Archive for the ‘Newfoundland and Labrador’ Category

w with fish, bucket, bucket, candy cane

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

47 km, 3 hours, Max temp 42
¾Ñ§§Ò aka Phang-nga (if you are seeing gibberish, it may be that you don’t have the Thai font installed)
We are having some fun with the Thai script. The characters have great shapes to them, such that you can image different things with the names. Unfortunately, there are so many of them, and they’re so different, that we need to come up with some way to remember them. At some point during our ride today, Phang-nga became w, bucket, bucket, candy cane, although we soon realized we were missing the fish above the w, so it is now w with fish, bucket, bucket, candy cane!

Typical Thai street, with frequent small storefronts

Typical Thai street, with frequent small storefronts

We were slow to get organized in the morning, and did a short ride to Phang-nga. Becky is having some stomach issues – likely related to the change in diet rather than anything specific. It will definitely slow us down a little, so we decided a short day was in order.

A Wat in Phang Nga (and some impressive hills behind)

A Wat in Phang Nga (and some impressive hills behind)

When we set out, we were expecting the ride to only be 39 km, but soon discovered that the town was not exactly where we expected it to be. With a little exploration, we found the town and stumbled upon a temple and a fellow Canadian Tourist. We had a brief conversation with Stephen and he pointed us in the correct direction for the Phang-nga Inn.

We have decided to spend two nights in Phang-nga. The Phang-nga Inn is a nice house-based inn. Our room is clean although a little small, and the bed is comfortable. We will also use the extra day to do some much needed bike maintenance. Our shifters are not working as well as we would like, and Becky’s front brake cable needs replacing. Our chains were last cleaned in Turkey, so perhaps we should do something about that as well!

The maps for Thailand are still posing a challenge for us. We are finding that the towns are not where they say they are, and the roads are often labeled different than our map. Google and Yahoo disagree on where some of the roads are! Scott has found a different GPS map which will hopefully prove to be more accurate than the previous one.

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Out and about in St.John’s

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

20 km around St. John’s

We had a delightful stay with Fraser and Judy. We spent several evenings enjoying wine and talking about various aspects of life. It was wonderful to have the chance to get to know them better and also nice to have “home” for the four days we were in St. John’s.

We didn’t spend as much time as we’d planned doing tourist things or visiting people.  This seems to be a bit of a trend (both here and in Goose Bay).  After many days riding, we need some downtime to recharge, clean and dry equipment and run errands.  For future stops, we’ll need to leave more time if we want to do more tourist stuff.

Sunday: We attended the Sunday service at the Avalon Fellowship. It was nice to renew some connections and visit with fellow Unitarians.

Monday: We took our bikes out to run a variety of chores included buying new cups. We had a couple of melamine cups purchased at Bushtukah (they were about $3 each). On the ferry from Goose Bay to Lewisporte one of them cracked when Becky added boiling water. A few days later the second cracked when Becky added warm water. We were quite surprised as other melamine we’ve owned has lasted forever! We’ve replaced them and our bowls with “squishy bowls” (silicone bowls and cups). 

We went up to Earle Industries (a bike shop) to check the status of our chains.  It is owned by Harold Earle, and seems to be the high-end bike shop for St. John’s.  If you’re looking for bike repairs or purchases in St. John’s, we can highly recommend Harold and his shop.  He spent more than an hour going over our bikes with us and looking at various options for some of the issues which have developed.

After 4000 km, our chains have stretched too much and worn our rear sprocket.  Scott was expecting the chains to last better than this, since there’s so much more chain on our bikes (about 2.5 standard chains).  Had we checked it in Rimouski, we probably would have discovered the chain wear before it damaged the sprocket.  Oh well – a lesson for next time.  The Rohloff sprocket is reversible, so if we could reverse it we could replace the chain, but we haven’t bought the Rohloff sprocket tool yet.  Harold and Scott looked at improvising something, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

Harold also pointed out that the stock chains on our bikes are SRAM 830 – the lowest grade of SRAM 8-speed chain.  Had HP-Velotechnik provided a better chain (SRAM 870, 890, Rohloff Revolver) it likely would have lasted much longer.

We have ordered the sprocket tool from Rohloff (as well as some other spare parts), and we’re planning to replace both chains (and flip the cogs) when we get to Fredericton. 

Tuesday: We went out for a hike with Tammy, a friend from the Avalon Fellowship to Black Head. From the point there is an incredible view of both Cape Spear and Signal Hill, as well as lots of blueberries.  We had a delightful hike, and it was great to get to know her a bit better.  She had just received news of a placement as a kindergarten teacher this year, so she was walking on air.
We also went up Signal Hill at night with Fraser and Judy, and got to see St. John’s at night.  It’s a beautiful view, and it was a warm night, so lots of other people were up there, some “watching the submarine races” and fogging up the windows of their cars.

Wednesday: We spent the early part of the day cleaning up and packing up. It took longer than expected to be ready to go, but that worked out OK.
Vyda, another friend from the Avalon Fellowship picked us up at Judy and Fraser’s and after a wonderful dinner at “Blue on Water” in downtown St. John’s she gave us a ride out to the Argentia ferry terminal.

We had heard from other cyclists that you can sleep in the Argentia terminal. Upon arrival, we found a nice quiet spot in the terminal out of the way of traffic (under some stairs), where we pulled out our thermarests and sleeping bags and spent a comfortable night.  Earplugs and eyeshades again came in handy though – there were two other Ottawa cyclists in the terminal with us, and they didn’t sleep nearly so well.

Detours, Tailwinds, and Trailers

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

88 km, 6.5 hrs

The morning started out with a detour in search of fresh bread. Scott wanted to get back on the TCH right away (and head up a big hill to do so), but we had little food and didn’t know what would be available on the highway. We knew there was a convenience store in Bellevue and a bakery in Norman’s Cove, so we took a detour along the coast via the 201 instead. Scott was quite doubtful about the route due to steep hills and a “Rough Road” warning sign, but it turned out OK. The hills were definitely steep, but the road was great. A few potholes and rough spots, but otherwise excellent. Powered By SmugWP

The views along the coast were quite spectacular, and much more interesting than the TCH. Unfortunately, we got to Norman’s Cove only to discover the bakery was closed. Very sad.

Once we got back on the highway the roads were much faster than the last few days. The winds were still from the south west, however we were now going mostly east, so that translated into a quarter tailwind rather than a headwind. With the tailwind, the hills were much more bearable, and we climbed quite happily.

By dinner time, it was clear we weren’t going to make St. John’s today as we had hoped. The daylight would be fading shortly. Our new friends Fraser and Judy had offered us a rescue, so we took them up on it, just before Butter Pot Park. Fraser came out with a trailer to pick up us and our bikes, and Judy had a sumptuous meal ready for us when we got to St. John’s. A wonderful finale to ten days in the saddle.

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Camping at Bellevue Beach Park

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

6h 15 min, 78 km

It was a good day riding today. Our average speed is still slow and the wind didn’t completely cooperate, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been and the sun shone all day. It was a beautiful day riding, so we didn’t feel bad that we were not going very fast.

Powered By SmugWPThere were again a few spots on the Trans-Canada today where the rumble strips provided a problem for us. The only time they are an issue is when we get less than 1 foot of free space on the shoulder side or if the shoulder is too messy to ride on. Unfortunately, this is more common than we’d like. The highway maintenance folks have put some form of Chipseal at the edge of the paved shoulder and onto the gravel, which occasionally forms large ridges. These can catch a wheel if you’re not careful. We know we’ll be riding much rougher roads shortly though, so we’re taking it in stride.

There was one long downhill today where we rode the highway rather than the shoulder. Fortunately there was not too much traffic, and there was a passing lane, so the cars that did approach us were able to pass safely.

We got to our campsite at Bellevue Beach Park quite late, and were given a spot on the beach, which was all right at first – picnic table, old building with porch to put stuff, and had a nice dinner. Powered By SmugWP Unfortunately, the wind picked up just after Becky left to shower, and Scott had set the tent up on gravel which didn’t hold the pegs well. Talking to other campers he heard about 50kph winds for tonight so Scott ended up moving everything down to a sheltered grove right beside another site. This was a bit tedious, but was a much better spot. When Becky returned from her shower the tent was gone, which caused a little shock! She came back just in time to help set the tent up again, which was good.
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Bill, the proprietor of the campground was quite talkative and shared some of the history of the area. There’s a huge sandbar providing an excellent sheltered cove, and a great salmon river, so the locals believe the Vikings spent a fair bit of time in this area.

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A fellow cycle tourist

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

55 km, 4 h 30 min

Our breakfast was fabulous again today, with toast made using fresh bread from the motel bakery. One thing to be said for Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s a bakery almost everywhere, with excellent fresh bread.

Today we continued heading south, which meant more headwinds. The road was also rather hilly.

We crossed paths with our first cycle tourist in Newfoundland and Labrador today, which was very exciting! As we were ascending a hill, Ben came over to great us. He is from St. John’s and was heading up to his cottage in New-Wes-Valley. His claim to fame is a brief appearance in the current (September) Canadian Geographic Travel magazine. He has done a lot of cycle touring (across Canada and the US), and finds that Newfoundland is some of the most challenging riding, with lots of hills, constantly changing weather and high winds.

Powered By SmugWPBecky was feeling really tired today. She thinks her body is protesting too many hard days with headwinds. Scott was feeling better than her, but he was tired too, so we decided to call it a day a bit earlier than normal. We stopped in Clarenville, the largest town we have been in since we left Goose Bay. It is actually big enough to have a Tim Horton’s and MacDonalds (neither of which we will visit – although we did stop at the Subway for our late lunch).

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Charlottetown Newfoundland

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

75 km, 5h 30 min

After a quiet night in the tent, Clyde and Linda fed us a tasty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast, which was wonderfully fortifying for the day.

For the first part of the day, we left the headwinds behind. Our progress was rather quick and we arrived at the outskirts of Gambo within an hour. No far into Gambo we came across a stand selling fresh locally grown vegetables. This is the first fresh vegetable stand we have seen since leaving Quebec, so we had to stop and stock up. We skipped the giant zucchini, since each of them was more than 60cm long, but got some carrots, cauliflower and small yellow squashes. Yummy! Gambo is a rather long town, so it seemed like an hour before we reached the Trans-Canada highway.

Powered By SmugWPBefore entering the highway, Becky was hungry, so we decided to stop for an early lunch (it wasn’t even noon yet). We didn’t find a restaurant that looked interesting – we have been eating too much deep fried food at lunch lately – so we stopped at a gazebo just before the Trans Canada highway and pulled out our stove and made up a quick instant noodle lunch.

The first leg of the Trans Canada was going East, so we made quick progress. In the first three hours of the day, we were averaging 18 km/hr, which was a dramatic improvement over the 11 km/hr of the previous day. Unfortunately, this wasn’t fated to continue. As we turned into Terra Nova National Park, the Trans Canada quickly turned south and we were again faced with fighting a 25 km/hr headwind. It took us two and half hours to go 25 km!

The section of Trans Canada between Gambo and the park was also our first introduction to rumble strips on the shoulder. Not too bad so far, but we’re told they get worse as we get closer to St. John’s

By the time we were ready to stop for the night, we had passed all the campgrounds in the park, and had not purchased a park pass, so camping by the roadside didn’t seem right. Fortunately, we were able to find a motel in Charlottetown Newfoundland (not to be confused with Charlottetown Labrador!), which is enclosed by the park but outside the park boundary. The motel had efficiency units, so we could cook dinner in our rooms. The motel also had a bakery, so we got a nice loaf of fresh bread to make sandwiches for tomorrows lunch.

Unfortunately Internet access (including wireless) has become less available over the past few days, so we were reduced to sitting by the roadside near an unlocked router for a few minutes to quickly check email. Photo uploads will have to wait…

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Clyde’s yard

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

70 km, 5h 50 min

Today our progress was painfully slow. It was a beautifully sunny day; however, the headwinds slowed us dramatically.

We planned to have lunch in Centreville – our midway point for the day. We didn’t arrive there until 3:30 pm, at which point we were tired and starving. The place we stopped for lunch had a motel so we considered stopping for the day and resting up for tomorrow; however, upon inquiry the motel was sold out, so we headed further on down the road.

We arrived in Hare Bay (pronounces “air” as the local dialect doesn’t pronounce the h) at about 6:45 pm. At this point we realized that we could not make it to Gambo before dark. We were both tired and with an average speed that was just over 11 km / hr we simply did not have enough time to get there.

There are no places to stay in Hare Bay, so we were looking for a place to camp. We asked at the gas station and someone offered to take us back to a nice place to camp, but that would take us back the way we came. Every kilometer was hard fought, so we didn’t want to have to repeat it again. Had the offer been in the other direction, we definitely would have taken it.

We decided to try out the idea of knocking on a door and asking if we could camp in someone’s yard. Rather than knock though, we decided to ask people that were already outside. The first people we asked were an older couple who didn’t feel comfortable with us staying. In the end, that was probably good because their yard was rather open to the highway. Powered By SmugWP We asked another couple, who turned out to be visiting, but had a house further up the street. This is how we met Clyde and Linda. They allowed us to put our tent on a small flat patch on their front lawn. It was nicely protected by a bush, which provided us with a little bit of privacy.

Linda works at the hospital in St. John’s and was in Hare Cove on vacation visiting Clyde. Clyde used to be a fisherman and is now a guide, taking tourists fishing and hunting in the woods of Newfoundland. Truly delightful people, whom we’d never have met otherwise.

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It’ll be a bright, bright, bright, sunshiny day…

Monday, August 18th, 2008

4 hr 20 min, 75 km

Today was a beautiful sunny day, and we had some spectacular views of this part of the Newfoundland coast.

The highway was much busier than usual. Unfortunately, the Trans Canada Highway is still closed at Gambo, and likely will be for several days. This means everyone who would normally be on the TCH is on the coastal route with us.

We discovered today what it is was like to jump off the road to the gravel shoulder to allow trucks to pass. We had read about many others doing this, but had never had to do it ourselves. We are very glad for our mirrors, as they allow us to determine if the vehicles behind us will pass us properly or not. We only jump off of the road if there is a semi coming and it is either a blind corner or there is oncoming traffic. The large trucks in Newfoundland always do a very good job of passing us with at least half a lane separation, so we return the favour when it isn’t feasible by getting out of their way. So far, our vote for the worst passers are trucks towing 5th wheel RVs. They tend to forget that their trailers are wider than they are, so although their trucks pass us well, the trailers sometimes come a little closer than we would like. Overall, our experience with traffic in Newfoundland and Labrador has been overwhelmingly positive, contrary to some reports we had heard.

We are staying at the Windmill Bight campground just outside of Lumsden. We have a nice private site, and there are both fresh water and salt water beaches, but there is no drinkable water or showers. It seems that our $13 gets us a picnic table and a flat spot with other people around us. Since the water is “do not drink” as opposed to “boil for X minutes”, Scott got to go back up the last hill to the convenience store we just left, and buy 8L of bottled water.

We are wondering if maybe wild camping might be a better thought for tomorrow night. If we can’t make it to Gambo tomorrow, it looks like wild camping will be our only option. The only requirement to making wild camping work is that we have enough water with us, which is easy enough if we plan for it.

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Drip, Drip, Drip

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

72 km, 4h 40 min ride time.

Today was very wet. When we left in the morning, it was raining lightly, however, it didn’t take too long to pick up. It was not nearly as bad as Friday, but still bad enough that we were quite wet and soggy when we pulled into Pat’s Place restaurant in Victoria Cove. We were still debating whether or not to go straight to Gander and skip the coastal road or take the coastal road which would add 100 km to our journey. The coastal route would definitely be more scenic, but 100 km at our current speeds is a day and a half. We are hoping to make it to St. John’s in time to attend Sunday church service at the Avalon Unitarian Fellowship.

We discovered at Pat’s Place that there was a new B&B in Carmanville. This was definitely a high point for Becky, as she wasn’t sure where she would find the energy to make it an additional 50 km to Gander or 57+ km to Musgrave Harbour in what had now become a downpour. The 30 km to Carmanville and the promise of a warm dry place to stay helped us decide which route to take: the Coast Road, since Carmanville is 20 km after the turn-off.

It turned out to be a fortuitous decision. When we reached Auntie M’s B&B in Carmanville, we discovered that the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) was closed between Gander and Gambo. This meant that every place to stay in Gander was packed, so it would have been a challenge to find a home for the night.

This is the first time the Newfoundland TCH has been closed in the summer! Apparently the heavy rainfall has made the ground soggy enough that traffic on the TCH may cause it to collapse into the houses in Gambo below. There have already been some minor landslides in the area. Hopefully by the time we get to Gambo, all will be resolved.

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Twillingate, but not Fogo

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

60 km, 4 hours ride time (no gear)

Our original plan was to ride unloaded to Twillingate, then ride back (50 km – 60 km round trip), pack up and go on to Farewell to catch the ferry to Fogo (another 47 km). This turned out to be just slightly unrealistic, since the hills between Dildo Run and Twillingate were pretty much constant, and the hills to Long Point were quite brutal, with sustained 20% grades in a couple of spots. Combine that with headwinds, and even unloaded, that was a bit much for us.

The views from the Long Point lighthouse were worth it though – gorgeous vistas, and a variety of whales feeding below. We probably had a better view than the tour boats, albeit not as close. Also, with the cliffs so close, the ocean swell and reflections made for confused seas – a sure recipe for seasickness on the tour boats.

There was also a fudge shop with ice cream – both were delicious. Between the views and the fudge it was a worthwhile trade for the hills.
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We stopped for lunch at the R&J restaurant – typical Newfoundland fare. Scott had the Fisherman’s Brewis: boiled cod with hard-tack (a hard bread which lasts forever) soaked in cold water, then boiled and mixed with the cod. (With a salt pork gravy including little bits of “crackle” aka pig skin). It doesn’t sound too appetizing, but it was very tasty and quite filling – just right after the ride.

We headed back to camp, but headwinds continued to slow us, and we decided to spend another night in at Dildo Run.

Unfortunately we didn’t see more of Twillingate Island – it looks quite interesting, lots of history, and interesting activities. We’d like to come back and see “The Iceberg Capital of the World” during iceberg season (May and June) sometime.

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