Author Archives: Peter Picton

Day 21 – Sackville (NB) to Charlottetown (PEI)

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.

Travel stats

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.

Editor’s note

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.

I made it – Prince Edward Island

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!

Day 20 – Fundy National Park to Sackville

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.

Travel stats

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.

Day 19 – Rothesay to Fundy National Park

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.

Travel stats

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!

Day 18 – Saint John

Rainy day

Well my day off in Saint John was pretty rainy, but it was actually rather fitting for the port city. I started the day with a quick tour of the Rothesay area before heading into Saint John. Fabia pointed out the impressive array of houses and noted to me what in town was either owned or supported by the Irving family (apparently, just about everything).

In Saint John, I enjoyed my visit to the New Brunswick Museum and then took a walking tour of the city when the rain had subsided some. The Firefighters Museum was acutally pretty good. Some of the old equipment was on display, and there was a an exhibit outlining the events of Saint John’s Great Fire which occurred in the late 1800s. It made me think … what city didn’t have a Great Fire at some point in their history?

Near the end of the day, Paul gave me a tour of the Moosehead factory, where he is the Director of Operational Planning. This was really good; I know all about the beer-making process now, and some of Moosehead’s secrets – not publishable here of course. :)

At the end of the day, I was treated to a dinner out at a great East meets West type restaurant. Though our food came a little late, it was very good. Before heading off to bed, I got a few photos of little Julia with Mickey. She had me laughing the whole time, as she kept on giving me goofy faces while I tried to get a good shot. She was a lot of fun – her mom calls her the wild one. :) All in all, a great time with the Fitzgeralds in Rothesay.

Travel stats

Distance: 0 km
Average speed: 0 km/h
Time on the road: 0hrs.

Interesting daily tidbit

So, it rained. However, that was pretty good timing for me – getting it out of the way prior to my last few riding days. One amazing thing too: for the most part, the forecasts on this trip, good or bad, have been accurate. I’m hoping that still holds over the next few days. I would tell you why, but that might jinx things. You can look it up for yourself if you like.

Tune of the day

Ordinary day – Great Big Sea
A little more Maritime music seemed fitting for Saint John. Also, though I suppose that not being on a bike for 10 hours would seem to be more of an ordinary day for some, it’s actually a little out of the ordinary for me (don’t get me wrong though – I was happy to have the rest). Great Big Sea got quite a hit out of this song, and it is now featured in ads (one for the Hockey Hall of Fame I believe). This is largely due to the popularity of the video and its amazing cast … UToronto RFC, my rugby team at the time (now Toronto Dragons). I have two feature moments in it that last a sum total of 1.5 seconds. I was good though — just missed being nominated for breakthrough performance at the MMVAs.

Day 16 – Fredericton

Fredericton is ridiculously nice!

The beautiful Victorian homes that line Fredericton’s streets are … ridiculously nice. The array of historical sites along the river is … ridiculously nice. The University of New Brunswick residence I’m staying at is … ridiculously nice. The picturesque views of the St. John River are … ridiculously nice. The people of Fredericton are … evil incarnate. OK, I was just trying to throw you there; the people of Fredericton are, of course, ridiculously nice.

Yes, Fredericton is a charming city and I was able to take in a number of great attractions including the Garrison District, the Lighthouse, and the York-Sunbury Historical Society Museum. I also had the opportunity to see the changing of the guard and take a personal one-on-one guided tour of New Brunswick’s Legislative Assembly Building (apparently the other tourists were not aware they were available). The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was also a great highlight. Lord Beaverbrook was a very wealthy publishing tycoon from the area, and the collection he amassed for the gallery is very impressive. It includes a whole room of wonderful Krieghoff works, three pieces from Dali and a Turner that apparently was purchased for 35 million dollars.

Tonight, I had dinner at BrewBakers which has been rated among the best restaurants in Canada. I thought it worthy of its standing. To end off the night, I, along with a few hundred Fredericton residents and tourists, watched an outdoor presentation of From Russia With Love. Overall, i’d have to rate my day as being … ridiculously nice.

Travel stats

Distance: 0 km
Average speed: 0 km/h
Time on the road: 0 hrs.

rest = good

Interesting daily tidbit

Did I mention the people were ridiculously nice? As I walked over to Tim Horton’s, a lady coming from church asked me where I was from and I told her about my ride. She seemed impressed and actually told the cashier when we got to Tim’s that what I was getting was on her. I hated to refuse such a kind gesture, but I was actually buying my breakfast and snacks for the next day, so I couldn’t let her pay for all that. Regardless, that definitely still qualifies as ___________.

Tune of the day

Back in time – Huey Lewis and the News
I must admit, I really wanted to find some way of getting Huey a tune of the day spot. However, I didn’t want to force it – the song still needed to fit somehow. Well, there was no need to force it: being in Fredericton is definitely like going back in time. In fact the picture perfect homes look like they could be used as the set for Back to the Future and there are several buildings in town that could fill in for the famous Clock Tower. Also, this song (which I think is actually the better of the two made for the Back to the Future soundtrack) just rocks. Suffice it to say, that definitely helps when being considered for the daily honours.

Day 15 – Hartland to Fredericton

The hills are alive …

… with the sound of my grunting and curse words. Yesterday, it seemed that the hills and I were working together to move along further into New Brunswick; today, this was not the case. Though I suppose I was still dropping in elevation along the way as I followed the river, the steep and numerous climbs were nevertheless unrelenting. I thought that Fredericton may actually be a Cloud City in the skies I was climbing so much. In truth, there were many descents that followed the climbs, but they never provided enough momentum for the next incline. In fact, I cringed at the sight of each descent as it meant the next climb was coming soon. I kept on thinking of the Murderhorn from the Simpsons, the mountain that never seemed to end.

Nevertheless, I stil made it to Fredericton, and from what I can tell, it is a picture perfect little city. I will be able to report more about it tomorrow as I am giving myself the day off here. Actually, along the home stretch, I will have more days off to see the sights, so this last week should be good.

Travel stats

Distance: 135.4 km
Average speed: 18.4 km/h
Time on the road: 11 hrs. (8:50AM to 7:50PM)

Interesting daily tidbit

I mentioned how I thought that Fredericton might be Cloud City; well, it is … sort of. As I crossed the main bridge into the heart of downtown, I noticed the sky was a gallery of cloud artworks. From an exploding white giant on one side to a translucent sun mask on the other, Fredericton’s skyline was a sight to behold this evening. Granted, I imagine these clouds could really appear anywhere, nonetheless, this picturesque town provided a perfect backdrop for them tonight.

Tune of the day

My friend Buddy – Natalie MacMaster
I had difficulty identifying any New Brunswick native artists in my collection. As such, some other Maritimers will have to step up and represent. This upbeat instrumental featuring MacMaster on the fiddle did quite nicely to set the Maritime feel.

Day 14 – Edmundston to Hartland

Moving day

WIth a short day yesterday, I wanted to makfe a good stab into New Brunswick today. And that I did. Though I didn’t get to Woodstock as I had planned, I did travel the distance I had expected. If that seems a little odd to you, understand that I had underestimated the distance from my map (following a winding river adds on to the actual distance). I wil be using my dental floss tonight to get a better sense of the distances from my map.

The ride today was nice. The New Brunswick hills that I had been told about it were certainly a part of it, but given I’m following a river towards its outlet to sea, overall, I’m gradually heading downwards which is nice.

And the St John River has been quite scenic. At one lookout, I was approached by Harold MacDougall, an 81 year old former railway engineer. He sat down at the lookout, asked me about my trip and answered my questions about the area. I said goodbye and as I made my way down the road, he lit up the cigarette he had politely waited for while we shared the bench.

Tonight, I am staying in Hartland, home of the longest covered bridge in the world!

Travel stats

Distance: 162.9 km
Average speed: 19.4 km/h
Time on the road: 12 hrs. (8:00AM to 8:00PM)
[Bonus stat] Number of dogs that chased me:3 (see tidbit)

Interesting daily tidbit

Before I left on my trip, my friend Bruno had told me that he had heard that as I cycle out in the country, I should be wary of dogs who might chase after me. A friend of his had made a trip across the Prairies and had had some issues with dogs. I had not considered this much of a concern … until today. As I rode past the country homes on Route 105, I was accosted by not one, not two, but three dogs. Though I was originally quite startled by their approaches, I realize now that their barks likely translated to Hey nice bike! How long have you been riding? Where you heading to? But alas, I do not understand dogspeak, and as of yet, it is not an available language on Google Translate. I do understand that dogspeak is part of Google’s plans, but it is currently sitting behind Elvish, Jawa, and Klingon in the language queue. I have been able to learn a little on my own however. Apparently, if you pronounce a stern English NO!, this will be understood in dogspeak as Hello, though I appreciate your greetings, I must ask you to stop coming this way as I fear it is not safe for you in the street. (… or something like that)

Tune of the day

Time to move on – Tom Petty
I had originally pegged Into the Great Wide Open as the Tom Petty tune for the trip, but this track has such a great riding rhythm to it, I gave it today’s honours. Here’s the chorus …

It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going.
What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.
But under my feet baby, grass is growing.
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going.