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Welcome to Nova Scotia

August 24th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 64: Northumberland Cove to Antigonish (86.5km)

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Welcome to Nova Scotia! Well, yes, it is quiet Scottish isn’t it? Because its raining again. And there is a sign post for New Glasgow.

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It had started to rain as the ferry from PEI as we approached the misty coast. Just after the ferry port, I stopped for a quick cup of tea hoping the rain would abate. It didn’t, it just rained harder. It poured. A man walking outside with a cardboard tray of coffee saw me and commented cheerfully “at least my bike fits on the back of this!” Nodding at his SUV. Oh, because that’s a helpful and encouraging comment. I did not respond.

Monty and I splashed off down the main highway. Monty’s tyres made a slick hiss as they wove through the pooling rain. We approached an intersection. And there it was: HALIFAX.

The first sign of the end. I could get to Halifax in 2 days, just turn West and pedal. i laughed to myself as i cycled past the turn to Halifax. I want to prolong the fun. I am headed East.

All day I was in a ridiculously cheerful mood. My joy was unrelentingly upbeat despite the pouring rain. I only have 9 days left of cycling but I am determined to enjoy them.

I could barely see anything in the grey fog of rain. Cars zoomed past. The rain seeped through my jacket. My socks squelched.

Eventually the rain abated although it made precious little difference given that my socks were saturated and the road was still covered. Each passing truck sprayed the pooled rainwater sideways into me and Monty. But the lifted clouds had improved the visibility. I could now see the next hill approaching, the neighbouring mounds piled with trees. The verge was decorated with white flowers and tangled grasses. There wasn’t a lot else to see. No towns, no roadside stops. Just hills. Blimey, lots of hills.

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I saw a sign welcoming me to Antigonish county. It was in English. But the second line underneath was written in a second language… Gaelic.

Given how drenched through I was I decided to treat myself to a motel. The motel owner, a former police officer, was very friendly and equalled inquisitive as he interviewed me about my trip. He couldn’t quite believe I biked here from Victoria, BC. (Neither can I, to be honest, it is such a long way). We chatted for a while before I turned to go to my room.

“Oh, and if you see a load of police cars here later,” he added, “don’t worry.”

He’d had a woman here before demand to leave when the squadron of police cars had ferried round in the darkening night. Suspecting the police to be cracking down on the drug den located in the motel she was indignant that she wasn’t going to stay at a place of such lowly repute.

“They just come over here for coffee,” the owner smile. “They just want to hang out but if someone commits a crime and they are in McDonalds then all the locals will complain that they didn’t stop the crime because they were drinking coffee in McDonalds. So they come here.”

While my socks hung over the shower rail, I ended the day lying on my huge, comfy bed eating take away pizza. It was worth the $3 extra to have it delivered. I will sleep well. Tomorrow I head to Cape Breton.

Cumberland to Northumberland

August 24th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 63: Cumberland Cove to Northumberland Cove (105km)

It may be amusing for English folk to know that today I cycled from Cumberland to Northumberland via Cornwall.

I woke up early enough to see the sunrise. The days are getting so much shorter now that orange slice of sun was only sliding through the far line of trees while I brewed my morning coffee. I set off at 8am along quiet roads. The early morning light tinted the agricultural landscape as if I were looking at the golden fields and rows of green potatoes through a glass jar of runny honey. The air was soft and hazy. It was also unexpectedly hilly.

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My legs are strong now, I can tell, as I tapped out another climb. Cresting over a hill would afford me views of the island, disappearing in bands of fading blue on the horizon in front. Wooden houses stood on farm fields and cows munched languidly in the fields. The soil here is as red as the coast. Farm trucks spray out a film of this rusty dust as they bump along the tracks back to the barn.

When I reached the town of Cornwall I knew it wasn’t much farther to Charlottetown. I had a number of jobs to do in Charlottetown as I had got into my head that this provincial capital would be the last busting metropolis I would meet until Halifax. First I had to swing by a bike to shop to get Monty a new tyre. Although they had the right tyre in stock (a Schwalbe Marathon Plus) they also gained the prize for being the first bike shop in Canada to charge me for labour. For putting my tyre on? Pah! I would have done it myself. I thought they were just being friendly. Oh well, job done and Monty is now happy.

Today I spent a ridiculous amount of money on protein bars. For those that think that cycling is “free” compared to the old motorcar please note: I spend more on protein bars per week cycling across Canada than I used to spend on gas (translation: petrol) per week at home. I now have enough protein bars that I can munch two a day for the rest of my trip. I nipped to the grocery store to stock up on crackers, avocado and Kraft dinner. My panniers now weighs a ton.

Jobs done, I headed to downtown Charlottetown. There were lots of tourists bimbling around the waterfront. I guess I am a tourist too as I sat in the shade by the wharf eating lobster roll and another icecream. I met a very bearded man with small round spectacles propped on the end of his nose and a yellow cycling jersey pulled snuggly over his round belly. He was from Montreal and was visiting his holiday home on Ile de la Madeleine. Everyone who has mentioned this island has enthuse with how beautiful it is. Floating north in the gulf of the St Lawrence it is closer to PEI than its home province, Quebec. It’s so far out the way that I cannot cycled there this time but it does give me an excuse to come back and explore more another time.

By the wharf stood Founders Hall. I felt a bit silly only nipping into the Founders Hall information centre to use the washroom and fill up my water bottles. Here is history! Here in 1864 delegates met to discuss confederation and Canada as we know it was born. But the muddy path of history sometimes leads from majestic moment of founding a nation to the mundane moment of nipping to refill. Hey ho. Best get cycling…

It was hilly this afternoon. I was not expecting such big hills. Up, down, and up again in 28 degree heat all afternoon was hard work and had me reaching for the emergency Skittles. I am beginning to worry a tad about the Cabot trail. I have been warned of “3 mountains” which are 15%. And over a cup of tea, friends of Aaron and Shelley told me that the Cabot trail was the hardest cycling in Canada. I believe them because these two cycled across Canada in 2008. That was how they met… and they are now married.

Oh but I have not cycled across anything that steep since Devon. And Devon is fiendish! And in Devon I was not hauling along a ton of protein bars. Wish me luck…

Just before I reached my campground I saw a liquor store so nipped in to get a local brew. David, another trans-Canada cyclist who is a few days ahead of me, had tweeted me to recommend this spot. And it is gorgeous. There is a red sandy shore dotted with slimey apple green rocks. A couple play in the rolling waves. A lone gull is flapping its way home. A boat’s horn sounds in the distance. You look out to the horizon. First you see a lighthouse blinking from the rocks and then a faint smudge of land.

I pitched my tent by the sea front and pondered what to do next: drink the beer or go for a swim in the sea? Tough decision.

The breakers crashed into my knee caps, splashing the cool, salty water up my sweaty, suncream sticky body. The sea was refreshing. I thought of childhood holidays in Cornwall. I had a body board and I used to paddle out into the salty waves of the Atlantic on it and ride back in under a hot blue sky. This water here is part of Northumberland Strait and looks over to the mainland and Nova Scotia. It is almost the Atlantic. It is almost far enough.

Tomorrow I will take the ferry over to my last and final province. The pull of the sea is great. Soon enough I will be by the sea again but this time, if the world could only be squashed flat, then it would be England I could see on the far shore. And Rock, Padstow and the sandy beaches of the original Cornwall. Home is soon to be in sight.

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To PEI (with lots of food)

August 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 62: Sainte Marie de Kent to Cumberland Cove (137.5km)

I was packed off in the morning from Aaron and Shelley’s with a full belly, a lunchbox full of the blueberries that I picked yesterday, and other provisions for the journey – including a small bagful of homegrown beans! I added significantly to the beans’ food mile by carrying them with me for 137.5km before they pimped up my noodle dinner. The noodles, ridiculously, I’ve been carrying for 4,000km.

I had an easy and enjoyable start to the day cycling along the river. I pedalled past sloping farmland, wooden houses decorated with Acadian flags, old worn looking pick up in the driveway and the occasional bored teenager on a bike.

After less than an hour on the road I couldn’t resists nipping into Tim Hortons. On the one hand, for the entire trip I have been promising myself that one day I would buy a whole box of donuts. On the other hand, staying with Aaron and Shelley reminded me how homegrown vegetables are unparalleled in their tastiness. Oh dear. I ended up buying a whole box of Timbits (translation: donut holes). The box of 20 Timbits did not, I’m afraid to say, last til lunch.

Timbits

Timbits

After 50km I stopped in Shediac where the remaining Timbits were devoured along with juicy, handfuls of blueberries bleeding purple juice over my fingers. I am glad the washroom has a mirror as I had blueberry juice all round my face.

After lunch I pedalled again, and continued to pedal, and kept on pedalling. I did that thing that if someone else does is really annoying: “Oh, just a few more km.” Then, “oh just a few more” and “let’s just reach the top of this hill” etc. I managed to churn out 108k, before I stopped for lunch at a pretty spot overlooking the Northumberland Strait, the stretch of land that separated Prince Edwards Island (known to all as PEI) and mainland Canada.

When the smudge of indigo on the horizon sharpened into view my legs found the energy to push faster. It’s confederation bridge! The road to a new land! The crossing to my penultimate province!

Monty and I had to catch a shuttle bus as it is illegal to walk or cycle across the 13km bridge. Blimey, I was glad for there was only a small barrier protecting the two lanes of traffic from the fall into the drink. The snaking bridge curved over the blue waters.

The first thing you notice about PEI is the rusty red rock that borders the island. “It goes right the way round,” the driver said. “Some sort of sandstone I think.”

Shelley had tipped me off that PEI is famous for its icecream. “It’s tourist prices,” the driver had huffed when I asked for directions. But thankfully the BIDIB (beer, icecream, delicious item budget – $400 that I saved by not going to Newfoundland) afforded me a double scoop of cowberry and salted caramel in a sprinkle coated waffle come. Nom nom nom.

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The last icecream-fuelled kilometres to the campground were the best of the day. The cornfields shimmered in the lowering late summer sun. I turned my head to catch vanishing views of the bridge standing like a blue snake on stilts over the water. The cornfields were bending over in the wind. The windy sky was a spotless blue save for a few contrails. A flock of starlings swirled over the fields.

My campground overlooks Northumberland strait. The sun has set behind the line of spruce trees. The surf nibbles at the shore. The strong wind buffets my tent. I am sitting under the flap of my tent when I notice the moon rising. It is pink. The large disc appears on the eastern horizon like a second sun that has been wrapped in a rich salmon coloured silk. It is moments like this, in awe of the quiet majesty of nature, that make all the cycling – and all of life – worthwhile.

Foraging for mushrooms

August 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Day 61: Miramichi to Sainte Marie de Kent (90km)

As a general rule of thumb, in Canada the cycling days have been glorious and the rest days have been spent wishing I was on the bike. My ride to Sainte Marie de Kent and subsequent rest day broke that rule, in the nicest way possible.

The day’s cycling was fine but largely uneventful. There had been no threat of rain so I’d slept with the tent flaps open and thus had a bone dry condensation free tent to pack up in the morning. Monty and I set off along the main highway. The highway isn’t actually very exciting. Is just a strip of grey Tarmac that bounces up and over the hills and through the forest. Every now and again I would pass through a small village decked out in Acadian flags. Some villages had painted the trunks of their electricity pylons in the Acadian colours. They really are quite patriotic.

All around I could smell the piney, green fragrance of the forest. Soon enough I arrived in the town of Richibucto where the fragrance of the forest was interrupted by the strong scent of the sea. An aggressive line up of gulls watched over me while I ate my lunch by the small harbour. After a short snooze, ended by an extra loud screech from a gull, it was time to get pedalling again.

My lodgings for the night came into view down a long, bumpy track cutting between a riot of wild bushes. I was essentially in the middle of glorious nowhere. At the end of the track, a large trailer stood in front of an old white house. Aaron, Shelley and their young son were out at a farming conference when I arrived but I was greeted by a very cheery note and muffins.

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I wandered around the back of the house to where a line of washing was hanging up. There was a very large veg patch, stuffed with tangled towers of green beans, green tomatoes, neat lines of onions bursting through the soil, and a lively proliferation of leaves and squashes exploding out the patch. I went over to say hello to the chickens and the three goats (named Hans, Goat String and Tweedledum).

When Aaron and Shelley returned home they offered me the sofa, the tent or the mosquito net to sleep in. The night looked to be bright and clear so I opted for the mosquito net.

As it fell dark I set about gathering kindling for the fire. A bright full moon cast bean-pole shaped shadows across the freshly mown grass. A chorus of insects buzzed in the background as the pop of the fire flung sparks into the sky. I chucked some grass on the fire to create some smoke to deter the bugs. It gave off a nice smell too. Aaron and Shelley came out the house and sat by the fire. We toasted some marshmallows. It grew late, though no darker thanks to the moon. When Aaron and Shelley retired to bed I snuck into my sleeping bag and fell asleep with the brilliant moon arching south west across the sky. The birds had stopped singing, the chickens had long since gone to roost, the goats bleated for a while but soon quietened down. Only the faint chorus of insects, their buzzing amplified by the silence, remained.

I was woken up when the cockerel called. The sun hadn’t yet risen but the eastern sky was a palette of artist’s colours. Wandering around, capturing the morning light on my camera I woke up the goats who jumped up on the fencing bleating. I worried they might escape again.

My rest day was perfectly restful. In the morning we went blueberry picking and in the afternoon we went on a successful forage for chanterelles. After that I had a lazy nap under the mosquito net until it was time for dinner and therefore time to munch the chanterelles. In the evening I again fell asleep under the gaze of the moon. The only difference this evening was that the evening soundscape missed the bleating from the goats. Hans, Goat String and Tweedledum had, just before dinner, been picked up by the butcher. They will return in freezer bags.

I couldn’t have wished for a better rest day and am very grateful to my kind hosts for having me stay.

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The Hobbit

August 18th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 60: Beresford to Miramichi (103km)

Today has been notable for its uneventfulness. I guess out of 60 days of cycling then at least one would be boring. Let’s keep it brief.

Top 5 notable events of the day:

1. Saw herd of wooden cut-out cows standing in someone’s front lawn
2. Cycled into headwind. Swore at wind.
3. Had roadside nap
4. Applied hydrocortisone cream to itchy sting / bite (?) on my derrière
5. Excited to find just ripe bananas for sale in gas station

That’s it.

But for entertainment for you, dear blog reader, I will now include a recent email from my Dad:

“For some reason I was thinking of your blog as I went to sleep last night, and thought that when your get your tyre (tire) sorted out in Charlottetown you could call it “The Two Tyres”. Then I thought “Why not make it a trilogy?”:
The day you were doing your washing by hand along with a number of other campers – The Fellowship of the Wring
Getting your bell back after you thought you’d lost it – The Return of the Ping.
Enjoy. Love, D”

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Cycling through Acadia

August 18th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 59: Campbellton to Beresford (110km)

Isn’t it lovely to wake up in a bed?

I had the hostel dorm to myself and so had enjoyed an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Bed linen. A comfy mattress. Silence. No bugs. I fell asleep under the red glow of the emergency exit sign and woke only as the morning light crept through the gaps in the window blinds.

The hostel occupied an old lighthouse building. The outside of the lighthouse, neatly painted in red and white, looks just the part as it sits overlooking the widening Salmon River. The light on the lighthouse, I learnt, had only been turned off for the last time a few weeks ago. The light is owned by the federal government and they had switched it off as it the lighthouse was now redundant due to another light situated on the nearby wharf.

It was tempting to stay another day but I have a plane to catch and over a thousand kilometres still to cycle. So I pressed on. Goodbye lovely lighthouse.

Yesterday I had crossed a time zone but I pretended I was still in the old time zone to allow myself an extra hour in bed. On the road, the sun had already begun to heat up the day. The misty clouds that were resting over the houses on the far shore early in the morning had now vanished.

It was a beautiful day. I cycled along a quiet road bordering the coast. I could still see the far reaches of Quebec fading in the distance as the river gave way to the sea. A single sailing boat stood in the calm waters. A sign pointed to the crabs and scallops for sale. The houses were decorated with bright triangles of red, white and blue bunting. The Acadian flag swung out to the east, erected by the wind. I only missed Acadian Day by a day but clearly nobody had got round to taking down the decorations yet.

The Acadians are the descendants of the French colonists who live in the Maritimes. Along the Acadian shore of New Brunswick you are as likely to hear French spoken as English and most people seem to be bilingual. I am intrigued by the confusing accent they have here. Last night I was playing with my iPad in the hostel while a couple of folks chatted away in strong, almost incomprehensible accents. I decided to covertly record them speaking and felt very sneaky… Until I realised they were taking about me!

Mid morning I stopped for a gigantic maple walnut ice cream and sat overlooking the water. It’s the coast from here to the end, I thought. From here to the Atlantic. I could get to Halifax in less than a week but I am going to finish with a flourish.

Today passed without grand incident or hilarious mishap. It really been just a very pleasant day’s ride along the coast of New Brunswick.

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Frazzled nerves

August 17th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 58: Causapscal to Cambellton (81km)

Uh-oh. That doesn’t look good. I was doing my morning check on Monty. Brakes fines, rims fine, tyre beading bulging out of rim. Uh-oh.

The bulge!

The bulge!

I had treated myself to double coffee this morning. The large dose of caffeine coursing through my veins fuelled my anxiety as I Googled my options. I’ve had a tyre explode on me before. It had looked like this, I had nonchalantly ignored it and carried on cycling to work, until one day – BANG!

How far would this bulge survive? I was hoping 80km. I cycled as fast and carefully as possible. Long sections of construction did not help my nerves as Monty bounced on the dust and rubble. I tried to enjoy the scenic views, pushing to the back of my mind the constant worry that my front tyre was going to EXPLODE ANY SECOND.

The scenery was very beautiful as the 132 followed alongside the Matapedia River. The river is renowned for its salmon fishing. Men in beige waded in the shallow, rocky water. The sun came out, illuminating the edges of the angular hills. Forest stretched in all directions. The road was quiet. It reminded me of being in BC.

And then…

ARGGGG!!

A black bear is running in the road right in front of me. I screech on the brakes as the bears jumps past. The bear!? The bear?! I swivel round to look, but the bear has already disappeared into the overgrowth.

My heart rate had rocketed. I had chucked out my bear spray yesterday because I thought – thought! – I am no longer in bear country. My nerves, worn by the worry of an exploding tyre, were now frazzled.

Soon enough I reached the bridge that would lead me to a new province: New Brunswick. I was closing in on the bike shop and (fingers crossed) the tyre had not yet exploded. I was counting down the distance to Campbellton not in kilometres, not in jelly beans consumed but in the number of hours it would take me to walk from here to Campbellton if my tyre exploded. 5 hours, 4 hours… I felt happier once I realised that Monty and I could walk to town before nightfall.

The river separating Quebec from New Brunswick

The river separating Quebec from New Brunswick

Thankfully we reached town without any loud bangs. I wheeled into bike shop #1. Alas no suitable tyre. I wheeled into bike shop #2. They had a tyre that was the right size. The mechanic grinned at me in a camp yet gormless way (an odd combo, I know).

“It’s a good tyre,” he said, emitting an aura of cluelessness.

It costs $20. That is about £12. Call me a bike snob but I do not trust a tyre that costs less than the socks I am wearing (yes, I do happen to be wearing very nice socks). It costs less than the pizza I ate in Rimouski.

This man had apparently never seen a touring bike. My concern piqued when he asked “did [Roberts, Monty’s frame builder] create that handlebar?”

The tyre is awful. Bits of different length rubber poke out the edge. “It’s a good tyre,” the mechanic enthused again.

It is a shit* tyre, my instinct said. Lo and behold, the online review later confirmed that it is indeed a shit tyre. On the plus it need only last until I get to Charlottetown where a better bike shop can sell me a better tyre.

If all else fails I shall buy a pizza and strap that on the rim.

*pardon my use of language but there are few adjectives suitable for this tyre.

Notes:
Why is the tyre about to explode?
Most tyres don’t explode if they are pumped up properly and aren’t really old and worn out. My Schwalbe marathon plus tyre appeared to have a manufacturing defect that has made it bulge. The tyre has however travelled 10,000km with a touring load so I would still recommend these tyres.

Leaving the St Lawrence

August 17th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 57: Rimouski to Causapscal (123km)

I am glad that I had a rest day yesterday even though I spent most of the day wallowing in self pity. I looked out the window yesterday morning to see a monochrome world of hammering rain and battering (easterly) wind.

I only have 3 rest days between Montreal and Halifax on account of having booked my flight for the wrong day (oops). It seemed too early to take a day off. My legs felt fine. Outside: grey, cold rain and a gusting headwind. Inside: a Bed. White, fresh linen in a room all to myself. Grey rain versus bed. Bed won.

My rest days are usually awful. I am far happier on a bike. The day in Rimouski was a classic “rest day” filled with anxiety, fretting and homesickness. Why am I here? Why can’t I go home already?

On the advice of my mother I went out for dinner. The pizza, beer and chocolate cake cheered me up no end. Dining by oneself in a nice restaurant can sometimes feel odd. I am past caring. They had wifi at the restaurant so I entertained myself by googling extreme sports you’ve never heard of, and looking up info on how to train for an ironman distance triathlon. I ordered the pizza size the waitress told me was for “deux personnes” but I insisted and even managed to fit some chocolate cake in afterwards. A suitable diet for someone Googling triathlons, I’m sure.

Pizza and beer antidote to pathetic moping

Pizza and beer antidote to pathetic moping

This morning I was glad to leave Rimouski. The bike path along the river was beautiful as it hugged the side of the St Lawrence. I passed a number of poissonneries and the smell of the sea drifted off the waves. A huddle of gulls lay on the rusty rock their beaks nestled away from the wind, hiding under their own features. A line of coloured lounge chairs lined the bank, overlooking the grey sand. I saw an interpretation board which suggested curlew inhabit these shores but alas I did not see one. Shortly after cycling past a beautiful lighthouse I was met by a friendly cyclist, Andre. He provided good company and a running commentary for 10km.

Pointe-au-pere lighthouse

Pointe-au-pere lighthouse

A lemon-painted wooden house stood looking over the flueve. Is that land on the other side of the river or just an indigo smudge of cloud? Following the St Lawrence has provided some of the most beautiful cycling in Canada. I hope to return here again soon.

After 30km I said goodbye to the St Lawrence as I turned a sharp right inland towards Nouveau Brunswick. Straight away the road began to climb up, up and up. The landscape changed colour as I climbed into the forested interior. The wind pushed from behind me so I was spinning along fast. By lunch I had done nearly 80km. I was so sunny, the wind was behind me so I kept going past my intended campground.

I polished off the day with a beer and devoured a pack of crisps while watching a movie (a movie!!) inside my tent. Sunset came early so I was asleep by 9pm. So rock n roll.

The 5 People You Meet On The Road

August 14th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

“You need to take it easy,” said the Physio, shaking her head. The hills just kept on coming.

The Athlete throws a look: wild, energetic. She’s already forgotten the last hill and wants to climb out the saddle and race. She wants to get there faster today. She wants to push the average speed up again.

“Don’t fret,” says the Philosopher, “it is not a race, it is a journey of discovery.”

The Logistician rolls her eyes. That twaddle again? It’s now gone 4pm and we still have 46km to go. The Logistician chats to the Athlete. The Physio interrupts to explain that if she pushes it too much then it might cause the knee to flare up again and cause problems tomorrow. The Logistician nods sagely.

“I feel fine,” the Athlete asserts, leaning forward on the bike, ready to push off again.

The Mechanic lies on her back enjoying the sun. It’s the usual story. The Athlete wants to push on. The Physio is concerned that the Athlete should rest her knee. The Philosopher is lost in a daze of self-reflection and life-affirming moments of realisation. The Logistician has just reached for the iPad again to check the directions to the campground. The Mechanic chuckles to herself, digging into the pannier for another protein bar. Twice a day she’ll check the bike over, hmming over the need to find a track pump. But today, while the rest of the team bicker about what to do next, she can relax.

When the sun is burning, when the hills don’t stop, when the pain gets worse, when the gears start skipping, when the plan falls apart. You meet 5 people on the road.

The Mechanic
The Physio
The Athlete
The Philosopher
The Logistician

They bicker, they fight, but they get your through.

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“It’s not far”

August 14th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Day 56: Rivière du Loup to Rimouski

“It’s not far then.”

I glared. Not far for you, buddy.

This man, short, portly built with inset eyes and an annoying accent, had asked me how far it was to the Gaspe. How far? It’s a large peninsula, you idiot. That’s like asking far is it to the south west. I had initially taken him to be American because his manner so smoothly combined ignorance with self importance. I’m sorry to say he was actually from Ontario.

Once I had established that he meant how far is it from here (small picnic bench on rainy roadside 25km north east of Rivière du Loup), all the way around the peninsula along the coastal road and back to here, I told him it was “several hundred kilometres.”

“Where are we?” he asked. He had spread my provincial map across the picnic table and was now leaning over, studying it with purpose.

“We are here,” I said, pointing at the map, “and Rimouski – here – is 80km. So around the Gaspe will be several hundred kilometres.”

“Oh, it’s not far,” he said again.

“It’s several hundred kilometres,” I replied tersely, neglecting to tell him that it would take me the best part of a WEEK of cycling in a freezing headwind to get around.

It had just started raining again so I folded close my panniers while the man continued to pour over my map. He started writing notes on a post it. So far I had cycled 25km. The north easterly wind had picked up force, muffling my ears and struggling my slow progress. It was cold. Too cold. I was wearing my arm warmers and gilet. My buff was wrapped around my head but I was still cold. i had just cycled past a nature reserve famous for its shorebirds. I had been looking forward to stopping and taking out my monocular to enjoy the wildlife but today, punching into a bitter wind, I kept on glumly cycling. If I stopped I would only get too cold. And in this weather the birds are probably hiding.

“Oh, it’s not far,” he declared for the THIRD TIME.

My eyes narrowed into malevolent slits. You said that again and I will swipe you. The man wandered off.

I cycled. It was cold. It was raining. And there was a headwind. I cycled to Rimouski, that 80km-from-here place. It’s not far.

My foul weather mood was punctuated by only two moments of amusement on the road:

1. Celebrating the 6,000km mark on the cold, windy roadside by chomping on 6 squares of Kendal Mintcake that, yes, I have carried in my pannier for the last 6,000km.
2. Discovering what happens to a mini packet of Haribo when it is squished into a hot pannier bag for over 2 months. The single Haribo slug still tastes the delightful same.

I am now in a private hostel room drinking Earl Grey tea (thank you Clayton and Catherine) and a box of chocolate chip cookies.

Congealed Haribo slug

Congealed Haribo slug