Through The Straight

Cyclist Sarah Smellie takes you pedal-by-pedal through one of her favourite rides.

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Distance 30km
Difficulty On a scale from “Trip to the Grocery Store” to “Ride Out to Cape Spear”, Moderate.
Time 2 – 2.5 hours.

Okay, so ride up Logy Bay Road to Marine Drive.

The real scenery starts once you turn right onto Marine Drive, as it takes you right out to the ocean. There are some incredible cliffs out there and a few roadside streams. It’s downhill for the first part, and you can really get whipping around the corners. The traffic is typically very light and it’s usually very quiet out there, which is nice. You can’t get too comfy with your ocean-gazing and daydreaming though, since there’s a fairly steep but relatively short hill at the end which takes some serious work to climb.

1.) Follow Marine Drive across the lookout point which is either in or right near Torbay. You can look down onto Middle Cove beach where you will more than likely see families out enjoying the weather and dipping their feet into the water, and, if the season is right, capelin rolling in. Not long ago this bay was still covered in huge pieces of ice and you could stop and watch the ice heave up and down with the waves, as if it was breathing.

2.) Continue along on Marine Drive until you hit Torbay Road and then turn right. Things get a bit hilly here, but, Christ, if you’re scared of hills, don’t bike in Newfoundland.

3.) So head down the hill, cross the bridge, and turn left onto Indian Meal Line. This stretch of Indian Meal Line is a bit bad—it’s in terrible condition, there’s no real shoulder and the traffic can be pretty heavy and aggressive.

But the nastiness is over once you turn onto Indian Meal Line. Although you’re greeted by a pretty steep hill right away. I find that at the beginning of biking season I sometimes have to walk my bike up this hill, but it feels bloody good to haul yourself up the whole thing once you’re in decent shape. And that doesn’t take long. Indian Meal Line takes you past all sorts of houses, new and old, and some construction. The first part is not very exciting, admittedly.

4.) Then you hit “The Straight.” This is my favorite part of the trip: Indian Meal Line flattens out and the pavement is glorious, smooth and dark. Not a pothole in sight, and little-to-no traffic. You’ll see some rolling fields on your right with farm houses off in the distance, then some wooded areas. There, if the wind is right, you’ll be hit with great wafts of pine tree smell. It’s really brilliant. The Straight is an excellent opportunity for going as fast as possible, gazing at scenery, sky-gazing, emitting happy, contented sighs, or pondering how bloody excellent your life is. It’s also a good time to give your bike a pat on the handlebars, for all of the hard work is over.

In fact, sometimes when I reach the end, I turn back around and re-bike “The Straight”, in case I hadn’t finished my thought or the particularly groovin’ song I was listening to. Best soundtrack for The Straight: Al Green’s Love and Happiness.

5.) Once I get to Portugal Cove, it’s usually time to head back into town, so I make a left and head on in to St. John’s. (You can also make a right and then another left and carry on to St. Philips, which is a really beautiful ride too.) Portugal Cove Road is in seriously lousy condition—there are a few cavernous potholes that come out of nowhere and you have to really swerve into traffic to avoid them. You can, however, attain some crazy-good speed on this road. The cars go pretty fast here and, given the potholes, you have to pay attention and take off your mp3 player. You are compensated for this inconvenience by the beautiful Windsor Lake on your right which gives you that oh-so-satisfying “I am outside of the city!” feeling that we all need once in a while. Then it’s just back to good old St. John’s.

That’s my ride.