Monday, August 23, 2010

A broken clavicle ends the trip.

Remember to visit my photos at picasa.com. Click here to view.


Day 39 Sunday August 8th

Ron stopped at the hospital at around 12:30 AM and went in to talk to the emergency room staff. They came out with a gurney, probably for me, but as I was walking, it was used to transport my panniers into the hospital. Ron unloaded the bicycle while I was being checked in and when he was finished, came in to wish me well before departing.

The hospital staff took all my information, checked my blood pressure, but I was never really examined by a doctor that night. Later on in the morning, the doctor who saw me explained that the doctor who was on duty earlier wasn't sure how I was going to pay him and thus didn't want to deal with me. As the radiology department wasn't operating at 1:00 AM, I was given a bed in which to sleep and I was able to shower before attempting to get some sleep for the night.

In the morning, a nurse tended to my road rash and a young English speaking doctor looked me over. He told me not to worry about the doctor's fee and that he wasn't going to charge. I had to wait until radiology could shoot x-rays. I called the Warmshowers.org hosts, France and Denis, who were expecting me in two or three days and they immediately said they would come over and help me out. I called my wife Susan, but was only able to leave a message on the answering machine. To my surprise, she called back in about 10 minutes. She had looked up France and Denis's telephone number from the emails we had exchanged, called them and gotten the number for the hospital. Susan commiserated and told me France and Denis would be arriving shortly. They did, and they couldn't have been nicer. They loaded up my damaged bicycle and my gear while I waited to have x-rays and waited for the results.

When the results came it was bad news. I had a broken collar bone. I asked if I could still bike with the broken clavicle and was informed I could if I could stand the pain and if I didn't mind running the risk of the clavicle not healing properly. So, reluctantly, I made the decision to end the trip.

France and Denis took me to their house and did everything they could to help out. Laundry was washed, the tent was dried out, and I was fed well. Denis and I took a trip into town to look for a bicycle box at a bike store and took a stroll in the town's park that runs along the St. Lawrence river (which I think is some 40-50 miles wide at that point.) We stopped at the bus station and found there was a bus that left at 7 AM that would get me into Montreal at 5:30 PM. The bike would only cost $5.00 to accompany me.

Back home, we tried fitting the bicycle into the box we had gotten at the bike store. Unfortunately, it was a bit too small, so Denis went to the bus station and purchased a larger bike box there. We started packing up the bicycle, had a wonderful dinner, and then loaded the car with the box containing the bicycle and a second box containing all my panniers. I then headed to bed for the night.

The next morning we were up by 6 AM. I had a quick breakfast, said goodbye to France, and Denis dropped me off at the bus station. We said our goodbyes and I was off. There was construction several times on the way to Quebec City and when we arrived there late, the next bus was leaving immediately, rather than after the 40 minute break we should have had. Fortunately, the next stop just out of the city was long enough for me to grab something for lunch and jump back on the bus.

Susan, David and Katie arrived at the bus station shortly after my arrival. We loaded the car and headed back to Vermont.


It leaves me with a sad feeling that I was unable to finish the trip. Denis in Baie-Comeau said he had never visited the Manic 5 power plant near where I crashed and perhaps he'd be willing to take me back there if I wanted to finish the trip at a later date. We'll have to see what next summer brings before I make that decision.

In the meantime, I have great memories of the wonderful people I met along the way. Thanks to all of you who took me in for a night or offered many of the small kindnesses I received. I've also have vivid memories of the great expanses of Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec. I'm hoping to return someday with the means to do some exploration of some of the many lakes and rivers I passed.

Who knows what's next on my "bucket list?" Certainly more cycling will be a major part of what's ahead.

Best to all of my readers! Harvie

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 32 August 1st to August 7th

Sorry for the long delay in posting. Apparently half of the blog I spent writing in Labrador City was lost into cyberspace. Unfortunately, since I wrote in the blog what I would have entered into my journal, I lost my notes. I'll do my best to remember what I lost.

I've finished posting the remainder of my photos on picasa. To see them, click here.
Day 32 August 1st continued (Sunday)

At around 9 AM a woman came by the town center building to bring me over to the town hall where the tour was to begin. My tour was to be led by Karen, and my fellow tour mates were a retired couple (he had worked at the plant in fire and security) and their two granddaughters. We started off by looking at some models of the turbines and then watching a film on the history of the hydro plant.

Outfitted with hard hats and eye and ear protection, we hopped into the van to head up the road to the hydro plant. For security, identification was required of all entering the plant. Passing through security, we drove up to the earthen dam that was the terminus of the canal that brought the water that had been diverted from the Churchill River to the intake pipes for the turbines. The pipes and the turbines below were built into the mountain of solid granite. From the infeed to the outfeed was a drop of around 1000 feet.

The gates that control the flow of the water into the canal, and thus the amount of electricity that can be generated, are located far enough upstream that it takes three days for the water to reach the intake. The amount of electricity needed is determined by Hydro Quebec, the primary recipient of Churchill Falls' power. Thus, when Hydro Quebec lost 2/3rds of its transmission capability in the ice storm some 10 years ago, only 1/3rd of the water in the canal could be utilized by the plant. For the first time in some 30 years, the water in the canal was diverted back to the original channel of the Churchill River and allowed to flow over the spectacular Churchill Falls. As this was a once in a lifetime occurance, our tour guide spoke of grabbing her children out of school and allowing them to see the falls in their spendor.

We visited the underground caverns carved out of the solid rock that contained the transformers, the turbines, and the surge chamber. The hall cavern carved out for the turbines was as tall as a 15 story building and as long as 3 football fields. At one point the plant was the largest underground hydro plant, but now ranked second to a plant that is part of the Jame Bay hydro system. Needless to say, the plant generates an incredible amount of electricity. No wonder the locals use electric heat! ( I was told the teaching jobs in Churchill Falls were popular as teachers had a$100 monthly house rent, free electricity, and a very low student/teacher ratio.)

Returning to the town center building after the tour, I treated myself to a "Super Burger" at the town's only restaurant (in the town's only hotel) in the town center building. Going back to the gym/pool area, I found it open, so I took a welcome shower and washed a few pieces of clothing. I had found a book to read by a recycling barrel, so I spent most of the afternoon reading and relaxing in the bug free lobby of the town center building.

Late afternoon I searched out a small convenience store that was open. The town's grocery store (also located in the town center building) was closed Sundays and Mondays, and was even going to be closed Tuesday as Monday was a special holiday. (I guess the management felt they deserved an extra day off work, too.) I thus had to pick up any extra food I needed for the next leg of the journey to Labrador City. I found a nice bag of trail mix that would fill out the menu. I also picked up a can of beans and some peanuts - destined to be my dinner. I was saving myself for the banana split I had seen on the menu at the restaurant.

Returning the the town center building, I resumed reading, ate my dinner of beans and peanuts, and went up to the restaurant for a dessert of a banana split. The banana split was a bit disappointing, but I was able to finish off the novel in a comfortable atmosphere.

I headed back to the convenience store and bought a quart of milk to use for my cereal in the morning. Back in my tent, I went through the ritual of killing the black flies that entered the tent when I did. That task complete, I settled in for the night.

Unfortunately, the night wasn't very restful. It seems a small group of kids had decided to party at the beach around 100 yards from my tentsite for the night. Their loud conversation continued until morning, making sleep difficult throughout the night.

Day 33 Monday August 2

I arose somewhat tired from a poor night of sleep and quickly emptied the tent and set it on the driveway to dry. Meanwhile, I reorganized my bags, finding room for the food I had purchased. When the tent was dry, I packed it onto the bike and headed over to the town center building for a breakfast of cereal and milk. I hit the road around 8:30.

The road out of Churchill Falls was paved the few miles to the airport. The next 10 miles or so were a good dirt surface and it seemed the day's ride might be easy. Not long after I had left the pavement, I sighted my first and only black bear of the trip as he crossed the road ahead of me. I passed the empty channel of the Churchill River. Now only a trickle runs down through the bedrock that had been carved out by the river.

I was lucky to have continued good weather, but the headwinds continued as I headed west. The dirt road surface was rough and some steeper hills gave me the opportunity to take a "walking break". Not only did these walking breaks give me a different set of muscles to use, but they also gave my still raw seat a break from the saddle. I passed more ponds and rivers, welcome breaks from the monotony of the black spruce forest.

My goal for the day was to cover 75 miles, half the distance to Labrador city. I reached that distance around 7:30 PM, some 11 hours after setting off that morning. I had arrived at the maintenance depot located half-way between Churchill Falls and Labrador City. There I asked some of the truckers staying there if I might throw out my sleeping bag somewhere for the night. I was offered the couch if I wished.

There were 8 truckers staying at the depot. They were all from New Brunswick and they were hauling gravel for the upgrade on the highway. One of the truckers had caught and cooked some trout and I was offered some of the leftovers. Delicious. I was encouraged to share some of the fridge full of beer, and I had to politely refuse a third, fearing the effect on the next day's riding.

Mileage: 75

Day 34 August 3 Tuesday

It was an early awakening as the truckers were up at 4 AM and on the road at 5 AM. I was warned that the day's cycling was going to be extremely dusty, as 30 dump trucks would be travelling a good section of the road. One of the truckers offered to give me a ride to within a few miles of where the pavement began 30 miles from Labrador City, but I let him know that would be cheating my adventure. The truckers shut off the generator when they left, so the depot returned to darkness and I caught a few more minutes of sleep.

I decided to head out around 6 AM, setting my sights for the 75 miles to Labrador City. The road continued to be rough. After around 20 miles I hit the section of road to where the truckers were hauling gravel. As each truck passed me, I was enveloped in a cloud of dust. The truckers who I had met at the depot were courteous and slowed down so their dust cloud wasn't as bad. Two of the older truckers, Ross and Ken, each stopped their trucks and handed me food they had picked up at the worker's camp for me. Ross had picked up a sandwich and some fruit and Ken gave me some cinnamon muffins, sodas, and snack food. I enjoyed the change from my usual lunch menu.

After 20 miles and several hours of dealing with the dust, I finally passed the gravel quarry where the trucks were loading. The road surface became excellent as I was on the section of road due for paving next. I stopped and chatted with one of the flagwomen on the road, and it was she that suggested I might want to wash as my face was covered with dirt. Thirty miles from Labrador City I hit the new pavement. I was still dealing with headwinds and hills, but at least I didn't have to deal with the road being rough. I stopped at one of the lakes I passed and stripped and took a bath, washing my dust filled bug jacket at the same time. It was such a pleasure to be clean!

As I continued on, I got caught in a shower, but waited it out under the plastic with which I covered the bicycle. Shower over, I finished the remaining miles to Labrador City.

My first concern at arriving at Labrador City was to go to the information center to sign up for a tour of the iron mine the next day. Labrador City was a busy town with fast food restaurants, car dealers, and many motels. After a quick burger snack at McD's, I asked directions to the info center and headed there. Unfortunately, the center closed at 4 PM and I didn't get there until 4:30.

I took a different route back to the center of town and passed the Royal Canadian Police barracks on the way. I inquired where there might be a good place to camp and learned the fire station was just down the road. I went there and they were happy to give me a place to camp behind the station. I was offered the use of the shower and bathroom, but as I had bathed, I didn't need them. A nearby restaurant was recommended and I enjoyed a hot roast beef sandwich with extra scoops of mashed potatoes for dinner.

Returning to the fire station, I asked where the town library was located so I could go onto the internet. It turned out to be across the street from the fire station. I went over and worked on my blog until closing time.

Days Mileage: 75

Day 35 August 4th Wednesday

I set the tent on the driveway to dry and the fireman on duty offered me the use of the washing machine at the firehouse, so I washed all the dirty clothes that I had and hung them over the tent poles to dry. I then went over to the library and worked some more on my blog (this section disappeared into cyberspace!) When the library closed at noon, I packed up my bags, went to the Subway at the street below for a sandwich, and then hurried over to the information center where the tour of the mine was to begin at 1:30. I had to check in and pay my $10 before that time. I ate my sandwich there and we were loaded onto a school bus for the tour.

I must say the tour was a bit disappointing. The tour guide was extremely short on information. He'd make a statement like, "Here is the concentration building. That is where the ore is concentrated." No, duh! How about what is the concentration of the iron before and after it was processed? Added to this, we were unable to get off the bus at the two observation points at which we stopped. The scale of the open pit mine was still impressive.

Following the tour, I cycled the short distance to the mall on the way out of Labrador City. I picked up some more food for what I expected to be a five day trip to Baie-Comeau. It was then a short distance to the Labrador/Quebec border. I had cycled the complete Trans-Labrador Highway! While at the border, a couple of motorcyclists from Rhode Island came along and we traded off taking photos of each other. I then continued on and turned off the highway onto the short road leading to the mining town of Fermont. In Fermont, I called up the friend of my Warmshowers host's Alice and Jeff, who brought me the key to their appartment. They had arranged that I could stay there, even though they were in Guatemala. Talk about trusting!

The apartment was located in what is called "The Wall", a multistory building that is about a quarter of a mile long. The building shields the homes on its southern side from the north winds as well as containing multiple apartments and all the town's businesses. They even have a strip club in the building! I was told they had multiple suicides there one year because many of the residents never went outside. They apparently shut down some hallways, forcing the residents to step outside for a short distance if they wanted to go somewhere in the building.

Having a nice kitchen to cook in, I went to the grocery store and treated myself to a nice steak, salad and fresh green beans for dinner. I even bought some beer to go with the meal, leaving the remainder for my hosts upon their return.

I wish I had met Alice and Jeff. By the school calendar on the wall and the notebooks and texts on the shelves, I surmised they are both teachers. We would have had a lot to share as their photographs on the wall of Nepal, Thailand, and other countries brought back memories of my around-the-world trip.

Mileage: 17

Day 36 August 5th Thursday

I had a hearty breakfast of boiled eggs, bagels, and yogurt for breakfast. When I carried my bicycle back outside and when I was mounting my panniers, I found that there was a crack at a mounting hole in one of the low rider racks and the screw had disconnected from the rack. Using some of the wire I had wound around my pump for such repairs, I bound the lowrider rack to the stay from the upper rack to make it more secure.

I had about 10 miles of pavement as I headed into the headwind to Mont Wright. Chatting with one of the civil engineers there, I learned that the ore there is extremely rich, containing 50% iron, as compared to the 30% at Labrador City. He also explained how the concentration process worked. The ore is ground up and then in a solution of water it goes through a centerfuge process where the iron ore is separated. This particular engineers job was dealing with the water and rock particles that were left from the process.

After Mont Wright, the road again returned to gravel. The road twisted and turned and at times it felt like I was going in a circle. I learned that the road had been constructed by striking miners. The mining company had allowed the workers to use the mine equipment for construction. There was next to no engineering done on the road so it was neither straight nor flat. The road constantly crossed the railroad tracks that led to a new mine site under development.

At Fire Lake, another mine site, the road again turned to pavement. It continued through the town of Gagnon, a previous mining town that is now just a set of sidewalks along the road, and at one point, a divided highway where at one point must have been the town's center. A short way out of town, the road again turned to gravel.

It was a slow day of cycling, so it wasn't until early evening when I reached my day's goal of 73 miles. I saw a sand pit with a backhoe parked in it that looked like a reasonable camping spot. I was able to lean the bike on the backhoe to keep it upright. As a storm was brewing on the horizon, I quickly set up the tent and decided on a cold dinner of peanut butter and jelly on bagels.

It rained heavily during the night with a strong wind. My tent pegs didn't hold well in the sandy soil and by morning most of the rainfly guy strings had pulled loose allowing water to seep onto my tent's footprint (ground cloth.) Fortunately the tent has a bathtub style floor that didn't allow the water beneath into the tent.

Mileage:73

Day 37 August 6th Friday

It was still raining when I woke up and I had to pack up the tent wet during a lull in the rain. It wasn't until 9 AM that I had finished breakfast and was packed up. I headed back onto the highway. There was a cold headwind and I was only able to travel 25 miles by noon. At that time I could see a heavy shower approaching. By luck, I happened upon a maintenance depot at that time and found shelter under the residences front porch. I was chilled, so I put on my warmer long underwear top. I was already wearing pants and a jacket. A strong wind came with the rain and I had to curl up under a table on the porch to stay dry. I started in on my lunch of ham and cheese slices on wraps.

One of the workers entered the residence at that time and as I was still chilled, I asked if I could come in and eat my lunch. He obliged and even offered me a hot cup of coffee, which I gladly accepted. When both he and I had finished our lunches, I was offered some bottled water to take with me, but I took some water from the bulk bottle instead.

Back on the highway, the road turned more westward and I there was a strong headwind. The road became hillier with steep climbs and descents. To the northeast I would get glimpses of Lac Manicouagan, a lake formed by an asteroid impact. The crater is over 40 miles in diameter and on the island in its center, minerals not formed here on earth have been found. I took many "walking breaks" on the grades of 8 to 11 %.

The black spruce forest became denser as the branches were fuller than out in the open plateau. The mountains provide some protection from the winds.

When I had reached the 70 mile mark for the day, I started looking for a place to camp. Serendipity struck when I approached a hiker standing by the trailhead for a group of mountains called Uapishka. The hiker, Justin, told me there was a camp where I could spend the night up the path from the trailhead. We followed the path and along the way saw several fanciful totem poles and other whimsical structures. The first building we came to was a sweat lodge. It was open and it looked like it had a reasonable bed in it in which to spend the night. Continuing up the path, we found two more cabins, one of which was open to be used.

Justin and I decided to have dinner together. I had some camper's beef stroganoff and he had some deli meatloaf and some fresh vegetables and dip, and some wine! I added his meat to the stroganoff and we ate in grand style. I slept in the cabin for the night and he returned to sleep in his car. Be sure to see the photos in Picasa of the structures at the encampment. It felt like I was visiting the Hobbits!

Mileage: 72.5

Day38 August 7th Saturday

I had nice weather today, but the travelling continued to be arduous. The road conditions weren't horrible, but it was a constant roller coaster of hills. I had to be careful not to pick up too much speed on the downhills, as loose gravel was always a danger. The road was winding, so it was interesting traveling, but with the slow going I just had to be patient.

Around 20 miles into the day I reached Relais Gabriel, the half-way stop between the Quebec border and the St. Lawrence River. There is a small restaurant and hotel there, and I stopped for some coffee and a roll. I chatted a while with a motorcyclist from Toronto who had cycled to Newfoundland, only to find it would have taken weeks to get a ferry reservation to go to Nova Scotia and thus he had to retrace his route back through Labrador and Quebec.

Back on the road, I pushed on with the goal of reaching pavement at the Manic 5 power station. I t was around 7:30 pm and I was near my goal when disaster struck. As I was descending a hill around 20 mph, a screw failed where the lowrider rack mounts to an eyelet on the front fork and the rack caught in the spokes causing me to catapult over the handlebars. I was able to stand up and inspect the bicycle - finding the front fork bent back slightly and the front wheel unable to roll with the rack twisted into the spokes. Worried about shock, I put on my polar fleece coat and windbreaker and bent over the bicycle. My shoulder was very sore and I had a moderate amount of road rash on my knees. I figured I better take a ride and get checked out by a doctor. About 20 minutes later, a truck came along and I flagged it down. The driver, Ron Karnaske from Charlotte NC, helped me load my packs into the truck and he tied the bicycle down across his flatbed trailer. Ron then drove me the hilly, twisty 150 miles to Baie-Comeau, the nearest town. We arrived in Baie-Comeau after midnight.
Mileage: 70

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Pause day - Thursday July 29



I drove David's car to the airport and had to call him because I didn't know how to lock the car with the key in the car (Answer: hold the outside handle open when shutting the door.) Fortunately, David was already awake and I had to tell him where the car was located anyway.



Flights were on time, but there was an incredibly tight connection in Halifax. I had to go through customs and go through security. As I walked up to the boarding desk they looked at me and asked, "Mr. Porter?" It was obvious they were waiting for me. The flight to St. Johns had some clear viewing as did the flight into Happy Valley - Goose Bay.





At Happy Valley - Goose Bay airport, I stopped in the office of Sylvia Shea and picked up the bear banger she had picked up for me. She was nice enough to drop me off at the fire station as it was the end of her workday. Don Webber was on duty and I presented him with the Randolph Fire Dept. patch and some Green Mtn. Coffee roasters coffee for the firemen. Don promised to stop by later and bring one of their patches.



Dempsey came on duty and he helped me build a plastic platform on top of my front rack to ease some of the stress on the water jug from the rack rails. I replaced the tube in my rear tire as it was flat. I knew it had a slow leak and when I took out the tube I found a small 3/8 in. long piece of wire had worked its way into the tire. (My only tire problem to date!) I spent the remainder of the evening reorganizing my packs. Rather than set the tent up, I crashed on the couch for the night.



Day 30 - Friday July 30



I departed at 8 AM after cooking the scrambled eggs from the camp food I had bought. Like rubber, but very filling. I could have fed two people as specified.



The first 20 miles out of HV-GB was paved. Along the way Don caught up with me and gave me the patch he had forgotten to drop off last night. The day's riding was hard. Road surfaces varied from fair to poor and there was a steady moderate headwind. Passing through a construction area I met Paul again. I had met him the first time when he stopped in for cribbage at the firehouse. Paul again told me about the snowmobilers hut at Cache River - a day's ride of 95 miles for me.



My right knee bothered me during the day. It ached at the top of the fibula and I think there is tendon there that was inflamed. I biked through the pain, as the same problem had occurred when I started biking in June and I knew after a few days it would resolve itself.



The terrain was more uphill then down, mostly spruce trees, with periodic streams and rivers punctuating the landscape. Popes Hill was an excuse for what I call a walking break. I don't loose but a mile or two mph by walking and it gives my seat a rest.



I pushed on to Cache River arriving around 7 PM - 11 hours in transit. It turned out the hut was locked, but at least there was a picnic table to eat at and a good water supply nearby. I cooked up the camp meal of Jamaican chicken (Just add water!) and had no difficulty eating the meal for two by myself. Chocolate Mousse from the camp meals for dessert and I was ready for bed. I was beat after 95 miles of biking.



Day 31 - Saturday July 31



I was packed up and on the road at 7:30 AM. I had a few miles of easy riding and then the road became really rough. By noon I had only gone 32 miles and was beginning to rethink getting to Churchill Falls that night. My seat was extremely sore and when I went to feel the sore spots, I discovered they had blistered and the blisters had broken. I thus didn't want to sit down and when I did, the seat constantly caused pain as I went over the bumps. I put some A & D ointment on the blisters and that helped a little.



Midway in the day I passed through a hilly section. The hills must provide a bit of protection for the trees as there were hardwoods, particularly birches, lining the road. It was a nice change in scenery.



Lichens, or carabou moss as the locals call it, filled sections of the wood. They are a very pale green, almost white, and they make the trees look like they are standing in snow.



I hit a work camp between the East and West Metchen Rivers around 3 PM and stopped in the kitchen to refill my water jug. The cook offered me some juice and while I chatted with him I managed to polish off a quart of OJ. I learned there were 31 more miles to Churchill Falls.



The road continued to be rough, but the headwind became more of a cross-wind. I fought my fatigue with two candy bars, 2 granola bars, and when I was on emply with 6 miles to go - I made up some Gatorade to power me to the end. I knew I was pushing it as my breathing was heavy as I pedaled.



Three miles from Churchill Falls I was rewarded with a smooth road and a 3 mile downhill. One mile from town the road turned to pavement. I had made it. I passed the hydro plant on the way into town and hoped to take the tour of it the next day.



At the Town Center I had some Chicken Parmegian for dinner. The receptionist at the hotel said most campers set up their tents by the church in the town. She also called up one of the tour guides for the hydro plant and arranged a tour for me at 9 am the next day. Mileage: 85


Day 32 Sunday August 1


I ate my granola for breakfast at the town center so I didn't have to worry about bugs. I had hoped to take a shower there, but the gym facility wasn't yet open.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 29 to Pause (July 18 to 28)

Day 29 Sunday July 18

Click here for photos on Picasa.

I was on gmail today and ended up in a chat with my son David, wife Susan and daughter Katie at the same time! David said I could change my ticket for an earlier departure for a fee. I decided to leave a day earlier so I'd have a day to give some help to my mother who is preparing for a move.

One of the regular firehouse visitors, Paul, (I knew he was a regular as there was a standing cribbage rivalry between he and Dempsey) worked on the road crew doing some road improvements on the next section of highway I would be riding. He filled me in on the locations of all the snowmobile shacks that are located along the highway. These could be good destinations, particularly if the weather is rainy.

Day 30 Monday July 19 to Pause July 28

I stopped into the airport office of Sylvia Shea, the airport administrator who had offered me a place to store my bicycle while I returned to Vermont, to tell her that my bicycle was safely stored at the fire station. We discussed my trip and she asked about bear protection. As the store at which I figured I could buy a bear deterrent noisemaker, "bear banger," would close at 5:oo and my return flight came in at 4:30, Sylvia offered to buy it for me and have it ready for me when I returned. I can't believe how helpful everyone has been in Happy Valley - Goose Bay!

My flights back to Boston were uneventful. The cloud cover was mixed, so I had some incredible views going into St. Johns and going across Newfoundland. Most of the interior of Newfoundland is accessible only by floatplane. I enjoyed the executive class seating provided by my son David and the meals and drinks that came with it, including a visit to the executive lounge in Toronto. Unfortunately, the flight from Toronto to Boston was delayed two hours, so I did't get into Boston until almost midnight. A bus and subway brought me out to David's apartment where I had a short night's sleep before getting up the next morning to catch the bus to Lebanon, NH where Susan and Katie would meet me.

Pause to July 28

To make a long week short, I visited my mom Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday noon. Returning home, I wasn't feeling well and proceeded to collapse on the couch exhausted, with stomach pain. I ended up not getting off the couch until the wedding, which was Saturday, while running a low grade fever. I enjoyed the pageantry of the wedding, where the wedding party arrived by canoes, but with stomach pain, couldn't enjoy the food or drink.

Not wanting to share the details, it wasn't until Monday that I was able to eat anything solid. I had lost more than 10 pounds during the week home, more than I had lost in the four previous weeks of cycling. I postponed Monday's return flight as I wasn't sure if I would be better by that time. I tried to schedule a return flight Tuesday for Wednesday, but no flights were available. With David using his Air Canada Super Elite status, I was able to get a flight on Thursday.

So, as I write, I am expecting to take a bus this afternoon to Boston, spend the night at David's apartment, and fly back to Happy Valley - Goose Bay tomorrow. I will have lost four days off my schedule, but if I am able to continue covering more mileage than I had expected, I should be able to return to Vermont by my August 21 target date.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 24 (con't) to Day 28 (July 17)

Day 24 July 13 Tues (con't)

I last left you as I was about to head to a restaurant for my "Last Supper" before heading out for what I thought might be 5 days without the opportunity for resupply. When I walked into the Midway restaurant, there was a gentleman sitting at a table by himself. I asked if I might join him as his meal hadn't yet arrived. He said that he was there with his wife, but I was free to join him. His name was Winston and I learned that he was a retired carpenter who had worked in Goose Bay, but now had retired to his home town of Port Hope Simpson. His wife, Shirley, arrived shortly. Over my seafood platter (disappointing, this close to the ocean) we talked about the area. Towards the end of the meal, Shirley asked where I would be staying that night. I said I would be camping, that Port Hope Simpson had been my goal for the day, and that I was considering going a few miles more. She asked if I would be interested in staying with them for the night. While I knew it was a long way to Happy Valley - Goose Bay yet to go, the thought of a shower and bed was too much to refuse, and so I accepted. Winston and Shirley couldn't have been more gratious. Winston had to go check his Salmon net out in the river with his friend Clarence, so I asked if I could go along. We rode out to the net in the boat that Clarence had made himself, an open boat with a tall bow powered by an outboard motor. There were 9 fish caught in the net, but Winston and Clarence had tags for only four of them (each family receives 6 tags. All fish taken have to be tagged.) The remaining four were given to a nearby boat, where the owner had "community tags" for those elderly not able to go out and fish for themselves.

Back to the house, Winston asked if I would like to try some of the salmon. Of course, I replied. He then fried up some of the freshly caught salmon and served it along with some warm caplin, a small fish about 6 inches long that he was in the process of drying for bait. These were like a snack, consumed in its entirety, head to tail.

Shirley offered me the washing machine, so while I ate I caught up on washing anything from my bags that needed washing. Shirley went to bed and Winston and I chatted a while before we headed to bed. Mileage for the day - 30 miles.

Day 25 July 24 Wednesday

Winston made breakfast of eggs, bacon, oatmeal, and toast. I found when filling my water jug that there was a leak at the seam just underneath the handle. I tried a patch using the Gorilla tape that I have wrapped around my pump. I left Winston and Shirley's around 9 AM and went to the grocery store to buy last minute supplies.

I headed out on the road about 9:30. The road turned out not to be very hilly. I passed forest, punctuated by bogs, streams and ponds. Road surfaces varied. I had my first lunch eating in what I call "The Sock." The Sock is 5 yards of 6 ft. wide mosquito netting that has been folded over on itself and bound along the sides. Ham and cheese on torillas for lunch.

To eat my lunch, upon stopping, I immediately put up and zip the hood on the mosquito jacket. (The black flies don't bother me while I am riding.) I then gather the food and drink that I want to eat and put them in a pile where I want to stand or sit. Then I take the sock and quickly pull it over my head. Then I can unzip and take off the jacket hood and eat. Finished with the meal, I reverse the process.

Around 5 PM I could see a storm approaching. I was coming down a hill and could see yellow construction equipment near the bottom. I rushed there as the first drops were falling with hopes there might be some kind of shelter there. I was in luck. At the back of the clearing where the sand truck bodies were set was an 8' diameter culvert. I rolled the bicycle inside just as it began to pour. Black flies were finding me quickly, so I put on the sock and sat down, taking a rest until the storm ended. I sat smugly as 100's of black flies attempted to breach the netting.

Once the storm abated, I headed back out on the road. A short distance later I came upon a maintenance depot for the road equipment. I rolled in to refill my water containers and found out there was a house there where the road graders slept. The grader, Kirb, who was talking with a mechanic said I could stay there for the night. Chatting with Kirb, I found out he was related to Winston, with whom I had spend the previous night. Kirb said his meals were furnished and that I didn't need to bother using any of my food for the night. Sheldon, the other grader, arrived when our dinner of fish nuggets and fries was ready.

After a hot shower, I headed off to sleep in a real bed. Mileage - 66

Day 26 July 15 Thurs.

As both Kirb and Sheldon headed out early, I was on the road at 7 AM. Kirb said that there was a work camp 154 km (approx. 95 miles) away that I might stay at, but I figured that the distance was probably too far.

The morning's ride was much the same as yesterday. Different surfaces that depended most on whether they had been graded recently. Kirb said that each grader was responsible for around 45 miles of road and was expected to grade about 6 miles each day. Working a 6 day week meant that every section of the road was regraded every 8 days. This meant that I could expect to hit one or two loose sections of gravel each day.

Two motorcyclists who had stopped and talked to me yesterday stopped and talked again. They were from Portsmouth, NH. They had spent the night at Cartwright, a side trip from the main road, and that's why they were passing a second time.

I stopped for lunch at a pretty stream. While finishing up my meal, a squall approached so I got out my 10 ft. square piece of black plastic (black so it dries faster) and covered both the bike and myself as it poured.

The storm didn't last long. Packing up I continued on. The crosswind from this AM changed to a headwind making for tiring cycling. I pushed on towards the work camp.

Nearing the camp, I caught up to a runner, Jerry, who was returning from his out-and-back run. Jerry was a geologist from St. Johns who was surveying the soils 3 km on either side of the road to determine their suitability should the road require future upgrades. The danger, now that the road is constructed, is that an area might be developed for a cabin or camp on soils necessary for further repairs or construction. Suitable soil deposits will be protected from development.

Jerry made inquiries and I was allowed to use one of the empty rooms in the doublewide trailer dormitory. I was also offered dinner. After 94 miles it didn't take much effort to down the two porkchops, heap of hamburger goulash, vegetables and carrot cake I was offered. After dinner, Jerry brought me and his assistant Jason to Curtis's trailer to share some beer and wine. Curtis was an inspector on the project. Didn't get to bed until 11:00. A bit late since I had to be up by 5:30 if I wanted to enjoy the breakfast that had been offered. Most of the workers would already be off by that hour. They work 12 hour days, not including driving time to their work sites.

Day 27 July 16 Friday

Awoke at 4:15 at the sound of the workers getting ready for the day. Ate breakfast at 5:30 of bacon, sausage, boiled eggs, juice, and cereal. Jerry and Jason were off at 7. I took some time to journal and then headed out on the highway at 7:30. I was told I had about 20 miles more until I hit the construction section of the highway. When I finally arrived, at first it wasn't that bad, just a bit more loose gravel. I then hit a site where the road detoured around a road cut where they were preparing to do blasting. The road was then filled with large rocks. Whereas this would be difficult for a car, with a bike I am able to weave between the rocks. The soil around the rocks was hard packed and I was able go keep going around 10 mph. Then there were sections where the road was just blast rock, but these were not long. In the end there were only about 2 miles of what I would call difficult road in the 20 miles of "unfinished" road. The remainder had perhaps more rough sections than normal and some sandy sections that I had to walk, but all tolled, the adventurous section of road was very short lived.

I had heard that tomorrow was going to be rainy, so I decided I would push on to Goose Bay-Happy Valley. It was around 85 degrees, hot riding, but I was able to keep a pretty good pace, around 12 mph. Around 30 miles from HV-GB the terrain became a bit hillier. While the uphill is more work, it's nice to have the change in saddle position between climbing and descending.

About 15 miles from the dirt section of the road I passed a sign for cars going the opposite direction labeling where I had just come from as Eagle Plateau. I didn't realize how much I had climbed until I began what would become a 12 mile gradual descent. What a pleasure, particularly near the end of the day! When the hill ended I biked up and over several small hills before reaching the Churchill River, at the other side of which was the paved road into HV-GB.

I biked around 8 miles into HV-GB on the incredibly smooth pavement. I was back again with traffic. I arrived at a T junction with one sign directing L to Goose Bay and R to Happy Valley. I always thought they were one town, but they are separate villages. Not knowing which way to go, I stopped a turning vehicle for direction and they suggested I head right into Happy Valley. They said there was a park in that direction just beyond the hospital that would be a good spot to camp. I found the park, but there was a fence all around the park with signs advising video surveilance. I decided to keep looking.

Across the street from the park was the fire house. It had a nice lawn surrounding it. There was a fireman standing out front so I went and asked him if I might camp there. He said, "Sure!" My new host was Rick Harvey and he was one of four full time fireman for the town, one of whom was also on duty at the firehouse. Rick invite me into the firehouse which was fully equiped for living. He suggested I use the stove for cooking, which I did.

I went to find the webcam that Susan and Katie could see me on. I called them, but they were not at home to do so. On the way back to the station I passed the Royal Canadian Legion building. Remembering the inexpensive beers I had in Deer Lake I decided to see if this hall was open to the public. It was. I met two locals as I drank my beer. The first, Dumfrey, offered the facilities of the garage where he worked for anything I might need. The second shouted me a second beer. Then, Max Pebble, the president of the club came and gave me a visitors ribbon and pin. He then took me on a tour of the facility.
I then headed back to the station. After watching TV with Rick for a while I retired for the evening in the tent set up outside. Mileage for the day - 96

Day 28 July 17 Saturday
Good thing I made it in last night as it rained most of the night and has been raining most of today. The fire station has a computer with internet and that has allowed me to bring the blog back up to date. I've spent the day catching up on email, gmail chatting with Susan and Katie, and enjoying a hot lunch with Don, the day shift fireman. Ramsey, the evening shift fireman, has now arrived and it's time for me to make some dinner. My flight to Boston leaves Tuesday at 13:10, so I have a couple of days to explore the town.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 17, July 6 Tuesday

Quick breakfast of cold oats and raisins with powdered milk. On road by 7 AM. Ten miles to Mabou. Stopped on way to buy 4 blueberry turnovers, juice and a banana. Ate all. Turned on to Rt. 252. Steep downhill and then tough climb. Brook Village to Whycocomagh - beautiful valley with dairy farms. At Whycocomagh turned N towards N. Sydney along Bras d'Or lake. Saw a pair of bald eagles perched in tree near the road. Made it to Braddeck for lunch. Nice town. Washed clothes in sink at tourist office.

Continued on with easy rolling hills towards N. Sydney. Around 10 miles before N. Sydney climbed Kelly's mountain. Emma, who I mentioned earlier from Antigonish, spoke of how she rated hills by how far she got singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I started the song about half way up and finished before summitting. Descent off of Kelly's was far to fast with a hairpin turn at the bottom. 40 MPH downhills make me question my mortality.

Arriving in N. Sydney I went to the ferry terminal and found I could leave at 3:00 AM or 10:00 AM the next day. I chose the latter, figuring I could get a better nights sleep and perhaps Emma and Emily would show up for the ferry. Went into town for a fish & chips dinner, met two women cyclists from Norway, returned to terminal, TOOK A SHOWER (yes, they had a free shower at the terminal),watched a movie, and then set up tent along side the terminal. Went to bed. Noisy, so I put my Skullcandy earphones in and it helped dim the noise. Mileage 90.

Day 18 July 7 Wed.

Woken up by ferry personnel at 2 AM. I think they wanted to make sure I wasn't supposed to be boarding the 3 AM ferry. Back to sleep.

Breakfast of oats, raisins and banana. Got on ferry at 9 AM.

Tried to work on blog on the boat. Found my gmail account had been discontinued and the blog removed for violations of policy. I had no clue what was going on. Sent email to Yahoo.

Met Ray Walker, a Canadian who had emigrated to Canada in his youth. Ray was 80 years old, but still an active outdoorsman. He has been to Vermont enough times to hike and ski that he knew the trail names up Mansfield and Camels Hump. He was a good friend of Dickie Hall, who Jeb used to work with in his telemark teaching days.

Splurged on the $20 buffet. Figured I got my money's worth!

Once landed, I got on the road at 4 PM. Rocky, barren coast. Passed what were labeled as the Table Mountains. Spectacular bald mountains. Too bad it was cloudy, pictures will be poor. However, this is the scenery I came to see. Passed through a windy pass that I was told had winds strong enough at times to throw a tractor trailer off the road.

There was little wind and the hills were gradual. Pushed for mileage. At around 45 miles I started looking for a place to camp. Saw an area that had been a gravel pit and stopped. While standing, I saw three black fox wandering around. Not knowing their habits, I decided to push on. Saw lots of rabbits along the road. Got as far as Crabbs River. Passed two campgrounds and then saw a road head into the wood. Followed it a short way and it passed through a gravel pit. Had a place to lean the bike on a boulder, so looked like good place to camp. Lots of mosquitoes as I set up tent. In bed @ 10:15. Mileage 60

Day 19 July 8 Thursday

When I woke up, I found mosquitoes in the tent. I pinched them to kill them, rather than swat them because I didn't want blood smeared on the tent. It was a cloudy day with a mild tailwind. Travelled through timbered rolling hills. Grades were good.

Stopped @Corner Brook for info on ferries, eat a snack and do some shopping. Pushed on through a deep river gorge and then had hills to climb.

My goal for the evening had been Pasadena. I had read on a cyclists blog that they had great pizza in Pasadena. I found a restaurant that had a pizza sign, but weren't selling pizza at that hour (7 PM). In fact, it was their closing time. Owner had some others still eating, so she let me order a hamburger and fries. Leaving Pasadena, I couldn't help noticing the number of people out for a walk. I asked one gentleman why and he said they didn't often get such a nice warm evening.

I met a cyclist coming the other direction. His name was Yvon Daniel from Gatineau, Quebec. He was trailering a B.O.B. and had cycled all the way from Vancouver. While I was cycling in the misty weather with just a wind jacket, he was dressed in full foul weather gear and said he was still freezing. I think he had lost so much weight that he had no reserves to keep him warm. Tough to keep the weight when averaging around 95 miles a day! Poor Yvon had only 9 sunny days since leaving Vancouver!

Pushed on to Deer Lake. Saw a large hydro generating station entering town. Just beyond it I saw a large pavillion where I could set up my tent out of the weather. Where I could turn off the highway, there was a Royal Canadian Legion hall and it was bingo night. I thought I might go in and play bingo until it got darker, then set up my tent. Turns out the bingo was mostly over, so it wasn't worth buying the $5 card. Just as well. I asked if the bar if I could buy a beer. I could and it was $2.80, much cheaper than the usual $4 for a beer. I ended up celebrating with two as I had just completed the first century of the trip. In fact, I had covered 110 miles that day!

At the pavilion, more like a performance stage, I found two young men hanging around, drinking. It turned out to not be as nice a place to stay as I had hoped. The floor was generally clean enough, but I think the corners in the back were used as urinals, adding a not too pleasant smell to my camping spot. I used a piece of cardboard to sweep the area for my tent clean, erected the tent, took a sponge bath, and headed to bed.

Day 20 July 9 Friday

Went to a nearby Tim Hortons for coffee and muffins. Did some work on the bike as I sipped my coffee. The headset needed tightening and I cleaned and oiled the chain. The pedal adapters were squeaking again and I tried tightening them with the tool Al in Halifax had given me, but was unable to do so.

Set off for Gros Morne. It was still cloudy. There were moderate hills until around 10 miles from Rocky Harbour. Then came a serious hill. Still tired from yesterday, I walked a steep section. Walking is perhaps 1 mph slower than straining in my lowest gear, so I walk to get a break from being on the seat and to use some different muscles. After climbing that first pass, I screamed down (40 mph) to Bonne Bay. I pulled off at a rest area to have a drink. As I arrived a woman offered me a bottle of cold water. Sounded good, so I accepted. Another family from Corner Brook was next to me having their lunch and they offered me a ham sandwich. This was followed by a soda, cookies, and finally two banana chocolate chip muffins to take along. Nice treat!

Had another hill to climb as I went by Gros Morne mountain. Unfortunately, all I could see was its base. The top was in the clouds. Walked a section again and then 41 mph downhill to the visitors center. Met Josianne there, a Canadian now living in Holland, who was traveling with her friend Andree. She said Andree was working on the internet at the library, so I got directions from Josianne and proceeded there. Josianne and Andree had cycled from Quebec City.

The library closed at 4 pm, so I went to a store, bought a snack and left Rocky Harbour around 5 pm. There was a very strong headwing and it was flat cycling. Passed through boggy areas on my right and the ocean on my left. Wind strengthed to what was at least 40 mph. Decided to ride it as long as I could. Nearing dark, I stopped at Daniel's Harbour. I bought some OJ. Asked about a place protected from the wind as it was certainly too strong to erect the tent. Was directed to the school where I found a spot on the leeward side that wasn't too windy. It was still windy enough that I had to peg down the tent footprint so I could erect the poles.

It was a chilly evening so I brought out my long underwear and cap to sleep in. The wind buffeted the tent and roared all night long. Somewhere, late in the evening, I was awoken by headlights and voices, but the vehicle backed away and I was left in peace again. Day's mileage, 100.

Day 21 July 10, Saturday

Around 3 AM I was woken up by a group of boys and girls coming down the side of the school where I was located. Obnoxious, they bothered me for a while before leaving, tripping over my guy lines as they went.

At 5 AM I was again awoken by two drunks. "Time to get up" they shouted. I should have listened to them. Around 7 AM the skies opened up with a pouring rain. It was my first test at taking down the tent in the pouring rain. I successfully took down the inner tent, packed it in the dry bag, and then strapped the soaking wet fly and footprint onto the bike outside the dry bag. It rained hard the first couple of hours on the road. I rode in my cycling shirt, windbreaker jacket, plastic poncho, and rain pants. I stayed warm enough, except for my feet, which were cold and wet. I need to find a better way to maintain foot warmth.

The remainder of the day was drizzle. I continued to have a tailwind, just not as strong as last night. Stopped for coffee and muffins and a chance to dry out at 24 mi and stopped again for hot soup at around 50 mi. Learned at the first stop that there had been a big party in Daniels Harbour for the area kids last night. Most of the riding was easy until around Hawkes Bay where the road became hillier. Got to St. Barbe at around 3:45, plenty early for the 6 PM ferry to Labrador.

Treated myself to a hot meal at the ferry terminal and also asked about accomodations when I arrive at the other side. I would be arriving in Quebec, cold and wet, at 8 PM and I figured it wisest to book a room. I called a B+B and reserved a room.

Coming off the ferry, I was greeted with a steep hill which I needed to walk. Legs were tired after back-to-back centuries and that day's 90 mile ride. It was 5 miles to the Beachside Hospitality House where I met my hosts, Norm and Gloria Letto. I hung my tent fly, footprint, and other wet items in a shed outside. Also outside was a family of mom and two kids, Catherine, Sophia and Tom, who were cooking up some dinner before they went into their room. I had seen them earlier on the ferry.

The room was $48 as opposed to the $38 advertised on their brochure, but I wasn't in a position to argue. The house was immaculate and my room very comfortable. Before showering, I asked Gloria if there was somewhere where I could wash my clothes. She was hesitant, then offered to wash them in her laundry. So, after a hot shower, my pile of odiferous clothing was offered up to Gloria for cleaning.

It was Gloria's birthday, but I had just caught the tail end of the party when I arrived. Norm was playing the accordian while his brother-in-law accompanied on the guitar. I chatted with the family and learned that Howard Dean had stayed there back when he was governor. Mileage for the day was 96.

Day 22 July 11 Sun

Had a "breakfast" of three pieces of thick toast with assorted jams and coffee. Packed up the tent pieces and cleaned and oiled the chain on the bicycle. Stopped at nearby store for more food. Trip to Red Bay started off with a one mile climb. It was foggy when I started, but the sun broke out for a beautiful day. The landscape was spectacular. Barren hilltops and beautiful bays. Had several steep climbs and steep descents. The temperature varied probably 20 degrees between hilltops and the windy bays below. Passed what looked like a chicken farm along the way, but I was told it was a mink farm. Had a hill to walk.

Road started to follow the Pinware River. The river was beautiful as I followed it up into the mountains. There on the high plateau were ponds, lakes and rock, very wild and spectacular. Catherine and the kids went by several times as they went off on side trips to explore. At Mary's Harbour, my destination for the day, I again met Catherine and the kids. They were going to hike up to an observation point and offered to give me a ride to the departure point. We climbed a hill with a nice view over the town and harbour. Catherine was feeling adventurous, and led us on an alternate route down to the sea that had us all wondering if we would finish our hike that evening as we had to bushwack through thick growth and lower ourselves down steep banks by hanging on to trees and bushes. However, we did make it down safely and returned by a path along the coastline.

Catherine and the kids were also camping, so we scouted a place to set up our tents. The local playground offered such a site so we stopped there. I should mention, we made several stops at the local store that afternoon and evening. Of interest there was the fact that to wash and dry a load of laundry was $5, but to take a shower was $7.95 plus tax! Guess a shower is a luxury in these parts.

I contributed some food to the dinner and helped in preparation as we all battled with the black flies. I had purchased a fly coat that afternoon that went a long way in the battle. Pasta with mushroom soup and hamburger was the dinner for the night. Mileage for the day - 50

Day 23 July 12 Mon

I left the pavement today. There was lots of climbing and fresh crushed stone on the road made cycling difficult. On one fast downhill I was probably up to 25 mph when I hit a section of loose stone. It was all I could do to keep the bicycle upright. Fortunately I made it through without incident, but I will be keeping my speed much slower on the downhills in the future.

Hit a section that was freshly graded with the loose stone pushed to one side. I was able to move as fast as pavement, particularly with the day's tailwind. I'm disappointed that cars and trucks don't slow down as they go by, as with each passage I am enveloped in a cloud of dust.

A truck pulling a camper stopped and offered me water. They had gone by me several times as I bicycled up through Newfoundland. Two airport employees from HV-GB stopped and asked about the trip. They were willing to shoot a couple of photos of me by taking my camera and going up the road and waiting for me to approach.

At Lodge Harbour, stopped at Mona's store. The store had everything. It was interesting that the prices were not unusually high. I'm thinking that they keep the prices reasonable for the locals. A Gatorade, banana, and ice cream cone and I was underway for the last 5 miles to Mary's Harbour. Catherine and the kids went by one more time. I didn't see them in Mary's Harbour as I found a spot to pitch my tent behind a store upon arrival with rain threatening.

At 6 PM I was in the tent and taking a nap. Woke up at 7, had some tortillas and cheese slices for dinner. Tried my radio and by chance it was set to the TV frequency. Canada must not have switched to digital yet as I was able to listen to the weather portion of the evening news followed by the Wheel of Fortune!

It rained hard during the night, but the tent stayed dry. Average speed for the day on dirt was 9 mph. Mileage 55

Day 24 July 13 Tuesday

Morning arrived with nice weather. The wind has changed from the SW to the NE. Means I'll have a headwind all day. Caught up on my journal.

Heard yesterday from the two airport employees from HV-GB that new sections of the road from HV-GB to Labrador City are now paved. This could make that section faster for me.

On the way out of town, I stopped at a motel/restaurant to use the washroom and met a group of students from Dukane U. in Pittsburg. They were filming a documentary and their story line was led by two students, boy and girl, riding loaded BMW motorcycles. One of the group, Robert Isenberg, had grown up in Middlebury. He said my passage on the highway was becoming a topic of conversation.

Although it was only 30 miles today from Mary's Harbour, it was a hard day for me. The temperature as I type here in Port Hope Simpson is about 85 degrees and I battled a 30 mph headwind all day. Road surfaces for the most part were excellent and with no wind or a tail wind I could have probably doubled my speed. Most of the day was travelling through dense woodland, punctuated by beautiful blue lakes and rocky hilltops. I saw multiple woodpiles along side the road. Apparently the locals cut the wood in the winter, leave it by the roadside to dry over the summer and then in winter again, pull it home with snowmobiles and sledges.

I'll be treating myself to a restaurant meal (and washing up in their washroom) before I begin what could be a five day trek to HV-GB without any towns between. It's about 240 miles. Best to all of you. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 14 (July 3) to Day 16 (July5)

Today I rate as one of the best cycling days I've ever had. Got on the road around 9 and followed some cycling trails that Al suggested out of the city. These led to a rail trail that headed right across a salt marsh. Followed rail trails for about 25 miles before continuing on the main roadway. The day was probably around 75, but breezes off the ocean kept it cool. The route followed a pattern of up around the points and down through the bays. Traffic wasn't bad.

Stores were far apart, sometimes as far as 25 miles, so snacks had to be found in my stash.

Ended up in the town of Sheet Harbour where I took a side route, St. Andrews Loop, that brought me to a bay side grove of trees with grass beneath them. It was very windy, so I had to stake down the tent to keep it from blowing off. Large pulp loading facility was located across the bay. Also saw many buoys that were different than lobster buoys. I found out they marked locations where mussels were suspended in the water in a mesh and allowed to grow.
Days mileage - 86

Day 14 - July 4
Tailwind continued and I pushed to Sherbrooke. Ate 175 g of bologna (package size) and three tortillas along with my chocolate milk. Followed a river valley for a while before making a large climb. Dropped down along a beautiful narrow lake, Lochaber Lake. Climbed again before descending to the town of Antigonish. It was a pretty college town, and I was hoping to find a bike shop to replace my broken water bottle. Entering the center of town, I ran into two other cyclists Emily and Emma, who had cycled from Montreal. They had scoped a place to camp for the night, but were going to treat themselves to a $9 steak first. I joined them for the meal and then we went shopping for breakfast food. We camped to the side of the large sports park.
Mileage 89

Day 16 Mon July 5
With two stoves going, we made bacon and eggs. Emily and Emma had English muffins, so our first eggs were Egg McMuffins! Between the three of us, we almost finished the bacon, but some was packed to eat with lunch. There was a deli right next to us, so coffee was enjoyed with the breakfast as well.

It turned out the bike shop was no longer open, so I found a usable water bottle cage at Canadian Tire and was able to attach it with hose clamps. For a bottle I am using the pint nalgene bottle that I had been carrying loose.

We didn't get off until 10:30 and we had a leisurely ride to the causeway to Cape Breton. When we stopped for lunch along the way, the storekeeper at the store where we bought cold cuts let us use the deck on his house to sit and eat on.

We got to the causeway around 4:30. We spent time getting information at the tourist office and washing up (me). Whenever I find hot water, I shave! We then split up, me heading for the Cabot trail and the ladies heading towards Bras d Or lake. I cycled until around 8:30 to the town of Port Hood where I found a place to camp behind a church.

Spent time looking at my schedule and discovered I had dropped the Newfoundland days out of the schedule. Now I will have to go to N. Sydney directly to get the ferry and try to make up for the additional days. Mileage for the day - 66 miles.

Friday the 9th. Library in Gros Morne is closing. Did my first century yesterday 110 miles to Deer Lake. ! Got to run. Will continue the blog when I can. Harvie