5th September: Dunville to St. John's
Odometer: 127 km, Start: 8.15am, Finish: 3.45pm, Avg: 24.1 km/h,
Weather: Sunny, strong SW wind, Temp: 15-24°C
Road Conditions: #100, excellent 1.5m shoulder, very light traffic. #1 (TCH) to jct. 35, good 1.5-2m shoulder, light traffic. #90/#60 to Conception Bay South, no shoulder, reasonable road surface, light (became moderate) traffic. #2 to St. John's, excellent 2m shoulder, moderate traffic from Mount Pearl. (Staying on TCH from jct. 35 to 44/45 may even be better)? Services: Whitburne at #100/#1 junction (41km), food stops from Holyrood onwards (75km). Rolling terrain throughout. Ascent: 1250m/1225m
I left bright and early (for me) this morning. This was to be my final day on the road. Just a days ride to St. John’s to complete my cycle ride across Canada! By leaving earlier, I’d thought I would have the added boost of mixing it up with the Tour du Canada (TdC) riders. (They were camped overnight a few kilometres behind me). I couldn’t keep pace with most of them pedalling a 40kg bike but I wouldn’t be too far behind…
It was blowing a gale when I left Dunville but luckily the wind was coming from exactly the right direction (SW) to help me to St. John’s! I’m rather glad it was a tailwind because on the odd occasion I turned into the wind or encountered crosswind it was hard to steer a straight course.
Most of the TdC riders were at the restaurant in Whitburne when I arrived there for a mid-morning snack. After “short-stopping” I was ahead of some of them and that meant some whoops and hollers when they inevitably caught and passed me up the road. It was great fun!
I wasn’t sure which route to take into St. John’s (the #1 TCH or another route). In the end I followed the TdC riders through Holyrood and Conception Bay South. (I’ve a feeling the TCH may have been as good, if a little remoter). After Conception Bay, I joined the #2 (a TCH clone) and had a rolling ride towards Mt. Pearl and then St. John’s. The run in to St. John’s was extremely fast with the strong tailwind. In fact my average for the day was one of the fastest of the tour, despite the constant rolling hills. Tailwinds rule!
When I reached St. John’s downtown things were getting a little emotional for me, but I held it together and decided to make the final effort and climb Signal Hill, which overlooks the city. It was a very steep climb most of the way. Towards the top I could hear cheers and my name being called! I think I also heard “Do it for England”(!), as I struggled up the final few metres. The TdC crowd were there obviously, cheering each of their riders (and me!) up to the finish point.
I had finished my ride across Canada! I stayed on the hill for most of the afternoon, cheering the remaining TdC riders to the finish and chatting to interested tourists who were wondering what was going on! Finally, after a long wait (because they’d stopped in town), I cheered the riders I’d become friendly with from the ferry crossing. They ended things in style, cracking open celebratory bottles of champagne! Nice one and well done! For all of us, it has been an incredible journey and reaching the end safe and well is a fantastic achievement!