TLH Trip, Chapter One

Steve Northrop blackgpz at
Sun Aug 17 10:15:12 PDT 2008

It's taken me a little time to get caught up and organized after the trip. 
We are trying to organize all our pics in one place. I'll let you guys know 
when we're done.

     I left beautiful downtown Brockport around Noon on Tuesday, July 30 to 
meet Bill and Mike at the Leaf & Bean coffee shop (which Bill owns). Bill is 
riding an '08 KLR 650 and Mike has an R1200GS Beemer, both shod with 
TKC80's. My '08 KLR 650 is shod with a ChengShin C858 front and Kenda K270 
rear. My two tires together cost less than one of the TKC80's! The woman 
that does the baked goods for Bill's shop made us a rum cake to take with 
us. We couldn't really take it with us so we ate it before we left! 
Consequently, we didn't get on the road 'til about 2:00 PM. Our plan was to 
meet Bruce in Lake George for dinner then go a little farther North to 
Ticonderoga for the night. Bruce is on an '08 KLR 650 as well. He used to 
live here, retired to NC and had tailored his bike up to Connecticut where 
his sister lives. We took the long way from the L&B, running Rt 104 along 
the southern shore of Lake Ontario, then routes 8 and 28 through the 
Adirondacks and 9 into Lake George. The weather was perfect that day. The 
new Kenda rear was a little squirrelly on the pavement but manageable. We 
met Bruce, had a nice dinner, rode North to Ticonderoga and packed it in on 
day one. We were off to a good start.
     Day two dawned bright and clear. Our plan today was to make Baie St. 
Paul, which is North of Quebec, where we will meet up with Jim. We are just 
making tracks as it's a 400+ mile day and there's not much to see. We get to 
the hotel in Baie St. Paul where Jim comes out to meet us. Introductions are 
made, we go in and get cleaned up and head into town for dinner. We settle 
on this trendy little restaurant with no English on the menu. I had to press 
my 3 years of Latin in HS into service to have any idea what I was ordering 
for dinner. The food was good but pricey and after we had enough of 
listening to the annoying French chatter we went back to the hotel where Jim 
had some Bud Light in the fridge for us. I asked how com with all the good 
Canadian beer up here, we're drinking Bud Light? Always the Scotsman, he 
says "It was on sale."
     Day three breaks with some clouds but no rain. Today we plan to make 
the dam at Manic 5. We will be running the North shore of the St. Lawrence 
Seaway to Baie Comeau then North about 100 miles to Manicougan #5. We have a 
short ferry ride along the way, to cross an inlet too wide for a bridge. The 
further North we go, the more water there is, and the higher the fuel 
prices. So far we have been paying about $1.35/L and it's only going to get 
worse. Manic 5 is also where the pavement ends and the gravel begins. The 
motel at Manic 5 looks like a barracks. There are two longitudinal rows of 
trailers with the "Cafeteria" across the back. It used to be the work camp 
when they were building the dam, now it's a motel! The prices of everything 
reflected the remoteness of the place. The one gas pump was priced at 
$1.57/L. The food at the Cafeteria was terrible. As Bill said, you have to 
try to make food taste this bad. One thing I'll say about the French, they 
are consistent. They would consistently ignore you in every way possible 
until there was no way they could ignore you any longer, then wait on you 
begrudgingly. We did a little bike maintenance as this was the last pavement 
we were going to see for a while. We had 1000 miles under our belt so far 
and the fun was just beginning!
     Day four the gravel starts. This is supposed to be one of the more 
treacherous sections with soft gravel, sharp turns and a lot of elevation 
change. They were pretty spot on! It was sprinkling lightly when we pulled 
out, immediately hitting soft, wet gravel going uphill. This was going to be 
a relatively short day for us, about 250 miles to Labrador City. We didn't 
have to press too hard and it gave us a chance to get our "gravel legs" 
under us for the 350 miles we needed to do the next day to get into Goose 
Bay. It sprinkled off and on all day, sometimes enough to keep the dust 
down, most times just enough to wet your faceshield so all the dust stuck to 
it! Sometimes we had to stop because we couldn't see anymore! There were 
some good sections you could get going 60+mph. The worst part was the other 
vehicles. First, It was probably a mistake to run this section of gravel on 
the Friday of a three-day Canadian holiday weekend. The dust these people 
were making heading South trying to get back to civilization was 
unbelievable. You couldn't see for what seemed like minutes. Most were 
courteous but some wanted their half of the road out of the middle, forcing 
you into some pretty soft stuff near the shoulder of the road. Occasionally, 
we would be passed by a vehicle from behind. You pretty much had to come to 
a complete stop and let the dust cloud clear before continuing. I found 
riding on the gravel to be somewhat like a boat. Everybody's bike was a 
little different depending on tires and weight but you could find a speed at 
which you went up "on plane" where you were riding on top of the gravel 
instead of sinking down into it. For me it was about 52-53mph. The bike 
would still move around under you a little, but you still had enough control 
to steer around big rocks and feel quite comfortable. We made Labrador City 
without incident and stayed in a great bed& breakfast that Jim found. It was 
way too nice for the likes of us but the owners didn't seem to mind. A "boil 
water advisory" coincided with our arrival so we drank beer on the deck 
instead and turned in for the night.

More later.

Steve in Western NY
'96 GPZ1100
'02 Daytona 955i
'08 KLR 650
"You Can't Fix Stupid", Ron White 

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