Now or Never, Manicouagan


WITH SUMMER barreling on, I need to get on the road to Manicouagan yesterday! Just too many things going on at one time, you know what that’s like.

If I can’t get saddled up and out of Dodge in the next two weeks, I’m going to have to plan on shipping an untested motorcycle to South America in the fall. Which sounds like, you know, even just on the face of it, a bad idea.


The DR650 piglet is about ready for wilderness travel. I haven’t rigged up any electrics yet, for charging devices. But I’m not sure it matters; there’s no cellphone reception or WiFi where I hope to be.

With side cases, top box and the double-big gas tank, the piglet looks as heavy laden as a pack animal. I’ve been calling her the pack piglet, maybe that’ll be the name that sticks. As The Dude would have it, I suppose the pack piglet might answer to The Packer, Her Packness, La Packerina if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

She’s put together economically. I don’t know if she’s coming home at the end of our journey to the bottom of the world or what, so I don’t want to sink too much money into her. You can easily blow $2,000 on racks and cases. I put together this mix-&-match setup for $650.

I’ve started due diligence on the medical prep. Got a typhoid shot and the first of three for rabies. This week I’ll get the first of three for Hep A and Hep B.

Had a blood test to find out whether I’ve really had all the usual childhood diseases, measles mumps rubella, yeah yeah, blah blah, bleasles blumps blahbella, all those bugs.



The aft view, a little beamy. Heavy laden, yeah, but it’s all relative. The piglet’s half the bike compared to the iron piggy, has half the motor, I don’t expect her to haul more than half the gear. That, I presume, promises to portend that packing the pack piglet is purely a puzzler of ponderous proportions. Puh!


Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 2.45.39 PM

The crater, that 40-mile-wide ring of water at the center left, is a fair turnaround point for test purposes. If the packer’s running well, though, I’ll be tempted to continue east and north, pop out somewhere around the top-right corner of the map, on the Atlantic coast north of Newfoundland island.

I’ll plan to go prepared for both heat and cold. One day last month the high in Cartwright, NL was 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Here in Little Rhody it was more like 90.

Tony DePaul, August 2, 2015, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA




About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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31 Responses to Now or Never, Manicouagan

  1. Jonathan Brush says:

    Your trip to Labrador reminds me of the classic canoeing book from the 80s, The Complete Wilderness Paddler. 4 guys find an unexplored river “Moisie River” in Labrador and get on a mining train which drops them off with canoes etc near the headwaters. They make their way to the river and once they start downstream there is no bailing out until they are at the St Lawrence, no roads or civilization. No GPS just topo maps and old native lore. Great writing iirc and lots of good info on canoeing. One thing they mention is to plan for is the pesky black flies which can drive you around the bend. But you knew that…
    Written after Colin Fletcher’s similar book came out on hiking the Grand Canyon got a lot of press.
    Check it out on Amazon if you have time.
    Jon Brush

  2. CCjon says:

    Finally pictures of Piglet, not so little anymore. Looking good, very good. Too clean though.

    Needs some Lab mud to roll thru. So where do you carry the extra gas?

    • Tony says:

      I’m figuring on 8.6 gallons for a range of maybe 400 miles? Hard to say. That would be 6.6 up front and a 1-gallon can lashed to each pelican handle.

  3. Laurie says:

    You and Pam should stop by for a Bon voyage drink on the deck with the bruiser and OL.

  4. Duane Collie says:

    You look ready. The rest – as they say – is the Adventure.
    Press on.

  5. Brian Slusarenko says:

    The piglet looks great, Tony. Really clean (but not for long!). Dumb question. Will you notice the difference in handling with a full tank compared to empty? That’s about 55 lb difference. Or is it not even noticible. My DRZ400s hold a whole 2.6 gallons, so it’s like riding before or after eating a super sized burrito : ). Be safe on your great adventure.

    • Tony says:

      Hey! Long time, Brian. Yeah, I do kind of expect the bike to handle as if a fidgety fourth-grader is sitting on the handlebars. I haven’t run the bike with any more than 4 gallons in the tank yet. I’m hoping those steel .50 cal. ammo cans I bolted to the back of the side cases will help to balance the extra weight up front, at least a little. Will carry my water bottles in the ammo cans, two 32-oz bottles in each.

  6. Tom Brown says:

    I’m sure Pam will remind you, but don’t forget your passport. Jay & I may be hitting both NY and RI in latter part of September. Will keep you posted.

    • Tony says:

      Will do, Tom. Yeah, I dug the passport out a few weeks ago and put it on the table with some Canadian cash from the last ride through. Very easy to forget. Last time I slept on the ground outside a rodeo arena in Montana for three nights until my passport caught up with me.

  7. Bruce Jarman says:

    What fun! Ina go! Prayers for a safe and successful journey.

  8. Jan says:

    Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done.

  9. Jeff Day says:

    Morning Tony. The bike looks ready and I love the addition of the bitchin highway pegs ala Piggy style. Not sure I’ve seen any on a DRZ before. Great for the highway portions. How about an update on the work done to the bike? I recognize the pelican cases but not the top case. Is it waterproof? I took the F800 on a week long camping trip and while it was great on the highway portions it sucked big time on the trails. Too big for this rider anyway so I want to do more to the WR250 to make it more suitable for trips but on a budget like you. Have a great day.

    • Tony says:

      Ah, you notice those highway pegs, Jeff. They fit my inseam just right, very comfortable. I made them out of the passenger pegs. They’re comfy under 4,200 rpms, 70 mph in 5th, then they start to buzz a little. I could rubber-mount them, I guess, but I don’t want to ride this bike on tarmac at 80, would rather ride it on gravel at 40. The top box cost $30, a Fat Max structural-foam tool box, as weatherproof as the pelicans. That’s where the grub store goes: bear cans, cook pot, stoves, fuel… If I have time before I head out I’ll post something about the widgets I fabricated for the piglet. Or will post it from the road. Ride safe! And thanks for following the scribble.

  10. Keith Hackett says:

    She is looking good, you could really shorten up her name and call
    her the Pac-let. Now all you need to do is throw the Iron Piggy on the
    back as a spare.

  11. Vincent says:

    If you do end up on Newfoundland, I have close cousins there, so you’d have a place to shack up for sure. Safe travels!

  12. Bill Boogaart says:

    If you come back via The Rock (Newfoundland island as you called it) be careful you don’t start sounding like them. If they ask “Where you ‘longs to?” just tell them Rhode Island. And even then you’ll probably only understand every 3rd or 4th word they say. It’ll just be like talking to the locals in South America!

    I’m certain the test ride will go well.

    • Tony says:

      The Rock, you say? Until recently I thought the island was Newfoundland and the mainland was Labrador. But I see they call the island Newfoundland and the mainland “Labrador and Newfoundland.” Can’t keep track…

  13. Chris Whitney says:

    Safe travels for the test run. Not being a moto kind of guy, I’ll ask – does one carry spare tires or spare tubes or both, and can you change your own tire and pump it up with traveling gear? Seems like some photos I see on Adv rider related sites the hard core folks carry tires.

    • Tony says:

      Hey, Chris. Funny you should ask. I have a new set of tires in the shed. Until today, I was thinking about hauling them with me. But I made some phone calls and found out I can buy tires in Labrador City if I need them. It would take three days to get them, but that beats hauling tires on the back of the bike. A set of tires weighs 22 lbs, 14 for the rear, 8 for the front. It’s unnecessary weight, unwieldy, plus I’d have to remove them every time I wanted to get into the top box (which would be pretty often, that’s where the Fig Newtons live.) So I’ll just go with what I’ve got and see what happens.

      I measured the tread depth on the old tires today. Current, I should say, ’cause they’re not old, only 2,000 miles on them. I have 7/32nds left on the rear, 3/32nds less than new. The front has 8/32nds left, 1/32nd less than new.

      I think the front will be okay when I get back and the rear will be just about totally shot.

      • Tony says:

        Oh! Forgot you had asked about tubes. Yeah, I’ll carry two spare tubes, a patch kit, portable air compressor, all the tools I need to remove and install tires, inflate them, balance them…

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