The Edge of Wilderness

Day 8: April 26 – Haast to Fox Glacier*

Daily Distance = 86.92km, Trip Total = 218.75km, Today’s Climb = 570m

*Cycled 13km south of Haast to Bruce Bay, drove Bruce Bay to Fox Glacier

 

One thing I have noticed that now exists on google maps which I didn’t realize with the last trip: is the bike option which shows elevation ascent and descent.  For example, here’s the google cycle route from Queenstown to Wanaka:

It's probably small and grainy, but on the left hand side of the screen you can see the elevation ascent and descent

It’s probably small and grainy, but on the left hand side of the screen you can see the elevation ascent and descent

 

I’ve only been on the road two days, but every night before the next days ride it has become a necessary habit to check out the following ride.  How much does it climb?  Where are the climbs?  Is it gradual or quick?  Given our spotty wifi last night and no cell service to create a hotspot for my laptop (I’ve only been able to get this info using my laptop, I can’t seem to find it on my iPhone or my folks tablet).  Regardless, I wasn’t able to get the info for the upcoming day and felt a little lost.  I knew the first 13km would be flat because I’d be backtracking the road we came in on.  After that it’s hard to say.  Terrain can change quickly with each km in the mountains.

So I headed out with the mindset that every km of flat and downhill is a bonus!

One lane bridge and flat terrain south of Haast

One lane bridge and flat terrain south of Haast

 

Mom had noticed the previous night that some of the trees along this stretch of the road must really feel the impact of a dominate wind as they have a lean and in some cases are barren:

I wonder which way the wind blows here?

I wonder which way the wind blows here?

 

Shortly after I got back on Hwy 6 I came up to a rather lengthy one lane bridge.  I usually ride right down the middle of these to prevent vehicles from trying to edge past me.  Fortunately this bridge which was probably just over 1/2km long had a couple of passing bays.  This is a pretty remote area, so I only encountered two vehicles while on the bridge and fortunately I was close to a passing bay at the time so I didn’t have to slow traffic down too much.

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View of the river from the passing bay on the bridge

View of the river (or the rocky bed of the river) from the passing bay on the bridge

 

We have also noticed between Queenstown and here that the majority of the rivers are currently without water and mostly just rocky footbeds.

My route for the next several days

Heading to the glaciers

I say a few of these signs along the west coast, all with slightly different wording

I saw a few of these signs along the west coast, all with slightly different wording, like ‘NZ roads are different, allow extra time’

 

Around 25km’s into my (so far flat) ride my parents had passed me and were pulled into a rest spot.  I stopped to chat and grab a quick snack and they told me they had stopped at an I-site (tourist info) in Haast.  They asked the lady working there to bring up the elevation info between Haast and Fox Glacier and took a picture of it for me.  I now had intel on the ride ahead!  We didn’t stop for long as we were getting bitten like crazy from sandflies.  This would be the trend for the day.  Fortunately they didn’t bother me when cycling, but at almost every stop they were there!

About 5km’s later I was climbing again until I reached Knight’s lookout which was a pretty busy spot.  Mom and dad were chatting to a group that they had bumped into at a previous lookout point earlier in the day.  Apparently there was an area that a pod of dolphins could be seen, but I completely missed it.

Starting to get glimpses of the Tasman Sea

Starting to get glimpses of the Tasman Sea

The road ahead

The road ahead

Knight's lookout point

Knight’s lookout point

 

From Knight’s lookout it was a blissful descent followed by lots of flat road.

Another rocky river bed

Another rocky river bed

 

Given the lack of daylight hours compared to when I had done the Canadian trip and the number of km’s between towns in this area, the days on the bike feel a bit rushed.  It seems almost like a bit of a race to get as much cycling in during daylight as possible and still reach our destination during daylight as well.  I’m hoping when I get to the north island there will be more towns closer together and I don’t have to worry about covering as much ground in a day.  At my slow cycling pace it would be difficult to cover this area of the country on my own at this time of the year.  I would definitely have to split the days into shorter distances and camp along the way.  Fortunately I have my parents with me and I get a more spoiled version of the trip: I can hitch a ride when I want, I don’t have to carry my gear, I have meals made for me, etc.  Thanks parents! :)

A view of the mountains while taking a break on the side of the road

A view of the mountains while taking a break on the side of the road

 

When I arrived in Bruce Bay, we packed the bike in the car and drove the last stretch to our accommodations for the night at Fox Glacier.  In Fox Glacier we had the luxury of having cell service and wifi again!

Haast Pass

Day 7: April 25 – Wanaka to Haast*

Daily Distance = 62.00km, Trip Total = 131.83km, Today’s Climb = 713m

*Cycled Wanaka to Makarora, drove Makarora to Haast

 

Today I had over 150km to cover to our next available accommodation and about 10hrs of daylight (it’s generally light enough to start cycling around 7:30am and gets dark after 5:30pm).  I usually assume I can cover about 10km/hr and cycling in the dark in the mountains is out of my comfort level so, mathematically the numbers didn’t add up.  Fortunately I have parents who have a vehicle with me for this stretch of the trip!  So we agreed that I would head out in the morning and then I would stop cycling at 3pm, they would pick me up wherever I was at that point and we’d drive the rest of the way to our next night’s stop.

After a bagel and Nutella for breakfast, I was on the road by 9am.  I took Hwy 84 out of Wanaka and in a couple short km’s I turned left on Hwy 6.

The mountains coming through low hanging cloud

My view as I turned on to Hwy 6: mountains coming through low hanging cloud

 

Although the weather was a bit chilly in the morning, it was completely clear when I left.  Within 5km’s I ran in to a pretty heavy fog…

Bridge in Albert Town through the mist

Bridge in Albert Town through the fog

 

And on the other side of the bridge the fog got heavier, but I could see the sun starting to peak over the mountains so thought it would burn up quickly.

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I debated briefly picking up a trail that runs from Albert Town to Lake Hawea.  However after checking out the trail I thought it would be best to stay on the road.  While I was checking out the trail, the tour cyclist I met yesterday went rolling past with a wave!

Once I got back on the road the fog quickly dissipated.  After some small climbs and getting passed by a cyclist out on her road bike I found myself at a rest stop in Hawea where I grabbed a quick snack and carried on.

Looking over Lake Hawea from my rest stop in Hawea

Looking over Lake Hawea from my rest stop in Hawea (still some low hanging clouds)

 

I continued up Hwy 6 and pulled off at another scenic lookout overlooking Lake Hawea where I had a brief chat with an elderly man from the north island.

Another view of Lake Hawea

Another view of Lake Hawea

Here's the general view on this part of the highway; mountains to one side, road, lake to the other side

Here’s the general view on this part of the highway; mountains to one side, road, lake to the other side

 

The next 5km’s or so I felt the need to stop at every possible pullover and lookout point there was.  At the time I couldn’t understand why; but when I got to enjoy about 10km’s of pretty steady downhill later in the day, I realized I must have been climbing earlier!

The road veers from Lake Hawea and picks up the north shore of Lake Wanaka pictured here

The road veers from Lake Hawea and picks up the north shore of Lake Wanaka pictured here

Another view of Lake Wanaka

Another view of Lake Wanaka

 

Around the 40km mark I started to realize I was running out of water.  And because I was carrying limited supplies as the majority of the gear was in the campervan with my parents I didn’t have my water purifier on me.  Fortunately I was able to pick up cell reception at a lookout point at Lake Wanaka and text my parents to let them know where I was (this is a remote area, so I’d lost cell reception for a couple hours until this point).  I biked another 10km’s or so (mostly the downhill noted earlier) and with only 1/2 a bottle of water left I decided to stay put at a picnic/lookout area approx 50km into my ride.  Within 5min my parents pulled up and re-filled my water.  Note to self: going forward I’ll have to keep extra water or the water purifier on hand.

Mom and dad kindly cooked up some soup for lunch and about an hour later I was back on the road.  I was able to make it to Makarora by the time 3pm rolled around and we packed the bike into the van for the rest of the drive to Haast.

Waterfall at a scenic pullover point along Haast pass

Waterfall at a scenic pullover point along Haast pass

Snow topped mountains in the distance

Snow topped mountains in the distance

 

Haast is a pretty small town (300 people), so we were a bit surprised when our GPS took us past Haast and off Hwy 6 down a small sideroad about 13km’s where it told us our destination was located in a random field with some logs.  We continued down the road another couple hundred meters where we saw a house with a little sign indicating this was our motel for the evening.  Our hotel consisted of two small buildings each having 2 units.  The place itself was quite nice other than having spotty wifi access (apparently it has been an issue for about 4 wks, but given how rural they are, they are not high on the priority list).  I will say, these accommodations where probably just a little too remote for my liking.  It seems at this point I still like to be amongst people!

And it begins!

Day 6: April 24 – Queenstown to Wanaka

Daily Distance = 69.83km, Trip Total = 69.83km, Today’s Climb = 1077m

 

After a rather restless night, I woke up and headed to the continental breakfast at the hotel with my parents.  I was anxious to get on the road and see what lay ahead.

It was about 8:30 when I set out.  I blindly followed the directions through Queenstown on my phone which led me through a rather hilly route (note to self, next time check elevation gain on routes in hilly towns!).  I spent about 2kms climbing and then made a quick steep and windy downhill to Hwy 6 (I can now confirm my brakes work!).

Lake Wakatipu from the edge of Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu from the edge of Queenstown

 

The first 20km heading north from Queenstown had light and manegable rolling hills, it felt good to start my journey!  A few km’s in I realized my back wheel was a little low on air, so I was a bit concerned I might have a flat, but after a quick top-up I was good to go again.  I’ve now tested that all my gears, both brakes and my tire pump work!

Lake Hayes

Time for a snack at Lake Hayes

 

Just past Arrow Junction I turned left on Crown Range Road to start heading up my first set of switchbacks and my first mountain.  It took about an hour to go the next 3kms, mostly walking with breaks every 100-200 meters, usually on the side of the road perched on any guardrail I could find.

 

Time for a snack and sunscreen re-application at the top of the switchback lookout

Time for a snack and sunscreen re-application at the top of the switchbacks

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The switchbacks which take approx 1hr to walk with a bike ;)

The switchbacks which take approx 1hr to walk with a bike ;)

 

After the switchbacks the road went to a steady uphill grade for the next 5km, which I could at least get back on the bike for.  The following 3km was back to walking as the road made another steady climb.  It was during this last 3km climb that I was overtaken by another tour cyclist also walking his bike up the mountain.  This encouraged me for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t the only tour cyclist on the road and 2) I wasn’t the only one walking this stretch!

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Each bend in the road I tried to convince myself that the next one would be the top.  Finally I started to see a carpark with some hiking trails leading from it so I started to hope that was the peak and guess what?  It was!

10km's and several hours of climbing later I'd conquered my first mountain

10km’s and several hours of climbing later I’d conquered my first mountain

View from the summit, around the middle of the frame there is a lake - that's Lake Wakatipa (where I had started the day)

View from the summit, around the middle of the frame, nestled between the valley of the mountains there is a lake – that’s Lake Wakatipu (where I had started the day)

 

After summiting the mountain I had a quick drop for about 4km followed by about 35km’s of gradual descent through the valley and into Wanaka.

Valley ride on the way into Wanaka

Valley ride on the way into Wanaka

Stopped for a quick photo op in Cardrona along the valley road

Stopped for a quick photo in Cardrona along the valley road

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Otherwise, I made a speedy ride to Wanaka.  The owner of our hotel for the night didn’t really want me to park my bike in the room, but when I explained that I have gadgets attached to it, she seemed more open to the idea.  Once we got checked in I prepped my snacks for the next day, showered and cleaned up while mom made dinner.  After dinner we took a quick walk into town and called it an early night.

Overall, I was happy with my first day on the road, it felt great to get back on the bike and move myself from point A to point B.  I almost cycled 70km’s and climbed 1,000m.  Not bad considering this is the longest ride I have done in about 1.5yrs and definitely the most climbing I have done in 4yrs (have I mentioned that I haven’t really trained for this adventure???).  Time really did get away from me prepping for this trip, so I figure I’ll have to train up on the way!

Time to think of cycling

Day 5: Sun. Apr. 23 – Queenstown

So here I am, day 5 of what is supposed to be a cycling trip and my bike is still sitting in its bike box.  To be perfectly honest, I’m a little overwhelmed by the thought of cycling through the mountains that surround me given I only have about six 2hr bike rides under my belt so far this year and that was all on flat terrain.  And I’m getting more than a bit nervous about the road condition reviews my parents are providing from their pre-scouting (they have spent the past week and a bit driving from Auckland to Queenstown and deem the roads narrow, in some cases steep with no shoulder/guardrails and fast drivers).  Oh well, I’ve come all this way, so might as well give it my best shot and if I can’t do it OR I feel like it’s too dangerous or not enjoyable, than I will shift the focus of the trip :)

Our breakfast was spent chatting with a gent and his daughter who were in town from Sydney Australia to do some hiking.  Over the course of breaky we were able to get some more useful info about what lays ahead in Australia.

After breakfast it was time to finally pull the bike out of the box and see if I could get it back in one functioning piece.  With some help from my folks, we were actually able to do this way quicker than I expected – under 1 hr.  And even better: at first flush the brakes and gear shifters still seem to be working, altho tomorrow when I start riding will be the true test!

After the bike was put together, we headed out for groceries.  Groceries have proven to be a bit of sticker shock.  I’d been forwarned that things would be pricey, but I guess I wasn’t expecting just HOW expensive!  Needless, groceries are a necessity and we were able to drive to a local Pak and Save which has some of the better prices around.  This would be the last Pak and Save that we’ll come across on the South Island given our route, so we stocked up as much as we could.  After a couple hours of grocery shopping we then spent about an hour chasing down a fuel canister for my portable camping stove.  We spent another 1/2hr or so looking for a cheap bike rack that we could attach to our campervan, but when we weren’t having any luck on this front we decided to not look any further (I was getting tired and hangry! lol!).  

I had considered doing some (or at least one) of the many adventure options that Queenstown has to offer, in particular the shotover jet boat, but given my motion sickness from the day before I decided to keep my day low key and mellow.

Overlooking Queenstown from our hostel

Overlooking Queenstown from our hostel

 

Back at our hostel, I started portioning out some food servings for the next few days lunches and organizing my gear into what I’ll carry on my bike with me and what will ride in the van.  Given my parents are joining me for this leg of the trip I have the luxury (and will take advantage) of carrying minimal supplies on my bike. :)

Next I started looking at accommodation options for the next night, and to our surprise there weren’t a lot of options left.  Given it’ll be a weekday and we suspect we are not in the main tourist season we didn’t think accommodations would be an issue.  However, given the limited selection for the following night, we actually decided to research and book our accommodations for the next 4 nights (instead of waiting until the day before or day of as originally planned).

I spent the rest of the night updating my blog.  Given it is close to midnight, pictures will have to wait for another day!

Time to get some R&R and see how my first day on the road goes tomorrow!!

Milford Sound

Day 4: Sat. Apr. 22 – Milford Sound

Suffering from a bit of jet lag, I was WIDE awake today from 2am – 4am.  So when my alarm went off at 5:15am I wasn’t an overly happy camper.  My parents and I grabbed a quick breakfast of toast and peanut butter, packed up our vehicle, checked out of our hotel and dropped off our campervan at our next nights accommodation just up the road about 1km.  Sidenote: In a later post I will provide a story (including pictures) on the campervan that my parents rented for their New Zealand trip.  Second sidenote: at some point I’ll get some pictures inserted in the posts as well – as of yet I haven’t spent anytime to move pictures to my laptop to insert into the site.  Stay tuned! [Update – pics are now inserted into posts!]

By 6:30am we were at our designated bus tour pick up location for the 5hr+ trip to Milford Sound.  We had an awesome bus driver/tour guide for our journey, who provided us with a pile of information along the way.  Unfortunately I was actually feeling some motion sickness (in hindsight, I think spending 10+ hrs on a bus the day after stepping off a 30+hr flight/layover wasn’t wise).  So I wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery along the drive or absorb as much of the info as I normally would like.

My parents chatting with our bus driver/tour guide for the day

My parents chatting with our bus driver/tour guide for the day

 

Mirror Lakes - notice the sign above the lake showing a pretty perfect reflection in the lake

Mirror Lakes – notice the sign above the lake showing a pretty perfect reflection in the lake

 

The mountains reflected in mirror lake

The mountains reflected in mirror lake

 

Believe it or not, a 1km tunnel runs through this part of the mountain

Believe it or not, a 1km tunnel runs through this part of the mountain

 

Here's the view from the other side of the tunnel!

Here’s the view from the other side of the tunnel!

 

Mountains

Mountains

Regardless, when we arrived in Milford Sound we had a 2hr boat cruise travelling out the fjord to the Tasman Sea and back.  The mountains on both sides of us were massive and breathtaking.  Words really can’t do it justice, so I’ll provide an update when I have some pictures inserted into this post.

A view from our boat tour dock

A view of Milford Sound from our boat tour dock

 

My parents taking in the views at Milford Sound

My parents taking in the views at Milford Sound

 

Some pics along our boat tour in Milford Sound:

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Trying to show a little perspective on the sheer size of the mountains, that tiny dot slightly to the right of centre in the water is a kayaker

Trying to show a little perspective on the sheer size of the mountains, that tiny dot slightly to the right of centre in the water is a kayaker and this pic only shows a small fraction of the mountain

 

This shows the same area of the mountain, the kayaker is now a tiny spec above my dad's glasses

This shows the same area of the mountain, the kayaker is now a tiny spec above my dad’s glasses

 

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We arrived back in Queenstown around 7:30pm, went for a quick walk to pick up some food, I had a gravol to ease my woozy head and had another early night.

The Flight

Day 1 to 3: Wed. Apr. 19 – Fri. Apr. 21 – The Flight

My brother dropped me off at the Toronto airport in the morning of Wed. Apr. 19th.  I did a much better job of packing my gear this time around and was actually within the allowed luggage criteria so I didn’t have any extra baggage fees this time!  Yaaaay for living and learning!  Apparently the new Toronto oversized luggage machine no longer fits bike boxes (the old one did), so I had to undue the excellent taping job, pull out some of the loose odds and ends and have everything manually scanned.  At least they provided tape after everything was successfully scanned and cleared.

The first leg of my flight was from Toronto to Dallas.  A 7.5hr layover in Dallas, followed by an overnight flight (approx 17hrs) to Sydney.  A 3.5hr layover in Sydney and the final flight to Queenstown.  In total, I believe the time in transit was about 34hrs.  I flew out of Toronto at noon on Wed. Apr. 19th (Toronto time) and landed in Queenstown, NZ on Fri. Apr. 21st at 3pm (New Zealand time).

View from the plane

View from the plane

 

My bike being loaded into the last flight from Sydney to Queenstown

My bike being loaded into the last flight from Sydney to Queenstown

 

First glimpse of the southern alps from plane

First glimpse of the southern alps from plane

 

I had been given a heads up from multiple people that New Zealand is pretty strict about what they allow in to the country.  I believe it’s to prevent insects, disease, etc.  So it wasn’t a surprise to me that I had to have some equipment scanned in the ‘biohazard’ area.  They asked some questions about my bike, but when I explained I’d only had it for about a month and it’s had limited miles on it they said they wouldn’t need to check it.  My tent on the other hand was a different story.  This they had to pull into a separate room behind closed doors and scan/clean it.  They returned it about 15min later for me to repack.  All the security employees at the airport were super friendly and very curious about my upcoming trip.  One lady even gave me some advice on a particular road NOT to cycle.  I was also encouraged to see as I went through customs that there was another passenger coming off my flight with a bike box in tow.

My parents had flown to New Zealand the week before, so they gratefully met me at the airport (at the time that I was repacking my tent).  After getting all of my gear back together I headed over to Vodafone to pick up a travel SIM card.  The agent there was also super helpful and actually made sure my phone was up and running again before I left the counter.

From the airport we immediately went to our hotel for the night in Queenstown.  From there it was a pretty lazy evening.  A walk outside felt amazing after having so much stale air between airports and planes (sometimes it really is about the small things)!

After a walk, shower and dinner I was asleep pretty early.

Here we go again

Tues. Apr. 18th – Last minute errands in Toronto

My brother was kind enough to come visit me in the afternoon, to which I immediately put him to work helping me pack up my bike.  The bike was a bit of a tight fit in the bike box but after taking off the pedals, handlebars, front tire, front racks, seat, half of the rear rack and deflating the tires we were able to squeeze it in along with some of the empty panniers.  The rest of my gear was packed into a regular cardboard box.  Both boxes were then heavily taped at all seams.  In total the gear including bike was about 90lbs.

Next on our list was a walk to the local Rogers store to drop off the rental PVR and modem.  No luck tho, unfortunately the store was closed due to a Jay’s game, so my brother offered to drop off the equipment for me the next day.

Last on our list of errands for the day was to pack up all of Dash’s supplies and drop her off at her new temporary home for the next 4mths (I should have taken a picture, but you’d be surprised how much gear goes along with a 10lb dog for 4mths)!  We managed to fit the majority of the food, treats, peepads, bowls, bed, crate, etc in her trailer and walked the two over to her sitters home.  It was tough to say goodbye, but I know she’ll be in great hands!  I also know peeps will miss the constant Dash talk in my posts, so I’ll save the story as to why I opted to leave her at home for this trip for another post!  And I’m sure there will be updates from the sitters that I can pass along so we can all get our Dash fix 😉

All of this took longer than I expected, so it was fairly late by the time we got home.  Thank goodness my bro was in town to help me out with the last minute (or should I say procrastinated?) logistics! :)

Some Trip Stats

Here are some fun facts from my trip:

Total days on the trip – 153

Number of days cycling – 92

Number of days resting & sightseeing this grand country – 61

 

And some facts around the cycling portion of my trip:

Average moving speed – 15.65 km/hr

Average km travelled in a day – 65.24

Total km travelled – 6,002.28

Total metres climbed – 35,516

Number of days over 100km – 5

Time spent in the saddle – 390.25 hrs

Average time in the saddle per day – 4.5 hrs

Longest # of days in a row cycling – 7 days, covered 523.5km (Quebec City, QC to Campbellton, NB)

Warmest temperature – 41 degrees celsius (Grand Bend to Sarnia, ON)

Coldest temperature – 3 degrees celsius (Vancouver to Victoria, BC)

Maximum speed reached – 53 km/hr (Argentia to Holyrood, NFLD)

Maximum daily average speed – 22.1 km/hr (Brooks to Medicine Hat, AB) – the joys of a prairie tailwind!

Minimum daily average speed – 10.5 km/hr (Chaplin to Moose Jaw, SK) – the not so pleasant prairie headwind

Highest metres climbed in a day – 1,188 (Argentia to Holyrood, NFLD)

Maximum km travelled in a day 115.03 (Amherst to Seafoam, NS)

Minimum km travelled in a day – 6.46 (Downtown Winnipeg to Airport, MB)

Longest day in the saddle – 8.25 hrs (Chaplin to Moose Jaw, SK) – dreaded prairie headwind

St. John’s

Day 151: September 12 – St. John’s

Today I walked the 4.5km from my hotel to the downtown core and spent some time at the main square reading on the historical significance of the fishing industry in Newfoundland, the events that have taken place in the past at the square in St. John’s, the devastating fires they have had in the past (the last one that burned a large part of the city was in 1892) and their beloved dogs the Newfoundland dog and Labrador.

Rennie's Mill Road Historic District - some of the more prominent houses built after the fire of 1846

Rennie’s Mill Road Historic District – some of the more prominent houses built after the fire of 1846

Same area

Same area

What St. John's is known for - the 'jelly bean' houses (named after the colourful houses)

What St. John’s is known for – the ‘jelly bean’ houses (named after the colourful houses)

These bright colors were quite common on the houses in St. John's

These bright colors were quite common on the houses in St. John’s

Another example of the jelly bean houses

Another example of the jelly bean houses

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

Statue at the main square in St. John's

Statue at the main square in St. John’s

Another harbour shot

Another harbour shot

Dash standing with statues of the Labrador and

Dash standing with statues of the Labrador and Newfoundland dog

Signal hill in St. John's

Signal hill in St. John’s

St. John's has a busy harbour

St. John’s has a busy harbour

Downtown street in St. John's

Downtown street in St. John’s

After learning more about the city and province I headed to a bike shop that I had called earlier in the morning to pick up a bike box.  I was pretty relieved that they had bike boxes available so had absolutely no problem paying the $10 they charged.  I then drudged the 5km from the bike shop to my hotel carrying an empty cardboard box while Dash occasionally getting tired of trying to dodge me and the bike box would dig her heels in and refuse to walk.  It’s odd how heavy an empty cardboard and a 10lb dog can begin to feel like 50lb!

Where I picked up a bike box

Where I picked up a bike box

Getting back to the hotel I had a quick shower, short nap and then called a cab to head back downtown to meet Emilie for dinner and a drink at the Yellow Brewery.  While in the cab I commented how I liked all the colorful buildings he told me that back in the 70’s the city found that it was too drab and dreary so they thought they would cheer things up by revitalizing the city with color.  He also mentioned that they keep building the homes in wood so that they can burn down in a great fire every 100 years or so (his words, not mine!).

After dinner and a couple pints, Emilie and I headed to Christians on George St. to register for being screeched in.  Christians was recommended to us from our waitress at the Yellow Brewery.  The screeching in process wasn’t going to start until 11:30, so we had a few drinks at the bar while we got to know Mike the bartender.  Just before 11:30 Mike gave Emilie and I a heads up that we were not well positioned for a good view of the screeching in process.  He told us which area of the bar we should go to and gave us the queue of when to go.  It’s good to get to know the bartender!  Our screeching in process was about 30min long and was led by a man dressed in fishing gear with a paddle (actually, I watched The Amazing Race Canada the other day when they were in St. John’s and I’m almost positive that the guy I was screeched in by was the same guy who screeched in the Amazing Race Canada contestants.  Once I get the pictures updated you can judge for yourself!).  After kissing the cod and drinking the shot of screech we were all given very official certificates.  By about 1am I had to tap out so I hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel were I immediately fell asleep.

George St. - LOTS of bars and pubs!

George St. – LOTS of bars and pubs!

The guy who screeched us in

The guy who screeched us in

Telling us a story

Telling us a story

Kissing the cod

Kissing the cod

Officially screeched in and an honorary newfie!

Officially screeched in and an honorary newfie!

 

Day 152: September 13 – St. John’s

After an incredibly slow morning I eventually dragged myself out of the hotel and walked the 5km to Signal Hill.  The views from here are phenomenal!  I’ll post pictures eventually – I promise!  I spent about an hour walking some of the trails at Signal Hill and some time just hanging out and staring at the Atlantic.  Still hard to believe how far I have travelled on my bike this summer!

Halfway up signal hill

Halfway up signal hill

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

St. John's

St. John’s

The Atlantic Ocean!!

Part way up signal hill

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

The castle on signal hill

That spec is the castle on signal hill

Some info on the fires in St. John's

Some info on the fires in St. John’s

Another pic of St. John's harbour

Another pic of St. John’s and the harbour

Canons along signal hill

Canons along signal hill

Pond part way up signal hill

Pond part way up signal hill

Castle on signal hill - no longer a spec!

Castle on signal hill – no longer a spec!

The Atlantic Ocean!!!

The Atlantic Ocean!!!

Dash taking a look around

Dash taking a look around at the top of signal hill

Dash and I enjoying the ocean view at Signal Hill - don't mind my hair - it was WINDY!

Dash and I enjoying the ocean view at Signal Hill – don’t mind my hair – it was WINDY!

When I got back to the hotel I spent a couple hours dis-assembling my bike and packing it, as well as any other gear I could fit, into the bike box.  I then used a good half a roll of duct tape to ensure the box would remain closed on the flight.

Packing of my bike and gear

Packing of my bike and gear

One secured via duct tape bike box!

One secured via duct tape bike box!

 

Day 153: September 14 – St. John’s to Toronto

Shortly after 10am the pet friendly van cab showed up at my hotel to take me to the airport.  The cab driver was super friendly as he flipped all the seats down to fit the bike box in.  When we got to the airport he even hauled the bike box into the airport for me!  The rest of the check in process was pretty smooth.  Dash barked a couple times, but for the most part was well behaved. All of the staff at the airport were quite helpful in making sure all my gear made it where it needed to go and a couple people requested that I take Dash out of her carrier just because they wanted to see her.

Turns out I wasn’t the only person travelling with a dog on this flight, there was another dog in the row right behind me.  I was a bit surprised that they would put the dogs so close together, especially when the other dog would give a little bark and Dash would respond with her not so quiet bark.  Fortunately both dogs settled down relatively quickly and we had a smooth flight.

At the airport in Toronto I was greeted by Marijana who gave me a ride back to my condo.  After getting all my gear into the condo we went out for Burrito Boyz.  I am home again.

Anybody wanna go for a bike ride???

I’m here, I made it!!

Day 148: September 9 – Sydney to North Sydney

Daily Distance = 22.58km, Trip Total = 5,865.41km

I woke up at a reasonable hour, had breakfast, dropped off the rental car and packed up.  Packing is much quicker without all the camping gear!  I had a short jaunt from Sydney to North Sydney, for the most part taking rte 305 (except a quick detour on to hwy 125 where a bridge on rte 305 was under construction).  There was a decent cross wind today and I am already noticing the difference of not having my front panniers on the bike from the perspective of less weight (climbing hills has become easier) and the wind resistance (I’m not being buffeted by the wind as much as I was before and now have better control of the bike).  Note to self – for the next adventure, try to avoid using front panniers if possible.

Looking back on Sydney

Looking back on Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

I made it into North Sydney shortly after noon so I decided to walk the last couple of kilometres and give Dash a chance to stretch her legs before the long ferry crossing.  At the local Tim Horton’s I changed from my cycling clothes to my everyday clothes and re-arranged my gear so I had what I would need for the ferry ride.  Shortly after 1pm I rolled up to the ferry and began the process of waiting.  I didn’t actually have to be at the ferry ’till 3pm for a 5pm departure, so in hindsight I should have hung out in town until 3pm and then headed over.  I was expecting that I could check in, leave my bike and gear somewhere safe in the ferry terminal and then stroll around town handsfree but that wasn’t the case.  As I was the only cyclist in line I had a fair amount of people drop by and ask about my trip or come over and want to say hi to Dash so the time passed relatively quickly.

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

Shortly after 4pm we began loading the ferry and I got to roll on first in line with the motorcyclists.  I quickly went to work fastening my bike to a rail with some rope and then taking Dash up to the 10th deck where I had reserved a kennel space for her.

I spent the first hour of our ferry ride watching as we pulled away from land.  It takes a while to pass by the Cape Breton Mountains along the cabot trail, so it was a nice view to watch float past.  After about an hour of this, I headed down to the 7th deck for the buffet dinner.  Given I didn’t have lunch today, I was starving!  After dinner I headed back outside to watch the sunset over the water.  By now I feel like I know half the people on the ship through conversations started around Dash or over my bike trip so there was no shortage of company!  After the sun had fully set I headed into the brightly color chaired lounge area and joined a group of folks around my age (given most kids are back in school the ferry had mostly adults and was not by any measure full – I’m sure in the summer months it is a different environment).  We spent the next several hours chatting and playing cards.  Emilie is from Quebec and heading to St. John’s for a year to teach french.  Bruce and Jason are friends who grew up in Newfoundland, so they were giving Emilie and I advice on things to do and see.  Around midnight we did a quick check on our dogs and then headed to the movie theatre where we each claimed our own row of seats to sleep.  There are cabins available for rent on the ship, but at $170 + tax I had previously decided to forego this luxury (that $$ was better spent changing two previous camping nights into hotel nights!).

Pulling away from North Sydney

Pulling away from North Sydney

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North Sydney

North Sydney

 

Trail left in the water from the ferry

Trail left in the water from the ferry

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Excuse my hair - it was windy!

Excuse my hair – it was windy!

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Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Sun is about to set

Thoroughly enjoyed watching the changing colour of the sky at sea

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

Sun is getting ready to set

Sun is getting ready to set

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Sun is now set

Sun is now set

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

And Dash's sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

And Dash’s sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

 

Day 149: September 10 – Argentia to Holyrood

Daily Distance = 88.26km, Trip Total = 5,953.67km

I woke up around 8:30am proving yet again that after a summer of cycling I can sleep quite comfortably just about anywhere!  After calming my original panic that the boat had already docked and I was the only one left on the ship, I was both relieved and disappointed to find out that we wouldn’t be docking until 10am.  I had thought that the crossing was around 14-16hrs, so expected to be docking sometime between 7 and 9am (I guess 7:30 and 9:30 with the 1/2hr time change).  On the other hand, this gave me just the perfect amount of time to check on Dash, eat (buffet style breakfast) and then go out on deck to watch as we ported in Argentia.

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

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Some boats at dock in Argentia

Some boats at dock in Argentia

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly.  The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly. The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

From a town perspective there doesn’t seem to be much in Argentia.  It sounds like much of the original town was required to relocate in 1940 when this particular area of land was leased to the US and made into a US naval base.

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

After gathering Dash from the kennel I headed down to my bike and was I happy that I had roped it up, because it had a pretty good lean on and would have fallen if not for the rope.  Once I got off the ferry I pulled over on the side of the road near the ‘welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador’ sign to re-arrange my stuff and let Dash walk around a bit.  I was hoping for a washroom facility to change, but didn’t see one in the area we disembarked.  So I simply waited for all the ferry traffic to clear and did a very quick roadside change.  It was close to 11am by the time I was on the road.

My final province!!!

My final province!!!

Getting past the now-closed naval base, the scenery is quite spectacular with very jagged hills jutting up from the land with trees, rocks, ponds and streams everywhere you look.  I was gawking at the scenery so much I almost missed the visitor centre a few kilometres up the road.  This would have been a much better place to change, but at the very least I could use the washroom facilities.

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

And the view from the top of the hill

And the view from the top of the hill

Back on the road I really couldn’t stop looking around.  Thankfully there is a shoulder on rte 100 and relatively little traffic, so plenty of opportunity to soak in the views.  For the first 5km or so I had a pretty wicked cross wind, but as the road bent and started heading NE I had a ridiculous tailwind!  I think mother nature was giving me a bit of a break after the torture she put me through this spring in the prairies!!  The next 40km sailed by.  It was hilly but I barely felt it and all because of the wind.  There were times that I was in my granny gears pushing up a hill when a gust of wind would catch me and make my pedalling useless for a couple seconds.  So when climbing my only goal was to make sure I maintained forward momentum in between wind gusts.  On flats and downhills I simply had to keep the bike upright.  Now THIS is what all biking should be! :)

Along route 100

Along route 100

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This is near a small town called Dunville

This is near a small town called Dunville

Dunville

Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Continuing along route 100

Continuing along route 100

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

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The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

P1050130P1050131Around the 45km mark I met up with the Trans Canada Hwy 1 and my direction changed to East for about 10km and then SE for about 20km, meaning I had a bit of a crosswind.  This stretch brought me back to reality as I had to once again work for the kilometres, but I was still happy it wasn’t a headwind and extra happy I had ditched the extra gear in Sydney.  Just before 80km I had reached the rte 90 turnoff which was a quieter road and headed NE into Holyrood.  Holyrood is a cute little town located at the bottom of conception bay and is apparently known for the large cross that is on top of George Cove mountain (I can’t speak to how well known the cross is, but it certainly is visible).

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 - I wasn't done with the hills for the day

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 – I wasn’t done with the hills for the day

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Most provinces have exits for towns.  Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

Most provinces have exits for towns. Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

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The cross on top of George Grove mountain in Holyrood

The cross on top of George Cove mountain in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

I arrived at my destination around 5pm, which in large part was due to the wind, I was pretty happy because of the mileage and late start I was worried it was going to be a late night.  After getting settled into the basement apartment (I was living large with a separate living area, kitchen area, bedroom area and bathroom), I headed down the road about a km to pick up some food for breakfast (egg salad sandwich and an apple).  Then I cooked up dinner – my last dehydrated meal for this trip and was in bed by 10pm.

Day 150: September 11 – Holyrood to St. John’s

Daily Distance = 48.59km, Trip Total = 6,002.26km

After my egg salad sandwich and apple I packed up my bike and trailer and headed outside.  For the first time on this entire trip Dash did NOT bound after me when she saw me take the bike and trailer outside.  In fact, she was buried under the covers in the bedroom pretty much as far away from the bike as she could possibly be.  Even when I called her she didn’t come, I had to go find her and physically carry her out to the trailer.  After 5 months on the road I think she is ready to get back home!  To be honest – I’m looking forward to coming home too, but I also still have a day’s ride ahead of me and I am looking forward to a couple days of exploring St. John’s.

I was on the road by about 10 eager to both savour my last day’s ride and also get to the destination I have slowly been inching and crawling to for so many months!  Most of the day was spent on rte 60 which heads NE along the bay and then east towards St. John’s.  I was expecting this to be a relatively quiet country road, but the area is dotted with houses and little towns along the way, so it was actually busier than I anticipated.  I really expected traffic to get lighter when we reached the area where Hwy 2 starts, this I would assume is a quicker way into the city, however I didn’t really notice any decrease in traffic.  Eventually the road did become two lanes in each direction which relaxed the ride for me as vehicles had another lane to move over to in order to get around me.

Overlooking conception bay

Conception Bay

A creek along the way

A creek along the way

Conception Bay

Conception Bay

Today’s terrain continued to be hilly and the wind was not nearly as strong as yesterday, so it was my own leg power that was getting me up and over the hills today.  Heading into the St. John’s city limits I stopped to take a picture of the sign.  I haven’t taken pictures of many of the city or town signs along the way (kept it more to the province crossings), but this one seemed monumental even though it was a basic green and white sign.

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

I don't know the story behind  why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

I don’t know the story behind why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

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St. John's!

St. John’s!

After taking the picture I continued on my hilly way to 1 water street.  This is the very spot that Terry Fox dipped his leg in the atlantic and started his cross Canada trek in 1980.  There is a monument here with a larger than life statue of Terry with one of his quotes inscribed “I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”.  There is also a Mile Zero plague.  It’s official, with some modifications, I have self propelled myself just over 6,000km from the mile zero sign on the pacific coast to the mile zero sign on the atlantic coast.  I’VE BIKED ACROSS CANADA!  I’m not as eloquent as Terry, so my thoughts at this moment are more along the lines of: “holy crap, I made it!  I actually made it!  This is freakin AWESOME!!!”  I was quickly brought back to reality when a trio of folks came by and told me to ‘move your bike ‘cuz it’s in the way of our picture’.  Not exactly the greeting I was hoping for.  I moved my bike, they took their picture and continued on their way.  A few minutes later two ladies came by and curious about my bike asked where I was headed to or where I came from.  After I explained the trip they congratulated me and said we need to do something to celebrate.  I asked if they could take my picture which they kindly did (on my camera and theirs).  They are from Vancouver and on a 17 day cruise that started in Europe, went to Greenland and are now on the finishing stretches in Canada.  It sounds like they had a couple rough days at seas but they shrugged if off saying what can you expect on the north atlantic ocean.  Much happier travellers than the trio that had just dropped by!

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

"I just wish people would realize

“I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”

The moment I've been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The moment I’ve been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

And proof that Dash and I were there!

And proof that Dash and I were there!

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Looking out from the monument

Looking out from the monument

I'm here, I made it!!!

I’m here, I made it!!!

IMG_0383I spent about an hour at this monument simply soaking the moment in.  I did snap a quick picture on my iphone and emailed it to my family – partly as evidence, but more so to share the experience.  Unfortunately access to the Atlantic is fenced off in this entire area, so I wasn’t able to dip my tire in the Atlantic as I had on the Pacific.  At some point in that hour it sprinkled for a few minutes, seemed fitting to have a little bit of rain on my last ride day in the maritimes!

Eventually I pulled myself away from the monument and set my sights on the hotel about 4km away.  As I started pushing my bike up the hill just a couple hundred metres from mile zero a car pulled over and who should step out?  Emilie from the ferry!!  She was driving around getting herself oriented with her new home town when she saw Dash’s green trailer and had to pull over to say hi.  We chatted for a bit and then headed our separate ways.

I arrived at the hotel around 3:30pm and had a very mellow afternoon of doing nothing.

I’m here, I made it!!

Tan lines

Tan lines

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km :)

 

Thank You:

Now I owe a whole whack of thank you’s as this trip would not have been as smooth or successful if it was all left up to just my devices:

1) To my friends and family – for your complete and unending support and encouragement.  Your emails, texts, calls, comments on facebook and the blog have been with me for every single pedal stroke across this country – I know it might have looked like I was alone on the road, but I really wasn’t because I knew everybody back home was supporting me.  I can’t thank you enough for this.  Also – thank you for letting me talk and ramble endlessly for the past several months about nothing other than cycling!

2) To all those who waved, honked, fist pumped or gave a thumbs up as they past me on the road – every time a smile would come across my face, I would remember how lucky I am to spend my summer doing something I enjoy and it would make my legs pedal just that tiny bit faster.

3) To those I have had the opportunity to stop and chat with for a bit – your enthusiasm over this trip and/or Dash, your thoughts and wishes, your helpful pieces of advice about the road ahead or things to check out in the area and meals or rides offered were always appreciated (even if not always taken).  The kindness and thoughtfulness of the people I have met along the way has been incredibly refreshing.

4) To the land of Canada – part of this experience for me was not just to say I’ve biked across Canada but also to see and explore this great country I was born and raised in.  From the mountains, lakes, prairie grasses, rivers and forests the scenery has made for an amazing summer playground.  I feel as tho the topography of this land will be forever etched in my brain now that I have had the chance to travel across the majority of the country using nothing but a bike, my own legs and a lot of sweat, blood and tears (minus the blood and tears, but I made up for those with sweat!).

5) To my bike and trailer – for not having any breakdowns that I (or duct tape) couldn’t fix.

6) To Dash – for providing me a companion on this journey.  It was pure selfishness that made me want to bring her along and she has handled the journey far better than I could ever imagine or have asked for.

7) To the wildlife – it was great seeing you along the way (moose, bald eagles, whales, wolf, elk, etc), it was even better not being attacked by any of you!

8) To fellow cross Canada tourers, the ones I had the chance to meet on the road and the ones I only read of through blogs or heard of through the locals – you gave me tidbits on the terrain and road conditions ahead, a sense of calm knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling with prairie winds and comfort knowing that I wasn’t the only one crazy enough to tackle such a journey!  In particular I found the following site www.bikingacrosscanada.ca a useful resource as it has links to blogs of other cross canada tourers.