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Dreaming of Trans Taiga

Discussion in 'Canada' started by skibum69, Jan 30, 2021.

  1. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yes, I've lived at those latitudes and I think you're right about Sept road conditions. Plus we should get comfortable riding and camping temps.
    Still finding a few older RRs about the Route Du Nord and the Trans Taiga Road. Good stuff.
    Wouldn't be surprised if there's snowmobile traffic between Radisson and Schefferville especially if sledders can trailer their machines to the end of the TT. Probably a nice days run to Schefferville on snowmobile in March or April.
  2. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I pinged Throttlemeister after having another look at his RR from '09 when I didn't go with him. He suggested we put our bikes on planes and take them the Schefferville. Might be hard to get them out as Bob would know.

    When I went through Lab City in '08 it was 90ºF in the middle of September. Here's hoping this year is similar.
  3. fredgreen

    fredgreen Beer drinkin Bluenoser

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    Not gonna happen. That’s a lot of dough to fly a bike, then ride a rail bed out of town.
  4. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile Supporter

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    Quite feasible to ship bikes by rail from Sept Isles, Emeril/Ross Bay Jct. or Esker to Schefferville, ride around a bit and ship them back same way. I would not recommend riding on that track.
    Years ago I rode the train ride from Sept Isles to Lab City to Schefferville. It would be nice to do again but I think you'd need to be geared up for camping... sleeping bag, food, drink, maps etc.
  5. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I remember your story of going up there, it sounded like fun.
  6. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    I'm hoping to have another shot at the Trans Labrador this year, as when I tried to complete it a couple of years ago, there was a large washout just past HV-GB that foiled my plans. However, I've also been contemplating riding the Trans Taiga again too, as I absolutely loved this ride, but this time solo. If I do ride the TT, I definitely want to get to Fort George Island and travel to Nunavut. I'm not sure I'll get the bike there, but I at least want to hike out to the western end of the island. The wife is giving me 10 days to take a trip this year. I'm kind of thinking that the border will still be closed though, and I'll be staying in the states.

    Some thoughts, having done the ride a few years ago.

    On the ride up, take the North Road and Eastmain Road, they're both worthy gravel roads in their own rights, particularly the Eastmain Road.

    As was touched on, supposedly Air Saguenay is now closed/sporadic at the end at Caniapiscau. I certainly wouldn't count on it being open fuel-wise.

    You owe it to yourselves to take the south branch of the Trans Taiga. There's not much info out there about it, and, in fact, I had never heard of it until @John F mentioned it in a planning thread. It was by far the best part of the trip. I could have spent 2 days riding the road, stopping to take pictures, take in the scenery, etc. The views along that road are just spectacular. It's so remote that it makes the TT feel like a super highway once you get back on it. I do regret not camping at the end of the road, but my schedule just wouldn't allow it. If I remember correctly, the south branch was about 70 miles to the end, so 140 miles round trip, and this is not high speed gravel riding either. If there is no fuel at Caniapiscau, that's a lot of fuel to pack. What I'd do is to drop some off at Brisay and refill and pick it up on your way back.

    A smaller bike and knobbier tire is better as far as I'm concerned. I rode about 40 miles of the TT (20 down and 20 back) a few years ago on my SV650 on street tires. It sucked and was dicey, though this was with seriously 100% street sport touring tires, so what did I expect? When I rode it to the end, I was on a WR250R and IRC TR8 tires, and it was a breeze and just plain fun. The downside was I had to pack an extra rear tire with me and swap it out along the way at camp because of the mileage on the knobbies, but it was worth it IMO.

    We ran into this hole between Brisay and Caniapiscau. It would have been a show-stopper if hit at speed.

    [​IMG]

    The sand holes got real squirrely real fast too, though I do think having a light weight bike with knobbies made them more of an annoyance than a hazard.


    I really do hope both the US and Canada get flooded with vaccines and the border opens up again. I'm really hoping to ride the TT or the TL again... But I'm tentatively planning to ride the NEBDR instead, as I suspect 2021 will be a wash. We'll see. I'll keeping my eye on this thread though.
    skibum69, 'Bob', Vark and 1 other person like this.
  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    damn, that photo brought back some memories. i found the same thing out there, except the road cut was the entire east bound lane. looking down that stretch of road, i saw a stick with a piece of flagging ribbon on it, WTF is that marking? the road cut was four feet deep, and would have killed a rider stone freakin' dead. i checked the archives for a photo, haven't found it yet. west bound, i passed a grader that had been dispatched to fix it, the operator had his foot to the floor.

    i've been tempted to put up my sand hole story.
  8. joe a

    joe a No Map

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    Trans Taiga 2008

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  9. John F

    John F Been here awhile

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    You had mentioned this hole when you got back, and I kept my eye out for it when I went through there about four weeks after you, and I never saw it. Either they filled it in or I just missed it. Definitely would have been a bummer to hit at any speed.

    And regarding gas, I heard somebody has taken over the tank farm at the end after Air Saguenay went belly up. I also heard that gas is available at the residential area at Brisay via a pseudo-cardlock pump. Supposedly you pick up a HydroQuebec phone in a hut next to a HydroQuebec pump, give them your credit card number, and they turn on the pump remotely. Or so I heard. Definitely don't count on either, but hope for both. I'm sure Mirage can still call ahead for you for info in the gas at the end, and a phone call to HydroQuebec before you leave home would verify any gas at Brisay.
    skibum69 likes this.
  10. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    We did what we could to make it more visible, and found a marker along the side of the road and came back and put it in the hole to signal anyone coming behind us of the danger.

    [​IMG]

    Please do put your sand hole story! We're all ears.
    skibum69, 'Bob' and Vark like this.
  11. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    That's good to hear someone else has taken over. I'm actually quite surprised there is the demand for fuel to keep it open now that the caribou hunting in Quebec has stopped. I don't know that I'd be crazy calling and giving out my credit card number and hope they turn on a pump, especially with potential language barriers. I'd rather just pack more fuel!
  12. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    sand holes are no joke on the northern gravel, here's some TT sand holes...

    I hadn’'t seen any vehicles yet, but as I continued west, graders had worked the road yesterday and I could see some tire tracks. I had adopted the practice of using the banking in the corners just like everyone else when I had a sight line through the curve. This kept me out of the deep gravel on top and usually there was a well worn line down low, sometimes two.

    I was riding comfortably at 50 and downshifted to 5th for a little compression braking as I rapidly approached a sweeping left hand curve. There was moderate banking here with deep gravel thrown up the banking and covering the whole west bound lane. I dropped down and picked a line on the upper track in the east bound side, ran over a patch of marbles, drifted a little lower, and rode right into a deep sand hole saturated by the recent rain.

    The front wheel dropped into the hole and the bars were nearly ripped from my hands. I was on the gas instantly, the front end lifted, the rear end came around left, and I roared up out of that sand like I was attached to a bungie cord. Now I’'m crossed up right, shooting up the banking at a shallow angle, and in real trouble. My entire world was inside a little circle centered on the bike where the action was going by in high def clarity. Everything outside that circle was a complete blur.

    Off the gas a fraction of a second, the bike straightened up, but I’'m in the marbles on top of the banking and about to run off the road. Stab the shifter into 4th without the clutch, lean left, and now the rear is coming around right in a spray of loose gravel. I can'’t believe I’'m up. Still at 40 going down the banking at an angle, now I'’m going to run off into the trees at the inside of the curve, not in control yet. I muscled the bike back around right, stabbed the shifter again, and on the gas in 3rd when I find another sand hole down low. The bike snapped upright and instead of another lowside, I almost highside. I wanted to be going right and ended up coming around left, still on the gas, that engine was howling. I was moving too fast to catch the upper east bound track, but landed in the hard lower track, upright, straight, and coasting. My heart had stopped beating. I had forgotten how to breathe. My throat felt like sandpaper, I know I was yelling something on that roller coaster, don’'t ask me exactly what. It was all over in some very long seconds.

    I never stopped. If I hadn'’t been dazed, I might have. At a quarter mile I was fidgeting around in the seat trying to get comfortable again, and at the half mile mark I was back in 6th and rollin'’ west at 50. There was nothing else to do. I had been riding at a deliberate pace, not slow, but not nutso fast either. I couldn'’t think of anything to change. Being in 5th sure helped me power out of that first hole, and not for the first time, but 4th gear was the one that saved my ass. From that curve forward, I thought of 4th as my “get me the fuck outta here” gear, and would need it again on the gravel ahead.

    skibum69, 'Bob' and GravelRider like this.
  13. Vark

    Vark Long timer

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    I don’t have the experience you guys do, but 50 (assuming you mean mph) seems nutty fast for that terrain given the potential hazards.

    If you mean 50 kph, that is more like it. But given the gear you were in it sounds like mph.
  14. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    sand hole victim on the 389, $4000 damage to a F800GS, badly banged up rider...

    When I get to Relais Gabriel, I find an ADV rendezvous in progress, four dual sports in travel mode. My Newfy truck and trailer friend was there too. The group leader came over to introduce himself, and after some initial confusion in which I thought he was a rider from New Hampshire, and he thought I was a rider from Maryland, we got back on the right track. It turned out we both knew the other from posts on the ADV forum, and weren't all that surprised to meet. Remember, there's basically just one road up here.

    The riders were Mark, Jason, and Roman, all from Vermont and were riding a custom Wee Strom, Tiger, and F800GS respectively. The fourth rider was Martin from Argentina via New York, and he was on a 12GS.


    [​IMG]

    The group seemed a little unsettled, and I quickly found out that Roman had gone down hard just after starting the gravel above Manic 5, the victim of a sand hole. Hmmm, I know a few things about those. Both Roman and the 800 were a little beat up, but both ready to start north again today. Marked showed me the duct taped 800, and blamed the soft suspension for the wreck. I can't say that I've paid much attention to that bike, but when Mark pointed out that the forks didn't have any adjustment, I was surprised. Even my cheap ass rat bike has adjustable forks. The problem with a real soft suspension in those holes is that the hole swallows the whole bike before you can get the front wheel up and out. You're down quicker than you can snap your fingers. I have to give Roman credit, he was hurt but still back in the saddle, ready to go. Perseverance is a valued commodity across the North, and it ain't something you can go out and buy.
    skibum69, 'Bob' and GravelRider like this.
  15. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Things get squirrely at the lower speeds believe it or not. I tried to settle in around 50-60 mph on the straights, and a bit slower around the turns, depending on how tight they were. Obviously, this is very condition-dependent, but going too slow will lead to prolonged white-knuckled riding.
    Vark likes this.
  16. Smashy

    Smashy Been here awhile

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    50-60 miles or kms?
  17. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    MPH. I edited my post to make it clear.
  18. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Another thing regarding fuel planning. Fuel mileage decreases up here. I don't know if it's the fuel quality, how we're riding, the gravel, etc. But on both trips up here (one just the James Bay and the other the TT), fuel mileage significantly decreased. And many others have reported similar drops in fuel mileage. I would certainly plan in a bit of a fuel buffer.
    joe a and Vark like this.
  19. fredgreen

    fredgreen Beer drinkin Bluenoser

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    I wouldn't exactly call the the NEBDR in 2021 a wash. I am booked in for CROMAG in VT is September if the border is open. Hoping to do a section or two of the BDR if I make it down..
    skibum69 likes this.
  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    by the end of summer, all of Canada could be vaccinated...depending.