Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Aug 2 - 5: Two wheels on "the Rock"

Aug 2: Nine down, one to go! Big Bras d'Or to Port aux Basque (Cheeseman Provincial Park) 36 km
After a night camped out in the tent at Jan and Alan's (they had a very full house), Alan gave us a wakeup call at 5:30am and we packed up and were on the road at 6:50 am. Although it was sad to leave the cabin, it was very exciting to think we would soon be hitting our 10th and final province. We were just a duo now as Mark left the day before to take the shorter route to St. John's NFL. Weird to be a duo after all those kms together, but we will see one another in just a few weeks to go over all the details.

Jan made sure we were fed and watered and Kathleen and John also got up to see us off. So, with Alan running down the driveway to catch a few shots of us, we started off into a misty, rainy, and cool morning. We arrived at the North Sidney pier about 22km and 1 hr 10 mins later, in plenty of time for our 9:00 am ferry, only to find it was delayed. I got a bit of a chill waiting in line, so out came the toque (Canada, Aug 2nd: toque, long pants, and sweater required!).

We sailed at about 10:30 am on the Lief Ericson ferry. The trip took six hours. I, who usually am a good sailor, felt a bit off on board and slept most of the trip away in the forward lounge. Mike, who had a bad night and didn't sleep well at all, was in good form and had a fine time roaming around the ship.

Newfoundland was bathed in sunlight and Port aux Basque was a welcome sight. Soon we would be on the road again in a new province. We rode off the ferry at 5:20pm and headed out to Cheeseman Provincial Park. On the way we tried a few metres on the Trans Canada Trail, but it was far too rough for us.

Camping in this part of NFL is cheap -- 13.00 for a tenting site in an excellent campground - showers, grassy site, water -- everything a camper could want. The evening was beautiful, clear and sunny, warm but not humid. After dinner it was early to bed for a full day of riding tomorrow.

Aug 3: Port aux Basque to Crabbe's River 95 km 15 km/hr average 6:20 mins on the bike
What a difference in the weather -- this morning was overcast and a bit cool. I decided to wear a long sleeve jersey. We also had a fairly stiff NE wind, so the going was a bit difficult as we were going NE.

We started off the day with a trip to the Barrachois (barrier) beach below our campground. We had a fine view out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and over to the lighthouse at Cape Ray. As we went back to the Trans Canada Highway and started east we had some amazing views of Table Mountain and the Twin Hills. The Long Range Mountains soon came into view and we could see some of the hiking trails that threaded through these flat-topped peaks.

The next geographical feature we passed through was the Codroy valley. The road meandered through this wide and lush valley, but rolling hills and a strong headwind made this heavy going for us. Our average speed was down. We were travelling on the Trans Canada Highway -- big shoulders and low traffic. The signs on the highway indicated moose, but no luck, we didn't see any.

We pulled into Crabbe's River Campground, close to the Irving Gas Station at the junction of Highway 404. Again, camping was 13.00. This campground was not as perfect as the provincial park, but everyone was friendly, the price was right, and the shower was hot.

Aug 4: Crabbe's River Campground to Kippens 87 km 15 km/hr

What a hard day! The wind and rain really took it out of us today. We never had a downpour, mostly a drizzle, but the head wind threw it against us. As well, there are not a lot of services along the Trans Canada in this part of NFL, so 2nd breakfast was hard to come by. We were saved by the Ultamar gas station cafe outside of St. George's. Advice to the cyclist: if you are riding this part of NFL, bring lots of supplies.

The scene on the TCH in this part of NFL, especially in the rain and wind when visibility is poor, is a bit dull. To switch things up a bit we turned off the highway onto the 404 and headed through Cartyville, McKay's, and Robinsons. After 2nd breakfast we headed into St. George's and along the 461 to Stephenville Crossing. Here is was up and over a big headland to Stephenville proper on the north side of St. George's Bay. Views from the top of the headland down the Bay were lovely, even on this stone grey day.

The day was difficult, so we treated ourselves to pizza and a B&B. We are now ensconced out in Kippens and trying to decide what to do next. We may do a ride around the Port au Port peninsula to wait out the north east wind, or we may push on into it and try to get to Corner Brook. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Aug 5: Kippens to Steady Brook (up the Humber from Corner Brook)
100 km
6:48 on the bike
14.5 km/hr average

What a miserable day! Rain, cold (we got up to a blistering 15 degrees today)and a head wind kept our average time down. That we were able to put in 100 km was due strictly to time on the bike. For sheer wetness, this ranks right up there with our wettest day in Brittany during our 2000 tour in France.

We did start the day with a fine breakfast at our B&B in Kippens. The first hour on the road, from Kippens back to Stephenville, and then out to the Trans Canada via Highway 460. This is also known as the Hansen Highway, after Rick Hansen.

By the time we passed Black Duck Siding it had started to rain. The rain was with us for the rest of the day. We joined the TCH and slogged along until Pinchgut Lake, where we hit the only highway cafe we saw all day. Just before PInchgut we met another cross Canada rider. He and his partner (who was ahead) started from Victoria on May 25th. They flew in from England, bought new bikes at Fairfield Bikes in Victoria (Long Haul Truckers -- the same as Charlie's), and started out. These two fellows must have been doing some long days. We didn't stop to talk for long as the rain was really pelting at that point. Hopefully we'll see them tomorrow.

We are currently in a B&B -- the Edgewater Inn -- in Steady Brook. We are right on the banks of the Humber River, just below the Marble Mountain ski resort.

Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow as we travel on to Rocky Harbour and Gros Morne National Park.

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