By: Robert Janis
ATV Journey Through North America, D-Day
Joinville’s and Labonte’s Polaris ATVs
The start day for the Megaride is at hand. No
more time for preparation. No more time for last
minute changes. No more time to get cold feet
and just forget about the trip altogether. Since
there is no more time, megaride travelers Marc
Joinville and France Labonte must be developing
those butterflies in the tummy, and wondering
what kind of adventure awaits them.
No doubt the readers of ATVSource.com
remember that we alerted you
earlier this year
that the day was coming. Two French Canadians,
Marc Joinville and France Labonte, are doing 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 (Montana, 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
adventure will start in just days and it will
last for 10 months.
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
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 was 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
Next, they needed equipment. They decided to
try and get what they needed by signing up
sponsors. The companies that sponsor the trip
have their logos showcased on the quadtrek.net
website. In addition, the companies’ logos will
appear on Joinville’s and Labonte’s equipment
and clothing during the trip and there are links
between the quadtrek.net website and the
sponsoring companies’ website.
They 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,
communication devices to be used so that they
can communicate among themselves, GPS navigation
devices, first aid kit and vaccines, binoculars,
and money. They got sponsors to contribute much
The list of sponsors include their main
sponsor, Polaris Industries, who supplied two
new Sportsman X2S 800 ATVs; their employer,
Cascades, Inc.; Durocher Transit, Inc.; RM
Motorsports, a Polaris and Suzuki dealer in
Victoriaville, Quebec; Collett Communicators;
Elkel Electronics; Autohome Canada; Top Design
Letterage; J.N. Auto Road Side; Garage M.
Beauchesne Engineering; the Federation of Quebec
Quad Clubs; and Kimpex.
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 and to discover what they might
encounter and how to prepare for it. As a result
of these trips, they have fabricated all sorts
of things to make the trip a little easier to
Lessons Learned, Preparations Secured
What lessons were learned and will be
incorporated into the ride? Marc Joinville
- Do not ride in the rain. Soaked motocross
boots take forever to dry. You can always ride
- 800cc is a must to haul trailer and gear in
hilly terrain. Imagine the Rockies!
- Leave home what you don’t need. It’s better to
have room and cargo capacity to haul water and
fuel than unuseful stuff.
- Expect the unexpected. Always be on the lookout.
In our past trips we’ve encountered a bear when
and where we least expected it.
- Talk to locals. They are friendly, want to help,
and know stuff you don’t.
- When unsure, tired, or at nightfall, do not
persist. You might be persisting into a mistake.
That’s when incident or accident can happen.
Take more time to rest. A rested mind thinks a
lot more clearly.
- Remember Murphy’s Law. What can go wrong does go
wrong. It applies at all times. If you think
there’s one chance in a million that something
might break or fail, fix it before you go
because it probably will break or fail.
Marc and France
They have had months to think about it and
experiences doing short trips, so what gear have
they decided to bring with them for the grand
adventure? Joinville noted that the trip will
take 10 months and that made a profound effect
on what they decided to bring. “Camping for 10
months means living outdoors for 10 months, and
that means you need a lot of stuff,” he said.
“Just the clothing is insane. We will frequently
see temperature changes in order of 20 to 25
degrees within 50 miles of riding. So that means
putting on a jacket and taking it off only to
put it on once more every hour. Plus, we will
probably see snow falls in Utah in September,
and then we will head for temperatures in the
80s near Yuma.
“There’s also maintenance to do on the
quads--oil changes and such,” he continued.
“We’ve got to have what it takes to do that in
the wild without leaving anything behind. Since
we will be outdoors for the better part of a
year, we might as well make things comfortable.
That’s why we will carry a folding table and
folding chairs. They will make our stay in spots
we especially appreciate that much more
“As far as supplies go, we’ll carry enough
food and fuel to last us three days. That’s 10
two-gallon jerrycans, not counting water. Then
there is the GPS and numerous maps.”
They chose to ride the 2007 Polaris 800 X2S.
There was no need to do any customization.
Joinville said that he likes this ATV for this
type of trip because of the extra cargo capacity
it has. Moreover, the extended wheelbase makes
the ATV easier to maneuver under a heavy load.
They had to add some things to make the bike
street legal. These things included blinkers, a
horn, license plate light, and mirror. The only
other thing they added was a custom-made
aluminum cargo box cover which is used to store
their gear. “Since they are different machines
from what we used before (on test trips when
they used a regular Sportsman 800), we had to
re-think the way our gear and different bags
would fit on them,” said Joinville. (More about
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