A ride to maine and new hampshire June 5th to 10th, 2019 day one

Prologue

So I was itching to get away on the first real bike trip of 2019. It had been a long, cold and dark winter and my last trip in 2018 hadn’t been truly satisfying what with the cold, wet weather I had encountered.

The 2019 season would also be a kind of personal turning point where I would actually have to begin living the retired lifestyle I’d been thinking about for for so long. I wanted to change up the style of my trips. Until now most of my multi-day trips could be characterized as long, time-limited trips to specific destinations comprised of long, high mileage days and not many roses getting sniffed along the way. Those rides served a purpose and allowed me to tick off a lot of the boxes on my list of “personal destinations I want to ride to” but were losing their satisfaction quotient and becoming kind of tedious.

Beginning this year I wanted to do a different kind of trips. I still have loads of specific places I want to ride to and some of them are even familiar favourite places, but I no longer want to do so many long days and I want to avoid the interstate, travelling instead on the byways and backroads. I hope to explore places more fully, do a lot more photography and meet more interesting people on my travels. I’m looking forward to stopping earlier in the day and doing a lot more relaxing. Having a more flexible attitude about where I’m headed should also allow me to avoid more bad weather and camp more nights – because that really is one of the things I love about this kind of travel and besides, I’m a pensioner now and I need to economize where I can. Camping is a big part of the fun for me and repeatedly setting up and breaking down my camp rarely gets tedious, especially if I’m not trying to hurry to a specific destination or beat the gridlock on Interstate #whatever.

So this trip is an experiment. I need to see if I can actually do it. I want to see if I enjoy a more “meandering” travel style and if I truly can stop to experience more of a places and the people that live there.

To give me the best shot at early success I chose to travel familiar territory and because later this June I have two graduations and one Senior Prom to play Dad at, I had a maximum of 12 days to spend. I wanted to spend most of my time in the back country and could potentially see myself getting as far west as Vermont. Anyway, here’s what I actually ended up doing: I travelled a total of 1,861 KM over 5 days and camped all but one night.

The whole trip, 1,861 KM over 5 days.

Wednesday June 5, 2019

I had a loose plan to ride back roads to MacAdam, NB, cross into the US at Vanceboro, ME and ride route Two with a plan to camp at one of the campgrounds I knew about near Gorham, NH. It would make a fairly long first day, but I was prepared to stop early if I needed to. As it turned out my planning flexibility was put to the test early on the first day.

Day One, 474 KM

In keeping with my new, “life in the slow lane” outlook I didn’t get up at dawn, I didn’t skip breakfast and I hadn’t pre-loaded the bike the night before departure. The weather forecast was some showers in the morning and a chance of overnight showers in the area I was headed to but nothing significant. Still, it was likely going to be GoreTex conditions for the first day or two – after that everything looked perfect for at least a week in all directions.

I arrived at my storage garage around 9:30 AM, rolled the bike out and and packed it up with my gear. By 10:20 I was getting into my riding gear and giving the bike a final pre-flight look-over in preparation for departure when I looked at the front tire and thought, geez that looks soft… Sure enough it was flat.

My last ride on this bike was a big NB gravel day trip a few days before and about midway through that trip I had hit a big, pointy rock dead on with the front tire. I stopped at the time and the wheel was fine but it’d been a big hit and I thought a pinch flat was a strong possibility. I’d kept an eye on it throughout the rest of the ride and it held up fine all the way home. I never hit anything big after that one big rock so I guess it just took a little time for all the air to get out.

Nobody wants to start a trip this way. I still wanted to go and I knew I’d need to fix this anyway so I dug my tools out of the cases and got to work. By now the showers have stopped and it’s looking like an awesome day for riding.

In about half an hour I had the wheel off and the tube out. I had the hardest time ever breaking the bead on this tire – I’ve often wondered why there are so many fancy bead-breaking tools out there, it had just never been a problem for me before but this one was a b*tch. Got it done, though with the help of my big rubber mallet. I guess it would have to be a big ugly rock if I was doing this trailside.

I found the hole easy enough and it was, in fact a pinch flat. I was about to patch it when I remembered somewhere in one of these boxes I had at least one unopened 21 inch tube. A new tube is always better than a patch if you have one at hand so I went looking for it. In the end it took a bit of digging in boxes but likely no more time than it would have to patch the tube and things went back together well.

By the time all the unpacking, disassembly, cussing over the bead, digging for the tube, swatting some bugs, cussing some more, reassembly and repacking was done it was about 11:20 and I was about 2 hours behind. It was time to be flexible.

I jettisoned the stop at the car wash on my way out of town idea and determined there would likely be enough rain along the way to clean most of the caked-on muck off the bike automatically. I then deleted most of the back roads portion of the NB leg of the ride – giving in to the simple expedient of taking the TCH to just beyond Fredericton. Still it was looking doubtful I could get to Gorham, NH today as the GPS was suggesting a new best-case arrival there of about 9:30 PM.

I got to MacAdam without incident and it was a fantastic ride. Temps were pretty much ideal at 19 degrees or so and the road was smooth and clear of traffic. It was one of those days that motorcycles were invented for.

I pulled up to the Vanceboro Customs booth at 3:18 and was on my way less than two minutes later. While there the Border Agent and I mostly discussed the cloud of black flies surrounding my head. He didn’t want me to “get chewed up” so didn’t require me to take off my helmet – it’s been years since I haven’t had to de-helmet going into the US.

Down the road a mile or so I stopped for a drink and a snack and the flies swarmed me again. Inside, it’s all anybody was talking about. “Wet spring”, “long winter”, “late hatch”, “warming temps” were some of the reasons they were offering for what was looking like the worst black fly season anybody could remember – and it just started.

Hmmmm, a week of back country travel and camping you say… maybe it will be better further along.

30 minutes later I stopped at a bank I knew of that had an ATM to get some USD. The flies were not better, if anything they might have been a little worse – I literally couldn’t bear to stand at the ATM long enough to get even a single dollar out. In my mind’s eye I’d pictured at least a week of setting up camp early, hanging around, reading, walking in the woods etc – it was definitely time to be flexible again.

The weather on the coast was forecast to be cooler, a bit wetter and windier. The cooler and wetter part had it’s downside for a camping trip but it was only going to be wet the first night. I was betting, though, that the bugs would be a lot less troublesome along the coast. There was more exploring and wandering in the back country and the coast had a lot more of what I didn’t want like traffic, tourism and crowds but in the end the bugs made the call for me and I headed for the coast.

Arriving on the coast I stopped for some coffee and wifi in Searsport where I found two things, that the overnight forecast had worsened to “heavy rain” all night and rain all morning the next day. The other thing I found was a motel for only $20 bucks more than the campsite’s price so I put away my He-Man Card and booked the motel… the Bait’s Motel… ha ha, very clever. I was genuinely disappointed to not be camping but if my new rule was going to be “to be more ready to change my plans” this didn’t seem like a good time to revert to stubbornness.

The wifi didn’t work at the motel so I had to go stand outside the restaurant to get any. But the motel was clean and dry and I was blissfully sleeping as the rain thundered down all night. I would hear about this rainstorm from other campers and riders I’d meet in the days to come. ahhh, my new friend flexibility.

An albert county ride 05-30

The weather was looking good for the afternoon, cloudy and a high of 20 with no rain in the forecast. Given how this year has gone I was keen to ride but skeptical this forecast would be any more accurate than all those disappointments that have come before today.

I headed out to the Adventure Lair and got there about 11:30. I suited up, made a quick stop for gas and was on my way.

134 km today.

I didn’t have a destination in mind but I wanted to at least get a photograph or two while I was out. Eventually I found myself in Albert County and exploring around the wind farm a bit.

I took a ride over New Ireland Road to the Kent Road junction. Sad to see a lot of development in the area with huge swaths of clear-cut and gigantic utility poles going in. Turns out there’s a new wind farm project going in around there so there’s trucks and heavy equipment all over the place. Too bad, that used to be a place you could quickly go to from the city and feel like you were really out in the boonies. Progress – Ugh!

A little way along NI Rd I came across this spot that seems to have been used for a boondock camping spot. I stopped for a stretch and to take some pics. Waypointing it for future reference.

It’s a nice little spot, if a little close to the road. It has water, a nice firepit and is reasonably flat. Somebody even took the trouble to erect a latrine in the woods nearby – I didn’t explore too closely but there appeared to be a wooden frame to hold the toilet seat and a blue tarp overhead. They hadn’t dug a pit, though and while there was a tipped-over bucket nearby the pile of evidence of the latrine’s use was simply standing there under the seat. Who does that?

Used the stack&blend method to smooth out the water for a faux long-exposure effect on both the following shots. Enhancement done with Luminar Flex, I really like that software BTW.

It’s bittersweet as I will only have the F800 for another month or so. I’ve decided it I can’t afford to keep it in my newly reorganized retirement plan so it has to go back to BMW – likely sometime late June or July. Rides like this are perfect for this bike and remind me how much I like it and will miss it.

I took Kent Road toward home and it wasn’t as much fun as it should have been. That road has always been one of my favourite rides but with the new development it’s getting upgraded again. There was an A-hole in a dump truck I had to get around and a dozer making a real mess I had to contend with. Also a huge pile of gravel in the road that I could just get around on one side.

Once in the wind farm it was more big trucks and they weren’t giving any f_cks at all about anybody else. One blocked me from passing me forcing me to ride in his dusty wake, another pulled out right in front of me. These guys are so used to there not being anybody else around they aren’t even looking. Pretty dangerous and I guess I’ll likely have to avoid the area this summer – shame.

It never did get to 20, in fact 15 was as high as I experienced and I did encounter a shower or two. Luckily I’d been skeptical from the start and had on full WP gear and a warm vest under my jacket. Heated grips on the whole ride.

A ride on the sunrise trail

371 km total

The weather this spring has been so poor I’ve been getting very little riding in. 18+ degree days have been few and far between and even 15 degrees has been out of reach most of the time – we’ve still managed to get more than our share of 3 and 4 degree days, though.

So when the forecast on Sunday morning was for 15+ highs and gradually turning from clear to cloudy over the day I grabbed the chance to get out on the bike.

All of the riding I have been able to do has been in NB so to change it up a bit I decided to take a short trip to NS. By the time I got to the bike, geared up and ready to go it was a few minutes after 12:00. I filled the tank at the Irving Big Stop ($1.38.9 /L) and headed out to Truro. It was about 15 degrees.

As usual it was windy AF and cold on the Tantramar marsh but nicer again on the other side. I turned off at Amherst almost exactly an hour after setting off and took rte 366. It’s a nice ride when the weather is good, today the wind was coming onshore so near the water and in exposed areas it would drop to 12 or 13 degrees.

I took my time and enjoyed the ride, I likely won’t have the F800 much longer – this may well be the last time I even ride it for any duration so it’s a bittersweet ride today.

Around 1:40 I got to Northport Beach PP so I decided to stop for a bit and get out the camera.

It was breezy and cool here.

I had a fleece sweatshirt on under my Klim jacket which had been fine at first. Steady temps at or below 15, though, was gradually giving me a bit of a chill but this time I’d thoughtfully packed my warm vest so I put that on. The vest was all I needed to get me through the rest of the ride in comfort.

There are signs all along the edge here warning of actively eroding edges along here. It looks like much more than average erosion and this piece of land is receding fast – I guess that will ultimately mean more beach (or maybe it just gets washed out with the tide) and less park?

It’s disturbing to see how much of the bank has “melted” down onto the beach – this seems to be accelerating – more evidence, I guess, of climate change.

I’ve been wanting to try focus stacking using photoshop so even though I didn’t have a tripod this seemed like a good time to give it a whirl.

Setting A=f:8 and A priority, first I focused on the foreground in this shot to get the immediate foreground sharp.

Then leaving all settings the same and trying to hold the camera in as close to the same spot as possible I focused deeper into the scene for this shot to get the middle distance and infinity sharp.

Using Photoshop I fixed the alignment for both photos, which had been surprisingly close give they were hand-held while I stooped down to get the camera about 8″ off the beach.

Here’s what Photoshop used from the immediate foreground exposure:

And here’s what PS used from the middle ground to infinity exposure:

Then I used the blending tools in Photoshop to merge the two photos into one. I think this is such a cool process and it will change the way I do some of my landscape and macro photography for sure.

Once I had them merged, I made a few Lightroom adjustments for tone, contrast etc., ending up with this:

By the time I climbed up from the beach it was about 2:00 and time to get going under threatening skies.

I rode on as far as Tatamagouche where I stopped for coffee at 3:00. Sitting in the sun on a bistro chair outside the cafe, I enjoyed the coffee and people watching – there were lots of folks out on this sunny holiday Sunday. About half an hour of that was enough so I got back on the road, taking rte 246 over to the Wentworth Valley then rode the highway all the way home. I parked the bike at about 5:15 after a very nice afternoon’s ride.

Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part III, Day Four

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Aug 24, 2018 – Day four

Today’s route – 651 km total, 115 km gravel

Day four, I took my time packing packing up camp on the last day. It was still cloudy and humid but wasn’t raining and the air was warming up. I tried to let things dry as much as I could and eventually got the bike loaded. I took the back way out of the park again and headed to Cap-Chat again to start the trip home. I was very too hazy and cloudy but at least it’s not raining.

I rode one more trip across the hilariously heaved antique road. I know where all the dips and whoops are now so I made good time.

I stopped now and then for parting photos of the misty mountains.

There’s a spot where there must have been some pretty bad erosion or flooding problems because somebody dropped a bundle here on a new bride and stone improvements all along the river to keep it from washing away again.

I thought such a nice new bridge deserved a photo.

Despite some rainy conditions at times, I’ve really enjoyed riding the gravel in Gaspe.

More road-trees-mountains scenery.

I have some interesting GPS tracks heading from Cap-Chat on the coast over to Amqui and this photo is taken at the start of the gravel. I’m headed up through there, between those mountains.

I stopped at the ZEC office but as I’m just riding through I didn’t need to pay anything. If I were stopping to fish, camp or hike there’s a fee.

The ZECs are specific, locally and user funded, managed preserves for outdoor activities. I’m not sure if they get any help from the province but if they do I saw no sign of it. We should be doing this in cash-strapped NB.

Even the gentleman fly-fisherman needs to be reminded not to hog the pool.

There’s an observation deck at about 10:00, the next couple of shots are from there.

The water is so clear. The bike is back by the bridge at upper right.

some pretty lucky fish to be living down there in such a nice pool.

There are several fishing spots around a bunch of pools here, right beside the road. I didn’t see any fish at these pools.

I rode across so many of these wooden bridges on this trip I almost stopped noticing them.

Looking downstream from the bridge, the salmon pools are directly behind me.

it was an awesome ride. 88km of gravelly goodness.

Along the way you ride around one side of Lac Bonjour.

They’ve built a fairly impressive stone dam here that created Lac Bonjour.

I think you could camp here if you paid the ZEC fee. There’s a big flat area and pit toilets but no other facilities.

There’s a small dock and boats to use on the lake.

gratuitous “my bike was here” shot.

gratuitous “my bike was here” shot.

after an awesome 88km gravel ride through the mountains and a few km of pavement I got to Amqui, QC. I had lunch there then headed for home on the highway – it was dry all the way and a pretty nice ride. It was a great trip overall and I left a few tracks for next time – I’ll definitely be back.

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

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

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Aug 23, 2018 – Day three

Today’s route – 278 km total, 31 km gravel

Day three, I headed out of camp under cloudy skies, 14 degrees and sprinkles of rain. I set up the GoPro to take a still photo once per minute with the idea of making a time-lapse, but I wasn’t happy with the result. I’ll include a few of the stills I kept.

I had scoped out this interesting-looking alternate route to the shore on Garmin the night before but I guess I won’t be taking it after all.

Another shot of the “no yer not takin this trail” sign – you can kind of see the big ditch across the road.

This is a different 31km gravel route that first heads West around the edge of the park.

I only ever met two cars on all this gravel – both Subarus.

After the gravel you get on this “antique” road for a bit, it’s obvious it hasn’t been maintained in many years but was easily passable on a bike. I kept hoping I wouldn’t meet a Winnebago following his GPS on this road.

Soon you come to rte. 299 again, which is the main route to the Park. I take a right there and head for the coast. I need to fuel the bike and find something for lunch and most of the towns in this region are on the water.

There are a few tourists but overall it seems very quiet in the park.

It’s about 44km of pavement out to the little town.

And then you’re approaching Mont Ste. Pierre.

Where they have the worst Tim Horton’s I’ve ever been in. They had wifi but it was so slow it took 5 minutes just to load the weather forecast on my phone. The service was bad, both washrooms were out of order. I guess when you’re the only one in town none of that matters.

Mont Ste. Pierre was also windy AF so this was the best place for my picnic.

I bought some grocery store sushi, which was actually better than you’d think – except the sushi chef doesn’t know a ripe avocado from one that’s not ready yet… and I’d forgotten to pick up Soy sauce and wasabi.

I then travelled East a ways to the oft-photographed light at La Martre. I think this shot is in every ADVrider RR of Gaspe that I’ve ever read.

After the lighthouse I went west to Cap-Chat but it was so windy and cold it just wasn’t a lot of fun. It soon started raining so I headed back to my camp making it a fairly short riding day.

By the time I got back to camp it was really coming down, which kept on for the whole night. I’d rigged a big tarp over the picnic table at my site and I spent the evening hunkered under it. No pics of that.

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part III, 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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Aug 22, 2018 – Day two

Today’s route – 490 km total, 84 km gravel

This is a 24km back way out of the park heading Northeast toward the bay. The grader is working on it today making it a bit twitchy.

short video of the ride out the back of the park to rte. 138

One of Quebec’s many roadside parks.

I could wild camp here next time, much cheaper than staying in the park.

Just far enough off the road.

You could camp in worse places than this.

part III of today’s ride – featuring Murdochville, QC

part II of my day 2 ride

The salmon fishing pools are incredibly well developed.

heading down to the riverbank.

These stones are filling a washout making it easier to traverse and also preventing it getting any bigger.

I’m not a fisher but this seems like a mighty nice spot to do it if I was inclined.

Swimming Salmon

Second time I’ve crossed the Mississippi this summer, the other one was a lot bigger.

Perce was a zoo of tourists and it was a 2 hr waste of time coming over here as I’ve already been. No real changes since 2010.

bit longer video of the gravel segment of a “short cut” I took on my way back to camp. Knew nothing about the road, just that according to Garmin it was a through route. They do call it “adventure riding” though.

somewhere along the “shortcut” track. Nice gravel riding.

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part III, Day one

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

Aug 21, 2018 – Day one

Today’s route -156 km total, 41 km gravel

By the time I finished up a few chores and packing the bike it was 10:45 so a bit of a late start. Shame on me.

yup, still carrying too much gear, I actually use most of it, though.

Made it to Quebec about 2:30pm. What a fantastic day for riding, low to mid twenties, clear – I’ve had a great time so far.

Made it to Quebec

Campbelton, NB as seen from Pointe-A-La-Croix, Quebec

Looking across the Restigouche River at Campbellton, NB from Quebec.

Although, I have a GoPro (have actually had a few over the years) I haven’t put together a lot of videos and have posted to Youtube even less. Because I’m not interested in taking the time to set up shots, use multiple cams, sync audio and do all the editing that really good Youtube content requires, I’ve never felt it was worth the bother. This trip, though, I did make a couple and will include a couple in the blog. The ride from Campbellton to the Parc de la Gaspesie is a good one so I filmed it and embedded it here.

My campsite is clean, private and peaceful. There are only a few others at the campground, making it easy to enjoy. It’s on the expensive side, though as you have to pay a daily park fee as well.

A nice, secluded and very private campsite – my base camp for the next 3 nights.
Alec Bradley cigars to me, are not as good as I’d been led to expect.

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/Aug-2124-A-ride-to-the-interior-of-Gaspe

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

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/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride

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):

https://dougsmalleyphotography.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2018/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride

Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part II, 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/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride

Aug 05, 2018 – Day two

Today’s route, 243 km total, 130 km gravel

The rain did not return through the night, though it did get a bit chilly. 13.5 deg C. is cool for August if you ask me. Still, the warm sun was climbing behind the screen of trees and gradually making itself felt. It was a great morning and looked to have the makings of a great day.

Enthralled by the mist and golden light I just stood around making photos for quite a while. Also, it felt really good to be out of the rain.

Eventually I put away the camera and made coffee. I figured I’d go up to Serpentine Lodge and get breakfast there. I parked my bike in the fuel shed and went looking for Alyre.

I found Alyre around back up to his elbows in grease working on his generator. Serpentine Lodge is off the grid and all needed electricity is generated on site – today just happened to be generator oil change day and Alyre had just drained the oil. Getting fuel or breakfast wasn’t imperative at that point so I chatted with him for a minute then went on my way.

No fuel for you!

I planned to take a different route than last time on my way to Kedgewick. I’d never been on this road and it started off full of promise.

What a great day!

Unfortunately my new route to Kedgewick wasn’t going to work out today, even though I’d only have to cut through the edge of the beaver pond it looked deep – and there was also that big dead tree floating there in my path.

Dam beavers!

Reluctantly I back-tracked and took the same route as last time.

I bought fuel and water in St. Quentin and continued on to Moose Valley Lodge. By the time I got there they were closing up the dining room and everybody left. I hadn’t really planned to stay at the lodge (they have cabins) but would have gone for a piece of pie in the dining room. No pie for me today, though.

So boondocking was in the cards again for tonight. I found an old cutblock road and followed it up and along the ridge to the end.

There I found an ideal, flat spot for my tent and got set up. It had been steadily warming up all day and now it was over 30 degrees C. and very humid. I found myself wishing for a bit of the cold air from this morning again. I still had some wet gear from the day before so I rigged a line and hung it to see if it would dry. Hopefully somebody flying over doesn’t mistake my clothesline for a distress signal and send the army.

The wide lens is distorting things, the tent was very level.

There was a nice sunset, though most of it was going on over the ridge behind my camp.

I made something to eat then enjoyed a nice cigar and a not-cold-but-at-least-not-hot beer I’d picked up in Kedgewick. Slowly the sun set all the way and the night settled in.

Although this spot is pretty remote and there are wild animals around I’m always careful to make sure any food or other scented stuff is kept behind at least two airtight seals over night. Aside from a few moose and deer tracks I’d seen in mud on the way in to camp I’d seen no other signs of any animals. There were wild raspberry bushes hanging with fruit as far as I could see, to me further evidence any local bears had other places they preferred for to hang out at.

After dark I watched some big and well-lit forestry equipment working over on the ridge across the valley for a while. Maybe they preferred working in the cooler night air than the hot day time – not sure. I eventually turned in and slept without a care and didn’t get eaten or molested by anything. The bear spray remains tightly sealed and unused.

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/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride

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

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/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride

Aug 04, 2018 Day one

Today’s route, 322 km total, 99+/- of it on gravel.

For this leg of the journey I planned to retrace my June, 2018 route north but to push on further to Moose Valley, then take gravel back country trails to Amqui, QC. From Amqui I had more gravel routes for the interior of the Gaspe Peninsula, the Chic Choc Mountains and I planned to visit the Parc Nationale de Gaspesie.   I had a week to spend on this, and the weather forecast for the Gaspe region was largely positive for the week ahead with only occasional light showers or rain on a couple of days.  Morning rain was forecast for my first day but that was due to end in the early afternoon.  Though I considered delaying one day and leaving Sunday to avoid rain on the first day it didn’t sound all that bad and I decided to push on through the weather.

The rain started at Rogersville, about an hour into the trip.  It was coming down pretty hard so I decided to just stay on the pavement through Miramichi and over to the Little Southwest Road.  By the time I turned onto the gravel at McGraw Brook the rain was intermittent.  It would rain hard for a few km then stop for several km more – I’d say for the next 100km or so it only rained 25% of the time.

An monument to the nearby Christmas Mountains? As seen on the side of the Little Southwest Rd.

I’d left fairly late and had planned only to go as far as Serpentine Lake and camp there.  As I was getting close it started raining again and it was really coming down. So much for the forecast of light rain in the morning and dry after noon!  I didn’t want to take the same ATV trail I’d taken last time and I didn’t like the idea of a lengthy detour around the aforementioned closed bridges at tail end of this route so I decided to stay on Little South West Road and see just how bad the bridges were.  Historically there was also a persistent family of beavers set up near the bridges and most times there was a big beaver headpond across this trail.  Alyre had told me he’d destroyed the dam and the beavers & their pond were gone but I didn’t know for sure.  Here are some pics of this beaver pond in past years:

serpentine sep 2013 Splash
On a different trip, Sep 2013.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is how it looked June 10, 2015

As the trail narrowed the rain was bucketing down all around me.  I didn’t like to get my camera out in this kind of weather but the scene really deserved a picture.

lots of water left in those clouds

Regardless of what the forecast had been, this didn’t look like something that was going to clear off any time soon.  It’s now about 5:30 and I’m getting pretty sick of rain.  I’m really hoping I can get past those three bad bridges, if not I’ll need to backtrack about 20km then take a 40 or 50km detour.

I got to the first bridge and it looked pretty sketchy.

Not sure I should be riding over that.
Don’t look down…

I tried it on foot and it felt pretty good. I decided to go for it but really slowly and to use what was left of the right-hand side of the deck.  It was tough getting the bike up onto the bridge and I had to be really careful not to put my foot through the spaces between the ties but I gradually made it across.

One down, two more to go – hope I don’t have to backtrack over this thing.
Zoomed in you can sort of see how hard it’s raining.

One sketchy bridge behind me and two more to go.  The beaver pond was, in fact, gone and the second bridge was not as bad as the first.

The third bridge had a different sort of problem and it was easy to see why it had been closed.  The deck was in pretty good shape but something under the bridge had broken or settled leaving the bridge deck tilted at a steep angle to the side.  The right side was about 2 feet lower than the left and in all this rain it was pretty intimidating.  In my experience there aren’t many things more slippery than a wooden bridge deck in the rain.  I had to be really careful not to spin the rear tire or I’d likely end up sliding off the bridge to the right.  I crawled along the extreme left side to give me whatever margin I could and made it safely across.  I was feeling equal parts relieved, soaked and frazzled but it should be pretty good riding from here. 

Serpentine Lodge was just another few km ahead now and it was likely I could get a dry bed there, but I decided to check out the lakeside wild-camping spot first.  When I got there nobody else was around and the rain had let up a bit so I decided to camp.

Hanging out with my Hennessey Expedition hammock.

I’d brought my hammock as well as tent on this trip and in the shelter of the thick trees was able to get it set up.  I rigged a second tarp overhead in the trees and was able to get out of the rain and even hang my gear up, though, the humidity was so high even out of the rain nothing was going to dry.  Around 8:00 the rain stopped and the clouds began to break up.  There was even a bit of a sunset as I set my chair up beside the lake.  The day had been stressful at times, miserable at others but overall I was very happy to be where I was.  I enjoyed a cigar and the millionaire’s view I had paid nothing for, it was so peaceful I sat there for over an hour as the dark settled around me and I listened to all that silence.

Eventually I got sleepy so I crawled into the hammock and had a pretty good night’s sleep.

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/Aug-4-to-6-NB-and-QC-Gravel-Ride