Tag Archives: Backroad

NB Gravel Ride Part TWO, Aug 6 and 7th. DAY TWO

Wednesday 19-08-07

Day 2, 508km
packed and ready by 8:33 AM
took a break for a bit at Allbright’s Corner.
In Fredericton Junction I got stopped for a few minutes
I re-routed a bunch and drove in circles a bit taking the really long way home.

NB Gravel Ride, July 22 to 25th. DAY THREE

The whole trip

The whole route, 1,409 KM total

WEDNESDAY 19-07-24

Day 3, 437KM
Bridge across the St. John River
Bridge across the St. John River
Bridge across the St. John River
Saint John River
Saint John River
The trail is fizzling out fast
How far do I take this?
I’m not going to go any further.
Dropped the bike turning around in the steamy forest, had to partially unload to get it back on it’s wheels.
back on two wheels and ready to continue on.
Camping spot tor the night

A ride to maine and new hampshire June 5th to 10th, 2019 – Day five & six

Sunday June 9, 2019

Day Five, 275 KM
It got cool in the night, I never reset the clock so it’s 7:58 in the White Mountains. June 9, 2019

Monday June 10, 2019

Day Six, 530 KM
Stopped in Ellsworth, ME to pick up some gloves, love their collection of old bikes.
stopped here to check out a possible boondocking spot near a lake, nearly got carried off by black flies ugh!
I lived less than 5 km from this bridge back in the 70’s and have driven past it hundreds of times over the years – never looked underneath it until today – ah, life in the slow lane.

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

Thursday June 6, 2019

Day two route, 169 KM

It rained through the night but I slept well. In the morning it was still alternating from rain to showers and back and as I was in no hurry I made coffee and thought about where to go today.

I decided to walk a ways into Searsport to see if I could find something for breakfast but didn’t really get far. Searsport seems to be one of those Maine towns that are mostly a collection of houses and random businesses strung along the road without a discernible town centre. There are many more options in nearby Belfast Bay, but that would have been quite a walk. I passed a nearby Irving that I thought would do in a pinch but although it was fully lit up and powered, the pumps were all closed and the buildings were empty. Weird to see the big and well-lit road sign showing all grades of gas at $0.00 and the pump handles all covered. So I walked back to my room, ate a power bar and looked at some route options.

By 10:00 or so I was ready to leave. The weather had settled down and the rain seemed to be finished leaving only occasional showers to deal with. Temps were cool so all my zippers were closed but it was not unpleasant riding.

A few KM down the road I stopped at Belfast Bay and rode through the little town. Stopping at a waterfront park I shot a few photos.

After this I stopped at a Hannaford’s for some groceries. I wanted to try out cooking at my campsite and not relying on freeze dried “Hiker Delight” type meals as I have in the past. I got some dry pasta, tomato sauce and some Italian sausages for supper and bought some sliced turkey breast and 6″ tortillas for a lunch on the road.

I soon carried on along route 1 along the coast and by noon the weather was dry and warming up. It was a really nice day for riding with generally clear skies and some clouds.

Around noon I stopped at a roadside rest stop at Sherman Lake and ate lunch at the nice, covered picnic tables there.

When I pulled into the park there were about a dozen various EMT type vehicles there all sitting with full lights flashing. There were multiple State Troopers, the Sherriff, a firetruck, a couple of ambulances, a SAR vehicle etc. The operators were all just kind of standing around in the parking lot and it was weird idling through between them all. Nobody seemed in a hurry and the one thing missing appeared to be a patient or other emergency.

They were there quite a while and eventually a school bus pulled in and offloaded a dozen or so cheerleaders. The cheerleaders got in several of the vehicles and everybody then hauled a$$ out of the parking lot with lights and sirens. There must be an emergency parade somewhere, I guess. Bizarre.

I hadn’t gone to the bother of ordering cigars in advance as usual and instead had decided to live off the land cigar-wise. I’d picked up some Swisher Sweets Perfectos at a gas station and got 5 for the price I usually pay for 1. They weren’t bad.

I haven’t got reservations anywhere and now it’s after lunch so I started thinking about finding a campground. I had no wifi here but most of my campground apps work offline, just without maps. (I later figured out a way around that).

ioverlander.com was showing a promising State Park campground not too far away and not too far off route one so I decided to head for there.

On my way got back to the bike in the parking lot there was a guy kind of hanging around his nearby car. When I started packing my stuff up he came over and as happens so often, started asking questions about the bike. It turned out he is a long-time BMW rider and has two at the moment – an R1200RT and a R90S. We stood there talking for quite a while about BMWs, other bikes and bike trips. He’s had the R90S for a long time and had lots of stories about mods and restorative work he’s done to it. His wife returned from wherever she’d been part way through the stories and was just sitting in the car like this happens frequently, and it likely does – he was very chatty. Eventually everybody reached a point where it was time to move along and with a wave he drove off.

I have set up a “scenic routes” option on my GPS that will find a route avoiding all highways, toll roads etc. and I used it a lot on this trip. I set the GPS to “meander” mode and off I went soon turning inland and away from Route One.

It was a really nice ride and eventually I arrived at Bradbury Mountain State Park. When I decided to head for here I couldn’t see where it was on the map – my GPS had routed me through a series of country roads and I had not been on route one since lunch time. So I was surprised to find out my campsite was only 7 miles from Freeport, ME. I was even more surprised to find it only about 25% occupied as Freeport is a shopping mecca and usually very crowded and busy.

This turned out to be a new addition to my “favourite places to camp” list and I ended up staying here two nights. It was primative (though my site happened to have running, potable water) and relatively quiet. Most of the noise came from a bit of traffic on the road out in front of the campground. It didn’t bother me but next time I’d likely choose a spot deeper in the campground and further from the road.

Some of the walk-in sites are very secluded:

Although it was early in the day I decided to stop here and set up. On so many past trips I’d be out droning along on the interstate and swearing at the traffic for hours yet but this felt right for this trip. I enjoyed relaxing around the campsite and talking with the park staff.

I cooked my supper and it all worked out fine, it was nice to be able to put together something for myself that doesn’t cost 12 bucks, doesn’t contain so much salt and isn’t 600 calories. The needs of a backpacking hiker and a guy just sitting on a bike all day are pretty different, convenience seems to be the main point of convergence but now I have lots of time that doesn’t matter as much.

Eventually an R1200RT rider from Petrolia, ON stopped by to say hello and chat. He was on a tour with his truck and trailer rig as his wife won’t ride. His brothers all ride too and we shared some stories. He was kind of focused on the bugs (there were a few but not that many) and talked about how hard it had rained the night before. He complained a lot about the weather, citing the cold and wet not-spring as the reason he wasn’t riding his bike much. He was getting pretty doom-n-gloomy on the topic of climate change – when I finally found out he was a raised on a farm and it all made a lot more sense. He likely grew up with everyone around him cussing on the the weather no matter what kind of weather it was. But yeah, climate change is real and it’s going to be wetter in the East.

Later another rider with a K1600 came by to chat, he is new to BMW coming from the Harley world and so far he is very happy. He “has no idea what most of the buttons do” but knows how to work the GPS and is a seasoned long-haul rider. He’s from Quincy, MA (just outside Boston) and when the bike was five days old rode it to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He said it was a cold ride at the beginning of March but he loved the ride. He’s was on his way to Laconia, NH the next morning to join in the for Bike week festivities. It was dark when he came in and unfortunately I was still dark when he rolled out in the morning – I regret not having a chance to add him to my Riders I Meet photo gallery.

I don’t often have a campfire, but felt like one this night. The wood was damp but I got a little fire going and managed to keep it burning through the evening.

Day two had been a complete success and I was thoroughly enjoying the trip.

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.

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

Riding the back country in northern NB and Gaspe, QC – Part I, 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/June-16-to-18-Gravel-Ride-to-Northwestern-NB

June 18, 2018 – Day three

Today’s route:

The long, wet 318 km trip home.

I woke up fairly early and immediately knew I had a little problem – it was still raining, and harder than it had been the night before.  It’s the part of moto camping that I least like – packing up the camp in a pouring rain.  My MSR Hubba Hubba tent has never leaked, though, so all the gear I’d brought inside with me was dry.  I waited a little while to see if it would let up but after 30 minutes it had not.  I was headed home today and didn’t really have a huge ride ahead of me, I knew the worst part would be managing breakfast, breaking camp and packing up in a chilly, drenching rain.  Sometimes when faced with a problem I procrastinate – I give myself lots of time to come up with solutions.  Other times I just dive right in and this was one of those times. 

I had brought my lightweight rain suit inside with me the night before so I had that on from the start.  I choked down a cold energy bar for breakfast but camp coffee is something I really enjoy so I decided it was worth the effort.  It was a miserable job but I got all packed, loaded and into my riding gear as quickly as I could. By 8:17 I was ready to leave.  I was dry inside my gear, but everything I touched was wet and cold – I already kind of felt wet, it was still raining and I hadn’t even left yet.

Bike warming up.
haven’t left yet but I’m already sick of the rain.

I’d decided on a slightly different route home and would not have a chance to fuel or buy anything until I got to Sunny Corner 175km away.  I had plenty of fuel so I wasn’t worried about that.  It was a long, wet 175km.

Stopped in at Serpentine Lake again, not as photogenic as the other day.
exploring
fun
feeling dark and dreary, by now my feet are wet in my “100% completely waterproof” Forma boots.
Even wet, it’s a heck of a nice place to ride.

I saw some moose along the way and eventually came to an abandoned campground I knew about.  I was ready for a break so went in to explore.  There were actually several vehicles and tents set by the lake up in there but the place looked very forlorn.

20180618-DSC05488
Please pardon the raindrops on the lens.
Wishing for a cheery campfire to warm up a bit.
Nearing Sunny Corner and the end of the gravel.

By the time I got to Sunny Corner it was 1:15 and the rain had mostly stopped.  I had lunch at the Subway there then hit the road for the 142km drive home, of which there are no pictures.

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