Days 3, 4, and 5. West Coast Riding with pirates!
From the RV desk of Melanie Anne Chambers www.gorving.ca
Four bike trails, and a few ATV ones, in two days has left me a bit knackered. I will begin with an ATV ride with Chris Gale, the kind of feller you feel like you’ve known all your life. An hour west from Corner Brook, Robinsons is the nearest town beside Pirates Haven RV Park. www.pirateshavenadventures.com.
After parking the RV in front of the river, I meet Chris at the bar. “You Melanie? Want a drink? We filled in the major points of our lives in about an hour conversation. “I quit the Ocean Ranger three months before it went down. I knew the crew on there.” A mine, a paper mill for 24 years: he’s done it all.
Chris explains the name of the RV park that he landscaped. His family, Paul Gale and Ruth Forsey-Gale, own the place that accomodates RV's, ATV's tents and more. They even have adorable cabins in the woods.
“Sandy Point used to be the main operating station for pirates coming in from England; it was a Pirates’ hideaway.” That means the shoreline is littered with ship wreaks and pirate treasures. “Locals have found some treasure over the years, but no body would tell ya they gots it.”
I hop on the back of Chris’ ATV and we take off for Sandy Point. One of the most famous pirates, an Englishman by the name of Peter Easton was hired to protect the Newfoundland fishing fleet. But in 1603 when James took over Elizabeth's reign, the King cancelled all privateers; that didn't stop Peter, however, and he officially became a pirate looting and pilaging like you do when you're a pirate.
Next, we drive along T’Rail as they now call it, the former rail line. Built in 1898, it was ripped up in 1988. At almost 1,500 kms, it was the longest narrow gauge railine in North America. “I can’t believe it’s gone,” I tell Chris. “I know, it’s a shame.”
There is one huge difference between riding St.John’s and West Newfoundland: dirt! The west has tons of it; St.John’s is rock.
Some of Corner Brook’s best singletrack is just outside the city. Jamie Harnum of Cycle Solutions in Corner Brook is my guide. www.cyclesolutions.ca
Massey Drive, a residential neighbourhood 20 minutes outside out Corner Brook, is riddled with trails with names such as Sweety Pie, and Mercury (after a car that is now rusted and used as a bike ramp!) You can spend a few hours or more doing loops around the main Massey Drive.
Sweety Pie Trail. Not so sweet when it starts with a climb!
It seems ironic that we can’t ride near Blow Me Down Provincial Park because the wind would knock us off our bikes.
We went with the intent of riding 20 kms along the coast but wind prempted that plan.
It’s also odd that on this island, snakes, poison ivy and cedar trees do not exist—yet, here we are on the Cedar Cove Trail is named because of cedar mysteriously drfits onto shore from distant place. Life just doesn’t make sense sometimes.
Starting from Lark Harbour, a small fishing town west of Corner Brook, a few fishermen wave from their boat docked at the town’s only wharf.
The trail ducks into a thick forest; it takes every bit of focus to stay on the singletrack that is wide enough for my shoulders and not much else. Every few meters a sea buoy hangs from a tree.
Fifteen minutes later, the trail opens up into a cove that looks like a giant half pipe made from rock. A lone cottage with moose antlers above the door sits on a pond. No one is home. A sign in front of the shed reads: The Pit. It’s the ultimate man cave.
Cycling towards the sea, spray is whipping my hair and sticking to my cheek; in the lowest gear the wind is too strong to move forward like a stuck seagull. Off the bike, we open our arms and lean forward into the wind; it holds us up. Lifting the handle to my bike, the wind lifts the front tire off the ground. But, the sweet part: biking back the wind pushes us along the trail. Really.
On the drive to Marlaine’s, a little seaside diner, we talk about Newfoundland pride: “we’re Newfoundlanders first and Canadian second," says Jamie.
He tells me a story about Danny Williams. One time the former premier took down all the Canadian flags in the province and sent them to Ottawa. He paraphrases: ‘until you’re done taking advantage of us, you can keep them.’
Over a bowl of seafood chowder and a giant fluffy white dinner roll, I look at the sea through the café window. The weather is changing, again. Sun is coming out. A couple comes in and is charmed by the Newfoundland tartan and homemade knit afgans for sale. Just like Nannie made.
How cool is it to park the house, er, RV, at the base of of a ski hill?
www.skimarble.com. Biking to the top can’t be that bad, I tell Jamie; it’s only switchbacks--at least there is some relief on the turns. “It’s Newfoundland switchbacks,” he says. I’m not sure what that means but like anything Newfie, it’s going to be full on, like driving with the foot to the floor and holding on.
Starting at 16 meters riding to 527, I raced back down and right into the lot, opened the fridge door and grabbed a cold one. Sitting on the pic nic table, happy as a clam, this simple life is for me.
The largest lake in Humber Valley, 20 minutes outside of Corner Brook, is in a place called Pasadena.
The trail is really just a road but the end, the lake, is a treat: take a dip! An hour and a half there and back.