Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 Season Ender

Due to the other shortened rides this year, we decided to try to make this season ender an 8-day ride. This is usually the best trip of the year, since days are longer, we now turn the clocks back early, and trails aren't nearly as crowded as February. Since we had Marty [aka Mary] with us, we had to break-up the trip at the mid-point, since he can't handle a real ride. We started in Shawinigan with four of us, John, Marty, Tom, and I. The initial plan was to head out West, and cross back to drop off Marty, and loop around over Lac St-Jean. There was plenty of snow, with a snow/rain mix for day one, then colder temperatures till day 6, with more rain, then a deep freeze. I had my '09 Etec, with 1.75" track, new hyfax, and all exhaust bolts. Starting mileage was 3672.

Day 1: Shawinigan to St-Felicien
Conditions: +30F, Snow changing to rain. 10" of fresh powder to start.
Trails: 318, 73, 83, 373. 289 miles, 13.0 mpg, 36 mph [avg]. 7:30am-5:30pm.

The site everyone likes to see in the morning...
much more snow than the forecast. Past LaTuque, it turned to rain, which everyone hates...

In case anyone ever wondered if the railroad bridge on the powerline [355] was still active, here's the answer...

We broke trail most of the way to LaTuque. The run from Relais 22 to Roberval was excellent. We ended the first day at Hotel du Jardin, usually an excellent stop, but the food has gone downhill over the years. Unfortunately, Friday was also the Chinese buffet, don't try Chinese in Canada.
Day 2: St-Felicien to Matagami
Conditions: +28/42F, overcast. Flat trails, with new snow, later wet snow mush.
Trails: 373, 93, 396. 404 miles, 10.5 mpg, 48.2 mph [avg]. 6:30am-7:00pm.
We never like to plan on a 400 mile day, but today we did, so we skipped breakfast and hit the trails at 6:30am. LaDore to the Sawmill was 59 miles, so there's no need to get gas at LaDore when leaving from du-Jardin. Marty had more electrical problems, then Tom did a snow depth test, followed by Marty, it was something like 4'. On the way to relais du Nord, my right ski slid off the shoulder and I was sucked into the powder. While shifting over to the left side, trying to stand, my gauntlet hit the kill switch, and it was game over...

a little shoveling, then leveling the sled, and off I help of course. Some people don't like shovels, I think they're priceless, especially when Marty is around. After gas in Chapais, it was time for the 80 miles of railroad bed, at least it was warm this was about -20F a few years ago. Like then, I also blew a belt at 4181 total miles, about right, since the first blown belt was on piston alley at ~1900 miles. I kept the throttle at about 80mph for the entire run. I was out of gas at 73 miles. Within 3 miles, the SDI and 800 were also out, while the Yamaha was already at the gas stop. We didn't run out a few years ago, so the warm conditions and mashed snow must have had a lot to do with it. We stayed at the Motel Matagami, a great stop, everything you need in one place, and breakfast at 5am if you want it.
Day 3: Matagami to Senneterre
Conditions: -10/+16F, mostly sunny. Hard, flat, some icy trails.
Trails: 396, 93, 83. 318 miles, 13.2 mpg, 45.7 mph [avg]. 7:30am-5:00pm.
After a good freeze overnight, the trails were solid, and flat. We took 396 out West, and took the opportunity for a 10 mile detour to Ontario...

of course, it's at this point, the farthest from the trucks, that Marty cries he wants to go home. Oh well, no choice now, we're already planning a direct route back of over 500 miles. Soon out of Ontario, trails on 83 turned to near ice, with enough powder for cooling, but little for traction and hyfax on my 1.75" ripsaw. After easing my sled into Senneterre, the new hyfax at the start of the trip were gone. John who had the 1.5" ripsaw, had no hyfax wear. We stayed at the Motel Senabi, essentially a room only. You need to take a cab for dinner, and can ride a few blocks to a good breakfast stop.
Day 4: Senneterre to Kanawata
Conditions: -2/+28F, mostly cloudy to clear. Icy trails to hard pack with snow.
Trails: 83, local 369. 321 miles, 15.6 mpg, 39.8 mph [avg]. 3:30am-7:00pm.
The day started with a hyfax change, more oil, and a replacement trail pass that fell off. This was my first run on this part of 83. The ice trails ate into the new hyfax again, till the trails loosened up later. Evidence of the fire was obvious, as was this dead groomer...
After gas a Balbuzzard, more bad trails and fire damage. It's amazing how they made it through the fire. Across the lake, was all fire damaged and on their side, it was untouched... A few miles later, the trails opened up and were good. The major reroute before Clova was good, and the gas stop at Monet was informative. Apparently, this reroute may become permanent. The rest of 83 was great, and the burned groomer from the last trip was still there. The local trail to Kanawata was freshly groomed all the way. We got a minor tongue-lashing at Kanawata for not making reservations. They also informed Tom not to start his sled before 7:15am. There were about a dozen or so people there on Summits. They had come from Beauregard using only about 15 miles of trail, that was an interesting conversation.
Day 5: Kanawata to Roberval
Conditions: -2/+29F, mostly sunny. Hard pack with snow, some excellent.
Trails: local 369, 83. 222 miles, 16.4 mpg, 40.0 mph [avg]. 8:00am-2:30pm.
The newly groomed trails from last night were frozen solid and continued to eat at the hyfax. Marty headed South, to go home. The run to Wemo was better than the February trip. The road out of Wemo had plenty of snow, and the trail to relais 22 was excellent. Out of relais 22, we planned a stop in Roberval for hyfax and exhaust bolts. After a quick hyfax change [they were about half gone], John noticed a busted suspension on Tom's yamaha, so he was off to Chambord while they fixed John's exhaust bolts, brakes, and chain problem. Given the problems, we decided to stay at Chateau Roberval. The new restaurant was excellent, much better than du-Jardin. All sleds were fixed and we were in the rooms by 5:30pm.
Day 6: Roberval to Jonquiere
Conditions: +30/40F, Cloudy, with light snow changing to light rain. Perfect trails.
Trails: local 373, 93, 367, 267. 337 miles, 13.5 mpg, 42.0 mph [avg]. 6:30am-4:30pm.
With a short day yesterday, we decided to get an early start and head to Monts Valin. Trails were perfect till Tom had a problem with a road crossing near 367. If it's not the yamaha, it's the driver. After regrouping, we headed to Jonquiere to get Tom into the shop. After checking in to the hotel, John and I headed to Chappelle for lunch. Once past 328, all the trails were perfect, including the run to bras-louis...
on the way back we tried 328, but it was junk, so we took 93 back to the rooms. Later, we had a chance to say hi to Bill and saw our friends from Maryland again. After the warm temps, it was back to a deep freeze again.
Day 7: Jonquiere to Shawinigan
Conditions: -2/+18F, Sunny. Hard packed, Ice trails.
Trails: 83, 355, 318. 294 miles, 17.1 mpg, 37.2 mph [avg]. 6:30am-5:30pm.

More hard packed and icy trails to start...

Then we passed this kayak course, that we've seen for years... but earlier in the trip, we saw people running the course this winter on TV, crazy stuff. Trails near Lac St-Jean were ice with little snow, causing some heating issues. Once to 355, it was freshly groomed all the way to Lac Edouard. The problem was, the trails were ice near the sides, and chopped up ice balls in the center, making for a very interesting and mostly rough ride. In addition, the trail was rerouted, adding about another 20 miles of junk. After Lac Edouard, trails were hard and good till after the pipeline. Then the lack of snow and warmer temps did a number on the trails, especially the roads. The 2-miles of dirt/mud on a logging road is just another problem to deal with this time of year...

Overall, a good trip, that actually lasted 7-days for some of us. Another two big warm ups that were unfortunate. The big lesson learned here was the track. After great luck with the 1.5" ripsaw last year, I tried the 1.75" ripsaw this year. After a great start to the year and 3700 miles with the first set of hyfax, I went through 3 sets during this 2180 mile trip, while John's sled with a 1.5" ripsaw barely wore the hyfax. As a result, I will be using the 1.75" track till February, then I'll swap to the stock 1.25" ripsaw, with a few studs. Statistics for the trip were...2179 miles, 13.5 mpg [avg], 155 miles per quart of oil, gas was $1.06 [ca] per litre for a mix of super/regular, $1.27 exchange rate, and total fuel cost was about $500 [us], using about 3.5 gallons of oil.


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