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By Robert Janis

A Casual Journey Through North America
Oh, Heck! It’s a Megaride Through the American West and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula

Marc and France
Marc and France

Each of us has a voice that seems to nudge us into doing something that we may not normally do. Is that voice coming from the heart or the brain? Usually, reason sets in, and we ignore what the voice is telling us.

However, there are some of us who listen to that voice and go right ahead and do what it calls for. The result usually is an adventure that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Two French Canadians, Marc Joinville and France Labonte, have heard their voice; and as a result, they are planning a megaride of North America on two Polaris Sportsman 800s. The journey will start near Calgary in British Columbia, Canada and take them through the American West (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona) and down to the southern most tip of the Mexican Baja Peninsula. They are calling it the Megaride, and you will be able to follow the progress via internet on their website: The adventure will start in July of this year, and they have decided to dedicate 10 months so that they can fully enjoy the trip.

Both Joinville and Labonte have been quad fans for more than 15 years. Now 46 years-old, Joinville says that challenges and adventures are his source of constant motivation. His responsibilities for the Megaride include mechanics, GPS, and the itinerary.

Labonte is 50 years-old. Her motivation is to see “what’s on the other side of the hill... of the curve... of the river... of whatever.” A mom of two grown-up boys, she loves the outdoors and prefers motocross boots over high heels. Her responsibilities for the Megaride include food, the budget, and a computer.

The idea for the Megaride first struck them in 2000 when they were on vacation in Utah. “We rented ATVs and visited Casto Canyon and Red Canyon,” began Joinville. “On the way to the canyons, we rode on the Great Western Trail for a while. We then saw a sign that said that the Great Western Trail, once completed, would run all the way from Canada to Mexico. That stuck in our minds. To this day the Great Western Trail is not complete, but we can’t wait!”

Their route through America
Their route through America

Once the two decided that they were going to do it; and realizing that the Great Western Trail would probably not be complete by July, they settled on a route. “We selected the area where there were the most public lands,” said Joinville. “It happens to also be one of the most scenic areas in America, if not the world. The fact that we are able to make our ATVs street-legal in most states we’ll go through didn’t hurt either. We read the American Frontiers Journal and studied the corridor used by the Great Western Trail. Only in Utah will we not be street-legal, but Utah happens to have some of the most extensive trail systems in North America.”

Next the two needed equipment. They decided to try and get what they needed by signing up sponsors. The companies that sponsor the trip have and will have their logos showcased on the website. In addition, the companies’ logos will appear on Joinville’s and Labonte’s equipment and clothing during the trip, and there is and will be links between the website and the sponsoring companies’ website. In return the two expect to get equipment and service assistance from their sponsors.

Joinville and Labonte thought about their trip and realized that they would need a lot of things other than an ATV--a trailer to haul things, portable electric fence and pepper spray to protect them from bears, cellular and satellite phones, solar panels, communication devices to be used so that they can communicate among themselves, GPS navigation devices, first-aid kit and vaccines, binoculars, and money. So far they have gotten sponsors to contribute the trailer (Durocher Transit, Inc.), quads (RM Motosport, a Polaris and Suzuki dealer in Victoriaville, Quebec), the communication devices (Collett Communicators), the GPS navigation device (Elkel Electronics), and binoculars.

France Labonte
France Labonte

They also sought, and still seek, sponsors to help them with services they need. The services include website hosting; website updating; internet service provider; insurance coverage for inside the U.S. and Mexico; a legal advisor who can tell them about rules and regulations; legal assistance if needed; texts corrections; translation (French/English/Spanish); and mechanical support for repairs and maintenance for their ATVs. So far sponsors have helped with maintenance of the ATVs (Prolab Technolub), a trailer assembly and aluminum accessories assembly.

Other sponsors signed up include Autohome Canada (financial support), Top Design Letterage (lettering on equipment), J.N. Auto Road Side (virtual banner for the website), Garage M. Beauchesne Engineering (sandblasting and painting of the trailer), Cascades (financial support), the Federation of Quebec Quad Clubs, and Kimpex.

They were able to get these sponsors by attending the recent Quad Show, and they simply talked to their local dealer--RM Motosport--who gave them a substantial discount on the quads.

Joinville and Labonte have been doing preliminary trips for the last four years at a rate of one or two a year to prepare for the Megaride. The pre-runs were done to test the equipment. “Quite a lot of our equipment has either been modified or simply custom-built to suit our needs,” explained Joinville. “We took pre-runs to make sure everything was easy to use and strong enough to last the entire journey without becoming a hassle instead of an improvement. The suspension on the trailer was custom-built from A to Z. It’s fully independent with 18 inches of ground clearance. That alone took three years of testing.”

Marc Joinville
Marc Joinville

The Megaride will be promoted just before and during the event. Joinville and Labonte will attend as many jamborees, festivals, and rallies as they can. A local TV sports network in Quebec will carry a teaser before they leave and will have updates during the trip. Two local magazines (Camping Caravaning and Sentier Quad) have already done stories on the project, and a major Canadian magazine will run a story when they leave. They were featured at the Le Salon National Du Quad (the National Quad Show) last November. In addition, Joinville and Labonte posted material on their website during the preliminary runs.

Finally, the website will be regularly updated from the field using satellite and cellular telephones as well as ground connected phones. The frequency of the updates will depend on interest and on connection availability. “It can’t possibly be all excitement, all the time, for 10 months,” said Joinville. He guesses that would probably mean about once every two weeks or so.

Anyone interested can follow the adventure at starting in July. And you will be able to “talk to” the two via e-mail at

So, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll).

Writer’s note: We will be following Joinville and Labonte on their 10-month journey starting in July. The next article will cover their last minutes of preparation just days before they leave on their great adventure.

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