Thursday, August 11, 2005

Falling off the edge of the continent

La Manche Provincial Park to St. John's by way of Cape Spear

After walking our bikes up the arduous slope from our campsite to the main road, we pedalled past the steep hills at Tors Cove and Witless Bay (where we stopped for our second breakfast, the first time this trip this hasn't turned into lunch) into St. John's. We took a detour toward Cape Spear, the most easternly point in North America. This is where many of the bikers on trans-Canada trips begun in British Columbia end their trek. It must be an extremely emotional moment for them; I know it was for me, and I've only been on this trip for a few days!

The hills getting to Cape Spear are very steep, and the strong winds blowing out to sea made steering the bike somewhat challenging. Make it we did, though, and saw the old lighthouse, took the obligatory picture on the eastern tip of the continent, and watched the drama of gannets dive bombing for fish as a whale puffed away in the distance. We spied St. John's in the distance, in a small-necked harbor ("The Narrows"), and set out in that direction.

After struggling up and down the hills away from Cape Spear, we started the long, scary descent we'd heard so much about into the city. It's a series of steep inclines, with a sharp hairpin turn under the highway right before one lands at Water St., one of the main avenues. In truth, the descent was nowhere near as terrifying as the anticipation-- still, I was glad to have good brake pads. With help from some folks at a convenience store, we located our hostel--- and had to pedal up a series of hills (which would quite hold their own in San Francisco or Seattle!) to get there.

The hostel is more of a rooming house. The people who run it are certainly nice, but we were laughing at the "suite with a view and a futon" that we got: we're in the attic room, on a futon mattress on the sloping floor (the whole house has settled) overlooking, past the roofs of other houses reminiscent of East Boston, the industrial port in the harbor. Still, though, it's conveniently located and quite luxurious after several nights of camping in the wild.

Distance: 49.02 mi
Pedal time: 4:53:25
Ave. speed: 10.69 mi/hr
Max speed: 37.8 mi/hr
(back-dated entry)

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