Around Avalon Peninsula

July 30, 2013
Posted on December 23, 2013

Community of Flatrock, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland

Our schedule for the morning was very busy: a tire change for one (or both, depending on how efficient the shop is) of our bikes. After that we planned to ride around the peninsula and see what the coast looks like north and south of St. John’s.

We scheduled our appointment with Honda One in Mount Pearl back when we were in Rocky Harbour, so thankfully we did not have to wait for anything too long. The new BT-023 tires were installed on the SV650 within an hour, barely giving us time to check out their store and catch up on writing the trip journals 😉

SV650 getting ready for new shoes

After they were done, the mechanic said that if we leave the other bike in the shop, they might finish it before end of day. We agreed and headed out 2 up along the Irish Loop, towards Ferryland. This gave me an opportunity to whip out the camera and take photos from the back seat as we rode. This sounds like fun and games, but the truth is, it’s not so easy to make decent (or even barely passable) shots while going 100+ km/h.

Blooming potato fields on the side of the road. It’s a sight I haven’t seen in over 10 years. Last time I saw these pale purple flowers was in my grandparents’ vegetable garden, where I would occasionally try to catch and kill the much hated Colorado beetles.

Typical Newfoundland field flowers.

We passed several interesting villages with their very familiar by now views of the ocean, fishing houses, boats. We explored a couple of spots in a bit more detail, taking close up shots of the shore and wildlife.

Although Ferryland is only an hour away from St. John’s, the time spent going there felt very different than the whole trip up to this point. Without having to account for my TU250, the SV could afford to go much faster than at any other point during the last couple of weeks, which felt faster still when you’re on the passenger seat instead of the rider’s. Although we had a couple of multi-day 2 up trips before (to Saguenay in Québec and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia), once you try riding a motorbike yourself, a passenger seat feels a lot more insecure and uncertain.  Getting my TU back could not happen soon enough.

Approaching Ferryland.

By the time we got to Ferryland, it was about lunch time and we stopped at a restaurant that claimed to have a million dollar view. It was overlooking the ocean and served seafood, like many of the establishments in Newfoundland. After a couple of days in St. John’s this town felt rural again.

The local attraction in Ferryland, like most coastal communities, was the lighthouse. In this case the road to the lighthouse was passing by an archaeological dig and then a short gravel road. This area was in use by fishermen since the 16th century, so the digging was apparently a worthy endeavour to unravel the site’s long history. The gravel road was a good test for the newly installed BT-023 tires – it had a few steep ascends and descends, and was quite narrow overall. We could not reach the lighthouse by bike as the last section of the road was marked for pedestrian use only.

Instead of hiking all the way to the lighthouse, we took some photos near the parking lot. The lighthouse was barely visible and we estimated that if we were to hike all the way to it, it would probably take an extra hour for the trip, which could make it hard for us to make it in time to pick up my bike from the shop. I did not want to risk it, and entertained myself with the view from where I was standing and by watching a Québec family take some daring photos. The gist of it was that the boy (about 8 years old or so) was arguing with his mother and finally won. She then held him up by his legs, upside down over the cliff while the father was taking photos of them against the backdrop of the deep blue water and the lighthouse in the distance. The things some people are willing to do for their children 🙂


The lighthouse is visible near the horizon. The water was clear and inviting, but it was too chilly for a dip.

Although there was still lots to see further south on highway 10, we decided to head north and make sure we get my bike back today. After finally reaching the shop by phone we realized that they greatly exaggerated the likelihood of the tire change being done today. We decided to just come pick it up and figure out the rest of the day as we go along.

Along highway 10, Avalon peninsula.

After picking up my TU we went to St. John’s and decided to stop by a downtown café for a little dessert. Hava Java is a spot right on Water Street with a couple of outdoor tables and we parked our bikes right beside it. Just as we were sitting down a police officer came over and started writing us parking tickets. Turned out it was a no parking zone (it was not well marked at all!). Alex sprung up to talk to the him and the tickets were avoided, though he still had to re-park the bikes. Since we already ordered the drinks and desserts and the outdoor tables were an even hotter commodity than parking spaces, I stayed at the table while Alex handled both our motorcycles. It was a whole lot of trouble for a very small gain to the city – a parking space cost us only 50 cents for the half hour we were there. On-street parking in downtown Toronto will cost you 3-4 times as much, though it is free for motorcycles (for now).

A cup of fancy pants Valencia Hot Chocolate at Hava Java.

After relaxing for a bit at the café we went to check out Signal Hill, this time in daylight. You could see Cape Spear quite well from this elevated vantage point, and there are many plaques on the hill marking various historic occasions. One of those that caught my attention was commemorating the reception of the first transatlantic radio signal in 1901, by an Italian long distance radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi.

Cape Spear visible from Signal Hill.

Cabot Tower

From Signal Hill you get two general options – north and south, and since we’ve been south of St. John’s earlier, we went north this time. Past Torbay, we stopped by communities of Flatrock and Pouch Cove, until finally we reached the end of the paved highway. It turned into a gravel road, which did not seem so bad in itself, but when the road started to go steeply uphill, our tires gave up and the bikes started to slide down. I was not quite prepared for this and was not sure how to best get out of this sticky situation, but the tip to lean the bike a little until you get a good grip with one leg helped. We made it out of that section just in time: once back on flat road travelling in the opposite direction, we saw a pickup truck going confidently into the blind uphill turn, full speed ahead.

Near Flatrock, Newfoundland.

Pouch Cove, Newfoundland

It was past sunset when we got back to St. John’s, and having tried the fun activity that is parking in downtown here, we left the bikes at the B&B and went out in search of dinner. The restaurant we originally planned to go to was fully booked, so we went to the Rocket again. They did not disappoint, and the bread pudding suggested by the cashier was tastier than I even hoped for. On the downside, I was hoping to find some kind of interesting piece of handmade jewellery featuring a puffin, but came up with nothing, but bread pudding makes such things seem unimportant.

Building about to be torn down, St. John’s.

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