irish loop off road completed

Blue = rideable.     Red = hike-a-bike.  Pink = section not ridden 'cause I decided to drink coffee and get Amy to pick me up.  :-)

Blue = rideable. Red = hike-a-bike. Pink = section not ridden ’cause I decided to drink coffee and get Amy to pick me up. 🙂

What an adventure! Long, challenging days, got to places I had never been before and time with friends. Here are the details in no particular order:

* total distance was 425 km
* it took 7 days
* we rode at an average speed of 7 km/h and hike-a-biked at 2 km/h (this includes time for stops, food, swims, berry picking, etc)
* the section from the top of Holyrood Pond to Trepassey was a major hike-a-bike
* resupply was easy – we passed at least a store a day and often more
* we ate a lot of fish ‘n’ chips and club sandwichs at take-outs
* a bald Endomorph tire on the rear and a well-used Larry up front worked just fine
* blackflies and deerflies (“stouts”) were an issue – thank god it was windy
* Point La Haye to St. Vincent’s and Renews to Cape Broyle were the highlights in terms of trail conditions and scenery
* we saw moose every day
* we drank beer most nights ( thank you Liquor Express!)
* the trails in and around Renews will make for great winter riding
* locals are disappointed when you tell them you are from St. John’s – by the end I was tempted to start lying

Paul, Amy and myself at the start.

Paul, Amy and myself at the start.

Our rigs - a Mukluk, a Beargrease and a Pugsley.

Our rigs – a Mukluk, a Beargrease and a Pugsley.

In Avondale.

In Avondale.

Relaxing on the beach in Avondale.

Relaxing on the beach in Avondale.

In O'Donnell's.

In O’Donnell’s.

Hard to believe Amy is a top-notch Enduro rider.  :-)

Hard to believe Amy is a top-notch Enduro rider. 🙂

The trail between Admiral's Beach and Mall Bay was some of this...

The trail between Admiral’s Beach and Mall Bay was some of this…

...this...

…this…

...this...

…this…

...and this.  That climb you can see in the background (out of Mall Bay) is a killer.

…and this. That climb you can see in the background (out of Mall Bay) is a killer.

Near Gaskiers.

Near Gaskiers.

Foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing.

From Gaskiers to St. Vincent's the ride is through pasture land and the views are wonderful.

From Gaskiers to St. Vincent’s the ride is through pasture land and the views are wonderful.

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The barachois across the bottom of Holyrood Pond.

The barachois across the bottom of Holyrood Pond.

In St. Vincent's.  The dog was friendly but Skipper didn't think much of our plan to ride up the shore of Holyrood Pond.

In St. Vincent’s. The dog was friendly but Skipper didn’t think much of our plan to ride up the shore of Holyrood Pond.

The shore of Holyrood Pond is rideable - but just.  After 5 km we got off and rode to St. Mary's on the road.

The shore of Holyrood Pond is rideable – but just. After 5 km we got off and rode to St. Mary’s on the road.

On the trail from St. Mary's to the top of Holyrood Pond.

On the trail from St. Mary’s to the top of Holyrood Pond.

The start of Day 4, or as Amy put it: "The day we took our bikes for a walk."

The start of Day 4, or as Amy put it: “The day we took our bikes for a walk.”

We pushed our bikes up the pole line but once we got to the top discovered that there was a better trail out - doh!

We pushed our bikes up the pole line but once we got to the top discovered that there was a better trail out – doh!

Looking down Holyrood Pond from the top.  The hike-a-bike started a couple of kilometres later.

Looking down Holyrood Pond from the top. The hike-a-bike started a couple of kilometres later.

Caribou.

Caribou.

Moose.

Moose.

Half way into a 15 km hike-a-bike (7.5 hours) and Amy is still smiling!

Half way into a 15 km hike-a-bike (7.5 hours) and Amy is still smiling!

A refreshing swim in a pond...

A refreshing swim in a pond…

...and a bag of candy can be real morale boosters!

…and a bag of candy can be real morale boosters!

Trepassey is finally in sight.  We pigged out at the restaurant and then went to the store to pick up beer and chips.

Trepassey is finally in sight. We pigged out at the restaurant and then went to the store to pick up beer and chips.

The trail between Trepassey and Biscay Bay has had upgrades up to this bridge - about the half way point.  We found a trail up to the highway and made camp.

The trail between Trepassey and Biscay Bay has had upgrades up to this bridge – about the half way point. We found a trail up to the highway and made camp.

 

The old road from Portugal Cove South to Chance Cove is in pretty good shape, though it peters out near the park boundary, and, you guessed it...

The old road from Portugal Cove South to Chance Cove is in pretty good shape, though it peters out near the park boundary, and, you guessed it…

...more hike-a-bike!

…more hike-a-bike!

Near the wind farm in Fermuse.  This section was lovely for the scenary and trail conditions.

Near the wind farm in Fermuse. This section was lovely for the scenary and trail conditions.

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Ferryland.

Ferryland.

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Taking a dip near Cape Broyle.

Taking a dip near Cape Broyle.

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I said goodbye to Amy in Cape Broyle and rode up Horse Chops Line to Mount Carmel Pond.

I said goodbye to Amy in Cape Broyle and rode up Horse Chops Line to Mount Carmel Pond.

The water levels were high in the resevoir so the beach riding wasn't as good as the last time I rode here.  I cut it a bit short and did a hike-a-bike over to Cape Pond.

The water levels were high in the resevoir so the beach riding wasn’t as good as the last time I rode here. I cut it a bit short and did a hike-a-bike over to Cape Pond.

 

Sunset on the last night of the trip.  On Cape Pond.

Sunset on the last night of the trip. On Cape Pond.

 

 

Please see Amy’s blog for her excellent write up of the trip.

irish loop off road

ILOR final

Red = off road, blue = pavement

In a few days a group of us will set out on our fatbikes to pioneer a route I’m calling Irish Loop Off Road (ILOR). The route is approximately 400 km in length and 320 km of that will be on a combination of The T’Railway, dirt roads, beaches, ATV trails, abandoned railroad branch lines, old roads and a bit of bog hopping and bushwacking thrown in for good measure. I’m anticipating it will take us six days to complete. A full write up with pictures when I get back.

point lance to cape st. mary’s hike

GoogleEarth_Image

The hike from Point Lance to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve has it all: sandy beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, whales, seals, seabirds galore, wild flowers – the list goes on. If you’ve tired of the East Coast Trail and/or are looking for a hike not many people have done than this is the one for you.

What you need to know:

– I’ve done this hike twice – once as an overnight and most recently as a day hike – both were great

– The hike is 15 km in length

– It took us 6 hours at a leisurely pace

– Driving time from St. John’s, including shuttle drop off/pick up is 3 hours each way

– You’ll need two cars if you are doing this as a point-to-point hike

– Let the staff at the reserve know your plans and don’t forget to check out with them

– The trail is not marked – stay close to the coast and you’ll figure it out

– There are a couple of sections of “faery forest” (tuckamore) that you have to pick your way through

– This area is notorious for fog which would spoil the vistas and make navigation tricky

– If you want to check conditions before you leave town call the reserve at (709) 277-1666 and/or check the highway cam in Trepassey

– If doing this as an overnighter I suggest camping in Golden Bay (about 10 km in) – there is fresh water there and a nice beach with driftwood

– Sheep are grazed in this area – if you encounter closed gates make sure they are closed again after you pass through them

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Looking into Golden Bay. This is an ideal spot to camp.

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Seals sunbathing on the rocks.

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Seals in the water.

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This is Bird Rock

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At the outlook to Bird Rock.

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cape shore & irish loop

Cape Shore

Our route. Yellow blobs mark where we camped.

Paul and I headed out recently to ride both the Cape Shore and the Irish Loop – 500 km in 4 days.  We were blessed with wonderful weather and often favourable tail winds.  Summer has finally arrived in Newfoundland.

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Leaving St. John’s I’d suggest riding out to Witless Bay and then cross the Witless Bay Line to gain access to the Trans Canada Highway. There’s less traffic, it’s more scenic and it leaves only 10 km of riding on the TCH.

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Next exit for Salmonier Line.

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I’d suggest Route 93 for Colinet vs. Route 91. Again, more scenic.

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In Colinet there is a store and nearby is this Newfoundland pony, a breed of pony unique to here.

Between Colinet and Placentia is 21 km of gravel road.  It's in generally good shape.  I've ridden it with 28c tires, fully loaded (the bike, not the rider, though that's not a bad thought), with no issues.

Between Colinet and Placentia is 21 km of gravel road. It’s in generally good shape. I’ve ridden it with 28c tires, fully loaded (the bike, not the rider, though that’s not a bad thought), with no issues.

The section between Point Verde and St. Bride's is very hilly for 40 km.  You've been warned.

The section between Point Verde and St. Bride’s is very hilly for 40 km. You’ve been warned.

The roads on the Cape Shore are in good shape and have very low traffic.

The roads on the Cape Shore are in good shape and have very low traffic.

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The view as you cycle along the shore.

The view as you cycle along the shore.

Ship Cove.

Ship Cove.

These magical cows in Ship Cove produce...

These magical cows in Ship Cove produce…

Guinness!

Guinness!

Gooseberry Cove.  This is a provincial Day Park, though I've camped there without issue.

Gooseberry Cove. This is a provincial Day Park, though I’ve camped there without issue.

Gooseberry Cove.

Gooseberry Cove.

The long and winding road.

The long and winding road.

Near the turnoff to Cape St Mary's Ecological Reserve is this restaurant and campgound.

Near the turnoff to Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve is this restaurant and campgound.

We didn't go to the Cape this trip but it is worth a visit.

We didn’t go to the Cape this trip but it is worth a visit.

This is part of what you would see if you went there.

This is part of what you would see if you went there.

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This is where we spent our 2nd night, in Harricott.

In St. Vincent's, now on the Irish Loop, Day 3, where we saw lots of humpback whales.

In St. Vincent’s, now on the Irish Loop, Day 3, where we saw lots of humpback whales.

We spent our 3rd night in Chance Cove where it is free to camp.

We spent our 3rd night in Chance Cove where it is free to camp.

The road to the camping area is 6 km of gravel.

The road to the camping area is 6 km of gravel.

It is worth every km to get there.

It is worth every km to get there.

On the way out the next morning.

On the way out the next morning.

We spotted this caribou.

We spotted this caribou.

For those on the run.

For those on the run.

Tors Cove.

Tors Cove.

Random bits:

– we did this in 4 days but 5 would be more pleasant, especially if you were to take in Cape St Mary’s

– we saw moose, caribou, grouse and humpback whales

– resupply was easy as many towns had small stores

– traffic volume is low except when you get close to St. John’s