It’s rainy here in Newfoundland, and I’m itching to go for another ride, but with the downpour currently occuring (light drizzle, says the weather network…) I won’t be outside any time soon.
I figure I’ll assuage myself by doing a writeup of the first long ride I did on my Coker, only a few days ago.
St. John’s isn’t a big city by any means, and it took me about a half hour to get up the hill and out to the highway, one of my favourite biking spots (my desire for camping out and travelling long distances under my own power transcends wheel counts!), as I’ve got an unobstructed lane to ride in, the shoulder, and I can basically go until I can’t go any more.
Unlike my road bike, the Coker took to the gravel ‘sidewalk’ up the road out of town quite well, and allowed me to bypass much of the fear of dying that comes with taking pretty much any road out of a city under your own power.
I rode out to the highway, took my favourite shortcut around the cloverleaf past the power substation, and I’m out on the highway. Beautiful day, super warm but not suffocating. The clouds were white and fluffy, and the hills just rolled on… until I started experiencing problems.
My seat, currently borrowed from Dave Stockton, and one of his earlier (and lumpier!) attempts, was a double dogbone pillow with some foam. About 16-17km into my ride, it was being seriously uncomfortable. I put some more air in it, and rode on for a bit, though by the end of my ride it was going to be no fun to sit on, and would end up limiting the distance I did that day.
On the bright side of things, there were tons of motorcyclists out that day, just hordes of them rumbling down the Trans-Canada. Many of them waved and smiled, and I got more than one beep for my bravery. One guy was driving along a road parallel to the highway, and managed to snap a picture and offer a ride, but I declined as really, I wasn’t going anywhere in particular and was hoping to get back that evening as I had no shelter or sleeping bag.
23km in, I stopped for a banana and a rest, and to record the ride so far in my ride journal. Anyone who does serious distance should have one of these! When I stop for a rest break it isn’t often, and I like to take 15 minutes or more to just chill out and relax. If I’m writing while I do this it helps me stay put longer, because usually after five minutes my mind wants to get up and move again while my body really doesn’t.
This rest break was interesting for another reason - super-agressive ants. I chose a nice bluff overlooking the highway to stop and rest for a while, and it was all fine until about 30 seconds in, when I felt like someone had pricked my back with a syringe - ow! Looking down, I was completely covered in what I think are soldier ants, red with a black butt. The buggers can bite, let me tell you! I jumped up, scraped ants off my pants and my shirt and my arms and everything, then made two trips back to retrieve my Coker, backpack, and a final one for my cycle computer which I’d left on the bluff. After writing about the experience and downing a banana, I was up and off again.
Just after this break I came upon the exit to Foxtrap, and for something to do I took it. I’ve never been left on this road, although I’ve been right many times. So left it was!
The left road turned out to be a swooping (thanks, mikefule) and remarkably smooth gravel road, which took me past a farm, some incredibly surprised berry pickers, and a Scouts Canada camp. I reached the end after about three and a half km, and stopped to take some pictures (which I’ll post momentarily…) before turning back. When I got out to the highway again I got out the cookset, some rice, and a book, and lay down beside a wonderful lake with the clouds overhead while my rice cooked and I read. When the rice was done I found I had no spoon, but a fresh set of Park Tire Levers aided me in consuming my rice. mmm.
I stayed there for about an hour, it was so relaxing. Eventually I got up, and rode back down the way I’d come into town, somewhat disgruntled at my seat (which is now the new double layer KH foam with an air tube underneath it to absorb the bumps - so far a vast improvement), but quite happy for the day and the ride. I found I need a brake, as coming down the newfie hills with 125mm cranks puts strain on my knees, and I could really feel it in the last kilometers. All in all though, an excellent ride.
This is the gravel road I traveled down, under that wonderful sky.
Camp Morristown, the scout camp I came across on my travels. It was riddled with bullet holes, something you don’t often see around here…
The gravel road terminated in a gate, which I did not cross, but there was a wonderful stream coming down past the gate, which was constructed of unstripped trees, and growing moss and the like. Squirrels were playing on the other side, and birds were chirping, if that gives you any idea what the place was like.
Lunch with a unicyclist! My trip journal is resting on the wheel there, and you can see my mug, tea, rice, and cooking pot. The whole cookset fits inside that pot there, and runs on alcohol fuel. I made the stove myself, and I’m quite happy with it. I can be eating in 10 minutes and I don’t need to carry a huge (by comparison) propane canister either.
This is the lake I stopped by, and this picture was taken from the same sitting position as the last. Room with a view, indeed!
Final Ride Stats: 57km, 29.3km/h max, 15.3km/h moving average.
Unicycle is a LiveWire Coker, powdercoat black frame with magura mounts, 125mm cranks, and a carbon fibre seat with Reeder handle, and a schwinn seatpost rack I purchased from canadian tire.