Tourism & Potholes
Last Monday was Discovery Day (formerly St. John’s Day); that weird pseudo-holiday that is observed by the provincial government and only a fraction of businesses. We lucked into good weather, and went for a ride around the Cape Shore loop.
The Cape Shore consists of Routes 92 and 100 on the southwest Avalon, and is roughly 100km of beautiful coastal scenery. The road is twisty and hilly, and is lots of fun on a bike – correction – WOULD be lots of fun on a bike if it weren’t for the ubiquitous potholes plaguing the highway. I don’t mean little bumps, either. Many of these were large, deep craters, and would take a delight in ruining your day. I’m happy that we had the GoPro camera set up to take a picture every minute, because it captured this tire-eater between North Harbour and Branch.
We turned off the main road and headed to Point Lance. I had been told a few years ago that it was an awesome “motorcycle road”. It probably was at some point, but it is currently in such disrepair that I couldn’t even do the speed limit. The beach was pretty though. Too bad it was so cold down there.
We continued on in a clockwise path around the Cape Shore highway, with the road conditions switching from “best kind” to “eek” to “Oh *%$#” at random intervals. We stopped in St. Bride’s for gas, where the main form of transportation seemed to be ATV. A man pulled in next to us and I noticed that the tires on his 4-wheeler were just about bald, no doubt from driving on asphalt. Not that I blame him…with the roads in this condition I wouldn’t want to drive a car over them either.
The pavement doesn’t improve until you leave Placentia and head towards the TCH. Then it’s like the heavens open and you hear angels singing, and stretched out before you as far as the eye can see is the most beautiful strip of asphalt on the entire Avalon. I guess it’s like rolling out the red carpet for tourists coming off the Argentia ferry.
Speaking of which…I’ve done a little research. Apparently tourism brings in almost a billion dollars a year in Newfoundland. That’s nothing to sneeze at. The government has invested a lot of money into marketing this place, with much of it going into creating those amazing ads (which I couldn’t watch when I was living in Alberta because they brought on debilitating homesickness). Here’s one of my favourites:
What I think the department of tourism is failing to realize is that it’s not enough to simply get tourists here. There needs to be infrastructure in place so that they can actually SEE the things they came here to see.
Case in point: On the main website for Newfoundland & Labrador tourism, they have a link to “top destinations”. One of these destinations is the Cape St. Mary’s ecological reserve. In order to get to Cape St. Mary’s, you have to travel over the Cape Shore highway. I wonder how many tourists have turned around when they saw the condition of the road? Or worse, damaged their vehicle in a pothole?
Mistaken Point is another example. People come here from all over the world to get a look at fossils of the oldest living creatures ever on this planet, and the dirt road is in such poor condition that it is accessible only by four-wheel drive…or crazy people on motorcycles.
Perhaps we’re going about the tourism thing arse-foremost. Maybe we should advertise the fact that our roads are really bad, and make Newfoundland a Mecca for adventure (ADV) riders. The Minister of Tourism could get in contact with the motorcycle manufacturers, and the Southern Avalon could be the site of press launches of new ADV bikes. Imagine a parade of moto-journalists on the latest and greatest BMW or KTM…slaloming potholes in St. Mary’s Bay, tearing up the twisties on the Cape Shore, going hammer-down on Cappahayden barrens and racing up the Drook Hill, all the while watching out for moose. It could work.
In the meantime, take care and pay attention when riding around the Cape Shore.
Posted on June 29, 2014, in Roads of Newfoundland and tagged adv, Cape Shore, cape st. mary's, Gooseberry Cove, Mistaken Point, motorcycle, Newfoundland tourism, point lance, potholes. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.