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Category Archives: Biking

I really slept in today because my body obviously needed to catch up from getting very little sleep the night before on the ferry ride (plus the minor time zone change of 30 minutes). After leaving I realized that I left my rope behind which I had used as a clothes line to dry some of the clothes I hand washed yesterday. It certainly isn’t important enough to turn back for so I’ll just not be hanging anything to dry for the next week.

There was a lot more nothing on the highway again today. The exception to this was the Barachois Pond provincial park where I ate lunch. The downside to going here was that the access road to it turned out to be a 2km detour downhill that I would have to climb back up later in order to continue.

I got into Corner Brook late in the afternoon and went to the info center to find the location of the campground. On the way out of town I went to get some groceries too. I didn’t go to a bike shop for a new wheel despite seeing a sign for one along the highway because I felt that the crack hasn’t gotten any worse and I can risk trying to finish the trip as it is. At the campground I noticed there was actually a broken spoke as well but since it had no noticable effect next to the crack I just taped the spoke in place and stuck with my risky decision.

Distance 139.19km
Time 5:53:46
Average Speed 23.60km/h
Max Speed 59.62km/h
Odometer 8129km

Suddenly I’m in Newfoundland. I took the 2:00am ferry across and arrived at about 9:00am Newfoundland time in Port aux Basques. The ferry had relatively comfortable airplane style seating that I managed to get a few hours of sleep in. I opted out of taking the last available bunk bed which would have cost an extra $16.

I find it difficult to properly describe the landscape around Port aux Basques but it is unlike anywhere I have been so far. There are large, uneven, green fields of nothing in every direction studded with boulders, small ponds, and lakes. This goes right from the rocky coastline into the nearby mountains. There is of course the small town which exists around and supports the ferry terminal.

I biked up to the visitors center to ask a few questions before I got on my way to crossing the final province of my trip. From there on out there was next to nothing on the highway except for perhaps one gas station and a few exits that headed towards costal towns. Unfortunatelly most of the costal towns don’t have direct connections between them and are accessible only by the roads leading out from the highway like spokes. Because of this I can’t visit them without a significant loss of time.

I stayed at the Crabbs River campground which is mostly in the middle of nowhere other than being located on a nice river. There are quite a few black flies around but I refused to hide out in my tent because it was such a nice afternoon. The firepit was already filled with pleny of branches and other wood for me to use for a campfire but unfortunatelly it burnt away very quickly when I had nothing more to add to it.

Distance 98.92km
Time 4:27:43
Average Speed 22.16km/h
Max Speed 52.67km/h
Odometer 7990km

I noticed this morning that my rear rim is cracked. It had started wobbling yesterday and I thought it was just a loose spoke until I examined it this morning. This likely happened because I changed my brake pads a little too late thinking they still had some time left and wore the rim out. It is still ridable and I assume I’ll be able to make it far enough to get a new wheel somewhere.

There was a long gradual climb up Cape Smokey which ended with a great view along the coast seeing the road curve steeply back down the cliffs. Like many of the hills on the cabot trail I think I’ve been fortunate in that they each look like the climb in the opposite direction would have been harder. After descending from the cape the road became much less hilly for quite a while.

I left the cabot trail later in the afternoon to take a tiny cable ferry across St. Anne’s bay as a shortcut towards the highway. A couple more large hills along the highway were between me and the ferry at North Sydney but I made it without any trouble. I asked at the visitors center about bike shops but they said the closest was at Sydney. This is unfortunatelly too far away to bike to before the shops would be closed for the day and I wasn’t willing to waste a day riding out there and back tomorrow to get a new wheel. Instead I would just have to risk another two days to get to Corner Brook.

I ate dinner and bought some groceries before going to the ferry terminal to book passage on the 2am ferry to Port aux Basques. I am taking that one so that I will get in the next morning and be able to spend a full day biking. I tried sleeping at the ferry terminal with little success. I may have nodded off a couple times but never for very long.

Distance 108.83km
Time 5:02:47
Average Speed 21.56km/h
Max Speed 56.40km/h
Odometer 7891km

This morning it briefly poured rain while I sat around at the hostel but was done before I left. I stopped down the road only a few minutes after leaving to have breakfast because I was only carrying enough food for tomorrow’s breakfast and wouldn’t be able to buy more today.

Leaving Pleasant Bay involved what I estimate to be the worst mountain climb of the entire trip. I believe North Mountain rose about 400m in no more than 6km of road. That is a sustained grade of nearly 7% the whole way with some parts being even steeper I’m sure. To top it off, the weather was unseasonably hot with the temperature being in the high twenties combined with a high humidity I hadn’t felt since southern Ontario. I was stopping about every 500m for a break. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic on the road so I could use multiple lanes to zig-zag when restarting.

I had lunch at a nice picnic area near Neil’s Harbour where I also changed out of my cold weather clothes. I had been wearing them because of the rain in the morning expecting there was a chance it would start up again. When it didn’t and instead became sunny and hot I was sweating like crazy. There were several more smaller but still tough climbs as the road went along the eastern coast of the national park.

I camped at the Ingonish Beach campground in the park. It was nice but was more of a walk than I expected to get to the beach. I sat on the beach reading for a while but decided not to go for a swim. There were many people swimming though and being constantly crushed by the crashing waves. The waves could actually be heard all the way back in the campground throughout the night.

Distance 75.41km
Time 3:44:43
Average Speed 20.13km/h
Max Speed 60.20km/h
Odometer 7782km

I took a day off today sort of as a birthday present for myself and because I’ve ridden almost 2 weeks since my last one. In the morning I was cooked breakfast by Chloe, a girl staying at the hostel. Just about everyone staying at this hostel is nice like that. We then went for a quick hike at a nearby trail in the park before she went off to camp somewhere for a day or two.

Later in the morning I went out whale watching with Jeff, who runs the hostel and a whale watching business, and an indian family. If it hadn’t been for that family I wouldn’t have gotten to go out (or would have had to find a different company to go out with) because Jeff wants at least 4 people in the boat before he thinks it is worth it to go out. We saw dozens of pilot whales but unfortunately no humpbacks. From a distance we saw something large that Jeff suspects was a whale shark but by the time we got to where we saw it dive underwater it was gone and didn’t resurface. After about 90 minutes we headed back into the harbour.

I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, reading, and chatting with Celia, from Australia who was one of the only other people staying at the hostel this night. Later on we were all cooked dinner by the indian family who offered to cook for everyone staying at the hostel (presumably just because they wanted to cook for themselves instead of eating out). It was a simple meal of rice and some vegetables mixed in but still good and I’m certainly not going to argue with free food.

There was a very light drizzle of rain this morning which sped me on my way packing up. It didn’t last more than a few minutes. Unfortunately as a result of packing up quickly I forgot to fill any of my water bottles before leaving the campground and wasn’t able to find anywhere to fill them until much later in the day. As I finished lunch at Margaree Harbour, one of many quiet harbour villages along the coast, the rain started lightly and turned into a full downpour minutes later as I got on the road and continued for the rest of the day.

After taking a break in Cheticamp I continued along the cabot trail into the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Despite seeing it through rain, clouds, and fog I still found it to be an amazing area. The road starts off going through the bottom of a large valley until it reaches the coast and climbs up the top of the cliffs before climbing further inland up another valley. It was quite a long climb but I survived it without having to walk my bike like I saw some people doing in the other direction. Though at one point a cross wind felt like it was about to blow me off my bike as I sped down one of the steep hills. Just before Pleasant Bay there is a huge series of steep switchbacks that I am very glad I didn’t have to bike up.

When I got to the hostel people were impressed with my biking in out of the rain even before they knew where I biked from. The owner wasn’t around at the time but I was shown around anyways and had a shower before he returned from taking a group out whale watching to check me in. I went up the street to have dinner with two Australians who were also staying at the hostel. In the evening everyone at the hostel sat around having a good time. All in all, it turned out to be a decent birthday despite being away from everyone back home.

Distance 101.91km
Time 4:37:07
Average Speed 22.06km/h
Max Speed 68.38km/h
Odometer 7707km

Today I made it to Cape Bretton Island. After crossing the bridge I stopped at the visitors center to get some more information as well as a ferry schedule to Newfoundland. From there I headed up the Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) Trail along the coast which was a pretty nice ride with almost no traffic. In Port Hood I stopped for ice cream where they refused to let me pay once they learned about my trip.

Up the road in Inverness I decided to stop for the day because I saw there was a Ceilidh of traditional scottish music at the firehall in the evening. I went just a little ways down the road to the campground to setup and have dinner before heading back into town.

Distance 111.62km
Time 4:45:15
Average Speed 23.47km/h
Max Speed 57.97km/h
Odometer 7605km