Visiting the Canucks again....solo from Virginia to Labrador and Newfoundland

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Brett737cap, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Day 7: Goose Bay to Blanc-Sablon, 380 miles.

    I was up early today. I was worried about having enough fuel for the 251 mile leg between gas stations and I couldn’t sleep so I got up at 5:45. It was foggy and cool outside, which is fine by me. I’d rather have that than hot weather any day. I decided to supplement my extra fuel with extra fuel, because I was worried the gravel would bite into my mileage. I went to the convenience store across the street and bought a half-gallon of milk. Then I poured out the milk and rinsed the jug multiple times and finally stuffed it with paper towels to dry it. I filled it with gas and put it in the beaver tail of my Mosko 35 Panniers, securing it in with a bungee net and a carabiner. I would put it in the tank after the first hour so I didn’t have to keep carrying it in a non-approved container.
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    I headed out of Goose and turned left on Highway 510 towards Port Hope Simpson. I kept off the throttle and accelerated very slowly. No hot-rodding or detours today. Fuel economy was the name of the game. As I climbed higher into the hills the fog got thicker and thicker until it was down to about 50 yards visibility. Then, like a jet breaking into the clout tops, the fog parted and the sun started shining. The temperature climbed rapidly from 60 to around 75. I soon stopped and opened jacket vents and switched to my summer gloves.

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    The first 50 miles were all pavement. I kept my speed right at the speed limit and watched the average mpg and the fuel range in the trip computer climb. Before long I was seeing 54 mpg, a record for me! I stopped after 40 miles and emptied the milk container of fuel into the tank, filtering it with a rag over the funnel in case there was still some water in the jug. Glad I did that as there was about a half teaspoon of water in the rag when I was done.

    Soon the road turned to gravel/dirt and continued that way for the next 160 miles. I found the road to be pretty easy riding and I barked between 44 & 55 mph and watched my average mpg climb even more. I got a high of 57.4. With that economy I wouldn’t have to use any of my 1-liter fuel bottles. There was quite a bit of construction around the middle of the dirt section as they prepared the road for eventual paving. I asked one of the workers to take my pic while I was waiting on a loader to clear the road. They often just let me go since I was on a bike and could go around the work in progress.
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    A few Tractor-trailers passed me going the opposite way. The blew up so much dust that I couldn’t see, so I would just stop on the side and let them pass before continuing on. I only saw one other motorcycle the whole day. It was a GS Adventure, 2-up, that passed me going the same direction. He must not have had to keep the speed down for economy with that big tank. The temp climbed to 84 in the hills. I stopped and took and few pics, still hoping to see a critter. I saw none.
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    The only part that was even a little tricky was right were they were prepping the road just before the paved. The dirt and gravel mixture was very soft for about a mile and it was like riding in sand as I followed the track of the lead truck. I sat back and let the front wheel wander within the track and concentrated on not getting too close to the drop off on the right. After that, the road became fresh pavement and then back to regular highway. If you want to ride the TLH before it is all paved you should do it soon, as they are making steady progress paving it.

    Not long after my low fuel light came on, I could see Port Hope Simpson in the distance. The bike had made it with only a half gallon extra.
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    I had originally thought I would stop for the night there, but it was still relatively early and only 130 more miles to Blanc-Sablon and the ferry to Newfoundland, so I decided to press on.

    The topography along the coast was incredible. It reminded me of the Scottish Highlands. The road wound up and over the coastal mountains, and the terrain was tundra, rocks, and lakes. The wind was blowing hard and several times it moved me sideways on the road as I fought for control. The temperature rose and fell as I got close to the coast then further away. I stopped in at the coastal villages of Mary’s Harbour, Red Bay, L’Anse Amour, and Pinware along the way. Red Bay is an old whaling village and a UNESCO world heritage site. L’Anse Amour is the site of the oldest native burial mound in North America, as well as a Canadian historical lighthouse.

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    I cruised by the ferry terminal on the way in and discovered that the last ferry had been cancelled today due to high winds and waves. That means tomorrow’s ferries are all overbooked. I have a reservation for the day after tomorrow but had hoped to get on a day early to start exploring Newfoundland. I’ll show up tomorrow and hope they can fit a motorcycle in.
    #21
  2. fastredbike

    fastredbike back on the loose

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    640
    Location:
    Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
    nice report! One of the hardest things for me to do on a trip like this is to slow down and really look around... reports like yours are a good reminder as I'm seeing a bunch of stuff I rode right past when last there. Enjoy the ride!
    #22
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  3. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    I have the same problem and I have to force lower mileage days on myself so I have time to stop. Even so, I’m always trying to cram too much into the days I have available.
    #23
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  4. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2015
    Oddometer:
    230
    Location:
    Newfoundland
    Hmm... looks to me like you're having a safe ride and doing a nice ride report. Enjoy!
    There's a couple of kegs and a selection of cheap wine waiting for ya when you get here. Just saying...:photog
    #24
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  5. ChazW

    ChazW Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Great RR. I did the TransLab and Newfoundland in 2016 and had a GREAT Time. I'd love to do it again. I have a couple of recommendations for Newfoundland. Go by Gros Morne National Park and go by Twillingate. I also had a great time in St. John. The first Thursday of August is their biggest festival of the year, called Regatta Day.

    Attached Files:

    #25
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  6. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Looking forward to it!
    #26
  7. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Day 8: Blanc Sablon, Labrador to Quirpon, Newfoundland, 87 miles (112 if you include the ferry ride)
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    Now that I’m back on the grid temporarily I can continue my ride report.

    I woke up in Blanc Sablon with time to kill before my 1pm ferry. I had to get to the ferry early since my reservation was actually for the next day, to try to get on as a “walk” up.

    The day was beautiful...cool and partly cloudy. Good running weather, so I put on my running shoes and ran down the highway along the beach. I say highway, but it’s really just a 2-lane road with very little traffic, but then that’s all the highways in this part of the world. I could live here because I like winter and I don’t like people.

    After my run I got packed and loaded. While I was loading a local came up to me and talked to me for a while. He had two of the most enormous dogs I’ve ever seen, Wolfhounds. They were big but sweet, and I love dogs. People here are friendly and not so bad for people.
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    Next I headed towards the ferry terminal a couple of miles away. I stopped at a tiny place called the Korner Cafe for breakfast and a coffee and then headed over the the terminal.

    It was still 2:45 before the ferry departure but I didn’t have anything else to do. I wanted to make sure I was in line early. It turns out I didn’t need to get there so early as there was plenty of room. I bought my ticket (lost the $10 reservation fee though) and put my bike in front like they told me to. There is truly nothing to do at this place. It’s just a parking lot, a pier, and a small marina where the fishing boats come in. Of course, it started to rain lightly so I left my bike there and walked up to the ticket office where they had a small waiting room and I twiddled my thumbs.
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    About an hour before departure I headed back down. It had stopped raining. We waited, and waited, and waited. While I was waiting an older gentleman walked up to me and was asking where I was from and where I was going. Bikes just seem to invoke a curiosity amongst people. I get that a lot....”Where ya headed? Where ya from”. Nobody asks you where you’re going in a car. It’s one of the things I like about bike travel. I inquired about where he was from and ended up talking to him for a half hour, as he was a fascinating guy. He has a house outside of Toronto but travels all over in his 25 year old, 300,000km dodge pickup with a slide-in camper. He’s been to Alaska and Florida and everywhere in between. His wife died about 10 years ago, so he travels alone. And get this...he is 92. Damn. I hope I’m doing as well as him at that age. He honestly doesn’t look or seem that old. I hope he keeps on trucking til he is 100. He even still kayaks in the kayak you can see on top of his camper. Ok, people aren’t so bad....

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    The ferry showed up about 10 minutes before scheduled departure and then took 40 minutes to dock and offload. While they were offloading it started raining hard....Wünderbar. Had they been on time I wouldn’t be getting wet.
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    Finally it was my turn, and I was the first vehicle on. I pulled in where they wanted me and strapped the GS down before heading upstairs.
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    We left Blanc-Sablon and headed across the Strait of Belle Isle. The mass of tourists with their spawn immediately lined up at the trough for overpriced French fries and junk food at the cafe. Honestly, can’t they go for a 2-hour ferry ride without eating? It’s like that on every ferry I’ve ever taken, no matter how short the ride. Fine by me, as I was able to snag a prime reclining chair to sleep away the passage. The seas were still fairly big from the previous days storm and we immediately started rolling as we rounded the harbor island. The rocking made me sleepy and soon I was out. (We will get to some riding soon, I promise)
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    I awoke as we were approaching St Barbe. The rolling had stopped as we were in the shadow of the point, but now it was pouring outside. Sigh....Perfect timing. I had a cell signal again and I looked at the weather radar with dismay, seeing rain up the coast as far as the radar return arced out. I called the provincial park I had reserved a campsite at and cancelled. I don’t camp in the rain. Yes, I know, wimpy.

    I untied the bike and donned my gear. When it was my turn I rode out into the rain and immediately headed North, towards St Anthony, where I knew I could get a room. I passed through several quaint coastal villages but didn’t want to stop and look around as it was still coming down pretty good. As I went through Flowers Cove I saw several other bikes parked at a restaurant and decided to join them and get out of the rain.

    Inside, the other bikers were drying out and I struck up a conversation with the couple nearest me. They were riding Harley’s and had come from upstate New York. They were heading the opposite direction but had just stayed up near L’Ans aux Meadows, the Viking site I wanted to see the next day. They recommended an AirBnb called Boyce’s place in Quirpon, and said if I wanted the full Newfoundland experience, I needed to stay there. I found it on the app and immediately booked a room.

    I had a bowl of seafood chowder and by the time I was done the rain had passed through. I said goodbye and thanked the other riders for the advice and headed North again. It was getting late and I didn’t want to dawdle too much so I didn’t stop much. The road wound along the coast and then headed inland diagonally across the Peninsula. Traffic was light and the scenery was mostly tundra and trees. Just south of the St Anthony airport I saw a dirt/gravel road heading east and decided to see where it went. It led me about 4-5 miles back into the forest and then dead ended. There appeared to be the remains of an old wooden sled with some bones on it. I deduced they were moose bones but had no idea why they were in a sled. I’m sure it was a hunter’s from some time ago, but why had he left the body and sled there to rot? Was there a human skull nearby? I’ll never know I guess.
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    I turned the bike around and headed back to the highway to continue North. I stopped in St. Anthony briefly just to have a look around but didn’t find it very interesting. I then headed to Quirpon, which was close to L’Ans aux Meadows.
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    The small fishing village of Quirpon was beautiful, set on the rocky coast of a natural bay at the tip of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, and across from Quirpon Island. Boyce’s house was a red 2-story with a matching boathouse and workshed on the water behind it.

    I knocked on the door and Boyce answered. He is in his 70s, I believe, with a kind, round face and belly to match. Think Santa with no beard, just a white mustache. He was unaware I had booked a room, so it wasn’t ready, but invited me in to wait while they made it up. I told him just throw the bedding up there and I could do it myself but he would have none of it. Boyce’s place, according to the bikers who had recommended it, was somewhat of a community gathering place, and they were not kidding. I was immediately welcomed in by a dozen people, Boyce’s family and neighbors. They were in the middle of a turkey dinner and heaped a plate of turkey and vegetables and shoved it in my hands and made a spot for me. I wasn’t really hungry after the chowder but you can’t turn down that kind of hospitality. Plus, it was delicious!

    They were all easy to talk to and I tried hard to remember all their names after the introductions but I failed miserably. I was inundated with questions about my travels and my life back home. Then the kids wanted to play cards with me so I played cards with them while eating. Before I knew it the room was ready but I was still eating, so I finished my food (I couldn’t eat it all...it was truly a mountain of food) and offered to help with dishes, but, again, they wouldn’t hear of it. I went up and unpacked and changed into more comfortable clothes and rejoined them for a while.

    The conversations continued and neighbors came and went. Boyce poured me a glass of his homemade white whisky with some iceberg ice he had chipped off himself and I choked down the fire water while they all had a good laugh at my expense. I noticed nobody else had any. It was like drinking gasoline, as one of his friends said. After that I had a beer and listed to a story of how one of the Neighbor’s brothers rode a Bull Moose inadvertently. I’m still it sure if it was true but they swear it was. It was the best evening of the trip. Hey, you know what, I think I like people...well, Newfoundlanders at least.
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    #27
  8. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Day 9: Quirpon to Trout River Pond campground, Gros Morne National Park, 280 miles.
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    This is the problem with reservations....you feel obligated to keep them because you lose money if you don’t. I had reservations at a campground that night, so I had to be there or lose my money. So I had a decision to make when I woke. See a recreated historic site where Lief Erickson and the Vikings had landed 1000 years ago, L’Ans aux Meadows, or go out with Boyce on his boat to see whales and Icebergs. I would’ve liked to do both but I didn’t have the time of I wanted to make it to the campground before sunset. I decided on the boat trip. I’ll always take an authentic local experience over seeing something from centuries ago, when given the chance. I don’t regret it.

    I was going to wear my riding jacket since it was cold on the water. Boyce said we might fish and I didn’t want my jacket smelling like fish, so he loaned me a plaid insulated shirt to stay warm. We got into his 23 ft boat and headed out for a circumnavigation of Quirpon Island. Boyce pointed out the nesting colonies of seabirds on the cliffs of the island, and the historic lighthouse at the tip.
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    It wasn’t long before he spotted the blow of a Humpback whale. This particular one was swimming very close to the cliffs and feeding. It kept going back and forth along the cliffs. We spent the next half hour just watching it feed. It was incredible... majestic is the best word I can think of to describe the whales. I have some cool video but apparently it’s beyond either my understanding or ADVrider’s technical ability to easily include it.
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    We continued around the island and he took us to several chunks of a, once larger, iceberg that had floated in close. Even when they are small they are impressive.
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    We returned to Boyce’s house and it was a good thing we hadn’t done any fishing, because the fishery police were waiting. Apparently it was a non-fishing day and they were checking in on people.

    I packed and loaded and said my goodbyes. It had been an excellent experience and I would’ve liked to of stayed more days, but I have that damn reservation to keep .

    OK, I will admit it, I get tired of writing sometimes, especially when it’s late. So I’m going to let the pics speak for themselves. I headed south and was a little pressed for time to make it before sunset. I didn’t help myself by stopping and taking pics as well as exploring a few off-pavement roads. The coast and Gros Morne were beautiful. I pulled in about a half hour before sunset and set up camp quickly. It had been a great day.

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    #28
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  9. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    262
    Location:
    Yorkshire, England
    Hats off to the 92 yrs young chap. If I’m half as active at 72 I’ll be happy.
    Great report and pics. Thanks for sharing with us “people”
    #29
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  10. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2015
    Oddometer:
    230
    Location:
    Newfoundland
    ...So I had a decision to make when I woke. See a recreated historic site where Lief Erickson and the Vikings had landed 1000 years ago, L’Ans aux Meadows, or go out with Boyce on his boat to see whales and Icebergs. I would’ve liked to do both but I didn’t have the time of I wanted to make it to the campground before sunset. I decided on the boat trip....

    Good call!
    #30
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  11. psd96

    psd96 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2014
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Central North Carolina
    Another great write up, thanks. Did you have your own tie downs for the Ferry or do they provide some?
    #31
  12. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,036
    Location:
    Inverary, Ontario, Canada
    Great report. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and cancel or miss reservations. It's only money, and one can always find somewhere to stay - even if it means a little hardship. Super pictures.

    Nick
    #32
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  13. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,750
    Location:
    New Melbourne, Newfoundland
    I didn’t read the whole thread, are you coming east or going straight down to Port Aux Basques?
    #33
  14. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Day 10: Gros Morne Park to Deer Lake,
    they provide them on all the ferries. Don’t waste space bringing your own.
    #34
  15. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Oh hell yeah, I’m going east. Will be in St Johns the 6th-9th where I’m meeting my wife, who is flying in for a few days. I’ve been slowly working my way east exploring the coves and Peninsulas. Haven’t had time for an update. Maybe I can get one in later today or tomorrow... Even did a short bit of the T-rail trail near Gander. Wish I had time for the whole thing!
    #35
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  16. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
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    Location:
    sunny san diego
    Great report and pics!! Had to crack up when you called one of the airplanes you saw a "POS"......not something you want to say out loud when you are flying it!! That was funny :) Thanks again!!
    #36
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  17. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Days 10: Gros Morne NP to Deer Lake, 79 miles:
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    I just don’t sleep well in tents. I toss and turn and can’t get comfortable. I’ve tried multiple different sleeping pads and none work that great. Being a side sleeper is not helpful either. So I always wake up tired, as I did that morning.

    I got up and made some hot water for a couple of shots of espresso. Yeah, espresso. I bought a cool little bicycle pump-like device called a Handpresso about 10 years back when in Europe. It makes espresso shots the way they are supposed to be made, under pressure, and no electricity is required. Just hot water. Look it up and get one, you’ll be glad you did. Totally worth the money.

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    While putting stuff away in my tent I realized that the stupid little viewing window on the rain fly that Marmot thought would be a good idea was coming off. It was glued rather than stitched on. Who’s bright idea was that I wonder. I tried duct taping it back on but that didn’t work well. The tape came off and wouldn’t stick well to the fabric. Damn, no more camping for me. Can you tell I’m so disappointed? No really, I am.

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    I put my hiking shorts on under my riding pants and just work my running shoes to ride the short distance to the Green Garden trail. I had wanted to hike Gros Morne Mountain originally, but that would’ve meant backtracking yesterdays route about 70 miles to get there and I really didn’t want to do that. On my way to the trail I cruised through the fishing village of Trout River to take a few pics. There wasn’t a lot to the place but it was quaint.
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    I parked in the shadow at the trailhead to hike the trail. It was only 6 miles round trip with a descent to the ocean and then about a 1200’ climb back up. The day was sunny and warm and there were quite a few other hikers on the trail. At the end I was rewarded with cool sea breezes and beautiful scenery.
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    The hike back up was hot and a little muggy, as the hills prevent the sea breeze from blowing on the trail once you are about a quarter mile up it. Once I reached the bike I was a sweaty mess, my shirt was soaked. It’s Always such a pleasure putting riding clothes and helmet on over sweaty hiking gear. I guess that’s wine reason I don’t hike so much on moto trips even though I love hiking.

    I went back to the campsite and decided to just pack up rather than shower first. I would shower when I got to Deer Lake that evening. I headed out around 3pm and headed to Woody Point for some grub, since I hadn’t eaten yet that day. At Woody Point I found a pub on the water and the waitress directed me to an outside table on the side, then she forgot about me. I waited about 15 minutes for anyone to come around the corner to even bring a menu or some water and finally just got up and left. I could eat in Deer Creek.

    After leaving Woody Point I headed east on 431. Just after the end of the sound, after crossing a bridge under construction, there was a gravel/dirt road off to the right that I thought I would explore. Looking at my topi mapping app, it appeared to run and branch into another one that would take me all the way to Highway 430, in a roundabout 40 miles. I started up it and came to some relatively steep and loose climbs. At times there were fairly large ruts and rocks, and you had to constantly watch for holes. The trail ran past some hunting cabins and then came to an area that looked like it hadn’t been travelled very much lately as there was a lot of overgrown grass on the trail and it wasn’t in very good shape. I was wondering if it would dead-end, but the map showed it wouldn’t, so I pressed on. The riding was fairly slow because of the sometimes large holes, but it was enjoyable. The vistas at the hilltops were amazing and it was clear I was completely alone as I didn’t see another soul the whole 40 miles, except for the last 5 or so as I neared the highway. I think a lot of this road was a snowmobile route, because I kept seeing signs with numbers and snowmobile symbols.

    40D3A560-0613-46A5-A288-D53DDEE81A24.jpeg DEE52646-A057-42E6-8AD9-D4BE830D33EB.jpeg 6A95C44E-1914-4B19-BCEF-55EDACE9803F.jpeg 73D99D8D-F8DF-4753-AF70-9FB8051779AD.jpeg

    People knock the GS a lot for it’s weight and size, but it honestly is great on these kind of rides and roads. If you want to ride low you’re on a dirt bike, it’s not that...go get a dirt bike (although I’ve seen riders better than I do incredible things on it). But if you want to ride a rutty and rocky Jeep trail and then get on the highway and cruise at 75, it’s pretty damn good.

    Pretty soon the trail widened out again and went from dirt back to gravel and I started seeing people in camping trailers on the side of the road, about 5 miles from reaching the highway. Not sure what they were doing but my guess is either they were hunters or logging workers.

    Once back on 430 I made quick time to Deer Lake. Once there I settled into a booth at Pizza Delight and ordered a small pizza. While waiting for it to come out I started looking for a place to stay. Holiday Inn Express wanted C$240! I guess that’s the price you pay for becoming smarter while you sleep. They can pound sand though, I’m not paying that much. I found a nice AirBnb room nearby with a private bath and headed over after dinner.

    When I pulled in one of the neighbors was working in his garage and came over to look at the bike and say hi. I could see he had some cool toys in his garage and asked about them, so he invited me over for a beer and to check them out. Initially it looked like two dirt bikes and a snowmobile, but when I got in there I saw the KTM 500 and Yamaha 450 had been converted and had skis and tracks instead of wheels. He said they were called Timbersleds and he showed me a bunch of videos of he and his friends riding them in deep snow. It looked like wicked fun! I know what I’m getting when we move to Vermont.

    I thanked him for the beer and headed up to my room. After a hot shower i don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.
    #37
    crashkorolyk, TownPump, Velko and 8 others like this.
  18. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,750
    Location:
    New Melbourne, Newfoundland
    Cool, I'm on the tent space thread page 6 but I think I'll be away at work when you're out this end, I go back on the 20th for 3 weeks.
    #38
  19. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,750
    Location:
    New Melbourne, Newfoundland
    Hey Bob, you didn't tell me you have kegs! How could you do that to a friend?

    If I can't get to Bob's to drink his beer make sure you do!
    #39
    B10Dave, 'Bob' and Brett737cap like this.
  20. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Colonial Beach, VA
    Already had a few but there’s plenty left!
    #40