Swisha Loop 2020 - Québec, Canada

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lcdm, Aug 21, 2020.

  1. lcdm

    lcdm n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Two years ago, I asked a few friends if they wanted to do an 800km backcountry motorcycle trip called the Swisha Loop. No one said yes.

    Last year, I asked the same thing. Still no one.

    In 2020, during a global pandemic, six people raised their hands! Here's an account of that trip that we did a few weeks ago:

    We decided to do the route CCW. I had read that the route was non-technical and could be done in 2-3 days. There are folks who might agree with that but our group found the terrain offered a few challenges and would be done at a good pace over four days.

    See a few photos here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDw5xOgljmt/

    Day 1 - I left from Ottawa and met up with a group from across southern Ontario in Low. After stopping for some food at Kingburger in Farrelton, showing the group the Paugan Dam and grabbing ZEC permits and gas in Gracefield, we ventured into ZEC Pontiac, NW of Gracefield. Bikes included a WR250R, DRZ400S, RE Himalayan, KLR, DR650, Africa Twin & 1250GS. We slept on a nice beach in the ZEC where I found chanterelle mushrooms.

    Day 2 - Definitely a highlight day. Covering challenging terrain the route gradually climbed, giving way way to some seldom seen views of the Gatineau Hills and also crossed the Coulonge and Noire rivers (important rivers for indigenous people and for early logging in the area). After crossing a washed out spot, taking breaks at a lakeside hunt camp or two and bashing through overgrown trail, we hit a wide logging road for 25km where 90kmh was easy to do until reaching Pourvoirie lac Brûlé where we bought some peace of mind for our thirsty gas tanks for $1.90/litre. With oversized tanks and a few jerry cans, we probably would have been ok there would have been very little room for error. This outfitter is more or less the only sign of civilization for about 400km. Staff were were happy to serve us and we were grateful they were there. If the timing on the route worked, it would have been a good place to camp.

    With fresh gas, we went on our way and the wide logging road eventually deteriorated into a rocky ATV trail for a surprisingly long time. We cut our distance a little short for the day and found a lake somewhere about 40km from the outfitter to camp at.

    Day 3 - The narrow rocky trail continued for another 60km with minimal areas to stop. The seat bolts on my DRZ rattled out along this section and a branch grabbed my SAE to USB adapter without me noticing. This section crossed the Noire river two more times and as we approached sandy forest roads and a rocky bushplane airstrip before officially entering ZEC Rapides des Joachims. Riding this section, you could feel civilization getting nearer marked by increased traffic.

    We decided to cut the official route short at Rapides-des-Joachims so I’ve got to go back and finish sooner than later but we had a fantastic time. The smaller bikes with more aggressive tires definitely excelled on the route but seeing the 1250GS and Africa Twin handle it was great too. Very glad to have been part of this trip with the crew we had.

    A great route overall and I gladly sent Ted at GravelTravel an e-transfer as thanks for designing the route.

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    #1
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