Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part I, Day two

Prologue:

For years I’ve been exploring the huge network of gravel roads throughout New Brunswick.  Many of those are in the Northern parts of the province and are often quite remote.  I’ve also heard great things about terrific gravel roads in the interior of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec and wanted to ride them.

Using my own research and other routes provided by friends I put together a multi-day ride that would cover some familiar territory as well as lots of places I’ve never been.  Due to time constraints, weather and other commitments I had to do the trip in three stages, with a total of 10 days of riding in June and August, 2018.

Over the three trips, with some backtracking to and from my home base, I covered a total of 4,131 km of NB and QC with an estimated 30% or better of it on gravel. Here’s what the whole thing looks like:

If you’d like to view high-res versions of the photos in this post, use this link to head on over to the associated Smugmug gallery (all images copyright Doug Smalley):

https://dougsmalleyphotography.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2018/June-16-to-18-Gravel-Ride-to-Northwestern-NB

June 17, 2018 – Day two

Today’s route:

Part 1, Day two – 377 km total, approx 25% gravel

The morning of Day two came early and the weather looked great. Before I left home they day before the forecast had been for occaisional light showers in the Gaspe over the next two days and heavier rain moving in late on the third day. I’d planned to be out of the the region and well on my way home ahead of the heavy weather.

I decided to do some exploring to the northwest of my base camp at Mount Carleton and got underway fairly early.  I started off by riding 44 km to the town of St. Quentin for fuel and supplies along the way. St. Quentin is a pretty small place but they have the basics and lots of civic spirit:

There’s a Western-themed summer festival that some of the residents seem to get very excited about:

St. Quentin also has Canadian Iconography on display:

Two Canadian Icons in one photo!

My first stop was at Tim Horton’s for a snack and some wi-fi.

This is how you look if you go to Tim’s by yourself and don’t use the wifi.

thinking deep thoughts

After getting caught up on email and posting a picture of my exploits to Instagram I headed out. I hit the Irving station to fill up the bike s and bought some bottled water.  (the campground insists you boil their water before you drink it and really, who has time for that?)  My next stop was the town of Kedgewick about 14km to the north.

Where I went to the grocery/liquor store and bought something for a roadside lunch later on.

I continued on to Kedgewick River and the start of the gravel.  They have a very nice sports lodge and campground (all trailers from the look of it) there. I’ve stayed at the lodge and can enthusiastically vouch for the accommodations and dining on offer.

Salmon fishing is huge in this region and there are lots of guide boats and others tied up along the shore.

From here I set out on the Fraser Company road, another road that’s really only there to facilitate the massive lumber operations here. This one is 80km of gravel and very well maintained. As long as there’s not a ton of truck traffic these roads are a blast to ride – I only saw a couple of trucks and a car the whole way.    I stayed on the through route but there were dozens of side roads I’d like to come back and explore sometime.  It was a great ride.

Where is everybody?

The weather had become heavy overcast and I was getting the odd shower along they way. Nothing that would even wet the road, though, just enough moisture to improve the already good traction.

I tried to roll up on these guys slowly, grabbing some photos as I went. In the end I didn’t get very close before they took off into the woods to the right.

Maple sap gathering in the 21st century. The whole ridge was strung with these lines and it looked like almost every tree was being tapped. All the lines led to a central facility where I assume the sap was processed into syrup – there was nobody around to ask and it was pretty industrial-looking so I didn’t bother going up the side road for a photo of the plant.

By the time I got to the end of the gravel I’d gotten pretty far west.  I was basically at the TCH at Edmundston and it was getting a bit late.  I decided to take the highway south for a ways and then cut east to Plaster Rock where I bought gas again.  There were some nice views along the way.

I rode back to Mount Carleton on rte. 385 through the hamlet of Riley Brook.  It was a very scenic ride but as it was getting into the evening I had to be very careful of deer on the road – these woods are full of them.

A stop along the way

I got back to camp just as it was turning full dark and hadn’t seen any game along the way, which was either good that there was none or bad that there was and I hadn’t see them.  I got dinner going and just as I was finishing the meal it began to rain.  I put on a lightweight Gore Tex jacket and pants and relaxed until about 9:00 when a combination of the increasing steady rain, the mosquitoes and fatigue steered me into my tent.  I listened to music for a while then fell asleep to the sound of rain pattering on the tent.  I didn’t hear another sound until morning.

If you’d like to view high-res versions of the photos in this post, use this link to head on over to the associated Smugmug gallery
(all images copyright Doug Smalley) :

https://dougsmalleyphotography.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2018/June-16-to-18-Gravel-Ride-to-Northwestern-NB

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