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  1. #1
    Member coldcanuck's Avatar
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    2005 Cycle across Newfoundland!

    This is sort of an extension from the discussion about eastern Canada from the Touring 2005 cycling forum.

    I'm looking for anyone who's crossed the rock... I'm interested in finding a neat route. We're looking at spending some time on the Trans Canada Trail (which isn't even close to finished), and we're trying to find ways of spending as little time as possible on the Trans Canada. We're planning on starting in St. John's and finishing in Halifax.

    Any ideas? Any must sees?

  2. #2
    extra-t Resident's Avatar
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    Hmm, I've travelled around 'da rock', and found this out; cycling from St. John's to Port-aux-Basques would avoid the wonderful scenery Newfoundland has to offer. Depending on the amount of time you have, I'd suggest riding the Avalon peninsula (about 1000kms), clockwise from St. John's. This gets you into more traditional outports, and their colourful histories.
    The area around Burgeo is great as well, but I'd recommend bussing it from the city first.
    Your other option would be to start in Stephenville (west coast) and ride north to Western Brook pond, and take the ferry into the fjord. Very nice! Unfortunately, there's only one road (out and back).

    PM me if you need more info.

    Dwayne
    Taking photos of your lovely planet...

  3. #3
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    Roadwise, the TCH (Transcanada highway) is not bad. It's a 2-lane road with plenty of passing lanes and very wide paved shoulders. And what they consider "heavy traffic" would be considered "quiet" anywhere else. Still, I agree with you that avoiding it when you can is a good idea to get more of that local colour.

    In terms of direction, this definitely is a province where riding FROM Port-aux-Basques TO St. John's makes a lot more sense than going West.

    MUST SEES:

    - The West Coast. From P-A-B. to St. Georges's, including the Codroy Valley. You could ride some of the tiny roads along the shores (TCH is 5-6 km inland) and use the T'Railway to link these short sections of roads.
    The Codroy valley is still nice. But one aspect that struck me back in 1981 is that good farming was done in that region. Alas, farming seems to have disappeared between 1992 and 2004, probably because farmers had an even more difficult time now that they can't fish.

    - A side trip from Corner Brook to Blow-Me-Down. (50 harduous km each way, but gorgeous).

    - From Deer Lake, North to Norris Arm and Rocky Harbour (in Gros Morne National Park). Superb, but also quite hilly. I don't think it's worthed to ride North of Gros Morne, unless you have a way to come back from St. Anthony (350 km of almost nothing North of Gros Morne) or find a different road.
    Boat? Boat services are cut each time a new route opens.
    Back via the Blanc-Sablon and the Trans-Labrador? Great idea and great scenery (I'm told), if you fancy the idea of 750-1000 km of gravel or mud and enjoy mosquitoes that big.

    - Be careful: no food from Deer Lake to Lewisporte.

    - Around the bay (highway series 340) from Lewisporte to Twillingate, but then back to Gander.

    - As for the Avalon peninsula, I drove around much of the Southern parts, but didn't enjoy it too much: too desolate, too barren and utterly windy. You will get a condensed version of this on the West Coast. The Eastern and Northern sides of the peninsula are much easier, weatherwise and windwise.

    - Finally if you ride both ways and look for a different road, you might look at riding from Millertown (? - near the mouth of the Exploits River) on highway 370 on the northern side of the Expoits Lake, until you connect via unmarked forestry roads to highway 480. Back in 1981, I had a friend to use as a base point in that area. Otherwise, food supplies are nil.

    - The T'Railway offers a few alternatives, like on the West Coast. Some work has been done on the base, but generally it is not in good condition to be used for a cycling trip; it has evolved in a trail for all-terrain vehicles ... though they seem to ride it at a decent speed.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    We took our travel trailor there two years ago. There aren't all that many roads, the more interesting ones are very rough and narrow at least on the west side of the Island. We did day rides. I've never toured, but to me, Newfoundland is not prime biking country because of the roads. The natives seem to drive really fast on those narrow roads too. That said, we went no further East than Bonavista.

    Gros Morne was the highlight of the trip. We spent about 5-days there and did most of the hikes. The best hikes were over and around Gross Morne mountain, Green Gardens trail and going cross-country up to and around the top of Table Lands.

    I've been a lot of places in the US, Canada, and Europe; the west half of Newfoundland Island is one of the most unique and interesting places I've visited.

    Al
    Last edited by Al.canoe; 01-06-05 at 07:18 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldcanuck
    This is sort of an extension from the discussion about eastern Canada from the Touring 2005 cycling forum.

    I'm looking for anyone who's crossed the rock... I'm interested in finding a neat route. We're looking at spending some time on the Trans Canada Trail (which isn't even close to finished), and we're trying to find ways of spending as little time as possible on the Trans Canada. We're planning on starting in St. John's and finishing in Halifax.

    Any ideas? Any must sees?

    I was born in Newfoundland, grew up there, rode my bike there both MTB and road. Never croossed the island by bicycle though. In 2000 I moved to Halifax, NS.

    However, being from there, and riding the outskirts of St. John's and the Avalon Penninsula, plus having driven across that thing, more times that I wish to count, I feel that I am qualified to comment.


    - Nfld is the most miserable place in the world to ride a bike. RDFW - Rain, Drizzle, Fog and Wind. Although, riding a bike in South Asia or Iraq might be a tad worse right now. Be aware of cold and rain. Not vertical rain, but horizontal rain. In Nfld you don't get wet on your head and shoulders, but rather on one side, due to the force of the wind.

    - ride from west to east, Port Aux Basques to St. John's. It blows everyday, all day in Nfld. The average wind speed is 30km/h. Here in Halifax it is 10km/h. Keep in mind that is AVERAGE. If you are into S and M then do the opposite.

    - The Trans Canada is your only choice to go from west to east (or vice versa). You can do SOME loops off of that, but that is the only road available to get from Port Aux Basques to St. John's. Otehrwise, it's out and then back to the TCH.

    - Traffic is generally light.

    -Trans Canada has a fairly wide shoulder. The shoulder through Terra Nova Park is like another lane - VERY wide. The only place that you should be aware of is around Appleton. The road isn't (or wasn't last year) in the best shape and there was not much shoulder to speak of. This will last about 20-30km, give or take. No shoulders on the secondary roads. Yes, locals tend to drive fast and they don't see much by way of spandex clad cyclists very often in those parts. You'll be stared at.

    - If you do loops off of the TCH keep in mind that services can be few and far between. Even on the TCH, service can be quite a distance apart. For example, if you head down the Bay d' Espoir highway (360) to Harbour Breton make sure you load up on water and food. There is NOTHING for 200km until you get to Harbour Breton. I know this because my mother is from that area and my parents have a....cottage there, where they spend the summer months.

    - You will not find more diverse scenery, culture, dialect, food, etc anywhere else in the world.

    - Man, that island sure is hilly. Adjust number of chainrings and gearing accordingly. Can't fit a forth chainring on your bike can you? Gros Morne PArk is WAY hilly. But great scenery. People here in Nova Scotia talk about the challenge of Cape Brenten. HAH! But a mere bump, I say!

    - Oh, did I mention about the rain and wind? Be prepared for it.

    My suggestion is, if you want to avoid the TCH as much as possible, to take the TCH from Port Aux Basques to the Notre Dame Junction, just past Bishops Falls. In between there you can go up Gros Morne, or the Baie Verte Penninsula, but eventually, if you want to go to St. John's, you have to come back to the TCH. At the junction head north on the 340, which takes you to 331, 330 and 320 back to the TCH at Gambo. This loop will provide you with great scenery, good accommodations and services. Although it WILL bypass Gander which is where the planes were grounded from the WTC terroist attack. Get the book "When the World Came To Town" and read up on it.

    The loop around the Avalon Penninsula is good that leaves St. John's down to Ferryland, Trepassey, St. Marys, back to the TCH (GASP!) and then onto St. John's. Similarly, the loops north of St. John's - Conception Bay, Torbay, etc my old riding spot is great.

    If you want more info PM me, I'd be happy to help.

    These links may offer you some help also:

    http://www.atl-canadacycling.com/

    http://home.thezone.net/~jduffett/stjohns.htm

    When are you planning to do the ride? I head back to Nfld every summer. Perhaps we can meet and I'll show you around St. John's and areas?

    Digger

  6. #6
    Member coldcanuck's Avatar
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    Thanks again all! Especially Digger! I think we've realized that the cycle accross Nfld may be a bit much... this would be my wife and I's first real tour together, and I don't want to scare her away . I think we may start in Nova Scotia this summer and spend a good deal of time getting to know Cape Breton... BUT, Newfoundland is still on the radar screen! I've been dying to go back to the Rock since I drove out there with four friends in '97.

  7. #7
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    Goodness you guys are spectacular.. really great, its my dream to ride Newfoundland, as well as further inland. Im a HUGE fan of Canada. ah i loved traveling around Nelson BC, The Kootenays, Lake Louise, Canmore, Winnipeg... really awesome

    peace from staten island NY, and from your bike!
    -=steve

  8. #8
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldcanuck
    Thanks again all! Especially Digger! I think we've realized that the cycle accross Nfld may be a bit much... this would be my wife and I's first real tour together, and I don't want to scare her away . I think we may start in Nova Scotia this summer and spend a good deal of time getting to know Cape Breton... BUT, Newfoundland is still on the radar screen! I've been dying to go back to the Rock since I drove out there with four friends in '97.

    Not trying to discourage you lad, but if it is your FIRST tour....mmmmm, may want to stick a bit closer to home.

    Just take a look at this link, its a Tour Du Canada journal back in 2003. Go to the last log entry, day 66 which is from the Argentia Ferry to St. John's. http://www.tourducanada.com/Journals.htm

    The log entry describes an easterly wind, during the summr the prevailing wind is westerly (which is why I stated ride west to east), unfortunately for this guy, it turned out to be a headwind all the way.

    Let me relate my own little experience: I use to live in the east end of St. John's. There is a park out on the TCH called ButterPot Park and was about 40km west, one way from my house. It was an out and back ride for me. Like I said the prevailing winds are westerly, so I always had a headwind going out and a tailwind coming back, which is ideal.

    However, for a 40km distance it took me 2.5 hours to get out there, 15-16km/h average speed. How long to get back? About 1 hour 15 minutes Man, with that tailwind I was a two wheeled rocket, just a screamin'!

    Keep Nfld in mind, but any kinks in your touring style, bike, equipment, etc should be worked out before Nfld.

    Digger

  9. #9
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    ColdCanuck,

    If you want divorce or if you want her first tour to be her last, then go to tour Newfoundland. It takes a seasoned tourer to see all the challenges as stimulating rather than discouraging, and with bike shops only in Corner Brook (Canadian Tire), Carbonear (maybe) and St. John's, you really need to iron out the bugs before you go there.

    If you want to ride in Eastern Canada, I would suggest the Maritime provinces which offer in most places a choice between a fast road (where all cars and trucks go) and a local road, plus lots of villages and services. Or from Ottawa, you might also tour along the Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence seaway (Brian Hedney offers very good road advice)) or in Québec in the St. Lawrence valley or the Eastern Townships. The latter would offer you lots of hills to practice your hill-climbing skills, some very secluded areas (especially East of Sherbrooke) and wonderful scenery.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  10. #10
    Member coldcanuck's Avatar
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    Hahahahaha! Thanks to everyone for the relationship advice. We're both taking the summer off and planning to do some local overnighters around the Bruce peninsula to iron out bugs before heading out east. Thanks again for all the help!

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