Relais-Gabriel & crater lake

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Monsignore, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    Greetings,

    I am in the preliminary stages of planning a ride from NYC to Relais-Gabriel and the Louis-Babel Ecological Reserve this August. I am looking for tips-n-tricks.

    I have never ridden in Canada & I do not speak Quebecois or French. What should I expect as far as road conditions, fuel, food & lodging?

    Should I plan on camping? Can I even get to the island? Are the roads paved or dirt? How wide is the local mosquito wingspan?

    Any and all replies are welcome! Merci beaucoup!
    #1
  2. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    Kincardine, ON, Canada
    Rte 389 is a very scenic but a rough paved road until you get to Manic 5 Dam, hydro electric site, from that point onward its gravel and you'll question how they call it a road. North of Manic 5 don't be surprised to see gravel trucks drifting through the corners pushing you wide.
    IMG_4620.jpg

    If time allows, book a tour of the Manic Cinq, it's huge, I didn't and regret it, they have buses that take you in the tunnels under the dam. I think you have to book ahead.

    IMG_4613.jpg

    I stayed at Station Uapishka for one night. It was a hoot, your stay includes dinner and breakfast, and all the midnight nibbles you want. BYOB. It's a construction/hunting camp with common toilet and showers. Once again book ahead if you stay here. It was very clean, you have to take your boots off at the door.
    http://stationuapishka.com/?lang=en

    IMG_4635.jpg

    IMG_4629.jpg

    If I remember correctly, the manager/chef is named Danny, (red ball cap), his dad was part of the construction team that built the dam and has more stories than you can shake a stick at.....be prepared, he helps himself to your booze, but its worth it to listen to him...lol

    A few miles before UIapishka there is another motel/gas station/restaurant, fill up before you go further.
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/A...45d5fbfcb13a89!8m2!3d50.6253725!4d-68.7120152
    #2
    Monsignore and ScooterNoMore like this.
  3. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    Kincardine, ON, Canada
    A few other pointers.

    My ride started the last week in June....froze our arses off....no mosquitoes or black flies. But we did bring bug nets for our heads as I've heard they will get to your neck and crawl up or down to get to the meat when you stop.

    Don't expect English, you'll be lucky to get some broken English, but Quebecois are wonderful people and will try their best to help. Pointing and talking slowly helps as many do have some understanding of English.

    All the signs in Quebec are in French, most road signs are universal pictograms, the only time I get concerned is when you see a temporary road sign flashing some caution message......just use common sense, Google translate works if you have cell or wifi service, otherwise I suggest you learn a few basic terms. Never ever use Garçon when calling a waiter, it means "boy", very insulting.

    I've always found Quebecers more aware of motorcycles and have a better appreciation of them, unlike Ontario where I live.

    I do not know in Quebec or if your route takes you through Ontario, but in Ontario 50Kph over (30 mph) you'll be walking as they'll impound your vehicle.

    You are probably aware.....leave the firearms at home.

    Be prepared for sticker shock for fuel, booze and food.

    A few more photos.
    IMG_1529.jpg
    View of the lake from the camp above and my room below
    IMG_4630.jpg

    The help yourself anytime for munchies
    IMG_4631.jpg

    Welcome to Canada
    #3
  4. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    Kincardine, ON, Canada
  5. soberjoe

    soberjoe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    Oddometer:
    402
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I did the ride from Blanc Sablon to Baie Comeau in 2015 and 389 had just been paved from Manic 5 all the way to Baie Comeau. They didn’t even have the lines painted yet and it was an incredible ride: fast and twisty!
    #5
    lubelhu and Monsignore like this.
  6. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    #6
  7. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,533
    Location:
    The far east of the far east of North America
    My travels through Quebec have led me to believe that if you attempt the language you will be given respect. They prefer butchered french to being battered with english, if that makes sense. The further north you go the less english you will find but the people have always been friendly and helpful to me.
    #7
    Monsignore and ScooterNoMore like this.
  8. Millwright98

    Millwright98 Share the love, leave the dirt in the garden.

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    Oddometer:
    570
    Location:
    Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia
    Yup... Baie Comeau to Manic 5 is a beautiful fast twisty road... Aug '18, pavement was amazing. Manic 5 - Relais Gabriel is hard pack clay and gravel with lots of loose stuff in the edges of the banked corners.... decent road, but pick you lines carefully, and keep you sight lines as open as possible for oncoming transports, they will use the entire road to their benefit and not care about you... Great ride!!
    #8
    Monsignore likes this.
  9. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    <...creak...>
    OK. I've booked 2 nights at Station Uapishka at the end of August. I'm also staying in Quebec City for 3 nights (1 before, 2 after Uapishka).

    I've got a GS with a 5 gallon tank. Should I strap a back-up gas can to the bike, or is gas/petrol available enough between Q.C. & Station Uapishka?

    My mother-in-law taught French & Spanish in public school for 30 years. She actually made the reservation at S.U. for me. She's going to help me make a pointy-talky, too.

    I'll be making the ride from Q.C. to S.U. (and the return) in one day. I'm considering adding some lighting to supplement my LED headlight & Clearwater Darlas, and renting a Spot Tracker.
    #9
  10. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    Kincardine, ON, Canada
    You'll be fine for fuel
    #10
    Monsignore likes this.
  11. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,719
    Location:
    North by South
    I've traveled to and through Quebec many times and speak next to no French. I can count to three, say thank you, hello, and ask if they speak English in French, and a couple other small tidbits. As long as you make even a minimal effort (as in say Bonjour.
    Parlez vous anglais? instead of Hello. Do you speak English?), they generally appreciate it. In the more populated city areas, most everyone speaks good English, but in my experience, they're less likely to want to. In the northern sparsely populated areas less people speak English, but they seem to be much more willing to work with you and give it a try if you do the same. But bottom line, you don't need to speak French, but make an effort. Québécois, and Canadians in general, are a real friendly bunch, and I've found that traveling on motorcycle tends to make people want to open up and ask questions about where you're coming from and what you plan to do.

    Road conditions up to Relais Gabriel are mixed. Route 389 is awesome. Fun twisties with great pavement for the first few hundred miles and then turns to gravel for a distance up to Relais Gabriel. There is a lot of active construction going on right now, so expect some delays and a few patches of bad road conditions, but nothing terrible.

    If you want to camp, you can basically plunk down a tent wherever you like in the unpopulated areas. There are a several campgrounds along the north coast of the Saint Lawrence as you head to 389, but once you get to 389, I can't recall seeing a single campground, if you're looking running water, electricity, etc. If you like wild camping, you'll have your pick of places to stay.

    The local mosquitoes get worse the further north you head, and black flies as well. Treat your riding gear, tent, and clothing with permethrin before you go and bring DEET with you, and you'll survive. Better living through chemistry. lol

    You can get to the island by boat. There are no settlements, campgrounds, or anything in the preserve. Just nature. I'm pretty sure that you can rent a boat at Relais Gabriel, but I'm not sure. I just got gas when I went through.

    Here's a map I put together of the Trans Lab, which includes the portion you'll be riding. There should be no need for any additional fuel for the trip you're planning.

    [​IMG]
    #11
    gpfan, Davidprej and Monsignore like this.
  12. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    Thanks for the info. My off-road skills are a bit weak, but I guess I'll have to figure it out if that 64 miles between Manc Cinq & Relais-Gabriel are unpaved.

    Weight the pegs, easy on the front brake, light touch on the handlebars, relax the chest/shoulders & tighten the sphincter. Right?
    #12
    shuswap1 likes this.
  13. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,719
    Location:
    North by South
    I was just through there, and it is mostly, if not completely unpaved through there. I didn't keep track of exact mileage, but that map is more or less correct.

    Take it slow at first until you get comfortable. Fight the urge to overcorrect when the tires are shimmying beneath you. Riding gravel is about keeping your bike pointed in the right direction and letting the bike do what it does, which is stay upright. Crashes can happen when you try to fight the uneasy feeling of the tires moving around below you in the gravel. Too slow on gravel is actually more difficult, but too fast can be disastrous. Once you get there, you'll find a speed that is comfortable, and then just relax and enjoy the ride.
    #13
    Monsignore and Corbeau like this.
  14. jfman

    jfman Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,094
    Location:
    Montreal (traveling Americas June '17 to May '18)
    #14
    gpfan likes this.
  15. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens

    I learned the too-slow bit a few years ago visiting a friend off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A "road" I took was fresh, large-sized gravel. I went real slow, thinking that was proper, and almost dumped the bike too many times.

    We'll see if everyone's advice, and the YouTube videos I've watched, will stick, or I'll bite it and wind up as carrion in a ditch.
    #15
  16. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    I made it to Lac Manicouagan and back!

    I stayed at Station Uapishka. They've moved into a new building a bit higher up, elevation-wise, as Hydro-Quebec might flood the lake next week/month/year/decade.
    The ride from Quebec City to Station Uapishka took me 13 hours. The smart thing would've been to break it into 2 days, same for the return. That would've allowed me time to stop and admire the scenic views, maybe even take in some of the tourist attractions along the St. Lawrence. But, I didn't. It was 13 hours from Quebec City to Station Uapishka. The last 70 miles were off-pavement. And, of course, it was raining. After I finished crapping my pants for the first 20 miles of gravel, I started forgetting to be scared, kinda like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff then realizing he's standing in mid-air.
    About 10-15 miles before Station Uapishka, the asphalt reappeared. Oh, happy day!
    The ride back to Q.C., two days later, was great. Clear, blue skies, temps in the mid-60s. And there was all this scenery I had somehow missed riding up!

    If you plan on making this ride, ride from Q.C. to Baie-Comeau, then B-C to Lac Manicouagan. That way, each day will be about 225 miles, instead of the 450 I rode.

    Attached Files:

    #16
  17. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    Kincardine, ON, Canada
    WOW! quite the upgrade. Is Danny still there?
    #17
    Monsignore likes this.
  18. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,470
    Location:
    Astoria, Queens
    The gentleman who was running the show & cooking the huge meals was called David. He had the same build as the guy in your photos, but with a beard and glasses.

    And my only nitpick was that they hadn't yet built their massive back patio. It was just a leveled & terraced expanse of gravel. It would've been perfect for watching the sunset & dodging the black flies. Next time!
    #18
    Candubrain likes this.