Finally, I got around to putting the rest of the photos up on the website (so now I’ve got the highlights from both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). Just click on the ‘Photos’ link above. A list of all the towns I visited is now up as well – check out the ‘Towns’ link.
Well, as some of you know, the first half of the photos are up. Just check the Photos link on the banner at the top of the screen. I hope to have the New Brunswick and PEI stages done by the weekend (though no promises there – you’d be amazed how much time it takes to filter through the all the photos, re-size them, then upload them to the site – too much work I say).
Anyway, onto my second order of business … the Terry Fox Run. A number of people thought I should try and raise money on this bike trip, but I didn’t think that was really what it was going to be about. Nonetheless, I’m happy to use this forum to get the word out about the Terry Fox Run. If you’re interested in sponsoring my run, just click the link below.
Well, here we are, two weeks removed from our ride finale and it is finally time to wrap things up with … the Ride Wrap-Up. Here, I’ll be covering some highlights, summarizing my trip with a few lists, and featuring a few fun details (interesting tidbits if you will) that I may or may not have covered already. So without further ado, let’s get on with the show…
The lost blog
On August 7th, I arrived in New Brunswick after a short ride from Cabano, Quebec. But did anyone hear about it … apparently not. I actually had plenty of time to write a blog entry, so what gives? Well, actually, I did write my daily story, complete with an interesting tidbit and tune of the day. However, it looks like instead of sending it to my blog, I sent it … to myself. Yes, since I composed most of my entries by using the previous day’s email, this time around, I forgot to change the To: address, and sent it only to myself. Oh well, if you’re interested, Day 13 is now available for your reading pleasure.
Also, in a similar mishap, when I was in Saint John, I tried to post an obscure little joke and I accidentally re-sent the entirety of one of my previous entries. It has since been corrected, but does anyone know why the hell I was referring to a blackhole? (Hint: it has to do with something mentioned on Day 17)
The tunes over a long, long way …
Man’s best friend
Es-tu Brutus? Apparently, this title should not extend to include Man with Bicycle. Yes, for some reason, there is some unexplained animosity that dogs feel towards cyclists. As previously reported, on Day 14, I was chased by three dogs along Route 105 in New Brunswick. The first was small, but rather nasty, the second was very large and rather quick, and the last was at least obedient, as he did pretty much stop in his tracks when I scolded him with a stern “No!“. And it didn’t end there, one chased me the next day, and between St John and Sussex on Day 19, a pair came at me from across the street to greet me. So, all you cyclists out there, take heed and BEWARE OF DOG … at least while you’re in New Brunswick (it didn’t happen anywhere else).
Though everything would work out very well in the end, there were definitely some tough going and obstacles along the way. Here are the toughest days of the ride:
3) Day 21 – Sackville to Charlottetown
This was supposed to be an easy charge into PEI, but any day with 4 flat tires cannot be considered easy. Had Tooby, my last patched-up inner tube, not been able to hold up over the last half of the day, this might’ve been the toughest day, but thankfully, after a tough morning was over, things worked out OK.
2) Day 12 – St-Denis to Cabano
The first part of the day started off with one of the stiffest winds I’d ever had to ride into. Then as I hit some of the trails of la Route Verte, I was struck with two flat tires. As it was already getting dark when I got hit the second flat tire, I didn’t bother patching it up and walked the last 5km to Cabano. Over this last bit, the mosquitoes happily feasted on my granola bar-enriched blood.
1) Day 1 – Toronto to Cobourg
Yep, Day 1 was the toughest. I only had around four hours sleep the night before, and it poured for a good 2 hours during the afternoon. I also had to deal with a fairly complicated route through the GTA and accomodation issues as I didn’t end up quite as far as I expected. When I finally made it to my room at the Comfort Inn in Cobourg, I laid out on the floor for a good half hour before going to get a sandwich at Tim Horton’s. I was completely wiped!
I ate pretty well over the trip. Though I did have some nice meals at a few fancy restaurants along the way, as you might imagine I did subsist primarily off of convenience store food and yes, you guessed it Tim Horton’s. By my count, I had 12 meals at Tim’s and got several of my snacks from there as well. Actually at one point in New Brunswick, it looks as though I had 5 meals in a row there. A couple of times I had dinner there and also bought breakfast and lunch for the next day (not having to depend on places along the way made things a lot easier). Quite honestly, I probably would have ate there several more times had I been able to find more – they aren’t quite as ubiquitous as you might think, especially along minor highways with less traffic. Also, it looks like I averaged one Nutri-Grain bar and one granola bar a day. This also might’ve been greater had I not supplemented my intake with rice krispie squares, brownies and not surprisingly, goodies from Tim Horton’s. Oh, and don’t worry healthy-eaters, I bought as many Granny Smith apples as I could carry along the way to keep my fruit intake up.
Wherever I went, everyone was helpful and friendly. Marcel in Cabano drove me to the hardware store so I could pick up some inner tubes after a tough day of flat tires. Drivers in PEI would stop along the highway so I could cross the road … even when I wasn’t planning on crossing in the first place. And, Paul and Françoise of St-Denis didn’t seem to think twice when they offered up their backyard as a makeshift campsite when my original plans went awry. I suppose one should expect this in a great place like Canada, but it was certainly nice to experience it first hand — over and over again.
Finally, in case you are the type that likes the abridged version, here are the highlights, one day at a time …
Day 1 – Made it through downpour and mud to ride a respectable distance
Day 2 – Longest ride of the trip, made it 204 km past Picton and Kingston
Day 3 – Nice day’s ride and visited Fort Wellington in Prescott
Day 4 – My own cycling escort into Montreal and arrived to see my hosts Robin and François
Day 5 – Spent some time with my friend Rich, and took in a little Tennis at the Rogers Cup
Day 6 – Confusing day through Longueuil but arrived safely in Granby
Day 7 – Short but hilly day towards really great campsite at Parc du Mont Orford
Day 8 – Long tough ride, but nice scenery on the way to Victoriaville
Day 9 – Arrived in Quebec City and enjoyed the sights and my ride on the bus with the friendly Québecois
Day 10 – A nice day off in Quebec City to see the sights (including my grandfather’s paintings at le Musée al des Beaux-Arts)
Day 11 – A tough windy day ending with a campout on Françoise and Paul’s backyard
Day 12 – A couple of flat tires leads to a final walk towards Cabano
Day 13 – Short ride into New Brunswick and a pleasant stay at a cool hotel in Edmundston
Day 14 – After being chased by dogs, a long day’s work ends at the longest covered bridge in the world in Hartland
Day 15 – Past the biggest Axe in the world in Nackawic and over the biggest hills of the trip to arrive in Fredericton
Day 16 – Fredericton has some great sites and is … ridiculously nice
Day 17 – Over the hills of the peninsula to arrive to a lovely stay in Rothesay with the Fitzgeralds
Day 18 – A day off in Saint John highlighted by a tour of Moosehead brewery and a nice dinner out
Day 19 – More hills pays off with a great stay at Fundy National Park where I see the ocean floor
Day 20 – A tough ride around Shepody Bay but arrived in funky Sackville, home of Mount Allison University
Day 21 – Four flat tires pose no match for me and Tooby as we made our way into Charlottetown
Day 22 – Founder’s Hall and a PEI must, Anne of Green Gables – The Musical
Day 23 – A fun trip to Avonlea and seeing the ocean at PEI National Park
Day 24 – A final trip to Province House, a walk around Charlottetown, and flight 8859 brings me Home Sweet Home
Well, we will wait until the end of the long weekend before we post the full wrap-up and photos, but at this point the tunes rundown, and the stats pages are updated. Use the links across the top of the page to check them out. Also, though this was one fo the last photos taken, it will be the first posted on the site – my end or ride photo at PEI National Park.
A weekend in PEI
The long awaited epilogue to the ride is finally here. Just what did I get upto in Prince Edward Island? After a succesful ride, did I go out and party hard and paint the town red? Well actually, given that all the dirt in PEI is already red, and I was pretty tired, I sided with more of a low-key weekend and enjoyed what the Island had to offer. So, if you are interested, here’s a rundown of my Prince Edward Island weekend. Be forewarned though, the following includes no tales of monumental struggle, no acts of heroism by valiant inner tubes, and no mention of interesting daily tidbits or tunes of the day. As such, this entry may read more like a pamphlet from the Prince Edward Island Tourism Bureau. Nevertheless, here’s my weekend’s story…
On Saturday, I started off my day at Founder’s Hall. The exhibits here trace the events that led to Canada’s Confederation which of course began with the meetings in Charlottetown in 1864. Though some of its re-enactment videos are a little cheesy, all in all, it’s quite entertaining. Also, the written content that goes along with the multimedia displays is very informative but not as long-winded as it is in other museums. Definitely, Founder’s Hall was a very worthwhile visit. An interesting point as to why the meetings were held in Charlottetown: if it were held elsewhere, representatives from PEI would likely not have attended. Those in the colony at the time were not too keen on the union, and ironically, though it all began in Charlottetown, PEI did not join the rest of Canada at its onset in 1867. Only in 1873 when they were struggling with debt from the railway they were building on the island, did they join on.
In the afternoon, I felt compelled to take in a matinee of Anne of Green Gables, the musical (I was in Anne’s land – how could I not?). It turned out to very entertatining, and the cast was quite good. The show has been running every year since 1964 making it Canada’s longest-running musical production. Following the show, I was looking forward to seeing another PEI tradition, the Gold Cup and Saucer, PEI’s annual big event horse race. Unfortunately, there was an absolute deluge in Charlottetown that night, and the race was postponed. I settled for a night in front of the TV watching some Olympics and a little bit of Strange Brew which just happened to be on. For those not familiar, Strange Brew is a Canadian classic that stars Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Bob and Doug MacKenzie. If you haven’t seen it, I can lend you the DVD!
On Sunday, I took a shuttle to the west side of PEI to do a little exploring. As all the tours were booked solid, I took my bike with me on the shuttle so that I could get to a few places in the area. I started out by heading to Kensington, where I was going to see the Woodleigh Replicas, a series of re-creations of famous buildings and castles from all over the world. From my starting point in Cavendish, it was a 25km hike over a hilly countryside, and against a nasty headwind (thankfully, on this day, I had no extra weight on the back of the bike to slow me down). When I got to Kensington, I found out that Woodleigh Replicas had closed down this summer (maintenance costs were too high apparently). OY! So instead, I went to the Haunted Mansion in town (which was OK) and headed back to Cavendish. It wasn’t all a loss though as the ride back was easy with the wind at my back (I traveled a good 6-8km/h faster than on the way there) and I got a couple of great shots of the countryside.
Once back in the Cavendish area, I headed to PEI National Park. Here I was able to get my official end of ride shots: me, the ocean, the flags of the four provinces I rode through, and, of course, Mickey. After a short respite at the park, it was time for a visit to Avonlea. Yes, in Cavendish, they have re-created Avonlea, the setting for the Anne of Green Gables series. Though geared towards kids, it was a fun afternoon. The cast there act out all the main characters, and you can even attend class (I felt compelled to answer all the history questions when the young ones were stumped). The highlight of the visit was a concert by a great band that plays traditional Island folk music every Sunday (I picked up a CD it was so good). After Mickey got his picture taken with a number of the citizens of Avonlea, it was time to head back to Charlottetown.
Though I had hoped the horse race would have been re-scheduled to Sunday night, they had actually moved it to Sunday afternoon, so I had missed it. So, instead, I decided to go see Sketch-22, a local comedy troupe. This was a blast. They had a lot of great sketches, a number of which parodied Anne of Green Gables. Having seen the show, and having just been to Avonlea, I didn’t have any trouble picking up on all the references.
Monday arrived, and I only had one site left to see, Province House. Province House is the home of Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly and was the venue at which much of the Charlottetown meetings of 1864 took place. Here, I watched a good video depicting some of the goings-on at the historic meetings and wandered around upstairs where they have preserved one of the main meeting rooms much as it was back when the meetings took place. Before leaving, I bought my first souvenir that was something beyond a postcard or fridge magnet (I had been quite strict about carrying extra weight up until this point). It was a mug with the famed photo of the 1864 meeting delegates, with John A. MacDonald sitting in the middle with his colleagues providing a backdrop for him. John A. rules!!
And that was the last of my stay in PEI. Monday night, I flew back to Toronto, and was greeted very warmly by my parents who celebrated my return with a wonderful dinner, some champagne, and the family maillot jaune, presented to me by my dad. This past week, I have returned to work, and done my best to comply with my body’s demands to catch up on sleep. It was a great trip, but it’s also good to be home.
So that was my rather docile stay in Prince Edward Island. Stay tuned for the Ride Wrap-up which will highlight some of the ups, downs and all-arounds of my journey. And once again, thanks for tuning in — it wouldn’t have been the same without you!
Sorry for the delay … back to work this week, and it appears that my body is demanding that I catch up on sleep.
One final challenge
Well, today was to be a victory lap of sorts – my very own ride down the Champs-Elysees (with the streets of Charlottetown subbing into the starring role). However, as fate would have it, such a ride was not to be.
This morning, I made my way out of Sackville on the Tantramar rail trail. The trail did have some rocks, but I had confidence in Tooby, my trusty back wheel inner tube which had served me well since Fredericton. But after all the hard work, Tooby was done, and no more than 5 km into my ride, he gave way to the load and the long haul. His replacement didn’t fare much better lasting around 3 km. Now, I was down to two patched tubes. The first didn’t even get started as it seemed apparent that it likely had a second leak
that I wasn’t aware of until I had fully mounted it on the wheel. So, it was upto my last patched tube. As I diligently watched for the next rock which might serve as a fatal landmine to my beleaguered bike, the tube semed like it would hold. But then, it happened .. the fourth flat of the day.
Looking to the skies, I wondered if this was really meant to be. I decided that it was. Calmly, I grabbed Tooby, patched him up, and gave him his second chance. Inflated to a point comfortably below maximum, I felt this time, it was going to hold. As I seeked out paved roads, I came across a couple walking down the trail. They pointed out that the 16, the main artery leading to Confederation Bridge, was only a few hundred metres down the trail. I had made it to the next stage.
Though the shoulder was a little narrow to start, it looked like the 16 would be a good choice for the time being (the man on the trail did say that it is often used by cyclists). After a few kilometres, I came to a traffic circle. There, I had two options: right to port Elgin and a small chance at more replacement inner tubes, or onward to the bridge. With confidence in Tooby’s renewed strength, it seemed the only choice was straight ahead; it was time for the bridge. As I veered back onto the highway, that is when the magic began. The shoulder opened up into a majestic avenue wider than the highway lanes themselves; trying to make amends for the past, the wind gave me a slight push forward; and, with all the powers aligning behind me, the hills acquiesced and tilted downward towards the promised land. It was a done deal; I made it to the bridge at a blistering pace. I had made it to Prince Edward Island.
The denouement to our day’s journey was decidedly less eventful. Though the PEI countryside proved to have more hills than expected, it presented no comparable obstacle to those that had come before. As I made my final stop in front of my weekend’s accomodation in Charlottetown, perhaps it was the wind, but I thought I heard my bike sigh. I looked back to my rear wheel, gave it a tap and said, That’ll do Tooby. That’ll do.
Distance: 119.8 km
Average speed: 20.1 km/h
Time on the road: 10.5 hrs. (8:50AM to 7:20PM)
Interesting note: If it were not for the slow going on the trail, I would have been well over 20 km/h for the day. As I approached Charlottetown, I made sure to get the average speed above the 20 mark for my last day.
Interesting daily tidbit
For my shuttle trip across Confederation Bridge (bikes are no longer allowed on), I was joined by a group of senior cyclists who had been cycling since May from Victoria. Very impressive. As they had been asked many times if their team had a cause, they had decided that they were cycling to Free the Geese. If that pops a little question mark above your head, don’t worry, it’s supposed to. Of course, they are blogging their journey as well. You can check it out here.
Tune of the day
Believe it or not – Joey Scarbury (written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer)
This one is actually the theme song to The Greatest American Hero. It’s a nice uplifting tune and it actually makes no reference to the show title. As such, I felt it was kosher for my Canadian ride.
And a double dose for our final riding day…
We are the champions – Queen
We start with Queen, we end with Queen. Once I made it to PEI, this tune was a must. And truly, we are the champions. With you, my loyal readers, folllowing along, I did feel that I had a team of supporters help push me the whole way. Cheers.
Well, the riding is done. I will have an epilogue of sorts coming Monday or Tuesday to outline my activities here on the island, but until then, the ride blog is on mini-hiatus. Thanks for coming along … for the ride.
Well, certainly not without challenges and a little more excitement, but I have now hit paydirt – the red clay of Prince Edward Island!!!
Though, I have a little more work to do to get to Charlottetown, I am overjoyed with making it here. I will soon get back to my jumping up and down. You may proceed to do the same. As the wise man once said … Jump up, jump up, and get down!
The last big push
Having set up camp before sundown yesterday, I was able to get a good night sleep and still get up nice and early. So for the first time on the trip, I was out on the road prior to 8AM (and that’s pre 7AM Eastern Time).
I made my way out of Alma on the 915, which was suggested to me as the scenic route by one of the park rangers. Now, what kind of scenic route would it be if it didn’t start things out with a monster hill? Yep, after the first half hour I was averaging around 9 km/h and I wasn’t sure what the rest of the day would entail. It turned out to be worth it though, as the scenic route was … well … scenic. I must have snapped around 30 photos of the dewy countryside.
As I made my way around Shepody Bay, I stopped to take in Hopewell Rocks, and a cool railway museum in Hillsboro. Having taken a couple of breaks, it was now time to make a B-line past Moncton and down to Sackville (actually, since I was going around the bay it was more like a U-line I suppose). Speaking of which, how frustratung it was to go around a bay and see where you are supposed to be on the other side the whole time. The bay isn’t very wide and at low tide, it really looked like a feasible shortcut! Hmmm, just saying that reminds me of those trucks that get stuck in the middle of those “not quite frozen enough” lakes in Ontario every year.
By the end of the day, I had successfully made it to Sackville, the home of Mount Allison University. During the school year, students make up about half of the population. I had dinner at the Bridge Street Cafe where the the small crowd definitely had an air of Philosophy major with a minor in English Lit. To add to the ambiance the singer/guitarist played the unoften heard Scared by the Tragically Hip and a great rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. A favourite of mine, this one won’t be making Tune of the Day status, but I’m glad to include it here.
Distance: 143.8 km
Average speed: 19.0 km/h
Time on the road: 11.5 hrs. (7:50AM to 7:20PM)
Interesting daily tidbit
There are numerous New Brunswick flags on display in front of people’s houses and I can definitely see why. Obviously there’s a significant amount of provincial pride, but also … the flag just kicks ass. With the great English lion at the top and the fantastic Spanish galley representing New Brunswick’s shipbuilding past at the bottom, it’s probably the best of all the provinces.
Tune of the day
The Final Game – Rudy Soundtrack – Jerry Goldsmith
I just love this movie and this is one of my favourite soundtracks. The music conjures up Rudy’s triumphant appearance in his final game and in doing so, it gave me an extra push as I made my final end run around New Brunswick.
It’s going to be a good day
It’s going to be a good day. It’s going to be a good day. That was my mantra this morning before I headed out on my ride. Though I didn’t have a very long way to go today, I have now become a little wary of what might be in store for me in terms of the geography.
The day began very well. I drove northeast through some beautiful farming communities and made it to Sussex, my halfway point, right around noon. As I was now significantly inland, I should mainly be going downhill from here. Homefree right? No sir … you know better than that. Along Route 114 into Fundy National Park, there were some major hills to get past. As I made my way up, I didn’t bother to argue with the spedometer and his 0 km/h jibes; however, I did take issue with the hills themselves. The ocean is down, I would say, after yet another steep incline. But it would seem that the what comes up must go down rule was not in effect. Until the end, that is. After one incline, I saw the altitude sign, 366m, and it was all downhill from there. Over the next five or six kilometres, that altitude reduced itself to 0 and my riding day was done.
At the bottom, I got to see the ocean floor during low tide (and actually walk along it). Tomorrow morning the water level should be 10m higher, so I should get some good before and after shots. Right now I’m resting very comfortably in my tent, and will soon be getting back to my Jean Chretien book. Ah what a great Canadian moment for the Great Canadian ride.
Distance: 117.7 km
Average speed: 19.3 km/h
Time on the road: 9 hrs. (8:30AM to 5:30PM)
Interesting note: my average speed for the first half of the day was around 20.5 km/h, and then 18.1 for the second half. And it was as low as 16.8 km/h before the big finish at the end.
Interesting daily tidbit
Tomorrow should be my last big push followed by a day or two of shorter rides. Send some good energy my way to keep me going!
Tune of the day
I believe in a thing called love – The Darkness
OK, so this tune has little to do with cycling or Canada. However, it was our daily wake-up music for the bus tour I took in New Zealand, so it seemed fitting as a get-me-going tune of the day. The Darkness are a great throwback to what I like to call Epic Rock. It’s not quite metal, but has big sound, big guitar, big hair … just epic!