Two City Slickers Ride The Trans Labrador Highway

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MK Bike, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    The Translab Ride of 2010


    Prologue:
    I got into motorcycling later in life than most riders. I bought my first motorcycle in my late 30's and had not completed any ride longer than about week prior to this trip. Also, I had never ridden on gravel. So needless to say, I was a little anxious as I put this trip together. I would like to thank Abenteuerfahrer, RockyNH, Selkins, JamieZ, Kaneman, MarkBVT, Sakamura, and the great folks at Ride The Rock, for both inspiring me to get into adventure riding and helping me plan for this ride. It was a great deal of fun planning the ride, but I had an even better time riding the ride.
    I hope you enjoy the photos and the ride report. In addition, I hope that my report will in some way inspire one of you to take the leap of adventure and ride the great road of the east that is the Trans Labrador Highway.

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    Lets get started.....
    #1
  2. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 1 - August 19, 2010
    NYC to Trois Riveries
    Total mileage 483
    Slab to Lab ride

    As noted before I took about a year to plan this adventure. Given the serious nature of this planning, I need some refreshments and a little relaxed reading in the days leading up to the ride.
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    On the morning of the ride, I woke up at 2 AM giddy as a school kid on the last day of school. As I was getting ready, I remembered a story from my father about when he went to the state fair as a kid. My dad said he was so excited about finally getting to go to the big fair in Texas, that he threw up on the way to the fair. I was so excited that morning, I felt like throwing up.
    After laying in bed for an hour I got up at 3:00 AM.
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    Took my time to get dressed and eat, shower, shave, etc.
    Since this is New York, some of us park our bikes quite a ways from where we live. I therefore had to take a cab to get the bike.
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    Got the bike out of the garage.
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    Fresh tires and ready to ride
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    Odometer is set
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    Rode to John’s apartment on the other side of town.
    He was at his bike and ready to ride.
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    On the road at 6AM.
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    Stopped for gas, food, and fluids.
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    It was all slab all day
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    Stopped in a cool little town for gas called Schroon Lake. Chilled out and took a little break from the ride.
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    After that it was back on the road and burning more time to get to the border.
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    Got to the border around 12:40.
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    This is as close to the border station photo as I could muster
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    Pulling into the border station I was so excited that when the Canadian border agent asked for my passport, I broke into a bad German accent, (like Colonel Klink from Hogans Heros), “ja, in zat you vant to see my papers?” The border agent blinked at me for a moment, lowered her chin, raised an eyebrow and repeated, “Do you have a passport?” in a tone three octaves more serious and containing overtures of explicit implications if I did not stop fucking around.
    “Ahem…um… yes maam, right here.” Without having to participate in a cavity search, I learned that border agents are not as excited as you are about taking your first big motorbike adventure.

    Stopped and had lunch at a roadside restaurant. Club sandwich and Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
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    Back on the road toward Montreal.
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    Blew better part of an hour sitting in traffic on 40 north out of Montreal.

    Arrived into Trois River around 5:30 with stop and go traffic most of the way.
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    Had dinner at a great little place in down town. But the bummer was no motorbike parking on the street
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    We had to park in a special lot for motorbikes
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    Rode back to the hotel and sacked out at 9:00 PM.
    It was a good first day.
    #2
  3. Jedediah

    Jedediah Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    822
    Location:
    Riverside County, California.
    And best wishes on your journey. Be safe and post often.

    Jed.
    #3
  4. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 2 August 20, 2010
    Trois Rivieres to Baie Comeau
    Total miles: 352

    Like all people who visit Canada, our first stop was to Tim Hortons.
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    138 north of Quebec was a great ride. The weather was phenomenal and the turns and vista views were a nice pleasant change from the yesterday’s slab day.
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    At each stop, only French was spoken. For me it was nice to practice my halting French and feel a little out of place when where I asked for a Diet Coke, how much for gas, or where was the toilet. The people were extremely polite and forgiving of my bad pronunciation.

    We got to the ferry around 1:00 and did not have to wait long.
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    On the ferry at the river we meet a few other day trippers from Quebec. There was a guy who had a 2004 DL 1000 with only 6k on it. He admitted this a little sheepishly and said he does not get out that often. Your telling me.

    We grabbed some lunch at a simple sandwich shop and then took a little break.
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    From Toucaourde, we continued north to Baie Comeau.
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    A very bizarre road sign.
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    We dodged rain clouds all afternoon and made it to Baie Comeau around 5:00.
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    When we got to Baie Comeau we were surprised to find that the World Cup of Paraplegic Cycling was being hosted in the area that weekend. All the hotels were booked. However, each booked hotel said to try the Motel Du Rosie. After the third hotel said this, John and I figured this is where the send all the motorbikes to keep them out of town. We got to Motel du Rosie and they had two rooms available.
    It is was a simple motel with clean rooms and a good location for getting dinner.
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    We grabbed some dinner at Restaurant Mont Blanc where I had the poutine with bacon, onion, and beef.
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    Damn was it good. None of the staff at the restaurant spoke English. And given my bad pronunciation, I think I was ordering horse meat. Fortunately this very nice lady in line behind us named France, (how ironic) helped me with my French and gave the order. Boy am I glad she did.

    We walked around the town some after dinner and turned in early for the big start to day 3.
    #4
  5. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 3 August 21, 2010
    Total Miles: 236
    Baie Comeau to Gagnon
    We woke to clear skies and near perfect riding conditions.
    This is a good thing because we intend to be camping for the next 4 nights. I am a little anxious about today because this is the start of the gravel and I have never ridden gravel at all.
    After some breakfast and a top off the tanks, we started on highway 389 toward Manic Cinq. Our first stop of the day.
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    The road to Manic Cinq provided some very riding nice riding and scenic views
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    A quick photo of the little sister dam, Manic deux
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    Took a pit stop at the electric distribution plant.
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    Walked through one of the abandon buildings at the site.
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    Continued riding up to Manic Cinq and to make the 11:30 AM tour.
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    Was delayed slightly by some construction traffic
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    We got to the dam around 11:00 AM, though we were bummed that the tour is only in French, they have an excellent hand out and a very good diorama and photographic history.
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    The diorama
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    Learned some interesting facts about the dam
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    It was the largest dam in the world from 1965 – 1971
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    There are 13 arches and it is 703 feet high
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    Produces roughly 150k megawatts
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    Cool thing are the air gaps. Like for your house faucet but on a much larger scale
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    On opening day, the prime minister of Canada, Daniel Johnson was at the dam the night before opening ceremonies and died during the evening. They postponed the opening for a year.
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    The reason for allowing tours is that the minister of resources, Levisques was denied entrance to the construction site. He was so pissed off that he mandated tours to allow the public to see what was built.

    Secondary water retaining dam
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    We got to tour inside the hyrdo-plant (cue illicit photo not allowed to be taken….I swear my finger just bumped the shutter button)
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    We got to go inside the dam at the 7-8 arch.
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    We took a bus to the top of the dam as well.
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    Looking down the dam face
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    AnneSophie was our tour guide. While she only spoke French, we were given a hand out to follow along. And to be honest, the handout was extremely informative.
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    At the dam we met Charlie, ADV name: Welshmanincanada.

    John, AnneSophie, and Welshmanincanada
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    Me, Welshman, and John.
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    Welshman packing up his immaculate Transalp.
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    After the tour we got some lunch and gas from the nearby truck stop. As the TLH saying goes…when you see gas, get gas.

    It was during this stop that we actually met someone who was born in Gagnon. Matt was born in Gagnon during the last few years of the towns existence. Afterward his family moved out and resettled in other parts of Canada. Today he was riding up to Fermont to see a friend and continue on around the TLH.

    John and Mattcc
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    After getting gas and some camping food, (canned soup) we rode toward the dam and took our obligatory bike at the dam photos
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    We then started our ride toward Labrador
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    It was a near endless road to the horizon.
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    We then got to the gravel
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    I dropped a few lbs on the tires and was glad I installed the wider foot pegs.
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    The ride to Real Gabrielle was great. Hard packed dirt and since it rained there was no dust.
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    It was dual sport motorbike nirvana. (This one is for you DP)
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    Once at Real Gabrielle we meet several other riders who were heading north. Pavement Pounder, (Charlie B), his brother, his Dad and their wives were all riding clockwise on the TLH as well. It was a mini ADV rally there at the only gas station in the area for near;y 100 miles. We would meet up with them again at the ferry to Newfoundland.
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    When we got to Gagnon, we experienced the wonder and amazement that many other riders have have when they are suddenly confronted with a divided boulevard in the middle of nowhere.
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    As we were looking around, this dog seemingly came out of nowhere and jumped around us yelping and squirming to be petted.
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    We looked back over our shoulder and saw 4-5 work camp trailers with trucks pulled off the side of the main streets in Gagnon. Not sure what they were doing but obviously the dog came from them.

    Following that we headed north and started to search for a campsite for the night.

    One of the things I used during my planning of this trip was the topographic maps from Canada’s environmental site: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/topo/map

    I actually cut and pasted a screen shot each section of the TLH from the NRCAN site from Manic Cinq to HVGB to provide a overview of the road and scope out some good camping sites.
    Seeing that we were going to be camping in Gagnon, I wanted to find a good spot. On the maps there appeared a decent spot at the end of the runway in Gagnon right on the lake.
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    I think this is the primary ADV rider campsite for nearly all who ride the TLH. It was a great camping spot. Just enough wind to knock down the mosquitoes, water for bathing and dishes, and beautiful views. A near perfect camp site for the first night in the bush.
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    The MSR stove stopped working. For some reason the flow of fuel to the nozzle was being restricted. Therefore we had a cold soup for dinner.

    I tinkered with it throughout the night trying different things to remove the carbon deposits from the nozzle.
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    #5
  6. french horn

    french horn Just Add venture

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    475
    Location:
    Bundaberg Qld. Australia
    I just knocked some air from my office-chair wheels .... I'm in for the ride with yuz ... first I gotta refuel ...... high octane arabica in a huge mug :lol3:lol3.

    I'm ready .... lets go !!


    :clap:clap:clap
    #6
  7. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    12,116
    Location:
    Canada's ocean playground
    I'm in... :lurk

    Ken
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    #7
  8. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 4 August 22, 2010
    Gagnon – Near Churchill Falls
    Total Miles: 217

    Woke up early and instantly dreaded the thought of not having a working stove.
    After seeing an old key ring on my back pack I had a moment of inspiration. I bent the ring out and used the file on my leatherman to work the tip into a spear shape. This did the trick to clean out the nozzle.

    Mad props to the leatherman and an old key chain.
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    Victory!
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    Had some hot coffee hot coffee and watched the sunrise.
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    Today was the real deal for gravel riding.
    It was incredibly dusty and the gravel road made for some interesting riding conditions.
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    Sometimes the gravel riding was hard packed and easy
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    Other times it was like riding on a 3 inch bed of marbles
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    More than a few times I had the bike get a little wobbly but no real tank slappers.
    All my concentration and focus was on throttle control, feet on the pegs, 1000 yard stare to pick a line, and jump on the gas when it starts to get loose. It was hard work, but I was loving every minute of it.

    John struggled to get the correct tire pressure but eventually he got a setting that he was comfortable with.
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    We crossed the 52nd parallel
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    And started crossing the train tracks before Fermont and Lab City
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    As we got closer to Fermont and Lab City we noticed the mountains of tailings.
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    Look closely at the top of the hill. See the front end loader? That gives you a sense of scale for the size of these tailings
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    Here is the mine at Fermont
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    Road sign for when winter driving conditions shut down parts of the road.
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    Made it to Labrador Province
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    We got into Lab City around 11:45 AM. Picked up some gas, lunch and camping supplies.
    When we got to the camping supply store we had one of the more unique human interactions of the trip.
    The sales guy at the camp supply store had a classic Canadian accent and used the word fuck in every known grammatically correct form. Such as when describing the road to Happy Valley Goose Bay, “Oh it ain’t no fucking pretty picture eh? That fucking road is a fuck ball fuck up of messed fucking up proportions. It ain’t no fucking joke with any fucking body, eh? You boys don’t have a fucking clue what your fucking in for you know. You need to go to fucking church before you fucking head down that fucking road, it will tear you a new fucking one, eh?” Keep in mind his deep Canadian accent and his tendency to speak in a slightly sing song vocal inflection. I have no problem with colorful language. It has a time and place, but the overt use of the word fuck combined with his sing song inflection and Canadian accent had me nearly laughing out loud.

    But he raised an interesting question. Was the road really that bad? Would the fucking bears eat us in our fucking tent during the fucking night without us fucking knowing it? (As our expletive verbose camping supply sales representative stated) or would the road be fine and our biggest concerns would be only mosquitoes? Only three more days of gravel riding and camping in the wild outback of Labrador would tell.

    While poking around the local store in Lab City I came across this great story about a group of high school students visiting New York City.
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    We finished our errands and hit the road.
    The road out of Churchill Falls is paved for about 45 miles. It was a nice respite to the concentration and focus of gravel riding.
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    While on the way to Churchill Falls we were flagged to a stop by an escort vehicle. He stated they were bringing a heavy load down the road and recommended we pull to the side and wait for it to pass.
    About a minute later we see this procession coming toward us.

    First it was a front end loader
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    Okay…that’s a big load, but was it necessary to pull over and stop?

    Then it was a GINORMOUS BOX on a flat bed trailer. I don’t think the picture can give you a sense of scale, but the thing was huge.
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    Here is the crazy part. There were two trucks hauling the load; one was pulling and this one was attached to the trailer pushing the load.
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    We later found out the box was a piece of equipment that had been changed out at the Churchill Falls Hydro plant.

    We continued on and finally stopped about 20 miles outside Churchill Falls to camp. This camp site again came to me while reviewing the NRCAN website. I could tell from the map that the side road went right along side the lake. So from the map it should be a good place to camp. IE nice scenery and slight breeze from the reservoir. It did not disappoint. We actually camped on the levee that was built as part of the retainer for the spill over reservoir from the Churchill Falls diversion bay. It was fantastic.

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    We followed bear camp precautions and cooked our dinner 100 yards away from camp and then stored the food another 100 yards further downwind.

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    Cooked up ( with our now working stove) a nice bowl of chili
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    Complete with appropriate accoutrements
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    As we ate the sun set over the reservoir
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    And the moon started to rise
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    We then made a little fire and had some scotch.
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    Overall the day was great. We scored another fantastic camping spot and had a hot dinner and a good scotch. In spite of being covered in dust and exhausted from the extended concentration required to ride gravel, I was having the time of my life.
    #8
  9. pelvis_98

    pelvis_98 Havin A Time

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,350
    Location:
    Oxford Station, Ontario
    :lurk
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    64,535
    Time of your life on the TL.. thanks for the pics and the report :thumb
    #10
  11. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 5
    August 23, 2010
    Near Churchill Falls to Phase III of TLH
    Total Miles: 237

    We woke early and watched the sunrise over the reservoir.
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    The ride into Churchill Falls was a pleasant and almost relaxing experience.
    We cruised past the Churchill Falls Hyrdo plant.
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    At the company town center, we meet some other adventure riders. We met three guys who were riding east. We would meet up with them again at the ferry.

    We also met a couple from Toronto, Amanda and Will who had been on the road for almost a year touring all of Canada and the US.
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    After breakfast we hit the road and started working our way toward Happy Valley Goose Bay.
    It was during this section of the trip that we experienced our first grader.
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    We continued to press on and put more miles on the bikes. Things were going well. Over all the gravel riding was going well also. I had a good feel for the bike, I was doing well on the throttle control, and I was able to find a good line through the really deep gravel sections.

    The scenery was great and it was a good day to be on the bike.
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    About 40 miles outside of Churchill Falls, I was enjoying the view, cruising along about 40 mph and getting comfortable in my ride, when all hell broke loose. The bike started to get a little squirrely, but nothing too bad. A little wiggle in the back but par for the gravel road. However, before I could lay on more throttle to settle down the wiggle the front handle bars went ape shit. Fierce side to side saying that nearly tore the bars from my hand. My elbows were flailing about like a broken windmill and I could feel my head start the disorienting side to side wag that comes from a serious tank slapper. At the same time the bike started on a divergent angle for the opposite side of the road. The drop off from the road surface to the tundra below was about 7 feet and the rocks at the bottom of the road drop off were the size of beach balls. My adrenaline system did a massive dump into my nerves and I felt myself getting tunnel vision/scope lock on the rocks at the bottom of the roads edge. It was against all instinct to turn my eyes back to the center of the road and lay on the throttle. The engine rev&#8217;d up, the bike dug in and straightened out but within roughly a foot of the left hand side road edge. In addition I had over exerted my throttle application and was now speeding at more than 80 mph. When I finally started breathing, I gently and backed down the speed and slowly brought the bike to a stop. John was probably 15 mins ahead of me and had no idea what was going on.

    Of all the sphincter pucker moments on the trip this one by far scared me the most. As I stopped the bike, I got off, leaned over and put my hands on my knees. It took a good 10 mins or so to catch my breath and bring my heart rate bpm to less than 150.

    I took a few moments to help reset my brain from the &#8220;oh shit that was too close to an unplanned gear test&#8221;
    The road of truth
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    I was still breathing pretty hard at this time.
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    After about 15 mins I got back on the bike and slowly caught up with John.
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    We took a few more snap shots and then continued our journey to HVGB.
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    During this trip, I was asked many times what is like riding on the Trans Labrador Highway gravel road.
    It is difficult to define any one section of the TLH as good or bad. It is like asking what the weather is like in the United States. Depending on the part of the country and time of year&#8230;it could be great or really bad depending on where you are and what is your current perception of the road condition. The Trans Lab highway is like that. Some sections of the road I found to be just fine turned out to be real &#8220;Oh shit&#8221; moments for John. Like wise, sections that I thought were going to be &#8220;riding gear test moments&#8221; were met with mere blahs from some of the other riders we met during the trip.

    Coming into Happy Valley Goose Bay around 2:30 we hit a section of pavement. It was a nice respite after my earlier experiences in the day. [​IMG]

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    Alias, it was the ultimate tease. Soon after we came across the road crew who were paving towards HVGB. So after less than 3 miles of pavement it was back to gravel for another 30 or so miles.

    At the Happy Valley Goose Bay sign, we took the obligatory victory shots and did a little happy dance to have made it to the northern point of our ride.
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    We cruised into town and filled up the gas tanks and grabbed some more camp food, simple sandwiches and other supplies.
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    As I was packing away some of the gear I noticed my top case was a little askew. After further examination I noticed that the hinge on the back side of the case had lost its pin. To fix it I had to trim some of the plastic from the hinge.
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    Next I threaded a zip tie through the newly enlarged hinge.
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    The zip ties were a tad short and therefore I had to use two.
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    We then grabbed a few more liters of fuel and put them into our empty Gatorade bottles, topped off the tanks to make sure they were full and started on the phase III section.

    Spare fuel ready to go.
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    The road sign for the new section
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    The fuel check sign
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    We crossed the new bridge
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    And started on the new road section
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    Look closely and you will see a small fox in the photo
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    A little road art
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    The original plan was to ride about 3 hours on the new section then pull over to find a place to camp. However, John and I were completely knackered from the ride. We both needed to camp.

    A word for those who would like to camp on the phase III section. After the first 50 miles past the Churchill River bridge there are very few places to pull into off the road and camp. Many of the logging roads and rock quarry sites were bulldozed out and are no longer accessible. You can find them, but they are few and far between.

    We found a logging road about 35 miles outside past HVGB and started climbing. At first I just wanted to pull in and camp, but the road kept climbing, and climbing, and climbing. Eventually we came to an old rock quarry at the top of a mountain. Here there was a roughly two football field sized section of stone beds, sheer cliffs rising about 60 feet and another plateau above that. This was camp for the night.

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    View from the top of the cliff of the quarry.
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    Amazingly there was a small rock quarry pond in the bottom of the pit perfect for rising off the daily grime from the day.

    After setting up camp, we hiked to the top of the quarry and started on dinner.
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    Tonight&#8217;s menu: grilled burgers and beans.
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    John was cooking up the beans
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    It was very tasty
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    As we ate the sun set over the mountains
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    Like the night before, we followed appropriate bear precautions by cooking more than 100 yards away from the tents, and storing all food another 100 years downwind from that location.
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    We did not make a fire near our tents and John sacked our early.

    After tinkering with my bike for about an hour and prepping my gear for the morning&#8217;s ride, I climbed into my tent and into my sleeping bag. Just as I was starting to fall asleep, John calls out, &#8220; Hey Michael&#8230;did you here that?&#8221;
    Me, &#8220;No&#8221;
    John,&#8221; There it is again, I think something is near my tent.&#8221;
    &#8220;Ok,&#8221; I respond.
    A few more moments of silence.
    John, &#8220;There it is again.&#8221; A long pause, &#8220;Hey Michael can you check it out and see if it is a bear.&#8221;
    Dear ADV readers, I would like for you to ponder this scene for a moment. I am in my sleeping bag, eyes closed, and starting to dream of another days adventure, when my good friend has asked me to check out the possible presence of a creature whose current surroundings place it in a slightly higher position on the food chain than my existing level.
    So with a slight groan, I get out of my bag, put on my sneakers, grab a wimpy LED light, my bear spray canister and climb out of my tent. I stagger over to John&#8217;s tent at the prime bear feeding hour of 10 PM. Keep in mind that I am standing in a rock quarry wearing my boxer shorts, sneakers and nothing else. To a hungry bear I must have looked like a vanilla popsicle, adorned with a decorative light and holding a can of appetizer spice. As I got near John&#8217;s tent, he spoke out with a little more urgency in his voice, &#8220;There it is again, it&#8217;s right near my tent!&#8221; I calmly shown the light around his tent and there was nothing. About this time the breeze picked up once again and gently rattled the side of John&#8217;s tent. &#8220;Oh there it is again&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;.Maybe it&#8217;s the wind,&#8221; John stated in a voice of satisfied conclusion to the mystery.

    &#8220;John, you got me up out of my tent to check for a bear that you now realize is the wind?&#8221; I gritted with more than a slight irritation in my voice.

    Several seconds of noticeable silence ensued.

    &#8220;Dude, I am so sorry, I did not know you had turned in. I really feel like a dickhead&#8221; John responded.

    I started laughing out loud at the situation. &#8220;Don&#8217;t sweat it dude&#8230;totally not a big deal,&#8221; I responded as I started back to my tent. To John&#8217;s credit since he had gone to be earlier he did not know I was in my tent when the &#8220;wind bear&#8221; starting rattling his tent. In addition, I could have been more vocal in telling John to stuff it and check for his own tent for man eating bears. But hey&#8230;what are friends for? (Besides making sure they get eaten by bears.)

    The next morning we found these bear tracks about 50 yards from our tents.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow night will be John&#8217;s turn to get up and check for bears.
    #11
  12. OldAndBusted

    OldAndBusted Needs a little work...

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    400
    Location:
    VT, USA
    great thread! can't wait to do trans lab myself.
    #12
  13. lakota

    lakota Geeser

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,602
    Location:
    Annapolis MD
    enjoying your report. we were about a week behind you on the road.
    #13
  14. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 6
    August 24, 2010
    Phase III to St Mary&#8217;s Harbor
    Miles: 225
    After a few moments looking at the bear tracks, we packed up our gear and hit the road.

    Phase III was as desolate and remote as I had imagined.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At lunchtime we cooked up some chili on the side of the road.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After lunch John opted to put in some of his spare fuel.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the early afternoon we rode into a huge rain storm.
    [​IMG]

    This made for an interesting riding experience. When riding on a gravel road in the rain, you have to make a choice, ride the defined track with the water ponding in the track, or ride the gravel in the middle. Riding the track means sloshing through the water, fighting hydroplane, and getting smacked around by the bike being forced into the water. Picking the gravel line means riding the ultimate gravel ride; single minded focus and constant throttle control to keep the bike on line and avoid tank slappers. During some of the more heavy rain showers it was incredibly intense, unnerving, singularly scary, and my most frenetic riding experience to date.

    Whenever I would get into a moment of suck, (tired, sweaty, dusty, hungry, frustrated, wet, or in any way uncomfortable with some part of the trip) I would simply think of Sir Earnest Shacklton&#8217;s second officer on his Endurance Expedition, Thomas Crain. For those of you who may not know the story; after losing their ship to ice pack and being stranded on Elephant Island near Antarctica, a small group of survivors set out in the skiff, James Caird to try and reach South Georgia Island for a rescue. They had little water, even less food, cramped conditions, and no ocean charts to guide them across nearly 800 nautical miles to Elephant Island. After a particularly nasty storm Shakleton asked Crain how he was doing, &#8220; Aye sir, it is a fine day for an adventure&#8221; he responded.
    That is what I would tell myself when I was in the suck of this trip, it is a fine day for an adventure. I volunteered for this adventure, put myself in this situation, and was responsible for how I would respond to the tough times during this ride. I was living as I had wanted to live for some time.

    We passed the Cartwright Junction
    [​IMG]


    As the rain let up we finally rolled into Port Hope Simpson.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We got gas at Port Hope Simpson. My gas gauge told the tale.
    [​IMG]

    We pushed on through more rain storms
    [​IMG]

    Rolled into St Mary&#8217;s Harbor around 5 pm.
    [​IMG]

    It was starting to rain again and we were totally exhausted. After dinner we took the only room left at the Riverview Lodge and spent the next couple of hours drying out and resetting our gear.
    [​IMG]

    Obligatory adventure gear explosion in hotel room picture.
    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 7
    August 25, 2010
    St. Mary&#8217;s Harbor Labrador to St. Anthony, Newfoundland
    Total mileage: 214
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    I woke up really early and walked around St. Mary&#8217;s Harbor.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    In the early 60&#8217;s there was a resettlement program to move families here from other smaller fishing villages. Full resettlement was completed in 1970.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The breakfast room opened and we had a full breakfast.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Learned about baked apple jam. Damn was it good.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    After breakfast I got my gear and walked out to my bike.
    When I came out to the bike there were some guys standing around looking at it. As I started to load gear, one of said, &#8220;hey looks like you laid it down.&#8221; Huh? While I had come close to wiping out I definitely did not crash in the past 7 days. &#8220;What do you mean?&#8221; I responded. They pointed to a loose turn signal light. Hmmm must have vibrated loose from the road. Before I could respond or even look at the light one of the guys got some electrical tape and taped the lamp shut.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    That is nice I thought. I thanked them and tried to ask them a few more questions, where you from, where you traveling, etc. But they were standoffish and quickly left the parking lot without saying much. I did not think much about it until about an hour later when I noticed, the side case was scratched and the bar end was slightly bent. While I certainly can&#8217;t prove it, I bet one of those bastards had sat on the bike and tipped it over.
    <o:p></o:p>
    While I was finishing up packing a nice elderly gentleman came up. He had ridden bikes up back in Idaho and was full of questions about our ride. He also talked about being in Gander, Newfoundland during the 9/11 event. He was part of the group that helped take care of the passengers that were stranded in Gander as planes from overseas were prevented from entering US airspace. He recommended a book about the event, &#8220;The Day the World Came to Town.&#8221; By all accounts it seems a very interesting book.
    Here is John taking a photo of my bike
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    We hit the road mid morning. The scenery changed from low pine forest tundra to broader plains with gentle hills.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The last 30k of gravel was a full representative of all the gravel we had experienced for the last 4 days; thick gravel, pea gravel, packed gravel, well worn gravel, tracked gravel, and my favorite, messy gravel. It was one last &#8220;F-You&#8221; from the gravel road before we hit the pavement.
    As we pulled into the Red Bay John and I stopped for a couple of pictures.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Right after this photo was taken, I pulled out to go in front of John I hit a particularly nasty patch of messy deep gravel and bam! I was sliding on the road surface.
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    In true ADV Rider spirit, John kept the photos going while I was recovering from the crash and assessing if I was okay.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Fortunately the speed was no more than 20 mph and the gear worked as intended.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Here was the most overt damage.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    This low speed slide fully broke the turn signal, really bent the bar end and definitely made the right saddlebag look misshapen. In addition, my crash bars gained a few new scratches. But otherwise no worse for the wear.
    <o:p></o:p>
    The incredibly ironic thing is that I went down less than 500 meters from where the gravel ends.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Here we are at the end of the pavement:
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Riding into Blanc Sablon
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    We got to the ferry around 12:30. While in line for the ferry we meet up with the group from earlier in our trip.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Tied down and ready for the ferry
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The ferry ride provided a nice opportunity to visit and chat with some of the other riders.
    Al, Charlie, and Bernie.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    L to R: Me, John, Al, Charlie, Bernie, and Dominque.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Our ferry captain at work
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    After the ferry we rode the northwest tip of Newfoundland in search of icebergs. As we rode through the hamlets and fishing villages coves there were some wicked cross winds.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    We got in to St Anthony&#8217;s around 5 pm. We were hoping to see an iceberg but unfortunately none were in the area. We poked around town and got a room at the New Haven Inn.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    #15
  16. RRVT

    RRVT Wild and Crazy Guy

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    234
    Location:
    Burlington, VT
    Oh man, that sucks to go down like that on the finish line. I remember those last few miles as being particularly nasty and as I was descending into the town, all I could think was "Please, not now, it's almost over". Later I found out other riders in my group had the same thoughts.
    #16
  17. Doug329

    Doug329 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Oddometer:
    80
    Location:
    Vine Valley, NY (Finger Lakes Region)
    When we rode the TLH in 2008, we did it East to West. When we got to Marys Harbor that 1st day, after those 40k of gravel (the last part for you), I was thinking if this was what the road was like, this was going to be a long ride. As you know know, it actually got better the further West we went.
    Nice ride report, great pictures..thanks for sharing.
    Doug
    #17
  18. sailer

    sailer trained Cirus Bear

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,016
    Location:
    North Andover, Mass
    great report, planing a trip for next year so this is my required reading.

    loved the bear story

    thanks for the link to canada top maps
    i plan to put those to use
    #18
  19. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 8 - August 26, 2010
    St. Anthony to Gros Morne National Park
    Total Miles 260
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    During breakfast I realized that I had slept over 11 hours. The work of travel was really starting to affect me. But it was the good kind of work. The kind of work that inhibits all parts of your mind in which a simple pattern of activity is the main focus; wake up, eat, ride, eat, ride, stop, eat, sleep, repeat as necessary. This is what the vacation was all about.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    On our way down to Gros Morne National park we stopped and met Steve, Darrell, and John. Steve work for the RCMP as a forensic scientist. Darrell was a professor and John was a professional blacksmith. However, in their spare time they were Viking historians and recreated various Viking occurrences. Most recently they smelted ore at the original Viking landing site in Newfoundland using only traditional methods that would have been made available to the Vikings during their time in Newfoundland. According to Steve it was the first time ore was smelted at the Viking site since the Vikings first landed in Newfoundland more than 1000 years ago. Very cool.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    We stopped for lunch in Hawkes Bay. Had simple sandwiches and chips. It was during lunch that I saw the most bizarre chicken and ribs advertisement. I would have never thought to have a chicken surfing a set of ribs to advertise the chicken and ribs special.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    It was at this point that Johns BMW decided to start acting out. For some reason it would not start. John had recently installed a jump start kit which allow you to easily jump the bike by plugging in a direct link and then to the charging bike.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    John was getting frustrated with his bike and was making various grumbling about the reliability of BNW. I was beaming with pride as I hooked up the jumpers. Suzuki to the rescue!
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    While we were on our way&#8230;this would be a foreshadowing of future events. As John was getting on his bike he commented that since his bike was now running and we should give it some praise. In my best Colonel Klink German accented voice I decried,&#8221; Nien! I vill not Sig Heil yourn Beemerstien in junkin motorbike!&#8221;

    Working our way down to Gros Morne
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    After about an hour we stopped at Parsons Pond for a little break. It was at this time that Johns bike decided to really act up. First he got a check engine light. Then we he got an ABS light. Finally the bike just shut down and stopped working. John went to DEFCON 4 on the pissed off scale of bike reliability discussion. My constant bad German accented pattering of &#8220;In zat perhaps yourn bemerstien should go to zee Castle Wolfstien ya?&#8221; was not exactly helping the situation. So with a dead bike and the possibility of being stranded in a foreign land with a bum bike John did what any rational BMW owner should do we faced with these circumstances, he called his BMW dealer. ( It should be noted that he is on a first name basis with his authorized BMW mechanic.)
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The conversation went something like this;
    John, &#8220;Hey Dave,&#8221;
    Dave,&#8221; Oh hey John, how&#8217;s the bike?&#8221;
    &#8220;um&#8230;I am stuck in Newfoundland with a bike that won&#8217;t start and a check engine light, and an ABS light&#8230;what do you think?&#8221;
    &#8220;Well, you need to bring it to an authorized BMW dealership as soon as possible&#8221;
    &#8220;DUDE!&#8230;I know that but I am in 20 person fishing hamlet in Newfoundland, where is the nearest BMW dealer? &#8220;
    Dealer,&#8221; I don&#8217;t really know&#8230;.maybe you should call the main number.&#8221;
    It was at this point that John hit DEFCON 5 and hung up the phone. What proceed next was a 10 minute curse filled expletives directed at BMW Motorad and the authorized dealer network. Colonel Klink was enjoying this quite immensely and joined in with several &#8220;ja, ja&#8230;zein Beemer iz a piece of shita&#8221;. During this time John&#8217;s digging through his gear looking for the previously lost BMW manual.
    <o:p></o:p>
    The loss of the manual, the aloof attitude of BMW dealer, and my Colonel Klink patter did not help with John&#8217;s current situation. After 20 mins cooler heads prevailed and it was decided to jump the bike again and get to the campsite where we would work on the bike ourselves. Colonel Klink agreed.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Moose signs

    [​IMG]

    <o:p></o:p>
    We rolled into Trout River Camp ground about 7:30 PM.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Riding into Gros Morne
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    John&#8217;s bike completely died again just short of the camp site and we pushed it to the camp site.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    We quickly set up camp.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    And just as quickly consumed 6 Canadian Brews, 8 hot dogs, two bags for chips, and 4 chocolate pudding packs.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    As the last of desert was being consumed the rain commenced. It rained, and rained, and rained and rained. Work on the bike would have to wait.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    John tucked in early and I hung out under the tarp glad that I brought the tarp and even more happy that I had set it up. It was nice to lay under the tarp nice and dry while it rained and contemplate what would happen if the tarp fell (forshadowing)
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    I crawled into my tent and quickly lapsed into a deep rained induced sleep.
    <o:p></o:p>
    At 2 AM the rain was coming down so hard that the sides of my tent were caving in from the water falling. Strange I thought in a sleep induced haze&#8230;the tarp was up earlier. What if it fell? I reached my hand out of my bag to try and prop myself up and peer out the tent and through the rain fly. It was at this time that I felt the seldom used &#8220;river option&#8221; had been enacted inside my tent. Through the power of osmosis roughly 1 gallon of water had been sucked up through fabric of my tent and was deposited all around my sleeping pad. (My sleeping pad is about 3 inches off the ground) I was in essence asleep in a lake. Watching my backpack float by, I groaned at the thought of wet gear in the morning and sighed fuck it and went back to sleep.
    #19
  20. MK Bike

    MK Bike D2T

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NYC
    Day 9 - August 27, 2010
    Total Miles: 210
    Gros Morne to Port Aux Basque

    It must have rained 12 inches last night. While there was a small lake in my tent, there was a freaking reservoir around the outside of my tent. From a distance my tent must have looked liked one of the Hopewell rocks surrounded by water at high tide.
    Fortunately the rain stopped in the early AM and I was able to pack the rain soaked gear in relative dryness.
    [​IMG]

    We knew we had to jump start John&#8217;s bike. So after getting all the gear packed we hooked up the jumper cables.
    [​IMG]

    After waiting the appropriate length of time John turned the key&#8230;. click, click, nothing. Even the panel lights were dim. We tried a few more times but it would not jump. Given my wet clothing, hungry disposition, and overall dour demeanor I did not summon Colonel Klink to try and lighten the mood. We had a ferry to catch that evening and the non-starting BMW was starting to get annoying. A kindly couple from the next camp site came over and broke out some tools to help. We started on the 250 step process to get to Johns battery. The battery on John's BMW is buried beneath the body panels.
    John starting on the body panels
    [​IMG]

    Our option was to use the neighbors camper battery to start the bike then get it to a snowmobile, CamAm shop for some proper diagnosis. As I was disconnecting John&#8217;s battery I noticed the issue, his negative terminal had rattled loose from the battery terminal. I chuckled at my own myopic diagnosis. I applied a few turns of the screw driver and John&#8217;s bike started right up. All was saved for the trip.

    Making miles in the morning
    [​IMG]

    Riding out of Gros Morne
    [​IMG]

    We grabbed some breakfast at Maynards just outside the main road from the campsite.
    [​IMG]

    It was a wonderful breakfast
    [​IMG]

    Until I noticed the seal meat dinner sign. After that I almost wanted to throw up and rip down the sign. (save your opinions about seal meat for jo mama)
    [​IMG]

    Some horses outside the restaurant
    [​IMG]

    We rode for another 5 to 6 hours and got absolutely soaked again by more rain storms.

    We stopped in a small town for a break and went to a local dealer.
    [​IMG]

    I was able to get a replacement bolt for my hand guard.
    [​IMG]

    Around 5:00 pm we rode into Port Aux Basques with 6 hours until our ferry. We needed showers, laundry and food. Port Aux Basques is a town of 5,000 people. Surely they should have a laundry. Such was not the case. Person after person confirmed that there had been a laundry at some time, but no more.

    Odd door in Port Aux Basques
    [​IMG]

    We rode around for another 20 mins and somehow ended up at the Small Craft Harbor for port Aux Basques. It was at this ironic juncture that I noted the services provided for the small craft harbor master office, &#8220;Car Rental, Showers, and Laundry&#8221; Ta da&#8230;..
    [​IMG]


    We did our laundry and dried everything out.
    [​IMG]

    Bike at the harbor
    [​IMG]

    Ferry taking off
    [​IMG]

    Some dogs pulled up in an SUV and kept us company
    [​IMG]

    Outdoor concert near the harbor
    [​IMG]

    Wings and beer appetizer
    [​IMG]

    I had a moose burger which was actually quite good.
    [​IMG]

    Spoke with a group of people in the parking lot who saw 81 moose on a recent weekend camping trip to Gros Morne Park.
    [​IMG]

    We got in line for the MV Atlantic vision. There were many people in line and it was quite picturesque with the various trucks, cars, and people in line to take the ferry.

    Our ride for the night
    [​IMG]

    Watching the ferry coming in
    [​IMG]

    Trucks ready for ferry
    [​IMG]

    Bikes lined up for ferry
    [​IMG]

    We boarded the ferry around 11:00 PM and quickly went to our cabin. It was much nicer than I imagined and I was relieved to have a dry clean bed.
    [​IMG]

    I quickly went to sleep.
    #20