Friday, September 30, 2011

Trip - 4D (600kms/6hrs.)

Sep. 28, 2011 
Leg 1 : Home to Moncton (300kms)

Another work meeting to attend, so I leave early and start at the warmest part of the day. It's a cool 51°F/11°C afternoon, and I haven't found my riding gloves since the accident. After a half hour ride down Hwy.11, my hands are feeling cold.  I planned on dropping into Toys for Big Boys when I got to Moncton, but by the time I get to Bathurst, I decide to leave the highway and go into the small city to buy any gloves I can find.  Going at the slower speeds and needing to clutch, I realize my hands are really stiff from the windchill.  Not much of a selection at Walmart, but I end up getting insulated work gloves.  They're a little bulky while clutching and breaking, but they immediately warm my hands as I get back out onto the highway.

After crossing the beautiful Nepisiguit River, I swing onto Hwy.8 south.  There's lots of colourful leaves starting to change that occupy me on this section of road down past Allardville, La Bonne Route, and into Miramichi where it's warmed to 58°F/14°C.   After crossing the Centennial Bridge, I take the first exit. 

Soon I'm turning south and stop for gas at Papa Joe's Irving where it's "only" $1.23/litre.  Although this place is cheaper than most, we've settled into gas being well over a dollar per litre now, that this seems cheap.  The usual routine of washing bugs from the helmet visor, windshield and lights is done, so after paying for the fillup, I continue on Hwy.126 through the twisties, then down to Rogersville where traffic drastically slows.  

The trip seems uneventful and routine down to this point as I'm now following 3 cars back at sub-highway speed.  As one car pulls out to pass the others, I follow.  Then, the routine part is over.  This VW turbo ahead of me decides to lead the way quickly.  Then "quick" turns into him trying to outrun me!  I can't let that happen, so after noticing that I'm still there behind him, he slows to less than warp speed, then he's off again.  I continually see his exhaust puffing as he is going through the gears hard.  I tag along as he continues to cycle between low and high warp speeds.  It's a quick ride down to Moncton, and before I know it, the final twisties appear, and I then am headed down Mountain Rd. and make my way to the Future Inns hotel.  A new swanky spot - aside from the noisy elevators which will haunt me all night long even though I'm far from them.

I unpack, then head out to meet up with Jeff for a Swiss Chalet supper (chicken & haddock yumm), check out the movie Office Space, then back to the motel room to relax.

Sep. 29, 2011 
Leg 2 - Return home from Moncton

After finishing up the meeting earlier than expected, I'm packed up under sunny skies and ready to roll with a comfortable temp. of 64°F/18°C.  Since it's still early, I head to the southwest corner of the city to check out the motorcycle gloves at Toys For Big Boys.  The road there is under construction, so a slow, soft sand route eats up more time than expected.  Finally at the store, I look around and see very little selection late in the riding season.  Without buying anything, I head back through the city (on a different route), then north onto Hwy.126.

Since it's a beautiful biking day, I just soak up the sun as I leisurely wind through the lower end of this highway, then lay out on the tank bag for the straight stretch up through Harcourt, Coal Branch, and Rogersville.  Suddenly, it occurs to me that this morning I left a care package of frozen spaghetti sauce with the motel restaurant, but forgot to pick it up after the meeting!!!  Damn, Jeff will be pissed at missing out on a great batch! 

The north end of Hwy.126 is never boring as the twisties eventually lead me into Nelson with that familiar spruce tree scent, then into Miramichi and across the Centennial Bridge.  I normally stop for gas and rest at this point, but I decide to motor on and grab something to eat later since it's only mid-afternoon.  Traffic is light and quick up Hwy.8, and within an hour, I'm taking the exit to Tim Hortons in Bathurst for a chicken wrap, donut and tea mmmm.

I leave Bathurst with a warm belly and continue up Hwy.11, and since it's a great day, I decide to leave the boring highway to take the Jacquet River exit.  Here, I follow the Chaleur Bay coastline through the small communities with dazzling views that I never tire of.  Within half an hour, it's time to fill up the tank before completing this trip after the final 10 minute drive home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Trip - 4C (1100kms/12hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (Sept. 14th, 342kms)

Another business meeting to attend, so after checking the weather, I'm away.  It's only 11°C/51°F this afternoon, but the sun is out.  There's no traffic to speak of, and the first hour slips by as things slow at Bathurst.  After taking the right fork onto Hwy.8, things speed up again.  I'm feeling pretty comfy on the bike for it being the first lengthy trip this season, so hopefully it will continue. Before taking the McKinnon Rd. exit, I notice that I've seen a half a dozen ambulances in the first hour and half, so don't know if there's lots of transports, or accidents, or ......?

At the end of my last trip, I was physically wasted - maybe since I wasn't used to riding much, so I'm surprised how good I feel (so far) on this trip. It's time to gas up and clean the visor as I pull into a different than usual gas station in Miramichi. I grab an iced tea, drink half of it, and throw the rest in the backpack on the passenger seat.  After crawling through Newcastle, I climb up past the high school area, then back out onto the highway.  After making my way down near Blackville, the skies have gotten dark - enough to make me pull over and put the rain jacket on.  Surprisingly by the time I get to Doaktown, only a few drops have hit me, and the skies begin to break.  Approaching Taymouth, I'm stuck behind a slow driver with nowhere to pass, so I take the alternate route on the east side of the Nashwaak River, then pop out ahead of the show traffic as I get back on the west.

Ignoring the turnoff at Killarney Rd., I continue along the river.  It's a great motorcycle route with the newer pave and twisties.  The trees have grown enough over the summer, that some of the turns give me the sensation of having some of the branches coming close to hitting near my helmet - cool.

Before long, I take the Marysville Bypass, and roll into the motel parking lot.  It's time to check in, shower, then meet up with Tam for broccolli salad on pita bread supper, but first, I stop at the dazzling view on the bridge crossing the Nashwaak River where it enters into the Saint John River. It's too much ignore, so I park the bike on the edge of the bridge, haul out the camera and take a snapshot.....beautiful, and surprising to see the leaves starting to turn already.

After Tam's place, we're off to the Fredericton Harvest, Jazz, Blues Festival where we will see Andy Brown, Tom Swift & El Camino, Nathalie the busker, a cool blues band busking in front of Cedar Tree Cafe, then up to The Capital to see 2 Reggae bands: Dub Antenna, and Weak Size Fish.

Leg 2 -  Fredericton to Argyle Shore     (Sept. 15th, 311kms)
After a longer meeting than expected, I exit the motel expecting to see rain since it's been in the forecast all day, but surprisingly it's not....yet.  I even parked the bike under the front door overhang, and I see dozen young guys looking at it - 2 of them up close.  Walking up to the bike, I hold out the key to jokingly entice them to take it for a ride.....luckily, they decline. We talk for a bit, as I get my rain jacket on for the trip east - although the forecast is supposed to be better in that direction.  

I see that the gas price has risen instead of the predicted drop, but the 2nd station by the motel has not changed, so I fill up at $1.24/litre.  It's a very comfy 69°F/20°C, as I take the old T.C.Highway (now #105) along the north side of the Saint John River.  It's a great route with good pavement and

curves, and I can't help but be nostalgic thinking back many years on this common route we took as kids....going by the Burton Bridge, vegetable stands (including the huge potato man by the side of the road), and islands with cattle.

Downriver at Jemseg, the divided Trans-Canada Highway #2 has crossed the river to my side, so it's time to merge onto it.  The skies are improving, but the wind has picked up - especially in the openness of the big highway.  The traffic is fast on this route, but some cars have passed me, and I soon a cop car hiding behind some construction vehicles.  Ten seconds later, the chase cop car lights come on and they are pulling over the Civic ahead of me, and traffic slows.

It's naturally windier approaching Moncton, but the temp. has risen to 75°F/24°C.  I've been going without gloves since my accident the end of March and consider going into the city to look for a pair, but I don't have a lot of time, so I motor on and take the Hwy.15 exit to Shediac.  Once there, I get off the main highway to take the coastal route.  It's slower of course on these roads, but worth the views of tracking along the Northumberland Strait.  Communities of Barachois, and especially Cap Pele ooze how rich these fishermen are (no, I haven't converted to fishers yet).

Taking the last "off the beaten path" route on #955 does not give me a good view, but instead is more through the woods, and suddenly I feel a pain where my helmet wraps behind my left ear.... a sting!  I try my best to rid whatever from that spot as I keep steering, but I can't stand it and pull the bike over and take my helmet off.  No insect is found, but the pain tells me one was there.  It's a strange place for a sting, so I inspect the helmet foam to make sure nothing burrowed it's way in the crevice.   I may as well relieve my bladder, then I'm on my way again - still in pain.

The view gets better at the end of #955 through Murray Corner, and I soon see the billion dollar Confederation Bridge.  I hit the tee and swing left onto Hwy.16 with the bridge in view.  I pull over to look for a way to mount my camera on the bike, but no luck, so before taking off, I double check Pete's house number.  Now it's time to climb onto the massive, impressive bridge.  

It's usually windy here, but calmer in these evening hours. I've been across the bridge before by car, but on the bike, I can see up over the side barriers, and it's a great view!  It seems like a slow crossing at 80kms, but after 10mins., I'm now on the island, so I check out the tourist village for a few pics.

Back out on the Trans-Canada Hwy.1, it's not long before I see the rolling potato fields of PEI.  

A short drive east, and I soon take the exit for the picturesque Argyle Shore, and with Pete & Sarah's house number burned into my brain, I easily find it. I unpack, and am quickly enjoying the great view from their deck. 

Leg 3 - Argyle Shore to Home (Sept. 17th,  445kms)
After a 2 day visit of great views, a windy beach dotted with sandpipers, a tourist tour of the Charlottetown waterfront (including cruise ship building access), and "hanging" with Pete & Sarah, it was time to go.  

Since the Confederation Bridge was closed to motorcycles yesterday, I'm watching the bridge report and weather closely today - which is again windy.  Looking out Pete's large kitchen window, it's not hard to tell how bad the wind is with the white-caps amid the coffee water of the Northumberland Strait.  The wind was supposed to pick up on the island in the afternoon, so after a Kraft Dinner and wiener lunch (haven't had that in years...yum),  I load up the bike, finally find the ignition key, then take Hwy.19 up to the Trans-Canada Hwy.1 

I soon pass Victoria by the Sea, which we visited earlier in the day - a nice little community with a pub/restaurant right on the wharf, and this day it hosted a triathlon....some crazy canucks starting off with a swim!

It's not long before I'm handing the $17.25 fee to the toll booth lady.  As I approach the bridge, there's enough cross-wind, but once I'm between the concrete barriers, it's a little calmer, but a buffeting action happening.  Some areas are bad, but it's rare enough that I enjoy another crossing with a great view. After coming off the bridge, I take the opportunity to take a quick pic of the New Brunswick sign.

It's time to head up Hwy.16 to Shediac, then take Hwy.15 into Moncton.  Coming off the exit, there's construction going on as there has been for quite a while here.  Soon I'm climbing Rockland Ave., and pop in to visit Jeff for about an hour.

After leaving Jeff's, I decide to go up Hwy.126 through the woods and be protected from the wind, and usually there's much less traffic.  After getting cutting through the early curves, it's straight on through for miles past Hartcourt, Noinville, and Rogersville where the curves finish up this route going into Miramichi.

It's suppertime, so I decide to take the new bridge across the river, and leisurely crawl through Newcastle, and stop at Burger King in Douglastown.  I've gone too long between chain lubes, so I take care of that after getting the bike up on the center stand.  The chicken burger, onion rings and strawberry shake are tasty, and I use the napkins to wipe the overspray from the chain lube when I get back to the bike.

I leave Miramichi, and head north on Hwy.8 through the "portage" at a quick pace, and as I round the exit onto Hwy.11 at Bathurst, it's time to stretch out on the tank bag.  I've packed it just right this time, and the height it perfect to rest my chin on it for the final hour's ride.  It's not long before I sit up as I'm trailing a transport with heavy buffeting in his draft.  I start smelling burnt rubber, and I wonder if it's the bike.  Within seconds, I know where the smell is coming from - one of the tires on the transport ahead of me explodes into pieces, so I duck behind the windshield as I veer out of the path of flying rubber.  The trucker pulls over quickly, and I leave him and that mess behind.

After settling into a laying position on the bike seat/gastank for a while, I'm past Jacquet River, then see an ambulance followed by 2 cops with lights blaring.  What is it with ambulances on this trip? They're everywhere, and very unusual seeing one with cops!

Finally around 7pm, I'm taking the Hwy.134 exit and see the familiar Restigouche River ahead, and within minutes, I'm home again.