We Is a Weaving and Dodging, Bye

  • Day 6 Gambo to Gander 42km 310m
  • Day 7 Gander to Bishop’s Falls 91 km 388 m
  • Day 8 Bishop’s Falls – South Brook 112 km 646m
  • Day 9 South Brook – Springdale 14km (completely in the wrong direction, but the only place for food)

20 years ago today, Gander played a heartwarming part in 9/11, well shared around the world in the musical “Come from Away”.

On the northeast tip of North America, on an island called Newfoundland, there’s an airport.
It used to be one of the biggest airports in the world, and next to it is a town called Gander.

Welcome to the rock if you come from away,
You’ll probably understand about half of what we say.
They say no man’s an island but an island makes a man,
Especially when one comes from one like Newfoundland.
Welcome to the Rock

Some history – Gander airport was the world’s largest airport when built in 1936. Built essentially in the wilderness to promote transatlantic air travel on planes that did not yet exist. New and unknown, Gander secretly transported 20,000 aircraft to Europe during the Second World War before it filled its roll as a trans-Atlantic stop over.

We enjoyed our gander at Gander (thanks mom for that) while we hunkered down 2 days for Ida leftovers. We were well educated at the local aviation museum but noticed that the 9/11 incident is barely mentioned – not surprising since the last upgrade was in 1967 for Canada’s centennial. But it is not really mentioned anywheres. We managed to find a rare rental car to run errands and day trip to Twillingate. Twillingate is a historical and ruggedly beautiful fishing town. A rental car is something you used to be able to book easily, on-line or by phone, until COVID. Now rental cars are as rare as Big Foot sightings. But we digress. Shockingly, the museums were closed for the long weekend (reopening on Tuesday). And the fresh fish market was closed for the season. And there ya have it. Reminded us of home – “might be busy with a long weekend and covid restrictions off, we’d better close Bye.”

The trail continues to challenge bodies and bikes. 60kms of gravel biking in tough conditions is an exhausting day – weaving and dodging the large gravel and ruts and puddles. There is no shortage of large gravel here on The Rock. Day 7 we left the trail after 60kms and hit the road. My tire plugs are leaking, my gears are complaining and my bike is struggling too.

Don’t you wish you were here?

There was a point here at Badger NL that the trail cut across the Gaff Top Sails. We were looking forward to it. However, local intel suggested that with the recent hurricane rains, and those still coming, the very rough trail would likely be washed out in places making the impassable trail, well, impassable. My leaky tire was yet another reason to rethink a remote, rough, 130km. So we bypassed that bit of the rail trail and took the highway for that portion.

Day 8 into South Brook was all on highway – fairly flat. We enjoyed a tail wind, the last we are likely to see on the Rock, so we did a run north with only 3 stops to put new plugs in the tire (now sporting 8 plugs). The new tire in Corner Brook seems a long way off still……because it is.

GEAR GUY on tires – Okay, so there is a reason I haven’t put a tube into Deb’s suffering and leaky tubeless tire. Here’s the thing, once you use a tube, then you’re stuck with a tube. And we only have one tube. And it’s not just Deb’s tires that are leaking. All of them are. Easily evidenced by the weeping sealant at the end of a Rail Trail day. And on these trails, pinched tubes is a risk. And if you pinch a tube then I’ve got leaky tires and a leaky tube to deal with. So my plan is to just keep plugging until they just won’t hold any air and then take the last resort to a tube. Because we’re still a long way to get new tires.

All the services, convenience stores, rest stops, or groceries google showed along the way were either closed or non existant. The hotel we had booked was closed on the long weekend (of course) but agreed to open the door for us. But naturally when we arrived after another long, sporty weather day, the place was closed, locked and with no one there. No where even to pitch a tent (thank goodness). We cycled on through a NF squall to Spring Dale, 14 kms out of the way. We’ve come to learn too well that riding in a NF squall in hurricane season is like peddling through a car wash. Now on google maps Spring Dale looked deceivingly like a small, quaint, touristy town on a peninsula that happened to have the only grocery store for 160 kms. But there must have been a Cod Bake or something going on as the traffic on the narrow road was like the Deerfoot 500.

Results of a Newfoundland squall including a waist high car induced tsunami while riding.
72 hour emergency hurricane kit

We thought we would answer some questions we have been asked:

  • You planned an unsupported bike traverse of a barren, inhospitable landscape just as a line of hurricanes was making landfall; are you looking for epic or just stupid? Stupid.
  • Are you tough or dumb? See above.
  • Are you really that hung up on finishing? Maybe on an ATV.
  • Does Jay’s mullet have the same degree of attraction for the ladies on the east coast it has out west? Yes, Bye
  • What did you bring that you haven’t used? Common sense. And swimming suits.
  • What do you wish you brought? Spare tire. Carried one all during BC but not since.
  • Do you want to join us on a bike tour in October? Only if it’s in Antarctica. Its drier there. And not as windy.
And yet the charm remains

Did you know that hurricane season in Newfoundland is technically from June to November? Did you know the peak of the season is September 10? We didn’t…gotta go…need to make tracks. Larry is on the way – we continue weaving and dodging… Do you know what the odds are of cycling into not one, but two hurricanes in a 10 day span? Gear Guy, now Weather Guy, says the odds are ”%#@!*& to one”.

9 thoughts on “We Is a Weaving and Dodging, Bye

  1. Cathi Wild

    Relieved to read this blog. I’ve been thinking about you two with the news of the hurricane!
    Fitting to post on Sep 11th and a wonderful reminder to the world of the kindness and endurance of Newfoundlanders shown for days ,20 years ago.
    Way to go, you two! I am in awe of your perseverance and the challenges you’ve overcome!
    Love that you still have your humour and one plug.
    Take care of each other❤❤❤


  2. Patti Edwards

    Deb, I am so stunned and impressed by your (and Jay’s) adventure! I am suddenly motivated to jump in when it feels like you might be at risk (more than usual!!). Please stay safe (hurricane stuff).. I am watching and I am applauding, but I am a little scared for you right now. Be safe!!


  3. Gord Otto

    NL is one of the least densely populated places on the planet. Some spots there’s practically nobody at all. You seem to be visiting all those spots. But you can see why moose took to them so eagerly.

    Sounds like the prudent bet is the over on hurricanes you travel through. And that you’ll come out safely and cheerfully on the other side of each.


  4. Jane Stevens

    Carry on you troopers – the blog is too good to stop now! Then when Deb writes the book or makes the movie we can say “we were there” – sort of. Honestly how far can you go on that tyre? Those tyres? Where can we send replacements? Wishing you safe travels from away.


  5. Judy Kutney

    Holy, holy, holy moly.
    YOU ARE BOTH AMAZING!!!! Unbelievable stamina. Unbelievable humour. Unbelievable conditions. Continue to PLUG on, so to speak, & stay safe. GO DEB & JAY!!! AMAZING!!


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