Suggested Listening: You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall and John Oates
Total Distance Cycled: 3160km
North West Brook, NL to St. John’s, NL: 176km
It was 4:30am when I first woke up today. I was feeling quite parched so I need to get some water and also needed to use washroom. Thankfully I still had some water left in one of my bottles since the tap water in our “efficiency unit” was pretty awful. Despite feeling eager to take on our last day I knew both Shantel and I needed more sleep if we were going to avoid passing out on the side of the road so I went back to bed.
When the alarm went off at 6:20am we agree that snoozing it a couple of times until 6:35am was in our best interest. From here we took our time getting ready and mentally preparing ourselves for the final long day of riding. If I’m honest it was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that after today’s ride I’ll have accomplished something I had only ever dreamed of doing for so many years. The only way it was going to happen though was by getting on the road!
It was around 8:15am when we finally started pedaling. Our absolute first priority was to find the nearest place where we could fill up our water bottles for the day since we each only had a small amount of water left. It was about 7km into the ride at a gas station when we found our opportunity to get more water and for Shantel to get her much needed coffee. Taking our time for Shantel to enjoy her coffee (as much as one can enjoy gas station coffee) and for me to post the previous day reflection. It was nearly 9:30am by the time we left.
For the most part the morning section of ride would have a pretty awful rumble strip filled shoulder. Despite the bad shoulder and of course headwind we were determined to get there so we pressed on. Over the next 85km roughly we made only a few quick stops for some wardrobe changes, roadside bladder relief, and snacks. Since I was still feeling a bit beat down Shantel secretly posted a video encouraging folks to cheer me on which as so sweet. I tried to return the favour for her later in the day, but for some strange reason the microphone on my phone isn’t working when I’m using the front facing camera. Here’s to hoping I can sort it out at some point.
With our stomachs growling and having made a significant dent into the distance we needed to cover today we stopped for lunch. Seeing a Tim Hortons and Subway we had the genius idea of buying Beyond Meat burgers and putting them into the veggie subs. Fate had it that this genius idea would live only on our heads though as the Tim Hortons was sold out of Beyond Meat. We settled for veggie subs again. In a strange way it seemed fitting that the last meal I’d eat while on the ride would be Subway since I’d eaten so much of it over the last ride and this one. Thinking now would be a good time for using a proper washroom and refilling our water we were quickly disappointed to discover the water in both the Tim Hortons and Subway had stopped working and as a result we couldn’t refill our water or use a proper washroom. Fortunately just a short distance further we found a gas station and visitor information centre. The information centre let us know there wasn’t really many spots for water or food between here and St John’s so we made sure to fill up all our bottles and pick up a bit of Gatorade at the gas station. They also wanted us of one particularly tough hill ahead of us, but assured us the worst of it should be over.
While at the gas station a lovely lady named Shelley noticed my cycling jersey and asked if we were riding for dementia and Alzheimer. We told her a bit our ride and she told us her mom was just diagnosed at the age of 64 – the same age my mom was when she got diagnosed. It’s for folks like Shelley and her mom that we were doing this ride so it was nice to meet her. We chatted with a few other folks as well which was nice.
The folks at the visitor centre were right about one thing – the first half of the day would prove much tougher than the second half as there were far less hills for us to tackle. We didn’t find any of the hills in the second half all that tough though so perhaps they just overhyped them so we’d be prepared. When we reached around 50km left of riding I found myself feeling invincible and unstoppable. It felt so good to be so close to accomplishing a goal I’ve had for so many years. To make it even sweeter the wind finally started to cooperate a bit more and we had a mix of a cross and tailwind! And just when I didn’t think it could get any better the 25km into St John’s was pretty much all downhill and amazing. We also had mostly a good shoulder the whole way. As we approached the St. John’s welcome sign we agreed that whoever was in front would slow down so we could pass into the city together. Cheesy, I know, but it felt right to get to St. John’s together after riding together for the past 21 days. Once at the sign we had a little mini photo shoot trying to get a good picture with us both in it and to capture the whole sign. Once we were satisfied we sent the photo to a couple of our biggest supporters on the ride (my friend Wade, and Shantel’s cousin Melissa and her husband Eric).
After the sign it’s all a bit of a blur to me since I was just so happy to make it. We still did have a bit of riding to do though to make it to our hosts place. One thing I do remember is that there was definitely some uphill along the way. At. John’s is quite a hilly place! As we entered the city we discussed maybe riding to Signal Hill, but it didn’t take much beyond seeing it for me to quickly decide it would be better to visit tomorrow without our fully loaded bikes.
Hosting us for the night was a former coworker of Shantel’s named Mark. While Mark wasn’t even going to be home his wife Nicole opened up their home to us for the next couple of nights. When we arrived at Mark and Nicole’s place around 9:15pm everyone was sleeping so we made our way to our little sanctuary in the basement and got settled in. Shantel took first shower while I called my Dad and a few siblings to let them know we had successfully finished the ride. They were all quite proud and happy to hear we had made it safely. Shantel called her mom while I showered.
After getting cleaned and settled our hunger really set in. Feeling quite hungry, but without many options we decided to order a cheese free pizza from Domino’s. It seems they were incredibly busy because it took almost one hour and half to get delivered. While waiting for it we nearly fell asleep, but kept ourselves busy catching up on social media and messaging friends. Once the pizza finally came we devoured it and then took a few minutes together to simply soak up the incredible accomplishment we had done together. We both remarked about how finishing a ride like this makes you feel like you can take on the world. We also agreed that if we can get through something difficult like this together that it should give us the strength and confidence to be able to handle any challenges that come our way.
Exhausted and feeling fulfilled we passed out in bed knowing that tomorrow the only riding we need to do is the short distance to the bike shop to pack up on bikes for the flight home.