Biking Pippy Park
"This section is a bit snotty," says Julie Halliday, who is guiding me around bike trails in Pippy Park. It’s my first taste of the biking in Newfoundland, as well as my first taste of the colourful venacular since arriving (I heard it all my life: mom made up new sayings all the time!)
(Trail and parking access to Pippy Park below).
As if anticipating my confusion, Julie adds: "I could say greasy, you know, but it’s just slick." She explains that since Newfoundland was part of the last ice age, the rocks on the trail are like chopped nuts in a blender; thus, riding over them is quite, snotty. So much so, that combined with the rain, I slip off my bike and ram my calf into my chain ring. Ouch!
Julie, and my other guide Gary Young, are two members of the Avalon Mountain Bike Association, a non-profit organization registered with the province. http://ambanl.ca. What began as chit chat about starting a bike organization, to help improve and maintain local trails, grew to a group of six avid riders. “Mountain biking didn’t really exist here five years ago,” says Luke Nichols, one of the originals.
In May the association celebrated their first birthday. And if that isn’t enough, the fledgling group has caught the attention of the International Mountain Bike Association (https://www.imba.com) who are visiting in September to help place signage and cut a formal trail in Pippy Park near the barrenlands beside the golf course.
Here is Ross rubbing up to the wisdom tree. I cannot add any jokes, it's just too easy. This tree is also the start of of our ride.
I suggest finding a guide to take you around the park, as there is no trail signage, yet. Or, if time isn’t an issue, get lost in the fun maze. The trails are a mix of singletrack wedged between fir trees coated in Irish moss, a.k.a. old man’s beard (below). Eventually, the trail head open ups to a rock plateau near Long Pond where brave Julie takes a dip.
That’s the other result of the ice age: long smooth rocks--it's like riding the inside of a swimming pool. At least this part is grippy. Finally, Pippy Park riding is not particularily hilly; there are no long climbs. Instead, it's quick little rolls up and down.
For the entire week members of Avalon are taking me around to the local riding haunts. Next up: Torbay to Flat Rock for extreme smooth rocks that leads out into the ocean. Weeeeeee.
ACCESS: Head NW on Allandale Road toward the Pippy Park Golf Course. From Allandale Road, take the first left immediately after the #1/TCH overpass. If arriving by car, park on the dead-end street. Trail entrance is off Allandale Road just past the white house on the left.