Biking Across Canada Day 66 — Port Blandford to Whitbourne, NL: The Hills Never Get Easier…

Riding into Bespin

Mark and I got up at dawn and foraged for more blueberries while tearing down camp. We decided to ride to Whitbourne tonight as there's not much past there to stay in, and we are both wanting a bed to sleep in before our last day of riding. We found a two-bedroom AirBNB to stay in and booked it while eating breakfast. It's the first time I've reserved a place to stay more than a few hours ahead of time. I guess I'm feeling confident I'll make it—having a riding partner makes that easier.

My little tentbed
Early-morning sky
Lake Thorburn

Rain is on the forecast for the afternoon, with headwinds all day, so we tried to make as much progress as we could before they hit. I normally write a blog post in the morning about what I did the previous day, but I skipped that this morning so I could use that time for riding. The sun disappeared shortly after we hit the roads. I don't mind as I think Newfoundland looks better when it's not sunny. The scenery looks more majestic when it's obscured by fog.

The rains started around noon as promised. The rest of the day was spent riding in heavy downpours, scattered showers, or foggy drizzle. Just as my clothes would dry off, I'd get soaked again. During one of those dry spells we were flagged down by a couple towing a small camper. It actually took them two attempts as the first time they didn't give themselves enough lead time, so I rode past them before they could get out of the car. Dan and Donna biked across Canada in 1980, and now stop to give chocolate bars to any touring cyclists they pass. Their cross-Canada adventure started as a cross-America trip, but when Mount St. Helens erupted they were forced to head north to avoid all the ash spread across the US. They developed a love of vacations in Canada as a result, often doing canoe trips in the same spots in Ontario that I would go. This year they are driving across Newfoundland for the first time, camping along the way. We had a great time chatting with them, but eventually had to leave when the skies opened up again.

It was a difficult day of riding, with many steep hills made worse by the winds. Our daily climbing total is comparable to the Rockies. Usually the hills will block most of the headwind, but not in Newfoundland. After stopping at the top of a particularly long and steep climb, Mark commented that he thought the hills would get easier after weeks of riding, but they never did. We're still grinding away in our lowest gear all the way to the top. We just get better at accepting them as part of the journey.

You can just barely see Mark riding up the hill.

Late in the day as we were nearing our destination, the sun came out. We hardly recognized it, but it brough a rainbow with it. Though it didn't last long, I took it as a good omen on our penultimate day of riding. We stopped at the grocery store on the way into town to buy some vegetables and beer, but a hot coffee was the first item of business when we got to our accommodation as we were cold and damp. The beers came out as we cooked dinner. Tonight is the traditional last-night-of-the-trip feast, where you cook all the food you don't need to carry any more. This was made easier because we had access to a garbage can to throw out any leftovers (there is nothing worse than cooking too much food in the backcountry because leave-no-trace guidelines means you have to eat it). Some of that food I'd been carrying since Kamloops. I'm glad to be rid of it, and my food bag will be nice and light tomorrow.

An early bedtime is in order as we're getting up before dawn tomorrow for our final ride to St. John's.

Today's Distance: 139 km

Cumulative Distance: 8411 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle