Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trip 3D ~ 200 kms

Home to search for a Restigouche River lookout/return (Oct. 2, 2010 ~200kms).

It's fall, the leaf colours are at peak, so what better way to enjoy it than a ride up the Restigouche River with the magnificent views?

Two years ago I found an awesome lookout at L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and was blown away by the beauty. At that time, I noticed another sign for a lookout further upriver, but didn't have the time to visit. So, this was the day that I would check it out.

Heading out from home at 2:30pm, it was very cloudy, and a little cool at 48°F/9°C - a good transition into the final 8 wks of the riding season. Just before hitting the highway, I stop at the overpass to take a couple shots of the leaves.

Going up Hwy.11 towards Campbellton, I immediatley had plenty to appreciate with many colours adding to the great view of the river and mountains. Within 1/2 hour, I leave the highway and cut through the hills to Flatlands where it's time to take another pic and get an up close view of the river, as the smooth road winds it way along the banks....biker's heaven.

Before long, I'm crossing the bridge to Quebec after stopping 1/2 way to take a couple photos. Once I enter Matapedia, I decide to go through the town and cross the Maptapedia river at the first bridge. The next section of road is new pave again, but this time through the mountains, which means more twisties along with rising/falling elevations. It's beautiful through this road with the large round hay bales standing out in the vast green fields contrasting with the wild colours.

After passing through the largest small community of Saint-Francois-d'Assise, I find my way to the lookout area I visited in 2008. Although I have the GPS with me, it's not mounted conveniently, so I have it in the map pocket of the tank bag only for odd reference. I'm relying on the local lookout signs, so I follow the 2nd lookout sign turning right along Pin Rouge Rd.

After an hour of riding, I'm at an intersection which has a lookout sign pointing straight with 14kms marked. As soon as I cross the intersection, the road bends to the left, and is now dirt. After 2 kms, the dirt road has gotten worse, then I find myself ready to enter a farmer's field. This is obviously the wrong way, so I go back to the intersection with the sign, and notice 2 trucks coming out of a road that I never saw, since it dipped down out of sight.

After turning around and looking at the sign again, I go straight where the trucks exited. Another dirt road, and worse than the first. Before long, it's even worse - ruts, lots of jagged rock, and water. I should have a dirt bike on this road, but I press on with the VFR, and get some strange looks from the truckers.

This does not look like a road to a tourist lookout, but I continue - even though the road continues to get worse, narrower, and winding it's way up and
down mountains and along gorges with steep drops to creeks below. There's many forks in the road, and I wonder if I'm on the right one, but I continue to follow the main one marked with "1 Sud" signs. I considered turning around a couple times, but finally, after about 10kms, there at another fork in the road is a lookout sign that points straight. I should have another 4kms to go on this terrible horse-and-buggy route, but after passing 14, 15, 16, then 17kms, I'm in the middle of nowhere, and I give up. This is definitely not a road to a tourist spot! The road is so narrow, that it takes me a few back and ahead movements to get turned around.

After making my way back to the 10km sign, I decide to try the left fork in the road on the chance that the sign is just pointing wrong. After 2.5kms Camp Rambo sits at the end of the road with nowhere to go, so I give up again and turn around.

Once I'm back to the 10km sign, I look at it again in disbelief. No bloody way is there a lookout straight ahead! In frustration, I give up and slowly make my way back along the terrible roads to the intersection where I started, and have to triple check the sign.

Back on paved roads, I return to L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and decide to revisit the lookout there. The last time I was here, I didn't check out the 2 obvious nearby lookouts due to other visitors, so that's what I do this visit. They are magnificent and tranquil on a normal day, but today with the fall colours, you have to visit yourself to understand the beauty!

Back on the bike, I return to Matapedia on the more northerly route, and the final leg out of the mountains is a 14% grade drop over 3kms. The temperature is down to 44°F/6°C, but as I get a view of Campbellton ahead, I see the sun is shining bright. After picking up some milk, I boogie back down Hwy.11 to home with the sun on my back, and an urge already to return to the mountains to find that damn lookout.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trip 3C - 1005kms

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (Aug. 18th - 341kms)

It's been 2.5 months since the last trip, and I haven't ridden too much lately, so after wrapping things up at work, it feels good to get back out on the open road again. It's a beautiful sunny/cloudy day at 24°C/75°F, and after crossing the bridge at Eel River, the water is noticeably missing after the dam downstream was dismantled. Only about 20% of the width is water now as it tries to find it's long-term path through the mud.

Time and miles fly by as I take the right fork at Bathurst onto Hwy.8 south. This road is still in really good shape after all the work last summer. Surprisingly I haven't met any construction on these main roads up north, and that's fine with me. Traffic is sparse today, so the trip down to Miramichi goes quick. It's warmed up a bit, so it's time to lose the jacket liner and gloves, as I stop to fill up with gas ($1.019/l) , stretch, and get a bottle of water. After also washing the bugs off the visor, windshield and lights, I leave the gas stop and head up Newcastle Blvd., which turns out to be closed to traffic. Trying an alternate route has me losing my way a bit (why didn't I bring the GPS?). Finally I find my way out and back onto Hwy.8 across the Miramichi River.

As I roll into Blackville, there seems to be truck after truck after NB Power truck with their buckets hoisted up to the distribution lines. Just as many are driving on the road in this small community. Obviously some major project is underway.

As I enter the last hour of the trip, clouds have overtaken the sun, and things cool down. The closer I get to Fredericton, the darker the clouds become, but luckily no rain as I check into the motel for the night. Ahhh....I'm wiped for some reason.

Leg-2 : Fredericton to Springhill (Aug. 19th - 267 kms)

The meeting is done earlier than expected, so give Tam a call to let her know I'll be by soon to pick her up. She is going to the Hill with me, and it's another great day that's mostly sunny, but a little warm at 26°C/78°F, so no jacket liner or gloves on this leg. We get our hand signals straight, then we head out onto the Trans-Canada Highway east.

The Sheffield and Jemseg bridges over the Saint John River are not too bad today - even get to sit up high to catch the great view over the concrete. Coming off the second bridge and seeing the old road winding through the trees is always inviting, so one day I'll take that alternate route.

The 75 mins. slips by, and it's time for a break. Pulling off the exit to the gas station at Salisbury, a couple young guys are begging for food/money. Their sign says their hungry, but a Tim's coffee cup is at the ready. I question why a coffee if you're hungry? Wouldn't food be better? We get talking to them and find out one is from Charllottetown, the other from California. Worlds apart, but not today, so I hand them $5. At the Irving, we grab a drink and relax in the shade while Tam puffs away.

Continuing east into Moncton, the wind picks up and the temperature drops to a comfy 23°C/73°F. Traffic has increased since the merge from Saint John, and continues until the T.C.H. swings south. Another 1/2 hour, and we descend into Sackville where the effects of the Bay of Fundy are obvious. Time for gas, and supper at Wendy's. After the meal, we relax in the shade as I give mum/mom a call to let her know we're near.

Back on the bike, and the wind is more of a force crossing the Tantramar Marsh and Aulac stretch as expected, but nothing severe. The temperature has now dipped to 20°C/68°F, but after getting into Nova Scotia, and onto Hwy.2 south, the temperature climbs a little as the trees protect us from the winds. Another 20mins., and we're rolling into the driveway for a couple days visit.

Leg-3 : Springhill to Home (Aug. 21st - 397 kms)
After the ritual dissection of the weather forecasts, and seeing only isolated showers on the horizon today, we're packed and ready to go at 3:15pm as Tam tries her best at "mounting the horse". It's a comfy 22°C/72°F, but a little windier after the rain, and after making our way back up Hwy.2 north, the wind is more obvious out on the open T.C.H. , and as usual, crossing the border into New Brunswick.

The ride to Moncton goes fast as Tam whines "we're here already?!" I'm dropping her off at the bus stop for her return trip to Fredericton. We're a little early, so lots of time to get her ticket, etc. We say goodbye, and I weave my way back to the Champlain Mall where I'm meeting up with Jeff on his supper break. I'm a little early, but he's able to break away, and we have a nice relaxing meal and chat over A&W food. It's great to see him again, and the 1/2 hour flies by super fast. He returns to work, and after gassing up and cleaning the visor, I decide to go up Hwy.126 since the isolated rain forecast was for the eastern sections, and some raindrops have already started here.

So much for "isolated", since the hour ride up to Rogersville is mostly rain. After a break in the rain midway, I pull over and put the jacket liner in and the gloves on to protect me more, then continue on tucked behind the fairing. It's isolated showers up to Miramichi, then after crossing the bridge and onto Hwy.8, the skies look much better. I'm dry by now, so just enjoy this speedier section through the woods. La Bonne Route, then Allardville exit fly by, and before I know it, I take the bend onto Hwy.11 at Bathurst.

The weather and road are good, so as the sun is getting low, I get into my laying position with feet on the passenger pegs, and chin on the tank bag. Time for a sleep ;) After passing Nash Creek, I meet a cop with lights blazing and breaking the speed limit! Further on, another cop.... this seems par for the course in this area each time.

Around 8pm, I roll down the driveway, and home once again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trip 3B - (772kms/8 hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Springhill (June 5th, 374kms)This trip comes quicker than expected after finding out that my brother from BC plans to come east for the first time in 7 years. I'm supposed to pick him up at the airport with my SUV, but after following the weather reports for a week, I decide to chance taking my bike before the forecasted rain hits in the afternoon.

I'm packed and creep out of the driveway at 10am, but need to fill up immediately rather than hit the highway. After making my way to Dalhousie Esso, I weave my way out onto Hwy.11 towards Bathurst. It's cloudy/sunny and 55°F/13°C and within 15 minutes, the skies have become overcast. 15 more minutes, and the fog rolls in around Lorne/Nash Creek overpass. I'm getting the feeling that this trip may not be as dry as I hoped. Luckily as I reach Belledune, the weather improves, but the police have pulled out onto the highway ahead of me. Traffic naturally slows down, and it's this way right down to Bathurst until they pull over to the shoulder to wait for offenders.

After getting onto Hwy.8 south, there's a construction zone with pavement tore up for 11kms, and many motorcycle warning signs to remind me. I can't chance the grooved pavement, and soon many vehicles pass me....until Allardville when normal pavement reappears.

As I pass La Bonne Route gas stop, the skies are darker, and by the time I approach Miramichi, the rain begins forcefully. It's time to get into a tuck behind the fairing, and I'm just thinking about making it to the Irving in Chatham since they have an overhang to protect me from the rain (even though I don't need the gas yet). By the time I cross the Centennial bridge, the rain has tapered off, and decide to continue on past the gas station. I originally was going to head down Hwy.126 to enter Moncton on the west end, but after seeing the rain this early, I continue on down Hwy.11 along the coast to drive straight to mum's.

Although I'm wet from the rain, the clearer skies and wind allow me to dry out over the next 1/2 hour. It's been a while since I've been down this road, and as I pass Richibucto and Rexton, I can't help but think of my coworker friend Jim who was from this area, but passed away on his 58th birthday.

Miles slip by, and most of the traffic leaves this road to go to Moncton. It's shorter/quicker for me to go through Scoudouc to beat the rain as Hwy.11 turns into Hwy.134. I stop for gas for the first time after approx. 3 hrs, and as I come out of the gas station, the rain drops begin again. It's only light rain, but the road is wet and rough, and more driving care is needed along this stretch.

Finally, I come to the overpass which then leads me out onto the Trans-Canada Hwy., and I find myself following 2 other bikes as the rain continues. The VFR is stable at highway speeds in the rain (thanks to the Battlax tires), and going across the stretch at Aulac is not as crazy as expected. I decide to creep up onto the 2 bikes ahead of me and see they are both Ninjas. I wave/nod, then continue on ahead of them by the border.

The rain continues as I pull off the T.C.H., and take Hwy.2 south. Traffic is slow here, but it's safer, especially when I hit Springhill Jct. where the rain really starts to come down. As I weave my way to/through the town, I finally head up the hill to mum's place. Surprisingly, the 100 year old barn has been tore down - lots of memories there.

I'm wet, and immediately pull off the jacket and shirt, have a quick lunch, then head out to the airport to pick up the BC brother in mum's car.

Leg 2 - Springhill to Home (June 8th, 397 kms)
After a great visit with ALL the family (first time in many years), it's time to leave. I've been watching the weather closely for 5 different areas to see if I can actually leave on this day, or need to wait. Mid-afternoon seems the best time according to the predictive radar map on theweathernetwork with a few isolated showers here and there. As I turn onto Junction Rd., a few of the drops begin....nothing to worry about, and they've stopped as quick as they started. The mix of dark and light clouds remain, and my eyes often scan the skyline to see what's ahead. Once I've snaked my way up Hwy. 2, full rain hits at Upper Nappan. It lasts for about 15 mins. as I cross another surprisingly windless stretch at the border back into New Brunswick. The lack of wind here is always welcome after experiencing many crossings where the complete opposite was true.

I settle in behind some vroom vroom cars as we make our way to Moncton. Rain is threatening most of the way, but doesn't develop. Jeff is off today, so I make my way to his basement apartment where I meet his new roomy and friend. I hang out for a while, check the weather again, and see that I better get going to beat the rain that soon to hit. I see that I'll stand a better chance taking the coastal route up Hwy.11, but since I'm already 1/2 way through the city, I decide to go up Hwy.126. Well, it doesn't take long for the rain to start again, but it's sparse.

The entire ride up through Rogersville and then onto Miramichi has me watching the clouds, and this has got to be the most unpredictable trip for weather. It can't decide whether to rain or remain sunny, bright clouds or dark. For the most part, the rain only happens randomly, so life is not too bad. Entering Nelson, it's time to fill up with gas.

I get through Miramichi, then straight onto Hwy. 8 north, but soon hit a construction zone where they're ripping up asphalt, and I wait for eternity for my turn to proceed. Finally I'm waved on, and we need to follow a construction pickup to ensure we're not racing through the zone, and stay well over to the right. This section didn't exist a few days before, and I know on the Bathurst end, there'll be another 11kms of asphalt ripped up, so I make good use of the throttle in the middle section.

The temperature has been climbing since I hit Allardville, and around Bathurst, it's up to about 24°C/74°F, and just a perfect evening to be cruising home. After rounding the bend in Belledune, I see the first cop on this trip. Before long, another, and finally as I approach Charlo, a third. Good thing I'm a careful, conscientious, slow rider, otherwise one of these fine gentlemen would have to ticket me.

Well it's only 20mins. past the start of the meeting, so after topping up with gas, I drop by, then head home.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trip - 3A (1185kms/11hrs.)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (May 19th, 341kms)
It's the first trip of the season, and it feels great to get out on the road again. The weather forecast for Fredericton later in the day is rain, so I hit the road just after a great lunch (Mandarin chicken salad - thanks again to Donna). The trip starts off with perfect sunshine and temperature of 18°C/
64°F. My first stop is Blue Cross in Bathurst so I can cash in some medical receipts - which should pay for the trip. By the time I leave this small city, the temperature has already climbed to 22°C/74°F, and I should remove my jacket liner, but there's no room left in my tank bag to store it.

I leave Hwy.11 and swing onto Hwy.8 southward, and traffic is moving along nicely here. The new wildlife fences line this road most of the next 45 minute drive. The Allardville exit, then La Bonne Route are soon behind me, and as I roll down into Miramichi, the sky has become hazy and the temperature has dropped. I'm hoping the rain forecasted for later in the day doesn't surprise me sooner. After the usual slow ride through Miramichi, speed changes after the bridge at Derby Junction. The poor condition concrete highway would make an observer think I have a bad case of the hiccups, but finally after 5 minutes, it's back to normal asphalt.

Renous prison and Blackville skip by, then I loose some traffic as the Tim Horton cult get their fix in Doaktown. As I roll into Boisetown, the temperature has dropped to 15°C/62°F, and the clouds are dark. Hopefully the rain will hold off another 45 minutes.
After rounding the hairpin turn in Taymouth, the bends continue down along the Nashwaak River. As most traffic exits at Kilarney Rd., I continue lean after lean down into Marysville. As a change, I decide to continue straight down to the St. John River. It begins to rain lightly now, and by the time I make it to the motel, I realize how good the timing was, and park under the overhang to escape the wet night.

Leg-2 : Fredericton to Springhill (May 20th - 267 kms)
Expecting rain this morning on my 10 minute ride to the meeting at the Ramada, I'm surprised to see that it has stopped.

Once the meeting finishes at 3pm, the weather is beautiful at 21°C/70°F as I make my way up to my sister's place. She's been wanting to take a cruise for a long time, so surprised that she has changed her mind. I'm convincing enough to make her think straight, and finally, she awkwardly climbs up on the rear seat with her borrowed snowmobile helmet bobbing along. After we get our hand signals straight, it's out onto the Trans-Canada Highway.

This is only my second passenger on this bike, and have never had one longer than 20 minutes, so this 2-1/2 hr. trip should be interesting. It's not long before I realize it's no big deal having a 100 pound passenger, as I hardly notice her - other than the occasional banging of helmet on my back, and tug on my jacket loops.

After 45 mins., it's time for a smoke break (not mine) as I notice the temperature has peaked at 23°C/73°F.

My main concern with a passenger is crosswinds in known bad areas, so now is the time to explain the upcoming high bridges over the St. John River at Sheffield and Jemseg. Once we get going again, and reach those 2 bridges, it is surprisingly a piece of noticeable wind at all! It's one of the best riding days I can recall.

We motor on through the fast section to Moncton, where things naturally get a little congested. It doesn't help when people think they want to pass, and hang out there in the passing lane, creeping by the slower vehicle with no concern about the traffic behind them ready to climb up and over them.

Memramcook, then some a couple miles of single lane construction go by (no one in site), then we pull into Sackville for gas and a break. Sis is strung out a little, but excited at the same time. The snowmobile helmet and small sunglasses are no match for the road. She lets me know that the rear seat is comfy though.

After spending some time cleaning the bugs off the lights and helmet visor, it's time to give mum a call to let her know I'm near. I let sis know that we are about to cross the Tantramar Marsh/Aulac/N.S. border section, and to expect high winds - even if the day has been tame so far. To my surprise, the crossing is mild, and definitely the calmest in all my times through here on a bike. One thing that has stayed the same, and that's the drastic dip in temperature - now down to 13°C/50°F!

It's photo-op time as we cross into Nova Scotia and visit the Welcome Center. There's a smaller sign as we enter, but it is on a lawn. Oh well, a bike can scoot across the lawn easy enough, and as we take each others' picture, can't help but notice the warm weather has brought the black flies out, so it's time to get going.

Getting back out onto the Trans-Canada Highway from here is a little confusing, so we drive through Amherst as sis now has a handle on using the camera on the back of the bike. After winding our way through the town, it's onto the last leg of Hwy.2 down to Springhill. This is a much more enjoyable road for a bike with the rises, dips, and turns. After 3 hrs., we roll into mum's driveway, where the temperature has risen back to 18C/66F.

Leg-3 : Springhill to Truro/return (May 21st - 191 kms)
After learning that mum won a new digital camera, but needed to get it in Truro, I offered, since I also wanted to offload some pics from my camera, and the weather was great. Since it was getting late, and Carsand-Mosher was closing in 1.5 hours, I went down the fast/boring Trans-Canada Hwy. to Truro. After finding the location on Esplanade St., I picked up the prize, added some memory, then headed back. I wasn't in a hurry, and wanted a more scenic route, so decided to take Hwy.4 through Folly Lake. This is the old T.C.H., but is obviously wore down, and no traffic at all.

Folly Lake comes into view, and this is the most scenic part of the route. This area is notorioius for it's fog, but none to be seen this clear day. I stop to look at the abandoned ski hill for a minute, then I'm back out on the road and soon come to the merge onto the T.C.H. just before Oxford, then soon roll into mum's driveway.

Leg-4 : Springhill to Home (May 22nd - 385 kms)
It's a beautiful 20°C/68°F afternoon, but windy day on the Hill, and that means trouble crossing the border. Not much choice though, so I leave around 3pm. Like usual, Hwy.2 to Amherst is a pleasure to ride.... sheltered from most of the wind, but as soon as I get out onto the Trans-Canada Hwy., it's a different story - the wind smacks me around like a leaf. From this point to Sackville the cross winds are unpredictable, but expecting them from the Bay of Fundy side is the norm. I make sure I'm on the west side of my lane so I've got room to maneuver when a gust blows me east. I've dropped my speed to 90kph to stay in control, and finally get to pull off the highway for gas in Sackville.

The ride up to Moncton is still quite windy, but now it's time to leave this wide open main road and visit Jeff for his supper break. It's good to see Jeff again, and conversation comes between A&W grilled chicken burger, onion rings and root beer....mmmm. Half an hour goes by quick, and it's time to say goodbye.

I make my way out of the city and head for the woods onto Hwy.126 where I'll be protected from the winds. There's not too much traffic on this road, and I soon find myself alongside of the Via passenger train. We are travelling at the same 95-100kph, and it's a full 15-20 minute drive beside the train as I finally pull ahead when it comes to a stop in Rogersville.

Another 1/2 hour up the highway, I hit Miramichi and backtrack a bit down Hwy.11 to get gas at the Irving and wash the bugs off the visor. The temperature has risen up north, so I grab a popsicle and remove my jacket liner. Although I didn't have room to remove it earlier in the trip, I now have the tie-down netting attached to the rear seat, so the jacket liner fits nicely underneath. I'm cooled down now, and I cross the Centennial Bridge and head north on the fast Hwy.8 through more woods. The winds are calmer up north, and by the time I'm pulling into Bathurst, the temp. has climbed to 25°C/77°F.

Further up the road around Nash Creek, some fancy Mustang starts speeding up as I'm going by him in a passing lane. Mr. Mustang wants to play....little does he know what I'm sitting on..... goodbye Mr. Mustang.

There's lots of bugs out on this warm evening, and good thing I've got a visor since I see/hear the smack of one after the other against it. By the time I get home and pull off the helmet, I see just how many bugs there were since washing my visor an hour and half ago.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


With 35,817kms on the odometer, this season begins on March 10th. I could have been out in February if I had a back tire, but still, I'm about 3 weeks ahead of schedule after a very very easy winter.