Prepare for cycling in Newfoundland and you are ready for anywhere

@Barry Sandland/TIMB - Bicycle at the Belle Island ferry

@Barry Sandland/TIMB – Resting the bike at Portugal Cove and the Belle Island ferry before the final climb home

There may not be many cycling routes in and around St John’s. You tend to find a few routes and then click into repeat mode. But there are advantages. Some of the scenery is incredible – almost enough to draw your eye from your front wheel.

In the decade I was riding a bike seriously in Newfoundland, there were certain realities. Newfie cyclists know two road levels. You are either riding uphill or downhill. The flats are few and very far between.

The Portugal Cove ride, the one pictured, has a constant procession of hills. Long drags, short cliff faces, rolling tips and then, when your legs are done, a four kilometer mountain col-like ascent that has clipped off more than a handful of wanne-be hill climbers.

With conditions like this, riding here for a few weeks and getting your legs means you can step out to anywhere else and cope with what is offered. Newfie cyclist may not be the fastest, but they arfe not bothered by the smattering of hills that has most cyclists crying in their lactic acid.

This return reminded me of how lucky I was for the terrain (not the car drivers). I live in Europe now and, save for visits to mountain passes, have rarely come across a hill that offers a real challenge. In Newfoundland, any and every ride would bring me face to face with gradients I would be easily able to avoid in the European cycling havens.


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