It's funny - I'm sitting here typing away and thinking about where the time went. Then I think - it's all relative - relative to my state of mind and how I'm dealing with my current circumstances. A few days ago, for example, I was riding in torrential rain and wind and every inch of progress forward seemed to take forever. Then, arriving in St John's after better than three months of pedaling I look back and think - wow, I did 9000 km already - where did the time go?! Like my buddy Einstein hinted - it's all relative, and there's a lot you can come up with while riding your bicycle.
So, the story of Newfoundland - It actually starts a long time ago but in the interest of your time I'll start in Nova Scotia. After my arrival in Sydney on August 29th I connected with Lee-Anne from the Sydney Sunrise Rotary Club who my sister had contacted about my ride. We met at Boston Pizza and had some much needed food after another long day of riding the hilly and windy terrain of Nova Scotia. After a nice conversation we headed out to meet her husband at the armory (the oldest continuously occupied military base in Canada) to swap vehicles so that she could take me to the bingo hall where I would meet Mr Weaver (another Rotarian) who I was giving me a place to stay. He was volunteering at the bingo hall as part of the Rotary club's fund-raising efforts. I had no idea that bingo was such big business - the Indian reserve in Sydney has a huge facility dedicated completely to bingo. The evening wouldn't be over until 10pm so I waited in the entrance of the building and caught up on some of my writing.
The next morning (Aug 30th) I had arranged to meet with Anita and Babsi who I had met with Andreas at the hostel in Pleasant Bay. After a stop at the store to replenish some minor supplies I rode my bike (without the weight of my gear) the few km into town meet up with girls. They were heading south toward Halifax and wanted to get an early start but it was almost 11am by the time we finished breakfast and headed out on our own new adventures. After breakfast I went to find the local bike shop to see if I could figure out why the pedal on the left side of my bike was creaking. The store owner suggested that I needed to pack some new grease in the pedal and gave me a small packet of grease so that I could make the fix. My next errand was to get a haircut as I was starting to look a little rough. After a quick chop here and snappy trim there I was back in shape and off to Mr. Weaver's house again to make the final maintenance and cleaning operation of my bike for Newfoundland.
There was a lot of grease and grime on my chain and Betsy wasn't shifting as smoothly as when I first started the trip - I later discovered, half way across Newfoundland, that my shifting cable had been wearing thin. A couple of hours later as I was finishing the operation I had a shiny new bike and Mr Weaver came home from work. A side note: Mr. Weaver works at the Sydney tar pond clean up where, for a long time, there was a steel plant that didn't use the most environmentally friendly practices. Now there is a major effort to clean up the area and lots of government funds have been appropriated for the clean up. Ultimately, the area will be made into a park. For dinner we went down to the other house on his property where his daughter Elyse lived with her baby Mason. She made us some dinner and we hung out for a while on the back patio. She invited me to come back later as she was planning to have a bonfire with some friends - when I returned for the bonfire Mason was fussing a lot and I only spent a short time visiting before going back to the main house to get some sleep.
Aug 31 - Newfoundland bound! I woke early to wish Mr. Weaver a good day at work and to thank him for letting me stay at his house. He arranged for Elyse to give me a ride to the airport to pick up Erin who I had met a couple months prior riding through Lake Louise and who had the adventurous spirit to join me for the final two weeks of my ride across Newfoundland. Erin arrived right on schedule with her bike and her gear and Elyse drove us back to her house where we made the final assembly of Erin's bike before heading off for the ferry. It was about 20 km of cycling to the ferry. Arriving at the ferry terminal, nearly an hour and a half before the scheduled departure, the woman at the gate said "you better go straight to the boat! They're closing the doors and are ready to go!" We found this strange given how early we were. So we booked it down to the boat, past all of the not-so-apparent security, to get on the boat. It seems they were in the middle of a shift change - while loading the boat ??? - and we were quickly sent back to wait at the big yellow line until they scanned our tickets and until they told us to get on the boat. While we waited another cyclist, Jake, rode up behind us. He was riding to St. John's from Halifax to start school. We shared an apple and some plums I had picked up at the grocery store before they called us to get on the boat. As we were setting our bikes up and collecting our gear to go up to the main cabin from the lower level one of the workers came to us - with a thick Newfoundland accent - and tried to help us understand the schedule - "the boat gets all closed up by 4 and we leave the port at 4:30" .... so, we go up to the main deck and get situated in the very colourful lounge area. I notice that the boat is moving out of the port, look at my watch and see that it's only 3:45. It seems the ferry operates solely on Newfoundland time which is 30 minutes ahead of the rest of the eastern provinces... It's not much help though when they dock in Nova Scotia and expect your watch to be programmed for Newfoundland. It's funny too because we've spoken to several other people across Newfoundland who have not-so-positive things to say about the ferry system between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In any case, we made it on the ferry and over to Newfoundland with no incident. Upon arrival, it was about 9pm and the sun had fully set. We decided that the best option for the first night would be to find the nearest hotel to minimize our riding time in the dark. It worked out well and the hotel let us store our bikes in one of their meeting rooms. Jake had bid us farewell upon leaving the ferry and had plans of finding a couple of trees to string his hammock for the night.
Sept 1 - The first day on "The Rock" was a lot of fun as the wind was at our back and the sun was mostly shining. The terrain quickly became hilly and our fascination with Newfoundland quickly grew. When I was originally talking with Erin about the ride she said "I'd be comfortable with 100km per day". Given the good wind our day turned into 150 and Erin got to break her previous record of 125km... and on a loaded bike no less! Half way along we ran into our friend Jake who had stopped to check the pressure in his tires. Turned out his pump had failed and let all of the air out of his tires. I let him use my pump to get fixed up and then the three of us were on our way. Jake moved on ahead of us when I stopped to wait for Erin and we didn't see him again. We stopped for lunch a long the side of the road and then proceeded on the hilly path along the trans-Canada highway to Barachois Provincial Park. It was a nice park on a lake close to some big rocky hills. As we were setting up our tent a woman on a bike came over and started talking to us. She asked if we were part of a big group of riders she had seen earlier that day. Then she told us about a 14 day bike trip that she took with her husband around the Avalon Peninsula and how it was the worst 14 days of her life. As she was finishing the story, her husband (who reminded me of Albert Einstein) rode up on his bike and proceeded to tell us about his 14 day trip around the Avalon Peninsula and how it was the best 14 days of his life..... we laughed a lot. He also told us about the super expensive and strong string (used for towing US submarines) that he had 'borrowed' from his employer and used to replace a spoke in his bike. Funny guy.
Sept 2 - Barachois Provincial Park to Corner Brook - another nice day with the wind at our back. Half way to Corner Brook we stopped for lunch on the side of the road. It was a hilly ride and our plan was to reach Deer Lake. As we rode toward Deer Lake we decided to stop for groceries in Corner Brook. Corner Brook is very hilly and nestled in a valley. We rode down a lot of hills to get to the grocery store and I was afraid we would have to climb them again to get out. It turned out to be very flat out the other side of town, but before we got back to the Trans-Canada Highway we had a little break down. I heard a bang and looked in my rear view mirror to see if Erin was still riding - she was, so I continued forward around the corner and out of sight. Turned out her tube had blown and had torn the tire. We we changed her tire out with the spare she was carrying and went back to town to find a bike shop. The shop we found was closed but as we were deciding what to do the owners wife Becky came up to us to see if she could help us. She called her husband, Peter, who came over and opened the store for us to get us fixed up. Then he asked where we were staying and offered his house. We accepted and went to find our new home for the night. Peter and Becky were great! They looked after us really well. If you're ever in Corner Brook and need a bike shop go to Cycle Solutions.
Sept 3 - Corner Brook to Wiltondale - Peter and Becky fed us breakfast and had to leave before we were ready - they said just pull the door shut when you leave. They were great! On the way out of town we stopped at Tim Horton's for some coffee and a snack and then continued on our scenic way toward Gros Morne park. When we got to Deer Lake as I was climbing a long hill my derailleur cable broke and I could no longer shift gears. Luckily I had planned for such an event and had a spare cable. While I fixed my bike, Erin pulled out some of the food we had stocked and put together some lunch. Continuing on we finally arrived at the turn off toward Gros Morne park and stopped at the service station for another snack and to check out a little gift shop. The ride into Gros Morne was mostly up hill. It was another humid day and the wind was blowing across our noses. Halfway up to the park we were stopped by Yuri and his sister Meghan who happened to have a cabin close to Gros Morne. They invited us to stay at their place and we accepted. The cabin was on Little Bond Bay Pond and was set up nicely. We cooked up the pasta with pepers and mushrooms in our sauce. Then we played cards with Meghan and her boyfriend Phil and learned some of the finer details of Newfoundland culture - like Skreech and card game etiquette. We had a really good time with Meghan, Phil, and Yuri. In the morning, Yuri had to leave early for work and mistakenly took my flipflops instead of his, but Meghan caught up with us in St. John's and I got to see her once more and recover the displaced flip-flops.
Sept 4 - Wiltondale through Gros Morne and the Table Lands to Rocky Harbour - after our fun evening with Meghan, Phil, and Yuri we headed off on our break day to explore what we could of Gros Morne Park - it was a hot muggy day as we awaited the arrival of Hurricane (now tropical storm) Earl. After some wonderful scenery and hills we arrived at the table lands and encountered my backpacking friend Andreas from Germany who I had run into now for the 4th time. We hiked in along one of the trails to get a good look at the distinct hills that jut out of the ground producing a very contrasted landscape - on one side of the road the hills were green and lush and on the other side of the road it looked like Mars. We were operating a little slow this day and weren't in a big hurry - since it was supposed to be a day off. After our visit to the table land we continued on to Woody Point where we stopped for food and then caught the pedestrian ferry across to Norris Point where we would continue on to Rocky Harbour. By this time the weather was looking very sketchy with the arrival of Earl and we decided to skip out on our camping reservation and find a more solid structure for accommodation. We found a B&B that had vacancy and the woman who was looking after it was very resistant to letting us do any laundry, but she did let us store our bikes in the basement beside the laundry machine :) We were very happy to be indoors as the storm arrived very shortly after we arrived at the B&B. Once settled we met Hannah and Til who were visiting from Germany. They were very nice and we had a fun time hanging out with them and sharing stories. The next morning we got up and packed. At breakfast we met the other couple who was staying at the B&B. Everyone was really nice. With the passing of Earl the wind had made a nice shift from the west but we wouldn't get to enjoy it until we got back south to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Sept 5 - Rocky Harbour to Birchy Lake - there was a really stiff cross wind as we pedaled south out of the park. Then, when we arrived at the TCH we stocked up on food at the service station and headed east. The sun was shining and the wind was super strong and happily at our back. When we got to where the campsite should have been - it wasn't there. This is were we met Grete and Foss who looked after us really well. We found the dirt road where the campsite was suppose to be and Erin was tapped out from riding. This meant we found a campsite or just set our tents up on the side of the road. Luckily we met Grete and Foss' son in his pick-up truck who suggested we stay at his parents' cabin. When we arrived Foss came out and, in a thick Newfoundland accent, offered a spot down around the corner almost on his neighbors property. When we got to where he was going to put us we found that it wasn't very good for a tent site so he took us back and offered a spot on the grass close to the water. Shortly after we had started setting up our tents his wife Grete and her friend Marion came out and offered us salad and dessert to go with our planned meal of canned Irish stew. When they heard that we were going to eat Irish stew they laughed and decided that we needed something better - so we got potatoes, turkey, and mixed vegetables. Then, as if feeding us wasn't enough, they called their neighbor who's cabin was not being used and got us set up with electricity, running water, and a comfortable bed. The funny thing was that our tents were already set up and they came down with their car and quickly piled our things in the car to move it all over to the other cabin. It was a fury of motion and out of form for my normally organized mode of operation. We went to sleep with full bellies.
Sept 6 - Birchy Lake to Grand Falls / Windsor - Grete had invited us over for coffee in the morning and ended up giving us a full breakfast. They set us on our way with rhubarb jam and canned moose meat. A stiff wind helped our pedaling efforts for the first 40km until we turned south into the wind for about 50 km before turning east again toward Grand Falls - it was a long day and we got in at dusk. We stayed at the hostel in Grand Falls - they gave us a motel room for the price of the hostel and given that we paid cash the tax mysteriously disappeared too. Prior to arriving in Grand Falls, on a short stop for food in Badger, we met Linda and Wayne Hardiman who we had initially met in Gros Morne park - they invited us to stay with them at their house in Gander and, if we could make it by noon the next day, we could go to the Rotary meeting to share about Huntington's and my ride. Linda gave us her number and we told her we'd see what we could do - it was still 100km to Gander and the wind and terrain would have to be right if we were going to do that much riding before noon. As we rode in to Grand Falls the sun and temperature were setting fast. We found the hostel and got set up in our small, but comfortable room. We had decided to shoot for Gander by noon the next day. I had been battling a cold for the past few days and nights - I suspect, the result of my interaction with baby Mason in Sydney. Happily this was the most comfortable sleep I had in several days.
Sept 7 - Grand Falls / Windsor to Gander - We didn't get on the road as early as planned, but we were rolling by 7:45. This gave us just over 4 hours to tackle the 100km to Gander. We pushed hard and managed to arrive at Linda and Wayne's house at about 5 minutes to 12. Linda was running a little late and came to pick us up to take us to the meeting. The meeting was very close by and ran like a clock. Lunch was great! Turkey diner followed by the best creme puffs I've ever tasted. It might have been the fact that we had ridden over 100 km before lunch that made the food so good - but it was all really good nonetheless. I was given a few minutes to speak about my ride and the cause and in the end the club donated $200. Now we had the rest of the day to be tourists and Wayne was our tour guide. He took us to the Gander aviation museum where we learned about the history of the Gander airport, some stories about World War II, stories of aviation sabotage, and stories about the events of September 11, 2001. Gander's population nearly doubled in a few hours with the grounding of all air traffic. Linda and Wayne even put a few of the people up while air traffic was sorted out over the next three days. After our visit to the museum we went to the site of the Arow crash of 1983 in which nearly 200 US service men were killed when their plane crashed off the end of the runway. They have a nice memorial on the site - it is quite serene. After our tour and history lesson of Gander we drove by the airport before going back to the house to do some laundry and eat some dinner.
Sept 8 - Left from Linda and Wayne Hardiman's in Gander - sunny cool day. rode through Terra Nova national park, had lunch at info centre, went to Port Blandford, getting cold and dark, stayed at B&B
Sept 9 - left from B&B toward Jack's Pond at Arthur's cove. Rainy, cold, windy day. Stopped in Clarenville to meet reporter and have lunch at the Clarenville Inn. Continued on toward Jack's pond - had a hard time finding the campsite - lots of rain. Finally found the campsite which had only a few very rocky campsites. The comfort station was a public hazard and we found shelter in the game room to make dinner. They let us stay in the game room after their normal closing hour and part way through dinner a man came in and said "the boss wants to talk to you". I went to the door where it was pitch black and the rain was pouring down and a big guy in a white hummer bellowed "you gonna shut the lights and lock the door when you leave?". I said yes and he was on his way. I sat in a big purple Dino (from the Flintstone's cartoon) ride and Erin sat in a 1990 Atari racing game eating the pasta we prepared on the air hockey table. It was a interesting evening.
Sept 10 - Left from Arthur's cove (campsite) - rain, rain, wind, wind. The next morning we woke early to the sound of rushing water - the brook that was barely flowing the night before was now a wildly flowing rapid. Erin had left her coffee mug out over night and had collected over 5 cm of rain water. There was a short reprieve from the rain for us to get packed up and on the road. We stopped to prepare our breakfast at the gas station close to the campsite. The woman there let us set up in the little diner attached to the gas station which wasn't scheduled to open until 11 am. The rain was holding off for the most part, but it would rain and stop, rain and stop, so we kept stopping to change in and out of our rain gear. After about 50 km of riding we stopped for lunch at a gas stop with a restaurant (about 75 km from St John's now). Jim Ryan, who has a connection to the Huntington's group in St John's and who we were going to be staying with, came out to find us at the restaurant. He showed up and introduced himself and I said "how'd you find me?", forgetting about the nifty little GPS tracker that I had so cleverly mounted on my bicycle. At this stop we also met a group of motorcyclists who were riding their bikes across Canada to raise awareness and money for blind children. After lunch we were on our way again and Jim helped Erin out by taking a bunch of her gear to lighten her load. I was being a purist and insisted on carrying all of my gear to the end. By now the rain was really coming down and the motorcade of motorcycles passed us, each tooting their own distinctive horn. Mom and Dad and Laura who had flown out to meet me at the end caught up with us on the road and stopped to see if there was anything we needed. We were soaked but the temperature was fairly warm so it wasn't that bad. I passed the 9000km point and stopped to take a picture and do a little dance. After some more hills and a little break in the clouds we finally arrived in St. John's. Jim came back out to direct us in and we met Helen and her mother Mary who looked after us like their own for the next few days.
Sept 11 - I hadn't planned to arrive at Cape Spear until 3 or 4 pm, so we went sight seeing with my mom and dad and sister in the morning. We went to Signal Hill and took the hike down the hill along the coast in front of Signal Hill. It was a nice sunny day to this point and we had a clear view of Cape Spear across the bay. After our tour of Signal Hill we went back to prepare for a meeting with the Mayor of St. John's and for the ride up to Cape Spear. The weather was holding out, but the clouds were moving in. We got to city hall early hoping that the mayor would show up early too. He didn't, so we had a snack at the patio/pub across from city hall. When he arrived we found him to be very personable and accommodating. He joked with us for a while and then invited us to come to the city council meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon. We then headed out toward Cape Spear. The road out to Cape Spear is quite hilly and the first few kms were very steep. My bike was still fully loaded so it was a challenge to keep up with Erin and her unloaded bike. As we got closer to the end the Atlantic Ocean came into view and the lighthouse of Cape Spear was visible. Climbing the last hill to Cape Spear I could hear the people who had gathered to cheer me in. There were about 50 people from various places who had gathered to meet me at the end. A couple from Vancouver who had heared about my ride back in June just happened to be at the Cape when I arrived and recognized me. What a great coincidence for them to arrive on their vacation at the same time as me - they had been together for nearly 30 years, but he had been accused of not properly proposing, so he brought her there to set it all straight :) Congratulations to the happy couple! My dad brought a bottle of Champagne and we shared it with everyone who wanted a taste. It was a great finish to my 9000km trek across the continent.
Lots of days to catch up on now... and my riding is done for a while so I'll have lots of time to fill in the rest of the story.... stay tuned.
In Gander now with lots of stories to tell.... maybe tomorrow I'll write them down :) Time for bed now....
As usual it's been an other series of adventurous days. I took four days to explore the Cabot Trail and once again met and re-met some really great people. Right when I arrived in Cape Breton I ran in to Andreas, who I had initially met on the ferry from PEI. Andreas is backpacking around Canada and comes from Bavaria in Germany. We were offered a cheap place to stay with a kitchenette and cooked a really hearty pasta dinner. The next morning it was raining pretty hard and we decided to take advantage of the dryness provided by the inn and slept in. I was on the road by about 12:30 in the yet wet weather on my way to Inverness to meet some old friends of my mom's, Bob and Loraine. About 20 minutes later Andreas passed me in the ride he had scored with his thumb.
Riding along hwy 19 toward the Cabot Trail there are lots of musical and cultural stops and several prominent Canadian musicians hail from this part of the country including Ashley Macisaac. I stopped at one cultural centre to catch a bit of a tune.
Moving on toward Inverness it was still raining and I was completely soaked - except, which I am proud to say, for my feet which were still nice and dry thanks to my MEC shoe covers.
Arriving in Inverness Bob and Loraine drove by and directed me to their place down a little dirt road. Bob was full of interesting information and told me about all of his inventions and creations including his guitars, arrows, fireplace, and house design. We also solved the JFK conspiracy! :) Loraine looked after me with a turkey sandwich and then a big dinner.
The next morning I was off to Pleasant Bay about 115 km down the road. I got some really nice sights along this part of the ride. There was one rain cloud that went over and then it was dry for the rest of the ride. On the way up the first major hill of the Trail I encountered a man riding a replica 1860's bicycle that he had made. Wooden wheels, no gears and questionable brakes.... it was cool, but if you want to call someone crazy - I'm not the craziest one out here! :)
At the top of the hill there was a long flat run before it turned downhill in to Pleasant Bay. When I arrived at Pleasant Bay I stopped at the hostel to check out their rates and ran in to Andreas again. It turns out that three additional Bavarian travellers were also staying at the hostel that night. We all cooked dinner together again and then I showed them a couple of card tricks and taught them how to play Yukre.
The next morning we decided to go whale watching. It was a really fun time. We rode in a zodiak and saw lots of Pilot whales searching for food and playing around in the water. Aft er the tour we went back to the hostel to collect our stuff, make some lunch and set off on our separate modes of transportation.
As I rode away from the hostel I bumped in to the same cyclists, Mike, Fred, and Mary, who I had ridden with to Charlottetown PEI. We climbed the next big hill together out of Pleasant Bay - it was a 4km climb with a constant 13% grade - I rode the whole thing without stopping once! On the back side I found some awesome views and broke 85 km/hr on the way down. I have to mention that Mary is on the order of 78 years old and was only about 5 minutes behind us climbing the same hill! I hope I've got that much go when I'm 78!
Shortly after the rapid descent my friends Anita, Babsi, and Andreas drove by and I stopped to meet them again for ice cream.
This day I was planning to get to Ingonish but the night before, the woman looking after the hostel was really helpful and offered to help me find a place along the way - it turned out to be a little too far for that day so I pulled in to the campsite at Ingonish. As I was riding around the campside looking for a good site I passed my friends Patty and Ed who I had met with Paul in Pictou when we got off the ferry from PEI. They were just as surprised to see me as I was to see them. I camped beside them again and they very graciously fed me again. In the morning we took a picture and exchanged information so that I can visit them the next time I find myself in Florida.
My next goal was Sydney. My sister Laura had arranged for me to connect with the Sydney Rotary Club for a meal and a place to stay and I connected with Lee-Anne who bought me a great dinner at Boston Pizza and then connected me with Peter who has looked after me for the past two evenings. Prior to arriving in Sydney I stopped in Indian Brook where the woman from the Pleasant Bay hostel had arranged a place for me. I just wanted to say hi and thank them for their offer. Here I met yet another German traveller, Nicole, who was helping the owners of the cabins out for the summer. She showed me around a bit and w shared some travelling stories before I was on my way again.
After dinner at Boston Pizza with Lee-Anne we went over to the Indian reserve where Peter was helping out with a bingo night. This is one of the Rotary Club's ways of generating funds for their projects - by volunteering, not playing bingo :)
I met some of the other Rotarians who were helping with the evening and made some updates to my website until about 10pm when the evening finished. When we got back to Peter's house he set me up with a room and we made our plan for the morning - he had to work but could give me a ride back in to town. I had arranged to meet up with Anita and Babsi for breakfast before they headed out of town toward Halifax. After a good visit with Anita and Babsi I headed out again on my bike to find the bike store to see if I could get some help to figure out the clicking sound in my left crank. The bike guy suggested that the pedal needed to be repacked with grease - so, that's what I did - let's see if it works. After my visit to the bike store I went for a shave and a haircut at the local barber - psych! I still have the beard! :) Then lunch at Subway (seriously - these guys need to sponsor me!), then rode back to Peter's place to do laundry and clean up my bike, then dinner with Peter, his daughter Elise, and grandson Mason.
Now, I'm finishing up this update before going to bed. Tomorrow I go to Newfoundland!
Hard to believe that there are only 10 days left of this adventure! Time to come up with a new adventure :)
This morning I got another late start as I re uploaded the pictures I tried to upload last night. The campsite I stayed at was comfortable but their power outlets did not work - this seems to be a trend with campsites on the east coast. Once I got rolling at about 10:30 I had to figure out where to get breakfast. As I was standing on the corner trying to decide which way to go I saw a cyclist ride by on a recumbent bike and remembered from the night before another cyclist, Niel, commenting that he had met a guy on a recumbent who was riding toward Charlottetown. I decided to follow him in to town and see what his riding plan was for the day. As it turns out he was also riding across Canada and we had already met some of the same people. He knew of my adventure in the flood waters of Alberta and we had nearly crossed paths a couple of times. Paul is his name and we decided to go for breakfast at Cora's before hitting the road toward the ferry that would take us to Nova Scotia. After breakfast we went over to the news paper where my sister, Laura had arranged for me to meet the local paper for a photo. Then we were on the road. At the same corner I saw Paul ride by, we ran in to five more cyclists going from Ottawa to St John's. One of them, Phil was riding a unicycle which he had, in the prior year, ridden from Vancouver to Ottawa. These five (Phil, Jamie, Ben, Matheu, and Sandy) and Sandy's dad (the support van) are riding to raise awareness for the fight against child soldiers. They were a fun group and I got to give Phil's unicycle a ride around the parking lot while we waited for the ferry to Nova Scotia.
When I got off the ferry in Pictou, Nova Scotia a reporter was waiting for me to take a picture and get my story for the local paper. We also got some press for the five other cyclist's cause. From here, Paul and I split off to find the campsite at the provincial park. Oh, I got to ride the ferry for free by telling them about my cause and we got the campsite for free for the same reason. Then, as we were trying to figure out which site to set up on a couple, Pat and Ed from Florida, noticed that we were searching for something and offered their support - in the end we set up in the site next to theirs and they made us a great pasta dinner. People are just great!
What will tomorrow bring?
Yesterday morning I went with my new friends Leonel and Nancy to the breakfast of the Miramichi fly in before departing toward Moncton, NB. It turned in to a long riding day and I managed to rack up another 193 km. I arrived pretty tired by the time I got to the campsite at Murray beach. About 15km shy of the campsite I encountered a detour - another "local traffic only" sign... this can only mean trouble, but let's go see what it's about. I arrived about 4km later at another bridge that had been knocked out. This time there was a little foot bridge that was narrower than the paniers on my bike, so I lifted my bike over my head and carried it across. That was work. Another 11 or 12 km later I was at the campsite ready for sleep - but not until I caught the sunset.
The next day I was off to the 14km long bridge for Prince Edward Island. Pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed on the bridge, but there is a shuttle service that will take you across if you're not in a car. You only have to pay to get off the island. While waiting I met some other bikers on a two week tour from Halifax to PEI to Sydney and back to Halifax. I rode with them on the shuttle across the Confederation bridge and then rode from there to Charlottetown. We stopped for lunch at Victoria and one of the cyclists, Mike, bought my lunch! Thanks Mike!
Once we got to Charlottetown Mike and Fred checked in to their rooms at the university residence and I set off to find a campsite. We were going to meet afterward for a drink but we were not able connect in the end so I decided to treat myself to a good meal (two apps, a main dish, dessert and a couple of cold ones).
The next step is to make my way from here to the ferry for Nova Scotia. It's about 60 km from Charlottetown.
After my campsite in Campbelton I made my way toward Bathurst. It was a short riding day since I only started riding at 2pm. The wind was blowing at me and I managed to ride about 75 km before deciding to stop at a little campsite on the Jacquet river. When I got to my site I met Richard and Raymonde who were on a two week camping vacation through Quebec and New Brunswick. They were from Montreal and spoke only a little bit of English. Richard saw me and came over to ask if I wanted some dinner. Of course, I accepted and went over to meet his wife, Raymonde who asked if I spoke French. They shared their chicken and potato dinner with me and helped train my ear to Quebec French. In the morning, Richard came over to offer me some coffee and then offered me eggs and bacon. He was really excited about fly fishing and got his fishing pole out to show me some of the tricks to catch fish with a fly.
I then set off for Miramichi, about 150 km down the road. My goal this day was to arrive at the 7000km mark of my trip. It started off with a stiff headwind and then some weather moved in and the wind shifted as I curled around to the south toward Miramichi. I made good time and kept ahead of the rain, for the most part. When I arrived in Miramichi, a reporter from the local paper came to meet me at the campsite (The Enclosure) which was suggested by him when we spoke on the phone about where to meet. I rode through town and decided to get some food before heading on to the campsite - Subway caught my eye first and then Dairy Queen - I stopped for food at both :) By now it was raining and I pulled my rain gear out for the final few km to the campsite.
When I arrived at the campsite and was setting up two kids - about 10-12 years old, Adam and Joel, were riding their bikes and were really curious about my set up. They hung around for a while and asked all sorts of questions. I met with the reporter and then made my way to sleep.
The next morning while I was packing up, Adam and Joel were back on their bikes and came around to wish me a good trip. I had breakfast at the campsite restaurant and Joel kept me company while I ate.
As I was making my way now toward Moncton I noticed a sign on the side of the road with the words "Fly-in". I knew I was close to the Miramichi airport so I decided to check it out. I had only ridden 16km when I saw the sign and it turned out to be a good place to stop with lots of great people. They had $5 camping and were going to have a dinner with music and bonfire. I immediately started talking with some of them and met Lionel who offered me a place to stay. Being ahead of schedule I decided that it would be fun to hang out with a bunch of fellow pilots and airplanes. It was a really fun day. After the party I went back with Leonel and his partner Nancy to their house in Miramichi. Lionel showed me the plane that he is building in his garage - holy cow - there are a lot of rivets!
Now I'm getting packed up and ready to head off for Moncton. Thanks for the great company and the comfy bed Leonel and Nancy!
Moving on from Montreal I headed toward Trois Riviers. It was about a 140km ride and the wind was blowing at me from the north. The sun was out and it was warm, but it was still a lot of work. I was riding along the north shore of the St Lawrence river now. Shortly after leaving Quebec City I came upon a large waterfall - the name escapes me, but it was worth a quick tour for some pictures. I know there were a lot of other things to see off the beaten path, but given the wind and how far I was trying to get I didn't take any detours. Upon arriving just south of Trois Riviers I started to look for a campsite. The site I found was called H2O and here I met a Scouting troop who were on a three day bike trip from Montreal. They were excited about my ride and asked if I wanted to be part of their trip next year. I gave each of them my card - maybe I'll be part of a French Scouting trip next year :). I then took a quick swim in the pool and, after eating, got ready to go to sleep.
The next morning I was up early to start the trek to Québec City. It was about 120 km to my destination and I was meeting with my friend Margit who had driven up for the weekend to explore the city. I arrived at the hotel (which was graciously donated by my buddy Paul from the Huntington Society) within seconds of Margit's arrival around 4:30. We unloaded everything at the hotel and made our way to Old Québec where the Chateau Frontenac and many other even older buildings were located. Québec City is really a beautiful place. It's clearly a major tourist centre, but has a great atmosphere and lots of things to see and do. There are tons of buskers performing really cool acts on the street.
The next day was a day off - from riding at least - and we decided to take a tour of the city. We found a company that provides a cycle tour (pedicab) and I thought - cool! I don't have to do the peddaling and I still get to ride a bike! :). It turned out to be an awesome way to see the city and our cycling tour guide, Gabriel, was outstanding. After the tour we had some lunch in a little square that I could easily have confused with a small town square in France. We walked around the city some more to explore some more and found the Citadel - which is still an active Canadian military base. We got to see the end of the guard changing ceremony and then found a hoppin street with lots of restaraunts and people watching. During the tour Gabriel had suggested that we come back to the docks at 9:30 for a sound and light show about the history of Quebec projected on the large silos across the river. It was really cool! The presentation was created for the 400th birthday of Quebec City and will run until sometime in 2013. Arrive a good hour early to get a good seat! It was packed!
In the morning we got all packed up. Margit headed back toward Connecticut and I headed on toward Tadoussac. I was actually aiming to get to Les Escoumins where the ferry would take me across the river. The ferry left at 3:30 and I had a tight schedule if I was going to make it on time. It turns out that north of Québec City is quite mountainous and the wind was not cooperating again. I also got wind that a couple of my friends who I had met riding across the plains were close by, so I wanted to try and catch them. During the ride I had some great views and watched the landscape change as I rode. When I got to Tadoussac there were advertisements everywhere for whale watching excursions. I didn't take an excursion but I did catch a glimpse of a beluga whale in the bay before I got on the short ferry from St. Catherine to Tadoussac. I got to Les Escoumins at about 4:00 and, given I was too late for the ferry, I found a campsite close by and set up my tent for the night. It worked out well because I had time to do some laundry and get reorganized.
The ferry across the St. Laurence to Trois Pistoles was relatively small. I met a few people on the ferry from France and had a much easier time communicating with them in French than I had speaking with the French Canadians - the accent is really strong and my ear just isn't trained for it. Some I can understand fine, others not so much.
The ferry ride was about an hour and a half. This gave me some time to organize some pictures and post a short update to my website. I also reconnected with Meaghan and Toby via text messages and got the low down on their location. I was only about 20 or 30 km behind them. Arriving at the other side I got off the ferry and found that the wind was blowing very strongly in the direction that I hadn't planned on going, but Meaghan and Toby and his friend Dave had gone north, so I decided to go with the wind. Before setting off a couple approached me and asked what I was up to. We talked for about 20 minutes in French and I again gave out my card. Moving on, I first followed the "route verte" which is Quebec's designation for their extensive network of bicycle paths (Ontario could take some advice from Quebec on bicycle friendliness). This actually turned out to be a mistake because it took a winding steep trail through the trees on a mix of gravel and sand. I quickly headed back to the highway where I was able to sustain 35-40 km/h and finally caught up with the gang in at a grocery store in Rimouski, about 60km later. We picked up some groceries for dinner and the road and then headed in to Rimouski to get some lunch. It seems that my bike is getting heavier by the day as I get a more intimate relationship with food and making sure that I have a lot of it.
After a long lunch and visit we got back on the road. It was about 4pm by this point and I'm normally starting to think about a campsite. The others have a different approach - ride until dark and find free camping as much as possible. Prior to searching for a campsite we stopped to eat some food in an oversized chair we found at the entrance to a large garden. The weather was quickly deteriorating and the wind was brining in some rather ominous looking clouds. We rode until it was nearly dark and stopped along the river to ask a couple home owners about various patches of grass that looked campable. Everyone was very nice and recommended that we go in to the village to the little Auberge. In the mean time, Toby had scoped out a secluded space that appeared abandoned and had a sign that said "pas responsable pour les accidents" and "pas de toillet". He interpretted this to mean that camping was permitted - we camped :)
Meaghan and Toby really enjoy cooking and they put together a really delicious burrito meal. For dessert we put together some random things we had in our packs including pudding, bananas, and dehydrated apple crisp. What a feast! And all along the St. Lawrence river in the dark with the rain and our headlamps.
It was a quiet night and I got up early to see if I could make it to New Brunswick. The gang was planning to tour all of the Gaspé which would add a good 5 days on to the trip. Another time. So, I packed up and was ready to go before any of the others had stirred. When I was ready to go I asked who was awake. We took a picture and I bid them happy and safe travels.
Now that I was off course I needed to find a way back to my original direction. I decided to take what looked like the most direct route. This turne out to be a lot of work. At first the smaller side road was paved and pointed in exactly the directtion I wanted to go. Then it became a gravel logging road with a steep downhill. A steep downhill generally means there's a steep up hill on the other side. Turns out the up hill was steeper than the down hill. At the bottom there was a cute covered bridge concealing the steep uphill battel on the other side. At a couple of points I had to get off my bike and push it up the hill because I didn't have enough traction or go to keep it moving. The first couple of hours was a lot of climing. I stopped at a grocery store to get some food - because I had only eaten a granola bar to this point. I spent a bunch of time refueling. That reminds me, my tire pressure seemed to be declining yesterday and I had to pump it up a couple times - I wonder if it's good now...
After refueling the road came up beside a large river flowing in my direction. This is a good sign because it generally means the road will be downhill with the river. It was in fact downhill with the river for about 80 km right in to New Brunswick. I found the Welcome to New Brunswick sign and took a picture. 20km later I was in Campbelton at the provincial park setting up my tent.
It looks like a beautiful day today. Let'see where I end up tonight.
I'm now in L'île Bizard, a suburb of Montreal, where I am staying with my friend Valder and his family. I arrived yesterday evening at Valder's house who I met in Brazil over 9 years ago while we were working on the Embraer 170 aircraft development. He and his family now live in Montreal and we reconnected last year in Montreal while working on the development of Bombardier's latest aircraft. Today Valder had to work so I got to make this update to my site and hang out with his kids Laura and Lucas and his wife Paula. We went for a walk on a nature trail, played in the park, and then went to the mall to get ice cream. I think I exerted more energy today playing with the kids than I exert on a normal biking day! :) We had a good time. I also got to go out for lunch and catch up with one of my Goodrich colleagues, Benoit, who looks after Goodrich sales in Montreal.
Last night we went out to an Italian restaurant where we met up with some of our other Brazilian friends who have also moved up from Brazil to work with Bombardier. I got to brush off some of the dust that's accumulated on my Portuguese and later got to catch up with my buddy Troy who I studied with at Carleton University.
The ride yesterday was fairly relaxed. I started from Montebello on the north side of the Ottawa river where I'd spent the prior evening with André and Daniel, friends of my friends Lucy and Dave out of Minneapolis. André and Daniel were great hosts - they have a place that they are renovating up on a lake just outside of Montebello. It's an old conference centre that has a lot of wide open space inside. After a swim in the lake they cooked me a great pasta dinner and we shared a bunch of travelling stories. They have spent a lot of time travelling around Central America. If you need a place to crash for a night you can find them on Couch Surfing as DosGringos. In the morning they made me a great omlet breakfast and we shared some more travelling stories. I was on the road again at about 11am for the 110km ride to Montreal. The ride was really nice - Quebec - from what I've seen so far is much more bike friendly than Ontario. I've been riding on a bike trail or 5 foot wide paved shoulder since I crossed the river at Ottawa. For lunch I stopped at a farmers/flea market that seemed to be really busy. I bought a bratwurst with sauerkraut and then some cherries and strawberries for desert. As I was preparing to get back on my bike a man came up to me and, in French with a really thick Quebecois accent, asked where I was riding. Two of his friends came up to see as well. One of them was a cyclist and shared a little about his riding experiences. I told them what I was doing and they gave me $10 and wished me well for the rest of my trip. Riding on toward Montreal the wind shifted and I found myself pushing through a stiff headwind. All was well though because I only had 30km to go. What was more worrisome were the storm clouds that seemed to be closing in on me. A few rain drops fell, but that's all. There are a lot of really nice houses on the north part of l'île Bizard. Apparently Montreal is home to the most expensive house in Canada. I had a short ferry ride that cost me a whopping $1.50. It was a short ride across the river and it saved me about 20 km of riding. A few km later I was at Valder's house.
Let's go back to my departure from Dunnville. I was on the road by about 9 am and had been meaning to stop by my friend Rachel's place since I heard that she had cancer about a year ago. She lived just down the road from my parents and in the past year I had driven by a few times but never found the time or the guts to stop and say hi. She used to pick berries at our farm when we were growing up and I always had a crush on her - my dad got lots of blueberries picked by me when Rachel was working :). In a last minute show of bravery I asked her to the prom.... we kind of lost touch after that. So, I finally stopped by to say hi and found that she was not there. I spoke to her dad who told me that she was in the hospital and had maybe two months to live. She has a brain tumor and it has robbed her sight and a lot of her ability to speak. I didn't get to see her but told her dad to say hi for me. Lesson - take the time to visit your friends and family while you can.
Moving onward through Binbrook a car stopped in front of me and the guy in the car had seen the sign on the back of my bike and wanted to know what I was up to and where I was riding. I told him some of my story and he wanted to help - he gave me $20 and wished me well for the rest of my trip.
Before I left Dunnville my mom had contacted her Mary Kay director who lives along the Lakeshore in Burlington to see if I could stop by for lunch and deliver a small package of Mary Kay product. Their names were Janice and Mike. They let me take a swim to cool off in their pool an then fed me some really delicious tomato sandwiches. We took a picture of me in the pink Cadillac and Janice with my bike. Cool people.
Riding through toward Toronto I was contacted by three different newspapers. One of them called me while I was riding and I tried to stop to answer the phone but my fingers hadn't healed yet and I didn't have enough strength to stop my bike before going over a curb. I didn't fall but the impact pinched my tube and bent my rim - thus, flat tire number 4. Luckily I was able to straighten my rim and get back on the road. Unfortunately, I missed the photographer for one of the papers. Then met another photographer for the Mississauga paper. He took my picture as I rode toward him. I stopped and introduced myself and he said I could continue riding and he would drive ahead to snap some more pictures. It was funny because for the next 7 or 8 km I kept seeing this photographer shooting pictures of me from the bushes, hanging over the railing on the underpasses and driving by my while shooting out of his window. I laughed.
I finally reached Toronto and went to Mountain Equipment Coop to meet Tim, the Toronto Huntington's Chapter President, and another photographer from the Toronto Sun. They were waiting for me as I rolled up to the MEC entrance. We shot some pics and conversed a bit and then I went in to the store to get some new waterproof shoe covers, a new pump, and restock my supply of energy bars.
Then I rode up to Tim's place at Yonge and Sheppard and we went out to a local Irish Pub for dinner and to meet some more of the Huntington's Chapter members. They're a really great group.
The next morning we had another meeting with the press at the North York Hospital and Tim decided to ride with me to Whitby. In Whitby I stopped by my cousin Heather's house to see my aunt Caroline who has Huntington's and who I hadn't seen for over 10 years. My mom and dad and sister came up to have lunch with us and give me another send off for the last part of my trip. Heather made us an awesome lunch and I got to visit a little with my aunt. It was quite surprising to see how much my aunt has changed since I saw her last. Huntington's disease has really taken it's toll. It gave me renewed drive and purpose for my trip and my cause. During the visit another newspaper and a local TV station came out to do stories about my ride - check out my press and contacts page to see the newspaper and TV clips.
I was back on the road by about 2pm and had an additional 90km to cover on my way up to Peterborough. It was a really hot day and I had no idea that there were so many hills on the rural roads between Toronto and Peterborough. During the ride a thunderstorm rolled over me that lasted for about 30 minutes and I got to test my new waterproof shoe covers - my feet stayed dry!
When I arrived in Peterborough there was another reporter waiting for me and some of the Peterborough Huntington's Chapter members were also waiting for me and applauded as I rode into the park where we had arranged to meet. June had arranged the meeting and offered to let me stay at her appartment. I got cleaned up and we went out for dinner to meet some more of the chapter members. They really looked after me and were all quite inspired by my ride. They had collected some money for me to support some the expenses for my trip - what a wonderful group of people! Thank-you for looking after me June!
The next morning we had arranged to meet with a paper in Cobourg, about 50 km south of Peterborough. Pat, June's brother in law, had offered to give me a ride to Cobourg and back in order to meet the paper. We met the paper, I gave them my story and then they had me ride around the fountain a few times while they snapped some pictures. Pat then drove me back to Peterborough and dropped me off on the far side of the city past the major traffic areas. On the way through we stopped to take a picture of the world's tallest lock - 45 feet.
Now I was on toward Madoc - it was a short ride of 70 km. I had arranged to stay with the son of a friend of my dad's, Jeff, who I knew worked for the Ontario Provincial Police but in what capacity I didn't know. Turns out he was a police officer and he had been following my progress on line. He timed is so that he arrived in his police car just in time for me to be going down a hill in a 50km/hr zone while I was doing 62 km/hr. He played it well and made me think he was giving me a ticket - then he introduced himself - we had a good laugh. He said meet "me at the station down the road and we'll cruise around until the end of his shift. When I got to the station we took a picture and then went out to deal with a domestic dispute between two neighbors. After the shift we put my bike in his truck and drove to his house about 25km south of Madoc. I met his fiancé and her son and friend. We took a swim in their pool and then had barbecued chicken and rice. We had a good visit. In the morning Jeff gave me a ride back up to Madoc where I made my way to Ottawa.
During the 180 km toward Ottawa I made good time despite a nearly constant 20kph cross wind. Jeff had stocked me up with turkey sandwiches, bananas, and an apple, so with my stockpile of Cliff bars I didn't need to stop to buy anything. I stopped a couple times to eat and was also stopped a couple times by motorists who wanted to help by giving me money. One was a fellow cyclist who was curious and eager to help with a donation of $20 and the other just drove up beside me with $5 in their hand and promptly drove on. I arrived at my sister's house in Kanata just before 6pm and had stopped at the store to get her a card because she had to put her dog, Tundra, down that day. I played with my niece, Riley, for a while and Shari ordered pizza for us. That evening I helped my brother in law install one of his garage doors. The next morning I played with Riley some more and visited with my sister. It was a good visit. Then I was off to the other side of Ottawa, Orleans, to see my friends Wayne and Sheri and their kids Liam and Taylor. On the way through Ottawa I stopped to take some pictures along the river and in front of the Parliament buildings.
At Wayne's we had a good time playing with the kids. Wayne and Sheri also fed me well. Sunday was a break day. I uploaded a few pictures and we went to the store to run some errands. Then we went to MEC to get new tires for my bike. When we came back, our other friends John & Heidi, Kin, and Don had come over and we made dinner and had a good visit. Oh, and the Ottawa Citizen came out to take a picture for the newspaper.
Looking at my map for the next day and the fact that my destination of Montebello was only 57 km from Wayne's house I decided to ride back in to Ottawa. It worked out well for me to meet with Sebastian, one of the other cyclists I had met riding across the prairies. We met at Second Cup on Dalhousie and Rideau St. We caught up on the details of our respective travel adventures and then rode together until Masson-Angers on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. We had lunch at a little Chinese restaurant and then Sebastian caught the ferry across the river for his ride back to Ottawa. I continued on towards Montebello. At Montebello there is a Fairmont hotel which looked interesting so I rode in for a quick tour before heading out to the other side of town to meet André and Daniel.
Now we're doing some laundry and waiting for Valder to come home for dinner. Tomorrow I will be heading off toward Quebec City. I should make it to Trois Riviers tomorrow. It's funny, I've been speaking Portuguese all day and my fingers keep wanting to type Portuguese words...
Até logo amigos!
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