Saturday, June 8
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL to Cartwright, NL
255 miles; mostly sunny; temps mid 50′s to mid 60’s
This was our longest day on the Trans-Labrador Highway at 255 miles, and since it was all gravel it took us more than 8 hours to complete.
The sign at the beginning of route 510 to Cartwright and Port Hope Simpson warns that there are no services 250 miles. We had extra gas along just in case we needed it. Parts of this road are narrower than route 500 reflecting the fact that is is an older road and built before there was thought of paving it.
We were treated to some spectacular vistas today. Much of the road had tracks where there was little loose gravel and we were able to make good time on those sections.
Other sections had quite a few loose stones which made the bike feel like it was riding on marbles. We learned to relax and let the bikes find their way which they did with amazing skill.
And then there were the sections where the grader had just been which left a layer of about 1.5 inches of loose sand and stone like this. Those were the most difficult for us to ride because the bikes would move around under us looking for a solid connection with the road. So our day was spent riding alternating sections of freshly graded road with loose sand and gravel, sections with firmer footing but still a fair number of loose rocks, and sections where there was a clean path in the tire tracks.
The freshly graded sections gave off the most dust when we were met or passed by other vehicles. The trucks often slowed down for us to minimize the dust. The pickups weren’t so courteous.
The sky was a spectacular azure blue with white Cumulus clouds, and the air was fresh and clean. A beautiful day for riding.
Paul snapped this one of me on one of our breaks. Riding the gravel was tiring, yet it somehow made us feel more connected with our surroundings. Early in our ride today we saw a large moose off to the side, and later a good sized black bear scampered across the road several hundred yards ahead of us. Neither wanted much to do with us.
After dinner we walked around Cartwright, a town of about 500 nestled along the shores of Sandwich Bay with easy access to the Atlantic. A ferry service connects Cartwright with native communities north and south along the Atlantic coastline. Crab fishing is the mainstay here economically.
Tomorrow will be our last day on the Trans Labrador Highway as we ride south to Red Bay, the eastern terminus.