The first annual Fundy Adventure Rally was held last weekend. Sixty riders from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and even Maryland in the ol' USA participated in the two day event held at Adair's Wilderness Lodge outside of Sussex, New Brunswick. Canada Moto Rallies, a division of CMG (Canada Moto Guide) was behind the rally. Actually the whole damn thing was cooked up by the mad Englishman editor/ceo/head cheese, or is that big cheese? Beer drinking, vegetarian, all around good guy, Rob Harris. Wonder if he's related to Richard Harris?
Rob and his side kick, Brad Crossman (the guy who traded a Goldwing for KTM 450), and my bunk mate for the rally, spend endless hours pouring over maps and then doing the thankless task of riding all the routes and more. Tough job, but someone has to do it. I can't imagine the amount of work Rob, Brad, and the other organizers, Courtney and Alan did to pull of such a well run event.
The major sponsors for the rally were BMW, who showed up with a tractor trailer load of bikes to demo, and let yours truly use a F800GS for the ride.
I really don't think the rally could have been run as safely without the help from sponsor SPOT. It's a GPS based tracking device, that also doubles as an emergency location transmitter if in distress. SPOT donated a bunch of these devices for the team riders doing the advanced sections. RAM Mounts kindly donated a bunch of mounts for the SPOT devices.
The rally was held at Adair's Wilderness Lodge just outside of Sussex, New Brunswick. It's a beautiful little place that caters to ATVers, snowmobilers, hunters, etc, and for this weekend a bunch of adventure thirsty motorcycle riders.
So how do I fit into this? Well, if you had been reading my blog, you'd know that Rob invited me along to video the event, and edit something together for CMG. In return, he'd get me a F800GS to ride, a cabin to stay in, a bunkmate that snores to keep me up at night (sorry Brad, I lied when you asked if your snoring kept me up) and my meals for the weekend. Damn good deal, if you ask me. Oh ya, I had to do a small presentation on our trip to Labrador last year.
On Friday I loaded up Vstrom and made the big 86km trek to Adair's, of which the last 20km was on gravel road, of which I had not been on since last year. No problems.
The first day of rally consisted of registration for all the riders, BMW demo rides, my insightful presentation on riding Labrador, a dinner, followed by the riders meeting. It was a fairly subdued evening, a lot of nervous energy, and most people turned in early to get ready for tomorrow's long day.
Rally day came quite early when the alarm went off at 0500. Brad had stopped snoring around 1am so I got a solid 4hrs of sleep, more than enough for a 12hr, 500km ride. I actually went to sleep listening to a podcast. Brad really doesn't snore that loud, not like some people I know. He's a really good guy, and was kind enough to offer me ear plugs before we turned out the lights. Ok, enough of Brad's snoring.
Adair's had put on a nice breakfast buffet, so everyone had a full belly before the fun began. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for me it turned out to be the only one I would have until supper. Unless you count a Kit Kat bar and a Joe Louis as a meal. Healthy options.
At 0700 the first teams left in a staggered start for the day, followed by the solo riders. The route consisted of two options, A route and B route. If you wanted to compete to when a chance for the winners cup, the B routes were mandatory and only open to teams equipped with the SPOT devices. Solo riders were restricted to the A routes since they were riding without SPOT. For safety there was a sweep truck and riders on the A route. The more technical sections of the B route prevented a sweep, hence the SPOT devices.
To win, teams had to focus more on navigation than speed. Basically steady pace with no navigation errors, complete all the legs, and you're golden. Easier said than done.
I rode most of the A routes, with tagged along with some teams through two B routes. Being official videographer of the event, I had permission from the All Mighty Rally Master to do that.
The first leg was a loop that started and ended at Adair's, it was to see if the SPOT devices were working properly. It proceeded south on gravel roads, and entered Fundy National Park, where we had the opportunity to ride the parkway all by ourselves, before the park opened. It was a foggy start to the day, which made it hard to see through mist covered goggles. Maybe that's why one team, that will remain nameless, rode the first leg in the wrong direction. Opps.
Fog gave way to sun later on as we made our way to Elgin on Stage 2, and then it started to heat up to 25C, and remained sunny for the remaining stages until once again it got a little foggy approaching Adair's on the final leg.
The first leg also claimed most of our fallen riders. One rider suffer an injured hand and dropped out, another fellow went over the bars and ended up with sore ribs ending his day, and I got to pull a KLR rider out of the ditch 2km back from Adair's. His bike was a little beat up. No injuries. We bent his gear shift lever back into position, he collected himself and bravely continued and finished the rally. Atta boy. Later on in the day another rider went down at 80kph, and injured her ankle. Thankfully it wasn't more serious at that speed.
So how was the Bigland Adventurer doing on the 800GS. It was my first time back on gravel in awhile, but the GS with knobbies was like riding a dirt bike compared to the Strom, so I was feeling good. Too good when I tried to keep pace with a couple of guys on Husabergs. Mistake one. I came into a corner with a little too much speed, and almost went into the williwacks. I had visions of me explaining to BMW why their bike is upside down in the ditch. So.....you think I would have learned my lesson the first time.....oh no, the Marc Coma wannabe does the same thing AGAIN, following the same two riders later on. Duh. What did Rob say about this not being a race. I guess I just felt so good hauling ass across dirt roads, standing on the pegs, leaned forward at 100kph, feeling like it was the Dakar Rally and not the Fundy ADV Rally. Dare to dream right.
The rally took us all over southeast NB, and I got to discover a lot of really cool places to ride, Rob and Brad did an great job of mapping out a course. I think for the majority of riders it was a good mix of terrain and skill level, the long day making it a challenge. Most riders looked pretty tired at the end.
The B section I did ride wasn't overly hard, the "showoff" I mention at the beginning was in fact not showing off, his mirror had come loose on the rocky decent and wedged itself inside the windscreen of the big GS and locked the handlebars up. He was in a frantic situation trying to move the offending mirror back into place in an attempt to keep his steering while trying to negotiate a a rock strewn hill with me coming up behind him. He said afterwards he thought he was gonna go down, and get run over by me. I like to think I would have avoided him. Rodney Trail was the rider, and he won best 1200GS rider of the event. No surprise there, after what I saw.
About 11hrs after most riders set out, the first teams started to return, and out of 15 teams, 6 managed to finish all the routes in the allotted time. The solo riders came in shortly afterwards, some completing all legs, some taking the bailout routes to make it back in time. The one thing they all had in common..........big smiles on their dust covered, exhausted looking faces.
I think it would be safe to say that the first annual Fundy Adventure Rally was a huge success. Rob was hoping for 25 riders this year, and he got 60, I think he'd better plan for a whole lot more next year. If anyone was sitting on the fence about going this year, well next years will probably be even better so don't miss out on a great day of riding and whole lot of fun with some great people.
Rob, thanks for inviting me along, and for BMW providing me a wonderful 800GS to ride. It was a great bike for this type of rally. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Sorry for the bent front rim. Yikes.
To all the new people I met along the way, it was a real pleasure to ride with you and have a beer with at the end, and for some, nice to finally put a face to the username
See ya all next year.
Terry aka Novaboy.