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Road Madness

The time has come to travel while the oatmeal-eaters tarry at their fort. To this end, I have chosen a train of stout dogs to pull a toboggan of trade goods. We are eager to proceed and the dogs are baying at their tethers.”

Alexander Henry, Cumberland House, Manitoba, 1797

Background Phase: Alexander had it right, I think.  In your life you either get out on the road as often as you can or you hang around your own personal fort, staring at the inside walls and eating porridge ‘cause they say you'll live longer.

Since entering my near-dotage, I have gotten in the habit of taking my motorcycle on yearly trips to remote Canadian locations.  Last fall, for example, I decided to sample the highly-acclaimed and private James Bay Road which had been built by Quebec Hydro to service its networks of hydroelectric dams in northern Quebec.

The road had acquired cult status on some motorcycle newsgroups and, according to internet legend, was a 600 kilometre (360 mile) curvy masterpiece that was well-paved and had neither speed limits nor police presence.  It also had only one gas station at the halfway point.

I nipped up there from my Ottawa home and managed a multi-day blitz at speeds that would melt a police radar camera.  I saw but a handful of vehicles during my stint and, surprisingly, managed to destroy neither my bike nor my own, 55 year-old, chick-magnet bod, although there were a few scares along the way.

After this tour, it took me several months to get my pulse rate back under control, for the occasional spooky flashback to pass, and for the idiotic grimace-grin to be wiped from my face.  It wasn’t until late in the trip that some local Cree Indian guys told me that the rumours of no cops/no speed limits were patently untrue, meaning that I was regularly 100 kph (60 mph) or so over the limit, making me subject to immediate arrest and transportation to Syria.

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