Category Archives: Roads of Newfoundland
This was our fifth vacation spent touring Newfoundland by motorcycle, so when we sat down to plan out this year’s trip we ran into a bit of a quandry. Where hadn’t we been? Or more importantly, where hadn’t we been that is still easily accessible, since we only had one week of holidays? Read the rest of this entry
I’ve owned my TW200 for over a year, so I’m still a novice when it comes to off-road riding. As confidence-inspiring as that bike is, there are still situations where I feel anxious and completely incompetent as a rider.
One of those situations was riding in sand. What better place to conquer that fear than in Musgrave Harbour, with its miles of sandy beaches!
Mark literally grew up riding on the beach, and had these words of instruction: “keep your feet down in the soft sand, then get closer to the water where the sand isn’t as loose.” OK then.
So I managed to get through the soft sand without going down in a pile, and gradually picked up some speed when I got on the firmer sand. Though I *know* that it’s a fact that a bike is easier to control when it’s going faster, there comes a point when that fact gets pushed aside by the thought of “if I’m going any faster than this and crash, it will ruin my entire summer”. So I found a happy balance, puttering down the beach as the waves gently rolled in.
Learning to ride off-road as an adult can be a daunting task, but good instruction, determination and the promise of a soft serve afterwards can do wonders for self-confidence!
I’m old enough to remember the trains in Newfoundland. It’s kind of hard to forget really, when the tracks were less than 150 feet (45m) from the house where I grew up. The daily rumble stopped in 1988 when the railway was officially abandoned for economic reasons, and the rails and ties were removed. In 1997, the trail was “re-purposed”, and the 883 km (549 miles) of railway bed became the T’Railway Provincial Park, a multi-use trail spanning the island from St. John’s to Port-Aux-Basques. Within St. John’s and Conception Bay South the T’Railway is enjoyed by walkers, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers (motorized vehicles are prohibited), but the rest of the trail is open to ATV’s, dirtbikes, side-by-sides and snowmobiles.
One of the things I miss most during the winter months is day-tripping on the Vstrom. I love leaving town on a weekend morning-before most “Sunday drivers” get out on the go-with no destination other than a good place to grab a bite. I’m really not sure if checking out a new restaurant is an excuse for a bike ride, or the other way around!
I really can’t recall going for a day-trip this early in the season before, but the forecast looked promising. I set up a ride using the NL Adventure Rider Meetup group, and we had seven riders show up. The group is relatively new, with the goal of bringing together riders who enjoy longer trips and riding “off the beaten track”. If that sounds like you, by all means join up!
We set off from St. John’s around 11am, took the CBS bypass to Seal Cove, and continued along the lovely Route 60 with very little traffic. Bliss!
I’m not sure how many layers everyone else was wearing, but I had on four and I needed every one of them when we hit Conception Bay North and the wind was coming off of the water, a dense bank of dark fog hovering ominously. I’ll place the blame squarely on the weather forecasters who foretold a westerly wind. The fog was burning off as it hit land though, and I was just happy to be spending the day on the bike – despite the fact that my heated grips were threatening to ignite my gloves.
Our lunch destination was Crooked Phil’s Cafe in Carbonear. It’s a beautiful, bright little spot with a great menu, incredibly friendly service and very reasonable prices. I had veggie pizza and a salad, and of course about a gallon of hot coffee!
After lunch our companions all headed back to town, either turned off by the cold or having to see to other commitments, leaving just myself and Mark. We headed off in the direction of Heart’s Content, which was a good description of my mood at the time. Nobody to answer to, nowhere to be. Just me and the bike, with the sun shining down on the open road.
This is my eighth summer riding a motorcycle, but there’s still places on the Avalon that I haven’t seen. The Heart’s Content lighthouse was one of those places. It’s not particularly spectacular or remote, but a very pretty spot all the same.
We returned via Route 80, along the coast of Trinity Bay. It was much warmer than the Carbonear side, so we really enjoyed the ride back to meet the TCH at Whitbourne. It was hard to believe that it’s still pre-May 24: the unofficial start of Newfoundland summer.
If you know of any other great little restaurants I can use as an excuse for a day trip, I’d love to hear from you!
Port Dover, Ontario holds a motorcycle rally each Friday the 13th. Though I’ve never been there, it’s become sort of a tradition with me to go for a ride on these occasions as long as the weather is somewhat civilized.
This past Friday the temperature got to a balmy 5 degrees C (41 F) with overcast skies and a brisk wind off the water…nothing that merino wool and an electric vest couldn’t handle. We bundled up, grabbed a couple of take-out subs and headed for a nearby trail.
I immediately noticed the difference in soil consistency. A few cold nights had made the mud super slick and clumpy, filling the tire treads and flicking up on the fenders, engine and seat. I had to ride even slower than I normally would, and be really careful on off-camber sections of trail.
One evening in August myself and Mark left the house on the dual-purpose bikes without a clearcut destination in mind. We took a trail leading from Kenmount Road, crossed under the Outer Ring Road and were picking our way over the rocky terrain when Mark spotted something just off the trail. Finding junk in the woods is nothing strange, unfortunately. I could’ve started a blog solely with pictures of garbage that I’ve found in the woods while riding. But this was old junk, and basically in the middle of nowhere. HUH???
We continued along the trail and within minutes found ourselves in what I can only describe as an automotive graveyard. And I don’t mean Sunbirds and Topaz’s either. Many of these cars were from the 1940’s and 50’s.
I’m a bit of a history buff, so most of the rides that I plan revolve around some sort of historical site. I had long known of the Truxtun & Pollux disaster on the Burin Peninsula, but never had an opportunity to see it first hand. When we decided to go camping in that part of the province in August, the wreck site was the top thing on my list.
Our road system in Newfoundland isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Communities on the island are clustered around bays and sprawled out along peninsulas, a legacy of our sea-faring history. Overland travel is relatively new, made possible by the railway system in the late 19th century and the Trans Canada Highway in the 1960’s. The TCH remains the only feasible way to get from east to west, and that consists of 900km (560 miles) of highway droning. *yawn*. That being said, there are certain roads on this island that are awfully fun to ride on a motorcycle. Here are some of my favourites.
***Disclaimer: Always exercise caution on roads that you don’t know, and obey posted speed limits. The author takes no responsibility for incidents occurring as a result of recommendations.
Route 60: The “Old Way” from Holyrood to Brigus. Every motorcyclist on the north east Avalon is familiar with this road. It’s a beautifully curvy stretch of pavement winding along the shore of Conception Bay, linking communities hundreds of years old. The scenery is beautiful, but don’t take your eyes off the road for long. If you fail to navigate some of the sharp turns you will find yourself at the bottom of a cliff.
Route 70 between Salmon Cove and Kingston. The Baccalieu Trail is a lovely daytrip for riders from the North East Avalon, and I highly recommend stopping for a break at the beautiful Salmon Cove Sands. When you hit the road again travelling north you’ll cruise through one of my favourite sections of road, as the highway twists and turns before rewarding riders with a gorgeous view of Spout Cove.
Route 10 between Tors Cove and LaManche. This section of the Southern Shore highway is relatively new and in great condition. From St. John’s to Witless Bay is ho-hum, but after Tors Cove you can have a great time on the big sweeping turns. Just watch out for moose.
Route 341 from Brown’s Arm to Laurenceton. You can’t tell how fun this road is from looking at it on a map, which is why we were so pleasantly surprised by it. You just can’t beat an unexpected good time. Great pavement, lots of twists and turns, and the dirt road at the end of the community leads to Sandy Point, a great place to stop for a break.
Road from Jacques Fontaine to Harbour Mille. Located on the Burin Peninsula, this one is a bit of a trek from St. John’s but completely doable in a day if you’re on the road before mid-morning. Though the pavement was at its best probably 10 years ago, it’s still good enough to be very fun. The road is incredibly twisty and the views beautiful.
Road to Petite Forte. When friends who have ridden throughout southern Africa and all through the UK say “You HAVE to ride this road”, well, you kinda have to. The pavement is near perfect, and the road is like a rollercoaster. We rode this on our trip this past summer, and even though the Vstrom was loaded down with gear and the rear tire was completely square, I still really enjoyed it (though I really wished for my YZF600R). This road is also on the Burin Peninsula, but farther down towards Marystown. If you’re out from St. John’s I’d recommend calling ahead and booking lodging in the area for the night, as you’ll probably want to do a couple of passes on this road. It’s that good.
Route 470: Port aux Basques to Rose Blanche. One of the best roads in Newfoundland is located in the south west corner of the island, so if you’re planning to catch the ferry in Port Aux Basques be sure to give yourself time to check this out. The road twists along the coast, and each community along the route is worthy of a visit. Rose Blanche is home to a 19th century granite lighthouse, restored from ruins in 1999. Park the bike and take a walk out to it, you won’t regret it. The only caveat on this road is the steel grate bridge over the Isle Aux Morts River, which can be quite disconcerting if you’re not expecting it.
Route 431: Wiltondale to Trout River. I could just say “the entire area taken in by Gros Morne National Park”, but I’ll narrow it down to the Tablelands area. The road itself it nothing spectacular, but it’s the scenery that will blow you away. It’s like nothing else in Newfoundland. We rode through the area in 2014 and I can’t wait to return there.
Are there any other roads in Newfoundland that you really enjoy? What makes a particular road stand out in your mind?
For the past three years, our summer vacations have consisted of travelling Newfoundland by motorcycle, staying with Mark’s folks in their camper or sometimes in B&B’s along the way. This year, since we had such a good experience on the Bonavista Peninsula back in July, we decided to pack up the camping gear again and give it another go. With the forecast looking half decent for two days at least, we booked a camp site in Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park on the Burin Peninsula for two nights and figured we’d “play it by ear” for the rest of the trip.