Wednesday, August 22, 2012

12oo GS Rallye 2012: Ride to Parent: part 2

See part 1

Parent road at the 309 intersection

10:23 am  The famous road to Parent.

After refuelling a few minutes beforehand in Mont St-Michel village, the signs indicating the road to Parent came into sight. 

Looking at the blue sign, I realized right away that this road was unusual… it read: “Warning! This road is used by heavy trucks.  For your safety, use a CB on channel 10 to indicate your presence…”  Not very welcoming.

I took some time to put on my motorcycle pants (which I recommend for this route).

What follows is a blend of my two rides to Parent: first with my Versys, then with the Rally. It's a bit unfair to the Versys, but it served me as a base comparison to evaluate the Rally. The Versys: an entry level crossover. The Rally: top of the line adventurer whose reputation is second to none. That being said, I learned a lot about the 2 bikes and I will try to transmit my observations as precisely as possible.


First contact with the gravel on Parent road.

When I took on Parent road with my Versys, I really did not know what to expect.

After a few moments of riding on gravel, I experienced something very, very troubling:


Ouch!  What was that? ... For the first time in my life... at more than  45 mph (70 km/h),  it was a brutal contact with a section of washboard.

The transmitted vibrations to the handle bar were so intense that my hands where opening by themselves even though I was gripping the bar as tightly as I could. I immediately thought: "What the heck am I doing here with this bike?".

I was very tempted to turn around.  I kept thinking: "I can’t believe I drove all this way for nothing…not possible, I must continue."

I took out the mini tool box that came with the bike and turned the spring preload adjuster two full turns counterclockwise to reduce the suspension preload (there was no dedicated tool for adjusting the suspension, I had to work with a pair of pliers ... very frustrating).  Luckily, it was enough - I could have removed even more, but the operation was tedious and I scratched the suspension adjuster with the inadequate pliers.


With EAS, dust free drive shaft and a wide base kickstand that does not sink into the sand, this bike is well adapted for this type of road. 

All this to highlight the option I liked most on the Rally: electronic adjustable suspension (EAS). This is simply genius!

The first thing I did when arriving on Parent road with this bike was to adjust the suspension mode to "light off-road" and "Soft".

That’s it! 30 seconds was all it took to make the adjustment. One must have lived both situations to assess this option at its fair value.

When I went on washboard sections with the Rallye, yes, there were still vibrations transmitted to the handle bar, but the difference was huge - much smoother!



Over the 115 miles (178 km) to Parent, there are several stretches that are fast.
It even becomes quite euphoric.

One can get caught in the game, thinking it is a race and often noticing the speedometer is over 60 mph (100 km/h).

Then suddenly, a sand patch…this is not a ride for the faint of heart!  I have noticed a few more white hairs on my head since the rideDéçu.

On many occasions I told myself: “That’s it, I’m cooked, I’m gonna bite the dust.”  On those occasions, the only thing to do is to abandon the bike to the road and l let it work its magic.

Finally, one realises that the main skills to develop are to keep a good balance standing on the pegs and do slight course adjustment when the road gets tough.

A straight section of the road after the passage of a vehicle.

Here the 110-80/19 front wheel of the Rallye had an obvious stability advantage over the Versys 120-90/17 wheel.  Most likely a thinner 21 inches wheel would have been the ideal choice.

Some pictures midway at the Longs Rapids

Signs indicating the direction of Parent, Lunic, outfitters, Lake Mary and so on.


Longs Rapids


Trucks and other vehicles on the road

Loaded logger truck.  There are many on the way.

The biggest source of stress is moving into the cloud of dust raised by these large vehicles in their path. One should slow down a lot, visibility is almost zero. Fortunately, the road is quite wide and there is plenty of space.

One of numerous blind turns

There are many blind turns where you cannot see what is coming from the other side.

One must keep to the right of the road as much as possible in case an oncoming vehicle requires more space to take the detour.    


To be continued...part 3


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