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James Bay, Chisasibi QC - 2018


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Inspired by epic northern rides documented on the forum, thought I’d go and get me a small taste myself. With a budget of 4 days… Chisasibi QC via James Bay Road fit the bill (3,500km RT). Researched a bit, and found this site especially informative. I also appreciated @johnha1962 sharing his experience from his trip up there.
Installed new RS3 tires and bought 6L worth of extra fuel storage. Rain gear, heated jacket, gauntlet gloves and thermal base layers part of the fit-out. GPS tracker in the tank bag so my wife could follow along... it was go-time.
DAY 1 (Slingshot to Matagami QC)
Departed at 5am for the ambitious 12h ride. Darkness and rain cleared just in time for Muskoka twisties (38, 169, 141, 518), all part of a plan to have some fun along the way. Didn’t stop much, but here’s a photo of a bridge over Montreal river (Hwy.11), taken from Veterans Park rest area, not far from Quebec border. I like bridges.
Once in ‘La belle province’, roads offered little in a way of riding excitement, but still plenty of things to soak up. I even picked up 7km of gravel… was glad I had new rubber on the bike. Route 109 toward Matagami had very little traffic, save for massive logging trucks thundering south. Arrived in Matagami just after 7pm and fueled up, including extra containers.
The motel (right next to the Shell) was busy… apparently local workers (construction, logging etc.) get together on Thursdays to unwind at the bar and the restaurant (both on motel premises). Friendly staff served up some wings and beer, and then it was time for bed.
DAY 2 (James Bay Road to Chisasibi QC)

An omelette at 7am, and on to Chisasibi. Checked in at the James Bay Road guard house, where the attendant took down my name, gave me some literature and some pointers (road construction/gravel areas/forecast, emergency stuff etc.). He was extraordinarily friendly… cheering for me, then telling me a story about another motorcyclist getting a flat along a gravel section just two weeks ago. Great! Ominous looking skies, and some 380 km to next fuel stop. Challenge accepted!
Weather cleared up nicely for a bit. There were many opportunities for stops and photos along the route, including hiking trails… but I really had to just enjoy the scenery on the move to make the bay before dark. I did stop for a look at Rupert River (what’s left of it after diversion… shame). Made a short video of the Rupert River.


The James Bay Road isn’t very twisty, but it had plenty of nice sweepers, some back-to-back… and that made for an entertaining enough ride, albeit VERY bumpy right through its entire length (road cracks and heaves). There were several sections already fixed up, and some under repair. I went through 10km of fresh gravel awaiting compaction.
Once the fuel gauge went into reserve mode, I eased down to 100kph (6th gear at 4,200RPM in B-mode) to see just how far I could go and still stay at reasonable speed. No complaints from CP3… not exciting, but nice and smooth. My pace until then was ~130kph, eyes peeled for road conditions. Some bumps, dwells and cracks were quite punishing. Ran out of fuel at 320km, with 60km accomplished on reserve. 6L of spare fuel (2 bars) got me to Km 381 compound, where I filled all tanks, grabbed lunch and warmed up a bit. A couple of guys chatted me up… had a pleasant break.
Weather turned nasty around the 52 parallel (near access road to Eastmain) … very gusty winds, drizzly rain and down to 6C. Took a shot of the barren landscape and again as I approached Km 600, where one can decide on the next fuel stop… Radisson (closer) or Chisasibi.
 I had confidence in my range by now so headed for Chisasibi. I rolled in with ~20km spare in reserve. Filled at a Cree operated gas bar… then headed for the coast. I wandered a bit looking for the right road… and attracted attention of local police. While my brain was busy with ‘my plate sticker is expired and I can’t remember where I stashed my ownership papers’… they said hello and directed me to the right road smiley.png .
 It was 10km of gravel. No soul in sight, and the scenery kinda gloomy. Getting dark, wind howling and drizzling… waddled into the water and… got me a nice rock tongue.png . Made an awkward selfie, and a short video of the bay.


Cree lady operating the B&B wondered whether I was lost and needed help… ‘nope, here on purpose… got a rock’. We had a laugh. Three other guys staying in the house were from Brampton ON (city next door to mine), building homes for the community. Small world. I went off to bed to rest up for another 12h day.
DAY 3 (Run for Ontario… Kirkland Lake)
Got my butt out of bed late, had toast and a couple of cups of coffee. Chatted for a few minutes with the Brampton guys getting ready for work, and off I went. 5C and raining… at least the winds died down. A couple of Cree fellows going fishing asked playfully ‘how do you like the weather?’, and ‘are those tires good on gravel?’… wise guys. It wasn’t until around Yasinski Lake that sunshine poked through for a bit… stopped for a few minutes to take in the silence and the scenery.
Somehow developed a headache while on the road. I suspected dehydration and stopped for water, but to no avail. I again took fuel and had some hot food at Km 381 compound. Thankfully they also had Tylenol… took some and waited for it to take effect before moving on. That chillaxing cost me 40 minutes, but despite running late, I decided to get scientific about my fuel range. Set cruise at 100kph, 42,00RPM, 6th gear in B-mode. I ran out at 378km (370 according to GPS), with 63km of it on reserve. Good range is possible. MCCruise worked flawlessly, and CP3 pulled nicely.
Checked out at the James Bay Road checkpoint, fueled up in Matagami and ploughed through to Kirkland Lake. Heated gear, grips and warm gloves saved the day as darkness set in and temps dropped to 3C. I arrived at the motel at 11:30pm… some exciting night riding. Lighting system on this bike is fantastic, and overall the FJ performed flawlessly.
DAY 4 (Homeward bound)
Check over the bike before riding off in the morning and discovered rear chain guard came undone in the back and did some superficial damage to the swingarm. The guard made it over to the outside of the swingarm. Must have been one of them giga-bumps along James Bay Road. It was 5C, but I was happy about the prospect of riding in daylight, and sunshine to boot.
Managed to beat the bulk of the cottage country return traffic. Made it home before 4pm… safe and sound. Tough little ride… but made for a memorable little adventure, albeit a bit hurried. I will do this again sometime, and take more time to enjoy the area. This trip was originally planned as a duo, but schedules just didn’t work out. Between forecasts and workload... this was the time window I had to hit.
 The trip took 2.5mm off the rear tire, which is what I had left on the old tire. I probably could have made it, but it wasn’t worth the risk considering unknown road conditions. My new heated gear connection worked great… perfect location. Curly cord afforded just enough range to move about a bit when off the bike.
~ FIN ~


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How do you get gas stations to show up on Google maps?  I can't seem to find that option in the menus.
They don't show up automatically. You find the location along the route, click 'add to map' and change the icon/colour... otherwise all locations/markers will look the same.
Ok, thanks for the info.  I thought that Google had finally added this feature; I know people have been requesting it for years.  You can find gas stations in a particular area right now, but not for an entire trip.  Oh well.
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Hey Piotrek, thanks for taking me along and bringing back some awesome memories! The River Rupert is a mere shadow of its former self. A B&B in Chisasibi! I'll have to make note of that in the event I get up there again (camped both times I was up there on 2 wheels). Thanks again for the report.
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Hey Piotrek, thanks for taking me along and bringing back some awesome memories! The River Rupert is a mere shadow of its former self. A B&B in Chisasibi! And it looks like they paved at least part of the road out to Chisasibi, it was all gravel both times I was up there. I'll have to make note of the B&B in the event I get up there again (camped both times I was up there on 2 wheels), as these gettin' older bones aren't so much for laying on the ground these days. Thanks again for the report.
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