Biking Across Canada Day 63 — Corner Brook to Sheppardville: Falling Off the Back

Headwinds make the road seem never ending.

Tough headwinds made for a long day of riding until sunset, but at least I made my target distance.

Lynne made me the biggest breakfast today. She just kept offering me more and more options. My plate got so full that I couldn't eat them all—eggs, steak, mushrooms, toast and more. It was much heartier than the Pop-Tarts I usually have for breakfast. Eventually I got out the door with a full belly and a full foodbag, and headed down the hill and out of town.

On the way out of town I passed an old locomotive from the defunct Newfoundland Railway, which has been dismantled and turned into a rail trail that is unfortunately suited only for ATVs (or "quads" as the call them here). It keeps tempting me on the map—look at the shortcuts I offer!—but I know I'd get stuck in the rocky gravel somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I also stopped to see a local rock formation called the Man in the Mountain. We came by here last night but it was too dark for me to make out, but this time I could recognize it.

If you squint hard enough you can pretend you see the Man in the Mountain

Leaving Corner Brook brought me through the beautiful Humber River gorge. I had to keep stopping to admire the views. Entering the gorge also brought me into a localized rain storm that lasted for about an hour, and disappeared once I made it out the other side. 

Then it was nice and sunny all day, giving me the chance to dry out but also bringing a strong and steady headwind that lasted all day. I haven't had many of them this trip, but they really slow me down when they happen. I started to worry whether I would make my self-imposed destination of Sheppardville for the day.

Whether I'm on schedule or not is a matter of interpretation, and also depends on which version of the schedule you're looking at. I originally planned to ride the 977 kilometres across Newfoundland in six days, but realized that didn't give me enough wiggle room if I ran into difficulties (like mechanical issues and headwinds), so I chose to take the overnight ferry from Sydney to buy me an extra day of riding. I then spent half of that extra day in Corner Brook. So I'm ahead of my original six-day schedule, but behind on my seven-day schedule. I wanted to ride 160 kilometres or more today to bring my remaining average daily distance down, but the winds were putting that in doubt.

Another cyclist!

Just as I was stuck in my head thinking about this, Mark came riding up behind me. He's from Calgary and also riding across Canada, though taking more time than me so he can do less distance in a day. We rode together for about an hour, chatting the whole time. It boosted my spirits and I was able to ride faster for that time, before I ran out of energy and Mark rode on ahead of me. ("I'd ridden an extra 50 km before he started his day" could be my excuse, but the truth is I'm not that fast of a rider, just willing to pedal for more hours in a day than most). We exchanged contact details in case we cross paths again, which is likely given our mismatch in speed and daily distance.

After Mark's departure it was just turning the pedals over until sunset. There was some beautiful scenery along the way, some of which I took pictures of, and some I just rode by. I even got a seven-kilometre respite from the wind after a switchback around a bay but that was over all too quickly.

Eventually the sun set and I found an access road to the power-line clearcut that parallells the road, where I set up camp for the night. It's going to be cold—the forecast calls for a low of 2º—so for the first time since the rockies I'll be sleeping in my puffy jacket and toque. There's no cell service to be had, which makes planning the next day harder, but also means I'm not tempted to stay up later than necessary checking out what's happening in the world, so I'll manage an early bed tonight. I need the rest. My legs are exhausted from today's effort.

Today's distance: 161 km

Cumulative distance: 7948 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle