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.


Pete said...

careful,yes; conscientious,yes;
Slow, debatable.
Too bad about all the rain to and fro. Nice trip though!

T said...

haha...thanks for the comment Pete. I guess I was a little pessimistic in this trip since the rain was an impression on 2 readers so far. As I recall, I did hit rain, but thinking back, it wasn't too bad.