NEW BRUNSWICK is a compact province, filled with trees, water both salt and fresh and roads, lots of roads. From Trans Canada highway to quiet little dirt back roads that lead to cottages, farms and hideaways. Bordered by Maine USA, Quebec, and a tiny little sliver of Nova Scotia... riding NB especially as we were, on big dual purpose bikes, was a joy to behold.
Once we'd picked up 126 we were on the downward leg. We'd be home tonight but not before we'd covered another 350 or so kilometers crossing creeks on old bridges, riding muddy back roads and sinewy little, paved tracks. We'd ride for many miles on dirt roads that were marked as 'No Exit' or 'No through road' or 'Road Closed' and only once, near the very end of our ride, did we actually get defeated by a road that proved too tiring after 700 kilometers and 20 hours of riding. On our way out we came across a local rider that told us the "road" we had been on had only just been repaired and we were halfway through before me turned back on a hot dusty Sunday. We vowed to return another day and see where that trail and others in the area led to.
We rode the 126 to the junction of 490 and then on to Saint-Ignace, where of course, we got lost on the unmarked back roads. After miles of standing on pegs we came to a concrete bridge over a great little likely trout creek and followed it past cottages to, well the same place we'd been an hour before!
Laughing undeterred, shoulders shrugged, we deja viewed the route a second time. This time when at the junction of Le Buttereau and Desherbiars Roads we pulled over for the second time today and while consulting the map on which most of these back roads don't even exist, a local pulled over and asked if we needed help. To say he was 'slightly' inebriated would not have stretched the truth. His directions were ahem... somewhat hard to follow, he telling us to turn left while clearly indicating a right turn with his hand. As soon as he left we went our own way following my instinct for finding my way around the deserts of Mojave!
We found what we were pretty sure was Saint-Ignace and once again getting directions from a passing pick-up truck which basically left me even more confused, after all the locals know which of these unmarked back roads was called what and where what led to another what, where!? It reminded me a lot of riding in Baja CA. where tracks led off in every direction and typically the road sign that indicated which of the 5 tracks lay before me, was laying on the ground!
Trusting to the sun and instinct we eventually found ourselves at the crossroads of 116 where we sped off to the outer reaches of Rexton! By this time my tank was running in the last 1/4 while of course the supertanker model on the KLR was still half full.
We crossed a narrow bridge at Main River Creek road, or at least that's what I thought it was and continued along the riverside to Brown's Yard, and entered yet another country road that was posted as closed. To Trevor's credit, he never flinched once taking the 450 pound KLR onto trails that really were best suited to quads or real dirt bikes! Riding mainly S.E. we rolled through heavily wooded countryside with many a cross trail all of which you have to always be mindful of an ATV or group of them crossing at right angles in front of you.
ONE of the many things I learned early in my riding career was that riding in the back country, better judgement compelled me to slow down. From meeting huge logging trucks on the switchbacks of the Gray Creek pass in the Kootenay's to hay-wagons towed by tractors on the Sunrise Trail to a group of ATV's that are flying through what is in essence, their back yards... the last thing you want to do is T bone something solid, like a D-7 cat or even a stray Whitetail that just jumped into the space you are about to occupy!
Fortunately we had no mishaps and after a lunch at the Bellevue Family Diner at the junction of 515 and 52, we back-roaded our way to the 134 and 11 just outside Shediac. From here the going was going to be easy, I had scouted out a route that would take us through Scouduc then picking up what showed as a little squiggly line on the online map called 'Malakoff rd'.
This little gem would eventually dump Trevor and I out somewhere south of Cap Pele on route 15. From there we could back track with a slight detour on the Johnston Point road on the way to Murray Corner then back to the Confederation Bridge and ultimately home.
As luck would have it, Malakoff rd had a 'Road Closed' sign on it, but being explorers we soldiered on anyway. The going was hot, dusty and slow and Trev's GPS only showed this as being a long trail.
We rode in 5km and at what turned out ,to be unknown to us,the newly replaced culvert where we decided that after nearly 750 km and 20 hours of riding, we would leave this last little bit of trail for another day...
Once back on 955, the Murray Beach rd I found the Johnston Point rd to be, you guessed it closed!
Once again my mount proved reliable and superb for the task laid out for him, returning almost 70 mpg from speeds varying from walking pace to 60+ mph.
Big Old Blue had done it again!