May 5

May 5th, 2007

And so it begins…

 

We got up nice and early (6 ish) so we could get to Mile 0 before 9am. We drove down to the harbour in St. John’s where I strapped my skates on beside the water. I actually started at a small park called Harbourside Park (where inline skating is prohibited). But since it was very early on a Saturday morning, I figured I could dip my hand in the water and get out of the park before anyone even noticed I was there. When I left the park I headed to City Hall for a few more photos of me standing at the Mile 0 sign. While I was standing there, I heard a car honk form the road. I looked over and saw a local couple (Deanne and Steve) who I met on the ferry to Newfoundland. They didn’t have time to stop, but they shouted words of encouragement as they drove by.

 

And just like that, I was on my way through St. John’s towards Paradise (literally). There is a small suburb of St. John’s called Paradise.

 

As I skated along with my parents trailing, I was over-whelmed by the people of Newfoundland. I wasn’t too sure how I would be received since many people set off from St. John’s each year on cross-Canada adventures. But I guess my idea to rollerblade has turned some heads. People were honking, waving and encouraging me. It didn’t matter at all to them that I was slowing traffic down. They seemed as excited as I was. Some people even stopped their car in front of me and handed me cash donations on the spot! It was fantastic!

 

All was going as well as it could until we reached a small town called Topsail about 20-25 km out of St. John’s. As I was coming down a small hill, I notice one of my wheels seemed to be sticking a bit. This has happened to me before so I needed to stop and tighten the screws. No sooner had I let my parents know that I needed to stop for a second did the front wheel on my left skate lose it’s screw completely and pop off! The sudden siege sent me flying. Thankfully I walked away with only a small scratch on my finger. But I think my mom had a mild heart attack. I looked down at my skates only to see that frame had been slightly bent, the front wheel was no where to be seen and somehow the front wheel on my right skate had been busted. These seemed like a good time to take my first break of the day.

 

All was ok, though. I was able to bend the frame back into place and replace the 2 broken wheels and barrings. I had fixed my skates, eaten lunch, and was back on the road within the hour.

 

I pushed on for another couple of hours until I reached a small town called Holyrood on the tip of Conception Bay. At this point I had covered about 50 km. But since this was my first day, and I really haven’t been able to train much over the past week, I decided I needed another break. Nap time!

 

Just a quick snooze (30-40 minutes) and I was ready to go again. I grabbed another quick snack and strapped the skates back on. I had noticed a few points on my feet that were hurting a bit, so I thought I would tape them up to help prevent blisters. Unfortunately we didn’t have any good tape with us, so I used what and true Canadian would use… Duct Tape!

 

Now I was only a few kilometers from the Trans Canada Highway (TCH). As I was making my way towards the highway, a car came up and began to pass me, but then slowed down almost to a stop. I glanced over my shoulder to see what the driver was doing since she was now blocking on-coming traffic. The passenger-side window rolled down and the driver leaned over to me (I was still skating and she was still driving) and handed my a donation and told me how happy she was that I was doing this. The people of Newfoundland are setting a high standard for the rest of the country with respect to friendliness.

 

Just as I reached the TCH, a couple from Langley, BC were bicycling past. They stopped to see how I was doing. Another really nice couple who had just begin their own journey from St. John’s to Vancouver. After a brief chat, we were all on our way. I was able to keep up with the cyclists for a little while, but they soon vanished in the distance. I hope to meet up with them and exchange stories when I arrive back home.

 

I was a bit nervous to be on the TCH on my rollerblades, but it was actually the best road of the day. A huge paved shoulder for me, and traffic could easily get passed me since it is a 4 lane highway. The thing about Newfoundland that not many people realize is just how many hills there are. To be honest, the hills wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t for the wind blowing in my face. The last 20 km were grueling. But I pushed on with the help of the occasional encouraging honk from drivers passing by. Before I knew it, I had reached my 70th km of the day. This is where I decided to quit for today for several reasons. First, the mechanical issues with the RV are not yet resolved. This means that my dad drove all the way into St. John’s and followed me all day in the RV while holding his hand on the ignition to stop it from turning off. It doesn’t sound like much, but you try squeezing a key all day and see how your hand feels. Second, I didn’t want to push myself too hard on the first day. I may have only covered 70 km, but there were some long hills, and I have planned my time on Newfoundland under the assumption that there would be many days in which I won’t reach 100.

 

And with that said, I’m back in the RV ready for a good night sleep. Day 1 is under my belt.

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