Trans-Labrador Solo Blitz, June 2008

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rdwalker, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. anomad

    anomad in storage

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    rdwalker,
    I very much enjoyed your report. I am relocating to the East Coast and its good to know there are adventures there too!


    Guinness and I agree that Labrador must be a special place. Especially the chocolate part.
    [​IMG]
    #61
  2. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Thanks!

    Indeed, while Southwest is certainly spectacular, there is some good stuff around here. Where are you moving?

    Besides, one can find adventure anywhere. Here's an idea: add a sidecar and take Guiness with you! There is a potential friend having fun!

    [​IMG]
    #62
  3. anomad

    anomad in storage

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    Moving to the DC metro area. I grew up in Western NC so its not completely foreign. Looking forward to familiar places in Appalachia. But, kinda scared because I have always lived in small towns and sparsely populated areas.

    A hack would be great, I have been watching for one that won't impact Guinness' dog biscuit allowance. They seem to hold their value well.
    #63
  4. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    DC is actualy a good base for some nice riding. For example, last spring, I spent a long weekend with my brother riding around in the mountain range on Virginia - West Virginia border (northern section, south of PA and north of I-64). The riding was excellent, nice twisty sideroads crossing the passes, not too much traffic, very enjoyable. Reasonable speed limits in WV. Something for you to check out, especially in order to avoid the overrated tourist traps of Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway (unless, of course, you do not mind traveling in sightseeing convoys creeping along heavily policed 35-40mph road).

    Regarding sidecars: you are right, these seem to be extraordinarily expensive. A few months ago, I have been toying with that idea myself, but what I found out in terms of prices, shook me up.
    #64
  5. anomad

    anomad in storage

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    I just read another TLH report by MC-Shifter who did it last year on a DR650.
    Did you camp at all? I wondered camping. I like places its normal just to stop and camp wherever you get the urge.



    The parkway... when my dad introduced me to motorbikes, 20 years ago, we lived right next to the southern end of the parkway. For a while there was only one ranger assigned to a particular portion there and you could swing by his quarters to see if the patrol rig was there or out on the road.... I was young and invincible back then and spent more than one afternoon scraping the pegs.
    #65
  6. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    No, I did my last camping a few decades ago - I used to be big time into hiking then. Somehow did not get back into it since, although I am tempted to try it again.

    I spent all nights on this trip in hotels. It was not too diificult with advance planning: reservations in more frequented places, a list of possible choices to call ahead elsewhere. The only real problem was Wabush / Lab City: it was construction season and the hotel would not be available without prior reservation.

    I am posting some planning info below, as a matter of fact - hopefully it will be some food for thought for you.
    #66
  7. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Here are some planning resources that could be useful for anyone else considering a ride along the Trans-Lab.

    Good luck!



    Planning Resources.

    --> Maps & Info:

    Newfoundland and, in particular, Labrador is off most tourists' radar screens. Your typical maps will have very little detail on the area. North Coast of the St. Lawrence River is not shown on your AAA publications; forget about the Trans-Labrador itself.


    Online mapping services, like Google Maps or Mapquest offer fairly good resources for trip planning (just ignore the outlandish travel-time estimates).

    I love paper maps, though: nothing but an unfolded sheet offers the large scale overview together with the depth of detail. I always enjoy the sense of adventure when randomly perusing a map. The smell of fresh ink, the exotic names in faraway locations really do it for me.

    The provincial government publishes a very good road map of Newfoundland and Labrador. It can be obtained just for the asking, together with some brochures, from their tourist offices at: http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ .

    JDMGeo (www.MapArt.com) publishes very good maps of Quebec, although the really interesting sections of Trans-Quebec-Labrador and of James Bay Road are not shown.

    A big community at your service: www.ADVrider.com, of course.
    Newfoundland riding : www.ridetherock.com/forums
    Specific sections of Labrador:
    www.labradorwest.com, www.labradorcoastaldrive.com
    Trans-Lab web page: http://tlhwy.com/



    --> Communications.

    Immediately upon entering Newfoundland, my GSM mobile phone stopped working. In towns, I have seen a lot of people yakking away; judging by the pull-out antennas, they still had analog service. And of course, once out of town and in Labrador there is no cellular coverage. I did not re-acquire digital service until reaching Forestville on St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

    In other words, be prepared for not having mobile service for many days. In order to communicate, you should have access to an 800 (toll-free) service that allows you to make calls from hotels or private land phones. AT&T is one provider of such service (although pricy). I also have Primus Communications' Global Access card (http://www.affinitytele.com/c-cards.htm), which offers toll-free call-in numbers throughout the world; I have been using their card extensively during this trip. Note that some payphones in Canada do block toll-free access calls.

    For the main section of Trans-Labrador Highway, the provincial Department of Transportation provides free emergency satellite phones. These are capable of only dialing 911 and can be signed in and out for 24-hour periods in selected locations in the four towns between Goose Bay and Labrador City.


    --> Time Zones.

    On Ferries: all scheduling is done on Ship's Time, which is announced and displayed throughout. Make a note what time zone is in use, or you may miss breakfast or oversleep landing.

    Quebec: bulk of the province, accessible by road from Montreal / Quebec City uses Eastern Time. North Coast section (Blanc-Sablon) runs on Atlantic Time.

    New Brunswick and Nova Scotia: Atlantic Time (1hr ahead of Eastern).

    Newfoundland: Newfoundland Time (another 1/2hr ahead of Atlantic, i.e., hour-and-half from Eastern).

    Labrador: section immediately across the Strait from Newfoundland (L'Anse au Clair) in on Newfoundland time. All of the rest (Cartwright, Goose Bay and west) is on Atlantic time.

    All zones observe Daylight Time.


    --> Ferries.

    Reaching Happy Valley - Goose Bay via the Maritime Provinces requires sailing on several ferries. I strongly recommend spending the night on the long runs: it saves riding days and substitutes for hotels. Booking a cabin is very useful; it allows for comfort, privacy and security for your belongings.

    The ferry I took from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland was fairly modern; I understand that so are the other ones on that route. Cabins contained bathrooms with showers, quite convenient.

    The Goose Bay ferry seems to be living out its days after retiring from service around Jutland Peninsula - even the signage is still in Danish. It is a bit rough around the edges; bathrooms and toilets are in a common area. I would not be surprised if this route is terminated once Phase III connector of Trans-Labrador Highway opens, between Cartwright and Goose Bay.

    Reservations on all of them are a must if you desire a cabin. They are recommended just for the passage as well, although I do understand that a lone rider with a motorcycle is always somehow fit in.

    The routes between North Sydney, NS and Port-aux-Basques, NL, as well as the seasonal connection to Argentia, NL, are serviced by Marine Atlantic:
    http://www.marine-atlantic.ca/

    Newfoundland to Labrador crossing and the Goose Bay ferry are operated by Labrador Marine:
    http://www.labradormarine.com/

    On the other side of the run, in Quebec, there are several ferries crossing St. Lawrence River. These may be of interest if a side trip on Gaspe Peninsula is in your cards. Despite repeated announcements to the contrary, the Trois Pistoles - Les Escoumins connection seems to be gone for good, but the remaining routes are:

    Baie-Comeau / Godbout - Matane:
    http://www.traversiers.gouv.qc.ca/trav/matane/horaires.asp?section=%C9t%E9

    Further west there is the Rimouski - Forestville route. Note that some English-language pages do not work too well on the ferry companies' Web sites. For schedules, just dig into the French sections - you should be able to figure them out. 'Horaire' is schedule, everything else is self-explanatory.
    http://www.traversier.com/accueil.html

    Finally, St-Simeon - Riviere-du-Loup:
    http://www.traverserdl.com/e/horaire/sim-06.htm


    --> Fuel:

    Once in northern Newfoundland and through the whole length of Trans-Lab highway, there is no premium fuel (except, maybe, in Goose Bay and Fermont). Also, some rural stations in New England carry only regular gas. Your bike must be able to handle regular.


    The longest distance between fuel stations is about 300km (~ 200 miles) between Goose Bay and Churchill Falls.



    --> Repair Shops.

    Atlantic Motoplex (only BMW dealer in the Maritimes)
    950 Champlain Street, Dieppe, NB E1A 1P8
    506-383-1022
    www.atlanticmotoplex.ca

    RPM Cycle
    168 Main St., Dartmouth, NS B2X 1S2
    902-434-8516
    www.rpmcycle.ca

    Steve's Cycle Truro
    1279 MacCallum Settlement Rd.,
    MacCallum Settlement, B6L 6V4
    902-893-2581
    stevescycle@z6.com

    Adrian's (x-BMW shop)
    80 King Street, Moncton, NB E1C 4M6
    506-382-0262

    (Mike) Milligans Cycle Works
    2271 Mountain Road, Moncton?
    854 4555

    Darren Tapley
    All-Euro, Halifax NS

    Ed Barkhouse
    Procycle, Dartmouth NS

    Keith Windsor
    The Toy Box
    St. John's, NL



    --> Hotels.

    On my blitz tours, I usually do not skimp but try to stay in fairly nice places. My trips are expensive simply because I pay for my own time off work - cost of a hotel is then not as significant.

    When selecting accommodations, I prefer a hotel that has a restaurant on premises - unless in a city, where everything is within walking distance. I like to clean up in the evening, then have a nice dinner and some good wine; I do not want to be riding anymore.

    Having Internet access is quite important as well. It's a valuable travel tool: not only to check email, but also to find out local weather, schedules, make or cancel reservations, and so on. Fortunately, Wi-Fi is becoming more and more prevalent in most establishments.

    Below are places I used on this trip. I have been fortunate to be able to recommend them to all.

    Planning note: all accommodations in Newfoundland and Labrador are very busy during the brief tourist and construction season. Reservations are essential. At the very least, keep a list of possible hotels and call ahead.


    In most common destinations: Holiday Inn Express (www.ichotelsgroup.com). These are standardized, clean and comfortable locations, with good services and Wi-Fi. Dinner, however, may be an issue. On this trip, I used them in Seabrook, NH and in Moncton (Dieppe), NB.


    Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland:
    Ocean View Motel
    Phone: 709-458-2730, http://www.oceanviewmotel.com
    Good facilities, restaurant, pub, Wi-Fi.


    Mary's Harbour, Labrador:
    Riverlodge Hotel
    709-921-6948, www.riverlodgehotel.com
    Here you are a bit off the tourist track; don't worry about Internet access. When planning on late arrival, check on dining room times - kitchen closes early.


    Wabush, Labrador:
    Wabush Hotel
    709-282-3221/3222
    Formerly a grand place, now very busy during road-building season, filled with construction crews. Still, has all the facilities and is the best (if not only) hotel in town. Reservations are a must! Wi-Fi spotty.


    Baie-Comeau, Québec:
    Le Grand Hôtel
    48, Place Lasalle
    1-888-838-8880, http://www.legrandhotel.ca
    This town-center hotel is being renovated right now and can be a bit disorganized. Still, the owner may himself guide you around the building to park your bike next to his Fat Boy. Wi-Fi spotty.


    Québec City, Québec:
    Chateau Laurier
    1220 Place George-V Ouest
    (800) 463-4453 www.vieux-quebec.com
    This is one of my favorite places to stay in Quebec City, a modern upscale hotel, yet often in CAD$170 range. Great amenities and Wi-Fi, underground garage. Just on the outside of Old City walls and next to restaurant strip of Grande Allee.
    Note that motorcycles are not allowed in Old City; thank you, loud pipes.



    Woodstock, VT:
    Lincoln Inn
    802-457-3312 www.lincolninn.com
    Quite upscale - yet not expensive; nice restaurant and pub. Very friendly and helpful staff. Wi-Fi is advertised - but I was too tired to try...



    #67
  8. 'Flagger

    'Flagger ..this space for rent..

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    Good stuff, Robert.

    I went through Labrador a couple of weeks after you (departing Ohio on June 27). Would have been good to have all the above information with me.

    I didn't, however, have any problems with hotels. I didn't have any reservations at either hotels or ferries. Nowhere did I get turned away for vacancy issues. I was unable to test that at the Goose Bay - Cartwright ferry, unfortunately, as I wrecked 40 miles outside of Churchill Falls.

    When I go back .... and I will ... I'll have a printout of the above post in my tank bag.

    B
    #68
  9. jantarek

    jantarek Long timer

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    #69
  10. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Robert, great report... and the recent adder of the resources is excellent.. I am thinking on heading to Goose Bay next year... and they will be very useful in planning.

    Pat in NH
    #70
  11. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Imbecile

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    Great info!

    Have to add Fundy Power Sports in Truro, Nova Scotia, as well. Kawasaki dealer and exceptionally helpful when my KLR valve train lunched itself in 2007. Danny, Mark and Ronnie are great folks!

    John
    #71
  12. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    [quote='Flagger]... as I wrecked 40 miles outside of Churchill Falls...[/quote] You too? Damn, is seems like Churchill Falls is claiming more than its share of ADV riders' mishaps - I also know of Josh 'Dusty' doing an endo near Churchill about June 20th.

    Sorry to hear this; I hope that you sustained no serious injuries besides those to your pride and to your wallet. :evil

    I am glad to see that it did not impact your adventure spirit and you gearing up for another go-around!
    #72
  13. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Excellent, good luck on your ride!

    BTW, I hate to tell you, on a long run like that you will certainly encounter rain somewhere. Cannot avoid it! I would not worry about the Wednesday forecast, just get the rain gear out and go!

    It seems like you are going to be doing a blitz run as well, allowing also 10 days for the ride - you will have to "press on regardless", to borrow the rallying motto. No weather considerations, then...
    #73
  14. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    [quote='Flagger]...I didn't, however, have any problems with hotels. I didn't have any reservations at either hotels or ferries. Nowhere did I get turned away for vacancy issues...[/quote] Indeed, I understand from reports here that a motorcyclist is very unlikely to get turned away from a ferry. A bike needs only a little space on the vehicle deck.

    However, to get a cabin for an overnight cruise, I'd recommend reservations: on my crossing from NS to Nfld, I have been told that there were no cabins left (I reserved mine a few weeks before).

    Similar story with hotels. I have been lucky to find most accommodations just by stopping and asking - although in Rocky Harbour, NL, I took the last room. The big exception is Labrador West, because of the construction season: Wabush Hotel, for example, was fully booked several weeks in advance.
    #74
  15. tipler

    tipler Adventurer

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    You're gonna have to book those cabins well in advance too. Personally, I get the "dormers" which is basically a bunk bed. THat and some ear plugs are you're set! Wayyyy cheaper/easier to get than a cabin
    #75
  16. jantarek

    jantarek Long timer

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    Thanks, I've been trying to get out there for past two years, but no planning that is why I'm starting with trans lab , I can always turn around lol, anyway. no hotels for me, well maybe one or two, i'm hoping to stay in tent most of the time,. It would be nice to get cabin on ferry but only if I find someone to share it with, otherwise I won't cry about it, ( hey I'm cheap). I had a big toss-up between going there or sturgis, but after reading about all the changes they are about to do to trans-lab. it seams like this is last chance to pure adventure out there.

    thanks for your posts it will help
    :clap
    #76
  17. pmrphoto

    pmrphoto pmrphoto

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    I'm planning on heading up there this summer and I'm outfitting an 05GS that I just bought. It's pretty sad to think my biggest concern is my FD!!! This baby has 48K on her clock already so I'm going to see if I can get any repair information from a dealership. Not sure if they do that but I'm going to check.

    All that dirt/gravel looks wonderful. Can't wait to get out there and kill black flies with my windscreen!

    pat
    #77
  18. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

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    Awesome ride report Robert, thank you. I'm hoping to do the trip in the same direction as you; starting out from Saint John, New Brunswick. I worked in Goose Bay and flew all over the north and the south coast of Labrador, and I'm itching to see it from the back of a bike. Ride reports like yours just keep me inspired.

    Off the top of your head what was the furthest distance between gas stations? Is it the Goose Bay to Churchill Falls leg? 300kms?

    I'm also planning to ride the railway trail on the island from Port Aux Basques to St. John's.

    Cheers
    #78
  19. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

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    Hopefully doing this trip next summer!! Awesome info, awesome RR!! :thumb
    #79
  20. dusty308

    dusty308 wanderer

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    just stumbled across this. great report! im heading up there for round two this june :thumb
    cheers :beer
    josh
    #80