2008 Great West Canadian Adventure

•2008/09/18 • 1 Comment

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PLEASE BE INDULGENT!!!

THIS BLOG IS A TRANSLATION FROM MY ORIGINAL SITE¬†WHICH IS IN FRENCH!!! You will probably see many spelling mistakes or bizarre expressions but I thought that it was worth the effort to publish this in English as many people have asked for it! Don’t hesitate to suggest corrections!

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For a few years now, I’ve had the chance to visit Europe and especially,
South America, and this, during a few months at a time.

I love travelling. I adore discovering new horizons, cultures, languages. To visit completely different cities, to climb mountains and volcanos, to go to deserts and in rain forests.

I hate driving…

In fact, I don’t hate it, I just don’t get cars and the consequences they have on everyday life (and on an explorer’s life as well).

I certainly do not enjoy having to drive around for 2 hours to find a parking spot, or simply pay 100 Euros to fill up. I do not like to feel enclosed or the detachment that comes from being in a closed cabin.

There’s always a most effective way to travel in my opinion, that is using public transport, with a backpack. This method of discovery is not always obvious, however, and also creates several constraints. Indeed, it’s difficult to escape the beaten path and discover places less touristic and more remote. We must resolve to adopt the destinations served by buses or trains or rely on taxis which are not always very economical.

This method, although allowing to be closer with the local population, still keeps me in a vehicle and doesn’t always have the effect of freedom that I looking for.

Since I’ve turned 16, I’ve always owned a car. For me it was a visceral need, a way of life and also a means of positioning in the social scale. It was also a source of great cost and with the current cost of the acquisition, maintenance and gasoline, it had become for me, too much of a cost, especially with to the distances done annually.

In 2006, at the end of the long-term lease of a car, I made the decision to return the car and not to renew the contract.

Simultaneously, I had the chance to get transferred for work in downtown Montreal. Residing in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace area, I could easily travel by bike or take the subway when the weather was not cooperating!

Obviously, adaptation was not easy. Driving a bike in my city is “slightly” dangerous (road conditions, reckless drivers, blind pedestrians, weather …). The Metro system is really quite uncomfortable because it’s really crowded in rush hour and too often stops for technical reasons. During a fall on Thursday evening (the evening of 5 to 7 in Montreal!), I decided to walk St-Laurent Boulevard to get in a small bistro in Outremont when I came across a Vespa dealer. They are charming small machines!

In fact, I never really considered buying a motorcycle and even less a scooter.<

My job gives me the “chance” to see the consequences of motorcycle accidents and I promised myself to never to buy this type of vehicle. I have owned, in the past, motorcycles but without much conviction. Uncomfortable, not practical, cold, warm are the words that came to mind and were associated with the bike.

A few trips to Europe certainly made me discover another reality.

On that continent, this mode of transportation is not only efficient but is one of the only practical solution to urban congestion. In fact, I think that over there, it’s a lifestyle, not a hobby like here.

To make a short story, 2 days later, I was driving fast in the saturated streets of Montreal with a superb Vespa GTx 250! Wow, what beautiful bike! I’m free at last! Top speed of 140 km / h, easy to slip into the traffic. Obviously, I’m not in Europe where you see these machines on every street corner! Ultimately, I loved this new way of life, to the point of starting to go a little further, leaving the city sometimes.

Vespa 2006

2006 Vespa

This machine, while offering a “comfortable” cruising speed on highways, is not designed for it as such. The braking, steering, engine and suspension are adequate but make long trips uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. In the spring of 2007, during a weekend ride, I made a mistake that will prove to be very costly.

I stopped at BMW Motorrad, just to “see”.

To make a short story, 2 days later, I was walking out of there with a superb BMW R1200GS to conquer the world!

And yes, I totally fell in love with the GS series BMW. A machine that I didn’t really know but, as in a dream, was waiting for me, just like that, as if someone had produced a bike for exactly what I was looking for in several areas of my life. The Adventure.

My goal is simple and clear: Perform solo trip between Canada and Argentina (specifically in Patagonia). Of course, all of this doesn’t happen in a few days, even months or years. You need practice, practice, practice and more importantly, learn to plan and know your limits.

2007-07-29-BMW-Roadtrip-093Summer 2007 brings me to the Maritimes and to Colorado. I drove about 20 000 km, which quickly pointed me to the obvious limitations of the machines (and mine too!). Upon returning from Denver, I decided to trade my GS for the 2008 model of the BMW R1200GS Adventure.

A motorcycle that, while offering similar benefits, could fill the gaps encountered during my first trips.

  • Substantial autonomy Increase with 33 liter tanks that could allow me to go for 700 km without stopping;
  • Enduro Transmission allowing easy driving off-road or when the bike is heavily loaded (shorter 1st gear);
  • Better protection with a larger windshield;
  • Suspension: electronic adjustment system for various driving conditions such as bumpy roads , off-road or with passengers and luggage;
  • A more powerful electrical system for accessories like an electric vest or GPS;
  • Better legs protection;
  • Metal boxes for storage (more solid, more space, more secure);
  • Better lighting (fog lights);
  • Electrical outlets for accessories;
  • Spoked Wheels.

I finally receive the beast in April 2008 after a long winter of waiting. In fact, winter 2008 was certainly the most difficult of my life. Having bought the bike, I decided not to travel and that decision coincided with the most rigorous winter ever recorded in Quebec! Meters of snow! All this had, in return, permitted to work hard to plan a first major adventure, which will serve as practice for a possible trip to Patagonia: Cross my country and I try to get to Inuvik, in the North West Territories , in fact, at the end of the road because literally, it’s impossible, in summer, to go any further.

At the beginning of the project, I thought of going go to Mexico but I quickly turned to Canada for a very simple reason, I had never really crossed and visited my country!

To prepare, I read a lot in websites, books and started drafting the route and making a list of the things necessary to carry out such a crossing alone, independently.

Here is a brief summary of my daily adventures written in my spare time.

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