June 2018 - The Great Circle (actual route) – Google My Maps
- Depart: from the Alexis Hotel, Port Hope Simpson, Labrador
- Destination: Royal Inn and Suites, Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador
- Distance: 405km (252miles)
- Time in saddle: Google says 5hrs and 38mins. Given this was the day of mostly gravel, I was expecting it to take longer; but actual time was about 5hrs and 30 mins.
- Weather: Beautiful! Sunny and about 16 degrees C (60 degrees F).
- Road conditions:
- Port Hope Simpson to the Chalottetown Junction on NL Hwy 510: Two lane highway, gravel. There is a lot of construction on this section, as it will be the next area to be paved. As a result, there is a lot of loose gravel from graders passing and leveling. Large, round, not compacted rock is common. There were sections that we could only ride at ~35km/h (~20mph).
- Charlottetown Junction to ~70km (~44mi) from Happy Valley Goose Bay on NL Hwy 510: Two lane highway, gravel. Excellent condition; hard packed, pavement-like riding. 90km/h (55mph) is a reasonable pace for the entire section. Be careful of low visibility in dust clouds caused by the (very infrequent) vehicle passing in the opposite direction. If riding in a group, give plenty of distance between riders so riders are not in dust clouds the whole way. Did I mention it's dusty?
- ~70km (~44mi) from Happy Valley Goose Bay to Happy Valley Goose Bay on NL Hwy 510: Two lane highway, paved. Excellent condition.
- Video: Day 4 - Port Hope Simpson Labrador to Happy Valley Goose Bay Labrador - YouTube
- Notes: This is the wilds of Labrador. 400kms between, well, anything. Aside from the occasional construction trailer, there was literally nothing along this route except the road and the odd sign reminding me of the speed limit. As noted above, other than the the first 20 kms or so out of Port Hope Simpson to the intersection of Hwy 510 and 514 (aka the Charlottetown Junction), the gravel road was in excellent condition. I am glad that we had a beautiful day to ride; this might have been a far less enjoyable experience in the wet. So, on to the important stuff. We left early (wheels in motion by 8am); meaning we were packed, ate breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel (honestly, I think that's your only option in a place with a population of 412 people), and were gassed up. We were slow on the first 20kms, but then we got to the hard-pack and really got rolling. We only stopped when we encountered a bear on the road, and then shortly after for a quick snack. Because we didn't stop for a full lunch on the side of the road, and we had no mechanical or tire issues, we arrived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay at 1:30PM, so we were able to get a hot lunch in town.
Fuel: I know what you're all wondering; did I make it the whole way without running out? Sadly, no. Recall I was carrying about 2L of fuel with me. My fuel gauge started flashing at me at about the 285km. I thought "hmm, this is earlier than I was expecting to see that warning come on". This made me nervous. Very nervous. I know our theoretical range is just over 400kms / tank. I hadn't personally tested that range though, as I usually chicken out at about 40kms after the gauge screams fill up. Also, these were far from ideal conditions; knobby-er tires than usual, gravel instead of pavement, and loaded down. I also had no idea what the dust was doing to my air filter, and what effect this would have on the fuel economy. The filter was due for a change before the trip, but I knew I'd be running in this dust, so I opted to wait a until post-trip to change it. My fuel anxiety eventually gave was to surprise. After 50kms, I thought, "yeah, I might make it without having to borrow fuel from my buddy". After 70kms, I thought "how much further can I really go on a fuel warning light?!?". I discovered that I can travel an astonishing 90kms on a flashing fuel light before running out of gas, even in these conditions! I ran dry about 25kms from town. I added the 2L of fuel into the tank, and easily made it to town.