marina

120 months ago

 - via web

- Story

My first solo 1/2 Iron Butt to Quebec City

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It's the hardest ride I've ever done

I needed to get out of the city and Peaches needed a run - bad. The necessity to get over my sometimes paralyzing fear of highways was paramount. Trucks passing, changing lanes on the 401, keeping my speed up, push steering while passing trucks. All of it needed work.

I didn't get in to the Iron Butt Association but I managed to do 800km x2 in one very long day, each way: there and back.

What I loved about the idea of the solo motorcycle road trip is the challenge and going at my own pace. The desire to confront the ultimate fear and feeling ready to do so was entrancing.

I wasn't always ready. Since I started riding my Triumph Street Triple 675 (Peaches), I rode behind the guys @Alex @Teramuto @Ssloan @Nick303.

We did some big trips like the Tail of the Dragon and Vermont. I was slow but I was steady.

Girls Who Ride stories inspired me

A few girls-who-ride stories inspired me. If they could do it, so could I, right? Leslie Padoll rode across America on her Sportster and then there's Daniella Renee's inspiring ride and incredible pictures of Babes in Borrego

Leslie Padoll cross country road trip

Leslie Padoll cross country road trip

My turn

Somewhat daunted, I was ready to take my motorcycle riding to the next level and it helped that I needed to get away from work and my guy. And he needed to get away from me too, he took the Tiger to Washington D.C. and came home happier and more energized than I'd seen him in months.

By the time I got on the road it was almost noon on Friday. Alex took me up to get some rain gear in Whitby and I jumped on the 401 East from there. In so doing, by-passing the 8+ lane portion of the 401 out of Toronto.

Trailered the Triumph to by pass the worst of the 401

Trailered the Triumph to by pass the worst of the 401

Now alone, I stop quickly to fuel up. Waddling and wobbling up to the gas pump, a guy in a convertible looked me up and down with burden. "Where ya going?" he asked. When I told him Quebec City, he looked gravely concerned. "Stop and rest when you need it" he said. It was sound advice I'd heard before but this time, I considered it very carefully.

And so my journey begins.

I was all geared up and I had my high visibility vest on. To my surprise, it really helped lower the fear factor. I looked like a freak but I was visible and, in my mind, safer!

Once I got going, it was easy to keep up with traffic

Normally on the 401 you can expect cagers and trucks to be moving at 120 km/per hour, at least. Before long, I was right there. My strategy was to stay in the slow lane and pass when I needed to, then right back into the slow lane. This routine kept me alert and focused on the straight road. Before long, I had to watch my speed and roll off the accelerator.

Amazing. I couldn't believe how well I was doing. A huge contributing factor was the weather. It was one of those glorious, cool summer days. Clear skies all the way.

My first stop was Kingston, about 3 hours east of Toronto. My pace was good. I got off to meet Yannick @Docman22. By the way, great idea to have someone to meet-it took the edge off the start of the ride. We added each other to our Ride Group using the ESR App and when I missed my exit, Yannick could see exactly where I was on the map. Very cool. Yannick found me at a local A&W for rootbeer and a brainstorm about the Sync Ride.

Yannick @Docman22 - Sync Ride

Yannick @Docman22 - Sync Ride

Three hours down and who knows how many hours to go, I was back on the road again. I would hit Montreal around rush hour and I was freaked about it.

Finding the new A-30

To my delight, I bumped into Howard Galganov of Never Again Pledge & Ride and he gave me directions on how to get onto the new Hwy 30 - basically stay left off Hwy 20 and you can't miss it! The road by-passes Montreal to the south-east. For only $2 you get around the traffic and the bridges on an easy-peasy, two-lane highway right into Quebec City. Sign me up.

Howard Galganov of Never Again Pledge & Ride Event

Howard Galganov of Never Again Pledge & Ride Event

Quebec City at night

I hate riding at night and as I admired the enormous sun set with peace and calm, I switched into a moment of panic upon realizing I'll be riding at after dark, and I'd have to cross the Pierre Laporte bridge into Quebec City-at night! It's only the largest suspension bridge in Canada, read: our Golden Gate. I was tired from the ride but I felt confident. After all, I told myself, I had my vest on and Quebec is a small city, it's not like coming into Toronto on the 401, at night. Little did I know at the time, I'd have to climb that proverbial mountain on the way back!

Pierre Laporte Bridge is Canada's largest suspension bridge

Pierre Laporte Bridge is Canada's largest suspension bridge

Riding into Quebec City after dark is so easy, it's lovely and calm. I recorded my ride with the ESR App and just made it with enough juice to find my friend Lucie's house. She saw me coming because I shared my ride using Geobox so there was no need for calls from the road. One less thing to worry about.

I rolled into a small and quiet cul-de-sac, at the top of a hill, out side the Old City. My normally quiet STriple broke the silence of the street with sweet revs.

I was so happy to see Lucie and she looked amazed! I've known Lucie Crovatto for years, long before I was a biker girl. This is the first time she's seen me on motorcycle. "Am I crazy or what?" I said and she nodded emphatically. When I pulled up, I was overjoyed and energized even after 12 hours of riding.

Nothing like rolling in to see your friends on a sweet summer night, on your bike and having a beautiful room, great wine and awesome company desperate to hear about your seemingly breathtaking journey - even if it was a straight road all the way!

Marina and Lucie in Quebec City

Marina and Lucie in Quebec City

Rue de Trésor, Quebec City

Rue de Trésor, Quebec City

The whole weekend was amazing. Good times, great friends, delicious food, but the star of the show was Peaches.

Léo and Peaches, Triumph Street Triple 675

Léo and Peaches, Triumph Street Triple 675

Kids and Peaches, Triumph Street Triple 675

Kids and Peaches, Triumph Street Triple 675

Go Ouest

Monday, I was determined to get an early start back but between goodbye's and going east instead of west, not so much.

Packed up, geared up and leaving Quebec City

Packed up, geared up and leaving Quebec City

Go West! From the 20 to Autoroute 30 to Toronto

Go West! From the 20 to Autoroute 30 to Toronto

The return felt harder and longer

Now that I was more experienced, I yearned for curves. The straight road was getting tedious and it was bloody hot. I was moving slower. I stopped at a "text stop" in Quebec and had a little nap in the shade. When I awoke, I discovered three very curious gentlemen watching me. I didn't want to talk to them for fear of destroying the mystery I created. Silent, I continued on.

Curious observers of woman riding motorcycle

Curious observers of woman riding motorcycle

On the way home, I contemplated staying overnight outside of Toronto. I was dwelling on arriving into the T-dot at night, on the 401 no less. But after all, I said to myself, I had come all this way, I had all this experience and I had my vest! I went for it. Worst case, I would get off the main highway and slow-poke home on Highway 2, the very scenic route.

I rolled into the metropolis on my Triumph glowing like a construction worker out of some bad direct-to-video Fast And Furious spin off

I didn't care, I was focused. "Nice and easy" I kept telling myself. "Take it slow", I was speaking into my helmet now; that's how I keep myself calm. "You're doing great!" I told myself as traffic merged around me. Luckily the main 401 lanes were closed for construction. The only time, I found summer roadworks a welcome sight. Everyone was moving slowly in the collectors which made my arrival into Canada's largest city all the more doable.

By 11pm Monday night, I was home. My mom, Tatiana, was visiting from Winnipeg for the month and she was waiting calmly for me to arrive. If you can imagine a very worrisome mom, times that by 10, you've got my mom.

The zen machine? I sent my mom a link to track my ride using Geobox so she could visualize my progression on the map. Because she saw me coming in, to my absolute amazement, she was not worried, just happy to see me. Well done on that feature @Alex!

Riding a long distance gave me some time to think, some peace to work out ideas and rely on myself and shed some fears. I kicked it! Exhausted and proud of myself, I had an amazing night sleep.

Now, where to next?

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BE

119 months ago

Arrrgh, ... spell check, "inspired" a few fence sitters (myself included) 🙂

BE

119 months ago

Loved reading your epic ride story Marina. You rocked the solo ride and I am sure insured a few fence sitters.

romancylkowski

120 months ago

@marina...good on you...sounds like you had an awesome ride...you should try the highways around Johannesburg....after that anything else is a breeze!

MrAusAdventure

120 months ago

Well done @marina, sounded like an awesome trip. I really enjoy solo trips with just myself and my bike. I find the time to myself really relaxing. Very nice ride report too, it was a great read. I am looking forward to sharing my road trips here from now on!

marina

120 months ago

@docman22 @alex @sierralimahotel @teramuto Thanks you guys! Your kind words made my day.Â

alex

120 months ago

Oh, and FWIW, "slow lane, pass, and then back to the slow lane" is precisely how __EVERYONE__ is supposed to drive on the highway. If they did, Canadian roads would be a __lot__ safer

alex

120 months ago

Awesome ride - the 401 (and indeed any highway in QC) is a horrible proposition on a motorcycle but you made it. I know guys that would balk at the prospect. You should be proud of yourself

Docman22

120 months ago

@marina Way to go!! Congratulations on completing this first solo ride. Most important is to be very proud of yourself 🙂 Cheers

sierralimahotel

120 months ago

@marina nicely done, Chica!

marina

120 months ago

@Teramuto, it works really well and friends and family really love it. It's free too 🙂

marina

120 months ago

@Jordan @SierraLimaHotel here's my epic ride to Quebec City. Notice I took a picture of your old stomping ground, Rue de Trésor.Â

Teramuto

120 months ago

love it...way to go Marina!  Gotta try this geobox thingÂ