Thanks to you all for your comments, I'm glad some of the feel of this trip is still perceptible after being through a camera and a keyboard!
@Gustavo: Mine will go up to about 60kph on this runway (I have to admit not all of it was on both wheels). Actually I never found out the top speed of the Versys, all I can say is that loaded like it was I saw 114 on the dash during an overtake and it was still increasing before I shut it down (I'll let you use the units you prefer
Ice cream is becoming quite a habit now even at home, guess summer finally arrived. I try to compensate with smaller "buffets" but it isn't easy.
Third leg of the trip was a loop. The real north coast starts in Baie Comeau, people who live around here are either here for (hard, manual) work or to make buisiness with the workers.
Work trucks everywhere, speed limits a faint memory of the past...
I had to rest a bit and wanted to see a good friend who lives in Baie Comeau. I had no luck contacting him on his phone so I tried social media and got out of the room around 11 AM.
I went to see the local honda/harley dealer to try and fix my left mirror that was flopping in the wind after a "slight" crash in Québec three days before departure.
Let's just say that his neighbor's Tercel got a bit dented and my mirror got loose.
Apparently asking for rubber bands in a bar can also get you the barmaid's phone number
The first stop after fixing my mirror was the local Tim Horton's. I needed sugar, caffeine and snacks for my unpredictable stops.
At this time no route was really planned for the day. A ferry was leaving towards the south shore to the Gaspé peninsula at 5PM but it seemed a bit dull to just wait for it and Baie Comeau isn't the prettiest city in the world.
12C and... Damp...
So I had this to eat while thinking about a plan:https://i.ibb.co/d6NGP48/4018.jpg
As I was filling up with a LOT of calories my friend called, he had a new phone number and I HAD to go to the microbrewery with him later. Done deal, I'll just go up route 389 to see the biggest dam of it's kind in the world and back. 211km each way. No cities, no fuel stops, no cell reception, nothing but nature, flies, gravel in curves and people who spend their lives travelling that road.
Manic-5 (remember? name + number = dam) resulted from a pretty crazy idea. Hydro Québec decided that it could make a new path for the Manicouagan river (that's not a small river!) while building a dam that would close up a 100km wide meteorit crater and be used to produce electricity
Of course I can now say that I'm a real canadian after this exuberant display of one of our nation's symbol on a proud Versys!
Remember the incect repellent tube? Well have two of them now. The tought of running out in this area wasn't pleasing so...
Enough procrastination, let's go!
Route 389 should't exist. Nature never called for it and it serves the only purpose of getting work done at the Manic and Outardes dams, the miner's city of Fermont and newfoundland/labrador. It is paved for 211km to Manic-5. 211km of almost non stop medium to tight corners with a few sweepers and cool down straights trown in.
Logging trucks roll on the middle of the road and the mosquito population is groing to the point that I have to almost fully close my chin vent as they shoot up the inside of my visor.
Short stop at the Manic 2 dam:
Two other riders had warned me before i went: brim it. I can see why now. There was a lot of exiting corners in WOT 3rd and 4th gear. it was now 3 PM and I had to be back to Baie Comeau before dark as the idea of being on this road at night with all the big wildlife around wasn't appealing.
Also it was now around 10C humid and windy so my hands were freezing when not in cornering action. The heated grips didn't work at all... Too much mosquitos to try an find the problem.
Logging trucks were behaving like rally cars, diving to the apex and throwing gravel on the pavement and in the direction of my poor unprotected radiator so I learned to respect them and wait for them to give me a sign to overtake.
There's a roadwork area of 2 or 3 km. Up on the pegs, steady throttle through the potholed muddy stuff, let the bike move underneath you... All the videos on Youtube were worth it!
The other road users don't mind it if you go past them when waiting for the workers to open the road to traffic (one way traffic because of roadworks).
Just before Manic 5 there is a gas station and a motel. 87 octane only at 1,80$ per liter (1,29$ in Baie Comeau). Filled up, croutched under the front of the bike to check the heated grips switch connectors under the dash, plugged the loose wire and celebrated my mechanic skills with a deserved (and unhealthy meal)
The dam was only two kilometers further down the road. What a deception I had when arriving at the bottom... you can't see it all. The damn thing is huge!
That's when Robert arrived on his Super Tenere. He had come back from up north as 389 was closed after Fermont. (gravel almost all the way up). He knew a place where I could see the dam and take a picture.
So here I am following him on loose uphill gravel road at 40kph when the bike decided it wanted to go where it liked... Ok, slow down to 20kph, Robert understood and slowed down too.
He saw my Rolleicord and told me he had a Hasselblad, so I was pretty confident for the framing on this one:
We talked for a bit then he left me as he wanted to be back in Montreal fast.
On the way back, I could't resist to go see Manic 3 too. it's a bit hidden but I found it along a gravel road!
Road, river, dams, transformation stations, bugs, river, dams etc...https://i.ibb.co/qp0DXSn/4032.jpg
The bugs make a cloud around the bike every time I stop as the gather close to the hot vibrating machine. Gearing up to get back on the road is a strategic affair! walk a bit, go to the bike and grab the helmet, put it on while walking then go back to the bike and grab a glove, put it on then go back and put the second one and GO!
Then a sign indicates a "safe place" don't know how to nameit in english but it is basically an evacuation place where workers can regroup if things go south at the dams. The Manic 3 evacuation place is all loose gravel and when I went to take a picture of the bike next to some rocks I realised that my turning radius wasn't ideal...
The Versys has a turning radius improvement method consisting of opening the throttle and dumping the clutch:
Of course I had to get the bike out of there... And there was only one way to do it. See how the rear sinks into the ground:
Third voluntary wheelspin of the trip and still no dumping the bike!!! Do you see the smile behind the helmet?
Stopped 30km before Baie Comeau to rest a bit. Soft sand, turn, front tucks in... SAVED IT!
(same method, same results!)
It may look like a normal 422km ride but the fun I had doing it is hard to convey with words. Turn after turn after turn... That road shouldn't exist yet it is there and it's a jewel. I can't understand why people go to the "tail of the dragon" and not here. 211km of curves each way, little traffic, a bit of adventure, great great great day spent on the road!
I met Robert again at a gas station in Baie Comeau, he was with a newfie (I'll let you google that) on a ktm adventure, We talked for a bit, talked about the possibilities of the ferry not crossing the st Lawrence the next day, road conditions, all three of us had a different route but we all had an adventure and solidarity was showing!
Robert is a member of the Rideaventure.ca forum and gave me stickers for the Versys. I'll put them on once I clean it.
The Baie comeau microbrewery makes GREAT beer and the second best smoked meat poutine in the country. Highly recommended.
Tomorrow we cross lines on the big map, miss a ferry, get rained on, cold but still have a beer at the end!