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Trans-Lab: Alone? At your age?

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mtl_Biker, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    I'm glad you're enjoying the report! Thanks for commenting.

    But I wouldn't call the scenery along the Trans Labrador Highway "beautiful". Different, yes. Desolate, you betcha! The most impressive part of it for me was the total solitude and the aloneness. I didn't listen to music, radio, or anything. But a few times I was singing loudly in my helmet, and just really, HAVING A BALL!

    Yes, the Permethrin made the trip doable for me, as I'd been more worried about the blackflies than anything else.

    Cheers!


    #41
  2. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Where in the West Coast? You coming through Montreal?

    Ovidiu (a board inmate) rode his CBF1000 here from Vancouver and his wife met him here (she flew) and together they continued on to do the TLH just 3 days after I left. We kept in contact via text message when we could, and just this past weekend, I rode down to Henrietta NY (Rochester) to meet up with him for dinner and drinks on his way back west. He'd left his wife at the airport in Boston Sunday morning and he and I arrived at the hotel in Henrietta within 5 minutes of each other.

    I REALLY hope he'll make an appearance here and especially hope that he'll post his own ride report, because he really did have an adventure. An amazing one, complete with heavy rain in Labrador making the road super slick and he had road tires on his bike and was riding 2-up. Wow! He also had bike problems (later on) and had something like a 9-hour tow from on the Cabot Trail back to Sydney to a bike dealer. He's REALLY got to post some of that stuff!


    #42
  3. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Vlad, that's a TERRIFIC photo! Thanks for posting it. Good memories.

    That's Claude and Benoit, both riding 1200GS's, from Montreal. We met them on the ferry from Blanc Sablon to Newfoundland. That story is coming up in my day 5 post (later today I hope).


    #43
  4. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    The time zones are really confusing... One and a half hours later here than in Montreal, but when the ferry schedule says it leaves at 10:30 am from Blanc-Sablon Quebec (which is on Eastern time) and only a few kilometers away in Labrador, it's noon. It really caused me some confusion about what time the ferry actually leaves Blanc-Sablon, but it turns out (by digging into the ferry website) that since it's operated by the government of Newfoundland, they operate on Newfoundland time.

    Since the road conditions between Port Hope Simpson and Red Bay (where the pavement starts) were supposedly the worst of the Trans Labrador Highway and there were major road construction areas ahead, I really had to make sure I'd get to the ferry not only on time, but early. I didn't have ferry reservations and I heard from many people that without reservations there was always a chance of not getting on. I figured I'd better be among the very first in line for a non-reserved spot. I got up before 4am, took a shower and made my first mistake...

    I mentioned earlier that I didn't have any bites from blackflies and that was true, up to that point. The mistake I made was to use the soap and shampoo supplied by Campbell's B&B and it was really nice. But I ended up smelling like a flower. And when I went outside to pack my bike, I think the strong attractive smell from the soap and shampoo so overpowered the smell of the Permetherin, that the blackflies dived right in. At 4am you'd think the little buggers were sleeping, but no, they were all up and ready for breakfast. I did get one bite which bothered me a lot for several days. The poor folks with multiple bites must have really suffered.

    Speaking of breakfast, true to his word, Cyril Campbell had put two breakfast sandwiches into the fridge in the common room for me. And it turned out that his daughter was also leaving early to catch the ferry (and she HAD a reservation!!) and she'd started a pot of coffee for herself and I think for me. I cannot recommend Campbell's highly enough! 4am was a little too early for me to eat breakfast, so I stowed the sandwiches in my pannier but did enjoy some good coffee.

    It was cold - 10C and really dark when I pulled away from Campbell's and headed out shortly after 4am. Ms. Campbell, in her SUV was going to leave a few minutes later and I thought I'd only see her at the ferry. Besides the dark, there was a fog and it was a very damp wet fog. Visibility was bad, maybe no more than 20 feet if that. The gravel was very rough and I had to ride standing on the pegs most of the way, but that exposed my visor to more of the wet mist and I'd have to sit down, wipe the visor and stand up. Rinse, repeat. Not a lot of fun. My speed wasn't as high as it would have been with good visibility as I was trying to peer into the fog ahead to watch for changing gravel conditions and especially bears or moose on the road. I hadn't put on my rain gear that morning but I did have long Merino wool underwear under my BMW Rallye gear. That gives warmth even if it gets wet, and I'm lucky I had put that on.

    I'd heard that with the heavy equipment and construction going on in this section the road is often closed for 30 minutes at a time as they do blasting or dump rocks and level them out, so that's another reason I left so early... I was hoping to pass the construction areas before the crews started working.

    About half an hour down the road I was passed by Ms. Campbell and she gave a friendly toot of the horn and she disappeared into the distance ahead. A 4-wheel drive vehicle really does work well on those roads and she was taking full advantage.

    When I neared the construction areas, still before about 6:30 am, I was surprised to see road crews already starting to work. I didn't get delayed by them, but was amazed to see the immense size of some of the vehicles. Some of the dump trucks looked large enough to land a 747 in, and the wheels were maybe three times taller than me. I doubt if the drivers could even notice such a small and insignificant spec as I presented.

    I missed out on taking photos in this section first because it was dark and later because it was pouring rain. But one photo opportunity I missed really bothered me... there were two road workers in orange jumpsuits, sitting at the side of the road and both were wearing insect nets on their heads. Looked like they were some kind of spacemen. That's one photo that got away. SIGH There really wasn't much point in stopping to take foggy photos.
    [​IMG]

    As I neared Red Bay, maybe 50 km before, the fog and mist got wetter and wetter and before I realized what was happening, it was solid heavy rain. Everything was already wet but with my Merino wool underwear, I was still warm. There was hardly any point in stopping at the side of the road, in the rain, to put rain gear on top of wet clothing, and I really didn't know how much longer it would take before I could get to Blanc-Sablon, so I just kept on going.

    Back to pavement at Red Bay, and it was getting pretty light out, but it was still foggy and very wet. This was taken just after 7 am local time and my camera's GPS didn't record any location data so I guess with the weather it was having trouble finding satellites:
    [​IMG]

    By the time I got near the border of Labrador and Quebec, the sky had cleared and my wet clothing was actually drying out.
    [​IMG]

    I got to the ferry ticket office and found there was already a standby group of people waiting and hoping for space on the ferry. But they must have had cars or trucks because once I got my "take a number" and they saw by my gear that I was riding a bike, I was called up to the counter immediately and I bought my ferry ticket.

    Parked on the side opposite the ticket office:
    [​IMG]

    View of the ferry terminal, minus ferry:
    [​IMG]

    With my ticket out of the way, I started looking around for Vlad. No one else was yet waiting down were vehicles would be lining up, so I rode back up the hill looking for Vlad and/or a place to have breakfast.

    After a delicious breakfast at a little place 1 km or so back up the road, I returned to find a lot of cars, trucks and yes, motorcycles waiting in line. And Vlad showed up shortly after I did:
    [​IMG]

    We also met Claude and Benoit, both from Montreal and both riding 1200GS's. Here's Claude:
    [​IMG]

    Here's our boat:
    [​IMG]

    We're finally given the go-ahead to advance to the boat, only to be told to shut down and wait some more:
    [​IMG]

    On the ferry I took advantage of the sun and wind to finish drying off my clothing. And then Vlad and I needed a shot of us together:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On the ferry we got to know Claude and Benoit better and they seem like really cool guys. Since they're also from Montreal, I'm hoping we'll be able to do some interesting rides together in the future. They had spent some time in Red Bay and met a group of tourists who had come over on the ferry from Newfoundland on a bus. I think they also went out on a boat for a tour. Anyway, they seem to have hit it off very nicely with two of the beautiful young women on the tour and they all spent most of the ferry ride that morning together chatting. One of the women was so badly mauled (there's no other word for it) by the blackflies. I wish she'd have known about Permetherin.

    Anyway, here are a couple of group shots of us with several others from the bus tour. That's Claude in the front between Vlad and myself and Benoit is in the middle at the back:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once we arrived in Newfoundland, we said goodbye to Claude and Benoit (they were going to St. Anthony for the night to meet up with that tour group again - lucky guys!) and Vlad and I were going to ride down the west coast. Vlad was heading to a b&b somewhere past Gros Morne, and I planned to camp at Gros Morne for the night.

    The ride was scenic all the way but the clouds looked a bit ominous.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Part way down the coast we decided we had enough time to make a detour and we really wanted to have a good meal and maybe a beer or two. We headed off Hwy 430 towards Port Saunders and Port au Choix for what would turn out (at least for me) to be one of the highlights of the trip. As we came to Port Saunders, there was a sign with an arrow pointing left off the highway, promising a "Seafood Restaurant". Exactly what we needed! We turned off towards it.

    We must have blinked on the way, as we passed it without seeing it. As we rode through the small fishing village we saw a man out for a walk. We stopped to ask where the restaurant was and he pointed back the way we'd come and said it was there. "But you don't want to eat there", he said. We don't??? No, he said and told us to continue on along the road to Port au Choix to a place called the "Anchor Cafe", right across the street from the shrimp cannery. So with that recommendation, we headed further west.

    Here's Vlad and I at the front of the Anchor Cafe:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When we entered, everything was dark. We were greeted by the owner, "Novelle". It seems they just had a power failure but not to worry as they "usually" don't last long. We asked if power was needed for beer, and since it wasn't, that's what we started with:
    [​IMG]

    The beer was "Quidi Vidi 1492" and was delicious! The locals pronounce it quickly as "kitty vitty". When the power came back (and we had our second kitty vitties) we were served an excellent shrimp appetizer that even now the memory of which makes my mouth water. Followed by a blackened fish (can't remember if it was cod or halibut, but it was outstanding!) and then a really decadent desert that after having ridden the Trans Labrador Highway we both felt we deserved. The food, service, beer... all absolutely outstanding and this was the best meal that I had in Newfoundland. If you ever travel down the west coast of Newfoundland, this is NOT to be missed!

    [​IMG]

    After lunch, feeling fantastic, we continued on southwards, stopping briefly by the harbour:
    [​IMG]

    And then stopped again at (I believe), the Arches Provincial Park for a break and some photos. Vlad tested the water and said it was quite warm.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We took some photos then met 3 riders (one riding solo and the couple riding 2-up). They came down to that part looking for place to camp and it might have been there but we recommended what looked like better places a little further north where they could have their bikes right down by the tents instead of up in a parking area where they couldn’t be seen.

    [​IMG]

    Vlad and I parted company shortly afterwards with Vlad “making time” to get to his B&B before dark and me going to Gros Morne to camp. I arrived at one of the first campgrounds in Gros Morne close to dark and met a park ranger who was doing her rounds. She collected my $15 for the night and said since I wasn't going to be hiking or doing anything other than staying the night, I wouldn't have to buy a more expensive park pass. But this campground, as nice as it was, had no services, other than an outhouse and outdoor faucet for water. It was supposed to have Wifi but it didn’t seem to work. I could see the network but kept getting kicked off when I tried and tried and tried to reserve a spot on the ferry from Chanel Port aux Basques to Nova Scotia. I didn't know when I'd be able to leave Newfoundland. Other campers were telling me that because of a tropical storm or hurricane coming, people were leaving the island and the ferries were totally booked for days. And that several sailings had already been canceled because of very rough seas. I would have to try again in the morning.

    My dinner that night consisted of the two breakfast sandwiches Campbell's B&B had provided that morning, washed down with some of my ration of rum. All in all, a pretty good day.
    #44
  5. LongWays

    LongWays Skiing up a hill...

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    Leaving Abbotsford BC next Sunday. Probably staying. North of Montreal: Timmins, Chibougamau , Baie Comeau. Through the States on the way home.
    #45
  6. Abenteuerfahrer

    Abenteuerfahrer Deaf on Wheels

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    #46
  7. grubz916

    grubz916 Been here awhile

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    Great report and thank you for taking the time to put it together for all of us. I did the trans lab in late September 2012. We actually caught the last ferry of the season from Argentina,NL. That was the last Friday of September. No blackflies, no mosquitoes. The whole time. Its a bit cold at night which kills them off. So long as your prepared I think its the best time of year to do the lab. Also most of the RV's are gone so you can do without reservations ahead.
    Cheers! Tom
    #47
  8. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Nice pics / report young 'un.

    Nick
    #48
  9. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Hi Tom, and thanks!

    But are we talking about the same Trans Labrador Highway? In all the time I was there, I did not see even one RV. Newfoundland is different, and there yes, were plenty of them. But not in Labrador. There were a couple that I did see which entered Labrador via the ferry to Blanc-Sablon but they only (from what I heard) went up as far as Red Bay where the pavement ended and the rough gravel began. I didn't see any on the actual TLH.

    Yes the ferry from Argentia (not Argentina :) ) stops running at the end of September, but the one from Chanel Port aux Basques runs all year around, other than for a very few days when the ice near the shores is too thick. And neither of these ferries run from Newfoundland to Labrador. They go to Nova Scotia.

    But I'd love to do the TLH near the end of the season one day.

    Cheers!


    #49
  10. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    :rofl

    #50
  11. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    What are you doing? Making some sort of fashion statement? :D

    I've only got one word for you, and that word is... PERMETHERIN!

    And that spot in the sky over your right shoulder some people might think is dust on your camera sensor, but you and I know that it's one of those blackflies coming in for a kill.

    And as far as your bike taking a nap, I'll say to you what everyone has been saying to me. How could you possibly drop the bike when the road surface looks so perfect? :D

    If they only knew.

    Cheers!

    #51
  12. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    Thats going to be quite a trip! What will you do between Timmins and Chibougamau? A direct route, or will you go north past Matagami and then take the Route du Nord to Chibaugamau?

    It looks very doable for me to still do the Route du Nord from Montreal before the end of the riding season. At least I hope I'll be able to do it.

    Cheers!


    #52
  13. kelsow

    kelsow Long timer

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    Hey Eldor. Glad that I found your RR. Really great stuff. I'm looking forward to more pix.
    #53
  14. Abenteuerfahrer

    Abenteuerfahrer Deaf on Wheels

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    Am a retired pesticide chemist and of course vouch for Permethrin but unfortunately it has some basic chemicals in it that I don't like. I did indeed bring 100% Deet just in case of being devoured up there but never used it.

    Try Skin-so-soft..works wonders if mixed with about 30% water... perfectly free from pesticide or chemicals...super safe!

    When ever taking a pee...woo those flies would form in seconds thus the head gear..but lordy lord wish they would invent similar hood for our peckers...:loll.

    Bike took a nap when I was awed by this waterfall and because of my inattention I hit a ridge in the center that this damn heavy GS could not get out of...booommm....ended on my arse!

    Phase III TLH was not yet open them...

    Chug on Amigo...

    cheers...
    #54
  15. The Haymaker

    The Haymaker Testing Newtons Laws......

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    I too did the TLH solo, leaving out from Central Maine on May 28th. There was snow on the roads from Wabush to St. Anthony a mere two weeks before my departure. My friends all said I was nuts for even thinking about doing it so early, disregarding the late arrival of spring. It made my adventure all the more worthwile, the views provided by "global warming" were absolutely incredible!

    I took 7 days to go 3000 miles on my Tiger. Up until day 7, I had run a mere 20 miles of rain, had mosquitoes 1 night outside of Churchill (which were froze to the tent the next morning!) gained one bite, never used bug dope or netting, never saw a single grader, had one bauble where the bike fishtailed, and there was NO traffic. I passed two cars, was passed by one truck, and met two trucks coming the other way on the stretch from HV/GB to Port Hope Simpson.

    My 800XC loved the dirt, the TR8 front and Fullbore rear performed great, though the dirt destroyed the rear. I was stranded a night in L'anse au Loupe because the ferry couldn't get through the ice pack and people had been waiting for up to three days! They made it sound like my chances of getting aboard were slim, and the tire never would've made it back to QC.

    I wanted to see an iceberg...... I saw ice to the horizon, frozen lakes, snow covered mountaintops, and drifts 8' tall. I also got to feel the Apollo shudder every time it ran over pack it couldn't get around. The crossing took 4 hours! As said, the scenery was incredible. The only time I was cold was bag to bike. Temps ran from freezing (I had frost one morning) to what must've been high 60's.

    If y'all want (I don't want to hijack) I can post a couple pics from the phone. I should do a writeup, but I'm too lazy. :D

    Mtl_biker, thanks for the writeup!
    #55
    chief 06 likes this.
  16. Abenteuerfahrer

    Abenteuerfahrer Deaf on Wheels

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    :thumb:clap

    cheers....
    #56
  17. Fortech

    Fortech Been here awhile

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    Did you eventually find the stickers you wanted? I am taking a trip to Goose Bay later this week for work. I can gather up a sticker or two and send your way if you wish. If interested, PM me your info and I'll try my best...
    #57
  18. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    That's a really kind offer you made. Thank you! But I did end up getting three stickers... one for Vlad, Ovidiu and myself. I called "Northern Lights" in Happy Valley Goose Bay and they had them. They accepted my credit card and sent them via Priority Post and I had them in two days.

    They told me they only have three left. So anyone wanting some better hurry.

    Note that there are smaller ones, about the size of a credit card, as well, but they don't seem like they'd be suitable for outdoor use. The ones I got are almost 6" across and are a good size for panniers.

    Thanks again for your kind offer.

    Cheers!

    Eldor

    #58
  19. Mtl_Biker

    Mtl_Biker Long timer

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    The rain started overnight. Heavy solid rain. Luckily my tent kept me nice and dry and comfortable. This was Wednesday, day 6 of my adventure.

    In the morning it was still raining heavily and I hoped that by delaying my departure awhile it would pass.

    I really love my tent. It’s a Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT. http://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/anjan/anjan2gt.php The vestibule is the same size as the tent itself and initially I had a hard time choosing between the GT and the regular model simply because I thought the larger vestibule might get in the way and limit where I could set up. But that’s really not the case at all. The vestibule was large enough for me to sit in comfortably in my Alite Designs Mantis chair and make coffee.

    I sat there for a long time, enjoying three terrific shots of espresso coffee while I tried again to make a ferry reservation to get to Nova Scotia. The WiFi was working a little better this morning (or it might have been the ferry website that was working better) and I finally managed to get a reservation for the first available spot, which would only be close to midnight on Saturday night. And I wasn’t able to get a cabin, bunk bed or even one of the reserved special reclining seats. I would have to sit up all night in a chair that barely reclines at all.

    So I had three more nights to spend in Newfoundland.

    Now in general that wouldn’t at all be a bad thing. But with this weather (tropical storm with rumors of a hurricane coming, and constant flood-condition rain) and with me riding a motorcycle and wanting to camp, well, it might not be as much fun as usual. I’d wanted an adventure, and I was certainly having one.

    The rain hadn’t let up by the time I finished my coffee and had made my ferry reservation, and Intellicast (a great weather app on the iPhone/iPad) was showing that the rain would be here all day and for next several days.

    One of the cool things about my Anjan 2 GT tent was that the footprint, inner tent and outer tent (what most companies call the fly) are all attached together. So you can just shake the tent out when you unpack it, and pop it up really quickly with the outer tent protecting the inner tent and keeping it dry. But now I hesitated to dismantle the tent with everything intact because I felt the inner tent would end up wet because of the wet outer tent. So I tried something for the first time that was supposed to work.

    While sitting in the vestibule, I disconnected the inner tent from the footprint and outer tent and rolled it up and put that away. Completely dry. I gathered all my gear and made a dash through the wet grass and mud to my bike and strapped it all on. I was wearing my helmet because it was raining so hard and with the visor down I couldn’t see anything because of the rain and the visor kept fogging up (there was no air circulation through the helmet as there would be while riding) so I had to open the visor. And then rain got on the inside the visor and also between the pinlock screen and outer screen. That was going to make the riding really difficult.

    The only thing left was the outer tent and footprint, and I quickly un-staked it and rolled it up. Because it was wet and the ground was muddy this wasn’t easy, and I couldn’t squeeze enough air out of the wet rolled up tent and now it was a lot bigger than it should be. But I didn’t have any options. I strapped it onto my bike and rode away from my site...

    ...and immediately through a pond.

    It was so wet and there had been so much rain that the campground road had flooded and I had no choice but to ride through it, not knowing if there were hidden obstacles. The water came up about halfway to my axles so it wasn’t all that bad, but I could hardly see where I was going and the front wheel kicked up the water so that it covered my boots. (My boots are old but have a Gore-tex membrane and they’re supposed to be waterproof, but over the next few days I had so much rain that the inside of them was quite wet and at one point my socks were soaked and my feet were squishing in my boots.)

    I reached the main road and headed south in the rain. My visor was so steamed up that even riding at speed didn’t get enough air flowing through to clear it. I had to ride with my visor open and my head tilted down a bit so that my eyeglasses wouldn’t get too wet. Not fun. It was warm too, and with my riding gear and rain gear on top, pretty uncomfortable. I reached the Gros Morne Visitor’s Center 23 km later

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I needed some paper towels or something to dry the inside of my visor and wipe away the fog.

    I got that done and then found they had reliable WiFi there. Since it was still pouring rain outside, I thought I’d take advantage of it and check mail and do a bit of planning and exploring about how I should spend that day (Wednesday) and until Saturday night when I board the ferry. Everyone was talking about the weather and a possible hurricane. I reached for my iPhone in an inside pocket of my riding jacket. Not there.

    Oops, where is it?

    Not in any of my pockets. I put my helmet back on and went out in the rain to search my bags. I removed my tank bag and moved to shelter under a large tree and searched through that. Not there.

    Geez, where could it be? A really bad thought crossed my mind… that I’d somehow managed to leave it back at my camp site. And that now it would be ruined, sitting in water somewhere. I put the tank bag back onto the bike and opened my larger pannier. Pair of running shoes on the top… I moved those aside and pulled out the pannier inner bag and ran back into the Visitor’s Center to search through that.

    I’m so wet it’s not even funny. Dripping. I take everything out of the bag and can’t find the iPhone. Shit. It MUST be back at the camp site.

    Feeling like a real idiot, I put the bag back into my pannier and mounted up. I had no choice but to ride back the 23 km to look for my phone. It’s really raining hard and there’s no sign of it letting up. I get back to the camp site and search it and can’t find the iPhone. What the heck could have happened to it? As I get back on my bike, an idea comes to mind. My iPhone is paired to my GPS and also paired to the Sena communications headset in the helmet. What if I pressed the button on the Sena that should start my iPhone music playing? I tried it, and ho and belold :D music started to play. Not very clearly, but it was playing. So the iPhone was in range. I got off the bike and searched the camp site again. No luck. But the phone was close!

    Realizing that the poor sound quality was probably the result of a weak bluetooth connection between the phone and the Sena, I came to the conclusion that the phone must be inside one of my panniers and the aluminum pannier was blocking the signal. I felt better, knowing that it MUST be there. It was still raining way too hard for me to unpack the contents of my panniers again so confident in the thought the phone was with me, I mounted up and headed out. Again.

    Back to the Visitor’s Center, 23 km, so I’d done 46 km round trip to look for the phone when in fact it must have been with me all along. I didn’t stop this time but kept on going until reaching the Trans Canada Highway near Deer Lake about an hour later.

    I stopped at a Tim Horton’s for breakfast and their free WiFi (luckily I still had my iPad). The weather was going to be horrible for the rest of my stay in Newfoundland, and I tried to figure out how to make the best of my time there, in bad weather. I decided there really were no great options, so I would ride out towards Twillingate on the north-east corner of Newfoundland. One of my goals this trip, besides riding the TLH, was to camp on the cliffs north of Twillingate and watch the sunset over the ocean in front of me. (See that terrific trip report I mentioned in my Day 2 report.)

    As I rode, gradually the rain eased off and finally stopped.

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    Now I was downright uncomfortable, damp clothing under rain gear, wet gloves, damp (and starting to smell bad) helmet and I was getting really hot. So I stopped at the side of the road and stripped off the rain gear and strapped it on top of my other gear (so it would be handy if needed again soon). I rode on and sure enough, the sky got real dark again and it started pouring. It was so sudden and without any warning that I got drenched (again) in seconds. There was nowhere to stop in shelter to put on rain gear. It was raining so hard that cars were pulling over and stopping with their flashers on. And I kept going because just pulling over wouldn’t get me anything. And since there is only one road across NFLD, there are no overpasses with connecting roads that I could have taken shelter under. Finally I saw a sign for a lounge and pulled in. The parking lot was completely empty and I feared the place was closed. I ran into the vestibule and inside I didn’t see anyone at all. And while I stood there, dripping wet, not a soul appeared to see what I wanted. Kinda eerie. I put my wet rain gear on over my wet riding gear and watched my bike get a good washing. You wouldn’t believe how dirty the bike had been after the TLH but with the rain the day before near Red Bay and the rain overnight and today, it had been washed completely clean.

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    With no sign that the rain would let up soon, I got back on the bike and continued on. An hour or so later, there seemed to be some sort of blockage in the right lane but the left (passing) lane seemed to be moving. I took the left lane and advanced maybe close to a km. (I don’t know why the other drivers didn’t use both lanes.) Finally the left and right lanes were completely stopped. I sat there for a long time without moving. Then slowly both lanes would start to move forward, each lane only moving maybe 2 car lengths at a time. The lanes merged into one. Then we stopped again, and for a good long time. There was still traffic coming towards us, but our lane wasn’t moving at all. t removed my waterproof 3-finger over-gloves and even got off the bike. I couldn’t see anything ahead other than a long line of stopped traffic. Unreal. Middle of nowhere, with only one road, and total stoppage.

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    Finally things started moving again in fits and spurts. Move forward maybe 4-5 car lengths and stop. Wait 5 minutes, and then move forward again. Very frustrating. And finally when I got to the front instead of some kind of major accident, it seemed that the blockage was simply due to road work. And that to do something special, they had closed the east-bound lanes totally until they finished. Now they were using one of those “follow me” vehicles to let only a very few vehicles move through at a time, then the “follow me” vehicle would reverse the process and lead some cars westward. All together I lost almost a full hour due to this construction delay.

    It started pouring again, and I had to stop to put on my over-gloves again.
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    Finally nearing the exit for Twillingate (which was still 80 km away) I stared to fear I wouldn’t arrive before dark, and for the first time I started considering staying in a motel or B&B for the night. Even though I’d had my heart set on camping on those cliffs. The rain wasn’t letting up any, and I resigned myself to giving up my plan to camp. When I was maybe 15 km away from Twillingate the rain started easing up and by the time I was at the outskirts of the town it had stopped raining entirely. And up ahead the sky looked relatively clear. Even the roads looked like they hadn’t seen a lot of rain. I saw a tourist information office and stopped in.

    They told me there were NO VACANCIES up ahead and that I’d have to ride back to the Trans Canada Highway (80 km back) in order to get a room. I asked them how they could be so sure, and they showed me several printed sheets of hotels, motels and B&B’s with red lines crossed through them. They said that all the accommodation places would call them when they were full and that really, there were no rooms AT ALL up ahead at Twillingate.

    What to do? With a very heavy heart I’d already given up the idea of camping on those cliffs, but now I couldn’t get a room either. And I really didn’t want to ride 80 km back the way I’d come. The rain had stopped. The sky was surprisingly clear… should I chance it? With nothing to loose, I decided I would head to the cliffs and at least check them out.

    Almost next door to the tourist info place was a liquor store. I stopped in and bought one of the most expensive bottles of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon wine they had… about $40. I strapped that on the back of my bike, and headed into the town of Twillingate and through it out towards those cliffs.

    I got there, and it was indeed beautiful. But it didn’t look like the photos I’d seen. And I couldn’t find a large enough space of flat ground that I’d be able to set up my tent and sleep without rolling off the therm-a-rest. Hmm…

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    There was a hiking path heading higher up. Not wide enough for a car, but two people walking abreast could do it. It was pretty steep and there was a trough running across it where water had eroded a ditch. I really wasn’t sure I could ride up there. I walked up to check it out and found that this really was the spot I’d been looking for. But I really didn’t feel like carrying all my gear up the hill, or feel comfortable about leaving my bike overnight so far away from me. I walked down, mentally trying to figure out the least challenging path to ride back up. At the bottom I looked up... really didn’t feel I could ride up there with a heavily loaded bike (heck, even with an empty bike!). I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but in the end I just said what the heck and rode up. Made it without falling and was pretty happy about it too.

    At the top I couldn’t find a level enough spot to be able to put the side stand down and get off the bike. One of the curses of having short legs is that I can’t get on/off the bike without standing on a foot peg. So unless I can get the side stand down, I can’t even get off the bike. I powered forward and tried my best to walk the bike backwards over and over until I found a spot where with the side stand down the bike wasn’t leaning so much that it would fall over. I carefully got off and then found a large rock that I wedged under the side stand to hold the bike more upright.

    I unloaded my tent and gear and before I even finished setting up the tent, I hit the wine:
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    I got set up and was very much reminded of those MasterCard commercials (maybe they’re still running?) that go something like this: BMW motorcycle $xxx, tent $xx, sleeping bag $xx, camping without services at Twillingate, PRICELESS. Seriously folks, this was the second highlight of my trip! Absolutely fantastic! (The first highlight was the Anchor Cafe in Port aux Choix with Vlad the day before.)

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    My dinner that night consisted of that terrific bottle of wine and a couple of power bars, all consumed in the dark while looking out over the ocean.

    Life was real good.

    (I’ll tell you about the missing iPhone tomorrow.)
    #59
  20. vtbob

    vtbob wanderer

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    689
    Location:
    Western Vermont
    I finally caught up with your trip report. Sounds like a great adventure and a great ride.
    I really enjoy the pictures

    bob z
    #60