Posted by: Silver | August 24, 2012

Sydney to Deer Lake

Sydney to Port aux Basques:
Cycling distance: 30 km
Ascent: 252 m
Cycling time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Port aux Basques to Stephenville:
Distance: 170 km
Ascent: 1550 m
Cycling time: 10 hours

Stephenville to Corner Brook:
Distance: 85 km
Ascent: 801 m
Cycling time: 4 hours, 55 minutes

Corner Brook to Deer Lake:
Distance: 56 km
Ascent: 385 m
Cycling time: 3 hours

Did you all read the statistics today? Did you all notice the really big number?! Yes, I’ve just set yet another new personal distance record (the 170km, or nearly 106 miles, from Port aux Basques to Stephenville), and once again, it was all a little bit unintentional and unplanned…

Even before I arrived on the island of Newfoundland (the Sydney to Port aux Basques statistics specify cycling distance because most of that route involved sitting on a ferry…), people had been telling me about The Wreckhouse: a stretch of highway outside Port aux Basques where the winds blow so fiercely at times that even trains could get blown off their tracks – or at least they could have been before “they took our trains away” (that was back in 1988, but you get the feeling that there’s still a certain amount of bitterness about it on the island…). When the forecast for the scheduled day of my departure from Port aux Basques promised heavy rain and strong winds, therefore, I didn’t exactly fancy my chances. Waiting until the following day would mean that I would have to get all the way to Stephenville in one go, rather than splitting the journey over two days as originally planned, but my very thoughtful Stephenville host offered a solution to that ‘little problem’ too: she was going to be driving home up the very same highway as me that evening, in a large van, so the plan was that I would just keep pedalling until she caught up with me, then we would bundle Ranger into the back of the van and drive the rest of the way!

But for whatever reason, when I got out on the road, I was just smokin’ along! There wasn’t much tailwind, but I was still making outrageously good time, and actually made it all the way to Stephenville a good hour or more before my host got home! (Fortunately, her children were home and made me very welcome, so I didn’t have to sit on the doorstep waiting!) Truly, I have turned into a cycling machine…!

So the only other necessary element in this change of plan was an extra night in Port aux Basques, but fortunately, my extremely kind host there said it would be no problem for me to stay; in fact, with a quiet night in prospect, he said he would be glad of the company. What neither of us knew, however, was that all his friends had been planning a surprise party for him, at his house! If I hadn’t felt so incredibly bad about sticking such an inadvertent spanner in their works, I’m sure it would have been funny, and everything did work out OK in the end (thanks largely to the amazing chivalry of my host), but it did bring home to me that, even after more than two years on the road, this journey can still throw me any number of curveballs…

I don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes about Newfoundland weather, but this was the view as I arrived in Port aux Basques on the ferry, and no, I haven’t turned this into a black and white photo: that’s what colour it was…!

I was on such good form the day of my ride to Stephenville, I didn’t even mind the horribly steep hill that appeared after more than 160km of pedalling! And I minded it even less when I saw the view from the top!

There are a lot of moose in Newfoundland, and moose and cars do not make a good mix, so I wasn’t surprised to see protective fences along the road on my way to Corner Brook – but they did make ‘nipping into the bushes’ somewhat difficult…!

Can you see the Old Man in the Mountain?! (hint: it’s just his face, he’s towards the bottom left, looking to the right, with a pointy chin and a black cap) This is a local landmark just outside Corner Brook

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Responses

  1. Hello Silver,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and want to thank and encourage you again for what you’re doing for SOS Children’s Villages awareness. Brave girl!

    Safe & happy trails!

    Warm regards,

    Lois Bouchard

    _____


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