winter overnighter

I finally got out for the first overnighter of the winter and of 2013.  The plan was to leave around noon on Sunday and ride out on a snowmobile trail out toward Witless Bay Line.  There is a spot out there I have been eying the past few winters that was just begging to be camped at: a stand of trees, a couple of ponds and a good view.  The location is marked on the map below.  I have ridden this trail many times and it takes about three hours to get to this spot – I wanted to take pictures and make it a leisurely ride so I thought about 4 hours maximum.


Unfortunately, trail conditions were poor.  Between the high volume of snowmobiles and a blazing sun the trails were soft and squirrelly.  I kept dropping the pressure in my tires but the riding was just plain hard.  I had to push often as well.


Looks can be deceiving. A beautiful day but poor trail conditions.

After three hours of riding, pushing, riding, pushing I was only half way to my destination and I was gassed.  I had no desire to keep riding in these conditions so I made the decision to find a camping spot and call it a day.  I think I did pretty well, considering.


Next chore was supper.


Chowing down.  The temperature was dropping.


Glancing up I saw this.




I retreated to the warmth of my sleeping bag and read for awhile.  This evening’s selection was Ian Hibell’s “Into the Remote Places”; Ian was a British cyclist who toured around the world and had many interesting adventures in his life.  Many thanks goes out to Nicholas of Gypsy by Trade fame who kindly sent me a copy of this book.

It was a chilly night, -12C, and I was glad when the sun rose.


Yes siree, it was a chilly one!



Thankfully, the cold temperature set the trails up nice and firm and I had a lovely ride home; I even took the long way home.

best of trail



Throw everything you think you might need into a big pile.


Consult your list to make sure there isn’t something you’ve forgotten. There usually is.


The question of “want” versus “need” gets mulled around at this point. Here’s a pro tip: DO NOT ignore your “wants”. As in “I want to have a drink at night”. This is meant to be fun.


Throw all sorts of different food together in a pile. As in step 3 above the “want” versus “need” debate takes place again. Pro tip: don’t think I eat dog food out there; that bag of treats is for the dog if she and/or he comes along.


Food prep. Most people bring waaaay too much food. People like me prey on people like that. I eat your food but I don’t have to carry it. Pro tip: you can never have too much bacon.


More food prep. This is my breakfast: 3/4 cup macaroni noodles, two strips pre-cooked bacon, tab of butter and some Parmesan. Very tasty and high in calories.


Package your meals. This makes for easy preparation out on the trail and helps with portion control.


Entertainment needs to be considered. Reading, music and substance abuse are common choices. On this trip I’m bringing the reading but not the radio. The substance abuse is being mulled over.


Coming together. Decisions get made, stuff gets packed and then some decisions get made for you.

Packing 001

Ta da! By hook or by crook it all comes together!

spout 1, slow:biker 0

I have always wanted to bicycle to The Spout in the winter, ever since John F and I first snowshoed there 10 years ago. It was one of those ideas that always came to my mind once the winter riding season started but for all sorts of reasons I never did try. Until recently.

The Spout is a freshwater geyser situated on the coast of Newfoundland halfway between Goulds and Bay Bulls. It is a very popular hiking destination in spring, summer and autumn when you can follow the East Coast Trail to get to it. It has, however, become an increasingly popular destination in the winter via an overland route beginning in Middle Pond for snowshoers, skiers and snowmobilers.

Here is what The Spout looks like in the summer:


A Carroll McC photo.

ECT Oct '09 041

And here is what it looks like in the winter:



A Marc P photo.

Being able to bike the whole way there requires just the right conditions; there needs to be a fair amount of snow and there has to be some snowmobile traffic. As you see in the video I get turned back once I reach the descent to the ocean. The reason? No snowmobile traffic. There hasn’t been much snow this season and no one has ventured down the last 1.5 km on their machines. The conditions up on the barrens, however, was good for riding: a fairly firm crust that wasn’t too icy.

Spout image

Red = uphill
Light blue = woods trails, small open areas
Blue dots= the barrens
Yellow = descent to ocean (snowmobile trail)

I hope you enjoy the video.

goulds loop

Here’s a 35 km loop that takes you around The Goulds via snowmobile trails, ponds, fields and just a smidgeon of pavement.

Goulds Loop

Note the letter “P” in the upper left hand corner.  This would be a good place for people to start.  It is where Heavy Tree Road meets Ruby Line; there is a pumping station there with plenty of place to park.  I started from my house and picked up the trail at the top of my street.

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Turning off this trail takes you through a field which connects you to Pipeline Road.  This road stretches for 10km from Bat Bulls Big Pond to the pumping station on Ruby Line mentioned above.

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Pipeline Road runs parallel to the Goulds Bypass Road.  Looking back from where I came.

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This next photo is looking east.  If you start at the pumping station and ride south for a minute or two you will bear left (east) at the first set of power lines you come to.  This will take you toward Kilbride.

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You will first cross Back Line Road and then cross the main road right beside the Ruby Church.  Continue straight across the road and follow the pole line you see in the left of the picture.

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Here’s a better shot of where you are heading.

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Going up!

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This is a great climb and when you get to the top there is a great series of dips and climbs.  You also get reward with good views.

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I followed a little side trail and found this all black cabin.  All black cabin meets all black bike.

Necromancer bike meets Necromancer cabin.

Necromancer bike meets Necromancer cabin.

I have been very pleased with the performance of my new Husker Du tires.  The traction is great on snow, they are supple, and the rolling resistance is low. Also note my rims which I recently drilled which shaves a half pound off each wheel.

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This trail meets Old Petty Harbour Road – turn right (south).  There are also options to turn left and head into Kilbride.

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Up here is is ponds, streams, hills and eventually a view of the ocean.

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Goulds loop 115

Petty Harbour.

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The only pavement you’ll have to ride in good conditions is from Petty Harbour up to First Pond.  Sadly both First Pond and Second Pond were looking a little sketchy so I stayed on solid ground and eventually rode to the end of Donovan’s Lane.

The sketchy ice of First Pond.

The sketchy ice of First Pond.

From the end of Donovan’s Lane you will ride a trail that takes you to Third Pond.  If the conditions are safe you can cross here and pick up a trail that takes you to Shoal Bay Road.  I took a left when I hit Shoal Bay Road and then my first right which put me on a trail that carried me to where Main Road meets Goulds Bypass Road.  I crossed over and road some ponds to Big Pond Dam where I picked up the trail that leads to the top of my street.

Almost home

Almost home

The whole loop took me about 4.5 hours.  There is the opportunity to pick up food and drink in Petty Harbour at the convenience store.  They also have a Liquor Express if you feel like celebrating a great ride!