alexis and the flies nearly carried the two kids away. They quickly spit out the directions and then ran to get some relief from flies. We found it. The Alexis doesn't have a sign. Here it is. We got a pretty basic room complete with a bare light bulb and dumped all our stuff all over it, got cleaned up and had a very good dinner in the Alexis dining room. I took a few pictures around Port Hope Simpson. It is in a beautiful setting on a saltwater inlet. It is and it feels very remote. It's a long way from niceties like lawns and landscaping but it is starkly beautiful. Here is a look around. p&lb=1&s=A][/url] Behind the hotel there was a group of German tourists camping in this big camper bus And this cool Hovercraft. I guess you never know when a hovercraft might come in handy in Port Hope Simpson. After taking a few pictures, we crashed for the night. We were anxious to get going the next morning. It is a long stretch from Port Hope Simpson to Goose Bay. We figured it's 405kms from gas pump to gas pump and just to be sure we'd make it we took along a spare two gallons of gas. We never needed it but it was nice to have. Both bikes went on reserve within about 10kms of the pump in Goose. Before we left we signed out one of the Newfoundland Government's complimentary satellite telephones. We picked it up at the Alexis front desk by simply asking for it and providing a credit card imprint. You are only charged if you use it or if you don't bring it back. There is no cell phone coverage in Labrador except in populated areas. The security the sat phone provided in case of emergency was nice. Thankfully we never needed it and we turned it in at the Wabush Hotel in Lab City/Wabush. Satellite Phone It was raining that morning, I ride slower than Iggy on the loose stuff but I'm sure 99% of riders ride slower than Iggy on the loose stuff. He has a lot of experience on deep sand on the beaches in Holland and his Super Tenere is a super bike. I struggled in the early going. Iggy was patient with me and offered adivce. The advice consisted of: It's easier if you go faster. When the bike gets loose, go faster When the front end starts to wash out, go faster When you hit deep gravel, go faster When you think you are about to lose it altogether, go faster After several frustrating miles I began to take Iggy's advice. It works. We blasted up that gravel at 100 to 120kph with rain running down the barest spots, the spots we would prefer to ride in in rivers. It poured. If you are going to ride in Eastern Canada you will hit rain. We pressed on. My KlR on a crappy stock front tire did not feel any too reassuring and it certainly doesn't handle like the RM125 I had when I was a kid, but it worked. By the time we were really soaked in spite of rain gear (why does it always leak in the crotch?) and we were getting cold and miserable and feeling sorry for ourselves we met this gentleman on his bicycle!!!!! Poor Bugger! If I recall correctly we were about 138kms out of Port Hope Simpson when we saw this guy. He had been riding for something like 10 days on the gravel. He was travelling opposite direction to us and had done the vast majority of the TLH. We asked if he had enough food, water etc and talked for a few minutes, he planned to make it another 40kms to a road service depot that has a gravel parking lot where he would camp for the night. We didn't feel so sorry for ourselves after meeting this guy. We rode and rode in rain that was heavy at times and steady. The TLH between PHS and Goose is a long lonely road and I estimate we only saw about 30 cars and pickups in that entire 400kms. I don't remember passing a single Big Truck. People are good though and they would normally slow down so as not to blast us with gravel. If we were stopped they would nearly all slow down and look for a thumbs up signal from us before proceeding on.we saw a lot of road like this. Deserted Gravel Highway in long straight stretches through stunted black spruce. We pressed on until about thirty miles out of Goose we saw a bear. This bear had been injured. He had a a distinct limp in left hind quarter. Not a bear to be anywhere near. We sat and waited, and waited for several minutes for him to walk away but he just stayed on the road. He didn't seem to interested in us but he just hng out until an opposite direction pickup truck came along with a big dog in the backseat of his crew cab. The dog barked at the bear and the bear finally limped away. We blasted by the spot. It was only then that I thought of the bear spray Tom had left with us when he returned to Saint John and it is only now that I think of that poor guy on his bike by himself camping. Well after the bear I shot this short video to give riders a look at the road surface we were on. The base is hard like concrete, with loose gravel on top. TKC's seem to be the tire of choice for those in the know. <iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="320" height="240" src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/1718900237_nnWrR7Z?width=320&height=240"></iframe> More to follow...stay tuned! Continued below...scroll down... .