Crossing Canada

A cycling journey from coast to coast

Month: August 2014

Day 94: We made it!!!

We did it! After roughly 8700kms, 94 days, 10 provinces, 4 ferries and one hell of an adventure we made it to Cape Spear, the most eastern point in North America!
We were all up pretty early and anxious to get going. We were so close to the end! We went to Tim Hortons, grabbed a quick breakfast and took a final selfie before heading off.

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The rest of the Trans Canada was a pretty nice cycle. The weather wasn’t the greatest but we didn’t care! We turned off the Trans Canada onto route 60 towards Hollyrood.

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Route 60 was a pretty nice cycle. The first part towards Hollyrood was pretty quiet but then the road got a little busier. There was no shoulder and a fair bit of traffic. The road was fairly hilly as well but they were gradual hills. We had about 35kms from the turnoff to Manuels. We made it there in good time and stopped at the Manuels River Interpretation Centre where Jason was meeting a local reporter about his trip. From there we cycled a km or so to my grandparents place where we waited for my parents to arrive. They’d just landed in St John’s and were on their way. They took us out for lunch to the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club. It was a longer break than we were hoping for but we were back on the road by 2.
We set off down the road and cycled onto the overpass and caught up with route 2. There were some good hills and the wind had really picked up. It really slowed us down, the wind was really strong! There was a point where we crested a hill and the wind almost knocked us over. We reached St John’s and were so close now!

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We took the Kilbride exit and headed towards Blackhead road.

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Right after the Cape Spear sign the hills began! Man that was a big, steep hill and did I mention it was long! We took a break part way up when my aunt and grandmother passed us. My aunt hopped out to come see us. My 97 year old grandmother wasn’t far behind her!

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We set off again and as we reached the top of Shea Heights there was a very, very steep but short hill. It was a tough hill and we all stopped at the top. More of my family drove by and stopped. Family reunion. I ran into everyone! Both grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins along the way! It was pretty foggy at the top and we couldn’t see much of anything in either direction.

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There were a few other big hills in our way but nothing we couldn’t handle. The last hill before Cape Spear was a doozy! It was steep and wound around the hill. It just never stopped! Every time you rounded a corner it kept on going. The end was in sight and I kicked it into over drive. The downhill was nice then there was a short uphill to the Cape.
I rolled in and there everyone was
There was a warm welcome from my entire family: aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Jason was already there. Chris wasn’t too far behind. Man it was amazing having everyone there at the finish line! It’s too bad the weather wasn’t better but still what a feeling! Big thanks to everyone for coming out to cheer us on! 8700kms and 94 days after leaving Tofino we made it to Cape Spear! We snapped a few photos and were ready to go.

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They offered to drive us back to St John’s. We thought about it for a bit but decided we might as well cycle back. We unloaded our gear though and cycled back without any weight. Cycling back was so much easier! The hills were a breeze without the weight. That long, steep hill going up to Cape Spear was so much fun going back down! Picked up speed so quickly! I had to slow down a bit because I didn’t feel as stable at speed without all the weight.
We cycled into St John’s, down Water St and to the Terry Fox monument, mile 0.

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My aunt and uncle’s place was only around the corner and everyone was there waiting for us. They were all pretty adamant we take a shower, and quickly, because it had been 3 or 4 days since the last one. So nice to be clean again! There was lots of beer and food and what a way to celebrate! There was even cake! My dad screeched in Chris, Jason and Amy, as is customary in Newfoundland. The cake was pretty awesome! Thanks to my aunt Vicky for organizing everything on short notice!

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She even gave us fisherman hats!

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Of course we had to go down to George St to celebrate! We went to Christian’a in order for them to get screeched in properly. The screech in at Christian’s is hands down the best in the city and worth the $20. They put on an awesome show!

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So now that it’s over it doesn’t feel real yet. I don’t think it will until I board the plane back to Toronto.

Day 93: So close!

We’re now less than 100kms to Cape Spear and I think we’re going to aim for Cape Spear tomorrow.
I was up pretty early, packed up quickly and told them I’d meet them at the Tim Hortons down the highway. Of course there was a big hill in the way. I stopped at Tim Hortons, got breakfast and waited for them. We sat around for a bit, had breakfast and chatted with a few people about our trip. We’re so close now!
We set off and were aiming for Whitbourne. There were still a few big hills in the way but nothing we couldn’t handle. We spotted our first moose of the trip and stopped to have breakfast.

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Man there were some big, long, steep hills today. The past 2 days have been characterized by some big hills but the end is near! It was hot out at times today but the clouds rolled in over the course of the day and made the riding easier.

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There was one especially long, steep hill that went right through the rock. I came up to the cut in the hill and saw Jason had climbed up to the top. Of course I had to go up to take a look. I climbed up to the top and the view was well worth it!

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It was a good climb but the most interesting aspect of it was the shoulder. For most of our trip across Newfoundland there has been a nice paved shoulder and occasionally the rumble strips have taken over but not for long. The rumble strips took over on this hill and pushed us into the road. There was a lot of heavy truck traffic and a few close calls.
About 20kms from Whitbourne Jason pulled over and had another flat. His tire was pretty worn out and had a few cracks in it. Lucky that Chris had been given that spare tire and tube because Jason needed it.

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We fixed the tube and set off again. The sky ahead of us didn’t look too inviting and we were waiting for the heavens to open up. There were some heavy showers but for the most part we avoided the rain.

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We stopped at the information centre in Whitbourne and played the same song and dance as last night. They closed in an hour so we went to Subway to get dinner and kill some time.
We headed back to the info centre and I noticed a pathway at the end of the parking lot so I went to check it out. It was a perfect spot to camp! It was secluded, on a lake, near services and quiet. We set up camp and played some cards for most of the night.

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We’re so close to St. John’s and Cape Spear that we’re going to make a dash for it tomorrow. Our original plan was to stay in Manuels tomorrow and head to Cape Spear on Thursday. Manuels is only 65kms away and Cape Spear 105kms so we have to go for it!

Day 92: People are awesome!

The best part about this trip has been the people we’ve run into along the way and the generosity and hospitality we’ve received.
Since we camped across the road from a campground last night we decided to have breakfast there and take advantage of the facilities. We packed up our gear and headed across the road. We made a quick breakfast of cold oatmeal and fruit, filled our waters and were ready to go. Just as we were leaving Jason noticed his rear tire was flat. That was a slight delay, but it was alright because we got some free coffee.
Once the flat was fixed we were ready to go! There were a couple decent hills until we came across Joey’s Lookout. The lookout overlooks Gambo and is absolutely stunning!

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We hadn’t gone very far, but ended up sticking around there for a little bit and enjoying the scenery. We got rolling again. There was a slight uphill followed by a nice, long downhill. Jason and I were ahead of Chris and didn’t look back as we flew down the hill. Up ahead someone had pulled over. He stopped us and told us our friend was half way down the hill waving his arms and shaking his head. He must have a flat! We doubled back, dropped our bikes at the bottom of the hill and walked up to Chris.
When we got there, another gentleman had pulled over to help out. We chatted for a while, while Chris replaced his inner tube. The tube had popped and slightly ruptured the tire. We thought we were sunk! The guy offered to drive Chris to Clarenville but he figured the tire would hold. The guy gave him his spare tire and inner tube. The tire would be a tight fit but would work in a pinch. We thanked him and headed off.
We stopped at a restaurant just before Terra Nova National Park to grab lunch. We didn’t think there’d be many options in the park.

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As soon as we entered the park the real fun began! Terra Nova is absolutely beautiful but my god is it hilly! It was one hill after another! They were big, fairly steep hills and it was hot! The heat and humidity made things infinitely more difficult and sweaty!

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We made it out of the park in 1 piece but we were all exhausted! Port Blandford was less than 10kms away and our best bet to refill our water. We stopped at the gas station but their pipes had burst so there wasn’t any water. We had a short break and decided to continue onto Clarenville. It wasn’t much further, only about 30kms.
We stopped at Lakeside campground about 15kms from Clarenville to refill our waters. We discussed staying there for the night since we were all tired. We were told it was only $25 for a site. We decided to stay but the lady inside was going to charge us $25 per tent for 1 site. That’s absolutely ridiculous and made our decision for us! We left and didn’t look back.
We stopped at the information centre on the outskirts of Clarenville to ask about somewhere to camp. The ladies there told us of a few places until I blatantly asked if we could camp out there for the night. She said you’re not supposed to but once they leave for the night whatever happens happens.
We set up camp and just as we were talking about making dinner Trudy came back and had bought us dinner. She bought us subs, smarties, and chips. People are just awesome!
Today was another great day in Newfoundland! We covered about 115kms and were met by some amazing generosity and hospitality!  We’re so close to the finish line I can almost see it. It still doesn’t feel real that this journey will be done in only a few short days. What next?

Day 91: Bush camping in style

Another great day of cycling. We ended up doing a bit more than we anticipated but that’s alright. Turned out to be a 128kms in 6hrs day instead of just over 105.
It was a bit of a later start this morning. We woke up and Mary cooked us a big breakfast of: bacon, eggs, hash browns, coffee and toast. Bailey had warmed up to us too. She’d slept in the hallway all night and I guess she figured if they slept here they must be alright.
We packed up our stuff and played with Bailey in the backyard for a bit. Mary drove us around to show us 2 alternative exits from the city instead of that steep hill we came in on. We played with Bailey some more,  dawdled and were finally ready to go. Thanks again Mary! We all really enjoyed ourselves!

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Mary had given us some advice on the next gas station and dealing with the Robert Bonne bridge. She was dead on with her estimation to the Tim Hortons,  15kms. We stopped there to refill our waters and have a snack. I ziptied my rack before leaving because another screw had vibrated out, a  non essential one though.
There were a few longer hills, but they were very gradual. There was only a couple steeper hills, but nothing too major. The steeper ones were around the Norris Arms, just as Mary had said. It was really hot out but the breeze kept us cool for most of the day. Mary had suggested we stop at Notre Dame Park for a swim and lunch, as that was the last place to fill up until Gander. We stopped at the visitors centre, filled our waters, had a snack and break then were off. It was a little longer break than I would’ve liked, only because I’d been keeping a good pace and my legs were getting tired. I find it easier to maintain a pace for a while,  but harder to start again after a break.

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We still maintained a good pace, but there were some long gradual hills. It was hot, especially when climbing, but we still had a breeze. We stopped on the bridge over the Gander River and paused for a minute.

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When we started again the breeze had died off and the cycling was much tougher! There were a few more hills and no breeze to keep us cool. It wasn’t long before Gander but it was hot! There were a few good, steep hills as we approached Gander. There was an especially good one just before the city.
We stopped in Gander at Jungle Jim’s for lunch. It was a late lunch, 95kms and it was 3:15. We loaded up and tried to decide whether we’d camp after Gander or stay in the city.
It was decided for us that we go on ahead. Jason has a discount at the Comfort Inn, so we left it up to the hotel. If they could give us a decent rate, we’d stay, if not we go. We left after over a 2hr rest.
We cycled for a while and couldn’t find any good camping spots. We decided to keep cycling for a while longer. It was a little hillier but not too bad. We crested a smaller hill and saw a very large one looming in the distance. It was decided to get over that then camp. It was a long, steep one! There were 4 stages to this fella. A long, steep climb, followed by 2 more gradual sections, then a short, steep climb to the top. It was a long and sweaty climb! The downhill was awesome though! It was long and pretty steep!
We kept our eyes out for a suitable camping spot. We came across the “Copper Kettle” and tried to find somewhere around back. There weren’t many good camping spots but there were some  nice views.

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Jason cycled down the road to what looked like another road while Chris went into the restaurant to ask. I acted as the relay man in the middle. Chris came out first so we cycled down the road. There was a campsite there but it was full. There was a perfect flat patch of grass hidden behind some bushes right off the highway. We set up there and headed across the street to “Square Pond RV Park” to shower.

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We ended up getting dinner there as well. No one was hungry enough to cool since we’d had a late lunch.
It was a pretty quiet night in the end. We ended up playing cards for a while before heading to bed. Only 4 more days of cycling to reach Manuels. Time is ticking!

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Day 90: Grand Falls-Windsor bound

It was another hot, humid day of cycling but all in all it was a good day, we even had a place to sleep!
We started the morning around 7 and had planned to make breakfast but since the restaurant was right there we decided to buy it instead. Chris and Jason decided on breakfast pie, now that’s normal pie but just for breakfast. I chose to forgo breakfast pie.
We hit the road by 9:30 and had about 115kms to cover to get to Grand Falls. The cycling was pretty easy but the heat made for a long day! We stopped every now and again to rehydrate and take a little break. Our first stop was just passed Kona beach East of South Brook.

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I’ve really been enjoying the cycling in Newfoundland so far! Probably some of my favourite on the whole trip! The roads have been good, there’s been a great shoulder the whole way and the scenery has been stunning, the only downside is the heat!
We stopped in Badger, about 90kms, and ate our lunch outside of the Irving gas station. We made some wraps and hid from the afternoon sun. After a nice break and something cold to eat, we set off for Grand Falls which was only 30kms.

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The cycling was pretty good, there were a few hills but nothing major. We rolled into Grand Falls found our exit and headed down a steep, but very fun hill to our hosts’ for the night. First we had to stop off for chocolate milk. We pulled up to Mary’s house and got a warm welcome from her chocolate lab,  Bailey. We brought our stuff in the backyard but Bailey didn’t seem too sure of us. I think the beards, well Chris’ scared her a bit.
We chatted for a while before one by one we headed up for a shower. A shower was definitely needed after another long, sweaty day! Mary had been reading the blog and had even gotten us chocolate milk! Awesome! She also made us a fantastic dinner of spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and lemon meringue pie, which she slaved over all day.
I think we all had a great night vegging out on the couch, watching TV and chatting with Mary. What an awesome lady with an amazing sense of humour! So glad we got to stay here! Thanks so much for having us and thanks to my Aunt Heather for setting it up! Bailey still hadn’t warmed up to us though. She wouldn’t even come in the same room as us. We watched TV for a while, had a beer or 2 and that’s going to be all folks.
It’s going to be a relatively early night as I’m tired. We did 117kms in 5.5hrs today. The cycling was good and it was another beautiful day in Newfoundland. Note: this weather is not at all normal for Newfoundland and I wasn’t expecting it!

Day 89: Not too remote

I was thinking this leg of our trip was going to be much more remote but it wasn’t that bad at all.
We’ve always struggled with leaving early from a hotel and today was no different. We were all up around 7, packed up, made breakfast and headed downstairs to pack our bikes.

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By the time we left it was 9 and we only had 45kms to Deer Lake. We were off and the cycling was great! We followed the Humber River through the valley and the views were spectacular!

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The cycling was really easy also. The road was pretty flat with a few gentle inclines. We made it to Deer Lake in no time and stopped at Tim Hortons for 2nd breakfast.
After a little rest we headed to the closest gas station to pick up an extra couple bottles of water. There isn’t much between Deer Lake and Grand Falls so we didn’t want to get stuck without water.
The next 45-50kms were so easy! It was pretty much flat and I was able to maintain a 25-30km/h pace the whole way with minimal effort! It was a beautiful sunny day, with little to no humidity and a slight breeze at our backs.
There is a gas station/restaurant about 45-50kms from Deer Lake so we stopped there to refill our waters. They had ice cream so of course we had to. We had a little break in the shade, eating ice cream. Pretty nice break. We got chatting with a gentleman who had cycled across Newfoundland before and he said there was another gas station 30kms from us. That would be our next destination.
The terrain from there got a bit hillier, but they were fairly gentle slopes, for the most part. The main issue was the wind had shifted and we were cycling into a headwind. I was still able to maintain 20+kms/h but it felt much slower. The road kept changing directions as well so that didn’t help with the shifting winds.
There wasn’t much of a view from Deer Lake. We were mostly cycling through a dense forest. We emerged from the woods and there was a spectacular view overlooking Birchy Pond. Ponds seem to refer to lakes in Newfoundland and Brooks to rivers.

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The rest of the way to the gas station was fairly flat and easy cycling again. We hit the 30km mark and no gas station so we kept going. The gas station was at the 50km mark. The guy was 20kms off which is a big distance when on a bike!
We looked around for a place to camp and saw a good spot next to the Pinewood Restaurant, so we went in to ask if we could camp there. The owner said we could but told us to follow the road down a ways and we’ll come to a loop where there are some camping spots. We first decided to get some dinner before heading down. The food there was really good and so was the pie.
It looks like there used to be a campground there as there were designated sites and some water hookups. We found a spot nestled in the trees and set up our tents and hammocks. The ground was a loose, fine gravel which was actually pretty comfortable for camping. Hammocks are hands down the best investment of the trip! Best way to relax!
We set up the slackline and introduced Jason to his newest hobby. We bounced around for a while and then I spent more time in my hammock.
We did 139kms in just over 6hrs today and we’ll be in Grand Falls-Windsor tomorrow and then there’s only 5 days cycling to Manuels. This trip is quickly coming to a close and reality is slowly creeping in.

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