Saturday, November 3, 2012

KTM 350 EXC-F 2013: Papineau Labelle Wildlife Reserve Ride Part 3

See part 2

Maskinongé Bay

12:28 p.m. Commuting between Scotch road and Namur.  I left Scotch road heading towards the Namur gas station with less than half of the gas tank and about 35 miles (50 kms) to go.

I was not too preoccupied, I knew I could do it without running out of gas.

So, I left Scotch road, followed Harrington road which becomes the Maskinongé road – this fun road is in major part unpaved.  I enjoy this ride which runs along the Red river, crosses quiet rural areas and borders the beautiful Maskinongé Bay.

Then came Boileau road: a few curves and straight lines before reaching Namur.  It was particularity quiet on that Sunday afternoon, so I thought:  “Let’s check this baby out!”  80…100..120… still some revs…130…135…140 km/h (87 mph)…pretty good for a 350cc!  Really no issues on the highway – as long as it’s not too long!…

On the comfort side, it could be better: this becomes obvious when you have to sit still on the bike for a moment.  Of course, one needs to understand that this is a motocross with mirrors and flashers – it is almost a privilege to be able to legally ride this type of bike on paved roads and is a major advantage for connecting between trails - a must for adventuring!

35 miles (50 kms) later, I reached the Namur gas station…: “Phew!  The gas tank is almost empty!” I could see the bottom of it due to the white semi-transparent plastic it is made of… but the gas problem was not over yet:  Wut!?!?!  The gas station is closed?!

F…!  I had about 95 miles (150 kms) on the bike at that moment and really the last thing I needed was to run dry!  “How the heck is it possible for a gas station to be closed on a Sunday afternoon?!  Can’t they hire a student on weekends?”.  Well, after giving it some thought, it was the beginning of the hunting season: it was just bad timing.  I saw a resident not too far away, walked over to him and asked about the next gas station.  He gave me the directions: 5 miles (8 kms) south in Cheneville, in the opposite direction.  Well, I had no choice...  I decided I would fill up and come back to Lac des Plages (Beaches Lake) for the real bike test.  

So Cheneville, here I come!  I was riding slowly to save gas… I was getting pretty nervous.  15 minutes later: “Well! I made it!  So where is that darn gas station?  WHAT!?  Closed!!”  Damn!  The gas station was closed for a couple of weeks – my goose was cooked!  Once again a couple of local residents gave me the directions to the next gas station: 8 miles (12 kms) down the road in Montpellier.  “I’ll never make it… less than an inch of gas in the tank”.  Since I had no choice, I followed the 315 south to Montpellier… and most likely would have to give up my plan to head back to ride at Lac des Plages… going all the way back there seemed like a mountain at this point (I was running out of time).  

On my way to Montpellier I was riding at about 45 mph (70 km/h), following the car in front of me for the backdraft hoping to save gas… I was willing to try anything!  But, just in case, I got mentally prepared for having to walk a few miles to the next gas station.

Suddenly, I crossed the “Baie de l’Ours” road..Woot! Woot!  There was a flash in my mind: I went to Parc Papineau-Labelle last year and I remembered this road...  I would go for my offroad ride in the Park instead of heading all the way back to Lac des Plages - my day would be saved!  At the same moment the gas light turned on and I saw the gas station at the end of the road.  Phew!!  I made it!  That was a very close call!  My heart stopped cold when I saw no light in the gas station… but it was a false alarm: the door was not locked and there were people inside.. Thank God!!!

After 110 miles (179 kms), the tank was dry and I was able to put around 2.8 US gallons (almost 11 liters) of gas.  After a quick calculation, that meant about 40 miles per US gallon (6 l/100km) - not what I would call economic, but considering that I had been riding trails, going through mud, playing in a sand pit and running the bike at high speed for a moment… ok, add a couple of mpg.  Well, still not easy on gas.

Let’s get back to the point. So while I was inside the store to pay for the fuel, I noticed a teen with his parents around the KTM -needless to say he was very interested by the bike.  KTM has succeeded in making attractive bikes that capture the imagination…  In fact, earlier that day I crossed a bunch of dirt bike riders – they were all riding KTM’s.

I told the teen’s father about my “gas prospection” story and my intention to go for a ride in the park.  He knew the area pretty well  and recommended a couple of spots to try – particularly the Lac Croche road which is very appreciated by dirt bike riders.  I thanked him and headed back to “La Baie de l’Ours” road which leads to the Papineau-Labelle park.

Exploring Papineau-Labelle Park, 1:46p.m.


Lac Croche road entrance, 2 p.m.

To be continued…see part 4


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