First Impressions of Newfoundland

For many years I have wondered whether Newfoundland was rocky, as indicated by it´s nickname ¨The Rock¨, or swampy and full of terrain suitable only for moose and black-flies. After three days riding I can assure you, as can Margo’s neck, that the latter is more the case.  (The bites remind Margo of the National Film Board’s Blackfly movie based on a song of the same name.) To be fair many of the bites were from Cape Breton.

In Cape Breton we were warned about the hills in Newfoundland, and it felt similar to warnings we had in Spain about how dangerous it will be in Portugal (this is a recurring theme in our travels: you can replace Spain and Portugal with nearly any two adjacent jurisdictions in our travels). This time we have the advantage that we can be quantitative about the validity of these dire warnings. They are true: the average road gradient in Cape Breton was 1.83% and in Newfoundland 1.93%.

During the ride so far I have noted that only three types of permanent road warning signs are in use, an admirable simplification of road signage especially as one type displays a moose! (the other two are: road bend and lanes ending.)

2011/08/01: 110km Port aux Basques, NL to Crabbe River
In Port aux Basques everything was closed for a civic holiday so we were unable to provision up. So we left early on what turned out to be a pleasant day’s ride ending at a commercial campground at a bend in a river, very pretty spot but full of black flies. Along the way we met a guy who was untying his part Belgian draft horse from a mowing machine. He had been out cutting hay for the winter feed for the horse. From the camp site we went on a 5km side trip to the local store to buy provisions, prior to cooking supper.

2011/08/02: 61km to Barachois Pond Provincial Park
P1020951Another pleasant but quite uneventful day’s ride. We met one American touring cyclist whilst having lunch at a truck stop. He had ridden right to the tip of the Northern Peninsula and was returning southward. The campground was on a spectacular lake at the bottom of a steep hill. We had a lake front camp site and Margo swam off our private beach. As there had been no stores along the way we had boiled eggs and braised turnip for supper, and the Coleman fuel ran out!

2011/08/03: 75km to Corner Brook
P1020953In the morning the park wardens, who were doing the garbage pickup rounds, announced that they would take us back up the steep hill. Seems this free and friendly service is standard, and we felt to refuse would be impolite. So we got in the front cabin of the truck while Park Warden Don held onto our bikes in the back!


Typical roadside view. Note the swampy ground requires baskets of stones to be placed around the telephone poles.

We arrived in Corner Brook and went to McDonalds for wild berry smoothies and free Wifi. I was impressed by the McCafe fare; the golden arches are actually improving! We stopped by Canadian Tire and got some Coleman fuel, before going to Olivier and Lindsay´s for a delicious dinner in great company.

3 responses to “First Impressions of Newfoundland

  1. The shot of the back of Margo's head inspired me to go out and get some serious bug repellant!

  2. Good idea, Olivier uses some with 47% DEET. That is ¨serious bug repellant¨ Newfoundland style!

  3. I commiserate with Margo! Just one blackfly bite makes me react way worse than a mosquito bite. The nasty things actually take a chunk out of you. Don't know if they are after flesh or blood. They will follow a hair down to the follicle and surroundings, though, which explains the bites around the nape. Ouch!

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