Headed north to the Trans-taiga Road

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Scanning4adv, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    I know conditions can vary. When I road this last week...it is unlike, by a long long way, any gravel road in Michigan. How do you rate this road vs. the Dalton or others. South America?
    #61
  2. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    I think other people are looking for info here. I’m guessing many haven’t ridden northern Canadian roads, maybe I’m wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ride it alone. My focus is on people who haven’t ridden remote Canadian roads and what to expect, not on what you are doing, or what you should do. I don’t know what area someone else would come from, but this road is unlike any gravel road I have ever seen in Michigan...by a very long shot ...as of the conditions a week ago. I think it’s important to relay this info to someone who hasn’t ridden a road like this. To say this road is only different because it’s remote, and it’s long ...is absolutely not my experience or the person that went with me. It’s really hard to communicate in writing, when you disagree with someone ....firmly....but in a friendly way...that is my attempt. I simply want other people who haven’t ridden this road , to have an idea what to expect.
    #62
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  3. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    the TT has a different flavor from the rest of what i call "the big gravel" north of 49, and i've been on most of it. it's a Hydro Quebec road, and regardless of season, has the least traffic of any of them. it's also a road that gets graded on a rigid schedule whether it needs it out not, so the road can be more hazardous where the graders are working. rain on freshly graded surface, park the moto, it can be unrideable, been there, you'll be parked until a bit of traffic beats a track through the snot.

    the road above Brisay doesn't get the same attention, and is always in much rougher shape. there were very poorly marked road cuts on that section when i went through which would have killed an inattentive moto rider.

    truck traffic can knock the bottom out of the road surface, causing what i call sand holes. this loose material will swallow the front wheel and put the bike down in an instant. beware.

    Hydro Quebec vehicle drivers act like they own the road, which, of course, they do. they drive with a foot to the floor, and use the entire road including the banking, meaning you can find them in your lane on a blind curve or hill. hardly a season goes by without a pair of them running into each other head-on.

    if i can ever get a final determination of the line marking the Nunavit border, i'm going back. it's the only province i haven't set foot in. i was solo on the TT, didn't see any other bikes, and didn't mind being solo. i don't recall seeing another bike north of Amos for that matter.
    #63
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  4. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    Thanks so much for your comments jdrocks, I think this information, will help others make an informed decision and plan.
    How does this differ from the Dempster, Dalton, or gravel roads in South America?
    #64
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    i have not ridden South America, my context was the Canadian/Alaskan "big gravel" above the 49north, although i have plenty of miles on gravel in the States too.

    i stand by my comment that the Trans Taiga is the least traveled of all the named destination roads in the north, it gets a small fraction of the traffic found on the Dalton, Dempster, pre-paved Trans Lab, and so on. i see from my notes that i saw a grand total of 20 vehicles east of the Baie James over the course of three days on the Trans Taiga. some of the old roads that saw little traffic have now been substantially improved and see much more traffic than a rider may have seen previously. the Campbell comes to mind, once it looked like a typical ranch road, now a proper gravel highway. Controversy continues to swirl around Hydro Quebec development of the Romaine River complex, much like it did on the Rupert River, although an offshoot is likely to be more northern gravel roads for the moto crowd.

    i agree that riding the local county road gravel is often not a true prep for northern gravel simply because it's tough to duplicate all the various conditions you may find there. duration, no bailouts, no ride arounds if a rider finds road conditions unfavorable. no fuel stops, little or no help available. sure, riders can find some rough county, forest service, or ranch roads to travel that have road surface conditions worse than a road like the Trans Taiga, ride 'em, won't hurt, but stay on those roads for a full day, then you'll have a better idea of how you and your prepped moto will perform. i've been on way worse roads than the TT before and since, no big problem, although i was forced to wait for a Hydro Quebec vehicle to pass before i could ride through some pig poop surface right down their tire track, a harrowing 20 miles.

    final thought, these gravel roads require your full attention, mistakes have consequences. i have many thousands of miles of gravel experience, got a little too casual for half a Trans Taiga second, then this...

    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.
    #65
  6. Motopsychoman

    Motopsychoman Not a total poseur Supporter

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    kph or mph?
    #66
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  7. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    So this was your first large gravel road attempt? And it rocked your world? Cool. It's still just a large northern gravel road. There are a ton of resources available on this road. This thread isn't the only one available to someone traveling this road. We don't need a Trans Taiga warden. The road was different than Michigan gravel roads. Got it. Did you (or anyone else) expect differently? I mean, of course it's different than ones in the lower 48.
    #67
  8. GregCo3000

    GregCo3000 Adventurer

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    Man, this thread really blew up...

    Just finished our run up there. We went as far as Mirage, due to time and a crash on the North Road a couple days prior - we didn't want to push our luck, that guy was a little nervous. We got close to another 100 miles of dirt on James Bay due to construction.

    Is anybody aware of the plane crash in the woods? It was roughly 40 miles before Mirage, if you're headed east. QH maintains a little hiking trail and put a memorial plaque on the crash site. It's an old DC-3 that crashed in '89.

    N53° 46.292' W73° 38.687'

    [​IMG]
    #68
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  9. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    is there a controversy here? guy rides a road, posts his comments on his experience, as well as observations on road conditions. there are so many variables on these rides that comparisons beyond the general are near impossible.

    for example, i was reviewing notes on a ride several years ago prior to writing a report. on one long difficult section i had dropped the bike three times traversing what could only be described as a road in the loosest definition, nearly died out there. i wondered if any other riders had found the same thing and started searching ride reports...found one.

    a young lady with only a few years of offroad riding experience had gone through solo as i had, cleared the section without incident, and made no remarks about anything difficult at all. say variables, i was on a big bike, she was on a thumper at half the weight. she was young, i was old enough to be her grandpappy, and then some. was it possible that rains had cut the road to pieces since she had been there? maybe she was just a better rider, as much as it might pain me to say so.

    i try to stay within the general comment section unless asked specifically about certain things, i just don't know what variables were in play during a particular ride on a particular road.

    so regarding the Trans Taiga, and the rest of the "big gravel", pay attention, don't do stupid stuff out there, avoid the helicopter ride.
    #69
  10. John F

    John F Been here awhile

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    Bingo. The TransTaiga is no different from the Dalton, Dempster, the TLH (pre-pavement) or any of the other “big gravel”. Neophytes on sport bikes on sport tires have done them all with no problems. Seasoned riders on the latest and greatest ADV bikes have gone down and had to get airlifted out. It’s all about the road conditions at the time of the ride. As long as the rider uses his head, doesn’t exceed his limitations, and knows when to hunker down for a day or two to let the road dry out (or the snow to melt, or fresh gravel/grading to be mashed down, or a washout to be repaired, or, or, or...) he’ll be perfectly safe — even if he’s solo.
    #70
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  11. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Very cool. I didn't know this existed. I rode right past it without ever knowing it was there. Your picture isn't showing up for me though.
    #71
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  12. John F

    John F Been here awhile

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    Just one more reason to ride it again. It seems every time I ride one of these roads, something comes up to make it necessary to ride it again.
    #72
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  13. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Agreed!
    #73
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  14. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    It was nice for you to share this comment. I think it helps paint a more accurate picture of what this road really is.
    #74
  15. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    How perceptive are your comments. Your illustration is absolutely spot on!
    #75
  16. Smashy

    Smashy Been here awhile

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    Did anybody ever see anything "strange" on the trans taiga?

    I heard stories of a bear-sized creature that walks upright. Apparently hydro quebec workers have reported it many times on the trans taiga.
    #76
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  17. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Lol. No Big Foot sightings when we were there.
    #77
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  18. Scanning4adv

    Scanning4adv Adventurer Supporter

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    Saw 5 bears and a lynx...but no WENDIGO.
    #78
  19. Desert camo 82

    Desert camo 82 Adventurer

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    It would be a bummer to go all the way to James Bay and not do the TTH. I did the trans Lab solo as my first big trip ever last August 2019. How do the roads compare to one and other?
    2000r1150 GS I would be interested in riding with someone if interested let me know.
    #79
  20. Motopsychoman

    Motopsychoman Not a total poseur Supporter

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    I'm hoping to be up there early to mid-July. Planning out an enormous trans-Canadian trip starting early June in B.C. and hitting Labrador early August.
    Hope to be on something a bit smaller than your 1150
    IMG_20191119_154614484.jpg
    Still proving to myself that it is up to the trip. Otherwise I'll be on my thumper.
    #80
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