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Updates updates updates

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.

Photos and Terry Fox

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.

TERRY FOX RUN SPONSORSHIP

THANKS!!!

The Ride Wrap-Up

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 …

See the breakdown of my 2240 km trek on my stats page, and the Great Canadian Ride’s Greatest Hits on my tunes page.

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).

Toughest Days

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!

Food

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.

Friendly Canadians

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.

Daily Wrap-Up

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

 

Wrap-Up … still to come

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.

End or Ride Photo - PEI National Park

Days 22, 23 & 24 – Prince Edward Island

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!

Day 17 – Fredericton to Rothesay (Saint John)

Too much like hard work …

Well, who said the home stretch would be easy. Though my final few stages are planned to be shorter in distance, it looks like I will still have the hills to deal with. As you can imagine, hills can be tough, and are made even more difficult with the weight on the back of the bike. Sometimes, the going can be so slow that my spedometer refuses to register an actual speed and simply insults me by displaying 0 km/h. I try to reason with it. “Aw c’mon”, I say, “I’m still moving aren’t I?” … not wanting to antagonize me any further, the spedometer remains silent.

In the end though, it was worth it. My hosts tonight are Fabia and Paul Fitzgerald, and their daughter Julia. I used to work with Fabia at TGH a few years ago, before she moved out East. They are fantastic hosts. I have absolutely luxurious accomodations, and feasted heartily tonight at dinner. It has also been great to see someone I know as it has been almost two weeks since I saw my cousin Robin and my friend Rich back in Montreal. It has been great meeting many new people along the way, but it’s definitely nice to see a familiar face, and get upto date and also talk about old times.

And how sweet is this … another day off tomorrow to see Saint John. Still plenty of work left, but it’s good to now have a somewhat slower pace.

Travel Stats

Distance: 131 km
Average Speed: 18.4 km/h
Time on road: 10.5 hrs. (8:15AM to 6:45PM)
[Bonus stat] Flat tires: 1 (see tidbit)

Interesting daily tidbit

Yes, another flat tire. A little surprising as I was on paved surfaces the whole way and there didn’t seem to be any real reason for it, but this tube lasted a while, so I didn’t get too upset. When I change a tire, I’m always a little worried it’s not going to take, and I find myself doing a little bit of a Han Solo with my bike … looking down at my own Millenium Falcon, I plead, “C’mon baby. Hold together!”

Tune of the day

Take off – Bob and Doug Mackenzie featuring Geddy Lee
Now how could I have a Great Canadian Ride without including a little Great White North! This song is a Canadian classic, and the rest of the album including the Beerhunter, You are our guest, and of course, Peter’s Donuts, brought me many uplifting smiles along the way.
 

Day 13 – Cabano to Edmundston (NB)

[Editor's note: Apparently, not only have I been losing track of the days of the week, I have also lost track of my day log #s ... Day 10 was used twice, so we are in fact at Day 13]

New province … new time zone!

Yep … onwards to the next province. With the days having been long and tough the last couple of days, my aim for today was simple: cross the border and make it to the first big town, Edmundston, New Brunswick. With my last patched tube still giving me trouble, Marcel from the motel was happy to drive me to the hardware store, where I bought the store out of their 28C tires (four of them – just in case!). Being in town already, Marcel wanted to stop by the grocery store, so I was happy to come along and pick up some snacks for the day.

A little while later, with the bike fixed and ready to go, I said my thanks and goodbyes and was off to the border. On the way down, I followed a nice trail along Lake Temiscouata and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Another hiccup though – there were still bumps and rocks along the trail, and though I was being very careful to avoid them, with the new inner tube only 15km old, it went flat. Now, I do have a good load on the back rack from my saddle bags so I knew this might be an issue, but this was getting ridiculous. I did yet another change, and thankfully, this tube has been fine to the end of the day. Most of my remaining rides will be on scenic secondary highways (ie. nice paved shoulders), so I don’t expect much more trouble.

At the 50km mark, I neared the border, my iPod randomly selected Oh What a Feeling as my next tune (perhaps Apple has been integrating some AI into their devices). At the border, I took the obligatory photos (with me and Mickey) and I proudly added the New Brunswick flag to the collection attached to my backpack.

I made my way through Edmundston, following the ? signs through town to the tourist information office. The girl there was happy to help me as she likely hadn’t seem someone with so many questions all day. I left with pamphlets and a great magazine that has all the attractions, hotels, and campgrounds throughout NB. Tonight, I opted for the motel right around the corner from the tourist office. It’s great! It’s inexpensive and its design has such character. It looks like it is 2 or 3 houses that have been cobbled together into a hotel. Also, it has a great chinese buffet, which I had to make use of for dinner. I polished off a plate and a half of MSG-dripping goodness. Despite all the exercise, I couldn’t eat more. I can’t eat as much as I used to – like the lunches at DuBarry’s when I had summer work terms in Ottawa.

Tomorrow … Woodstock (I hope). :)

Travel stats

Distance: 67 km
Average speed: 18.9 km/h
Time on the road: 5.5 hrs. (10:30AM ET to 5:00PM AT)

Interesting daily tidbit

So I lost an hour today at the border. No, there wasn’t customs to get through – I crossed the time zone line. Beyond this unfortunate loss, I am realizing that I’m losing daylight every day. It’s bad enough that as we move towards autumn equinox, the days are getting shorter, but I’ve also recognized another problem. Heading from West to East, I wake up in a spot that has a later sunrise than where I end up at the end of the day. Also of course, the sunset occurs earlier at the spot where I end my day. I must be losing like a minute or two a day! Oh woe is me. I guess that’s just the way it’s going to be. I imagine this has something to do with geography and the earth’s rotation, but … I blame the wind! (see previous run-ins with the wind, who by the way was in my face again today)

Tune of the day

Not a lot going on – Northey Valenzuela
Having past Riviere-du-Loup yesterday (translation, Wolf River), I was reminded of our friends down in Dog River, the fictional Saskatchewan town of TV’s Corner Gas. As such, I was pleasantly cued to play their theme song as the tune of the day. Craig Northey, formerly of the Odds comprises half of Northey Valenzuela, and their self-titled album which contains this song is actually quite good.

… long blog – way too much time on my hands today. :)

Day 6 – Montreal to Granby

Things don’t always go completely as planned, but everything worked out well.

It was definitely a little tricky getting out of Montreal. As I got to the Waterfront to try and figure my way over to Longueuil, I realized that Montreal has so many bike paths, it’s not always obvious which one is the one you are supposed to take. I had settled on a path on the western end of Old Montreal to lead me across the islands and onto the mainland. Unfortunately, NASCAR was in town and blocked my way, making my way out rather complicated (I really never liked NASCAR in the first place, this really didn’t help them at all). So, I ended up taking the gigantic Pont Champlain off the islands and into Longueuil.

Having taken a different route than I had originally planned, it was not clear how to get back on the Route Verte from my maps. I did find it soon enough, but again … too many bike paths, and somehow I got diverted, and definitely went in a 5km circle. Also, though the GPS on my phone helped locate me at one point, I unfortunately left it on and it killed the battery, so I was left without GPS or phone for the rest of the day. After spending a longue time in Longueuil, I did finally reach some great trails (with little question as to what direction to go).

I made it as far as Granby, and headed to a camping site, Le William. Sounded like a weird name for a camping site … and as I approached it through a very fancy neighbourhood, I knew there was something wrong. Yes, it in fact was a very fancy B&B and their one room was booked (it was mis-categorized as camping in my Route Verte guidebook). The proprietor was very nice and let me borrow her phone and phonebook. I called a nearby motel which ended up being a very comfortable stay for the night.

 
Travel stats

Distance: 133 km
Average speed: 18.0 km/h
Time on the road: 10 hrs. (10:30AM to 8:30PM)
Flat tires (bonus stat): 1

Yes, only around a half hour after having thought to myself how well my bike’s been holding up, the first flat of the trip. Figures. No worries, fixed it in 15 minutes and was off and away … on a 5 km lap of suburban Longueuil.

Interesting daily tidbit

Already a long post, so I’ll just say this … GPS will kill your cell phone battery … dead! Use sparingly.

Tune of the day

Make you a believer – Sass Jordan
This Montrealer has always been one of my favourites and so being in Montreal, I felt it was a good time to give her top billing. Once I reached Longueuil though, I thought it might have been more apt to have chosen Full Circle by Jeff Healey in reference to my circuitous meanderings.