I’ve spent the last two days on Battle Harbour visiting the place my Grandfather was from. As that’s a journey in and of itself, it will be it’s own series of posts and I’m not going to tackle it until I’m back in Mississauga.
Vlad from FarMotion is now on the road. Check out his blog as it looks like an interesting challenge as well.
The Ferry from Battle Harbour got in around 10am and it took me about a half hour to square my gear and the bike away. The Mary’s Harbour to Red Bay section was going to be the last of the dirt I’d see in Labrador. I’d gotten a brief email from Richard telling me there was lots of construction and the road condition wasn’t great. He wasn’t shitting me but I’ll clarify the road condition bit in a second.
Basically they’re trying to complete the Red Bay to Mary’s Harbour portion by the end of next year, which means construction seven days a week as long as they can manage. This section has the grey gravel, which I’m not fond of preferring the red stuff because it’s got more tooth under the tires. They tend to lay the red stuff on thin with a very dense sand clay mixture underneath. This allows you to fly over it at a decent clip, with pretty good feel on the bike and tires. The grey stuff, they tend to pile on loose and deep. Especially in the middle of the track. It makes the bike feel very loose and shitty and your ability to pick a good line is hampered severely. Not mention that the edges of the road where the gravel is thin are sandy and littered with sharp rocks.
And it’s effing dusty to boot. Eye burning, road obliterating dust. Hard to keep a track you can’t see.
This wooden bridge was a brief break.
This was one of the smaller trucks I dodged today. The guy in front of me is an idiot who would totally lose his nerve at all of the construction areas. As they wet a lot of these areas down, you also get to play with mud. Mus I don’t mind, the knobbies have good grip in mud but when the goof in front of you slows to a crawl and brakes randomly, it makes it a challenge. The Strom is a lot of things, it’s not a Trials bike.
I got to wait for ten minutes while they set up the series of big trucks carting away the rock to another part of the highway.
The last section down to the Red Bay turn off actually firmed up enough for me to overtake the one guy in a Ford who’d decided 60 kmh was as fast as he was going to go. Tired of eating his dust, I got around him.
Ah tarmac, blessed tarmac. However, notice the flags… it’s a bit windy. The road to Blanc Sablon is hard worn and there are sections marked rough road ahead for X amount of kilometers. After just having ridden the Translab my first thought was, “You’re idea of a rough road and my idea of a rough road are vastly different.
There are major altitude changes heading for the ferry and you end up riding through some very spectacular scenery and all of it littered with really big rocks. Seems nobody bothered to really clean up after the last ice age.
At the ferry, you get put into a side room with a number if you don’t have a reservation. Which feels like you might not get on the ferry but I’ve yet to not get on any kind of floating transportation with a motorcycle. So after about an hour wait I was called up to the till and had to pay a whopping $12.50. I almost said, “Is that all?” Being so used to the BC Ferry raping. Apparently the Port Au Basques ferry is more in keeping with my usual expectations.
Of course having not eaten all day I scarfed down some lunch on the boat and then really noticed the rolling sea caused by the high winds. Thinking I’d perhaps bitten off more than I could swallow, I headed to the stern so I was in the fresh air and at least close to the side if things got away from me.
I’d met Mike and Dick from NY State on a pair of BMW R1200GS at Mary’s Harbour as I was getting ready to leave on the bike. We met up in the bad passenger waiting room and rode on together. Mike’s done this trip a few times and gave me some good hotel advice for the trip down to Port Au Basques.
So sitting at the stern of a rolling ship in a somewhat rough sea, I did what you would do, I leaned back against the hull and went to sleep.
Once I ws safely on the rock, I fought the wind for another sixty kilometers down to Plum Point and the hotel there. Apparently Captain Cook stopped into this bay once. He sure did get around prior to being eaten.
Speaking of food. My plan now is to get an egg over easy in this province. I’ve yet to get one that wasn’t hard all the way through (a travesty in my eyes). I wan’t a nice runny yolk on my plate if for no other reason than to see how the locals take it.
Saying good bye to the Translab is a mixed bag. I had some of the best riding days of my life and a few scary moments on it. I was sure it was going to cost me a front tire and in the end it cost me my right boot (split right up the side).
Sometimes when I was up on the pegs it felt like I was flying and the bike was floating under me. My Pivot Pegs were one of the best investments I could have made for this trip as were the stick on tank grips (who knew there). Other times, you wondered why were you doing this at all because every second felt like a potential crash.
What have I learned from this trip so far?
Deep loose gravel sucks but you can deal with it.
One person’s rough road is another person’s playground.
If you get into trouble go faster.
Except on a metal decked bridge.
Stay light on the bars but firm on the throttle.
Let the bike move under you, it knows what it’s doing.
Stay away from the middle by the graders.
A Honda Concourse is an all terrain vehicle.
Tomorrow I’m heading for Grosse Morne National Park. That should be interesting.