|North Wiltshire PE to Cedar Dunes Provincial Park|
Google Maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/ngbMe
|Bass Pro Special|
Admittedly, I know little about tents, as much of my time spent in the army was in canvas and aluminium modular tents, and under shelter halves. Each soldier carried one half, and zipped together and suspended from the trees made a water-proof cover provided you didn’t pitch it over top a bathtub shaped hole in the ground. I like to think of it as a kitchen cover for the mosquitoes, who could feast on those within to their fill, inviting neighbours and friends to come join in on the feast. This tent was light, and had much more mesh than I was used to, and as a 3 man tent, it boasted more than enough room for me and all my bike gear. I had it sent up in the purse, but lugged it all back home on board my bike. In those days I was packing the kitchen sink. And the kitchen.
On last year’s trip across the Trans Labrador Highway and Newfoundland, that old tent saw some heavy use, the first of which saw us pitch camp on a construction site lot in the middle of a Quebec forest along the North Shore enroute to Baie Comeau and Manic Cinq.
My two riding partners, Chris and Darlene had opted for lighter, newer 1 man tents, and while they had pitched them before, my experience and the simple cross pole dome style tent had mine up in no time allowing me to snap a couple of shots of the action.
They have the double hoop design that relies on the hoops being guyed to support the mid section of the tent, and I found that in the dark, and on rocky ground, the free-standing dome, while large and heavier, was the better choice.
Again, in the morning, I had mine packed up and ready to roll before they had their gear sorted out, but then I also had the largest panniers and perhaps had a wee bit more road experience in terms of packing.
As I recall, Darlene wasn’t at all happy with how she’d loaded her gear in her Wolfman soft panniers, and repacked them that morning while waiting for breakfast.
|Crossing the Saguenay river with loaded bikes.|
Later that night at Manic Cinq, we found that a thunderstorm was rolling in, and as the motel was full up, we were invited to pitch our tents on the graveled parking lot, although our friends Geoff & Viv kindly let us wait out the worst of the deluge from the comfort of their motel room, later on during a quiet moment, we dashed out and began to set up our tents on the gravel surface. Once again mine was up fast and first, the free standing dome clearly superior to the stake out type, although mine probably bulked 2/3 more than theirs.
|The parking lot at Manic Cinq|
During the night we had yet more rain, and the hoop and guy system sagged in as related by Chris, and had to be retensioned to improve the drainage. My chief complaint was the snoring going on beside me. 😉
|It’s a heavy load on the bike, but the trip was well worth it.|
|Churchill Falls, Labrador|
The town of Churchill Falls, Labrador boasts a damn tour, or rather a tour of the hydro-electric dam, and visitors with tents are encouraged to pitch them on the field in behind the communities sole church.
But the weight of that tent, along with the other gear that I’d packed for this adventure, was partly to blame for losing control of my bike and planting it in the only ditch I could find in Northern Quebec. I’d dropped a gear, tipped the bike in, rolled back on the throttle and really enjoyed the feeling of the rear end power steering it’s way around the gravel corner, that is, until I hit washboard with the front end, and it began to oscillate wildly from side to side eventually ending in a tank slapper at full lock and I was off the bike sliding in the gravel as we both rushed towards the only man made ditch on the seemingly the entire stretch of road.
|Everything could be repaired but my injured pride.|
Okay, this bike was now so heavy, that riding it adventure style was just not in the cards, although the wheelies were quite impressive.
|Kickstand puck anyone?|
Yep, even mother earth was complaining, but never in my prescence, always when I’d turn my back and go for those beautiful shots of Gros Morne Coastline.
Enter a new bike, lighter, smaller, faster than the venerable old 2004 Kawasaki KLR that now had over 88,000 kilometers on it. I traded up to a 2009 Suzuki DR650E, but gone were my racks and ammo can panniers, gone was the spacious corbin flat seat that saw me ride 1,600 kilometres in a single ride.
|2009 Suzuki DR650E|
Here it is loaded up for the Canadian Superbike doubleheader championship races that my friends are I camp out at every year along Turn 2 inside track.
The tent isn’t on the bike at all. I was getting worried, as I had cold weather gear loaded, my sleeping bag all in the lower canoe bag, then my self-inflating air mattress in the dry bag above, rain gear strapped ontop of that, and many more odds and sods in the top box like toiletries, heated vest, flip flops, spare visor and the like. It was getting crowded on here, and when my buddy Dan offered to loan me his old North Face tent that he’d had since a boy in New Brunswick which he’d replaced with a North Face Rock 22, I didn’t turn down his gracious offer, and spent the three days in his tent as opposed to hauling my own. I was pretty depressed, as I loved the handling and dirt characteristics of this lighter bike, but clearly I was going to have to learn how to pack lighter still, yet still be able to handle inclement weather, as from past experience I have been shivering with cold on August and July nights. I had to find a solution that was both inexpensive, yet would be a good investment for the future.
It would have to be:
Mine is in a Sage and Rust colour, but the tent pictured here is identical.
I’ve ordered some tent pegs off of eBay in an aluminium triangular design similar in appearance to the MSR Groundhog style as the included pegs are the type that need to be straightened after they hit the first good rock or three, but at half the price, in the amount of 20 of them. I also found the ALPS footprint for the tent and have that on it’s way as well, but may resort to Tyvek or the Canadian Tire Blue tarp that we all know and love.
|Under $10 on eBay.ca|
|The Alps footprint has some lovely grommets on it for use as a dining fly etc.|
Well, I managed six years before opening up a hole in the bathtub floor of my old tent, so when my nephews erect it for the first time they’ll find a nice patch of duct tape on the floor to keep the ants and water out. Hopefully I’ll fair a bit better with the new tent, but if not, I have this kit to see to any field repairs.
|And of course, a tent repair kit for those mornings when you wake up hungover.|
Does anyone know where I can get a couple of cheap aluminum poles that I could use to support a dining and cooking fly?
I’ll be sure to post up and update later on once I test drive this puppy and find out how it performs or fails to.
|The rain fly has two vents near the top, and when open, water can pool there for a awhile.|
When the rain fly is zipped open, it allows rain to drop directly onto the tent floor. This is the single worst feature about this tent, and if they were to do a redesign incorporating a cross bar to prevent the water dropping straight down onto the tent floor when the rain fly is open, I’d happily purchase this tent again. Imagine a muggy, rainy day when you cannot open the side of your tent higher than a foot and a half for ventilation. Argh! (See the design of the Northface Rock22 to compare)
|The short guy line on the rain fly is the one I added and provided a peg for.|
|Setup in Nouvelle QC along the Gaspe Peninsula|
|Suzi calls it her home away from home|
|After riding three hours in the rain, it went up in under five minutes in the rain and provided waterproof shelter in the constant rain that night.|
|North Face Rock 22|
The tent pegs shipped with his tent are very similar in quality to the Alps pegs.
What a cool start to the morning at only 4 degrees Celsius. I was beginning to be envious of Willie’s heated chaps, but it warmed up a bit and I was fine for the rest of the day in my snowmobile underwear and heavy fall riding pants.
I got some simply lovely pictures of the beach so thought I’d share them with you.
|I’ve posted so many pictures of this soy field as seen from the porch of the house opposite. That’s my civic parked off to the right.|
|The soy is almost ready for harvest, but you can see in the shade that it doesn’t grow nearly as quickly.|