Monthly Archive May 2016

2016 The Big Party

My father shares a birthday date with Queen Vicky, and this year it would be his 80th birthday, so my family had arranged a surprise birthday party for him in Ontario on the 19th of May and I decided that I would ride my Versys 650 the 1,700 kilometres from Prince Edward Island to Orillia Ontario in time to attend the celebration. Think of it as a great excuse for a tour of Northern Quebec along a route that Canada Motoguide’s Rob and Zac had laid down, and I was looking forward to riding this stretch of the route, as well as visiting the Mt. Tremblant area as well, for I’d heard wonderful stories of my Montreal friends day tripping up into the Laurentians.
Thankfully I talked over my plans of riding into Quebec with my sister, and she talked me into taking the southern route first, as it would be cold in mid May, and none of my cantines, the roadside diners that one finds all through Qeubec, would be open until the long weekend itself. I’m quite glad I heeded her advice, as for the first two days of the ride my recollection  was beautiful scenery and COLD weather!
Route de Tadoussac on 172 near Lac Resimond QC
I was going to be wearing my fall riding gear, complete with a light thermal layer, a heated jacket and wearing a leather jacket, guantlet style gloves, and heavy riding jeans along with waterproof web-goretex  riding boots. The man in black.
The Big Party – Grand Tour
For the sake of clarity, I’ll simply be numbering the full touring days on the motorcycle as Day 1, Day 2 and lumping all the time spent visiting with family somewhere in the middle.  

 Day 1 – Borden-Carleton PE to Evan’s Notch ME

Day 1 – Borden-Carleton PE to Evan’s Notch ME

Wow it was a brisk ride, and obviously the highway I took through New Brunswick to my border crossing in St. Stephen Calais was where I suffered the most, and I found myself in the Tim Horton’s at the Salisbury Big Stop and again in St. Stephen drinking my tea and enjoying the heat now that the wind had stopped beating against my leathers and finding their way through to my skin in spite of the four layers of clothing I was wearing. It wasn’t brutal like that of spring and fall riding, but the chill air combined with high speed and constant exposure tested one’s strength and determination.

I had the heated jacket and my grip heaters turned on for almost the entire two days it took me to get out to Ontario from the Island.

Confederation Bridge looking towards the mainland.

Route 9 from Calais to Bangor ME has a look out along the Whalesback that I love to stop at…

The view along the Whaleback ME

Route 9 East of Amherst ME

Route 9 gets much slower as it nears the outskirts of Bangor, and I dipped south on 46 to avoid the city and make my lunch stop at Dysart’s Truck Stop, although I found that I was going to miss the bridge that crossed the Penobscot River, so I headed Northwest and jumped onto the I385 to make up time.

East Eddington ME
Liver n’ Onions at Dysart’s in ME

I stayed on the I95 until just after Newport then jumped ship in favour of the slower Route 2 that winds it’s way through the Eastern States, and if you chose to ride it, I’m sure you would enjoy the twists and turns and scenery as much as I have in the past.

Old forest milled into some wonderful slabs of wood

An old barn west of Norridgewock on Route 2

Can you imagine how this looked the day it was completed?

I think these next shots were taken in Peru ME while still on Route 2.

I’ve stopped in the past in Rumford ME at the Route 2 Diner, and as I rode by I found it had undergone a management and name change, but was not open at the time, so I carried on down the road bound for one of my all time favourite stops, Smokin’ Good Barbeque 
 in Bethel ME. The smell from the smoker is heavenly, and my old dog Suzi and I were in love with their food. I hit the waypoint just as the sun was beginning to go down, and I was more than ready to sample their excellent brisket.

Smoking Good Barbeque, Bethel ME

They share the lot with The Good Food Store, a vegan and organic health food store, and across the highway is a gas station, so there really is no excuse not to stop.

No!!!! They were closed!

They were closed! All this way and they wouldn’t be open until the following weekend, at which point I would be in Ontario! To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I’d half a mind to pitch my tent then and there and simply wait them out, but then I would be missing Dad’s big day, so I bought some boil in the bag curry next store, and some hot chocolate, and headed west yet again on my Versys bound for the border between Maine and New Hampshire…

Route 2 west of Mayville ME

New Hampshire awaits!

Notice how dark it was getting? I’d heard from the gentleman running the Good Food Store that there was a National Park called Evan’s Notch up ahead just of Route 2, and while it was early in the year, I could set up camp for the night without fear of being challenged by rangers and the forestry service.

Brilliant! I was unaware that campsites would be much further down the road, and I was in a hurry to pick a spot away from the road in the available light, as I knew how fast you can lose the light in the mountains.

Dang it!!! I’d forgotten water! All I had was in my camel back and that amounted to less than a couple of cups at this point! After pitching my tent I headed back onto the highway at Gilead ME to look for a local store, but in the end I rode up a private driveway and asked the man cooking his supper on the bbq if I could fill up my 4l MSR Dromedary water bladder. That was very kind of him, and it set me up well for the next morning as well.

All set up for the night
I think I’ve chosen an ATV/Snowmobile path to camp alongside
The Wild River, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Instant Oatmeal, breakfast of champions!
Evan’s Brook where it joins the Wild River.

113 South as it winds it’s way along the Wild River

This road, while not in the best of shape was fantastic! I rode it south towards Conway NH, the gateway to the Kancamagus Highway, and was lost in the twists, turns and elevation changes as it leaves the white mountains and lands in New Hampshire’s cultivated river valley, an absolute joy to ride, and I made sure I added a waypoint for any future trips in this area.

State Line, I’ve crossed over

If you see one of these on Route 113, you made it!

Once off of Route 113, I joined up with Route 302 into Conway NH, the gateway to Route 112 West, which is the Kancamagus Highway, a true destination for motorcyclists everywhere, but for once I largely had the area to myself in part as it was still fairly early in the day, and no doubt the cold weather.

It’s worth the ride from PEI

And back I go once again into the White Mountain National Forest.

Only another 353 miles to go!

I was trying to get a picture of myself with the scenery in the back ground. Lucky for you I left my helmet on.

The Sugar Hill overlook

The views are absolutely stunning, and with the clouds in play leaving shadows on the hills, I saw this look out and did a u-turn for a photo shoot. Sadly the camera just isn’t capable of capturing it all, so I suggest you go yourself to see what I mean.

Pemigewasset Overlook along the Kancamagus

Pemigewasset Overlook

Yet another selfie. Sorry

The downhill sections are fun and I’ll have to put the camera away

Breezy Point Road along Route 118 NH

Warren NH has the right idea

The 112 gives you the option of carrying on northeast along the 116 or southeast following Route 118 over to 25A where I had placed a waypoint so I’d be lined up with a bridge that takes you from Vermont over into New York State, across the Green Mountains. I’d crossed these mountains on Vermont Route 17 many times, so I was looking for an alternate to add some variety this trip, and I found it, although some of the roads were under construction and not what I’d want to take a sportbike down, they were fun and engaging, especially after my brief stint on a connecting interstate highway.

Route 118 NH

Somehow I’d crossed the state line into Vermont, but I was enjoying the ride. These secondary roads are fairly well maintained and are such fun to ride!

West of Stockbridge VT on Route 107

VT100 North

A friend and I took a weekend to ride from Lake Placid NYS over into Vermont and north on VT 100 as far as we could, right up through Smugglers Notch, and let me tell you, it is one very picturesque route, although you need to be careful of bad pavement in a few sections, on the whole it was a great ride along the White River. Today I was just going to ride it up into Hancock VT where I would continue my ever westward journey.

Anyone need a motorcycle?

Right, get ready for some fun in the construction!

Contstruction on 125 turned it from a paved road into a gravel adventure ride into the Green Mountain National Forest, and I while it did slow me down a tad, it was such a pleasure to ride. As it was busted up, it had only local traffic and I had it all to myself once I passed the last flagman.

Fun for the Versys

Good conversation equals long wait. 😛

Ripton VT along the 125VT

Now this is fun!

See that sign? It indicates the fun factor, while the river indicates that the road will be fairly level..

I spotted an old tow truck outside a gas stop, and had to pull over to get some pictures to share with my Dad, as this is his thing, while motorcycles are mine.

This is how I keep my dad amused.

Those are the Adirondack Mountains in the distance.

Leaving the Green Mountains puts you onto the cultivated lowlands of Vermont and in the distance you can see the Adirondack Mountains that lie on the other side of the Champlain River. I’ve ridden both the North and South shorelines, but found that the bridge spanning the river and the two states at Crown Point is my favourite place to cross…

Note that junction between Route 125VT and 17VT? 17VT is a blast as it rips up and over Camels Hump State Park, and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

Crown Point New York State

The Crown Point bridge leads you over to Route 9N and just before it enters Port Henry NYS, it is a wonderful little road, running along the shore and nearby railroad.

Crown Point Bridge

These shots are from 9N northbound just south of Port Henry NYS.

It really is a beautiful ride.

My next destination was a relatively short stretch of road that leaves Port Henry and takes you over to Route 9 North, called the Hudson-Moriah but I think it has a number such as county route 74 or similar. Google Maps is calling it Ensign Pond Rd which turns to North Hudson Road as you get closer to Port Henry.

It’s brilliant! I found this less travelled road when atempting to stay off the main roads a few years before, and I enjoyed it so much that I make it a regular part of the trip when riding in the area. It’s tight twisties are a joy!

It gets a lot tighter than this the further you go on it

A sobering roadside memorial

Closer to 9 you will come upon a sobering reminder that you need to limit your risk and ride responsibly. Over the years I find myself slowing down and taking more time to arrive alive, and to stop and take more pictures. It’s a win win in my books.

We Miss You

Now I left 9 and headed Northwest on 73 that would put me into Lake Placid NYS

Route 73 into Placid

You are essentially running in a pass between Dix and Giant Mountain. For a small town Ontario boy, this is glorious.

Casecade Lake. Beautiful!

Just outside of Keene NYS you run through scenes like these. I couldn’t help myself and snapped a few more shots.

Upper Cascade Lake, as seen from Route 73, NYS

I’ve ridden through the Adirondacks many times over the years, so I put my camera away and focused on putting the miles behind me, as I still had a long way to go before I crossed the border over the Hill Island Bridge and back into Canada, my final destination being my brother Shaun’s place in Barrie Ontario where I’d spend the night before heading to Orillia and the birthday party tomorrow to surprise my Dad.

I made good time along Route 3, then 58, and crossed the border in good time to watch the sun setting as I headed for Napanee and the first of my many highway rest stops, as I had a lot of riding yet to do down the 401 and north up into Barrie, and it’s all superslab and super boring with highway rest stops and traffic through the heart of Toronto and back out again.

The birthday boy

The funny face picture. Two of us missed their cue.

I was in Bradford Ontario, and as my Island family are car nuts, as are my two brothers and father, I stopped in and was able to take some pictures at the Guild of Automotive Restorers to see some incredible restorations. It’s well worth the visit.

They need more bikes

I’d drive this away if I could

And this one…

Day 3 –  Barrie ON to Lac de la Carpe QC

Day 3 –  Barrie ON to Lac de la Carpe QC

After a good but short visit with friends and family, I hopped back on the bike (I never really got off of it) and headed down to Oshawa to say hello to a friend, then a drop in with another up in Uxbridge. Afterwards my goal was to avoid the superhighway and cross the Ottawa River at Portage Du Fort, and possibly get something to eat at The Granary Restaurant in Eganville ON, as I’d had their schnitzel once before, and it was memorable enough to become part of the route.

The roads leading away from Peterborough are well travelled by cottagers and vacationers, but on this May weekday, they were for the most empty of extra traffic, and I made good time up towards Bancroft

The Bancroft Gap

I can dream. There is no Bancroft Gap, but if you jump the wee curb you can ride this this cut they blasted through the rock and end up… Nowhere, a complete cul-de-sac unless you have a full on dirt bike and are adept at hill climbing, but I had no chance and had to turn back to the road and keep riding Northeast through Bancroft on 28.

Schnitzel on a bun

The fries were fantastic, but the schnitzel was overdone and a bit tough, but you don’t often get schnitzel on the Island, so you take what you can get while on the road. It was a nice rest stop to be certain, but I wanted to be across the River and well into Quebec by this evening, so off I go!

Other motorcyclists use 28 as well

Once north of Bancroft, 28 begins to climb up and down the hills, and wind round those it can’t. With such light traffic it was a joy to ride, although I never did catch up to the rider ahead of me. Chalk it up to a fully loaded bike and the underlying desire to keep my license.

Decisions, decisions.

41 North to Eganville ON

Beavers own the land

The Granary was closed as it was undergoing renovations, much to my disappointment, so I didn’t stop and headed East on 60 aiming for the bridge at Portage-Du-Fort

A century barn at Stokes Rd and hwy 60

Even better than the barn, a pioneer church with surrounding cemetery on County Road 61 North of 60.

The Rosebank Church, est. 1846

I have to apologize for this next shot, as it was taken from a moving bike, but I wanted you to see just how beautiful this river is. There are a number of white water rafting outfitters that work the area, and it’s well worth the visit. 

Limiteur De Vitesse

 And with the bridge behind me, I was now in Quebec, and about to be on roads that were entirely new to me!

The Gatineaus in the distance.

 Route 248 follows the distant Ottawa River, at a respectful distance, so there always seems to be a farm or two between you and it’s cool blue water, and as it is one of the few good southern routes, traffic picked up and by the time I was within 20 kilometres of Hull I was looking for a Northerly route that would avoid the city altogether and get me set up for Mount Tremblant.

Chemin de la Montagne

I followed an engaging but broken sideroad with the promising name of “Chemin de la Montagne” that had the effect of keeping me interested in the ride, although it slowed be down quite a bit as it was under construction and is pretty much an access road for the rural/suburban living. Every car or truck I got behind was worried about the gravel, and those that weren’t were in the opposite lane (what lane?! There are no painted lines!) seemingly using more than their fair share of the road. It effectively dumped me back out onto Route 248 just into Hull itself where I found I had missed the bridge and would need to backtrack a bit and get onto 50/148 North in order to cross the Riviere Gatineau. You can’t tell by looking at the map, but I left 148 in favour of the superslab 50 then had to rejoin 148 when 50 ended just outside of suburbs on the East side.

Note the dovetail joints? They built to last, and it has!

I was now on the correct side of the city, but now I needed to get some North added to all this East, so as Route 317 was headed in the correct general direction, I jumped ship on the 148 and flew ever North by East. 

Speed cameras are legal in Quebec, so be wary. They inform you when they end, not where they are.

 Let me tell you, the 317 is fun! It would almost be worth riding up from Toronto to take this road! I’ll certainly consider it for trips this way in the future, although I’d rather stay further north and avoid Hull completely if possible. While not in perfect shape, there were no real surprises, although I expect there would be a lot more farm equipment on the roads come the harvest.

Hills! This road looks promising!

 Just outside of Ripon QC, I filled up with fuel, water and a few snacks for the night, then as I was riding through the town, came upon a lovely rest area on 317 (now known as Chemin Du Lac Grosseau) right on Riviere de la Petite Nation. It was a feast for the eyes, and grazing the banks of the opposite side, long horned cattle. The shots below were at the extreme zoom of my point and shoot camera.

You need a magnifying glass to see his horn…

I was getting tired and losing my light, and as I free camped on the way out, I was pretty sure I could do it again, although I was so close to the city that the road I chose had tightly spaced cottages all over, and it wasn’t until I left the road and hit gravel that I struck pay dirt. Pay sand, actually, as it was being used to dig sand out for winter use on the roads, and was used by ATV’s and motos as a fun pit in the meantime. Within minutes as the tent went up I was regretting my decision to camp here, as swarms of mosquitoes rose up from the sand, called to their brethen to announce that supper was served and commenced to feast upon my blood! Like a fool I’d packed my shave kit with my insect repellent as deeply down into my side case as I possibly could, but fortunately I had stuffed my mosquito head net in the same case as the rest of my camping gear that would need to go into the tent. As soon as the tent was up and I went for my sleeping bag and air mattress, I found the net!  

The Pit

All hail the life sustaining net!

 It looks ghetto, but it spares me a lot of grief and itching!

There are literally dozens of mosquitoes waiting until supper is served.

 I have never seen so many mosquitoes, ever. It made me fear for my pecker when I knew I would succumb and exit the tent for my bedtime pee, and I knew the tent door would allow more in, twice over!

I was prepared, in that I had a mosquito coil, and I lit that sucker up and laughed as they started to…. Do nothing. I have the feeling that some day I’ll find that I exposed myself to toxic or cancerous smoke that didn’t seem to bother these blood suckers one bit.

Elated that I’m still breathing and full of A POS

I so need a pillow. This clothing filled stuff-sac is just not cutting it. I must be getting old.

Day 4 – Lac de la Carpe QC to Riviere-Matawin QC

Day 4 – Lac de la Carpe QC to Riviere-Matawin QC
Wake up, the mosquitoes want their breakfast!
Argh! The tent got damp and would have to go down wet which meant that tonight it would go up wet and stay wet. Sigh. 

Tremblant was a bit of a let down for me, but it was largely my fault as I really should have paid more attention to motorcycle forums and ride reports to find better roads. It didn’t help that I rode most of the day in the rain and was only able to stop and take a few shots. I entered the ski area, and was not really impressed with the village itself, as it seemed a commercial enterprise aimed at separating vacationing skiers from their money.

Oops! Watch your speed!

Be prepared, bring a full wallet.

It was raining on and off, and I decided to get on the highway and put some distance between me and Mont Tremblant, and make headway for my next destination, Parc National de la Mauricie QC that my friends at Canada Moto Guide had mentioned in their ride report.

The highway, but the view of the surrounding hills was wonderful

So I found myself on Route 117 that was now taking me south into Montreal should I stay on it, so when the opportunity for 329 Nord presented itself, I left the highway and found myself in a bit of motorcycle bliss. Apart from the now on-again off-again rain, it was an absolute joy to be on these roads, with the worst thing being the odd truck or camper that I would pass in due time, as the opportunities to do so aren’t exactly plentiful, but that is the mark of a good motorcycle route, no?

Route 329 Nord QC

Route 347 that I later turned onto was a true gem that I’ll ride again in the future, in fact I learned me lesson that I need to stay off the highways and spend a bit more time in route planning so I can enjoy all these 300 series routes.

Route 347 QC on my way towards the Parc

Just what I needed to see. lol.

Caution, cruisers crossing

Around noon, I was wet and soaked through when I ran across a small campground that boasted a restaurant, so I took advantage of it, and had a good long rest that seemed to take longer as first I had to peel off a layer of rain gear before I sat down to order my lunch meal at Relais 347.

Sorry, the camera lens has a nice fog on the lens

I have a confession to make… I enjoy smoked meat and hand cut fries, so when travelling in Quebec, you will see a host of shots from roadside cantines of various incarnations of Viande fumer avec frite from many of my rides, especially those along the Gaspe peninsula. They offered theirs as a dinner, and it started with the soup du jour, a wonderful cream of celery.

French Canadian diner, homemade cream of celery soup
The smoke meat sandwich and a nice cuppa
They also served me with cake and brown sugar sauce for free!

They were very kind and I was presented with a complimentary cake covered in a butter and brown sugar glaze that went down effortlessly! I’ll be back one day. 😀

Donning my rain gear after that wonderful meal was both slow and an exercise in flexibility and stretching, but it was finally accomplished and I got back on the bike and let out the clutch at long last.

The 351 that leads part way to the parc seems to be very much a cottage goers road, with a number of dump trucks and other vehicles that need passing in the rain, even though I wasn’t going at an outrageous speed, but I finally hit the parc entrance a couple of hours of riding in the rain, paid the $7 dollar admission fee at the office, and headed up the road and deeper into the parc.

Parc National de la Mauricie QC

Can you read the sign in this rain?

They’ve recently reduced the speed limits in many areas of the parc, the maximum being about 70kph, and the minimum being about 50kph. Much of the speed reductions are in difficult areas where you might expect tourists crossing the road oblivious to oncoming traffic, or uphill and downhill hairpins that would have RV and toy haulers slowing right down and making a mess of things, naturally.

With the inclement weather, while putting a damper on the ride (pun intended), there was almost no other traffic, and I was able to take all the advantage I could of cornering and shifting as I rode. It’s perhaps the closest I’ve come to riding a Canandian equivalent of the Alps this side of the Rockies, and one day I hope you will be able to read a ride report of mine from that area.

I have to apologize for all the mist and fog from the following photos, but the area was just so beautiful that I had to stop and get what photos I could before moving on.

Remember I could only take shots of the road from the bike in the longer straights, and there are relatively few of those. 🙂

Lac Wapizagonke

I can only imagine how beautiful this look out is on a clear day

Even with the rain, it was almost an ethereal experience, both the riding and the views. Canada is so very beautiful and I encourage everyone to get out there and see it for themselves.

I’m dripping, but enjoying it.
The camera doesn’t do it justice.

Everything I care about in one spot.

Yeah, I worry about it when I walk away from the bike, as everything I value at the moment is aboard it, and the thought of someone grabbing my tank bag or rooting through a side case or top box really doesn’t appeal at all.

I had to get a shot before I left the parc… 😀

Wet… wet… wet. Yet happy.

Route 155 leaving the Parc heads south along the shoreline of Lac Mongain, and leads you to Shawinigan-Nord, and at long last offers some fuel choices. I heartily recommend filling up before entering the Parc in either direction, as it can be a long run before you find fuel again.

Constriction. Great, gravel in the rain too.

I just love riding gravel roads in the rain on this bike… NOT! Nothing to worry about this go round, but it’s not my favourite choice of activity on the Versys, due to the front tire size of 120/70/17. That wide tire is great for the twisties, but off road the mud will lift it and let it wander.

Route 155 Sud looking towards Shawinigan-Nord QC

Lac Mongrain QC as seen from Rue-Principale on the East shore.

A rest stop along the way.

You need to cross the bridge to get to the other side

Chain maintenance time.

With all this riding in the rain, I needed to lube up my X-Ring chain while it was still nice and warm. It was probably the only dry thing on the bike at this stage. lol.

Once I crossed the bridge across the river, I was happy to resume my northward trek, enroute for the Saguenay River that lay ahead on the only road going in that direction.

I was wet, tired, and I was losing my light, so when I spotted a hotel and restaurant on the right hand side of the road, I figured that a warm bath and chance to dry out my things was a opportunity I wasn’t about to pass up, although that and the steak au poivre dinner I ordered did cut into my trip budget quite a bit.

I got out of my wet riding gear after I checked into the room, and did the best I could to spread it out and give it a chance to dry out in the hotel room, and I left my wet leather boots in the bathroom with the small provided hair dryer set on low stuffed down into the right boot. The smell was less than appealing.

This does not smell good at all!

But I had hopes that they wouldn’t squelch out water by tomorrow morning, and for dry footwear, I’d put up with the smell of wet leather. 

French Onion Soup

I enjoyed this steak quite a bit.

I took a long, hot bath after supper, then settled in to the smell of wet boots and riding gear to end my day.

Day 5 – Riviere-Matawin QC to  Forestville QC

Day 5 – Riviere-Matawin QC to  Forestville QC

I slept well and woke to a beautiful sunny morning, but the mist over the water and surrounding hills was absolutely gorgeous! These pictures just don’t do it justice, and by the time I got into a position to take them, much of the mist had already blown away to be burned off by the bright morning sun.

Looking south along the Riviere Saint-Mauricie QC

Riviere Saint-Mauricie QC

After such a luxurious night I was slower than usual loading up the bike and donning my still somewhat damp gear, but the sun was shining and I was looking forward to the ride as such a contrast with yesterday.

It was still hard to make any time, as Route 155 Nord follows the shoreline so closely here, that I found myself stopping now and again for pictures within the first hour of leaving the hotel.

The shadows in play here are majestic.

Route 155 gradually heads inland towards the town of La Tuque and begins to head more easterly towards Chambord at its northern on Lac St-Jean.

The homes in the area use firewood for the bulk of their heating needs

I’d been seeing a number of wood piles that grew larger and larger the further you head away from the urban areas, and I thought it worth cataloguing one man’s efforts to create a store of winter fuel. I’m going to assume that he sells it locally.

Many homes would use wood heat, relying on an oil burner for backup, as this is Canada, and lumber is just over your shoulder and only a stones throw away. 

There are some colourful characters who live up here, and I’m probably not going to be the first guy who did a u-turn to get a shot of this chimney.

H.R. Puffinsuch?

There is a story here, I wish I knew it

Just a bit down the road, you run across a house that looks as if Hansel and Gretel might be comfortable with…

Maybe they are related?

My father used to do lumbering on a small scale in New Brunswick with his father, and he loves all things chainsaw and mill, so when I saw this antique saw mill at the side of the road, I had to stop and get a number of pictures to share with him. I must also admit that I love history, and how this country was settled and developed in the early days.

It was the truck that caught my eye at first…

Do you think they might have floated the logs up from the back and then brought them into the mill to be turned into planks?

I wish I knew what they used to power it with. It looks like they had a large diesel engine out back, but it might have run off a boiler at one time.

A covered bridge

 Up ahead lay a small community, complete with a covered bridge and the most remarkable statuary in the town park.

But wait, there is more!

I thought these to be rather unique

It’s beautiful.

Trimming back the undergrowth is a full time job

You won’t see too many other bikers on this road

Oh man! Rain gear again?!

 When I see the oncoming vehicles running their windshield wiper blades, I figure there is rain up ahead, and I’d been paralleling some darker clouds that looked like they were beating me.

I finally had to pull over and do the rain dance, but fortunately I rode out from under it and was able to pack away the gear on the out skirts to Chambord that lies on the southern shore of Lac St-Jean QC.

Snowmobiles and ATV’s. In summer?!

 It was strange to be back into traffic at the end of Route 155, and I gassed up before looking for a place to eat. Riding into the centre of town clearly emphasizes the Roman Catholic roots of the french settlers to the area.

There always seem to be more bikes and riders in Qeubec than in Ontario, and with today’s weather, bikes were out in force. It seems that a trip around Lac St-Jean is a popular excursion for the local bikers.

 I found a place that had a lot of cars in the lot, and some bikes out front, so I pulled in and tried to order the smoked meat special in my horrible high school french, but for some reason my order seemed to take forever, and a group of bikers that pulled in perhaps 15 minutes after I had were served and began to pack up to resume the ride when I asked what had happened with my order. While the food was wonderful, I was not very happy with the service, and if you are in a hurry, (and anglo) you may want to seek out something faster than Cabane Chez Aline in Desbiens QC.

Side note, I just found this website, Route de la Poutine , and I’d have to say that if they had a Route de la Viande Fumee , I’d want to become a contributing blogger. 😛 (No such luck, I just searched for it)

A friendly rider

It seemed like I had all the time in the world while waiting for my order, and I spoke with this gentleman who recommended that I really should ride around Lac St-Jean if I was truly in love with Quebec and it’s roads.

Black and low. It looks pretty well detailed, and I like the lack of chrome

Cabane Chez Aline, Desbiens QC

 It’s now after 1300 and I decided I would have ample time to ride round the lake and still be able to ride Route 172 Est along the banks of the Saguenay River towards the St. Lawrence and my ferry crossing.

I ended up getting rather slowed down as I rode through the populated area at the south end of the lake, and found myself behind a group of sportbikes as we rolled along Route 169 heading West. When the road is close to the shoreline, it tends to be in  a populated area, and it wasn’t until I hit the 373 that I was truly able to set my own pace as it winds it’s way through the marshy northern end of the lake.

Share the road.

 The area is largely flat, and the roads straight at this end of the lake, and it looks as if there are blueberry fields to the left and right, as the land stretches out into the distance.

Blueberry fields of the Lac St-Jean

 At the Northern end you will enter the town of Dolbeau-Mistassini, and find you need to cross the Mistassini River, and you need to stop and get pictures! It was the most beautiful part of the circle tour of the lake, and like a fool I failed to stop and get anything. In my defence the ride was taking longer than it should, and I have a bit of road rage to deal with as I get stuck behind slow moving vehicles, but it is one of my “I should have stopped for that shot!” regrets that will be some time before I rectify. The amount of water, and the speed at which it moves across the rocks is simply amazing. Chute Des Peres. Don’t miss it.

Riviere Noire as it heads to Lac St-Jean QC

Selfie time! Hair by Arai.

Yes, Virginia, you are not alone on these roads.

Saint-Amedee-de-Peribonka QC

Yes, they allow ATVs right through the heart of town. I’ve seen this in Germany as well, ATV allowed to use roads and shoulders, as well as parts of New Brunswick. If you decide to buy one, I’d strongly advise getting one equipped with headlights, running lights and brake lights for safety. Everyone gets caught out after dark, and for other motorists, they are impossible to see until they are at close range where it is too late to react to adequately. 
 
Route 169 lets you flirt with the shoreline of the lake in this section, then brings you into the town of  Peribonka, and you find yourself right back on the lake again. Oops, actually on the shore of the Riviere Peribonka… 

Man, it was 1500 and I still had a lot of ground to cover this afternoon if I wanted to do a ferry crossing later today. At the time it seemed like a reasonable goal, but today I know differently. Older and wiser. What is that saying? Oh yeah…

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/610491
http://www.azquotes.com/quote/610491

  Very true in my case. Lol.
 The traffic picks up as I got closer to Chicoutimi, and as you leave the Lac St-Jean area, you run largely inland until after Saint-Ambrose QC where Route 172 leads you to the shoreline of the Saguenay River near Chicoutimi-Nord where you are pretty much caught up on a bit of urban road that runs over hill and dale along some broken roads to Valin, where the traffic drops away and the scenery improves drastically, now that I have time and the opportunity to rubber neck. This is why I chose this route, so I could ride the Sag all the way down to the 138 that I’d ridden back in 2011 on my way with friends to the Trans Labrador Highway. You’ll see some shots up the river from our ferry trip, and perhaps understand why I’m on this road today.

Chicoutimi-Nord QC

Yep, traffic really did suck that much.

I took the opportunity for a short rest break  outside of Canton-Tremblay QC after dealing with all that traffic, and I had to laugh as I saw this guy with his custom lowered car stuck in the wet grass of the park.

Off roading… Not all it’s cracked up to be

Looking south along the Riviere Sageunay QC

The view from Route 172 of la Riviere Saguenay QC
Now things are looking up (and down)

 If you look at a google map of the rode in “Terrain” mode, you will see the road follows the shoreline and begins to do some elevation changes, and I was unlucky enough to catch up with a school bus that was struggling on the hills, and passing opportunities being rather few in number, I was slowed down a bit until I could pass safely.

72kph. *sigh*

 And then when you could get by, it would start flashing it’s lights.

There’s just no getting around it, it would seem.

Campfire anyone? I wonder if I have room on the passenger seat?

You can see where the road will take you into the distance.

 Route 172 takes you away from the shore of the river and inland, over hills and more hills and you begin to pass inland lakes and streams that feed the Sageunay.

Lac Resimond QC

Route de Tadoussac aka Route 172 QC

 As I rode further East on this road, I found I was stopping for more and more photos along the way, and the scenery just got better and better. The road wasn’t in fantastic shape, but nothing that bothered me other than the occasional pressure crack or pothole, the sort of stuff that keeps you from falling asleep.

From L’Abattis I found  the road entered a long valley alongside the Riviere Sainte-Marguerite, and the views had me doing u-turns to go back for “the shot”. It was definitely a trip highlight, and I’ll add this road to one of my favourite rides in Canada.

Riviere Sainte-Marguerite as seen from Route 172 QC

Just what I needed to slow me down. Ride with caution.

Riviere Sainte-Marguerite QC

 All too soon it was over, and I’d arrived at the end of Route 172, and needed to head East if I wanted to catch ferry across the Saint Lawrence River tonight.

Don’t go straight, whatever you do!

 While I’d been on the 138 before with my friends, I found this ride enjoyable in my solitude, and the ability to stop and take pictures at whim is something I prize, and largely the reason why I find myself riding solo these days.

A beaver owns this stretch of stream

Extreme close up of his handywork

Riviere Des Grandes Bergeronnes QC

In Les Escoumins QC there is a ferry terminal on the reservation that will take you into Trois-Pistoles QC on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence, but I’d missed the last ferry, and spent longer than I should have at the stop for a break and chat with a fellow rider who had bought himself a brand new Canam Spyder in Ontario and was riding it back to Baie Comeau, trailed by his wife driving a truck. The weather was getting colder, and he’d stopped to gear up and grab a coffee at the gas station.

I’d mounted some Michelin Pilot Road 4s aka PR4 for this trip and they were stellar in the wet, but I wasn’t terribly happy how the soft compound was wearing and I was having some issues with the front tire as it was losing it’s profile and had required more effort to tip into a corner and recover for a transition. Later on I found I was running at ten pounds low!!!

I can’t complain too much about these tires, especially as it was my mistake not monitoring my pressures adequately, but I was expecting 18,000km from these tires, and I wasn’t going to get it, not by 8,000km. Rather disappointing, but they made up for it with wet weather performance, and quite simply, they are the best tires I have ever had for wet roads. I could power wheelie in the rain! I think the trade off is use of a softer compound than I was used to.

Look at the profile at the very top of this shot!!!

 I still had daylight and wanted to head further East, for I’d lose ground if I were to cross over to Trois-Pistoles QC, and it made sense to ride further up to Forestville QC and catch the morning ferry across to Rimouski QC, a town that I’ve stayed in on a past trip with my dog Suzi.

Les Grand Bergeronnes QC

 I was losing my light, it was getting colder, and I was riding into a mist that I was pretty sure would turn into rain later on, so I when I arrived in Foretville QC, the first thing I did is top off my fuel, and purchase something at the gas station for my supper that evening, a can of meatballs in gravy and some snack food for dessert. They told me that there was a campsite located in town on Baie Verte but if you were able to zoom in on my track, I crisscrossed back and forth looking for the campground before I finally found it at the foot of a rather steep incline.  The staff at the office of “Camping de la Baie Verte” was very freindly, and let me pick out a semi isolated spot along the beach, and told me where the washrooms and shower facilities were located, and she also let me know that there was rain in the forecast, and that I should hurry to set up my tent before the rain moved in, so I threw a tired leg over the saddle, and rode the gravel and grass road out to the beach area where I started setting up my tent as quickly as I could.

The view from my porch, Baie Verte QC
The tent is still damp from this morning.

 I had to wipe the damp floor of the tent dry with a cloth before moving my gear in, and it took me a bit of time to get that set up, and the rain moved in over top the campground and my tent.

My home for the night

 I’ve been using this tent for a couple of years now, and am really impressed with it’s ability to shrug off wind and rain. It’s an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 2 that I bought on Amazon.ca and had shipped to the Island to replace my aging Bass Pro special.

I sat out the worst of the shower in the tent, then headed out to make my supper on my SVEA123R. I simply popped the can into a pot of water and brought it to a boil, but found that the concave base of the can caused it to bounce around a bit too much for my liking, and I’m sorry to say that the meatballs tasted more like cat food than anything resembling a cow. 

What’s for supper?

 I had some Costco chocolates in consolation, and these ones hadn’t melted and welded themselves to the bottom of my top box!!! How cool is that?

I survived the top box melt down

 I was fortunate in that there were very few mosquitoes out in the wind and rain, so I was able to consume my meal in relative peace and dampness until lights out.

Day 6 – Forestville QC to Borden-Carleton PE

Day 6 – Forestville QC to Borden-Carleton PE

 I woke up to a morning drizzle, so I was destined to pack away the tent sopping wet, but I stayed fairly dry in my rain gear, although the temperature had dropped off, and I found that I needed another layer of clothing to stay comfortable.

The view from the dining room
Once again, Oatmeal is on the menu, along with a nice cuppa

I love this little charger!

 Mist fell the entire time I was packing up and eating breakfast. I must admit that I was happy that this would be my last night in the tent, and I could sleep in my own bed tonight. In typical fashion, I’d awoken just after dawn and was all packed and ready to roll by 0730, but as the ferry was slated to arrive at around 0900, I had some time to kill.

 Ready to roll

First one!

 Yeah, time to kill, and I had enough to wander around and take some pictures, and with me being an Ontario boy, I’m rather fascinated with ferries, and I’ve edited out quite a lot of pictures that I took of the ferry ride. lol.

And here comes the ferry!

The pedestrians are first off.

Yep, it’s a bike
The motorcycles first on…

 There is a fog bank out there, and as the ferry leaves the wharf the shoreline fades away in the mist, but there is a sunlit circle around the boat that I find fascinating. Clear as bright sunny day, but further than about 150 metres it just fades into a wall of fog, while directly overhead is blue sky.

The catamaran puts out some incredible power!

Rimouski QC up ahead of us.

We’ve just tied up and I’ve got to get back to the bike and get it ready as I’m first off onto the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River, and I off I go…

Mont-Joli QC

Mont-Joli QC

I’ve ridden the Gaspe a few times now and as I rode northwest along Route 132, I found that I needed yet another layer of clothing, and it was time to get that heated jacket back on and plugged in! I swapped out my gloves for a leather gauntlet type and was once again riding in comfort. 

Metis-sur-Mer

 I’m riding into a fog bank, and the temperature drops again, and I find that I’m really conscious of how well the heat is working it’s way into my body from the jacket. It’s a bit big on me these days, as I’ve lost some weight, so I find I need to scrunch my body up a bit if I want to get really warm. Shrinking out of well fitting riding gear is probably my only complaint about the weight loss. lol

I rode through Matane QC with the objective of riding from the 132 down through Parc de la Gaspesie along Route 299 that I’d ridden only a portion of years before on my KLR along with my dog Suzi.

Matane QC

 I’m enjoying riding through this fog on Route 132 QC, as it lends a view that an Ontario boy like me doesn’t get to see just everyday.

Riviere Des Capuchins QC

 I could be wrong, this might have been taken at Cap Chat further up the coast, or perhaps Riviere Saint-Anne from the 132. Let’s go back and see.

Route 299 QC gets more interesting the further goes inland

Eventually I hit Route 299 and turned away from the coast just as a small rain front hit! I did not want a repeat of yesterday on this run, and I resisted stopping to do a rain dance, and as I climbed the hills and moved further away from the coast, I managed to leave the rain behind.

Parc National de la Gaspesie QC along Route 299

 Once into the western edge of the parc, the road follows Riviere Saint-Anne, and the scenery improves as much as the riding does. I was in a bit of heaven, and as the weather improved I was forced to turn the heat off on the jacket and strip off a layer of clothing to be more comfortable. To be honest, I was working up a bit of a sweat as well.

Can you see Bullwinkle up on the right way in the distance?

 I’d passed the sign warning about a risk of collosion with moose but gave it no thought until I found one on the road ahead of me! Warning, objects in the camera are much closer than they appear.

I enlarged this next one so you could share the view:

Bullwinkle, or maybe his mate?

Magic. Go see for yourself.

And it’s over… Or at least the good pavement largely is

 Once I left the park, the pavement began to deteriorate in care and quality, so I reduced my speed and took care not to get swallowed by the inevitable pressure cracks and potholes.

I found myself following yet another river, Riviere Cascapedia as it flows south out empty into Chaleur Bay near New Richmond QC.

Riviere Cascapedia QC

Riviere Cascapedia QC

 Can you see the warning sign up ahead? A favourite of motorcyclists everywhere.

 As you get closer to New Richmond QC on the shore of Chaleur Bay, the speed limits drop as you are reintegrated with the local traffic, although there wasn’t much of that today.

Obviously I’d missed a soaking earlier on,  but I was losing my faith that the rain gear would stay packed away for much longer.

Time for the rain gear, as the road spray is enough to get me wet

I stopped alongside the road at a rest area in Maria QC, destination Cambelton NB where I had visions of more Viande fumee avec frites. lol. 

Baie de Cascapedia as seen from Maria QC

Baie de Cascapedia looking back towards New Richmond QC

Not happy about that profile and the scalloping.

 The tires weren’t getting any easier to work with, and I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t yet caught the low air pressure.

Once again I was able to strip off the rain gear and make tracks for Campbellton NB and my supper. 

Clapperton QC along the 132

The bridge across the Restigouche River, the border between QC and NB

 I made the bridge!  Now for my supper destination, Cafe Chez Wes where I could have some of their lovely hand cut fries…

Sometimes you have to wait for your food

Cafe Chez Wes, Campbellton NB

Mmmm… I wish I lived closer to this place. Did I mention I lost some weight? I thought I’d remind you so that you wouldn’t think badly of me. I only eat like this on trips these days.

 I was now in New Brunswick and from here it would be pretty straight sailing south on Highway 11 and later on Route 8. I’ve gone more exciting routes in the past, but it was later in the day, and I wanted to make best time for Prince Edward Island and my own bed, so I put my head down and kept going…

Great, just what I wanted to see.

Yep, almost time to put the camera away.

That’s the end of the fair weather, I’m afraid.

 I pulled into an Irving in Miramichi and had to don my rain gear as the last of the sun disappeared from view, and this is where I made a mistake…

Sunset from the gas station, how cliche!

 I was anxious to get home, and I only had a few more hours to go, the GPS happily telling me about 2 hours and 49 minutes to go, less if I was just going to cross the bridge and get some gas.

What I didn’t factor in is that the Arai that I’ve been wearing for the past year courtesy of Rob and Zac over at Canada Moto Guide

is one of the worst wet weather helmets I’ve ever owned. It does not seal completely along the top edge, and when the visor is closed and latched down, you need to close the browser vents, then you need to open the visor, as it will fog up so quickly that you won’t see anything but your own breath inside, and at night, just lights ahead with little or no detail.

I found myself with the visor raised enough to shield my eyes, but hunkered down slightly so that the airflow over the windscreen was relatively clear of rain, but as the darkness fell it was getting harder to concentrate on watching my lane placement, and keeping an eye out for wildlife.

Further on down the highway much closer to Moncton, the traffic is so heavy that it grooved the highway and I found that I was hydroplaning in the wheel ruts and going into a two wheel slide across the track until the rubber hit road again!

I dropped me speed even lower, down to 60kph on a highway that I normally ride twice as fast, and I was pulling over to let faster traffic pass me. With less than an hour left to go to the bridge, I started to ride out from under the rain front, and by the time I was on the bridge it was well behind me.

I really should have stopped in Miramichi for continuing put my life at risk, and I failed to “limit my risk” as I used to tell students on the motorcycle lot.

With all that behind me and the bike safely tucked away in the garage for the night, I finally was able to peel off my wet riding gear and crawl into my own bed that night.

A 1600km trip that I managed to add almost a 1000 extra km to. lol.

Thanks for following along with me, and if you want to point a finger and laugh, feel free to leave a comment.

In memory of Rob Harris

I first met Rob Harris (Ed Arris) in the parking garage of a building in downtown Toronto off of Bloor Street. I was doing a telephone installation in the building, and he had his Daytona 675 Triumph parked in the basement, and two motorcycle enthusiasts chatted merrily for a few moments.

What’s a little rain between friends?

A few years later, I was riding across the Trans Labrador Highway with a number of friends, and while on Newfoundland at L’Anse Aux Meadows viking settlement, we bumped into him and his riding partner Jim who were about to do the Trans Lab in the opposite direction, and as Darlene had participated in the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally that he organized, they knew each other quite well and I was formally introduced.

Wow! The new Tenere! I wonder who can afford these?

Later on when I moved out to Prince Edward Island from Ontario, Rob invited me to take part in the 2012 CMG Dusk to Dawn Rally, and I got caught up in Rob and Zac’s epic one day rally that just got better and better as the day progressed. Rob struck me as basically a big kid on a mission to make his hobby support him. I was a bit envious, as this seemed a wonderful trick to me.

Later on Rob would comment on the tiny tank of the Honda CRF250L 😀

I’d also have to say that I found his reviews in CMG very refreshing, as they didn’t pander to the manufacturer, and I found that on the whole, he rendered an unbiased opinion with a humorous and informative manner. I found myself subscribing to his newsletter and reading more of the articles in the magazine, especially the tours and reviews. While he preferred to spend more on meals and accommodations, we really enjoyed the same sort of spirited riding, and I’d often envy the motorcycle jaunts, launches and events that he would attend as a journalist.

We got to chatting more often in one medium or another, and when he found that I was travelling from Ontario to Prince Edward Island he suggested that I stop in Sackville at the CMG downtown office and have a chat. I had to tear myself away, as the conversations would go in many different directions. We’d chat about everything from tea leaves to psychology, and the best bang for the buck in knobbies.

The Rallies? They were just an excuse to share his passion and play ringmaster at his very own brand of circus. And it worked. I was hooked so badly that when I moved back to Ontario, I scheduled a family vacation to visit the island in August so I could attend yet another one. I rode from the Island to Moncton in the pouring rain, and sat outside the diner waiting for him to show up and get the meal started, and I was soaking wet and mostly miserable. He pulled up, and next thing you know, we were smiling, laughing and looking forward to what tomorrow would bring.

Rain? You call this rain? Clearly you have never been to England.
CMG Dawn to Dusk 2014

Clearly that is an Icon Spider
ATGATT

The fast group takes a wrong turn

I bought an old 2001 Honda XR400 off of my friend Willie in Ontario, and managed to work a deal with a friend of a friend who knew someone at Honda that was hauling a trailer from Ontario and would be amenable to dropping into Sackville and kicking the bike off the back of the trailer to Rob who had volunteered to store it for me for a few days until I could collect it. Wouldn’t you know that was the very weekend of the worst storm in Atlantic Canada in 50 years? The truck couldn’t get to within a kilometre of his place as they needed to turn around and only one parking lot was big enough and had been cleared. He collected the bike and told me that he had no troubles storing it a few days longer if we had trouble getting off of the island. A couple of months later, we collected the bike when he also informed me that the front brake caliper was seized, but lucky for him he was able to slide it through the snow and into the his garage. That off hand remark told me that he had worked a lot harder to make this happen for me, and I was really very grateful to him. He’d gone out of his way to help me out, and knew how excited I was to get that old bike.

You can still see the remnants of the eight foot high snowbanks on the lawn.

Thanks Rob.

The Dawn to Dusk rally got passed over in favour of the new Fundy Adventure Rally, and while I missed the first year of it, I attended the second year, and watched ringmaster Rob at the podium smiling, cracking jokes, and turning a riders briefing into a comedic adventure. His wife Courtney was there as well, and it was clear that they formed a team, and he very much valued her contributions to the success of the rally and his business.

Courtney, can we go now? What about now? Now? What about now?

 

Later on, I was asked to review a helmet for CMG, so Zac and Rob arranged for it to be shipped out to the island to me. It arrived late in June, and while I reviewed it fairly promptly, Rob suggested some edits to the review, and for whatever reason that I don’t fully understand myself, I procrastinated. I avoided it like the plague, and I still can’t really tell you why. I finally broke down and submitted it in the late fall, far after the season was over, and in my mind, so too the usefulness of the review. and in response to my apology for taking so long with my rewrite, he told me he simply wanted to tie up the loose ends. I was grateful for that, but still feel that I let him down.

I’d visit Rob at his house in Sackville and he’d tell me the best way to get to and from his place, a little stretch of gravel road that lead practically from his doorstep and right back out to the highway, but avoiding the super highway. Just a beautiful little road with a covered bridge that spoke to me, but not so much the Versys, and with all the rough roads that I favoured, I was tossing fasteners or shearing them. I’d lost a front motor mount, sheared one subframe fastener twice, and when I pulled into his driveway he’d ask “How is the Versys treating you?” and I’d relate my current fastener troubles to him. As I pointed to the subframe fastener in question, I was nonplussed to see that I’d lost it yet again! And when showing him the newly replaced front motor mount, I found to my shock and horror that I’d lost the lower motor mount bolt as well! His response was to offer me a lunch that consisted of salad from his garden, any of the fasteners in his collection, and the keys to his Kia Rondo when it was apparent that the massive bolt I needed was not to be found. I returned with a galvanized fence bolt from the hardware store down the road, and used his tools to bolt humpty dumpty back together again. I’m still riding with fence bolt to this day, so I can respond to questions “How is the Versys treating you?” to “I’m sitting on the fence.”

KLR, Konker and F800GS all in one place, including a broken Versys
And it was such a lovely bridge too.

I was riding through Sackville with Suzi on board, and when I dropped in to Rob’s place, only to find that he was out, I was fortunate enough to meet with his lovely wife Courtney and we became friends, although it might be that Suzi didn’t have a Facebook account while I do. All I can say is that Rob has great taste in women, and that I am truly very sorry for her loss, and that of his two daughters who have lost their father today.

Rob, you made me feel at home here in Atlantic Canada, you shared your home, your food and your passion for riding with me, and I will forever be grateful as I mourn the loss of a fellow rider and friend.

Tags, , ,

In memory of Rob Harris

I first met Rob Harris (Ed Arris) in the parking garage of a building in downtown Toronto off of Bloor Street. I was doing a telephone installation in the building, and he had his Daytona 675 Triumph parked in the basement, and two motorcycle enthusiasts chatted merrily for a few moments.

What’s a little rain between friends?

A few years later, I was riding across the Trans Labrador Highway with a number of friends, and while on Newfoundland at L’Anse Aux Meadows viking settlement, we bumped into him and his riding partner Jim who were about to do the Trans Lab in the opposite direction, and as Darlene had participated in the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally that he organized, they knew each other quite well and I was formally introduced.

Wow! The new Tenere! I wonder who can afford these?

Later on when I moved out to Prince Edward Island from Ontario, Rob invited me to take part in the 2012 CMG Dusk to Dawn Rally, and I got caught up in Rob and Zac’s epic one day rally that just got better and better as the day progressed. Rob struck me as basically a big kid on a mission to make his hobby support him. I was a bit envious, as this seemed a wonderful trick to me.

Later on Rob would comment on the tiny tank of the Honda CRF250L 😀

I’d also have to say that I found his reviews in CMG very refreshing, as they didn’t pander to the manufacturer, and I found that on the whole, he rendered an unbiased opinion with a humorous and informative manner. I found myself subscribing to his newsletter and reading more of the articles in the magazine, especially the tours and reviews. While he preferred to spend more on meals and accommodations, we really enjoyed the same sort of spirited riding, and I’d often envy the motorcycle jaunts, launches and events that he would attend as a journalist.

We got to chatting more often in one medium or another, and when he found that I was travelling from Ontario to Prince Edward Island he suggested that I stop in Sackville at the CMG downtown office and have a chat. I had to tear myself away, as the conversations would go in many different directions. We’d chat about everything from tea leaves to psychology, and the best bang for the buck in knobbies.

The Rallies? They were just an excuse to share his passion and play ringmaster at his very own brand of circus. And it worked. I was hooked so badly that when I moved back to Ontario, I scheduled a family vacation to visit the island in August so I could attend yet another one. I rode from the Island to Moncton in the pouring rain, and sat outside the diner waiting for him to show up and get the meal started, and I was soaking wet and mostly miserable. He pulled up, and next thing you know, we were smiling, laughing and looking forward to what tomorrow would bring.

Rain? You call this rain? Clearly you have never been to England.

CMG Dawn to Dusk 2014

Clearly that is an Icon Spider

ATGATT

The fast group takes a wrong turn

I bought an old 2001 Honda XR400 off of my friend Willie in Ontario, and managed to work a deal with a friend of a friend who knew someone at Honda that was hauling a trailer from Ontario and would be amenable to dropping into Sackville and kicking the bike off the back of the trailer to Rob who had volunteered to store it for me for a few days until I could collect it. Wouldn’t you know that was the very weekend of the worst storm in Atlantic Canada in 50 years? The truck couldn’t get to within a kilometre of his place as they needed to turn around and only one parking lot was big enough and had been cleared. He collected the bike and told me that he had no troubles storing it a few days longer if we had trouble getting off of the island. A couple of months later, we collected the bike when he also informed me that the front brake caliper was seized, but lucky for him he was able to slide it through the snow and into the his garage. That off hand remark told me that he had worked a lot harder to make this happen for me, and I was really very grateful to him. He’d gone out of his way to help me out, and knew how excited I was to get that old bike.

You can still see the remnants of the eight foot high snowbanks on the lawn.

Thanks Rob.

The Dawn to Dusk rally got passed over in favour of the new Fundy Adventure Rally, and while I missed the first year of it, I attended the second year, and watched ringmaster Rob at the podium smiling, cracking jokes, and turning a riders briefing into a comedic adventure. His wife Courtney was there as well, and it was clear that they formed a team, and he very much valued her contributions to the success of the rally and his business.

Courtney, can we go now? What about now? Now? What about now?

 

Later on, I was asked to review a helmet for CMG, so Zac and Rob arranged for it to be shipped out to the island to me. It arrived late in June, and while I reviewed it fairly promptly, Rob suggested some edits to the review, and for whatever reason that I don’t fully understand myself, I procrastinated. I avoided it like the plague, and I still can’t really tell you why. I finally broke down and submitted it in the late fall, far after the season was over, and in my mind, so too the usefulness of the review. and in response to my apology for taking so long with my rewrite, he told me he simply wanted to tie up the loose ends. I was grateful for that, but still feel that I let him down.

I’d visit Rob at his house in Sackville and he’d tell me the best way to get to and from his place, a little stretch of gravel road that lead practically from his doorstep and right back out to the highway, but avoiding the super highway. Just a beautiful little road with a covered bridge that spoke to me, but not so much the Versys, and with all the rough roads that I favoured, I was tossing fasteners or shearing them. I’d lost a front motor mount, sheared one subframe fastener twice, and when I pulled into his driveway he’d ask “How is the Versys treating you?” and I’d relate my current fastener troubles to him. As I pointed to the subframe fastener in question, I was nonplussed to see that I’d lost it yet again! And when showing him the newly replaced front motor mount, I found to my shock and horror that I’d lost the lower motor mount bolt as well! His response was to offer me a lunch that consisted of salad from his garden, any of the fasteners in his collection, and the keys to his Kia Rondo when it was apparent that the massive bolt I needed was not to be found. I returned with a galvanized fence bolt from the hardware store down the road, and used his tools to bolt humpty dumpty back together again. I’m still riding with fence bolt to this day, so I can respond to questions “How is the Versys treating you?” to “I’m sitting on the fence.”

KLR, Konker and F800GS all in one place, including a broken Versys

And it was such a lovely bridge too.

I was riding through Sackville with Suzi on board, and when I dropped in to Rob’s place, only to find that he was out, I was fortunate enough to meet with his lovely wife Courtney and we became friends, although it might be that Suzi didn’t have a Facebook account while I do. All I can say is that Rob has great taste in women, and that I am truly very sorry for her loss, and that of his two daughters who have lost their father today.

Rob, you made me feel at home here in Atlantic Canada, you shared your home, your food and your passion for riding with me, and I will forever be grateful as I mourn the loss of a fellow rider and friend.