L’Anse au Clair’s Northern Lights Inn is conveniently located across the road from a Robin’s coffee shop; the perfect place to grab breakfast and hang out while we waited for the drizzle to clear off. Upon leaving the Inn, we noticed four more motorcycles in the parking lot, and judging from their state of relative cleanliness we deduced that they didn’t come from the northerly direction – they must’ve taken the last ferry from St. Barbe the previous evening. With Michigan plates was some breed of BMW GS and a Honda ST1300, and from West Virginia an older Honda Shadow plastered with stickers from all over North America…and a Harley Sportster 1200 with tires about two-thirds worn out. As we trotted over to Robin’s, I was picturing guy riding the Sportster. Some young American hipster no doubt…not much of a clue about bikes…bought this Sportster and thinks he can conquer the TLH on it. Boy was I wrong. On our return to the Inn we met the owners of these bikes. Read the rest of this entry
Labrador. The Big Land. North America’s Last Frontier. The idea of traversing the Trans Labrador Highway had loomed in the back of my mind since I bought my VStrom 650 four years ago. When Mark joined the league of “Stromtroopers” this spring we decided that we would finally take a trip off the Rock via two wheels –a first for both of us. It seemed like the right time to embark on a Labrador Adventure. Plus, at only $18 each for the ferry crossing from St. Barbe to Blanc Sablon, it made good economic sense! Read the rest of this entry
This was our fifth vacation spent touring Newfoundland by motorcycle, so when we sat down to plan out this year’s trip we ran into a bit of a quandry. Where hadn’t we been? Or more importantly, where hadn’t we been that is still easily accessible, since we only had one week of holidays? Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been meaning to do up a review of the Viking AXE Saddlebags for Sportbikes for a while now, but summer in Newfoundland means trying to fit a year’s worth of activities into three months. Add work, running and rowing into the mix, and I have very little time to ride, other than back and forth to work. I’ve finally found time to a) Install these saddlebags on my TW200, and b) Try them out.
Here’s a guest post by Ania Todua at Motorcycle House. Links, pictures and opinions are hers. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve owned my TW200 for over a year, so I’m still a novice when it comes to off-road riding. As confidence-inspiring as that bike is, there are still situations where I feel anxious and completely incompetent as a rider.
One of those situations was riding in sand. What better place to conquer that fear than in Musgrave Harbour, with its miles of sandy beaches!
Mark literally grew up riding on the beach, and had these words of instruction: “keep your feet down in the soft sand, then get closer to the water where the sand isn’t as loose.” OK then.
So I managed to get through the soft sand without going down in a pile, and gradually picked up some speed when I got on the firmer sand. Though I *know* that it’s a fact that a bike is easier to control when it’s going faster, there comes a point when that fact gets pushed aside by the thought of “if I’m going any faster than this and crash, it will ruin my entire summer”. So I found a happy balance, puttering down the beach as the waves gently rolled in.
Learning to ride off-road as an adult can be a daunting task, but good instruction, determination and the promise of a soft serve afterwards can do wonders for self-confidence!
I’m old enough to remember the trains in Newfoundland. It’s kind of hard to forget really, when the tracks were less than 150 feet (45m) from the house where I grew up. The daily rumble stopped in 1988 when the railway was officially abandoned for economic reasons, and the rails and ties were removed. In 1997, the trail was “re-purposed”, and the 883 km (549 miles) of railway bed became the T’Railway Provincial Park, a multi-use trail spanning the island from St. John’s to Port-Aux-Basques. Within St. John’s and Conception Bay South the T’Railway is enjoyed by walkers, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers (motorized vehicles are prohibited), but the rest of the trail is open to ATV’s, dirtbikes, side-by-sides and snowmobiles.
One of the things I miss most during the winter months is day-tripping on the Vstrom. I love leaving town on a weekend morning-before most “Sunday drivers” get out on the go-with no destination other than a good place to grab a bite. I’m really not sure if checking out a new restaurant is an excuse for a bike ride, or the other way around!
I really can’t recall going for a day-trip this early in the season before, but the forecast looked promising. I set up a ride using the NL Adventure Rider Meetup group, and we had seven riders show up. The group is relatively new, with the goal of bringing together riders who enjoy longer trips and riding “off the beaten track”. If that sounds like you, by all means join up!
We set off from St. John’s around 11am, took the CBS bypass to Seal Cove, and continued along the lovely Route 60 with very little traffic. Bliss!
I’m not sure how many layers everyone else was wearing, but I had on four and I needed every one of them when we hit Conception Bay North and the wind was coming off of the water, a dense bank of dark fog hovering ominously. I’ll place the blame squarely on the weather forecasters who foretold a westerly wind. The fog was burning off as it hit land though, and I was just happy to be spending the day on the bike – despite the fact that my heated grips were threatening to ignite my gloves.
Our lunch destination was Crooked Phil’s Cafe in Carbonear. It’s a beautiful, bright little spot with a great menu, incredibly friendly service and very reasonable prices. I had veggie pizza and a salad, and of course about a gallon of hot coffee!
After lunch our companions all headed back to town, either turned off by the cold or having to see to other commitments, leaving just myself and Mark. We headed off in the direction of Heart’s Content, which was a good description of my mood at the time. Nobody to answer to, nowhere to be. Just me and the bike, with the sun shining down on the open road.
This is my eighth summer riding a motorcycle, but there’s still places on the Avalon that I haven’t seen. The Heart’s Content lighthouse was one of those places. It’s not particularly spectacular or remote, but a very pretty spot all the same.
We returned via Route 80, along the coast of Trinity Bay. It was much warmer than the Carbonear side, so we really enjoyed the ride back to meet the TCH at Whitbourne. It was hard to believe that it’s still pre-May 24: the unofficial start of Newfoundland summer.
If you know of any other great little restaurants I can use as an excuse for a day trip, I’d love to hear from you!
This past Monday morning was nice enough to take the bike to work. I was happily winding my way through the streets that make up my centre city neighbourhood, and was actually stopped at the intersection that marks the start of the Great Fire of 1892 when I noticed police cars and fire trucks on Freshwater Road. I quickly changed the trajectory of the Vstrom and went to take a look.
The fire had broken out in a vacant building, it used to be a business of sorts but had been empty for at least a year or so.
In a place where everything is around 100 years old, made of wood, and most buildings are attached, fires are kind of a big deal. Luckily this fire was so close to the fire hall (I’m actually standing in their parking lot taking the picture) that it didn’t take long for the crews to start fighting it.
After I tweeted a picture and informed drivers to avoid the area, I had to get a move on. I would’ve loved to hang around longer, get closer to the action, get some great pictures. For this “news junkie” motorcyclist, the ultimate dream job would be roving motorcycle reporter! It would be a summer-only gig obviously, but what a gig!
Brush fire? The TW200 could get me closer to the scene than any 4×4. Pile-up on the ORR with traffic at a standstill? I could ride up the median. Fire in the heart of the downtown? I’d employ some creative usage of the sidewalk.
Spring has a bad reputation around here. It’s season of rain, drizzle and fog; interspersed with snowstorms, freezing rain and the rare pleasant day that cumulates in sunburns throughout the entire population.
So why do I love it so much?
Because it’s the season of hope. It’s a time to make plans to pack as much enjoyment as possible into the tiny window of time that we call summer.
Day-long excursions with lunches at tiny out-of-way cafes…the simplicity and satisfaction of motorcycle camping…a cold beer by the fire after a day exploring…hikes to see spectacular oceanside scenery…calm mornings on Quidi Vidi lake…motorcycle commuting…off-road adventures on the TW200…these are the things that I look forward to each spring.
What does spring mean for you?