Day 155: Whitbourne to St. John’s, Final day!
This was it. The final day of riding. I was excited to see St. John’s, excited to have made it. It wasn’t too disappointing to have reached the end, I knew there were more places to be explored another time – just maybe not 5 months in a row of exploration, but certainly this wasn’t the last day of touring.
We started the day by returning to the family restaurant. Along with our regular breakfast we also tried the Newfoundland special bread called a Touton, a local white bread that is fried like a pancake and then served with molasses. The servers at the restaurant remembered us from lunch yesterday and were surprised to see us back. They were also excited for our last day, and by the time we were leaving some other patrons who we never spoke with were shyly waving at us from the window. Before we took off one server ran to the door, shouting out to wish us good luck.
We rode nearly the entire way on the Trans Canada. We had under 100km to ride and there was no where to stop along the way. Just as we got started, the rain began. It was a very challenging final day. There was rain, strong head winds, and hills. It felt like a final test before we could be allowed to finish. The kilometers passed slowly, we worked for every one. Then eventually, the road we had been riding south east on turned north east, and our headwind turned into a tail wind. Suddenly Newfoundland relented and let us finish. We were pushed along for many of the final kilometers.
Before we reached St. John’s we passed through Mt. Pearl. We saw the name of the town which caused some minor concern about whether we had a large hill ahead to climb. But as it turns out, we’d finished all our climbing. We were already at the peak of Mt. Pearl, and had only to ride downhill into St. Johns. However it wasn’t that easy. As has happened before, the Trans Canada had a sign posted to say No Bikes just after we passed the exit to another road. So we turned around, walking with our bikes the wrong way on the highway to return to the exit.
It didn’t take long before we had company. Within seconds of us stopping to decide our route, another cyclists stopped to talk with us. He offered to show us the way into town. While talking a bit with him, a second cyclist stopped. He was riding a Surly with Ortleib panniers and was in the initial planning stages of bike touring. So at the street corner we spent quite a while with these two cyclists before we started into town with the first. (His name has escaped me! When I remember I’ll adjust this post)
We took an old rail trail and then Water St. all the way into St John’s. Our new friend showed us George St and took us to the city center before he continued on with his day.
St. John’s was more amazing then I had thought. I intentionally chose not to look at any pictures of the city to keep it a surprise, which I was very happy to have done. I had no idea there were small mountains on either side, which then open to the Atlantic, framing the towns downtown. I didn’t know about the jellybean houses, and that they were all throughout downtown. Maybe I had seen a few colourful houses in pictures, but I didn’t know how prevalent they were. It was wonderful to have arrived. As we stopped for pictures, the sun came out.