Monday, March 4, 2013

Manawan Reserve ride: part 4, a maze of trails

See part 3 

The last part of my ride to Manawan.  I was pleasantly surprised when I deviated from my plan and took the path that led to Zec Collin.


There is something spiritual about adventure motorcycling – as one never knows what’s ahead, some faith is required to make the ride a success.  Of course, that depends on one’s definition of adventure motorcycling – mine is rather simplistic: ride and have fun – which does not leave much place to planning. 


Well, such an approach paid off as you can see below… 

A lot of nice trails, lakes, rivers and also some challenges.


Here is how I got there:  after I adjusted my bike suspension (see part 3), I continued on the Manawan road for a few miles.  However I was still far - 30 miles away - from the Manawan Indian reserve and I had no more business on this road.

As I was riding, I saw many road signs indicating ZECs (Exploitation of natural resources…Controlled…Zone: an area where you can do many outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, camping, riding…but have to register before - obviously something I had not done – I’m learning it as I write this review.)  So, to make the ride more exciting, I took the next path for the ZEC Collin.

That was a pretty good idea:  the road was a lot more interesting for adventuring and very quiet – no more SUVs or trucks. 

After a short moment riding on this road, the path forked into 3 branches.  So, how do I decide which one to use and also, will I get lost?  Only one way to find out!

So I went with the outer left fork.  I rode as far as I could on that path, crossing a wooden bridge, flooded roads (most of the time the floods were caused by a nearby beaver dam) and creeks.  Finally a bit of this, a bit of that – everything that makes a good recipe for an adventure ride.  In conclusion: a nice ride in the forest. 

Then I stopped at Herelle lake; it was a dead end.  After reading the signs, I wished I had known more about this place.  I would have paid for a day pass and brought along a fishing rod.  That’s what happens when you don’t know a sector – you miss out on a lot.  Anyway, something else to try in the future.

So I went back and I saw another fork.  I decided to go see where it led to and stumbled upon a potential mud hole.  “Oh…no!, not today thank you.”  I would have gone through it without hesitating with a smaller/lighter bike like the 350 EXC-F that I tried earlier in the season, but it was not the case.  I must admit from the picture on the right that this mud hole did not look that bad, but the path was already quite degraded even before reaching this place.  Anyway, I still had many trails to discover and it was not the right time to waste energy “playing” in the mud.

I used this strategy for the rest of the ride: I turned around each time there was a risk that could negatively impact the ride.  That gave me more riding time and more potential discoveries.  Since I was riding in a totally unknown area, the strategy paid off.

Then I discovered this bridge.  It was in very bad shape.  I could see the river flowing thought it, 10 feet lower.  There were also nail heads (visible from the picture) all the way along the bridge.  “Hmmm…not very inviting.  If I get a flat trying to cross that bridge, I’ll hate myself to death especially since I am 160 miles away from home in the woods.  It’s not worth it.”  I have an emergency tire repair kit and a bike hand pump under the seat but I sincerely wish I’ll never have to use it – touch wood.

The trail on the other side of the bridge, however, seemed very interesting.  I’ll probably never know what I missed!

I went back to check out the second of the three forks I had seen earlier.  It was a winding truck road with plenty of hills – a real rollercoaster ride.  It was a nice place to test my off-road riding skills.  The path became more technical, with big rocks and holes further on the way, finally ending with a forestry exploitation.  Trees were lying on the ground along the road– it looked like a war zone - but unfortunately we need wood to build our houses.  The road abruptly ended after a few miles and I had to go back.  The suspension adjustments I had done earlier were useful here as well and made the return pretty satisfying: I was able to push the bike much faster than I usually do in similar road conditions.

Then the last fork.  That section was not bad as well.  After a while, from the top of a mound, the road below snaked along the mountainside as far as I could see. 

I was looking forward to seeing where the road led to, but with a little stress as well.  It is difficult to explain the feelings that spark when adventuring: a mix of excitement and dizziness, irrational fear of the unknown and admiration when facing a nice panorama. 

Any fears of getting lost or running out of fuel vanished quickly when I finally got back on the main road at the 29 km milestone.  “Wut?!  That’s it?.”  I thought I was up further north, but that was fine.  After 2 hours of off-road riding, I was ready to go back home - some 3 extra hours to go. 

On my way back, still on the Manawan road, after 2 hours of off-road practice and a couple of energy drinks, I started taking chances passing SUVs.  I got the scare of my life when my front wheel started to uncontrollably oscillate after I hit a sand patch at 70 mph.  Ouch!!  I don’t know how I got out of this situation, but it was enough to cool me down until I got back on the paved road. 

Anyway, that was a pretty nice ride.  I would do it again, but there is so much more to discover in this area!  As an example, the ride around Taureau lake… certainly one of the most beautiful places in Quebec for trail riding as per an ATV rider told me…  I’m already dreaming about it!



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