Day 17: Stephenville Crossings to Deer Lake (A Terrifying & Beautiful Ride)

Suggested Listening: Black and Gold by Dear Rouge 

Total Distance Cycled: 2503km
Stephenville Crossings to Deer Lake: 125km

Departing at around 8:00am we got off to a pretty decent start. It wasn’t too long into our ride though when Shantel felt like she needed a bathroom and the side of the road wouldn’t suffice… if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, with us riding mostly on the Trans Canada highway there wasn’t really any stops until around 60km into our ride so she was stuck holding it for longer than she would have preferred. 

When our ride started out with an awful shoulder and heavier traffic that yesterday I had hoped it was just because we were on a different highway leaving Stephenville Crossings and that things would improve once we reconnected with the Trans Canada. I was of course totally let down when things remained the same for the most part and got worse in some cases. Poor Shantel had two wipe outs in the morning because our tiny shoulder was bordered on the left with a rumble strip and fast moving traffic and the right with dirt/gravel/sand/a ditch. On both occasions her wipes out were the result of there being too much sand on our shoulder and her not wanting to veer out into the busy highway road. Thankfully she was totally fine and we joked about how she had now mastered falling on her left – something I told her to aim to do if she was falling because there’s less you can damage on that side of your bike. Her bike was also totally fine. On top of this her chain fell off twice today which while not a big issue is annoying since it means getting her hands filthy putting it back on. 

Along the ride we met several members of a group of 21 cycling from Montreal to St. John’s. They told us they had completed the Vancouver to Montreal portion of the country last summer. Today’s ride also had some absolutely gorgeous views (especially cycling past/through Corner Brook). It was terrifying though as we made some long descents with a crazy crosswind that felt like it could push us off our bikes. When you’re traveling 50km/hr downhill the idea of being pushed off is about as terrifying as it gets. The only thing that makes it worse if when you’ve got a gravel/ a ditch to your ride and fast moving cars to you left. Fortunately as we approached Corner Brook our shoulder improved quite a bit and remained pretty decent go most of the ride. The exception to this was a few kilometer of “grooved pavement” we found ourselves having to ride on after a terrifyingly long and fast decent.
It was just after passing Corner Brook when we took an exit to a Tim Hortons in Steady Brook for Shantel to use the washroom and for us to get lunch. Here we saw a large group of the touring cyclists and spent time some chatting about our ride. Most of the folks we talked to seemed impressed with how much distance we were covering each day especially given our heavy bags. After chatting with them for a while they got back on the road and we went in to devour a handful of Beyond Meat Burgers. Inside we chatted with some folks from Alberta and after leaving they came back in to give a small donation for the ride. It was such a thoughtful gesture. Refueled now we kept a pretty steady pace for the remaining 40 to 50km of riding today. 

Just before heading to our hotel Shantel had the bright idea of visiting the grocery store first so we didn’t have to go out again once we checked into the hotel. We picked up some snacks for tomorrow and food for dinner tonight. From there it was a couple kilometer ride to the hotel.

It was exactly 5:00pm when we pulled up to the hotel. We saw some of our fellow cyclists out front with their support crew so before checking in we went to say hi. Shantel had one of the guys look at her bike and he didn’t seem to see any issues which was a relief. After her taking the two falls today and previous bike issues it’s not unreasonable for us to be worried, but the truth is there probably isn’t anything wrong with her bike and it’s all in our heads. That’s my guess at least.
Shortly after chatting with the other cyclists we made our way to our room to shower, stretch and do a bit of writing and photo posting before heading down to enjoy the hot tub. In addition to the hot tub our room also has a spa tub so I may indulge in that a little later tonight.
When we went down to the hot tub we met a super nice couple (Geoff and Katelyn) also enjoying it. We chatted for a while about our travels, our reason for doing the ride, and their very recent big move to back to Eastern Canada after having lived in Alberta for the past few years. They seemed like really great folks. After soaking in the hot tub for a while I needed to cool down and I couldn’t resist the water slide calling my name. It was surprisingly fast and quite fun. Shantel indulged her inner child shortly after me and gave it a try. After a second round in the hot tub we went back up to the room to shower, eat, write/post, and watch an episode of Suits. 

We are heading to Springdale tomorrow which is another “short day”. We’ve been warned there are some hills along the way so we will see how it goes!

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