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By: Robert Janis

Megaride -- ATV Journey Through North America, D-Day Plus....

Joinville’s and Labonte’s Polaris ATVs and equipment.
Joinville’s and Labonte’s Polaris ATVs and equipment.

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 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 their website: The 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
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 North America.”

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 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 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 of that.

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 endure.

Lessons Learned, Preparations Secured

What lessons were learned and will be incorporated into the ride? Marc Joinville identified seven:

  • Do not ride in the rain. Soaked motocross boots take forever to dry. You can always ride tomorrow.
  • 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
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 enjoyable.

“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 this later)

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