Today's the day I finish my long journey. It's going to be strange going back to regular life after having this trip occupy my thoughts for the past two years.
We got up before dawn and started riding as soon as we could. The forecast was calling for the wind to change from southwest to southeast at noon (i.e. from a tailwind to a headwind), and we wanted to get as far as we could before that happened. Newfoundland is difficult enough, so we don't need to ride in hard mode if we can avoid it. I also needed to get my bike to a shop to have it boxed up in time to catch a plane home the next day, so the pressure was on to finish early.
We had a cross/headwind for the first couple hours until our route swung northward near Holyrood. This inflection point was also at the peak of the tallest hill of the day. I did a celebratory fist pump when I reached the top, knowing that the day would get easier from here on.
As we got closer to St. John's we pulled off on to an ATV trail to find an area protected from the wind to empty Mark's bear spray canister. He can't fly with it, and the serial number is registered to his name so he doesn't want to throw it out in case it's used for nefarious purposes. So we had an excuse to practice using it on an imaginary bear. Target practice, as it were. It was useful to know the practical range of the pepper spray if we were every forced to use it. After the first few sprays we had to run back to the road, laughing all the way, as we could feel the effects of the capsaicin in the air. I left it to Mark to finish off the canister on his own once the air was breathable again.
We got off the Trans-Canada at the first opportunity outside St. John's, mainly because it chopped off some distance for us. We spotted a route along Beaumont Hamel Way that seemed promising—paved, without much traffic—only to realize it was the road leading to the water tower, which meant a steep climb. It was still preferable to the highway we'd been riding on all week.
We stopped for a picture at the St. John's sign, then rode on for another five kilometres until the turnoff to Cape Spear where we parted ways. Mark was satisfied with making it to St. John's, but I couldn't resist heading to the easternmost point in Canada. After a hug and many handshakes we said goodbye and I continued up the very steep hill to the lighthouse. The hills on this road were among the steepest of the trip. I barely made it up them in my lowest gear, but eventually I saw the unendending views of the Atlantic that Cape Spear has to offer.
I had hoped to find a way to bring my bike down to the shore to dip the front wheel in (after dipping the rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean in Victoria), but the waves were too rough and the cliffs too rocky to do it safely. I had to be content with only bringing my front wheel. Fortunately there was a tidal pool away from the dangerous waves that I could reach, but even getting to that required some scampering over rocks to get to.
Once I was done getting my selfies I texted Marty, classmate of my friend Jillian from Halifax, (along with Justin that I stayed with in Winnipeg) She's put me in touch with great people this trip! He came out to get me in his Rav4, saving me the hilly ride back into town. I had nothing left to prove at this point, so was happy for a car ride and a chance to rest. We dropped the bike off at Canary Cycles to be boxed up, then after I had a shower and changed into dry clothes we went out for a beer to celebrate at the new brewpub around the corner from their place.
After some food and drink Marty suggested going to Quidi Vidi Brewery. I'd been there back in 2006 on our honeymoon when they were more of a microbrewery than a craft brewery. Marty said they'd changed a lot since then to embrace brewing more interesting beers. We caught a cab and had a flight there, and he was right—Their beer offerings have much improved. Marty's wife Kara was done work by the time we were done at Quidi Vidi, so she picked us up and the three of us went out for dinner at a gastropub around another corner from their house. There was a lot of celebrating to do.
I fly back home tomorrow (Thursday) evening, so I'll have a chance to do some more sightseeing in St. John's before I go. This is my third time visiting, and there's always more to see here. It'll be good to have a transition day before resuming regular life on Friday.
My biggest question now is: what next? I've accomplished the goal I've wanted to do for so long, and it feels like a weight's been lifted from my shoulders. I'll take some time to reflect on this trip (I still have some more blog posts coming about trip logistics, and I'll probably write a summary post), but knowing my how my brain works I'm sure I'll have some new obsession soon. At least in the meantime I can get back to reading books and watching movies & TV shows, all things that I haven't done for the past 10 weeks and that significantly declined over the past two years as I'd been busy planning. To be continued, I guess?
Today's Distance: 102 km
Total Distance: 8413 km