Monthly Archives: August 2008

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 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.