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Hidden Gems in Notre Dame Bay

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

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First Day Trip of 2016

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!

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It’s salad dressing, not molasses. I swear. 

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.

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I love the “barber pole” paint scheme. 

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.

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Stretch break/photo-op in Whiteway

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A close up of “Shag Rock”. Pretty spectacular rock formations in the bay!

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!

A Most Hopeful Time of Year

Spring has a bad reputation around here. It’s season of rain, drizzle and fog; interspersed with snowstorms, freezing rain and the rare pleasant day that cumulates in sunburns throughout the entire population.

So why do I love it so much?

Because it’s the season of hope. It’s a time to make plans to pack as much enjoyment as possible into the tiny window of time that we call summer.

Day-long excursions with lunches at tiny out-of-way cafes…the simplicity and satisfaction of motorcycle camping…a cold beer by the fire after a day exploring…hikes to see spectacular oceanside scenery…calm mornings on Quidi Vidi lake…motorcycle commuting…off-road adventures on the TW200…these are the things that I look forward to each spring.

What does spring mean for you?

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Enjoying the rarest of spring days: warm, dry and calm.

 

Ride to Truxtun & Pollux Wreck Site

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.

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The site of the wreck

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Best Motorcycle Roads in Newfoundland

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.

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Beautiful, historic Brigus.

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.

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The view at Salmon Cove Sands last summer…

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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.

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Sandy Point

Road from Jacques Fontaine to Harbour MilleLocated 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.

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Twisties and beautiful scenery on the road to Harbour Mille

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.

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The road to Petite Forte, with the bikes loaded down.

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.

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Loving the Vstrom on the way to Rose Blanche.

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The beautifully restored Rose Blanche lighthouse

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.

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The road through the Tablelands

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Such different geography!

Are there any other roads in Newfoundland that you really enjoy? What makes a particular road stand out in your mind?

Motorcycle Camping: A Learning Experience

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.

Read the rest of this entry

West Coast Trip Part VI: Port Au Port Peninsula

At this point in time I’m very glad that I had the foresight to keep a journal while we were on tour last summer. If it wasn’t for the fact that I spent each evening scribbling down the day’s events there’s no way I’d be able to recall many details of our trip seven months later.

The morning of August 8 was sunny, but the forecast called for a chance of thunder showers. With the Marble Mountain radar station non-functional we couldn’t see where the showers were, but this particular day would be our only chance to see the peninsula so we took the chance and set off around the loop in a clockwise direction.

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Read the rest of this entry

West Coast Trip Part IV: Bay of Islands

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of October and I’ve yet to complete my “West Coast Trip” blog series. I’ve come to realize that fall is the busiest time of year for me. Work, online course, training for a trail ultramarathon and of course trying to squeeze in a ride when the weather cooperates means I don’t have much time to sit down and put together a post. Thanks to hurricane Gonzalo this morning I finally have some time on my hands so here’s an account of our day spent touring Bay of Islands area. Read the rest of this entry

West Coast Trip Part III: The Tablelands

On August 5th, after being on the road for three days we set out to actually get to the West Coast. We left Catamaran Park in the foggy coolness of morning and droned the 175km to Deer Lake. Read the rest of this entry

West Coast Trip, Part I: Eastern Detours

On the way to the West Coast of Newfoundland we took a few detours. On purpose, of course. The amazing hospitality and accommodations offered to us by Mark’s parents and their fifth-wheel trailer negated the need for strict distance planning. We thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely pace, and had plenty of time to explore.

We left St. John’s on the morning of August 2nd, and were scheduled to spend the night in Gander. That left oodles of time to pass away, so we decided to head out Route 204 along the shore of South West Arm, through the communities of Queen’s Cove, Hodge’s Cove, Little Heart’s Ease and Gooseberry Cove. Read the rest of this entry

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