BMW day 8: Perce to Carleton-sur-Mer in more rain
We woke up hoping for a break in the weather, but found the same steady rain we’d seen the night before. That was depressing. There wasn’t really any point in jumping on the bikes under those conditions, so we hung back in motel for a couple of hours to see if a change was coming. Eventually we had to concede that no improvement could be expected and so we donned the gear once again and resolved press on in the grim conditions. Steve even put on his matching yellow rainsuit, which he had resisted before. At least now we had learned a few tricks to stay drier than before. In my case: remember to put the overboots on before you go out in the rain.
It was the same story as the day before: gusty winds again, cold rain, fog … Steve led us around a tour of Perce (trying to find an interesting road he saw on the map) but all we ended up doing was going in circles. We drove up the 17% grade again to get a photo of Perce rock, and then started down the coast in search of better weather. Now we were heading southwest, driving toward the approaching sunshine.
The front tire on the Dakar was fairly worn when we started this trip, but usable. In the rain and gusty winds, it was a different story. I didn’t like the way the bike was handling. Steve offered to swap bikes with me, because he has more experience, but I hate to pass off my problems on someone else, so I said I’d stick with it. The bike felt so squirrely that I eventually didn’t feel safe going over 45 MPH, which was going to make a long and unpleasant ride even longer, so Steve asked again, and then on the third suggetion I finally agreed to try his bike instead. The difference was surprising. The Dakar has a taller suspension, larger front wheel, is slower at turning, and constantly felt like it was going to be blown over in the gusts. The GS, which is otherwise identical, felt much more secure and I had no trouble going 55-60 MPH with it.
We eventually stopped in St-Godefroi at a tiny roadside restaurant, really just to dry off a little. My shoulder was hurting, my right foot was soaked (the overboot had a small leak somewhere), and gloves were saturated with water. I squeezed out about a cup of water from them. (The heated handgrips were the only reason my hands weren’t freezing.)
Once again we got the pitying look from the restaurant staff. Good thing they were empty when we arrived, otherwise I wouldn’t blame them for throwing us out. We were damp even inside the yellow rainsuits, and we squinched and dripped water with every step. I dropped my gloves on the electric heater in a vain attempt to dry them out, and we left puddles on the vinyl chairs and table. Steve had poutine again, which I think was his third or fourth of the trip. I don’t know how a human being can survive on that stuff.
Since the winds had died down, after lunch Steve and I switched back to our regular bikes. We continued onward without much hope of further improvement. This ride was becoming an endurance run, just something to be survived. As we got along the south shore of the peninsula, I noticed that the towns were getting more populous and interesting, with occasional “grand” houses and buildings with intriguing architecture, but it still wasn’t touring weather and we pressed on in the drizzle. We passed on some potential side trips because they’d take us up slick dirt roads and in the fog and rain we couldn’t see much anyway.
Finally around 2:30 pm the rain tapered off. Half an hour later the skies had lifted enough that we felt safe to stop and peel off the rainsuits. This felt wonderful, even with the gray scudded skies above that threatened to soak us again. I didn’t care—I just wanted to unburden myself. After wearing all the layers and rainsuit, riding in just motorcycle pants, jacket, and long underwear felt like riding naked. Eric unfortunately discovered a leak in his suit which wet his pants so much that he thought he’d be colder allowing it to dry in the breeze, so he kept his suit on.
At at 3:00 pm, we pulled into Carleton-sur-Mer just as a new shower was getting started. We stopped at what was probably the most expensive place in town but also a great choice, the Motel Baie-Bleu. It was my turn to sleep on the floor.
During the routine unpacking that afternoon, I found dampness inside one of my dry bags, which I think was condensation, and a leak in another plastic bag that was in the pannier. No serious damage, but everything had to come out and be aired out. We’ve discovered that in serious extended rain, nothing is truly waterproof. Also, one of my two drybags has started to show signs of wearing through at a few points, mostly where the iPad case rubs against it. I had purchased lightweight drybags and that has turned out to be a mistake. They don’t have the durability or abrasion resistance needed for a long trip like this. Also, the plastic hooks on my bungee cargo net are slowly melting from proximity with the muffler.
That evening we took a walk around town, visited the tiny harbor, and had a glamorous dinner at Subway. It wasn’t high concept entertainment, but at this point it was about what we expected and it was all fine. We see blue skies on the horizon and the low pressure system that has been responsible for this rain is moved off the coast of New Brunswick. That means we should be in fine weather tomorrow, so we are considering staying here another night to do a large inland run back to the Chic Choc Mountains (on paved roads). This will be about 200 miles roundtrip, with camping—finally!—at the end of the day. We’ll make a decision in the morning.