Is this epic? I don’t know. Is it even ADV? Yes folks, it’s yet another darn Trans-Lab report. This time though, the Trans-Lab wasn’t the objective – I’d done that bit back in 2010 on my 1972 Guzzi Eldorado - it was just a slightly longish way to get home on my scooter. Unsuitable vehicle to the task in hand? Read on….. A fourteen year old scooter may not seem the logical first choice for a bike to ride across Labrador, especially since I had far more suitable bikes in my garage, so a little explanation is in order. After more than a hundred bikes and many hundreds of thousands of road miles, my friend Norm had started riding a Suzuki Burgman 650, finding it answered all his needs. With plenty of speed and comfort and almost endless storage space, it, or one like it – he still swapped bikes like underwear – found a permanent place in his garage. Despite numerous offers, I’d spent ages ducking his suggestion that I try his scooter. Even though I’d had scooters in the distant past, like many motorcyclists I had a negative attitude to what I thought of as small wheeled, underpowered, commuter vehicles for the elderly, fit for trolling along in the slow-lane, and not much more. Then I broke down and rode it. What a revelation. It was fast, it was comfortable, it had great brakes, the engine was turbine quiet and electric motor smooth, and although the handling took a little getting used to, it could be hustled around corners quickly. Burgman being delivered Chris has ridden on the back of most of my bikes and is a confident and skilled passenger, but we have always found the accommodations cramped; fine for a short ride out, but not suitable for long distance rides. As her knees have gradually deteriorated, getting across the seat and into position was getting increasingly difficult. Norm suggested we give the Burgman a try. By sliding a leg through the low step-over in front of the driver’s seat, Chris was able to slide on to the front seat, then ease back on to the passenger seat with relative ease. Once there she found the high rear seat allowed her to see more of the road. She’d never liked looking at the back of my head. To cut a long story a bit shorter, after a few local rides we found the Burgman to be a wonderful two-up bike. The broad plush seats are comfortable, the bike has more than enough power even when heavily loaded, and best of all, we have acres of space. I can barely even feel she’s on the back. It was time for an adventure. TO NEWFOUNDLAND The previous year we’d driven by car to Newfoundland and spent time exploring Gros Morne and the western side of the island, and loved it. When you look at a map, Newfoundland doesn’t seem very big. It’s just an off-shore island stuck out there in the Atlantic. Unless you study the map scale, you get little idea of just how huge it is. We had intended to explore the west coast then zoom over to the east to romp around there, but we quickly changed plans once we’d experienced the scale of things, promising ourselves that we would return again. This time we opted to take the scooter. We thought it would be the ideal vehicle for scooting around to the enormous list of outports, early settlements and museums that Chris had identified as ‘must see’ places. I like long distance rides and will happily sit on a bike for ten or twelve hours a day, only stopping for fuel and the occasional bite to eat. Oddly, Chris doesn’t see the fun in this: she chose to fly and spend a few days exploring St. John’s while I rode the bike (notice I’ve stopped referring to it as a scooter). It’s a long haul from near Kingston, Ontario to St. John’s Newfoundland. Over the previous weeks I’d packed and unpacked numerous times, getting the organization of things just right. The tent, one sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, tool roll, tyre repair goo, and sundry other things filled the cavernous space beneath the seats. Our clothes and the second sleeping bag filled the Nelson Rigg soft panniers I’d slung over the rear, while Chris’s helmet and riding gear filled the top-box. She only took hand luggage on the plane with the rest of her stuff on the bike. DAY 1: Inverary Ont. to Fredericton NB. (1122 kms (697 miles)) “You take that thing on the highway?” I heard questions like that or observed expressions which suggested the same thing many times over the following few weeks. The answer, of course, was a categorical “you bet!” Leaving home at shortly after 5AM, I headed straight for Ontario Highway 401, heading west towards Montreal. The Burgman transmission is super-slick. As you pull on to the on-ramp and open the throttle, the revs rise and the bike charges up to highway speed in a flash. No really – it does! I had rented a V-Strom 650 in the UK earlier in the year and I found the Burgman to be every bit as fast and possibly a little faster, as no time is wasted changing gears. I soon settled in at ambient traffic speed. This equated to between 120 and 130kph (74-80mph), at which speed the Burgman’s engine was humming nicely at about 4500 rpm – far below the 8500rpm red line. There were numerous large trucks on the road at that hour, generally governed to around 110 kph, so I passed many. I got a perverse pleasure from seeing the surprise on many drivers faces as they realised they were being overtaken by a scooter. Beyond the Quebec border I crossed the St. Lawrence River at Salaberry-du-Valleyfield, skirted Montreal then headed along Quebec Highways 30 and 20. These are long boring highways with little to commend them other than being quick ways to move through the countryside. Instead of following 20 all the way to Riviere-do-Loup, I took a scenic detour along Highway 289 which parallels the international border, rejoining the Trans-Canada Highway at Edmunston, New Brunswick. It’s a testament to the comfort and relaxation of riding the Burgman that although I’d already ridden 849kms (527 miles) by that point, another 273kms (169 miles) to Fredericton seemed like nothing much at all. I checked in to a motel and slept well. Along Highway 289 - a nice alternative to the Trans-Canada DAY 2: Fredericton NB to North Sydney NS. (638kms (396 miles) I had completely overestimated the time it would take me to get from Fredericton to the ferry dock at North Sydney Nova Scotia, so I arrived with far too many hours to kill. I was so early, in fact, that I couldn’t even park the bike in the ferry parking area. My boat didn’t leave until 11.45PM and the earliest I could put the bike in the line-up was 6PM. It didn’t take long to exhaust the attractions of North Sydney. Once I’d filled the bike and taken a couple of strolls around the town there was little else to do but pull out a sleeping pad and lie down for a snooze by the bike. Eventually hunger got the better of me so I drifted over to Tim Horton’s for a bowl of chilly, meeting a couple of local riders in the parking lot, who pointed me to a short, scenic loop which would help kill some time. By the time I got back, I was able to get inside the ferry dock gate and spent the remaining dreary hours hanging around the ferry terminal, being studiously ignored by the ‘real’ riders on their decked-out Harleys. DAY 3: Ferry to Port aux Basque, Port aux Basque to St. John’s (7hrs ferry + 904 kms(561 miles) In the belly of the beast, the deck hands pointed to straps hanging along the side of the vessel and left me to it. Despite its bodywork the Burgman was not as difficult to strap down as I anticipated. It has some substantial hand rails and these became my main points from which to strap to the divots in the deck. I added a second set of straps to the lower fork legs. These were more marginal, but at least kept the bike from shifting if the seas got rough (they didn’t). Still no eye contact or conversation from real motorcyclists. In the belly of the beast I’ve taken this ferry before and usually any attempt to sleep is interrupted by people talking with no concern for the well-being of those around them. This time it was different. Many people almost immediately eschewed the lounge chairs, opting to sleep on the floor. I did too. I’d brought a sleeping bag and my ear plugs up from the vehicle deck, and while I can’t say the passage was entirely restful, I did manage to get a little sleep. The various two-wheelers on board were some of the last to disembark, trailing a lengthy parade of vehicles all heading in the same direction along the Trans-Canada Highway. As soon as I could I pulled off, partly to give the line of traffic a chance to sort itself out, and partly to put on my rain pants and jacket as the morning air was chilly and damp. Crossing Newfoundland is a lengthy trip. Mine was punctuated by the need to stop every 250 kilometres (155 miles) to fill up with fuel. The Burgman only has a 15 litre (3.3 Imp. Gals, 3.9 US Gals.) tank and by 200 kilometres the dash light would be starting to nag me insistently. Usually I was able to combine pee or food stops with refueling, but on longish rides, the need to fill up occurred with irritating frequency. It was well towards evening when I hit the outskirts of St. John’s, dialed Memorial University into my phone for directions and worked my way through town to the residences where Chris was staying.