Monday, April 30, 2012

So what is this trip I'm gearing up for?

Now that there's a lull in the prep action, I thought I'd post a bit about the trip itself.  

I'll be starting out in NY.  I'll ride up into Canada at Quebec City (most likely) and head north from there to Baie Comeau (270 miles).  From Baie Comeau, it's 361 miles to Labrador City.  About 134 miles in, the pavement ends and the gravel road begins.  Right before Labrador City, is the border of Quebec and Labrador.  This is where the Trans Lab starts.  

The Trans Lab exists as a mining access road in Labrador.  It's in the process of being paved.  Once it's paved, the "adventure" will gone so that's the reason for riding it now.  

From Labrador City, it's 151 miles to Churchill Falls and then 181 miles from there to Happy Valley/Goose Bay.  From HVGB to Port Hope Simpson, it's 254 miles of NO SERVICES.  No food, no fuel, no lodging.  Nothing.  This is the stretch where I'll have to carry extra fuel.  I have a 2.5 gallon fuel can and hope my gas mileage will be normal and that'll be enough fuel.  If my gas mileage sucks, it'll be a nail biter for sure!!

From Port Hope Simpson, it's 136 miles to the ferry crossing at Blanc Sablon.  Here's where I'll catch the ferry over to Newfoundland.  

In Newfoundland, the plan is to explore!  I'll head up the coast from the ferry landing to L'anse aux Meadows.  This is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada.  After that, I'd like to head down to Gros Morne National Park and maybe spend a day or two hiking and enjoying scenery there.  Then it's out to St. Johns on the far eastern coast.  From St. Johns to the ferry at Port aux Basques, there's an old rail bed that is now an unpaved trail.  It would be fun to ride this to the ferry but I'm not sure if the condition will be good enough.  I don't want to have to battle a fully loaded bike on crappy trails.  That's not fun.  So not sure what route I'll take to get to the ferry.

Speaking of ferry, Port aux Basques is where I'll catch the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia.  In Nova Scotia, I'll meet up with some friends and we'll spend a week hanging out and exploring Nova Scotia.  

After Nova Scotia, it's back to NY to finish the trip.  Total mileage will be about 4000.  About 1000 miles of that will be unpaved.  

So that's the trip overview.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Everything but the kitchen sink.

If I could carry a sink, I would!  That's just the kind of gal I am.  But my bike is little and I need to limit what I take.  But let's not go crazy, right?!?  Here's the gear I'm taking:

REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent
Big Agnes down sleeping bag
Thermarest (2)
tent ground cloth
tent/thermarest repair kit
Alite Monarch Butterfly camping chair

Coleman Peak1 Micro Butane stove
Katadyn Base Camp water filter
can opener

plastic garbage bags/
rain poncho/picnic table cover*

*these can be used as tent ground cover, to cover gear, to sit on, etc.

tent lamp/batteries
tarp clips
toilet paper

air pump
Enduro Star Trail Stand
faceshield cleaner
chain lube (WD40)
extra bolts
thread lock
tie downs
patch kits
extra oil
tow rope
gas cans

Baby powder (for tire changes)
Spare air filter
socket and ratchet for axle nuts  
siphon hose
duct tape
jb quik
bike tool kit
blue gloves

oodles of noodles
coffee / tea
toilet paper

MTC gear
toe heaters
rain gloves
elect vest
elect gloves


Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Waterproof Camera/batteries/charger/tripod
Garmin Montana 650t gps/charger

wet ones
hand sanitizer
nail file
toilet paper

paper map or atlas
bug nets
gas can

I've taken almost all this stuff on the test trip.  The only thing I didn't take was the gas can.  That will be empty most of the way.  I'll only need it in the very remote stretches.  
All this stuff goes into Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddlebags, a Giant Loop Coyote, a couple of kayaking dry bags, and a ATV Logic tank bag.  

So there you have it.  The gear list.  

Until next time...  :-D

Monday, April 9, 2012

Testing... testing... 1... 2...

This past weekend, I took a trip up to north Georgia for some Easter camping.  I loaded up the DRZ with all the stuff I'm going to take on the Trans Lab trip.  I wanted to see how it was all going to work, how the bike was going to handle - that kind of stuff. 

First, the loaded up bike.

Before I ever got out of the driveway, I discovered issues.  First, I couldn't wear my Camelbak!  I had too much crap on the bike and barely any room for me.  So I had to strap that down on top of the bike.  Second, the comm unit I had on the helmet didn't have a jack for my mp3 player input.  Doh!!  No music for the whole trip.  I'm going to try to solve that by getting a Y connector where I can have two lines into one - one line for mp3, the other for my GPS (Garmin Montana 650t).

Got on the road fairly early.  I was following a route I created on the computer and downloaded to the GPS. About 30 miles into the trip, the GPS froze.  I had to stop and remove the battery and reinstall it before it would work again.  Then it happened again a little while later.  Ugh!  Looks like I'll have to make another call to Garmin.  

I saw a picture opportunity and as I rode by I thought I'd just stop on the way back.  Then I said no, I have to turn around and go get it.  I'm really bad about seeing something and not stopping for a pic.  This is what I got:

Haha!!  It's Mater!

A little later on in the trip, the clouds increased and it started to get dark and dreary.  It then started to rain lightly and the temperature dropped.  I didn't bring any clothes for cold weather because the forecast had been for nice weather.  After a while I was so chilled that I decided the next Dollar General store I saw, I was going to stop to get a sweatshirt.  That's what I did.  And I scored!!  I got a sweatshirt for $1 and a stocking cap for $0.50.  Haha!!  The stocking cap made the helmet bearable.  It doesn't fit right and I decided it's not going on The Big Trip.  I'll wear my street helmet.  Anybody want to buy a helmet?

After I got north of I-16, the GPS turned me to the west a bit.  I didn't think much about it at first - I just thought it was a jog in the route and I'd be turning north again soon.  But after a while, I realized it was trying to route me onto I-75!  I specifically set up the route NOT to get on the interstate.  Dang it!!  What is this crazy GPS doing?!?  I had to stop and figure that out.  This is a new GPS and I haven't learned everything about it.  It's a bit more complex than my old nuvi 550.  

I made it up there in a longer time than it should have taken but that was ok.  It took eight hours and should have taken six.  I have scheduled eight  hours riding per day for The Big Trip so that was a good test.  I was fine after riding  eight  hours.  

Overall, it was a good trip up.  It was great camping out and testing out the new tent and gear.  I packed everything back up much better than I had originally and had it organized much better as well.  The trip back was GREAT!  The Airhawk seat cushion was fantastic!  No achy butt.  The return trip only took six hours.  

Next up, I'll list the gear and equipment I'm planning on taking.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Take off... to the Great White North.

Take off...  it's a beauty way to go.

"The Big Trip" is riding my 2009 DRZ400S on the Trans Labrador Hwy - and then some.  This started many, many years ago when I first heard about the Bay of Fundy.  I was in college, working on my bachelor's degree in Biology, when one of my professors in class told us about the tidal bore there.  I was fascinated by this and said right then that this was something I just had to see.  I put it on my "bucket list".  

Several years ago, in 2006, I bought my first dualsport motorcycle.  I've been riding motorcycles since 1970 but always street bikes.  This was my first off-road motorcycle.  It was a 2006 KLR650.  One ride on dirt and I was hooked.  Since my #1 passion is mountain biking, I shouldn't have been surprised.  Anyway, the KLR was a great bike but it was a bit too big and heavy for me in the technical stuff.  So in 2009, I bought a DRZ400S.  This is the bike:

What a great bike it is!!  It is SO much more capable than I am!  It's also 100 pounds lighter than the KLR. 

Always in search of places to ride off-road, I connected with folks on the KLRworld and ADVrider forums (as well as a few others).  This is where you can read stories of people's trips.  There are day trip reports as well as extended 'round-the-world trips.  Some of them are absolutely inspiring!  

One of the trips I read about was the Trans Labrador Hwy in Canada.  It's mostly a gravel road however it is currently being paved.  When I heard about this I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do my first adventure ride AND see the Bay of Fundy all at once.  So that's how this trip came to be.

Stay tuned...  more to come later.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

Or in my case, several thousand miles!  I'm starting this blog as a way of documenting my travels.  I'm preparing to go on my first adventure ride (motorcycle) and a friend said "you should start a blog about all your preparations!".  So here we are.  

Since I've never blogged before and I know nothing about setting one up, please bear with me as I try different settings and such.  

Ok, that's my start. 

Latah gatah!