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Monday, 23 September 2013

John Burt and His Big Land Adventure......82 Years Ago

I received and email last night from my father with an attachment containing a magazine article written by my grandfather in 1980. It was a short story about his Big Land adventure 82 years ago. I remember hearing of his travels through Labrador from other people when I lived up there, but never knew all the details. John Mason Little Burt passed away when I was 19 years old, and being a self absorbed teenager living one day at time, I unfortunately never fully appreciated the precious little time I had with him. I never took the opportunity to hear of his adventures. To me, my grandfather was the guy who worked at Pomeroy's Store in St. Anthony.

Life is kind of cruel in a way, when you finally get to an age of where you can truely appreciate who your grandparents or parents are or were, it's too late.

Initially I thought the magazine article was written by someone else until I started reading it, and soon discovered it was in my grandfathers words. It was like hearing from him 25 years later. I'd love to be able to sit down with him now and talk about our shared experiences in Labrador. It being quite a bit more of a Big Land than it is now. In the fact that there were no roads, and 1000cc motorcycles to get around on.

The following was published in the magazine Them Days in 1980, when my grandfather was 70 years old.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What's the Next Adventure and What Worked and What Didn't.

We've been home for almost two weeks now, and it's back to family life and work. It's time to wake up from my dream of being a two-wheeled nomad living day to day, traveling the globe with no responsibility. This week I took a step back and forgot about the trip for a few days. Not forgot about it, but never put any energy into looking at video or writing anything.

One question I'm getting a lot is....."where is the next adventure?" As simple as the question is, the answer is a little more complicated. One....time off, which is followed closely by, how much time am I willing to be away from my family. The TLH was a bucket list item, so the two week kitchen pass was special. To be honest, at my stage in life with two smallish kids, 9 and 12, a week away is enough right now.

Another big obstacle is the budget, or lack of one in my case. Pete wants to go to Iceland, which is definitely out of my budget, unless Icelandair donates flights, and a mototour company donates bikes, and well you get it....totally fund the trip. I don't have that much faith in the Bigland Adventure creating that much of a buzz, but who the hell knows. Dare to dream right.

So without the devine intervention of money growing on the tree in my backyard, or sponsorship flowing in, I'm thinking of a week long trip to Quebec. Not the typical Montreal or Quebec City, but rural northern Quebec.

La Belle Province is an interesting place, an oddity in North America, and I mean that in a good way. It's like visiting a foreign country within your own country. It's like going to a European country without the jet lag. I think a tour around this part of Canada would make for a good little web series. Plus with a little coordination we could hook up with our buddy Oliver again.

Who knows, we have a long winter to plan. Plus maybe Zak at CMG can come up with a mission for us.
Quebec Labrador border

What Worked, What Didn't

As you saw in the previous post, Pete told you what worked and what didn't for him, so it's my turn. 
I already spoke about the Olympia X-Moto suits, ya they are a sponsor, but they worked, and worked well, in everything from 25C and sun, to -2C frosty mornings, to cold rain and wind. You couldn't have asked for a better trip to test riding gear. 
Two thumbs up for Olympia

The Suzuki Vstrom 1000. Well other than my little clutch issue, the bike was awesome. Honestly, if I knew that the clutch master slave cylinder was a common issue, I would have had it cleaned and looked at before I left.  Every trip needs a little drama, and the bear spray had worn off at this point.

The Metzler Tourances I had on the bike, worked well. I took a gamble on them, because I knew they would not be ideal in muddy conditions, but we managed to avoid that. On the dry gravel they were just fine, I only had a couple of heart in the mouth, oh shit moments, and that was on loose gravel.

I can't say enough about the Sena comms. These were awesome, and allowed Pete and I to talk to each other all day. Range was a bit of an issue in a hilly terrain, as it's line of sight, so they would be less effective if we had some distance between us. Other than that they are great, easy to use, the battery would last a whole day of riding. Seven hours of talking.

My skidplate was a must. I heard rocks hitting that multiple times. With the oil cooler, filter, and bottom of the engine only protected by a small plastic fairing, it would have been totally exposed to the barrage of rocks kicked up by the front tire for 700kms.

The Strom is not ideally suited for standing on the pegs riding, I need another inch rise on the bars, and some wider more dirt oriented pegs. 

The Sargent seat on the Strom was awesome, very comfortable, I think my arse gives it a 9/10 on the comfort scale. The Givi windshield is really nice, adjustable both vertically and horizontally. It helps keep the rain, and wind blast off, has little to no buffeting. Reduces fatigue a lot. 

I have two powerlet outlets on the Strom, one is on the fairing near the windshield, and for the most part had the Garmin plugged into that one, or my Sena, or a camera to charge. The other outlet is below the seat by my left leg. The adapter I bought for a regular cigarette DC plug hangs down too far, and gets in the way, so that didn't work out so well. Need to mod that before the next trip.

The Givi sidecases worked well, the locking mechanism became difficult to use after the run into Goose Bay. The dust got in and made the key difficult to remove. 

I used a large "water resistant" North Face bag for all my camping gear and clothes. It's a great bag and I have had it for a number of years. The zipper isn't waterproof, and I had the bag placed on the bike with the zipper exposed to the driving rain, and things got a little damp inside to say the least.
The bag is big and when strapped to bike made access to my top loading side cases difficult. That was a pain.

It was a little dusty on the TLH. The bag was black when I started.

All my camping gear worked well, no issues there. Thanks to Sean at River and Trail.

My Joe Rocket boots were good, the left one has developed a leak and got wet in the rain. They are 7 years old, so it's time to retire them. For $100 I think I got my money's worth out of them.

Overall I think our gear selection for the trip was good, and everything for the most part worked successfully. It just needs some minor tweaking before the next trip.

My next update.....regrets. Now that I am home and had time to digest this whole trip, what did I regret doing or not doing.

Pete's Gear Review

After being home from "the Trans Lab" for over a week it is now time to talk about the gear that got us there and back. Ill start my review from smallest to largest (In Terms of perceived importance to safety and comfort on the trip)

Ill start on the ground with a few items. Tent: Mountain Hardware - Drifter 2. Although we only slept in tents one night we did have to carry them the entire trip. The Drifter 2 is a very well constructed 2 person tent that is light and easy to set up. I can't imagine two people sleeping in this bad boy unless the idea was to be stuck to the other person. If you are sleeping solo then this is a great choice and if you are hoping not to "sleep" solo then this is also a good choice. 

I referred to the Thermarest pad in a previous post. Again these things are as comfortable as some beds I've owned. They must add a little black magic to make them so thin and so comfy. I am a fairly boney cat and I didn't feel like I was ever trying to leave hip bone marks in the Newfoundland soil.

Boots - in a previous post I berated the quality of my Iicon Reign water proof boots. I slammed them for their lack of water proofness (as if that is a word). Anyway I am here to apologize. I realized that my long boney legs were acting like rain gutters directing Newfoundland rain down into the tops ( and there fore the bottoms) of the boots. Iicon can I be forgiven? I think the boots look sharp and my size 11 set are very light and comfortable.

Smart wool undergarments. I paid a fair amount for my smart wool top and bottom( as much as my tires) but they were worth every penny. The gear is made of really smart wool that some how knows that when it is 28 Celsius and you are sweating like a whore in church, they somehow keep you as dry as possible and as cool as possible. When it is wet and you are wet, you are still warm. The truly amazing thing is that after a nine days of continuous wear, they some how manage not to smell like a hockey dressing room in a 52 year old community rink with out showers. That is smart! 

I picked up tent, smart wool and Thermarest from my buddy Sean at his shop in Rothesay, called River and Trail.

Tires. Continental TKC 80 or Conti TKC 80's as they are known. When I put a message out as to what I should put on El Diablo to slay the Trans Lab, Dwight and Tom replied with the Conti's as the only option. I have since learned that there are probably more Conti tracts on the Trans Lab than moose tracks. The tires worked very well on the slab, cornered nicely but really shone on the loose gravelly stuff! They are fairly worn after 4200 km (half worn) but still in fantastic shape. I must also note I did not reduce pressure as some do and I did not have a blow out!

Olympia Motosport riding gear. Warm, cold, wet or apocalypse this is the suit you need for full on 3 season riding. Terry and I were both super impressed at the comfort, sizing, water proofness (that word again) and look of these amazing suits. In warm weather you can unzip the many flaps that allow air to flow through the suit and cool you off. The flaps are accessible when riding (except the back) and allow you to adjust your comfort on the go. The integrated Camel back holds about 1.5 litres of water that I quickly emptied on hot days. When the weather cooled off I added the thermal liner and on wet days the rain liner was added as well. In fact once I put the thermal liner and rain liner in, I didn't remove them. I am fairly tall 6'4" and around 2 berries (200 lbs). The suit I wore was an xl and fit me like a glove. 

07 KLR 650 - El Diablo. I remember when I first looked at El in Steve Erbs garage in Bellisle Creek I was impressed with the care he had bestowed upon her. The clock showed 12,000 km. the doohickey had been done. The sneakers were fairly good. The plastic was in great shape. He had a Corbin seat on El but as a long legged galoot, I found the Corbin too low. I went for the stock. I handed Steve 32 hundred bucks and rode off. When she was introduced to the family I quickly upgraded her. New foot pegs (moto cross style) ims I think. Ricochet skid plate, crash bars and luggage racks. I had pelican cases on order but they were in back order a week before the trip. I found some 35 dollar Husky cases at Home Depot that worked out very well. Not water proof or bear spray proof, but great inexpensive cases. I finally had a big Eureka camo waterproof 75 litre canoe pack strapped across the back rack. Terry figured it looked very Duck Dynasty. He also commented I had the most ghetto bike on the Trans Lab. This I took as a badge of honour.

Mechanically El Diablo shone. I did not have any issues. The chain needed adjustment after a couple hard bumpy days of riding and on one particularly nasty pot hole I ripped my license plate off. This was due partly to the weight and the depth of that hell hole on the TL. I was as comfortable as one can be on a KLR on the slab. Kudos to Terry and Oliver for waiting for me. I know they could have twisted the throttle and left me a province behind but those guys are classy dudes and never made me feel I was holding them up - I know I was. All in all is the KLR a good choice for the TL, general riding or running to store to get a few beers - hell yes! Simple, tons of after markets, huge tank, good mileage and fast enough to scare you. Add a 70's cab driver inspired piece of sheep skin on the seat and you are off. Remember Kawasaki let's the good times roll. 

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, 8 September 2013


I've been home for four days, and started the tedious process of sorting through all the video, and there was a lot. Not all of good, but then again we are not videographers.

Last night I pieced together a small 4min video of the whole trip. I was gonna do individual daily clips, but decided against it because for now it would be too time consuming. I'm headed back to work Monday morning bright and early and it looks like it is gonna be a busy couple of months of flying. On top of that I'll be doing most of the editing for the web series once Greg sets me up with a computer and the software. Hemmings House will then put the final polish on it at the end.

Anyway, here it is, hope you enjoy it, we certainly enjoyed the trip.

For those of you on Ipads

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The End of the Adventure

We rolled off the ferry in Matane in the dark and under rainy skies. Thankfully the hotel we booked was 200 meters from the dock, because we were knackered. It's been awhile since I have been this tired. Nine days of travel, with some hard riding in the last few days, plus too many beers at night, and poor sleep. Pete snores something fierce and he usually starts at 3am, right in the middle of my important REM sleep. After a truck stop sandwich and a beer I hit the pillow and passed out, until my 4am snoring wake up call. Who needs sleep anyway?

The next morning was grey, overcast, and wet. Liquid sunshine, if your glass is half full. We had over 600kms to cover today, and like Pete said, once through the Matapedia Valley in Quebec it was like a commute home.

After a coffee and breakfast sandwich, ordered in my tres bonne francais, we hit the wet roads. On the way out of town we stumbled upon Matane Motosports. I had a sick feeling in my gut all morning, and it was concerning my bike and the clutch issues I was having. So we stopped in to have them look at it.

In broken french, and broken english, a lot of finger pointing and the international language of hand gestures we got it sorted it out. They had me in and out in 45mins. The slave cylinder was filthy dirty, the mechanic removed and gave it a good cleaning. I think a pound of Labrador dirt came out of it. They were great to deal with. Check them out if you are in Matane. The sell Kawasaki, and KTM.

The bike was back in working order and the bad feeling in my gut now gone away we headed out of town in the pouring rain. It rained pretty hard off and on until we got to Bathurst, New Brunswick where we stopped for a snack.

Kevin Rhea, if you're reading this, and I hope you are....the X-Moto suits are awesome, neither Pete nor I got the slightest bit wet. A little damp around the wrist cuffs, but that's it. These suits rock, and I'm not just saying that because they are a sponsor, if they leaked I'd be sure to tell.

Feeling a little lonely since we left Oliver in Baie Comeau, we happened upon another rider at the Tim Horton's. Leslie is from Ireland and flew into Anchorage, Alaska with his bike back in July, and was enroute to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, before heading back to Toronto to fly home.

Pete could only understand about half of what Leslie was saying. His thick Irish accent was pretty close to the Newfie dialect so it was fairly easy for me. Leslie decided to ride with us as far as Miramichi, so once again Pete and I had a European riding partner on big BMW.

Before parting ways in Miramichi we traded phone numbers and emails, passed on some info about Newfoundland and told Leslie to ring us up when he passes through Saint John on the way to Toronto.

We put the hammer down in race to get home. Well as much as a KLR can put the hammer down. Pete was mustering up a solid 100km/hr as the overloaded KLR shook it's way down the highway.

I can just imagine how Pete was feeling on the KLR, because I was starting to get sore on the Vstrom, which is comfortable. 10 days of solid riding was starting to take it's toll. The good news is we were passing underneath the exit signs for Rothesay and would be home in minutes. I couldn't believe we had done it. We had planned and dreamed of this for a year and now it was over. 

Our families thought we were coming home on Friday, so to show up unannounced on Tuesday was quite a surprise. Boy was it ever nice to be home and be able to hug my family again. 

It was a hell of trip, a once in a lifetime trip for Pete and I, and hopefully the beginning of future trips, and a working relationship with Canada Moto Guide, and Hemmings House Pictures.

I want to especially thank my family, Kim, Maggie and Katie for encouraging me and supporting me on this little adventure. I love you. 

Kevin Rhea at Olympia Motosports, for taking a chance on us, when no one else did and for sending us the X-Moto suits that worked oh so well.

Greg Hemmings of Hemmings House Pictures, dude, not only are you our surf buddy, but you have inspired me to take more video, get better at it, and editing it. You took a chance on us too. Thanks buddy.

Pete, what can I say, other than your snoring fits and foul smelling flatulence, you are a great guy to be on the road with and the real hero of this trip. Anyone who goes from getting his licence in May and four months later is riding through the gravel roads of Labrador with bear spray burning his junk (you thought I wouldn't bring that up again) on an old KLR is a something else.
Even though you invited yourself on this trip, I couldn't imagine doing it without ya. I can't wait for the next adventure.

The people we met along the way was what made this trip great, from our adopted third team mate Oliver, relatives I never knew I had, strangers helping out in the middle of nowhere, to other adventurers. 

Dwight Burditt aka Kedgi, dude you are inspiration to adventure riders everywhere

Zac at Canada MotoGuide.com for publishing our blog updates, and upcoming web series.

I also want to dedicate this blog and the upcoming video web series to the riders that never made it home from their adventures. Riding motorcycles is a risky yet rewarding lifestyle, and every riding season some have unfortunate accidents and never make it home.

Home, homeward bound and barfing in the St. Lawrence

Well after bidding our riding buddy Oliver, adieu. Terry and I loaded the machines on the Baie Comeau-Matane ferry and settled in for the 2 hour crossing. When we finally grabbed a seat and an 8 dollar beer in the lounge we looked up and saw a couple familiar faces. Dan and Cathy from Maine whom we had first met at the Churchill Falls ( the falls not the town) and kept seeing on our travels. Around every corner we would see the heavily laden Subaru and two smiling waving faces. Over the duration of the crossing these two adventure travel veterans beguiled us with tales of building rafts in South America and travelling down a tributary of the amazon, too flying a small Cessna up to Sagalek (former DEW line sight north of Nain on the Labrador coast) all the while not being sure the runway they intended to land on still existed. It was one adventure after another with out ever sounding like bravado, simply two folks who loved life and drank adventure down like we drink water. Dan was also somewhat of an inventor and had devised a device that allowed you to crimp PEX pipe with a gizmo that cost 10 bucks instead of 150. He told us he had them in every Home Depot in the USA. I did discover their collective kryptonite however. When Dan asked me what I did I explained the medical sales I do and how much I enjoy being in the O.R and watching surgeries. Well as I was regaling them with tales of small bowel perforations and carotid endarterectomies I failed to notice the two Amazonian whirl pool  survivors turing green.  Quickly Dan and Cathy stood up and stated they were going outside for some fresh air- it was 5 degrees, pissing rain and pitching on deck. I didn't now I had that effect on people.

When we docked we rode off the ferry and with in 200 meters we were in our hotel and hunkered down after a huge and slightly terrifying day of riding. Tomorrow we would be home.

The next morning Terry was a little uneasy about the clutch issue he was having so we popped into a bike dealership 1 km from the hotel. In our best English with a French accent we explained the problem. The mechanic quickly and efficiently dispatched the faulty part, cleaned it up and reinstalled for less than 35 bucks. I was amazed.

In a few hours we would be on roads I drove all the time. The journey was essentially over. I felt that once we were in New Brunswick we were not on an adventure, we were on a commute.

Stay tuned for the KLR 650 impressions and what gear we liked and what we hated.
Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Day 1 Teaser Video

Short video of Day One.

Route 389, 600kms of Crazy Road, and Saying Good Bye to a Good Friend.

Pete is riding ahead of me and disappearing into a complete whiteout. The speeding transport coming around the blind corner is the kicking up a dust storm that is hiding the second and third big rigs behind it. In seconds I'm enveloped in the whiteout, not knowing what is in front of me, praying that Oliver behind me is slowing down like I am, and that Pete hasn't completely stopped or hit anything ahead. Shit this is crazy.

(Photo taken from the internet)
I didn't want any of us to end up like this unfortunate, unknown rider who was killed last summer when he struck the back of another vehicle.

(Photo taken from the internet)

Day 9, damn this trip is speeding by quite fast, hard to believe we've been on the road this long. We are all getting tired, but need to push on to keep ahead of the wet weather approaching from the southwest. It's -2C this morning with heavy frost on everything, but the sun is still shining, and we have  600kms of riding before we reach Baie Comeau on the shores of the St. Lawrence.

It's also our last day of riding with Oliver, he will head west for Toronto, and we get on the ferry to cross the river for Matane and head south. It's a bit of sad day in that regard. Oliver has been a great rider and friend over the past six days, and both Pete and I are gonna miss him.

Oliver got into riding later in life, started on a Honda Shadow, I believe, then a 650 BMW, and is now on a beautiful 1200GS Ralley Edition. He is a good rider, toured throughout Europe and has taken advanced, and offroad training courses through BMW. His easygoing, friendly personality made him a joy to be with on the road.

So we scrape the frost off the bikes and start to head out on the final kilometers of the TLH, before it turns to Route 389 in La Belle Province. Hoping my clutch leak doesn't get any worst. 

At the border of Quebec we pull in for one last look at The Big Land, and what do you know, along comes another rider on a BMW 1200GS heading in the opposite direction. 

Tom is from Albany, New York and is traveling solo. He is frozen to death, shivering in fact. He hit the road at 6:30am, after camping in a ditch with nothing to eat for supper other than a granola bar and some scotch. Scotch must have kept him warm. Funny thing was, he said "there's two guys filming a documentary up here somewhere". So we talked about road conditions and what we can expect on the road later on. Tom really lit up when we told him there was a Tim Hortons just around the bend. Poor guy was hypothermic. Good luck in your travels and stay safe.

Good bye Newfoundland and Labrador, it's been amazing, especially the people, and the other adventurers we've met along the way.

Bonjour Quebec and Route 389

I think there were two guys who designed this road, one was sober and possibly a real engineer, he worked on the section from Fire Lake to Manic Cinq. The other was quite possibly a drunk, and former rally car racer, he "designed" the Fermont to Fire Lake and Manic Cinq to Baie Comeau.

In Fermont the road turns back to gravel, it's pretty good gravel, but the road snakes back and forth across numerous railway crossings, and is a lot of fun to ride. It's Monday on a Labour Day weekend so traffic is light to nonexistent. That's a good thing because of the dry dusty conditions. I'm guessing its about 60kms to Fire Lake where the road turns to asphalt again.


It's rough pavement until around the Gagnon area, the abandoned mining town. Established in the mid '50's and was then torn down in 1985. It's weird to be riding through the middle of nowhere, and passing through an area with curbs, gutters, manholes,  and side streets that go nowhere.

I really wanted to camp here in Gagnon, but wasn't keen on the possiblity of waking up to cold rain or wet snow in the morning, and having a hard, muddy ride to deal with, plus my clutch was still leaking. Just get me to Baie Comeau or Matane where there is a bike shop.

The ride is beautiful, large hills nice new asphalt, as we start the gradual descent to sea level.

The first gas stop is about 294kms from Wabush in a little place called Relais Gabriel. It's not even on the map. We met Ivan there, he was headed north on a KLR. Once again the travellers trade road reports. Ivan says we have another 100kms of gravel to Manic Cinq, and then that's it. Easy peasy, or so we thought.

The last 100km of gravel was the most challenging and most dangerous of the trip, and I'm sure Oliver and Pete would agree with me. The road itself wasn't the issue, but now the traffic has started to pick up and so has the dust. The big rigs don't slow down, they just keep barreling through with little regard for a biker or the posted speed limit. Can you say "pucker factor"

The Sena comms we bought more than paid for themselves on this trip. Pete and I were able to warn each other of either traffic coming up from behind us, approaching us, and relay changing road conditions to the following rider.

Really......a traffic light in the middle of nowhere?

We saw a lot of these signs from Manic Cinq to Baie Comeau.

Before long we reach Manic Cinq and the huge dam. I mean dam it's big, so big the pictures do not do it justice.

Top of the damn

The road down, that has an 18% gradient in places. Must be fun in a tractor trailer in the winter.

The road from Manic Cinq to Baie Comeau is paved, and is as close to driving a roller coaster as one can get. This would be an absolute blast on a sportbike, or even my bike, if I wasn't following an overloaded KLR with a dust clogged air filter.

If any biker is looking for an amazing ride, head to Manic Cinq. From Baie Comeau its about 224km of twists and turns, climbs and descents. I've never seen or ridden anything like it before.

The fun however was starting to wear thin, after a long day in the saddle, Baie Comeau could not come into view fast enough. We were all pretty knackered the last 50km, and my clutch was starting to get soft again, I was hoping it would get me to the ferry where I could top off the reservoir again. 

We rolled into Baie Comeau, and managed to secure ourselves a spot on the ferry to Matane. The skies were darking up and threatening rain. At least we won't have to ride much anymore tonight.

We say goodbye to Oliver in the parking lot of the ferry terminal, with a lot of handshaking and pats on the back. We had conquered the Big Land together. It was weird to see him ride off alone. Be even weirder to be riding without him tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Canada Moto Guide

We picked up a friend in the motorcyle media world, before we left on this adventure. I got so self absorbed and focus on the trip, I forgot to include them in a blog posting. So here it goes.....

 Canada Moto Guide is now working with us. It is a great online magazine catering to all aspects of the motorcycle world with a Maritime connection. Both the editor, Rob Harris or 'Arris as he is called and Zak Kurylyk, don't ask me to pronounce that, live in New Brunswick.

Once we get back and sort through all the video and photos we are putting together a web series which you can watch on CMG.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Pete's Words - Great People of the Big Land

The thing that has struck me most about our journey in the Big Land is not the unbelievable scenery but the amazing people that live here and travel here. We have met so many cool and interesting people in a short journey. People like Garl and Liz (Terry's relatives) who went out of there way to make us feel at home, to Darrel our buddy from Florida who was a cool cat we should all aspire to emulate, to Jimmy our KTM wielding friend we met in Goose after he reached out to us on one of the adventure rider forums and offered us a place to stay sight un seen. Then there was Dan and Cathy our friends from Maine we kept bumping into.
Amazingly when Terry was having a few mechanical issues in Wabush, I sent a text to my brother-in-laws, wife's cousin (whom I have never met) and 20 minutes later when we were standing in the hotel parking a pickup pulls up and the driver gets out and asks, are you Peter? This was Darrel Peddle and his Father-in Law who diagnosed Terry's bike issue and sent us on our way. Then there were all the nameless drivers who would slow down when they saw us stopped on the side of the road and would give us the thumbs up sign, waiting for us to respond with the same before accelerating away.
What I believe I have witnessed on this ride is a certain dignity in people that comes from having the confidence to rely on yourself in an unforgiving environment.

Pete's Words - 400km that ended with a spicy twist

Yesterday we rode a bunch of KM’s on road that was not fit for animals and Terry told you about the bear spray so let’s move on to today.


We had breakfast with a Goosebay local called Jimmy. Jimmy is a 29 year old military guy with an infectious attitude about life and a love affair with motorcycles (particularly KTM’s). Jimmy has been stationed in Goose for a couple years and has taken advantage of the big land, to ride bikes, camp, fish, hunt, procure av gas etc. He was kind enough to show us around Goose today before we embarked on our ride to Churchill Falls.


The ride to Churchill Falls was very pleasant. The road is freshly paved most of the way and of very good quality and like most of the slab up this way not too busy. The final 60 KM or so was still virgin gravel with the intention of dressing up in a suit of asphalt sooner than later. The lessons we learned on the 400km + gravel ride yesterday were not wasted and the three of us hammered the final 60 with more speed and finesse than the proceeding KM’s we clocked on the slab. I was actually having fun travelling 80-100 km/hr standing on the pegs with the back end flying around. Dwights words kept ringing in my ears. If you start to slip give it more gas. Truer words have not been spoken about the Trans Lab.


One last word about bear spray. As I write this the backs of my fingers are still burning. I am not sure why they are but they are. This stuff sticks around longer than toe nail fungus.


Off to Wabush tomorrow. We are told that the road is paved the entire way so it will be a 250-ish km run on the slab.

Waterfalls, hydraulic leaks, stress and missing home.

You know that feeling when you operate something mechanical, like a motorcycle, and you go to do something simple like say, pull in a clutch lever, and it just doesn't feel right, and you get that sick feeling in your stomach because you are in the middle of f'ing nowhere. Well today was one of those moments. 

I knew the clutch fluid level was kinda low, but not that low, not low enough to operate my clutch anyway. It worked fine the day before but overnight something went wrong. Pete ran off, or biked off to the gas station in search of brake fluid, and returned triumphantly. So in a few minutes the reservoir was topped off and we were mobile again.

Of course this just added stress to my day, I'm in Labrador on the long weekend, tomorrow I have 600kms of riding thru practically nothing to get to Baie Comeau. Not an ideal situation with a bike that is leaking 

I know a little about bike maintenance and the way things work, but not enough to diagnosis or fix a major problem. Hence the reason for bike mechanics. At one point I thought I may have an oil leak as well. The underside of the bike was such a dirty mess it was hard to tell what was what and what leaked where. With a little cleaning and the help from some friendly Wabush locals, which I will let Pete explain, it was determined I have a small leak from the clutch master slave cylinder. Also after some internet research, discovered that this is a common problem with Vstroms.

Ya, I know, I should have learned more about the bike, and been better prepared, one guy on Advrider gave me shit for it, and as fragile as my ego is......he's right. I figured I can do an oil change, repair a tire, etc, etc. but the other stuff I don't know a whole lot about. I wish someone offered a course, Advrider maintenance training 101 or for dummies.

Before we departed Churchill Falls we ran into Askek and Alex, a young couple from BC, who quit their jobs and are touring around North America in an old Land Rover. Super nice folks, with some great stories.
Check out their blog www.goenjoytheride.blogspot.com

The best part of the day was visiting Churchill Falls, or Hamilton Falls, or whats's left of them, anyway. Truely spectacular, but makes you wonder what it would look like if they didn't dam and reroute the water for hydro-electricity.

The ride to Wabush was all pavement, beautiful smooth pavement. Quite boring really. There was a good nip in the air, and the chill just never went away all day. 

I was pretty stressed, grumpy and tired when we rolled into the Wabush Hotel. It's amazing how a small problem can seem so catastrophic when so far from home.

The last day has been tough for me, stressed about the bike, there's weather moving in and I have suddenly developed a bad case of missing my family.

Tomorrow is a long day, 600kms, of which 160km is twisty, dusty gravel, with big trucks causing whiteout conditions, and a race to get a ferry. We also say goodbye to our friend and riding partner Oliver.