Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part II, Day THREE


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):


Aug 06, 2018 – Day three

Today’s route – 543 km, 102 on beautiful gravel
daybreak on the piney ridge

It was a truly glorious morning. The skies were mostly clear, the air was warm and I have a full day of riding mostly unfamiliar tracks ahead. People often say “it doesn’t get any better than this” and for me, on this morning, I really didn’t see how it could.

Some of my stuff had dried a bit but of course was now covered in morning dew. I made coffee and didn’t dilly-dally around too much getting packed and on the trail.

The roads were great, perfect even. There was no traffic and there didn’t seem to be anybody else around. I could ride as fast or slow as I wished and stop whenever I wanted to. The total freedom you have at times like this are just incredible to me.

Just before crossing the invisible line into Quebec I came to beautiful States Lake. It was the perfect spot to take a quick break and soak it all in. I took the opportunity to replenish my water supply, filtering 3 litres of crystal clear lakewater into my Camelback using my Katadyn filter system. I usually have the filter with me but seldom use it – very handy, though. I’ll admit it takes a bit of grit to take that first big slug of water that you pumped while the leeches and frogs in the lake looked on.

There’s a boat launch and a small wooden jetty.
At States Lake, a large game pole firepit and picnic shelter.

Judging by the burnt up cans and bottles in the firepit some big time shenanigans have gone on here.

After a drink and a quick snack I got back o the road. The gravel track from here on is through a region that has not seen as much recent forestry activity, so the trees are actually mostly over your head. That said, foresters are working there, as can bee seen below, I wish you could smell what I did riding that long corridor bounded by fresh cut softwood on both sides.

smelling like the world’s biggest Christmas tree

It was a terrific ride through the woods with lots of curves and elevation changes. There were a few minor washed-out sections along the way but nothing very troublesome.

I noticed my rear brake seemed to be feeling a little soft at one point so I stopped to have a look. Yikes! the brake pads on the rear were worn down to nothing and I was very close to a metal on metal situation. I had no spares with me and the nearest likely supply was at least a full day’s travel away so I had to really rely on just the front brakes and engine braking only for the rear. And I still have two days of back country riding still ahead of me.

The brake thing kind of surprised me but it should not have. The bike was only four months old at this point so I hadn’t even thought to bring spare brake pads. Thinking about it, though, in those four months I’d ridden it 17,000 km, made several back country trips in wet conditions so plenty of grit, dust and crap to wear out brakes.

My trip to the BMWMOA rally in Des Moines, IA and the BMWRA rally in Wellsboro, PA, both in July, 2018

Plus I’d been out to Iowa and back less than a month before this. So needing brake pads should not have necessarily been a big shock.

The good thing was the front brakes were fine and the F800 has decent engine-braking. Also, the rear pads were not completely dead, I just had to use them very sparingly.

And because sometimes one problem cropping up seems to attract more trouble, the weather started turning against me.

As I got closer to Amqui, QC I could see thick, black clouds were gathering in the sky. Damaging lightning, rain and wind storms were in the forecast for two days from now in the Gaspe, but I planned to be home by the time they hit. By the time I got to Amqui it was raining a bit so I pulled into McDonalds for some wifi. Sure enough the forecast now was totally different and the weather was going to be pretty ugly for at least the next two days. Also, my email held the news that some stuff had come up back home that needed attending to.

So I cut the trip short again and beat it for home. I did hit several rain squalls along the way but also several beautiful sunny breaks – and made it safely home to look right after this:

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):


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