Following a post on Mountain Bike St. John’s Facebook page, where Chris B threw out the idea of riding every trail listed on their web page in one day, I suggested a preparation ride for such an undertaking would be to ride from Shoal Bay Road to Fort Amherst, piecing together a bunch of trails and dirt roads to make one continuous (virtually all) off-road ride.
I’ve tossed out this idea before: last year to Chris J who floated the idea on an email but I don’t think ever attempted (correct me if I’m wrong) and this year to Ross Y who attempted it with a crew but they had so many freakish mechanicals they aborted their trip in Petty Harbour.
Since this route was my idea I figured it was high time I tried it myself, so I set off Saturday morning to see if I could do it. The route is approximately 45 km long and estimated time to complete it was in the 8-10 hour range. The route is as follows: Shoal Bay Road to Petty Harbour; Petty Harbour to Kilbride via Old Petty Harbour Road; Kilbride to Richmond Hill trail using a mish-mash of trails/pole lines; ride all of Richmond Hills’ Ridgeline trail (starting at the repeater tower) and exiting via Slingshot; ride the fire road to Shea Heights; finally, Shea Heights to Fort Amherst.
It took me 3 1/2 hours to get to Petty Harbour and I seriously contemplated quitting at that point. I was trashed from all the hike-a-bike, the trail was narrow and deep causing a lot of pedals strikes and it was terribly grown in which made for poor riding. The only thing that kept me going was that I vowed I would NEVER ride this section again and that meant this was my only chance to complete the whole ride. Fortified by two Pepsi’s, an apple flip and a Kit-Kat from the convenience store in Petty Harbour I soldiered on.
It’s interesting to note that after Petty Harbour I only took one more picture. I got into a bit of a zone (read: zombie-like trance) and just wanted to get the mission accomplished. Old Petty Harbour Road starts with a killer climb but once at the top is pretty easy. Then onto Ridgeline/Slingshot which is a workout in itself, let alone after 4+ hours of riding. I made it to the store in Shea Heights where I got a Gatorade and a Vachon cake to fuel me to Fort Amherst. Then it began to rain.
I made it to Fort Amherst 7.5 hours after starting. God bless my lovely wife for picking me up and ordering me a fish ‘n’ chips for supper.
* I’m glad I completed it but I can’t say I’d recommend it.
* Petty Harbour to Fort Amherst would be a good trip. That eliminates all the hike-a-bike which really trashes you.