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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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The Rock

The weather didn’t always cooperate, but an exploration of “The Rock” didn’t disappoint.

Newfoundland, or “The Rock,” as it is also affectionately known, has a reputation for many things. It’s known for its harsh climate, its beautiful scenery, and most of all, for its warm and welcoming people. On my recent road trip — which started in Central Alberta on my 2012 Kawasaki Versys 650 — across the island and back I had the opportunity to experience all of these in spades.

I arrived on the overnight ferry at Channel-Port aux Basques under a blanket of low-hanging clouds. There was a chill in the morning air, and it felt like rain could fall at any moment. My goal for the day was to put as many of the 900 km to St. John’s behind me as I could. I had a week to complete my tour and return to Channel-Port aux Basques to catch the ferry back to Nova Scotia, so my plan was to sprint across the island and then meander my way back, taking in as much as I could.

The Trans-Canada Highway connects Channel-Port aux Basques to St. John’s and is pretty well impossible to avoid if you are travelling from one end of the island to the other. Fortunately, it offers some beautiful views along the way. It also puts you through the full gauntlet of Newfoundland weather. On my trek across the island and back I spent part of the time bracing myself against the wind, doing my best not to get blown into oncoming traffic; part of the time trying not to cook in the baking sun while waiting for construction; and part of the time huddled behind my windscreen trying to stay dry in the pouring rain. You have to be prepared for anything when you go out for a day’s ride!

Mother Nature wasn’t so keen on my getting across the island in one day. During the morning, the weather alternated between cool and rainy and very hot and sunny, prompting that all-too-familiar exercise of “rain gear on” and “rain gear off.” And then, just before Gander, I was making a pass on a tractor trailer when a huge, sudden gust of wind hit me from directly in front. It was forceful enough to crack my windscreen at one of the mounting points. The windscreen had already sustained a crack on the other side in a similar incident near Manitoba, but this new defect was bad enough…

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