James Bay Trip, Grand-Remous – Val-D’Or

Leaving the truck stop at Grand-Remous, heading northwest on highway 117, the road soon becomes much more isolated. After a few Km, a sign announces that I am entering La Vérendrye Forest Reserve. According to my map, this should be a pleasant run through almost 200 Km of sweepers with little or no built-up civilization. Now I’m really getting excited about the journey.

The road turns out to be everything I had hoped. Wide, smooth pavement, gently rolling hills, and continuous big sweeping curves. There is very little traffic — the odd big truck, and an occasional RV. Despite the light traffic there are also a couple of QPP patrol cars with radar. They don’t seem to object to my speed at 100 Km/H, so I wonder what “speeding” would involve.

In about 50 Km I pass “Le Domaine” — one of only two “towns” my map says I’ll find on this stretch of road. It appears to be primarily a restaurant and service centre, with a few houses and buildings to support it. Not hungry or tired, so I keep going.

Every 50-75 Km there is a sign for a roadside rest stop. A couple are visible from the road and they look like the usual arrangements — a picnic table by something scenic and a set of outhouses. An hour or so into the park I’m thinking a stop for a stretch would be a good idea, so I pull off at the next marked rest area. This one is titled “Whiskey”, and it’s not visible from the road. I’m at Km 321 from Ottawa as I head down the little gravel road through an opening in the trees.

Into a big surprise. This “rest stop” turns out to be a camping area on the shore of a river (maybe Whiskey Creek?) that seems to be a near-permanent summer home for about 20 families. RVs, trailers, and big tents are lined up along the river, all looking like they have been there for some time. All are fully connected to electricity and water, and one even has an astroturf lawn out back, with a basketball net! No one around — they must spend all the nice days out on the water.

There are restrooms off to the side, which I visit; but I definitely feel like I’m intruding on someone’s neighbourhood. Not the “rustic roadside stop” I was expecting to find behind the trees. Back on the road again at about 12:30.

The other “town” — Dorval Lodge — goes by, and it’s the same deal. A truck stop, service station, and some support buildings. On a bike with less range than the Concours I’d probably need this gas station, but I can easily make it to Val-D’Or on the tank, so I keep going. The road is so nice I really don’t want to stop.

50 Km more and I leave the forest reserve, and signs start to say I’m getting close to Val-D’Or. I’ll have been riding for a bit over an hour when I get there, and I could use gas, so I plan to stop at a gas station to fill up and have a stretch.

Arriving at Val-D’Or, I fail to find a gas station on the outskirts, so ride into town. This turns out to be very frustrating: I waste 1/2 hour following major streets looking for gas and not finding it. Eventually I find one and fill up at Km 456 from home. Then back out the way I came and take the bypass that will lead me to highway 111 North.

After I get on 111 I find the missing gas stations. There are about 5 of them in a row as one heads out of town to the North, in the village of “Sullivan”. Next time I’ll remember that, just take the bypass and fill up as I pull onto 111. Oh well.

It’s 2:20PM as I pull back up to highway speeds, northbound on 111, away from Val-D’Or. 456 Km from Ottawa now.

The next phase is to ride to Matagami, where I plan to spend the night


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