Northern Quebec trip -2010

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The gas was perfectly content where it was. I didn't fill the cans til I got to Matagami, but I kept one full for the entire ride home. Aside from venting it at every other gas stop, it was fine. Oh yeah, except for at night when the temps went down into the 30's, it caused both cans to constrict. I do however have some stories of lost gas cans in the next installment.

For anyone interested, some stats on the trip- Temps in the north country went from 52 for a daytime high to 31 for an overnight low. This was basically the first week of August, remember.
Gas was dear. Around Montreal, it was a reasonable (for canada) $1.01/litre. Assume 3.8 litres per gallon and a nearly even exchange rate, that makes it about $3.85/gallon. However, the highest price I saw was $1.36/litre or  $5.16/gallon. That caused me a couple of $25 fill ups, and about $38 to fill the tank and two cans.
I was getting about 180 miles to a tank, but pushed it to over 200 miles on a couple of occasions, just so I wouldn't have to stop. There were no areas (besides dirt roads) that I didn't average 105kph or just over 60mph.
I used motels on two nights. In Val-D'Or, I got a room at a trucker palace for $65, but in Matagami, the cheapest room was $100. Camping was around $24/ night. In the future, I think it would be important to have another rider along, for nothing else but to split the costs of lodging.
the meals I got at restaurants were quite cheap- burgers/fries at a sit-down place for lunch went about $6.50, breakfasts around $3.00. But I kept my food budget down by bringing my own boil-in-bag freeze dried astronaut stuff, and eating that on the road.


Along the road to James Bay, there are little informational wayposts. They tell of the history of the region, or interesting facts about the flora or fauna and other such things. Sadly for me, the signs are written in French and Cree.

Time for a little history lesson stolen from the wiki-
In 1971 The Quebec government announces plans for a hydroelectric project  in the Baie-James region of northern Quebec. The James Bay Cree, fearing the project would flood lands traditionally used for hunting and trapping, lobby against the project.
November 11, 1975 The governments of Canada and Quebec and representatives from each of the Cree villages and the most of the Inuit villages sign the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
1981 - The new village of Chisasibi, on the southern shore of La Grande River, replaces the Fort George settlement on an island at the mouth of the river.
Cree dialects, except for those spoken in eastern Quebec and Labrador, are traditionally written using Cree syllabics, a variant of Canadian Aboriginal syllabics, but can be written with the Roman alphabet as well. The easternmost dialects are written using the Roman alphabet exclusively.
Cree dialects for the James Bay Cree are written using Cree syllabics.


the ride up the road was, as the lady at the entrance booth said, bumpy. I was traveling at 100-110kph, or 60-65mph and many of the bumps, humps and whoop-de-doos caused my upgraded suspension to crunch, my tank bag flew off on a number of occasions, and I was tossed from my seat quite a few times. It wasn't too bad, tho as the road was predominantly straight with steep climbs and drops. Where the nice lady was incorrect, tho, was in her estimation of the bumpy distance. She said 250kms, it was more like 350 kms. Along the way, I happened to see a few items of note. One, the famed Rupert River which has been diverted for yet another Hydro-Electric plant is little more than a trickle. Stock pic from before is followed by my pic from tuesday-

As I was getting closer to the gas station, I came over a rise, and saw a group of three bikes on the right side of the road, with riders huddled about the bikes. Thinking something was wrong, and the fact I hadn't seen another vehicle in either direction in over two hours, I slowed down. One of the guys gave me a thumbs-up and a wave on. Pee stop, or fueling stop, I figured. I was to find out later this was not the case.
I got to the km387 gas station and fueled up the bike. This place is owned by the corporation that does the big muni projects up there. They have a garage, a big cafeteria, several dorm-style bunk houses and showers. I went in to the cafeteria and found to BMW riders from Poughkeepsie NY. they had already been to the end of the road and were on their way back. We spent some time talking about roads, and rides, and after about 30 minutes, the guys I had seen back on the road walked in. They were curious to find out if it was possible there might be a used bike for sale at Radisson. It turns out one of the riders blew up his 750 ninja enroute. What I think happened was that the bottom of the motor got grushed, smooshing the oil pump and grenading the motor. He was convinced it was toast. The beemrs told the guy he didn't stand much chance of finding a bike for sale up the road. I left them to their own devices, and also parted company with the newyawkers.
Additionally, if you have an accident on the road, here's your ambulance:

There are some rest areas along the road. They might be spaced about each 100kms, and are best described as "primitive" consisting of a couple of picnic tables and an outhouse...
The good thing is that the tables are not usually occupied, nor is the outhouse.

After the gas station, the road gets much more interesting. The final 250kms are pretty much ess curves. One after another, switching back on each other, rising and falling as the road follows the river, usually with loose gravel in the apexes and frost heaves or dips in the middle of the curves. Luckily, there is no oncoming traffic, so you can pick your own line.
After approximately a 7 hour ride on the road, coupled with the five hours before that, I arrived around 7:30 in Radisson. The town of Radisson basically exists to support the hydro plant. There is one gas station, one diner and three motels. The night I arrived, the first two motels were fully booked. I ended up being directed to the Baie-James Motel. I learned two things. One- they dont speak English in radisson. At least not any of the people I met. Number two, my flashdrive video camera wasn't built for the ride up The James Bay road. Of the 6 videos I made, one survived.
The motel lady placed me out back next to the other bikers- Two 650 Vstroms and a GL1200 gold wing. These three guys were from Ontario. We had beer, swapped stories and I sacked out pretty early.

some more blurry gps shots, basically 1212.3 total miles from home and 19:03 of moving time in two days.

tomorrow's installment, I say "hi" to the arctic ocean, begin the journey back south, and meet the toughest sohc4 in the world.

Keep it coming, I love this!

The entire purpose for this trip was to get to the Native village of Chisasibi. It lies 90km west of Radisson, and beyond the town of Chisasibi, there is a gravel road that goes about 12km to the Bay. Geography lesson from wiki: James Bay (French: Baie James) is a large body of water on the southern end of Hudson Bay in Canada. Both bodies of water extend from the Arctic Ocean. James Bay borders the provinces of Quebec and Ontario; islands within the bay (the largest of which is Akimiski Island) are part of Nunavut. The James Bay watershed is the site of several major hydroelectric  projects, and is also a destination for river-based recreation. Several communities are located near or alongside James Bay, including a number of Aboriginal communities such as the Kashechewan First Nation and nine communities affiliated with the Crees of northern Quebec.
So, technically, I'll be at the Arctic Ocean.
The morning dawned gray and cold. It was about 34degrees when I left the motel. The road to the village is dotted with signs showing teepees and the french word for "slow down". The Cree build these shelters where they are hunting, basically poles covered in hide.

The reason the James Bay Road exists at all is to service the huge power plant in Radisson, run by Hydro Quebec. The power-lines:

More geography: this area is called tiaga or boreal forest. Tiaga is characterized by lowest annual average temperatures after the tundra and permanent ice caps. The land is covered by dense evergreen forests. In this area, however, the trees don't grow very tall. This is not a perspective-trick, this forest of ancient trees is really only 8 or so feet tall.

The gravel road to the Bay:

along the road, I saw deer, caribou, and rabbits, I was too slow to photo any of them, and eventually I reached the waters of the Arctic Ocean. Here 'tis:

up close:

I've now touched the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, there's still a chance to make it to the Indian and Southern, I suppose. Hmmmm, Australia, here I come!
I rode along the beach for a bit.
At the banks of the bay, the locals leave theie boats, waiting for fish, and their snowmobiles waiting for winter...

from here, I rode back to the village itself, had coffee with some locals, talking about the weather, my ride, and sharing with them what Boston is like. (Yes, we get snow that far south!) The gravel road took its toll on my GPS, which kept blacking out, and the bike kept shutting off. I would be riding along at around 35-40mph, and the bike would suddenly act as tho the key was switched off. It took me a while to remember what some other guys were talking about the night before. My side stand was bouncing around so violently, it was making intermittent contact with the safety switch, and disabling the bike!
I got gas at Chisasibi, and since now it would be along the order of 340km back to the next gas station, I began my trek south.

up next: the toughest sohc4 you'll ever meet.


Alan F.:
Just wow.


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