The Death of the Trans-LABRADOR Highway

Discussion in 'Canada' started by nick949eldo, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Make your plans quickly folks. It just ain't what it used to be. Here's the goods, based on my ride over the last few days.

    Blanc Sablon to Red Bay: this area used to be rough pavement. Currently it's an ugly mess of road-works, slop and fresh gravel.

    Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson: Fresh pavement. This section used to be a challenge of potholes, hard-pack and loose gravel. Now it's just a scenic road through the tuckamore.

    Port Hope Simpson to Cartwright turn-off: Big wide gravel road. Loose gravel. Constant roadworks. By the time you read this it will probably all be paved.

    Cartwright turn-off to 90km south of Happy Valley / Goose Bay: This is what ADV'ers like. Rough gravel, hard-pack, lots of potholes. It feels like a road in the middle of nowhere. Fun and work.

    90km south of GB/HpV to 20(ish)km south of Labrador City: Boring! This is all paved. Riding it is like watching TV. You're an observer, not a part of the landscape. You might as well be in a car.

    20km south of Lab City for 30 or 40 kms: hard-packed, well maintained dirt road criss-crossing the railway. When I drove this section (suv) last year it was truly gruesome. It is much improved (or it was a couple of days ago).

    Hway 389 - Approx 60kms south of Lab City to Relais Gabriel: All paved - damn!

    Hway 389 - Relais Gabriel to Manic-5: Mostly decent gravel / hard-packed road. This is some of the finest riding on the TLH. Great scenery, engaging road, lots to keep the mind alive. Be warned though. There were many places where the road has been 'improved'. It is changing fast.

    Hway 389 - Manic 5 to Baie Comeau: Paved but rough in spots. A wonderful road but the engineers are working fast to ruin it. Corners are being straightened. Within a year or two it will be just another big road from which to gaze at a big world through your windscreen.


    I may have got a few distances wrong but that is what I remember. Here's how challenging it is - I just rode it on a scooter. No problems. I passed three guys on bicycles and a couple riding two-up on a big cruiser on one of the rougher gravel sections.

    The landscape is undiminished in scale and is very impressive, especially in the hilly zone through which 389 passes. For me though, it has lost it's edge and just doesn't seem very wild any more.

    Between Cartwright turn-off and GB/HpV - one of the better sections
    DSCN4030.JPG 20180901_065155.jpg
    TLH - perfect paving encourages moving through the landscape like a video game, rather than being 'in' it
    20180901_082828.jpg
    Lovely hard-pack south of Labrador City
    DSCN4048.JPG

    The Burgman 650 gave no problems at all. It was stable and comfortable, even coping with loose gravel and potholes in a predictable and reliable way. A fine ADV bike :jack

    Nick
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  2. sturgeon

    sturgeon Long timer

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    Nick, you need to adjust your subject line :lol3
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  3. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Duh!! Thanks sturgeon.
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  4. LittleMac

    LittleMac Been here awhile

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    This is just plain sad. :2cry
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  5. ststrider

    ststrider some guy on a bike

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    Norm is a bad influence on you.
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  6. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    The paving of the TLH is a political move to appease the residents of Labrador who feel disproportionately taxed with little services provided. Can't argue the point as they have been a major resource based contributor that has figuratively (and literally) kept the lights on in the province and up until the TLH was built had no access to the island. Paving was the obvious next step.
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  7. MikefromNL

    MikefromNL Long timer

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    ...by death, you mean the vast improvement of the highway, right?:lol3

    The TLH was my first big adv trip back before they started paving it in 2009. I bought a bike, got my permit, and took off on my own in a leather jacket, jeans, and a canvas duffel bag tied down with some polypro rope. It rained every day and I had a terrible time! The stock dunlops on my KLR couldn't hold a line (or at least that's what the rider with a total of about 100km of riding experience when I began this trip thought) and it was some very, very tense riding.

    I've also travelled this road during the spring time when anything less than a 4x4 wouldn't make it, and other times when the road would wash out and leave town (I was living in Churchill Falls at the time) without supplies for days at a time and wouldn't have any milk, eggs, or bread. So overall, the paving is a very positive thing in my books, ADV riders be damned.
    #7
  8. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    It's on my bucket list. Won't care if it's 100% pavement.
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  9. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Yep - and he just sold a scooter to buy a Versys.........

    I understand that Dave, and to be honest, if I lived up there I would want a good all-season road too. I realise I'm being a spoiled brat who wants everywhere to stay undeveloped for my enjoyment.
    I have always found gravel roads engaging. Riding them requires constant care and attention. They feel wild, and riding them feels adventurous even when it isn't really. All over the country they are disappearing fast. I saddens me.

    From my narrow and self-indulgent perspective......no. From a rational and socially responsible point of view.....yes.

    It's still a heck of a ride. The landscape is awesome, in a 'goes on forever' way.

    Nick
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  10. Millwright98

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

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    I just did the Trans-lab in early August, solo, and had a great trip.... fly fished all over along the way, met some awesome folks, saw some incredible sights and would have equally enjoyed it, paved or not. Different stokes for different folks..... I probably would have driven slower on the long run from Goose to Port Hope if it was paved, rather than burn over the top of the gravel...over 80km/h it's hard to see the wildlife that is actually in plain sight.... lots of moose, bears and a few wolves... and a great feed of speckled trout on the side of the road made for an incredible day and a lifetime memory! :happay
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  11. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Mind sharing how long it took and approx kms a day.

    I'm thinking 6 nights 7 days round trip from Halifax, NB, Que, Lab, ferry, Rock, ferry, and home should just about do it.

    #11
  12. Millwright98

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

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    @Maggot12 This was my vacation:

    Day 1 - Mineville to Matane and ferry to Baie Commeau
    Day 2 - Baie Commeau to Labrador City
    Day 3 - Lab City to Happy Valley/Goose Bay
    Day 4 - Rain day in Goose Bay - 0 kms... poured over 40mm
    Day 5 - Goose Bay to Mary's Harbour
    Day 6 - Mary's Harbour ( morning ferry from Blanc Sablon to St. Barbe) to St. Anthony (St. Luniare Griquette)

    8 Days at a cottage drinking, dancing, cod fishing, fly fishing, wandering, sight seeing and visiting :wings

    Day 14 - St. Anthony to Port Aux Basques
    Day 15 - Day Crossing, N. Sydney to Pt. Hawkesbury
    Day 16 - Pt. Hawkesbury to Mineville

    total just over 4000km

    You could do it in a week easily if you aren't distracted and are willing to ride in the rain regardless.... I didn't fancy riding 300+km of gravel in the driving rain and took a day off in GB... I also took my time, stopped to take a lot of photos and fished wherever I felt like it or was hungry ( yes, I was the nut with the camp burner frying trout on the bridge abutments on the side of the road in multiple locations...lol). I do wish I had taken the time to go to Cartwright and will next time around. The paved road from Baie Commeau to Manic 5 is Canadas' equivalent to Tail of The Dragon and grossly under appreciated !
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  13. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    8 days in St. Anthony... fook. you must know everybody and their kids by now.
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  14. Millwright98

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

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    Stayed about 25km from St. Anthony in St. Lunaire Griquet... yup...pretty much adopted...stayed at Southwest Pond Cabins ( highly recommend them!!)..... Have friends that grew up there...The Vixen travelled up with them, I met them there on the bike, we rented 2 cabins together, partied and visited with their families... L'Anse au Meadows, Nordstead, icebergs...great time ! ... guess maybe I should do a ride report one of these days...lol
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  15. MikefromNL

    MikefromNL Long timer

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    Hang out at Skipper Hots in Straitsview?
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  16. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Sounds like a fun go... I thought 3k and not 4 though. 6 nights at 600+kms a day may not be enough considering ferries and if one wants to play around. Should add another night I think.


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  17. Millwright98

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

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    Absoloutely .... Ford and the gang were playing !!
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  18. MikefromNL

    MikefromNL Long timer

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    Haha right on. A friend of mine's family owns the place and the cabins there. Awesome people.
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  19. Millwright98

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

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    Ford owns SW Cabins and Skipper Hots .... his son is running the bar now
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  20. MikefromNL

    MikefromNL Long timer

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    Oooh Ford is Jerrys Dad then. I'm terrible with names. Its their son Jerry that I know (he's not the one who runs the bar, hes in Toronto last few years). We stayed with them a few years ago. Jerrys brother took us out in boat looking at eagles and whales and cod fishing. And we ended up partying at the bar until way too late every night.
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