Where would you be training if you were passing towns like Little Hearts Ease, Virgin Arm, Dildo, or (my favourite) Goobies? Geez bye, you'd be on da rock, dat's fer sure! This past August I spent 11 days vacationing and dryland training in Newfoundland, with my teammate and hometown skier, Lee Churchill. Why the Rock? Why not! The reasons are outlined below. Okay so upon arrival in St John's I had to get the touristy things out of the way (George Street, Fish & Chips, Screech, …-whatever?!). Then I proceeded to check out places to run right in town. Signal Hill was a high point out at the harbour's entrance that had a challenging 10-12km running train around it. In fact the whole shoreline just outside of St John's was littered with fine single track hiking trails, perfect for exploring. I'd ruled out St John's as a place for XC skiing, but Lee reminded me that they've been getting some accidentally huge snowfalls on the East Coast of Newfoundland the last two years. Next stop was Hodges Cove, Lee's hometown. Although not normally a part of our training regime, we dawned skirts for the afternoon, - and went sea kayaking. Fortunately the water was calm. Unfortunately the sky was typical of Newfoundland, it didn't know what to do. Regardless, the scenery was still breathtaking as you can see below. In our 4 hour journey around the bay, we also saw humpback whales, lots of jellyfish (red!), and starfish. It made a dull day on some flat water interesting (for a city guy from Ottawa). Lee's area also boasts some nice running trails up on a plateau (not really) away from the docks. This place resembled the tundra in a way. The trees were all very short in this area, there was virtually no grass, just moss, small shrubs and of course lots berries! These trails are intended as multi use trail, in the winter Lee would share this trail with snow machines while doing his scenic Z1 workouts on this perfect terrain. Off to Corner Brook, on the West Coast, to do some hikes and runs with even more elevation change. This place apparently gets some serious snow in the winter. The trails at Blow Me Down ski club in Corner are challenging to say the least. Anybody who won medals at the Canada Games here certainly deserved them! For a smaller town (in comparison to Ottawa) this club had a more than commendable facility. The regular season membership is measured in the hundreds. Corner Brook is not a town of slouches. It has hundreds of kilometers of mountain bike trails and a healthy sized road cycling club. It is also home to a stop on the ITU Triathlon Calendar. Marble Mountain hosts Muchmusic's SnowJam each year. The region has incredible potential to become a telemark/backcountry hotbed. Before heading back to St John's we made a short B-line to the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. These two fishing islands still belong to France. The red wine and pastries are worth going back for. The hikes and trail runs that Lee and I did were more than three times the height of the trails we used to use in Thunder Bay. Gros Morne Mountain was 806 metres high. There is an urban legend about a local Corner Brook athlete who climbed the mountain, from the parking lot to the summit sign in 42 minutes. Lee and I were unsuccessful in our bid to topple this record. But like Arnold Schwarzenegger says "I'll be back!" (in the wintertime!)
Interesting Reading. . .