Northern Quebec trip -2010

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So- just to review. My summer trip this year was to go to Radisson and Chisasibi QC. The town of Radisson is located at the end of the James Bay Road, which is famous for being the access point to the furthest north you can travel by road in the province of Quebec. It also stands out as being "the second most remote road in North America"
From the entrance to the road at the town of Matagami, there are no other towns along the road until your reach the company town located at Radisson, which is 600km away. The only fuel station along the way is operated by the corporation that does the construction up there. It is located a mere 387km from the beginning. For those of us that are metric-illiterate, I'll translate as I go along, but 100km=60mi. So next town=360miles, gas is 240miles away.

90km (50miles) west of the town of Radisson is the Cree village of Chisasibi. That's it. End of story. Unless you have a Piper Cub, a dog sled, or eight tiny reindeer, you're not traveling north of this place.

The plan was to leave on sunday the 8th of August, around 7pm, just after I finished work. The plan fell apart there. A couple days before leaving, my water pump started leaking, which I "fixed" by removing the water pump and seals, cleaning the seals and reinstalling. Next, the bike started running really shittily after I had it all loaded down with my gear (I've since figured out why), and it was raining in Montreal on sunday night. So plan "B"- I awoke monday morning and was on the road at 4:36a.m. I went on slab from home to Vermont via 93 and 89. Not long after the sun rose, I approached the border. And my first opportunity for photo ops:


I was the only person crossing into Canada, and was breezed right thru. My plan was to ride as far as I could, then find a suitable place to camp. I was playing tag with the rain all day. Some parts had brilliant sun, others had drizzle, and others had downpours. Along the way I stopped to take some pics of some of the more interesting things that I saw. I also tried to snap some moving pics from the seat.

New England doesn't hold the monopoly on covered bridges:

Les rapides:

North of Montreal, the road north and west is one of the Transcanadian (or Transcanadienne) hiways, 15N. It is a stretch of four lane hiway with American type rest areas full of quicky-marts and Mcdonald's. But shortly, T-C 15 Nord becomes Route 117 thru the Laurentians, a group of small mountains and alpine type villages. Also there are beautiful views of the ski resort at Mont Tremblant. I was unable to see any of this, because it was raining.
After the nice peaceful alpine-y villages, the road winds its way thru a nature preserve. It is called "Reserve Faunique La Verendrye". Which is a lovely way of saying "Nothing to see here, except trees, trees, and more trees for the next 200km".
Fortunately, I had filled the tank at one of the rest stops along TC 15. There are no gas stations, stores, towns or anything along this road. And this wasn't even the "remote" road I was looking for! There are parking areas alongside the road, with picnic tables and occasionally a toilet. This sign indicates one:

Cant imagine why it caught my attention.

After the nature preserve, there are really no towns further north until the little town of Val-D'Or, or Valley of Gold. Once into the town, supper time was approaching. I needed to find shelter, so I stopped at the provincial information center, that almost every town has. The people staffing the info centers are generally young, college student aged kids, who speak both English and French. When I asked the young lady at the info place where I might camp for the night, she indicated I could go back to the nature preserve (not happening) or look for a motel. Since it was supposed to start raining any time, I took the latter choice and found a motel for the night.
I thought  I was a big wheel:

The tail of the tape for Day 1:

665.3 miles, 12:23 travel time.

I found out later, I could have gotten a Canadian Iron Butt, because they do 1,000 km to qualify. Next time.
Next up: Day 2, Val-D'Or to Radisson...


   Looks like your having a good time in spite of the rain. Gotta love the fact that they tell you where to pull off for whiskey. ;D Do they do it for beer too?


Alan F.:
Sounds really good Chris!  Someday....

Day two dawned overcast and drizzly. North of the town of Val-D'Or was a small farming town of Amos. North of Amos was another road of nothing for 181km, over 110 more miles of nothingness. My next major destination was to be the town of Matagami. The last outpost before the ride up the James Bay Road. So a short ride to Amos, then 110 miles to Matagami, then 360 miles to Radisson. If the weather stayed dry, I'd have another 600 mile day to complete. So on the road---

Another river. This one's called Riviere Hurricana. It is the second longest waterway in Canada. I ended up crossing it several times.

Across the river in Amos:

So on and on I rode. The sky's were turning from gray to black, and the only thing along the road was field. As the weather got worse, I decided to pull off for a break. Visibility was almost nil, but I chanced along a dirt road off the main road. Here I stopped, looking for shelter. When the trees are only 10 feet tall, that doesn't leave much room for me.

I hunted around a bit, and found a quarry nearby where I had parked. I let my Jetboil ( fill with rain water for a while, then trudged down to the quarry. I figured if luck was with me, the driver of this front end loader would have left the door unlocked. If not, I could sit under the machine and be out of the rain. My luck held up. Mr. French Canadian Loader Operator left the cab door unlocked, and I was able to wait out the storm in the machine. The JetBoil boiled up the water in about 45 seconds, and I enjoyed some hot fresh coffee bags while I wondered why I had chosen this particular vacation destination this year...


Soon, the skies cleared and I moved on northward. After what seemed like forever, I arrived in the town of Matagami. Here, most of the people spoke English as well as French, so I was able to chat with someone for the first time in over a day. This is when I found out that the rain had croaked my camera. I was planning on being stopped in Matagami for about an hour, checking straps and bungees, filling up the tank and extra gas cans, and having food. So I disassembled the camera and left it in the sun to dry. When I figured it was time to head off, I spoke to an Indian woman who was bringing on of her sled dogs to the vet. The Indian woman lived in chisasibi, my ultimate destination, and had to travel the 600km to have her dog attended to.
Camera's working for the camera!

At the entrance to the road is an information building. It is required that you stop here and give the people your name, plate number, an emergency contact number. This is no-shit the beginning of the adventure. the lady also went over the info I already had from previous research: the road is rough for the first 250kms, the lady said. The road is twisty for the final 250 kms the lady said. There is no place to get drinking water, the lady said. There is one actual gas station on the road, the lady said. She was the understatement queen of the north.

no turning back-

A long way ahead...

Up next: the James Bay Road...shakeups, breakdowns and Radisson.


Serious adventuring Chris. I can't believe you traveled so far being so laden with stuff. Did the extra gas get hot being so close to the exhaust pipe? It looks close in a couple of photos.
Thanks for documenting so well, I can't wait to see more.


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