Wow, it’s been four days already. Things started off a little grey this morning in Happy Valley and we bumped in to these guys on KLRs at the Timmies. They’d come up from the coast and warned us that the Happy Valley to Port Hope Simpson stretch was, “Really rough.” Over and above the Fire Lake section.
Well good to know.
After some messing about to find a bank to get some cash (which is king out here BTW, though there are Interac machines in the bigger towns). We headed out to the 510 interchange to head South on the Labrador Coastal Route. I should explain that despite its name, you don’t actually see any of the coast until you hit Port Hope Simpson. But The Labrador, Rocks and Trees and Rocks and Trees and Rocks and Trees and Water Route, really is too long to say.
Of course the first thing you cross is this huge iron bridge with large square grating on the deck. It was the most terrifying part of my morning. How terrifying? Well I’ve got the camera set to take a picture every thirty seconds.
After the bridge we were on the reddish sand dirt gravel mix we’d come to know so well. It was all pretty well groomed and having learned our lessons with the graders we know to stay on the line where the tire mark is for the most solid footing.
The weird thing was the road was pretty good. No real difference from what we’d hit before and even better in some ways. Though to be honest, I prefer the red to the grey gravel as |I find they lay the grey a little deeper and looser. You need to accept the fact the bike is going to move under you and always feel like it’s on the edge of a serious wipeout. Relax your arms but keep a firm grip on the grips and drop down a gear lower so you’ve got the power but won’t be adding loads of throttle with your wrist and ease into it. You can hit the 70Km speed limit no problem and go even faster if you’ve got the skill and confidence.
I felt a little bad because we bumped into Yves on another DL-650 and had a nice chat and I’d passed him once on the road and then he passed us as we were throwing on our rain gear because it was starting to drizzle and it was a bit cool. I think he had a good ten minutes on us. Now I like to ride this stuff up on the pegs at what we’ll call a good clip. Richard likes to alternate. To be honest I do too 480Km is a long time to be standing but for the most part, I’m not sitting down. So by the time I caught up to Yves, I was clocking along pretty fast and he was in the dead center of the track. He was maybe doing 60, I zorched by him at a fair bit more than that. What can I say, it was a fun bit to ride on… And still it wasn’t really all that rough.
260Km in and Richard had to fill up on gas.
At our second rest stop about a hundred Km down the road I decided to top up my gas as well and Richard decided to change his shirt.
After the rest area, the road gets kind of crappy. Not in a rough sort of way (still don’t know what those KLR guys were talking about) but in a loose and shitty sort of way. The gravel is deep and there’s no really good line to take. The bike really moves around under you and there’s a lot of stuff hitting the skid pan with some alarming thwacks and thunks. It was bad enough I was starting to get worried about my tires (no need it turned out). You can’t even ride the edge of the track because it’s littered with fist sized rocks that can end your day badly.
This did not stop Richard from getting up on the pegs.
I did have another incident with a metal decked bridge earlier. I was flying along and I saw the bridge. Most bridges on the road are concrete but I saw the sign and then checked my speed hard on the rear brake. Richard found it pretty funny. This bridge however had an XX design on the decking so it didn’t grab my tires like the first one did. Still another heart stopping moment.
So we made it to Port Hope Simpson and are staying at the Alexis Hotel. Not too expensive and the smallest room I’ve ever had (but the bed’s flat and that’s all that matters). Tomorrow I’m heading for Mary’s Harbour and then on to Battle Harbour.
Lessons learned today? The dust gets everywhere. Big rigs coming towards you can be bastards. Trucks passing you can also be bastards and spray you with shrapnel. Guys towing boats… you guessed it – bastards and KLR guys seem to have a weird idea of what rough road is.