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November 4, 2010

Labour of Love: Part 1

Bryan Hudgin begins his Trans-Lab road trip

Labrador Labour of Love: Part 1 of 4

Labour of love? Now that’s an understatement. It was 585km of gravel road, trees, lakes and mountains (and not much else) just to get to the Trans-Labrador highway! This road is not for the faint of heart, and that’s why the ‘Labrador Labour of Love’ would be my toughest challenge yet. Let me walk you through this trip from the start…

I met Mike Brown (A Motorcycle Experience’s trusted cameraman) and Tyler Hawley (producer) at the airport with my little Ford Focus rammed to the gills. To their credit, airport security didn’t pull a heavy on me when I unintentionally tried to smuggle a Swiss Army knife and matches in my carry-on luggage, which was a camping tent. Seems I forgot the knife and matches were included in there with the pegs (insert sheepish grin here). I shuddered as I imagined how a similar situation would play out, in a US airport, with an over zealous rent-a-cop.

Why the heck was I taking a tent as a carry-on? Well, ego is a powerful motivator, and I had agreed to another challenge for A Motorcycle Experience.  The host, Dave Hatch, had dared me to complete the same challenge as last year, albeit on the remote and rugged Trans Labrador Highway. So there was no food, no accommodations and no money (except for fuel) from Monday morning until Wednesday night. Just me, my Super Ténéré, some fishing and camping supplies, and 1140km of barren road. This is how the ‘Labrador Labour of Love’ name was coined. The payoff? If I successfully made it to Point B without breaking any of the rules, Hatch would host an entire show with the word ‘Yamaha’ written across his forehead.

The camerman and producer were allowed to eat...

...But Huggy wasn't!

We arrived in Baie Comeau Sunday night after a layover in Montreal. Through a series of hand gestures, broken french and a bit of charades, we 3 Anglos managed to get a cab for transport to the hotel. I settled down to sleep a little later, but not before sharpening my knife and reading up on edible plants.

Monday morning brought some confusion, including a last minute run to Wal-Mart for an SD card, and another cab to get to the UHAUL dealer (which was odd as they were also a competing motorcycle dealer. Seeing as I was dressed in full Yamaha regalia, and after waiting an inordinate amount of time, I was sure to check the brake lines and lug nuts before I left.) Patrick from Baie Comeau Motorsports had “Tenny” perfectly prepped for the long trip. Since we were doing the lion’s share of the ride on gravel road, I had opted for knobby tires instead of the more pavement-friendly versions that are stock on the Super Tenere.

The roads are nothing to write home about, but the landscape sure is!

My tentative agenda had the Labrador Labour of Love crew leaving at 9:30AM to make our way towards our first stop 216km down the road, arriving at the Manic 5 dam at 12:30PM.

At 12:15PM we rolled out of Baie Comeau Motorsports parking lot… Yes, quite a bit behind schedule already. Oh Brother.

The road to Manic 5 dam turned into remote in a hurry. It wasn’t long before a combination scent of freshly cut wood and thick diesel fumes were confusing my olfactory system, “… smells …so…sweet…but…[ahem]…why…is…it….hard…..to….[cough]…breath?”

The logging trucks were going by fast and furious and, as such, I increased my speed to stay out of the way. It wasn’t long after that I crested a hill and narrowly missed a plodding porcupine on the other side. Meh, no big deal. About 10kms later I rounded a corner and saw some sort of cat/fox/coyote hybrid. After more thought, I realized it was probably a fisher which was confirmed by almighty Google when I returned home. It was then I realized, ‘Tenny, we’re not in Kansas anymore!’……

The story's not over! Stay tuned for parts 2,3, and 4 to find out if he made it.

For more photos please visit: facebook.com/yamahamotorcanada and visit the photos section.

The season premiere of A Motorcycle Experience will be on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 11:30AM EST. All shows are broadcast on TSN.

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Posted @ 9:56 am in Authors,Commuting,Travel Stories   

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