Epic Tour : Talking with Mike Saunders

ATGATT, Labrador-style. That bug hat is a necessity in The Big Land.
ATGATT, Labrador-style. That bug hat is a necessity in The Big Land.


Which corner was the most difficult to reach? Which one would you want to return to first?

Alaska was the hardest leg of Mike's trip.
Alaska was the hardest leg of Mike’s trip.

Deadhorse Camp, AK was the most difficult of the four corners to reach in terms of physical exhaustion due to the cold and wet conditions, varied icy road surfaces and sheer distance from the other “four corners.”  Just getting there from the lower 48 took me nearly two weeks!

Despite my passion for the northern climate and ecosystems, I’d return first to the SW corner in Baja California for the weather, fish tacos and heart-warming people.

You spent quite a bit of time on the east coast of Canada. What were some highlights?

Newfoundland is overwhelming in terms of the riding, coastal scenery, rich historical foods and famously hospitable people.  Having spent over a month exploring the interior and many peninsulas of Newfoundland, the highlights of my travel were the kindness of strangers when broken down, fishing for cod and exploring the island’s southern shore.

Mike has plenty of happy memories of riding Newfoundland on his Ruckus.
Mike has plenty of happy memories of riding Newfoundland on his Ruckus.

The belt on my scooter decided to self-destruct on Iceberg Alley and my spare clutch and last belt disintegrated just after crossing the ferry to the Northern Peninsula. Stranded on the side of the road, it only took a few minutes until a passerby, Steve,  offered me a garage to store the bike, a place to sleep and a ride to Corner Brook for parts the following day!

Later, on a rainy morning in the  historic coastal town of Trinity on the Bonavista Peninsula, my much needed cup of coffee at a small cafe led to a guest bed for the night and jigging for cod the following morning. Breakfast tastes that much better when you have to go out in the bay and catch it!

The most memorable experience of my journey came in Hermitage, NL where a stout deck crane lowered my scooter into the cargo hold of the the MV Marine Voyager to be strapped down among equipment and pallets loaded with supplies and food for the small outport communities along the southern shore. The water is the only connection to the outside world in these outports without cars where roads are boardwalks for ATV’s in summer and skidoos in winter.  The accents and personalities of the fisherman and residents I met are just as colorful as their brightly painted modest homes reflecting off the inky water.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking about traveling to Newfoundland?

Get off the main drag to really explore Newfoundland, Mike says.
Get off the main drag to really explore Newfoundland, Mike says.

If someone is planning their first trip to Newfoundland, the best advice I could give them is to allow more time to explore the island or narrow down the experience to a specific region. I spent a month on the island and still had to pass on certain peninsulas or historic sites due to time or mechanical issues.  Many travelers disembark from the ferry in Port Aux Basques, spend a day in Gros Morne then another full day driving to the capital St. John’s.  The life experiences, overwhelming scenery and memorable characters truly begin when the tires leave the TCH.

Go have a “yarn” with a fisherman down at their stage, ask for local recommendations from a woman tending her roadside garden patch or “haul in” to the only Tim Hortons in the region for some of the funniest fishing tales.  If interested in seafood, planning a summer visit during July’s recreational cod fishery may find you in a stranger’s boat with a handline hoping to meet his quota.  Be open to the disarming friendliness, curiosity and hospitality of the people and you’ll be saying “yes b’y” in no time.

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  1. […] The answer, of course, is the Honda Ruckus. And along with its miserly fuel consumption, the Ruckus is still a darling of the customization scene, as you can see in Honda Canada’s video above. This custom was built in conjunction with Toronto’s Mini Moto Labs (check them out here, here and here). It’s cool-looking, although we’re not sure if we’d ride this one across North America, like Mike Saunders did with his. […]

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