Bicycle touring across Labrador

Week of October 12-19, 1995

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Bicycle touring across Labrador

Q: I'd like to know if anyone has biked the gravel highway between Goose Bay and Churchill Falls in Labrador, Canada. Conditions, equipment, opinions?
Pierce Buller
Philadelphia, PA

A: If you want to get off the beaten path, there's no better place to do it than Labrador. This remote, little-traveled part of mainland Newfoundland doesn't get a lot of visitors--especially two-wheeled visitors. But with a little advanced planning and a lot of spare tubes, you can pedal Route 500 all the way from Labrador City to Goose Bay/Happy Valley. The recently completed, all-gravel Trans Labrador Highway is 300 miles long from end to end, with Churchill Falls located just about in the middle. If you're planning on biking the section between Goose Bay and Churchill Falls, you'll have a much more manageable, 180-mile ride. It's up to you to decide where to start; both centers--as they call them--have gas, groceries, and accommodations, all of which will come in handy as there are no services at all along this desolate but beautiful stretch of highway. This means, then, that you'll need to carry all your food, spare parts, and camping gear with you. There are no camping restrictions in Labrador--you can pitch your tent anywhere along the road. If you plan your trip for late summer or early fall, you'll avoid Labrador's ridiculously cold winter temperatures, but there's no escaping the black flies and mosquitoes that arrive in droves in June and hang around until late September. Take heart, though--Labrador is a fairly dry climate, so at least you won't get much rain, and the summers are usually quite warm. As far as what you should bring, the key word here is "spare;" before you go, examine your hopefully sturdy mountain bike and bring extra parts for anything you think could possibly break. Chances are--on this rugged, twisty, and narrow road--you'll be patching a lot of tubes. For more details on getting there and around, contact Destination Labrador at 709-944-7788, and for updated road conditions on Route 500, call the Department of Transportation at 709-896-3185. You might also try the Newfoundland and Labrador Cycling Association: c/o Mr. Tom Sandland at 709-579-1226.

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