Stories from the 1998 Blackfly 1600

  1. Mark Daub - 1998 Winner
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Mark Daub - 1998 Winner

Blackfly 1600

Memories of Mark Daub

August 8 & 9,1998

Monday August 10, 1998.

I was on my way into work this morning at about 7:45 with a trophy in my tankbag that I was going to show off, and it finally hit me what I had just accomplished on the weekend. Wow! that was an amazing ride! Letís start back when this all got started.

I had read Peter Hogeveenís articles in Cycle Canada, first on the Utah 1066 and Alberta 2000 (Butt Warmup) and the following month on his adventures in the Ironbutt, the toughest challenge in the world to a biker, when I realized this guy was a hero to me. He was actually doing the rides I had always dreamed about. A few months later there was a small 1" square ad in Cycle Canadaís "Newsfront" saying that Peter was going to be running an Endurance Run " The Blackfly 1600" out of North Bay in August. I thought quickly to myself, hey I know blackflies and this is right in my backyard, the opportunity Iíve always been looking for was staring me right in the face.

I called Peter instantly - answering machine - I called again the next day - another message- I called again, still no answer. Peter calls my house - Iím not home- wife takes message - I call back late in the evening, finally telephone tag is over. (I really need to get on the Net) He explains to me what he has planned while I keep trying to get his address so I can send him a cheque.( Probably thinks Iím a crazy man after all those messages on his answering machine) Needless to say Iím in.

I missed Peter and Kelly when they went through setting the Blackfly up (maybe he did this on purpose - he knew my address!), but I did talk to him again after receiving the initial rider packs. I had already worked out a fuel system on my Ď93 FJ 1200 when I read that it might not be allowed. I called Peter again - talked to Kelly instead - got another phone # - Peter canít hide from me this time. We decided I should meet him at the Sportbike Rally in Parry Sound so he could check this system out. Off I went - had a nice chat with Kelly and a quick talk with Peter, that Dyno was keeping him pretty busy. He okíed it. I was ready for the Blackfly.

Friday, August 7, 1998.

Met up with Shawn McMahon and Badge Darling in Englehart at 10:00 a.m. Off to North Bay Cycle for Tech. Inspection. We drove into the parking lot and Peter instantly came over to check out the new racing stripes on my bike.

Three week-ends before the Blackfly, I was touring Northern Ontario - on Sunday, July 19th - taking a shortcut on the Sultan Road between Hwy. 129 (Chapleau) and Hwy. 144. (This is a gravel road for 80 km but thatís no problem for a Northern Boy.) About, the 1km Marker from Hwy 144, I came over a small rise to find a very large hole in the road. I immediately thought about saving the bike and held on for dear life. After the FJ quit beating me and we separated, I saw it doing a nasty slide down the gravel. I got up immediately to see if the Bike lived and realized I wasnít breathing. (This wasnít good) I went back down on my hands and knees for about 5 minutes until I was taking decent breaths again. (Boy! my chest hurt) I surveyed the damage - checked out the hole (2' square edge) Thank God I wasnít going faster. I started picking up the pieces of my bike, whoops, thatís not off an FJ. There was quite an assortment of parts. Signal Light off a trailer, Headlight and Signal Light from a car. Too bad they hadnít marked it on the other side. I picked up the bike, it was ridable. Not pretty, but ridable. 170 km later, I was home. Another story for the grandkids - if I live long enough to have my own.

The Doctorís Report? Two broken ribs, bruised spleen, separated shoulder, bruised legs and gravel rash.

Well, the Racing Stripes didnít bother the Tech. Inspection and we were set to run the Black Fly.

At the Ridersí Meeting, Peter threw a curve ball at us and gave us a route to check out the night before the run. This scared me - was this a Sucker Run? - was it possible? WOW! look at the points. The destination was Radisson, Quebec - just over 1200 km north of North Bay. Shawn and myself mapped this out very carefully, added up the Bonuses, added up the kmís - a possible 5900 points but over 2400 km. This was going to be a last resort, letís see what Peter has in store for us in the morning. Bedtime 11:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 8, 1998

Up at 6:00 a.m., shower, load the Bike, start it up - The rain starts to come down. Oh, I hope it doesnít do this all day. Ride over to North Bay Cycle, have breakfast next door, then we wait for the next route. Butterflies start in my stomach. I hope we get this started so I can settle down again. Finally at 8:40 a.m., we get the next route. I start looking it over. 20 minutes into this process, I realize there are a lot of stops to be done on this route for a good standing. I give this route sheet back. "Iím going to Radisson" I tell the boys. Badge and Shawn say that Iím going alone, theyíre not THAT crazy. I load up the Tank Bag with the Route Sheet, fold the map to show Quebec, shake hands with Badge and Shawn and Iím off. After 40 km, I catch up to 5 bikes - fall in behind and weíre heading East. We cross the border into Quebec and are very close to the first Checkpoint. Everyone turns right to follow 101 North. I do this myself but realize this is a by-pass. I do a U-Turn, go back and head through downtown Temiscaming, thereís the Fountain. I stop, answer the question (very graphically) and head up the hill to 101 North. The rest of the crew missed this Checkpoint and were on their way North. I caught them again and we headed for Fabre. I ended up in front of the pack and spotted the first Q.P.P. Luckily the boys saw my brake light and we went by at a respectable speed. At Fabre, we got a Gas Receipt and said Hi! To Michelle. Off again. I guess since I spotted the last cop, I was out front again and, of course, about 20 km north, I see a suspicious car coming down the hill. I slowed down to about 110 km. When the car didnít come into view when it was supposed to, I slowed the group to 95 km/hr just in time to see the cruiser waiting for us over the crest. I guess we spoiled his day but it sure made ours.

Over the next hill we all threw our hands in the air to celebrate and got back up to "Highway Speed". Shortly after, we went through Ville Marie up to Notre Dame du Nord. The next Checkpoint was just past here at a Hydro Station. We answered this and weíre off to Rouyn-Noranda. Two fellow riders went by as we got back to the main road and we passed them shortly after

Coming into Rouyn, the rest of the group stopped for fuel at the West End of town while I opted to go through town first and gas up before leaving the town limits to get a receipt for this Checkpoint. Little did I know then, that I was going to be on my own for a long time after this stop. From Rouyn I went East on 117 to 109 North. A little over 200 km North and 2 Checkpoints later I was sitting in Matagami. It was 2:15 p.m. and 600 km under my belt in just over 5 hours. If I could keep this pace up, things would work out good. I fueled up, another receipt, oiled my chain, spent $12.00 on Beef Jerky, peanuts, chocolate milk and a pop.

North, we go to the James Bay Check-In Station, which was only about 7 km from Matagami. I stopped in and gave them my name and had to buy something for the Checkpoint. I picked up a Key Chain but forgot to get a receipt. This was the only mistake I would make at a Checkpoint.

Just as I was pulling out, a fellow competitor pulled up and asked me where the Gas Station was. I gave him the bad news and sent him back into Matagami, which was only 7 km but he had been on reserve for a long time. I left him there and headed for the 381 Gas Stop which was 375 km away. I knew I had to run less than 160 km/hr to make this distance on the fuel I had, which was easier said than done on a lot of the Highway. There were a lot of straight stretches that were very tempting, but I kept the pace down.

There was a Checkpoint at the 146 km marker, which had been a large Forest Fire at one time. Although the trees were starting to get shorter here, it looked like it had been a pretty intense fire. If I would have been smart, I would have put my rainsuit on here but I figured it wouldnít rain for awhile yet. But of course, in 5 clicks, down it came. This was one of them "all day youíre going to get wet rains", but I thought I could drive through it without getting too wet. 10 Minutes down the road, I stopped and put my rainsuit on. My Leathers were just starting to soak through - this wasnít going to last though (Ya, Right!)

At the 247 Marker was a question about the Rupert River. What a Beautiful sight. I stopped in the middle of the bridge and watched the water for a couple of minutes while I answered the question. There was definitely more water flowing through the river then out of the sky, but this was a river that would put the Ottawa to shame.

Next stop was 381 km for fuel. I had run on reserve for the past 30 km but I made it in without having to push the Bike. It was about 5:15 p.m. which wasnít bad considering the weather. The rain let up a bit so I could have a quick snack of Pringles and a drink of pop. I asked the Gas Attendant how far it was to Radisson and he told me 2 Ĺ hrs. I smiled and asked him when his shift was over, but he was done at 6:00 p.m. Oh well! I guess I couldnít show him. By 5:30 I pulled back on the road to do the final 250 km to Radison. Gas wasnít a problem here, just the rain, I forget the number of times my feet were blown off the pegs from going through large puddles in the road, but it was starting to get annoying. This was another stretch of road where I found out that the Bump Signs were there for a reason. More than a few times, my center stand took a beating from hitting a big whoop in the middle of a corner. It even dragged bottom a couple of times on the stretches. I guess I could have slowed down. Not! That would have taken all the fun out of the ride.

At 7:07 p.m., I pulled into Radisson, right on schedule - 10 hrs. and a little more than 1200 km. My first stop was for fuel. I oiled the chain and put Ĺ a litre of oil in the FJ. I asked the cashier where the Inuit Artifact Store was, and there it was - 2 buildings down. Off I went to buy some Hemitite for the big 4100 point bonus. The Saleslady was very cute and very helpful. I bought myself a Pinky Ring and my wife a necklace. (Now, how many guys would ride 2400 km to buy their wife a necklace?) I didnít forget a receipt here (Thank God!) Back on the Bike and I was finally heading South at 7:30 p.m. Back on the main road, I started running up to Highway Speed when I noticed the Bike sounded louder. I started looking around and there it was - I had forgot to put my Oil Cap back on. I turned around and rode back to the Gas Station and there it was, right where it fell off. I put it in and did a 180 again, South Bound again.

The biggest Sub Station Iíve ever seen is just south of Radisson, it must cover almost a square mile. The trees up here are very small and there is lots of open tundra. Didnít see any Caribou though. The rain finally stopped and the pavement was actually drying up. Boy, was this going to be fun. Back up to "Highway Speed" I was making good time. About 40 minutes south, I met the first group of riders heading North. Shortly after, I met Dave Stewart and Steve Hodge. I gave everyone I met a big wave. (It was nice to finally see some of my own on the road) I tried to count them, I thought there were 7 of them altogether. The last Bike I met was over an hour out of Radisson, it was going to be a close call for him to get gas.

At 9:00 p.m., I pulled back into 381 (2 Ĺ hrs. My Ass) It was raining again! I fueled up, munched on some Pringles again and had a drink of pop. The Beef Jerky I was eating on the fly - literally. I had a quick chat with the new Gas Attendant. I told him to say "Hi" to the rest when they came through and headed out at about 9:15 p.m. It was dark now and just enough rain to make it really difficult to see. I took one of my handkerchiefs out of the Tank Bag to wipe my shield periodically. This "Shit" lasted for about 140 km, then it started to break up. 20 clicks down the road, the full moon was shining and it was a beautiful night. Fuel was of no concern now. I had made 180 km on my aux. tank. Back up to "Highway Speed" I went, although, in the dark this was down to 150 - 160 km/hr. After three hours of running through the tundra without seeing another living soul, seemed like forever. Northern Quebec is a big, dark, lonely place in the middle of the night - By Yourself!

Finally, I see taillights. We were back down to km 80, roughly. I thought that I would follow these guys for awhile, once I realized they were fellow bikers, but they must have been conserving fuel and I soon passed. I honked and waved and disappeared into the night. Within a couple of kmís the moon disappeared and lightning started flashing across the sky. Then of course, it started to rain again. With all this lightning, I was worried the power would be out in Matagami and I would be stranded without gas. It didnít last long though, and had stopped by the time I got to the Check Station. The lights were on when I got there and told the Lady I was back, through a speaker, then I motored into Matagami, fueled up, oiled my chain again and had another small snack.

I took by leather chaps off here to see if it would help my butt feel better, but I put my rain pants back on cause lightning was still flashing in the sky. My time was good. It was 1:30 a.m., giving me lots of time to get back with no trouble.

The guys I passed pulled in ten minutes later and we had a short chat. They were both from Quebec and had turned around at 381 km when they realized they couldnít make to Radisson on time. (Smart move, better to finish then DNF) I offered to let them follow me but they refused politely and mentioned something about not being quite that crazy. They shook my hand, though, and wished me luck and I was off again. Matagami to Amos is about 180 km of the straightest road you can find. I made good time down through this stretch with only a bit of fog and one moose sighting I think. . (I didnít stop to look)

I took some mental notes of the stops I had made going North many hours before, just to keep my mind occupied. This was probably the toughest stretch as far as being mentally and physically tired out. Before I knew it though, I was pulling into Amos and went past a cruiser with light flashing. He had a Camero pulled over - better him than me. I stopped in town for a couple of minutes to take a walk to clear my head and have a quick snack. The sign said 3:38 a.m. and 17C. Thank God it wasnít cold, after all the rain I had been through. I hadnít worn my gloves since Saturday morning, it was that nice.

A short race with a Corvette later, and I was in Rouyn filling up with Gas. This should be my last Gas Stop. Two local bikers pulled into the station at the same time and were really checking me out. I was wondering about them myself and, after seeing a bunch of kids go by, was wondering if anyone slept in Quebec. It was around 3:55 a.m. you know!

While I was under the canopy at the Station, I read over the last few stops, because, you guessed it, it was raining again. I bundled up and took the By-pass around downtown again and headed for Virginiatown. (Finally back to Ontario) The rain was nasty and two bolts of lightning and thunder scared the shit out of me, but hey, I was awake. The rain slowed a bit when I turned off Hwy 101 to head for Ontario but then the Fog moved in and I was down to crawling speed. The Fog lifted at the Border and it was a short blitz to V-Town. I pulled into the Tourist Info for the Bonus and as soon as I turned the key off, God poured a big bucket of water on me. I managed to hide under the eaves enough to sort of write the answer down.

From here, I headed to Larder Lake to take the back Hwy. To Englehart. The Fog was so thick on this stretch of Hwy. That I was down to walking speed a lot. This 42 km of Hwy took me an hour and ten minutes to cover. The rain was so heavy at times I thought about building an Ark to finish the run.

Once I got to Hwy 11 though, the Fog had lifted and the rain had stopped. Life was good. I turned right and went to the Museum in downtown Englehart to get the name of a Tractor, a Fordson, must be an old one. From there, I went to the Kap-Kig-A-Wan Provincial Park and worked my way to the Falls. I drove down a walking path to a set of stairs and realized this was going to be hard to turn around. After a 32 Point Turn, I was facing the other way. I took out the question sheet to see what I was looking for and with flashlight in hand, headed up the hill to look for a Sundial. Iím sure I found 30 Fire Pits, but eventually I found it. I just found the phrase I was looking for when God spilled that bucket again. "Light follows Darkness" Would that ever be nice. I raced back down the hill for the bike but took two wrong turns and had to go bush crashing for a bit. I salvaged my papers, filled in all the info as best I could under my tank bag cover and headled back for Hwy. 11. Daylight began to follow darkness and the rain slowed again. These two Bonuses were worth 270 points which would be a great benefit. Just south of Earlton, I stopped and got some info about the Great Fire and then blasted to the Cobalt Book Store.

I passed through New Liskeard at 6:00 a.m., just in time for the O.P.P. shift change. "Right On" - clear sailing for a little while. Godís bucket sprung a good leak again and I had to park my Bike almost in the front door of the Book Store to get a bit of shelter from the small awning over the door, which was Red by the way, and good for 52 Points.

From here, it was a short ride to Temagami, where Peter sent me into Finlayson Provincial Park to learn a little about Grey Owl.

Marten River, the final Checkpoint of the Rally, and the one I had been looking for the last 22 hrs. The answer was "Crazy Wheel" (How True)

It was 7:00 a.m. and I had two full hours to make it to the Best Western, which is only 50 Minutes away at the Speed Limit. One near miss with a Raven by Tilden Lake, and there I was heading down the hill into North Bay.

I HAD MADE IT1 I could push my bike from here and still make it in time! I went through downtown and took the scenic route to the Best Western. I pulled into the Parking Lot at 7:40 a.m. to a small, cheering crowd. I threw my hands in the air. "I MADE IT!" 2434 KM IN 22 Ĺ HRS.

I was the second bike to return, I found out. Peter was looking at me with a strange look, then he reached out to shake my hand. I shook him and told him he was a crazy man for doing that to us, which was good for a laugh. Kelly shook my hand and told me my finishing time. I dug out my paper work and we went over the Checkpoints. No receipt for James Bay cost me 81 points and I felt pretty confident about my accomplishment. Once Peter went over the sheets, his strange look went away. He thought I had just gone to Radisson and back with no Checkpoints in between.

I stood around and waited for the rest to show up. They started coming in pretty regular around 8:45 - 9:00 a.m. Shawn and Badge showed up at 8:59 a.m. just to be safe. We exchanged stories for awhile and waited for a room to lay down in. Kelly kept telling me to go to sleep. I guess I must have looked pretty rough. Shawn and myself finally got to lay down about 10:30 a.m. I was asleep before he was done in the washroom. At 2:30 p.m., we got up, had a shower and headed for the Banquet. That first beer tasted Great.

We ended up sitting with Max Burns, Jackie and Kelly. The meal was great and the stories were better.

My name wasnít called before the last three were left. Finally, I was the only name that hadnít been called. I HAD DONE IT! I kicked some Iron Butt and finished FIRST. Not bad for a Rookie from Northern Ontario.

I met some really great people and hope to see them all again. These memories will be with me for the rest of my life but I wanted to write everything down so I wouldnít forget any part of this great adventure.

Bring on the next Day Ride! Iím Ready Now!

 

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Copyright © 1999  [Blackfly 1600 and writer]. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 16, 2002 .