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 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 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.

Nice

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 11 – St Denis to Cabano

More obstacles … But we’re still making headway!

Obstacle #1: Once again, the East wind that antagonized me yesterday, was back again with greater strength for round 2. Over the morning, I battled wind and a number of hills and barely managed to keep a 16 km/h average speed. Suffice it to say, the Wind and I are no longer on speaking terms. If we cross paths at a party or something, I’ll try to be cordial, but really I’m not going to do anything special to make him fell comfortable. He’s a jerk! … :)

Obstacle #2: After making my turn away from the St Lawrence at Riviere-du-Loup, I started up the hills towards my next stop. As I climbed, I noticed that my back tire looked a little low. Though it might have lasted a while longer, I felt it best to make a change (the current one was a patched one anyway). So I made the change and was off again.

Obstacle #3: The path towards Cabano was actually great. Granted, there were many subtle inclines, the riding was pretty good on the Petit Temis trail. Near the end of the day, it was turning out great with the inclines being paid back in kilometer-long declines that allowed decent speeds with minimal work. And then … flat tire #2 … #2 for the day that is!!! Though the trail was of the hard-packed variety, it did have rocks and a number of harsh bumps. This time during the change I wrecked the replacement tube by pumping it too hard, and as such, I was left only with patch-needing tubes. With only a few km left to go to my stop, I walked the rest of the way.

My host at the Motel Caldwell, Marcel, was nice enough to meet me at one of the last turns and guided me to the motel. He also prepared a couple of nice salami wraps for when I arrived. And as a bonus experience, he took me for a quick tour of Cabano in his car. Once again, an eventful day … but why would I want it any other way?

Travel stats

Distance: 115 km
Average speed: 18.3 km/h
Time on the road: 12 hrs. (8:00AM to 8:00PM)

Interesting daily tidbit

Aside from all the happenings the last couple of days, there has been absolutely amazing scenery along the way. Yesterday there were corn fields giving way to mountains giving way to bright blue skies. Today there were amazing wooded lakes, creeks and swamps. Really, a beautiful area.

Tune of the day

Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip
Could I really go on choosing tunes of the day for my Canadian ride and not include the Hip! Considering that I actually passed a number of wheat fields both yesterday and today, it definitely fit the scenery.