72 km , 5 h 46 min ride time
It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and the temperatures a little cool; however, there was very little wind. We thought that was a good thing, but soon discovered that wind, even a headwind, is your friend in Labrador.
The road to Red Bay was not long, so we decided to check out the Lighthouse at Point Amour prior to making our way to Red Bay. We left our gear in Mary’s shed, and checked out the tallest lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador. Preparing to leave for the lighthouse, we got our first taste of what the black flies (also called Labrador flies) can be like – quite vicious. Becky decided to try out her head net (over her helmet). We both applied plenty of DEET. Because it was Sunday, the lighthouse tour was free. We enjoyed the opportunity to climb to the top and see the amazing views. The ocean rocks in this area are worn in such as way that they look like fancy interlock. At the lighthouse, we adopted our new mascot – Puffie (a stuffed puffin). With any luck Puffie will be appearing in photos throughout our trip.
After this short 19 km detour, we discovered that all the food outlets (coffee shop and restaurant) in L’Anse-au-Loup are closed on Sundays. It was good that we had made up some sandwiches for the days ride. We stopped at the gas station to buy some chips and use their facilities. To get away from the bugs we had our lunch (sandwiches) inside the gas station shop.
Becky was much more attractive to the flies than Scott, so she continued to wear her head net, sometimes as a full face mask, and sometimes just over her helmet. Scott seemed to be OK with just DEET. The ride out to Red Bay took much longer than when we anticipated. At about 3pm, we arrived in West St. Modeste. As soon as we turned inland and started climbing, the flies attacked with a vengeance. Scott got a number of bites, and Becky got mauled. Becky saw a resort restaurant that was open, and insisted that we get indoors for a break from the bugs. She had a number of nasty bites on her neck. Those Labrador flies can take a real chunk out of you, such that you bleed with every bite. We decided that the bugs make the idea of camping unpalatable (sleeping in the tent is OK, but cooking would be no fun at all). We contemplated staying a night at the resort, but it was expensive and would not put us within reach of Mary’s Harbour (where we wanted to be the next day), so we pushed onto Red Bay and booked a room at the B&B there.
We soon discovered that it was difficult to find places to stop, as the moment you stopped you were swarmed with flies. Neither of us have seen them so bad. Even drinking was a challenge, since you have to lift the head net in order to drink. Not stopping also means that it is difficult to get food in you, and 30 km of hills is really difficult without a snack. At one point, we dug out a bun and some crackers. Becky rode with the bun in her hand, taking bites whenever she was moving fast enough to keep the bugs away (such that she could lift her head net over her mouth). Judging by the amount of bites she received by the end of the day, this was only partially successful!
At the B&B we met Dan and Nancy from San Francisco who were driving around Labrador. They spent a week taking the ferry up to Nain and five days on Battle Island. They highly recommended spending some time on Battle Island, and said that it is possible to camp there. They also confirmed that there are no (or very few) flies on Battle Island and only the odd mosquito. The roads are really nice for driving; however, they are covered in loose gravel, which is not good on bikes. In the end, we concluded that if the wind picks up tomorrow and we are feeling up to it, we might ride to Mary’s Harbour – but more likely, we’ll try and hitch a ride out there, so that we can enjoy a couple of days camping on Battle Island.