The White Road Expedition Declared Successful by Samuel Lalande-Markon
The first crossing of the Lower North Shore completed by bike
Adventurers Samuel Lalande-Markon and Félix-Antoine Tremblay have successfully traveled from Nutashkuan to Blanc-Sablon on their oversized tire bikes (fatbikes). This is the first full crossing of the Lower North Shore to be made by bike. The feat was completed in 18 days, several of which served to meet the communities along the route.
Leaving Montreal on February 8th by car, they gave their first pedal strokes on February 10th on the last kilometers of the 138 from Nutashkuan (Natashquan) to Kegaska. From there, they embarked on the legendary White road, a 471 km snowmobile trail that connects 10 communities isolated from the Quebec road network. They pedaled between 20 and 45 km per day in sometimes very difficult conditions combining extreme cold (down to -30 ° C and -47 ° C with wind chill), wind gusts and slush. On several occasions, the duo had to push their bikes through very steep sections. “Despite the 70,000 km that we have accumulated beforehand on previous expeditions, we have no doubt experienced our most demanding moments by bicycle on the Lower North Shore,” says Félix-Antoine.
On the fifth day of the expedition, Samuel’s luggage rack broke due to the cold, forcing him to carry some of his equipment on his back for 60 km. Fortunately, a mechanic from Chevery graciously carried out the emergency repairs once at the village.
The trip was carried out independently: 9 nights were spent in the tent and members of the communities shared their homes for the remaining nights. “We were charmed by this territory where tundra, spruce forest and large frozen bays share the landscape. The proximity to the ocean is striking!’’ says Samuel. As they arrived at Vieux-Fort on February 26th, the adventurers took route 138 to go to Blanc-Sablon on the border of Labrador.
Finally, the return was made via Newfoundland. Félix and Samuel planned to reach the island by ferry and take the road to St. Barbe. Poor ice conditions forced the ferry to land at an alternative destination, the port of Corner Brook: a 13-hour crossing!
For the next two days, they cycled 220 km on the Trans-Canadian Highway to Port-aux-Basques where a second ferry took them to the city of Sydney, Nova Scotia. They were then able to return by car to Montreal. In total, the cyclists therefore pedaled 785 km, including 530 km in the Lower North Shore, 400 km of which was specifically on the White road.
During their visits to communities, Samuel and Félix-Antoine were fortunate to benefit from the great hospitality of inhabitants of the Basse-Côte-Nord. This unique population in Quebec is notably composed of English-speaking, French-speaking and Innu communities. “We are impressed by the Coasters’ way of life which is in total harmony with nature,” says Samuel. “The meet-ups were certainly the highlight of this expedition,” adds Félix-Antoine.
In the communities of Unamen Shipu (La Romaine), Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, Pakuashipi, Saint-Augustin and Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, the adventurers carried out activities in the schools in order to present their project and fuel discussions on the relationship with the territory.
Proudly Supported By Quebec Companies
In order to successfully complete their mission, Samuel and Félix-Antoine were able to count on the support of many Quebec companies demonstrating local expertise in fatbike and adventure sports. For example, they were able to use the new Torngat steel bike model from Panorama Cycles, which proved to be perfectly suited to the conditions of the Lower North Shore. In addition, the cyclists were supported by equipment manufacturers Arkel, Blivet and DeNolin whose products have proven themselves. Satellite communications were provided by Telloc and emergency medical assistance was offered by Airmedic. They were also able to count on Xact Nutrition to provide energy snacks. As for physical preparation, they benefited from a partnership with the Center Sablon, in Montreal. Finally, North Face also provided key equipment to ensure comfort and safety for adventurers in extreme weather conditions.
Total km pedaled
Total km pedaled on the white road
Days for the duration of the expedition
Days from Nutashkuan to Blanc-Sablon
Warmest recorded temperature
Coldest registered temperature (wind factor included) according to the weather report
Bags and panniers used for their expedition
Giving Back To The Community
Now back in Montreal, Samuel and Félix-Antoine want to share their experience. In an attempt to inspire other cyclists, a complete expedition report with GPS referencing, emergency plan and other information will be published. “We realized that little data was available on the White Road, even for snowmobilers. So these resources will certainly be able to help many people in their planning and, we hope, help promote awareness of the Lower North Shore, ” points out Félix-Antoine.
In addition, the two adventurers will prepare a conference in the coming weeks to be presented in the spring. Articles will also be published in specialized cycling and outdoor journals.