August 9 - The end of the biking part!
Sayabec ->Campbellton (20 km)
Today was the final day of riding along the tour! Another easy day of riding. Luckily the rain petered out by 11am or so, so I was able to get into Campbellton to get my VIA ticket changed from Mataedia to Campbellton before they clsed at 2 (The vi astation has the weirdest hours- look itup!).
Spending the night and tomorrow in Campbellton, and then catching a VIA to Montreal tomorrow night! It's been a crazy couple months, but 100% worth it. Thanks for following along! I dunno if I'm gonna update this blog after this, maybe I'll put one more update of the montreal weekend after I get back. Daily updating ended up being too much of a chore for these past week and a bit, so we'll see if I feel like putting more daily updates.
Sayabec -> Matapédia (100 km)
The elevation profile today was pretty amazing - basically a big downhill from Causpascal to Sayabec. Nice easy crusing. As I was getting close to Sayabec, a guy pulls up and offers to show me around the area and to show me some waterfalls. Ihappily oblige, and I get to see a pretty cool waterfall! He offered to let me stay at his place, but he lived a bit far out of the way and I was getting some weird vibes from the dude, so politely declined. He showed me a great free camping site along my way, "Camping sauvages" - Free camping in Quebec. Should have known about this earlier! Good to let me hunker down through the coming rainstorm in the morning.
It wasla lso super nice to ride through the mountains today with none of the work of riding through mountanous terrain. Great to just coast along and see mountains falnking my views. Really a great way to end this tour.
Really uneventful day today. Rained all day so I just read a book and enjoyed using the internet. Got some reduced price steak at the local grocer so had a fantastic steak pasta dish for dinner. Truly the high life! Supposed to be good weather tomorrow.
Cap-Chat -> Sayabec (98 km)
Got my first puncture flat of the trip! Got to break out my patch kit and fix the inner tube instead of using a whole new one. Forgot how annoying it is to remove Schwalbe marathon tires from a rim and put them back on - the bead is so strong!
While I was grabbing breakfast at a depannieur, I met a touring cyclist going the same way as me (wow so rare!). We ended up riding together for a decent ways, but she has some problems with her knees so I ended up going way faster than her and losing her ventually. Oh well. Got rained on a decent bit heading into Matane, but I was able to find a little gazebo to huddle in while the rest of the storm passed. Still got my shoes soaked, so had to wear sandals for the rest of the day.
I enjoyed the coastal riding for the first 60km, as the last 40km was heading inland into the mountains where Sayabec is. There were some tough slogs, and the last section was all dirt/gravel roads, with some sections that had rocks only a fat bike could ride over. Walked those sections, as Ihad already had enough of that nonsense riding the NBtrail a while ago on my tour. Also some ridiculous gradient hills - 17% at one point! Luckily going down instead of up, so it was fun, not torture.
Spending a rest day in Sayabec tomorrow, and then heading to Campbellton the day after! Almost done!
Mont Louis -> Cap-Chat (105 km)
Got to go to a farmers market in the morning! Oh so many baked goods - I was in carb heaven. They had these fantastic pastry rolls filled with pesto, bacon and cheese. Also had these awesome cheap sugary greasy dough sticks. Dunno what the name of them are but they were super delicious. They had fantastic coffee there too.
Today I aimed to just go as far as I could in the day to make the day after more bearable (180km in 2 days). As it was starting to get dark, I just started asking people if I could camp in their yards in the best french I could muster, as I was not seeing any empty fields, cemetaries, or churches (which I usually see a lot of). The second person I asked let me stay in their yard so all was well!
Forillon national park -> Mont Louis (90km of cycling)
Whoooo boy the north shore is hills hills hills! I knew this when I looked up the cycling routes of the whole north vs south options, but it's different when you're on a bike doing it! It's like there's no concept of flat road out there.
Passed by a free camping thing about two hours into my ride - Had I have known it was there I would have pressed on to get there, but instead I camped behind an old church last night. Still free, but not nearly as cool.
It was way too hilly to get to Mont Louis in one evening, and I was really running short on time at this point to make my train, so I opted to hitchhike for the remaining 75ish km,.Got picked up pretty quickly by a guy who had biked the peninsula before, so he was sympathetic of the difficulty of the hills. Missed out on some mint photography options, but nice to actually get to my end destination.
Once I got to Mont Louis, I hung out with Max, my host for the night, and his friends. We had some vegetarian butter chicken (tofu in place of chicken) and then went to see some live folk music in the cultural center thing. Really great music, there was an accordian player that was using this really weird instrument. I asked him what it was, and I can't remember what it was called anymore but it was basically a sideways accordian with just a keyboard, with a bellow that you pump with one hand.
Max is building a yert!(Or yurt? idk) Very cool project. Slept in a tent outside, as his cat had surgery and needs a calm environment. Cool nonetheless and he already had a tent set up, so no need to put up and take down my own! A step up from wild camping in a cemetary too.
Chandler QC -> Gaspé QC (85km of cycling)
Got up bright and early to catch the 6AM bus to Gaspé - It's the only time that it runs in the day, so it was now or never Nice to get to nap and wake up at my end destination.
Hiked and wandered around Forillon national park. Some pretty nice beaches to enjoy a drink and food at along the way through.
On my way to Land's End, a highly recommended hike, I got caught in some pretty heavy pouring rain. I looked over at the water and saw this fog approaching, and then realized "oh crap that's not fog, that's rain!" So dense that you couldn't see through it. Luckily there was a historic house open right there that I could quickly hop inside to evade the rain. The house was pretty cool! It was a memorial sort of thing of the people that had to be evicted from Forillon peninsula to put the park in. Sad that people had to be moved out in the sake of progress' name, but it's an important move from an ecological perspective.
Got to Land's End before sunset, it's spectacular! Got to hear seals singing, it was a very eerie sound. Of course they stopped singing when I went to take a video of it, but that's how things work.
New Richmond QC -> Chandler QX (110 km)
Initially, I had my hopes high to get all the way to Percé today, however the winds were not very strong and the elevation was not entirely in my favour, so I only made it as far as Chandler. Nadia's couchsurfing host in Gaspé offered a place for me to sleep in Gaspé but if 160km wasn't happening today, 210km certainly was not in the realm of possibilities.
Yesterday, Bruno had mentioned a transit system called regim that runs all along the Gaspesian peninsula. I checked the transit options and there was an option that took me from Chandler to Gaspé! While it meant that I missed out on the Percé rock, it did mean that I could actually enjoy the park in Gaspé for much longer rather than suffering to get to Percé and the ride from Percé to Gaspé, which is also a suffer fest from what I've heard.
As I was heading to Chandler, a touring cyclist going the other way tipped me off about a shortcut to get to Chanlder and that there were many places to set up a tent for a night along some paths. Sure enough, when I got to Chandler, there were many good spots! I spotted one, and mentally marked it down as a good place to stay, as it was far too early in the afternoon to set up a tent and not get caught. I milled around in McDonalds waiting for some rain to pass and for the sun to set, and when I got back to the place I had staked out, another touring cyclist was there! They were heading from Montreal around the peninsula, but the other way. Nice to have a bit of company for the evening, and the chances of camping in the exact same spot as another cyclist is pretty slim!
Another rest day
Got up bright and early to hike in the Chic Choc mountains! We hiked up this one mountain that Bruno said was connected to multiple other mountains (Ithink you could climb to five different peaks all along the same hike) but we headed back after the first one since we didn't have enough water packed to safely go to the next peak and back. After hiking, we went swimming in a beautiful lake at the foot of at least five different mountains. The water was surprisingly quite warm too, as just about every other body of water along this trip minus some of the beaches in PEI have been frostier than an ice cream sundae.
Initially, I had planned on riding towards Percé, however it was 3pm by the time we all got back to Bruno's.. Nadia (the girl from the UK) and I made some red chicken curry for dinner, it turned out great! Bruno is on a keto diet so we made cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, and it was sooo good. Super buttery and creamy, I'd eat it just on its own!
Today was a well deserved rest day. Bruno showed me around New Richmond and showed me his cottage that he owns right by the water - Offered to let me use his kayak and hammock for the day, which I took him up on. The kayak was a bit short for me, but it was still nice to paddle around the water, even if I fell in the water a few times trying to get in and out of the boat. Water was nice and warm so no big deal. Bruno also runs couch surfing out of his place as well as warmshowers, and a girl from England is travelling and hitchhiking Eastern Canada, and staying in New Richmond too. We all went down to see some free live music by the water, and discussed some plans for hiking tomorrow morning in the Gaspesie "national" park (Quebec calls all its provincial parks national parks - its not actually a Parks Canada national park. Very odd province). I asked if I could join in tomorrow and Bruno said "Sure why not!". Should be a good day tomorrow.
Belledune NB -> New Richmond QC (150 km)
Today was the longest distance biked on the tour yet!i thought my 140km day was going to be my longest.
Yesterday the winds weren't too bad for biking west, but today they were ferocious! All the flags were flapping strong in the wind. But the plus side of strong headwinds was that I was going to soon cross into Quebec and have those strong winds pushing me along instead of holding me back. It's funny because Belledune is basically right across the water from New Richmond - it would be about a 35 km long boat ride, but instead its a 150km bike ride along the coast to get there. Oh well.
For some unknown reason, eastern Quebec is not in the same time zone as New Brunswick, so as soon as I crossed the bridge in Campbellton into Quebec, I immediately gained an hour while heading north. Very odd. Made today a 25 hour long day. Also, the signs here in Quebec are super entertaining. Lots of signs that say MORT in like, 30 foot high lettering warning about driving fatigue. Also, every single public park has a little drinking water symbol but when you get there, the water says its non potable which sucks.
Some people told me that the ice cream here in Quebec is fantastic- they're right! Quebon ice cream is so tasty. Had a blueberry milk shake along the way, quite good.
Was able to get into New Richmond just at sunset - Staying with a warmshowers host, Bruno, for a day or so. Cooked an amazing steak dinner and I got to stretch my legs and relax after a long day on the saddle.
Bathurst -> Belledune (50 km)
Lots of unplanned good things happened today! I knew it was going to be a good day when I passed by about 7 or 8 fully loaded bike tourists - I think that's just a good sign of a nice day ahead of me. Just outside of bathurst, I saw a few signs for a jazz festival - sure enough it was actually still running today! Got to catch two live acts outside, both vocalists and guitarists. Great music.
Heading onwards, Isaw this house that had some really werid architecture - it's for sale too! You'd have to be quite the character to own it I think. Very pointy and strange.
As I was about 50km out in the middle of nowhere, I see a huge storm cloud rolling in. I was hoping that it wouldnt rain on me, but my hopes and wishes weren't as strong as Mother Nature's intentions. I asked some folks with a camper trailer if I could just get some shelter while it blows over, and they invite me in to stay for the evening! Super lovely folk - James, two Shelleys, Don, and one of their daughters Megan, and their dog Riley, a chocolate lab. We had dinner together and then had a fire - they were impressed by my fire making abilities. Didn't even have to set my tent up either, they let me stay in their cottage! It's been a great day.
Long day ahead of me tomorrow though - weather is good though so as long as I get some tailwind during my ride I should be alright. Can't believe the tour is nearly done!
Rest day in Bathurst
Said goodbye to my touring friends this morning, they're headed off to Miramichi and Saint John's area. Safe travels!
Checked out the tiny farmers market in Bathurst - itun in this sort of music venue place so there's an organ, piano, tuba, and a few other interesting things like an old tape reel deck (I think thats what it was). While I was having breakfast and doing some interview prep, a guy with his girlfriend comes over and stats chatting. Super friendly guy, and Iend up spending the day chilling at his place. His name is George and his girlfriends' name is Nicole - Great fun couple. George is into all sorts of neat interesting little hobbies - he set up a relay system for his front door so that he can press a button on a keychain and it'll ulock the door and turn on lights and other cool stuff. He owns the apartment building he lives in, and it originally was a space for offices, but he's rebuilding it into an apartment building,. Got to help him throw a solid cast iron sink out the second story of the building. He also plays drums so we chatted about music and jazz fgor a while.
Overall a pretty great rest day! Always nice to meet people. Off to head towards Campbellton tomorrow.
Caraquet -> Bathurst (66 km)
Well, if you go east a ways on a peninsula, and you enjoyed som e wicked tailwinds, you've eventually got to go west and face the same winds taht pushed you. As such, today I had to get to Bathurst today, and the only option was to cface some winds. Luckily, Serge is a wionderful host and provided some tasty foods for breakfast, and the winds weren't too bad today, so all in all it was actually a quite nice ride heading west for 50 km. When I was heading out in the morning, Serge also headed out for a ride with a friend,. and they ended up going the same way as me and passed me.
As I was getting into Bathurst, there was a police car with its lights on, but no sirens - a bit confused, ai then saw the reason - they were protecting a massive group fride! Felt like going past Tour de France, and I assume it is some sort of charity tour ride thing. Lots of happy waves and honks going by.
my host for the night recommended that I come a day earliy (27th instead of 28th) since they were expecting some more cyclists so I could chat. Five other touring cyclists are staying in the yard tonight - all doing cross Canada! Two from ireland, one from BC and two from Austraila - the two from Ireland actually were living in BC for a few years, but they're moving back home and biking to St Johns NL and taking a flight to Ireland. Super cool. One dude went to UW for math 40 years ago which is also great. Having dinner with him and the two Australian flok tonight at a restaurant in town.
Spending tomorrow in Bathurst and staying camped at the same place. Been a while since I've had a proper rest day with an unloaded bike to loll around in town.
Miramichi -> Caraquet (113 km)
July 25- 2 months on the road!
Today was just wicked fast tailwinds since a storm was blowing in - Haven't averaged over 20km/hr over 113 km in a long time. Initially, since Iwas stealth camping and had to get up early, Iwanted to get some nice sunrise pictures with the cool bridge into Miramichi, but it was completely clouded over so no chance of that. Oh well. Got t a small town just as the rain started to pick up, so enjoyed lunch there insiide a cafe waiting for the storm to blow over. Spolilre alert - it didnt blow over, it just kept going. Luckily, it was nice and warm, so I was able to cycle in the rain to Caraquet no problem. It felt like Iwas just gliding along. Luckily, my warmshowers host for the night, Serge, let me stay inside for the night, so I got to stay nice and toasty and comfy. While we were waiting for dinner to bake (lasagna), he drove me around town showing me allt there is to see in Karaquet. (It's also super french in this area fo the peninsula, hardlya any English signage). Really superg guy. Tomorrow should be a nice doable distance.
Kougibouguac -> Miramichi (50 km)
Somehow, I maange to have my month markings as not exciting days. One month of the tour (June 25th) wasnt too exciting, and neither was today. Doing any route other than the boring highway added too much distance (roughly double) so I just opted to suck it up and take the highway. Nice wide shoulders though.
The bridge to get into Miramichi was super gross. Narrow sidewalk with no bike lane, and the winds were really strong (especially when trucks barrel by) so I just walked my bike on the sidewalk. The bridge itself is quite pretty though.
Started interview prep today with the Cracking the Coding Interview book, feels like doing CS assignments all over again, but on paper. Good memories.
The campsite in Miramichi was overpriced and basically am RV camp so I just stealth camped in a cemetary behind a church.
Hoping the next few days are more exciting!
Saint Louis de Kent -> Koujibouguac (11 km)
Kouchibouguac is awesome! Got there brightr and early, and camped in one of the back country areas, only $9. Got campa nd everything set up before 11am, so had the whole day to actually enjoy the national park.
The beach is really nice, along with the biking trails - you can get almost everywhere in the park without going on a road! Just the way it should be. While I was relaxing on the beach, I got chatting with someone from Montreal who offered to keep in touch and let me know where places rae that arent too expensive and whatnot. Super nice of them!
Hiked a bunch of trails and just in general relaxed and enjoyed the park. Probably did at least 40km of trail riding but whatever, it was nice!
Heading into Miramichi tomorrow, should be an alright ride.
Shediac Cape -> Saint Louis De Kent (100 km)
First long day in a while! I forgot to account for the fact that the Acadian coastal drive, while a much nicer way to ride north, is also much longer than what Google gives for suggested routes. There was also a small detour that I had to take due to a bridge being closed, but it wasn't a big detour.
During part of the ride, there was a dog out that wasn't on a leash and kept running over to me. It's tail was wagging so I wasn't concerned for my safety, but more concerned for the dog's safety, as the road has some fast traffic, so I pulled over and waited for the owner to get ahold of the pup before I continued on.
Got to my Warmshowers host's place, Denis, just after 7pm. Superb guy - had dinner and then afterwards, his girlfriend came back home and we had some beers around the fire. He also let me sleep in his camper trailer for the evening, so it saved me the troubles of setting up my tent for the evening.
Only a short distance from Kouchibouguac, so I'm going to head there tomorrow morning to get camp set up and then spend the day enjoying the national park doing hikes n stuff.
Moncton -> Shediac Cape (25 km)
The hostel had breakfast! Albeit a simple serve yourself sort of thing, it was really nice. Had waffles with peanut butter and jam, coffee, and yogurt.
Since it was a muggy hot day today, I milled around one of the parks in Moncton eating some of the excess pasta I had cooked the night before at the hostel. A dude came along on his bike and asked where I was coming from, and we started chatting about touring. Turns out he's done some touring in Ontario, and is from Kitchener! He's rode from Paris ON to Barrie ON before which is pretty sick. Had a good time chatting with him for the afternoon, and he's hoping to ride an outline of the American continents in the next few years. Also met this other cool dude who had a really nice European steel fixie bike - super light bike! Really beautiful ride.
After a few hours of chatting, I decided to head out to Shediac. Man is it ever hot out today! One hour of cycling rendered me soaked in sweat. Luckily a cool shower is an excellent remedy for that problem. Hung out with my hosts and their young kids for a little while having dinner together (They made sushi and I just had more of the pasta I made) and then I headed down to the downtown area of Shediac to check out the beach. On my way there there was some sort of live country music thing in a gazebo, so that was quite pleasant and enjoyable. Upright bass, mandolin, guitars, and a banjo. Shediac is also so French! Felt like I entered Quebec for a second.
Also got a picture in front of the giant lobster - they had overpriced lobster flavoured chips at one of the tourist stalls ($6 for a bag!). The beach was quite nice though, the water was actually warm so I walked around in the shallow water for a while. Also finally found a reasonably priced lobster roll place, so I got some lobster. Still adament on my verdict of lobster being just OK, but at least this time its at a reasonable price point of under $10. I'd still rank donair as being better than lobster rolls here out east for snack cuisine.
Got a longer day tomorrow of 80ish km, finally hitting the eastern shore of New Brunswick and heading north towards my final destination of Gaspe. It's been a hell of a trip!
??? -> Moncton (15km)
Had a super nice easy ride into Moncton, only 15km and Iwas near the downtown stretch. As Iwas wandering the downtown as I had several hours to kill before the hostel opened, I heard some traditional Indian music being played. Wandered over to where it was coming from and Moncton had a free cultural festival going on! Nice to loll around and enjoy some free tunes.
There was some signs for a bike shop offering free water and air, so I headed over there, as I needed anew chain for my bike, and my tires needed just a slight top-up of air. Got a new chain for $7, and the bike shop was this cool co-op thing where you can fix your own bike. Also, they have a thing where you can "buy" a bike by volunteering, so every hour gives you $10 or in store credit ro something like that. Cool concept.
Got over to C'mon Inn Hostel, and it's this really nice old Victorian home converted into a hostel, Common room, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry. Good spot. Wifi is decent too. Lots of cool people from all over the world are here today, some from Germany, some from the US one from Korea - she had some neat Korean snack food that she let me try! They were like cheetos but banana flavoured. I'm not sure if I'd want a whole bag of them. Interesting though.
Tomorrow's a short ride too - ~25ish km. Like I said before, I've got a lot of time left so I might as well enjoy the areas that are more interesting. Going to relax in Moncton for the morning and head out sometime late afternoon. Plus its a hot day tomorrow too so no point in leaving during the hottest hours.
Horton -> ?? (53km)
After a lot of debating this morning of if I should wait out the potential rainstorm in The Shire or if I should just ride on, I opted to ride on. It was such nice weather today, how could I not? I didn't expect it to get so muggy and hot though! Reeaching above 30 degrees with humidity, I thought I left Ontario! As I was nearing the Hopewell Rocks, it was getting just too hot, and there was no shade in sight apart from people's properties. I saw someone on one of the properties with a lot of shade, so I asked if I could just stay in the shade for a bit at the end of their driveway. They invited me up to their porch and let me stay for a little while on one of their chairs to rest up a bit, and gave me some cold water! They also had two super cute dogs on the porch that were happy to get some ear scratches from me. The owners of the house said they might be able to get me some accomodations in Moncton for the night but unfortunately it fell through.
Got to the Hopewell Rocks during low tide. While Iwas trying to find where the path to the ocean floor access was, I ran into four Waterloo students! The world is absolutely small. Very cool though, and two of them were even in Environment! Not doing what I do, but still cool nonetheless.
The rocks are neat as hell! I didn't stick around for when high tide was, since that's at around 7pm and I wanted to find a place to set up camp for the night before dark closer to Moncton. I ended up finding a church somewhere in rural New Brunswick that I could get my tent set up behind. Off to a hostel tomorrow! I have no clean clothes and haven't cleaned myself up in a little while, so it'll be much needed.
Alma -> Horton (24km)
Initially, today was going to be a rest day in Alma, but I ended up cycling a bit further on a recommendation from someone I met at a brewery.
Kicked off the day with some hot coffee at the Octopus Cafe, quaint little place. Enjoyed finshing reading my book that I picked up on the Cabot Trail, and held onto it to find someone to gift it to, since I had gotten it for free - pass it on! I wandered around the small area that Alma covers, and found a sign pointing to an antique shop. When I got there, it said it was open, but you had to call the front desk to get someone to come over. I didn't want to inconvenience them just so I could look at things and then most likely not buy anything. There was a cool rusted truck thing outside that I grabbed a pic of.
Later, I was at the Holy Whale Brewery and the waitress from the Octopus cafe came in. We got chatting and she suggested that Icheck out this place called The Shire, about 25km down the road - a free campsite. Seemed right up my alley. I took her suggestion and biked the 25km of windy backroads and came across it, and it was a lovely experience. There was this structure thing that was int he process of getting a roof on it, and swings all around it with a firepit in the middle. There were two people cooking dinner when I arrived, and we got chatting - turns out they're from Windsor Ontario and they're staying a few days at the shire. Also ran into another person I had met earlier in my travels at the shire. It's such a small world. The Shire is run on donations, so I threw a few bucks into the jar. Super awesome what the owner is doing here. There also is just a lot more community and interaction at a place like the Shire that you wouldn't get at a traditional paid campsite like in a national park. It's so nice. I love it out here.
Sussex -> Alma (75km)
The forecasts changed and the rain cleared up in the morning! It was originally not going to clear up intil mid afternoon, so I was just going to maybe stealth camp on the outskirts of Sussex and bike the next day, but I could fit a full biking day in now!
I made the discovery that the Hopewell Rocks is actually not in the Fundy Park, but another 50ish km past it! Definitely not going to stay in Fundy then, and just going to either hope that there's a hostel or place to stealth camp in Alma.
The ride through Fundy park was quite not scenic. Pretty much the same cenery that I had seen the whole way through. There was a neat little boat rental thing by a dam, and youcould walk alon gthe dam at the water which was nice. Took a little break there to enjoy a small amount of scenic view.
When I got into Alma, it was a sweet descent full of switchbacks, but the fog was intense off of the bay of fundy. Very very thick and low visibility. So much for any pictures of Fundy today. There also wasnt much in the way of campgrounds or reasonably priced motels/hostels, as I discovered sitting down for some dinner and using free wifi. As I was mostly through my meal, a family came into the restaurant (when I entered I was the only person in there) and we started chatting. They gave some suggestions of places to stealth camp along the 114 (road I'm continuing on to get to hopewell rocks) and then they they paid for my meal!super nice people. I also told them they should definitely check out Meat Cove since they're going around the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton. They're seeing fortress of louisburg, which I'm a little bit jealous of - but I'll see it another trip.
Found a nice litle abandoned lot just past Alma that Iwas able to set up camp in. There's no light pollution out here and you can see so many stars! It's amazing.
Taking a rest day in Alma tomorrow, giving my legs a break. Also going to maybe enjoy some of the lobster here.
Quispamsis -> Sussex (60km)
Originally, I was planning on riding to Fundy national park in one day, but decided that it was best to not do two >100 km rides back to back and let my legs get a little bit of a break, as well as just take the rest of the tour at a bit more of a laid back pace - I am running quite ahead of schedule anyways, so why rush it?
It was forecasted to rain all night and into the afternoon tomorrow, so I opted to stay in an actual campground instead of stealth camping it for the night. Stayed at a KOA and it was actually quite nice! The lady at the front desk was super kind and offered to let me have a bit more of a flexible departure time, since the only reason I wanted to stay a second night at the KOA was to avoid packing up in the rain.
While I was walking to downtown Sussex to kick back in a coffee shop for a little while and charge up my phone a bit more, I was trying to figure out how to navigate the hellscape that is the crosswalks in Sussex - It's awful city planning! Another older dude was also in the same predicament, so we chatted a bit. "You know what would solve this? A gun" he says. Yikes dude. Small reminder that while the maritimers are nice people, there still are a few less than nice people. Oh well. We parted ways quickly after that.
Fredericton -> Quispamsis (141km)
July 14 & 15
Today was... a bit longer than anticipated. Thought it was only 125-130km. Oh well, made decent time though.
The navigation was super easy though! Basically just turn right from their place and continue until it turns into another road, and then just continue on that... and so on and so forth. SO I THOUGHT. Just kidding. I got almost into St John without needing to check my map until I got to a bridge that said "No pedestrians or cyclists". Well shit. Turns out I was supposed to turn off about 8km ago, so time for a detour! Did end up finding my way though so all was well.
Along the way, saw some really nice scenery - Some really pretty rivers and lakes. Also saw a bunch of old school sailing ships too! Got a good picture of one, but as I kept riding, I saw a fleet of about 10 or so! Didnt feel like stopping to get another picture.
St John is nothing too special from what I saw as I rode through. Nothing that screamed "COME SEE ME" to me, so I just decided to keep going instead of stopping anywhere for any length of time. Saw some nice coastline as I was approaching St John along the bay of fundy though, which is always nice. Too far away though from the road to go over to the water and relax sadly. I'll get enough of that though in the coming days.
Got into my end destination, a warmshowers host, safe and sound well before dark. It's an indoor spot too! No lawn camping! Jill and Bob are lovely hosts that have toured Canada coast to coast and some riding in the areas I'll be headed to later in the tour. Gave some very helpful tips on what roads to ride on and what roads to avoid.
Aiming for Fundy national park tomorrow and just going to camp there for two days waiting out the rain storm on Wednesday. I've got plenty of time so might as well enjoy Fundy for a bit more time.
More resting in Freddy (0km)
Spent the whole weekend in Fredericton with Nick and Onie. Saturday, headed down to the farmers market to get some lunch and check out the various booths. Had some amazing maple beef jerkey and some really good blueberry juice. Mmmmm. All pretty darn cheap too.
After the market, we headed over to an old area of Fredericton where they converted barracks into art exhibit things. The artists woere working on their stuff in a little studio and had some of their works on display. One of the guys at a room was a photographer and noticed Nick's old WWI-era film camera around his neck and said "I've got one just like it!" and pulls out one in almost pristine condition! Really cool guy, fun to chat with for a while. Beautiful photographs. Nick also took a picture of me in front of the flood markers with the film camera - It turned out alright, but here was a decent amount of light leakage from the camera along with some chemical marks from his DIY film development at home.
Also checked out the schoolhouse museum downtown - a museum showing what the early days of school education was like in Fredericton. They had some original desks and they all had lots of graffiti - some things never change. Very neat to see how far our education system has come since the 1700's. Science classes used to be way cooler though.
After the museum, we checked out an electronics shop Nick frequents, full of old tech for relatively cheap. Didn't see anything there that caught my eye. Also checked out Odell park, lots of cool trees to relax on and read a book all day.
On Sunday, we all went out for breakfast in the morning at a nearby diner. Nice cozy place, had a breakfast skillet and it was pretty tasty. Checked out a flea market after, and then I decided to try tackling the hills of Fredericton for fun on my bike - because I just haven't gotten enough cycling in on this trip! Cape Breton training went a long way - Hills that I would have never wanted to bike up were quite doable. I wouldn't want to ride them with all my gear on my bike though. I also re-adjusted my aero bars and now they're in a super aggressive position, I love it. You just slice through the air now. While I was out and about, I also played around on the public piano in the downtown area, and also checked out the book store - really quaint little place just jam packed from floor to ceiling with books.
Spent the rest of the afternoon watching Chicken Watch - a great mini series on youtube from the Try Guys trying out different fried chicken places and trying to find the best fried chicken. This, of course, made us all crave fried chicken so Nick made fried chicken for dinner. Super delicious stuff, we were all so stuffed and there was still a heaping plate full of chicken. Packed some away for lunch on the road tomorrow!
It's been a fun weekend in Freddy and was super nice to spend time with friends I hadn't seen in almost a year, but it's time to get back on the road. Should be good weather for a few days at least. Heading into St John area tomorrow, got a place to stay just outside of St John through Warmshowers.
Resting and sightseeing in Freddy (0km)
Enjoying a few days in and around Fredericton! Checked out downtown - It won Canada's Most Beautiful Downtown award and it sure is nice. We were going to check out the legislature building but it was going to be 20 minutes until the next tour - too short to go out and see anything before the next tour, and too long to wait in the building so we opted to maybe check it out another day. Popped by Picaroon's Brewtique to pick up some growlers - tasty brews!
Also headed to Gagetown to check out the military museums there. Along the way, Nick stopped by his workplace to check on a few things before the weekend. Holy cow they have so much data! Just boxes upon boxes of 8TB drives filled with elevation data. Also got to peek into the room that has a 1PB Storinator in it. Pretty sick.
Being on a military base is a bit odd. Lots of armoured vehicles and people in full combat camo. The museums were pretty cool, always neat to see military stuff on display and learn about the history behind it. Definitely had enough of wandering through a military base after a while though. Also got to see the military equivalent of a Walmart too.
Learned how to cook mussels - it's actually super simple, and fresh seafood in supermarkets out here is pretty reasonably priced. Going to see the farmers market tomorrow, and do some more stuff around the area.
Malden NB -> ?? NB (25km riding, Fredericton NB by hitchhiking and a ride from Nick)
All good things come to an end, including things like wheels. My front wheel threw in the towel about 25ish km into the ride today - it fully would not spin freely anymore. "What's this resistance I'm getting, is it the brakes, I'm not pulli- ooooh" as I see the bolts holding the axle turning. Being in the middle of literally nowhere on the side of the highway, I had no option but to stick my thumb out and hope that someone would take me in for at least part of the way. People out here are super kind, and before long, a guy with a mini-van pulls over and offers me a ride part of the way. I happily oblige, and we chat for a ways and I get about 30km closer to Moncton, and get dropped off again. olding out my thumb for another few minutes, and a RV camper van pulls up. They drive me all the way right to the bike shop I was aiming for! Really kind of them, they even gave me some apples and a cold Sprite from their fridge on board.
Sadly my wheel was beyond serviceable- they said that they could repair it but it would most likely fail again in another few hundred kilometers, which simply is not an option for me on tour. But on the plus side, I now have a functioning bike again and it's good for getting on the road again. Nick, a close friend of me from undergrad who now lives in Fredericton, was able to get off work a litte bit early and came over to Moncton to give me a ride into Freddy today. Nice to see him again after nearly a year of chatting online. I'll be spending the weekend in Fredericton with him and his girlfriend Onie - should be a great weekend. Spent the evening eating pizza, drinking beer/wine and watching youtube videos. Also got to try out an Oculus flight simulator. Also, the Irving big stops are magical. So many food options, I've never seen such large gas "convenience" stores. It's like a hybrid convenience store supermarket, its incredible. Apparently Irving owns a huge chunk of New Brunswick. Fun facts. Should be a great next few days.
Cavendish PE -> Malden NB (50km)
Kim and Betty gave me a ride into Cavendish today! Saved me a good 30k of riding today. Got to see the Anne of Green Gables national historic site, and hung around the north shore beach of Prince Edward Island national park for a while. It's breathtaking out there, sort of felt like some of Bill Waterson's comic strips of Spaceman Spliff's adventures.
I was initially considering going to Charlottetown but I didn't realize how out of the way it is to get from Cavendish to Charlottetown to the Confederation Bridge. It was either make the day really rushed to get anywhere before sundown and just say that I was in Charlottetown, or spend more time enjoying the north shore and have a leisurely ride to the bridge and ride at a relaxed pace into New Brunswick. I opted for just not going to Charlottetown.
I was riding so many trails that I didn't notice that anything was up with my wheel until I got onto the road across the bridge. My front wheel's cones were starting to come loose and make some less than favourable noises. I was in the middle of nowhere New Brunswick at this point so I had no real option but to just set up camp behind a church since it was starting to get late, and just press onwards the following day to get into Moncton and get to a bike shop. Church camping in rural areas is pretty great - Mowed lawn, and so long as it isn't saturday night, there's little to no risk of getting caught. The road noise was a bit loud as I was so close to the trans canada, but otherwise I was able to sleep fine.
Kingsboro PE -> Brackley Beach PE (105 km)
Another long day on the saddle! Today I took the Millenial Trail all the way which was a nice change from the highway riding yesterday. Not coastline scenic like I've been used to, but it was really pretty having a tree canopy and no cars. Plus, with a scorcher like today, it was great to have less sun than on the road.
Had Greco's today! Their donair and garlic fingers are magical. Mmmmmmm. Great maritime junk food. Filling and full of calories, just what I need. Got into the place I was offered at the ferry a little after dark, but it wasn't fully ark - just dusk. Kim was asleep by the time I got in but his wife Betty was still up. Got a hot shower and my laundry underway, and she even offered me a whole schmorgaspord of food! Hot dogs, beans, and fresh fruit, along with a bed inside for me to sleep on for the night. She's done a fair share of biking around, and hithhiked the cabot trail. Shes also learning piano, and has the exact same (well, a bit newer model) of clavinova tghat I have at home in london. Nice to play that for a bit.
Tomorrow's a long day again. Hoping to get some more sightseeing in than today. Happy trails, and sorry about a lack of text updates!
High Sands PE-> Kingsboro PE (111 km)
Tailwinds tailwinds tailwinds! The winds were FINALLY on my side all day (except fora little stretch where I headed west from a coastal route). I clocked 25-35km/hr on flat ground, something I can only pull off sometimes on an unloaded bike. Felt so good!
On my way north at the start of the day, I saw a cute litle cafe and figured I'd stop in for at least a coffee to get some energy at the start of a long day. When I went to lean my bike up against the place, I saw four touring bikes! Went in and started chatting with the folks that were touring - they're from the states and they're doing an 8 day tour aoround the island as a family! Super neat. Was nice chatting with them over some coffee. They said they were headed the same way as me, but I ended up heading out before them.
Checked out a little beach along the way and had some soup there - the sand really IS just as red as the photos. It's beautiful. After that beach, I continued along the coastal route and found a provincial park with a nice beach, and I run into the touring family again! The water at the beach was actually quite warm - I was considering putting my swim trunks on, but decided against it in the interests of time. Stuck my feet in the water though and milled around for a little while soaking in the scenery.
While I was stopped for lunch in a town with some civilization and a grocery store, I see the touring family pass by me yet again! I waved to them but they weren't looking over in the grocery store parking lot. After finishing up eating food, I rode on to see if I could catch up with them but they were also stopped for lunch somewhere further up the road, and they weren't outside. Oh well.
Reached my end destination of Kingsboro safe and sound. It's the couple from Inverness that offered their yard for me to stay in this night - they live in a yurt out in an isolated spot along the south shore, and they own a waterfront property! They had a camper trailer kind of thing that they let me sleep in for the night, nice to not have to set my tent up! We had BBQ pork chops together for dinner. After I got changed and my stuff sorted out, they let me use one of their canoes to paddle around the water! It was nice to be out in a boat for the first time in a while, but after I had gotten into the water, I started to have doubts of where they originally said I should park the canoe, so I just paddled back to their propety and put it where I started. We had a campfire on the beach under the stars and roasted marshmallows together. 10/10 worth cycling the metric century.
Merigomish NS -> High Sands PE (80 km)
Made it across to PEI today via the ferry! Started off the day by heading down to the old schoolhouse in Merigomish and having some brunch there. Also grabbed a cinnamon roll too - pecan caramel, its as if I died and went to heaven. So good.
Checked out Pictour along the way - quaint little town. Didn't spend too much time there, and it seems like Ijust missed the lobsterfestival. Oh well. I was debating taking the ferry that day or camping out somewhere in NS and taking the ferry the day after, but I said "ah to hell with it" and got on the 6pm ferry. While I was waiting around in the little cafetirea area looking at maps of PEI, I chatted with an older couple and they offered to let me stay in their yard for a night! They're up by where the Anne of Green Gables house thing is, so I'll be there in two days. The ferry was quite pleasant - free wifi (albeit really slow) and a half-decent menu for food to order. Much larger menu than the CAT actually. Picked up a cheesecake slice and juice for a few bucks on the ferry, pretty tasty.
Once I got onto the island, I just started biking east and scouting out a place to throw my tent up. Found a little wooded area that is outo fthe way of most traffic, got my bike over the drainage ditch and set up camp for the night! The bugs were pretty bad but bug bites heal eventually. Heading north to Souris tomorrow! Gonna be a bit of a haul but its manageable.. Also, the island is SUPER not hilly. Quite the shift from Nova Scotia.
Antigonish -> Merigomish (65 km)
Hit up the farmers market this morning! Google Maps said that it was only going to be a 15 minute journey, but it ended up being about an hour because the main street was occupied by a Highland Games parade. Very cool, lots of bagpipes and fiddle music. There was a 13 week old puppy that didn't like the bagpipes but he was sooooo cute. Lil fluffer.
Managed to get some baked goods for the morning and lunch at the market, and then said my farewells to Matthieu at the bike shop. Originally, my plan was to do the Cape George route (aka the "mini cabot trail" but I accidentally got on the wrong road and did the exact same route as two weeks ago in reverse. Oh well, guess it's fate that I won't do that road. Perhaps another year.
As I was riding, a dude in his mini van pulled up and started chatting with me. He's also a touring cyclist! Did a reasonable sized trip from Quebec to Nova Scotia. Nice chatting with him for a little while.
The headwinds sucked all day, but at least it was cool. Much nicer than the heat wave the last few days. Got into Merigomish safe and sound before 6pm, and stayed with the same folks that I stayed with last time. Their dog was around this time, his name is Jim and he's such a little sweetie. Barks a lot but pretty friendly. 10/10 would pat again.
Heading out to Pictou area tomorrow. Might take the ferry to PEI tomorrow afternoon, might take it the next day after in the morning. Either way, Nova Scotia is almost finished! Pretty wild and surreal that I"ve biked so far. Many more kilometers to go!
Second rest day! (Antigonish)
Hung around the Antigonish bike shop today! Was originally going to meet up with someone today but unfortunately plans fell through, so I didn't get up to much. The heat wave finally got dissipated today with some much needed rain - around 3PM the skies got super dark and the rain just DUMPED down. It felt like nightfall came early when the clouds rolled over. Apparently in Port Hawksebury, you could see the rain coming in and making the harbour turn white from the rain.
This weekend was the beginning of the Highland games, so I watched the first event - a 5 mile road race. Matthieu was the lead cyclist in it (it's a running race) and was going ahead of the lead guy. I think he was an olympic athlete or something if I recall correctly, but he was running at about 20km/hr. Pretty impressive. Also, this highlands game festival is the second oldest next to the one in Scotland which is pretty neat. Might see some more festivities before I head out to Merigomish tomorrow.
Had a few beers later at Matt's and watched some highlight reels of Tour de France. That's starting now (or soon) so Iwonder who's going to win. I guess I'll check in every few days to see how things are.
Rest day in Port Hawksebury
Had a nice relaxing day in Port Hawksebury today. Did some groceries and mostly just let my legs rest after the previous day. Matthieu was running the shop today and he offered to give me a lift into Antigonish after the shop closed up for the day! This would allow me to avoid cycling the trans-canaada highway, so I readily agreed to that deal. Getting to hang out around a bike shop is always good fun. Don't have to bike tomorrow either! Yay for double rest days.
The job interview went swimmingly well! It was a nice 20ish minute chat over the phone, getting more details about the internal workings of the company, and a chance for me to expand on a few things in my resume. They must have been pretty happy with my application because I got an in person interview the Thursday after I get back from the trip! Guess it's going to be a lot of studying for the position on the road and brushing up on cloud service stuff when I get back. Undergrad taught me how to cram effectively so it'll be a busy few days after I get back fuelled by coffee. C'est la vie.
North River Bridge -> Port Hawksebury (130 km)
July 2 & July 3
Wowee what a long day. It was essentially two touring days put into one.
There's a joke in Cape Breton that you have to check the weather every hour, and it's entirely true. You also can't rely on forecasts for any area other than wherever you're in. The forecast for the last place I checked, only about 40k north of where I was staying, said that it was going to be clear all night. However, I was woken up at 2AM to super heavy rain. Luckily my battery bank that was charging didn't get wet at all, but the clothes I had drying for the ride today definitely weren't being worn. Into a bag you go I guess. The rain cleared up by 3AM though so I was able to just pack a very wet tent into my tent bag and carry on into the early hours of the morning.
My planning went great though! I was able to make it into Whycocomagh before it got super hot, and just spent the afternoon reading my book and relaxing on a beach. Port Hawksebury was only another 50ish km away, so getting there by nightfall is definitely doable. Ido wish that it wasn't so stinking hot, otherwise I would have been able to check out the Alexander Graham Bell national site along the way, along with a brewery too. Getting to Port Hawksebury to get all my devices charged and have a day of rest and preparation for the interview tomorrow was a bit more important to me though. Besides, I can pick up Big Spruce beer at most bars in Nova Scotia anyways - Beer is plentiful, and hours when it's tolerable cycling conditions are not.
Arrived in Port Hawksebury safe and sound just as the sun was setting. It was a gorgeous rich reddish purple sunset - Would have gotten a picture but the foreground when I saw it was not too scenic. I'm sure there will be many more beautiful sunsets during my time out east.
Meat Cove -> Ingonish -> North River Bridge NS (128 km)
June 30&July 1
July 2nd was an utterly uninestering day. Apart from chatting with some fine folks at the Chowder Hut in Meat Cove and having some tasty fish and chips there, it was nothing exciting. Can't have every day be a winner.
July 3rd was definitely a day worth blogging about however. Going to bed on July 2nd I was super gung ho to just marathon the remaining 170k from Ingonish to Port Hawksebury. The elevation profile would be doable, but what I wasn't expecting was for actual July weather to hit. Holy COW it was unbearably hot. I had to take so many breaks and only made it about 65 km. Got to have a nice hot breakfast at least that day at a cute little cafe called the Bean Barn - lots of animal puns and whatnot on the walls. It was about the only morale booster of the day, with having to go up Mount Smokey in blisteringly hot sun, and then construction on the other side. I had to stop for soooo many cold treates along the way just to keep motivated. There was a funky little hat place that I checked out with all kinds of hats, ranging from a Mad Hatter type hat to little train conductor caps. Nifty artisan place. The car out front that the owner has was also pretty psychedelic. It's earned its title of funky! Hung out in a brook by the hat place and had some lunch with fast-moving water cooling off my feet.
Stopped in at a convenience/general store not too far down the road from the hat place and saw a bunch of loaded touring bikes out front! A group of dudes were touring the trail going counter-clockwise, and then a few mninutes later, a couple more were going counter-clockwise too and were stopping in. Found out that it's a popular place because it's the first real place to stock up after Baddeck, a 70km ride from there. The two that pulled up after I had arrived were from Boston, and were using their two week vacation time to tour the trail and bike around Montreal area too. Very cool.
Once I had loaded up on cold drinks and snacks at the general store, I pressed onwards, determined to at least get somewhat close to Baddeck. At this point, it's 4:30. Originally I wanted to check out Big Spruce brewing company today, but their hours are 10AM-7PM every day,so there was no way I was making it there today. (It's about 20k past Baddeck). The Englishvale ferry is also out, so the detour adds an extra 10k to the trip. While I was on the detour, an older gentlemen on a touring bike heading towards me waved me down. He was just starting his tour of the Cabot trail and was looking for recommendations of where to camp, where the bad hills and construction are, etc. etc. I happily helped him out, and as we were looking at the map, a lady with some dogs comes by from a property. I ask her if she knows anyone nearby that would let us set up camp, and she lets us camp in her yard! The hospitality out east is wonderful, I'm amazed by it all the time.
Once we get camp set up, we get chatting. His name is Donald and he's from New Zealand! He's done a fair few tours and exploring, so we chat through the evening and have tea together. He's got a little camp stove, so he split some of his lentils and I split some of my canned chili and we have a nice meal and evening.
I'm determined to make it to Port Hawksebury tomorrow. Gotta get my devices charged and relax a bit so that I can be all ready for my interview on Thursday in the late afternoon. Going to leave camp a bit before sunrise so I can make it to Whycocomagh for around noon just as it gets super hot, and then hang out there for a few hours waiting out the heat, and then it's just a 50km ride from there to the bike shop in Port Hawksebury! Long 120k distance but manageable when split up into a 70k and 50k distance.
Cheticamp -> Pleasant Bay -> Meat Cove (120km)
Had no cell coverage in Pleasant Bay and most of the highlands, and very little wifi access so left the posting to Canada day. Been a busy past few days!
I sure am glad I chose to stay in Cheticamp instaed of fit both mountains in one day though. I would have not survived that. Biking up mountains is something that I never quite prepare for mentally. The hill just keeps going, and going, and going , and going... It's kind of ridiculous. French mountain was nice though, there were lots of lookouts (whichmost of them were useless as the fog was very dense at the bottom of the mountains. Gave a cool effect as you got higher, as it looked like you were above the clouds. On a clear blue sky day it especially felt like that. Kind of surreal. At the top of French Mountain,. there's the skyline trail. I'd highly recommend it to anyone going that way, super easy hiking trail and the view at the end is sick. I could see little people up at the other mountain on the other side of the valley and immediately knew that was the skyline trail. Sure enough, when I got to the lookout, I could see the cabot trail that I was riding on and where I could see the little people.
After the skyline trail, Igot a sweet descent into Pleasant Nay. There was a hostel near the beginning of the town, so I decided to see what they had to offer. While Iwas dismounting from my bike, I ran into a familiar face! Back at Keji, I stopped in at a diner for some breakfast and was chatting with a german dude who des some travelling. Ran into him here at the hostel! He recognized me on the bike and pulled over to say hi. Super cool dude! After he drove away, I checked on the prices - Only $4 more than camping in a campground so that was fairly tempting, but I figured I should try my luck with finding a stealth camp site. Sure enough, I lucked out! Super nice coastal view right behind the graveyard. There was a "Highlands Hideaway" sign on a piece of plywood, so I assume it was at one point (or still is?) Alittle hideaway campsite for some friends or something. Or a secret society and illuminati. Who knows. When I was taking down camp the next day, I saw a whale! Got to see the dorsal fin and everything. Way cool.
On my way to the North Mountain, I ran into another familiar face - Jonathan, whom I stayed a night with of of Warmshowers before seeing Peggys Cove! Nice to chat with him and his wife for a little while hefore getting on the road and facing the mountain ahead of me. French mountain was pretty tough yesterday, but that was a cakewalk compared to North Mountain. 13% gradient the whole way up for 3km. Absolutely brutal. Any time I needed to take a break, which was loooots of times, I had to hold down the brake with one hand while Istopped, otherwise my bike would go careening down the mountain. Not good. Some nice scenic clookouts on the way back though, and riding down a 13% grade is always awesome. Was able to find a place along the way to get some coffee in me, as I was in desperate need of a bit of carffeine to stay awake and motivated to get to my end destination. Got some very helpful tips for a scenic route that bypassess both a mountain and construction for tomorrow.
I made it safe and sound into Meat Cove! The scenery here is super duper awesome, I can't stress it enough. The beach contrasted with the cliffs behind it is just unreal. Never seen anything like it. Having wifi, hot showers, and campfires is a huge plus. Apparently this campground has been in the family for six generations now! I don't blame them, it's prime real estate for a campsite. While I was setting up camp, someone came over and started chatting - his name is Caleb and him and his wife have toured the West coast and he did a cross Canada tour! Very cool. Ended up spending an evening chatting with them around the campfire and drinking beer. Good way to have a Canada day. Even let me store my food bags in their car! There were some fireworks here at the campstie but nothing too spectacular.
Looking forward to riding the remaining bit of the cabot trail tomorrow! Might stop at Cape Smokey area, might continue further. We'll see how I feel.
Margaree Harbour -> Chéticamp (30 km)
Woke up this mornng and headed over to the little inn just down the road for some hot breakfast. No sense i nusing rations when you're so close to something that will serve you a hot meal. The forecast had changed from rain beginning in the afternoon to rain beginning at ~10AM, with a bunch of rain starting at 8 (the heavty rain was at 10). Thankfully it was 15 degrees out so the rain was quite pleasant. Saw 7 or so touring cyclists coming the other way - the headwind for them must have been absolutely brutal, I feel bad for them. Hope they stay dry! I waited out the rain at the Robins and a little cafe called the frog pond, and enjoyed some free wifi and hot drinks. Feels a bit odd to update my blog so early in the day, but I can;'t foresee anything else interesting happening today,. Just going to do my laundry later when there's another break in the rain, and then set up camp on Cheticamp Island once the rain has completely passed by. No idea how far I'm going to get tomorrow. I've got a large number of places to camp between here and Meat Cove - I'd ideally like to get to Meat Cove, but that might be a bit ambitious. The weather issupposed to be super nice the next few days, so I shouldn't have any forced breaks put upon me for the next few days and actually clock in some decent distances.
Port Hood -> Margaree Harbour (76 km)
Another nice day of riding along the various trails along the coastline! Met some folks touring around in their car/RV from the Netherlands that happily took my picture for me. When Igot to Inverness, I picked up some maps of the Cabot Trail / Cape Breton and cot some rates for the campsites so I'd know what I'm going to pay approximately when Igot to my end destinations. One of the people there in the visitors center asked if I was heading to PEIat all, which Isaid yes - and she offered to let me camp in her field! Pretty nice of her. While checking the weather along the way to Cheticamp, I noticed that a rainstorm was coming in. I was pretty close to Margaree Harbour, and I was really digging the coast line that Iwas riding beside. Inoticed how the grassy-ish area on one part sort of went behind some trees, so I hopped over the guard rail and went to scout it out. Turns out there was a perfect little nook in the trees! Hauled my bike around the guard rail and set up camp right by the dramatic cliff edge. Close enough to appreciate it, but far emough away to not be in any danger whatsoever. It would also be silly t ocamp right by the cliff edge because then cars could see me, taking away the stealth part of stealth camping. Zero cell coverage from my tent, and very sparse connection when standing next to my tent, so Iwasn't able to push the update until the 29th. I expect that to be a common theme throughout the Highlands and the Cabot Trail.
Port Hawksebury -> Port Hood (60km)
Yesterday was pretty much fully uneventful, as the headwinds were too terrible to go north. Just waited out another day in Port Hawksebury.
Today waw decently eventful though. As I was packing up my stuff, I hear a loud BANG and see a puff of smoke right by my bike! "What the heck, is someone shooting at me?" I wonder. Turns out it's just my rear inner tube giving up very violently. Thankfully the tire is fine, so it was a quick and inexpensive replacement. Also helps that I was camped literally right behind a bike shop, so I could just buy a new tube there instead of having to use my reserve tubes.
Biked along the Ceilidh/Celtic Shores trail almost the whole way! Gravel path, but hard packed gravel so my tires handled just fine for the most part. Lovely being away from the road and in the shade all day. Stopped by the celtic music interpretive center for some lunch and to listen to live Cape Breton music (Two fiddles and a piano), Had my first lobster meal of the trip, and I've gotta say - Lobster is just kind of "ok". Certainly not worth the price you have to pay. I'm just going to stick with my fish and chips and seafood chowder for my maritime seafood experience. It's not like it's terrible, but it's not something I'm going to seek out anymore on this trip.
While I was snacking along the trail (There's some nice benches along the celtic trail), my bike that was leaned up against a tree decided it didnt want to lean there anymore and fell over. Usually this is fine and happens from time to time, but this time, it fell right on my rearview miror and broke the plastic mount. Was able to find someone in Port Hood that was willing to let me use some of their Gorilla glue to repair it. It's all good now, but Gorilla glue takes a few hours to set, and it was 4pm when I got into Port Hawksebury. While I would have loved to continue on and get to a further destination, it just wasnt feasable, so I went down to this RV campground to spend the night. They've got wifi across the whole park, a pool, and showers! It's pretty nice, and cheaper than my original place I was going to camp. I also got to stay in a cabin tonight (a very basic cabin) so that'll speed up the packing process tomorrow. Hoping to get all the way to Cheticamp tomorrow, it should be doable.
Waitin out the rain
Wow it rained a lot today. Spent the day just lolling around the few indoor things I could do here in Port Hawksebury. Planned out my route for Cape Breton in the local library, and found out that the ferry to get to Englishtown and then head on to Sydney and Louisbourg is closed until August. The detour is a solid 40ish km which is too long for me, so Isuppose that will have to be a different trip in the future. Oh well. My phone also started acting up again, this time with the charging port not working properly. Spent the evening switching over to my sister's phone. But, on the plus side, I GOT AN INTERVIEW! The hard work of making an application on my phone paid off. Recruiter is super chill about it too, so I've let them know when I should be out of Cape Breton with better cell reception. I've been warned of the spotty reception in the Highlands so I definitely didn't want to have a phone interview scheduled where I have no cell service.
Merigomish ->Antigonish (63 km)
Met up with my sister in Antigonish today! Matthieu gave me a ride from his place to downtown which was super nice of him.
Had lunch and wandered around the downtown area of Antigonish with my sister and her boyfriend in the early afternoon. Checked out a neat little antique shop called Granny's Antiques - lots of fun little trinkets in there. Didn't end up buying anything though, although the street signs were super tempting.
Since the rain had died down and wasn't going to start again until the early morning the next day, I chose to get on the road and head to Port Hawksebury after seeing my sister. Unfortunately, the only direct route is to take the trans canada highway, otherwise you're adding around 20km of extra bends taking the 4 or other backroads. There was a decent shoulder so I was never in danger of the other vehicles hitting me or anything. Just really loud and super not scenic at most times. On the plus side though, the downhills were SICK - got to go so fast on some nice long slow descents.
Managed to arrive in Port Hawksebury only a little bit after dark. I'm staying in behind Matthieu's Port Hawksebury bike shop so there's a good overhang to keep my tent dry through the impending rain storm that is happening tomorrow and the next day. On the plus side, it seems like Port Hawksebury has a decent number of indoor things to do for cheap so I'll be able to hunker down, stay dry and warm, and have some things to do.
Merigomish -> Antigonish (60km)
Fairly nice riding day today! Linda recommended a few things along my ride - a cheese shop and a distillery. The cheese shop was super cute - it was an honours system with no one manning it, Just a fridge full of good cheese and a little jar where you put money in. Got a thing of cheese curds (Nice fresh and squeaky!) and then was on my way again. Not too much further down the road, I got to the distillery - WOW I had no idea vodka could be so tasty! Had a little mixed drink of maple syrup vodka mixed with milk. I don"t know my mixed drinks very well but apparently it's similar to a "White Russian". Good stuff though. They also had pretty reasonably priced schnitzel too so I had a nice lunch. Most of the ride was along the ocean front which was super scenic.
Once I got into Antigonish, I met up with Matthieu, my Warmshowers host for the night. He owns the bike shop in town so we met there. Headed down to the pub for some food and beer, and then afterwards I helped a bit in the bike shop doing some small tasks. After that, we headed out on his tandem and biked around town which was super awesome. Stopped by a good pizza joint and Igot their "Super Donair" which is basically a humongous donair with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni added to it. So good! He also has a husky which is super adorable and just wants rubs and cuddles. He also wanted to share the couch with me, and when a husky wants to lay somewhere, it's very tough to get him to not lay there. Ended up sharing the couch with the pup.
Gonna wait out the rain in Antigonish for the morning and head to Port Hawkesbury later in the day. I'm meeting up with my sister sometime on the 24th, but not sure where yet.
Green Hill -> Merigomish (45km)
The best part about climbing a big hill to get to your end destination is that you get to go down the big hill at the start of the day! Munched on a bit of my food this morning and then enjoyed coasting down a hill with no pedalling to get to a little farmers market for an early lunch/late breakfast. Stopped off in New Glasgow and asked some of the locals for suggestions of things to see in the town, as I wasn't planning on being in Merigomish until after 5pm. They suggested that I look at the museum of industry just south of New Glasgow - I'm glad they recommended it! Really neat place - they have Canada's oldest steam engine (14th oldest in the world) that's still surviving along witha ton of other cool stuff. They also have a 130 year old engine that still works that is on display - they let it run for a bit on compressed air to demonstrate it's movement which wassuper neta.
Got to my warmshowers hosts at around 6pm and got my tent st up. Linda works in TV with This Hour Has 22 Minutes doing the hiring work and such, and her husband does sound engineering work. Really fun to chat with! They do a lot of baking work for local farmers markets so they were dead tired but the house smelled amazing. Chatted with her husband for a while about music productioun things which was fun as always.
Heading into antigonish tomorrow~!They suggested taking a scenic route along the coast, dubbed as the "mini cabot trail" so I'm looking forward to that! Should be a good day tomorrow
Truro -> Green Hill (50km)
June 19 & 20
Got up this morning and was able to finish my resume and cover letter in the tim hortons just down the road from where I was staying! The lady at the cashier was so impressed with my adventure plans that she paid for my breakfast! Pretty nice of her. Hopefully I hear back from the company soon, and that I can find wifi on whichever day they want to do an interview, assuming they want to do a Skype call. Steve recommended to stay in the Green Hill provincial park, about 50km from Truro. He warned that it was going to be a steep climb, but I said "eh, I've done hills before" - MANwas it hilly. Also didn't help that GOogle Maps put me on a dirt road that was super rocky on the way to the park. DAMNthe view was gorgeous though, well worth the climb. Also ran into some fellow travellers at the park that had travelled from Alberta to here in their van. A shorter update today than usual, but Semi exciting nonetheless.
Halifax -> ?? -> Truro (110km)
Sorry for the lack of updates - Sort of got sidetracked with the adventures of the days and forgot about posting/when I did remember, was too tired or didn'tfeel like typing out a blog post. My bad. I'll try not to let this happen too much.
June 19th, started off the day by checking out the citadel, the public gardens, and the library. WOW was everything so cool. Halifax why you gotta be so nice! I started with the gardens, and they're just fabulous. So many different types of flowers and plants in there, just gorgeous. I took a few photos but it only scratches the surface of how nice it is in there. There was also this big fluffy duck/swan thing in the water area - no clue what species it is, but it looked neat.
After the garden, I headed over to the library. I have never been in a cooler library, the second best I'd have to say is the library in the Parlaiment buildings in Ottawa. This library is super modern looking - everything is white and clean, and has a mixture of curves and sharp edges. The book return is especially neat there, with a full conveyor system that's exposed so the public can watch their book get sucked up. Really fun! There's also a whole damn music studio thing with guitars and electric drums that you can record music with, and an xbox and playstation too! Really super damn cool.
Once I finished up in the library, I then went over to the citadel. I had not done any research into what the citadel was, just that it was a thing that I should see and where it was on the map. I was expecting some sort of church thing, but what I got was waaaay cooler. This place is the fort that the British built to secure the harbour basically back in the 1700's. Full guided tour and everyone working was in period costume. Apparently back in the day, the british would give tours just like today to show off how powerful they were. Also included in the place was a full war museum from WWI all the way to present day Afghanistan. Additionally, there was a 1:1 recreation of the trenches in WWI. At noon, they fired the noon gun - a cannon to let all of Halifax know that it is now lunch time. At the time, clocks and watches were uncommon, so the gun was fired three times - once in the morning, once at noon, and once in the evening. In the fort, there would be a piper that would play a tune at every hour to let the troops in the citadel know what time it was - different tunes corresponded to different times of the day. And there was a piper there playing at intervals of time! So cool.
After all this fun stuff though, it was time I hit the road. Initially I had planned to get to Truro that evening but leaving at almost 3PM meant that I definitely wasn't getting that far. I got as far as I could until 8pm or so and then found an empty lot to set my tent up in far away from the road. Nobody bothered me that evening, but the train was a bit loud.
Now June 20th, I roled out of bed brighta nd early to get my tent packed up before anyone came to bother me. While finding a place to hang my fly up while IO got my tent and other stuff packed away, Istepped in a huuuuuge mud hole and got both shoes drenched. Whoops! Good thing I've got sandals with me - biked all day in my sandals. With a bit of modding, Iwas able to adjust my toe baskets on my pedals to accomodate my sandals, so riding in them whas honestly not that bad! I prefer shoes but Iwas able to clock a decent speed with them on. With me camping in an empty field, I ended up being not far away from a McDonalds, so I was able to get a bit of hot food in me before setting out to Truro.
Along the way to Truro, Icame across a cool tin museum. The house it was in was right off the highway, and has old tin working tools that were used back in the day to make tin milk jugs, and the tools could still be used today to make tin things if you so desired. Very neat little exhibit. Got into Turo in hte afternoon and checked my email, and noticed Igot a thing in LinkedIn about a job that's relevant to me! Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, I'm able to edit my resume on my phone and publish a PDF of it without needing a computer. Got my resume all set for the job application, just have to write my cover letter tomorrow sometime and apply. While I was considering biking out to Pictou area today and going to PEI, I need a bit more time in a coffee shop to finish up my cover letter and apply for the position instead of biking to catch a ferry. I'll go see PEI after the cabot trail.
Coming into Truro, I saw the funniest thing in someone's yard - they had modified some bikes to become biking riding lawn mowers with the push mower attached to it in this frankenbike-like setup. I took a pic of them because they're amazing, but the ownewr of the home wasn't anywhere to be seen - I really wanted to ask if they actually function at all.
While I was wandering around Truro, I came across a public piano! Started playing some tunes, and a gentleman came up and asked if he could film me! I said "sure go for it!" Turns out he does lots of promotional film work here in Truro, his name is Steve Currie and he's an awesome dude. My initial plan was to just camp in the park in the town, but one of the locals warned me that there's a bear and her cub wandering around the forest. Normally with black bears I'd just do a standard bear hang and not worry, but I'd much rather not get between a mama bear and her cub. I reached out to Steve to see if I could pitch my tent in his yard and he let me! Super nice of him. Now I'm safe from bears for another night. Got some tips from him as to where to stay tomorrow too, gave me two great recommendations for places to camp.
Supposed to rain tomorrow morning so I'm just going to pack up camp super early tomorrow morning, and then head on into Truro and write up my cover letter in a coffee shop with free wifi.
Explorin' round Halifax
Chilled out and explored downtown Halifax a bit more today, with minimal biking (Less than 15km). Went to the recommended Freak Lunchbox spot thinking it was a good spot for lunch, but it was actually a candy store! Super cool spot. It's all the fun of the bulk barn candy section, with none of the boring stuff. Also had cool fun things like pez dispensers, novelty gum, whoopee cushions, and so much more. The extra bag boxes also all had funny bag puns on them. Awesome place. Got a small box of assorted candies, there were far too many options.
Also tried out a recommendation for lunch called The Bicycle Thief, which was an Italian restaurant. The food was a bit pricier than what I would have liked to pay for lunch, but fortunately the portions were massive so with the main meal and the side focaccia (yes they served amazing focaccia instead of your standard french rolls) they packed to go, it was more than enough for dinner as well, making it actually fairly reasonable price-wise. Delicious high quality food and impeccable service. Definitely a nice place to go for a date if you're in Halifax and looking to please that special someone.
After lunch, it started to rain, but that wouldn't stop me from enjoying the harbourfront. It's just a bit of water! Lolled around the harbourfront watching ships going by (It was also super foggy along the water so lots of foghorns) and then I took the ferry service from Halifax to Dartmouth to check out the Shearwater Aviation museum. Nifty exhibits! It's also a pay by donation, so it was quite affordable to check out. Was able to see the exhibits and get back on a ferry returning to Halifax all on one transfer! Peak transit. Once I got back, I heated up my leftover lunch for dinner and got my laundry all done, and then headed out to check out the beer gardens. Sadly, the beer garden was closed due to the rainy weather that happened today, so I went to a brewery nearby and had a pint there of their sour rhubarb. One of the few sours I enjoyed! They said that it's all just real rhubarb and real sour cherries to give it the sourness, no additives or anything - it really showed!
The weather has changed yet again for tomorrow, and now it's only showing the morning to be rainy, and for it to clear up at around 11 am or so. Hoping to hit up the citadel and library tomorrow morning as those were suggested indoor things to do, and then get on my bike and head to Truro area tomorrow. Going to get as close to Truro as Ican so I can get to Antigonish the next day, where I'm staying with a warmshowers host.
Dartmouth -> Halifax (~5km)
Renting out a friend's room for a few days at a pretty discounted rate here in downtown Halifax - sweet deal! Took the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax for a reasonable price fo $2.50 - there was a public piano in the waiting area of the ferry terminal on the Dartmouth side which was super fun. Ran into a cyclist that had recently done a small tour around Quebec and New Brunswick so that was fun chatting with him.
Once I got to the place I'm staying at, my friends roommates and I all went down to a nice little beach about a 30 minute bike ride or bus ride away from downtown. The water wasn't too cold so I was able to stick my feet in the water and skip some rocks.
Later in the evening, Iheaded down to the harbourfront before sunset in hopes that I might find the bluenose. Turns out, its easier to find than I anticipated! It was pretty much one of the first ships I saw, lucky me. I asked the staff "How much does it cost to get on?", expecting it to cost anywhere from $5-$10 to board and look around. Much to my surprise, it was FREE to board! Really neat. Apparently the original Bluenose ship was bought by a trading company and sunk somewhere in the Carribean. What a shame. This one is constructed in 1963 and is a to scale recreation of the original Bluenose. After seeing the bluenose, I headed over to Good Robot Brewerery to enjoy a few pints of tasty brew. My friend recommended their stout and MAN is it good. So tasty. Also had their Mexican lager, which has jalapeno in it - a very interesting spicy lager. Pretty tasty though. There was a dodgeball team there grabbing some pints so I ended up chatting with them and enjoying a nice evening with them.
One thing that really annoys me about Halifax though is the size of the street signs. I swear to god, whoever is behind the signage here in Halifax is the cheapest cheapskate ever. On the major intersections, you've got literally one litle street sign in ONE corner of the intersection, and it's often way up high and obscured by buildings. It doesn't help when the streets wind around really weird so you don't realize that you're no longer on the right street anymore and you can't figure out what street you're on without referring to Google Maps or your gps because you can't find the stupid street sign. Ridiculous. Apart from bad signage, Halifax is pretty nice! It's not too bike friendly though, not a lot of proper bike lanes and the hills are a monstrousity. I can't imagine how a novice biker could get around the city to do groceries, and carry their groceries on their bike up some of the horrendously steep and long hills around here.
Tantallon -> Dartmouth (72 km)
Saw Peggy's Cove today which was sweet! The geography in the area is TOTALLY different from the rest of Nova Scotia I've seen so far, very weird and rocky. There was also the Swiss Air crash site memorial just before the iconic lighthouse which was pretty neat. At the cove, there was a piper! Very maritime-y. I also ran into some touring cyclists while I was there! They're touring around southern Nova Scotia and we might even run into each other again when I do the cabot trail which would be neato.
Made it into Dartmouth - very satisfying to see the Halifax sign. Feels a bit surreal that I've biked just about the whole way from London ON to Halifax NS. Going to spend the next few days here in the city enjoying the sights and avoiding the rain that's in the forecast.
Wileville -> Tantallon (113 km)
Long day today. Havent done over 100km in one day of riding since the first day of the tour I think. But hey, WARMweatherisback!way better than yesterday's crapshoot of a forecast.
Lunenberg is BEAUTIFUL. All the colourful buildings and cool shops there - man I could have spent a whole day just phjotographing everything and spending way too much money at all the cool stores. But alas, I had to get somewhere today so I just window shopped at most places. Had an amazing seafood chowder at the Salt Shaker deli, mmmmmmmmm. Could see the waterfront from the patio was having lunch at, and a super cool old-style sailing ship sailed by! Managed to snag a pic just as it was leaving - if Iwas any later, I would have missed it. Apparently the Bluenose is going to be docked in Halifax for the next little while, so I'll be able to see it then.
Also along my route today was Mahone Bay with those three picturesque churches. I couldnt get a good shot of them all together, you'd need to be on a boat to get the famous shot of it. Nice place though, got a new chain from the bike store in town. As I was putting the new chain on, at least six people told me there was a bike store nearby, but I know how to install a chain.
Rolled into my end destination at around 7:30pm and the hosts were super nice! We had tacos together and chatted about various things to see along my route. Did a bit of planning today and it seems like it would make the most sense to go to PEI in a few days after seeing Halifax - I'm meeting up with my sister and since I came to the East Coast a few days earlier than expected, I;ve got way too much time to just cycle from Halifax to Antignoish to see her - so I'll spend a day or two on PEI to make the timeline work!the ferry isn't too badly priced.
Seeing Peggy's Cove tomorrow! It feels so surreal that I've pretty much biked all the way from Ontario to here. Wild!
Keji -> Wileville NS (72 km)
Today was CHILLY, wow. Cool misty maritime day. My hands got so damn cold, had to stop on the road many times to warm them up. Stopped in at a cute little cafe on the side of hwy 8 that had a SNES emulator console you could play for free - had so many games loaded on it! Played a bit of Mario Kart while I waited for my hot chocolate.
Staying with Wendy, a host off of warm showers. Her place is so nice! Got in a little later than expected. No pictures of anything interesting today, it was just a cold miserable day and I was in no mood to expose my hands any longer than needed. Off to Lunenberg tomorrow morning, and then hopefully going into Halifax the next day. Unfortunately Ali's plans changed and she is no longer meeting up with me in Halifax so I've gotta scramble to find a new place to stay. It's solo riding from here on out!
Annapolis -> Keji, 75km
Had a pretty good start to the day! Ali's friend cooked us all breakfast, and after, his mom showed us her beekeeping that sh's started up! Really cool stuff. Although, I think I must have gotten some pollen on me or something because there were some bees that kept following me almost all the waty to Keji national park. The ride was pretty uneventful - heading through the middle of Nova Scotia means just trees and some rocks for as far as the eye could see. Far greener than anything I'm used to in southern Ontario.
Once I rolled into Keji, I asked about bear boxes but they didn't have any. They recommended that I just ask around and see if anyone is willing to help out by putting my stuff in their car for the night. I found an RV not too far from where I was camped, and Iasked the guy if I could put my food stuffs in his car. Turns out that he's also a traveller! Tom and his wife Deborah have been living and travelling in their RV for the past few years - they've toured all the states and this summer they're touring the maritimes! They're from Indianapolis, Indiana and they're so nice. We had dinner together and chatted about travel stuff they made a lovely shrimp pasta dish.
Looking like a stormy night tonight. I managed to get a good setup with my tarp over my tent so hopefully I stay fairly dry tonight. There's a few windows of opportunity for cycling tomorrow to get out of rural Nova Scotia into a small town with a sheltered area so I can evade the rain and stay mostly dry tomorrow. Oh well, my good weather streak had to end sometime. At least I could get everything set up while it wasn't raining at all. Not looking forward to when I need to set stuff up in the rain.
Church Point, NS -> Annapolis Royale, NS
What a lovely day today! Had leftover pizza, a banana, some strawberries and coffee for breakfast! Danny pitched the idea of catching the bus from a nearby town all the way to Annapolis - for $3.50, it seemed pretty worth it so I said "sign me up". The bus driver was super awesome and knows all the passengers by first name. The bus also just went along the highway 1, and there werent really any stops along there - people just flag the bus down like a taxi. Cool stuff. There was even wifi on board! Once in Annapolis, I stopped for lunch at the first cafe. I asked about bringing my bike inside, and they offered to let me store it in the rear by the kitchen entrance - this way I could explore downtown without worrying about the bike.
Checked out Fort Anne - so much history! Really cool, the displays in the museum area were very informative and well laid out. After, I looked at a small art exhibit/gallery, and then checked out the brewery and had a flight of beer. I set out to Ali's friends parents house and MAN was the headwind bad going west. He lives in Granville Ferry, so I had no option but to head west. What I thought would take an hour ended up taking close to two hours. His parents are super nice though. Ali, Phil (her friend) and I headed to the pub he works at for dinner and afterwards we drove to the bay of fundy to see the sunset. Super pretty. Headed back to Phil's and played a game of Catan. Really fun day.
Off to Keji tomorrow! Supposed to rain in the evening all through tomorrow morning, so we'll see how I fare.
Yarmouth NS -> Church Point, NS (65km)
June 10 - Ferry day!
Windy day today! Had headwinds the whole way which was absolutely brutal. Originally aimed for Digby today, but after 50km, it wasn't looking feasable. Earlier in the trip, about 25km in, a fellow on his bike named Danny was coming my way and asked where I was headed. He graciously offered to let me stay in his yard for free tonight! His place was right near Church Point, by the university, so when I got there, I texted him and he came and showed me around. Got some really helpful maps from a visitor center I didn't know was in the university (well maybe if I knew my french better I would have seen the sign in french saying where the visitor center was, this area of Nova Scotia is very French dominated). There was a piano in the visitor center that I got to play which was pretty fun, got a few requests of some Beatles songs. We headed over to his daughters place where I set up camp, and she cooked pizza for everyone~ It was hawaiian pizza, but luckily, I enjoy hawaiian very much so. You can fight me on this stance but I will not back down on my opinion that hawaiian pizza is tasty. Their property has an amazing view of a small lake, and they offered to let me use their kayaks, but Iwas too tired and just wanted to sit down and read my book instead of being go-go-go all the time like I have been for the past two and a bit weeks.
Heading to Annapolis Royale tomorrow! Hopefully the winds are much better.
Portland -> Yarmouth (CAT Ferry)
Left America today! The ferry is awesome, but unfortunately there was no wifi. Luckily, there was a public computer that I could write most of this blog post on! Odd that there's ethernet but no wifi. Oh well. I also learned these past two days that I'm way more allergic to cats than I thought - our Warmshowers hosts had two indoor cats and one outdoor cat so I was sneezing a whole heck of a lot. I brought it upon myself though, as they clearly said so on their profile. Guess I'm not going to be a cat owner anytime soon.
On our way to the ferry, we checked out Mackworth Island which has a beautiful trail all around the island. It was a state park, and the guy running the gate was super passive about charging people - its only a $3 entry into the "park". Skipped some rocks by the ocean and had a peanut butter bagel.
BOY is the ferry fast. It's moving at around 60 km/hr. Felt a little sea sick at first but after a little while it subsided. The food on the ferry is pretty decent - had a personal sized pizza and a cider. While we were on board, we saw whales! I saw one blow a spout of water up, but not the whale itself, and Ali managed to see itd dorsal fin. Also, there were some NASA scientists on board from Bigolow laboratories, and they gave a short talk on how they do ground truthing on the CAT to compare with satellites measuring ocean colours to determine the health of microorganisms in the sea. Really neat stuff.
By the time we got off the ferry and through the border, it was well past sunset so we just stayed in a nearby hotel. Off to Digby tomorrow!
Group ride with hosts (50km)
Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday, I was just too exhausted and had a long day to write a blog post. It's up now though!
This morning, our hosts offered to let us join them on a Saturday morning ride around Portland! Got to ride along super nice Maine roads and see lots of waterfront things. Stopped at a little market for lunch and I had an amazing steak melt sandwich, a salad, and a juice for $10! Afterwards, we helped out a bit around the house, Ali did a bit of lawn mowing and I helped move their rowboat out from their garage attic (they have a multi-level garage with more storage up above! Really great setup) to their backyard. After, Ali and I headed downtown and we checked out the lookout tower which was used originally for determining which ships are coming in to prepare the ports, but now it's a historic museum with quite the view of downtown Portland. Today, you could even see all the way to Mount Washington in New Hampshire! After, we checked out one of Portland's many breweries and I had a local IPA which was nice and zesty. Ali went off on her own and I continued to explore old portland, and saw SO many buskers, including some saxophonists! Cycled along the ocean front and just sightseed the area. Catching the ferry to Yarmouth tomorrow at 2:30pm, so we're going to grab lunch and then board tomorrow. Should be a decent day!
Conway NH -> Hiram ME (37 km)
The game of bike repairs never ends! While loading some rear panniers on, my left bolt securing my rear panniers broke. Luckily there was a Lowes nearby that we could get to, and my dad helped drive me there to get new bolts. Now I've got hardened steel bolts securing the rack on so it shouldn't fail again.
Rode to Hiram and got a ride from my parents into Maine - there was a sweet paved trail that was at least 15km in length, beautiful to ride on. Had some really funny steep grade signs on it, like what you'd see with a truck, but with a bicycle on the triangle instead of a truck. I wouldn't even call those hills steep, but maybe my judgement is warped after those hills we did in the mountain ranges.
The night before, we realized that our original warmshowers host had cancelled on us in Portland due to personal reasons, and that we needed to find a place to stay ASAP. Luckily, Dan and Jordan on warmshowers were kind enough to let us camp out in their backyards on short notice! They're wonderful people, have also done a lot of cycle touring, but now also do a lot of sailing! They've got a cool sailboat in their backyard and a lot of ship themed stuff in their house. Originally, Ali and I just wanted to get to Nova Scotia immediately, but after seeing how cool Portland was, we opted to stay an additional night here. There was a really neat festival thing happening while we were wandering around this evening, the coolest thing being a marimba ensemble playing Zimbabwe marimba style music. The bass marimba was super cool! Sounded like a bass clarinet.
"Rest" day - Hiking and biking (17km bike, 10km hike)
Today, I got to explore some sweet trails around Crawford Notch State Park, which is right in the middle of White Mountain park. My parents dropped me off where Ali was camping, and we set off from there to Crawford Notch. It was pretty much all downhill from her campground to Crawford, including a SICK 13% GRADE HILL - I hit 65 km/hr on that hill, felt amazing. Before the sick downhill, we saw the Mount Washington hotel, which is just fabulous looking, but carries a hefty price to stay in. We just enjoyed looking at it from the road instead. The cloud cover was pretty low on the mountains so it gave it a really cool effect.
Once we were in crawford, we set out to explore the Ripley Falls trail. Passed over the train tracks that the scenic historic train goes on, and hiked some pretty steep hills to get up to the falls. Once we got there, Ali stopped to do something and told me that I should just go on ahead. I ended up just rejoining her in the parking lot, so I did the remainder of the hike alone. Hiked up to the Frankenstein Cliff lookout, which had a few too many trees for me to consider it a good lookout. Its amazing how much your mind can piece things together, as I could clearly see an amazing view of at least 10 mountains, but you can only get a clear shot of one through a gap in the trees. Darn nature, giving habitats to animals and making oxygen and stuff. I just want my sweet photos! /s
After the cliff, I went back the other way to see Arethusa Falls - such a SICK waterfall. It's at least 50 feet tall, the photo I took has a random person in it for scale. All in all, the hike ended up being 10km of HILLY terrain - it is a mountainous region after all! Headed back to the hotel and had a hot shower, did laundry, and had Thai food for dinner. Enjoyed some time in the hot tub the hotel has, and going to have some ice cream soon.
Heading out to Portland Maine tomorrow, its somewhere around 100km or so from here. Hopefully the ride goes well tomorrow!
Groton State Park, VT -> Lisbon, NH (55 km)
June 5 - Hills and thrills!
Got really lucky today with the hills! The 232 past New Discovery is ALL downhill, it was awesome. Clocked about 50km/hr down some of the hills, super duper fun.
Along the way, we stopped at some sweet lookout points and a little pond where we saw some loons! Very picturesque. I looked it up and New Discovery is about 1400 feet above mean sea level - It makes sense, since this morning when I was packing up, a cloud passed through the campground so there was a bunch of cool mist.
Where the 232 meets the 302, there was a quaint little general store that we stopped in for some snacks. Got a hot thing of mac and cheese, some homemade peanut butter cookies and a big thing of gatorade for only $5.60! When I counting my change, I realized that I only had 50 cents in change, but the lady at the counter was nice enough to let me pay the remaining 10 cents with a canadian dime. The place had wifi, so while Ali and I were checking elevation gain and whatnot, this old guy comes along all condescending and is like "You guys better not be talking using those phones". It didn't seem like he was joking either. What the heck dude? Cmon. Oh well. He can live his judgemental life if he wants, I don't care - I'm cycling through MOUNTAINS and having a blast.
The 302 is pretty good in some spots, but other spots are downright terrible. Lots of places with really narrow shoulders and big logging trucks passing closer than I'd like them to. Sadly it's the best road to get from Groton to White Mountain. While we were biking, we saw the US' oldest general store and a bunch of neat cemetaries. As we were approaching Lisbon, my parents came by! They gave us a ride from there to the white mountains - Ali opted to camp at Camp Deception just at the north end of the park and I opted to stay with my parents in Conway. Getting a ride up to Ali's campsite tomorrow morning so we can bike and hike all day tomorrow. It's just about all downhill from her campsite to Conway, and there's a terrifying 13% gradient descent on the 302 - I'm not sure if I'm excited or scared to ride that part. We'll see how tomorrow goes.
Waterbury -> Groton State Park (55km)
Damn it was hilly today. Absolutely brutal, but
tomorrow is supposed to be even worse. Gorgeous
scenery though. My parents gave us a lift to the
edge of Waterbury so that we could avoid the traffic
and just start on the rural roads instead. Highway 2
here in the US is definitely not to be trifled with,
lots of fast moving trucks with some very narrow
shoulders. Wouldn't want to do that again, but the
alternatives of taking dirt back roads and adding in
more elevation and distance was less favourable than
taking the 2.
We got some help on today's
route planning in Montpelier (which is a beautiful
city by the way) and some tips on where to get food
along the way from the information center in town -
the lady at the front desk was super helpful and
nice. Stopped at a co-op grocer from her
recommendation and I had some mac and cheese for
lunch, and picked up a can of soup for dinner in
Arrived in Groton State Park at around
3pm today - the park officer was super funny and
very helpful, giving us tips on how to get a cheaper
hot shower, and let us camp in the lean-to's, saving
us $7. Gave us free firewood too! Ali and I hiked
different trails - I climbed the Big Deer Mountain
Trail and the view was awesome! Only a half hour
walk away from our campground and you could see for
miles! Really cool.
Heading to White Mountain tomorrow. Hopefully the elevation doesn't kill me, it's supposed to be worse than today, and we haven't even gotten through all of Groton State Forest yet. Hoping for the best, and to get better cell coverage. Out here, there's only AT&T, which Roam Mobility (my US sim card carrier) isn't a part of.
Rest day (Car assist)
Today was a miserable cold day weather wise, but that was the only miserable thing about today! Got a ride from Plattsburgh to Stowe. Also got my bike lock removed today! There was a Midas right by the hotel in Plattsburgh, so we brought the bike there after breafkast. It was kind of like the start to a bad joke - "Two canadians walk into an auto shop with a bike shope" If you have a good completion to the joke, please shoot me a message! They used a torch to melt the lock, so I guess you can say my bike has the Midas Touch (tm). It's a good thing we didn't bike today - on the ferry from Plattsburgh to whatever island is in the middle of Lake Champlain, the water was SUPER choppy. We got a front row view of the ferry and we got doused maybe 40 times? The water literally covered the whole car, it was ridiculous. I wouldnt want to be outside a vehicle on that ferry. Also - the mountains are BEAUTIFUL. Holy cow. Even better in person, and I'm not sure if I can take any photos that would do it justice. If you're planning a road trip to Montreal or somewhere around there, seriously consider crossing into the states to see the mountain range. It's breathtaking. Since we were in the car today, I couldnt get any good pics, hence no instagram photos of those. I'll get some pics in the next few days, but with spotty cell reception and the slim possibility of getting wifi along the way, dont expect many photo updates in the next few days. I also really can't promise blog updates either, but I'll see what I can do. No promises!
Burlington VT is super cool1 There's a whole area for just pedestrians, very similar to Spark street in Ottawa. Lots of neat specialty stores, picked up a map of White Mountain in an outdoor store thats waterproof and tear resistant! Also checked out Trader Joes - Like all grocery stores here in the US, there's SO much booze. Like, so much. It's very strange. I'm not used to this. Later today, we also went on a tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory here in Waterbury VT. Very cool, the tour guide was just spitting cow puns left right and center which is exactly what I enjoy. Also picked up a bumper sticker for my sax case.
Heading to Groton State Park tomorrow. It's a 70km ride but I've never ridden in mountains, so it's going to be a (most likely gruelling) adventure. Definitely looking forward to it. As I said, there may not be daily blog updates - But I will write down my daily thoughts offline and post, at latest, June ~10th when we arrive in Portland area. I hope you've been enjoying my blog!
Long Sault -> Border (16km)
Rode across the border today! Definitely an interesting but easy experience. One slightly terrifying thing was when we were riding across the big border bridge and rolled across the expansion finger joints - The gaps were just wider than my tires and about the width of my wheel, so the wheel fell in a solid few inches, causing my front pannier bags to pop off the rack and my chain to fall off the front chainring. Walked my bike across the second expansion bridge. It was so cool to go over the massive bridge and see the mountain ranges in the distance!
My parents gave Ali and I a lift from the other side of the border into Plattsburgh - Saved us over 100km of riding through boring upstate New York. There also isn't much cell service in that area so that could have been real troublesome. Also got my US sim card stuff worked out! I've got a new number so if any readers of the blog know my regular #, I'll get your texts in 9 days when I'm back in Canada. Also, the traffic lights here in Plattsburgh are so weird! They just have two poles on two opposite corners of the intersection, and then have wiring across so all the traffic lights are waaaay up high in the middle of the intersection. We nearly missed the traffic lights at the first intersection, very bizarre.
On the way to Plattsburgh, we stopped in Malone at a little American diner. It was a great American experience, there isn't much like this diner here in Canada. Had a omlette that had mac & cheese in it as well as sausage and more cheese than should be legal in an omlette. Once we got into Plattsburgh, we checked out the downtown area - It's lovely here. Had a nice coffee at Koffee Kat, quite an eclectic place. We're staying with my parents at their hotel here in Plattsburgh for the night. Can't argue with free wifi, breakfast, and pool access! Biking to Waterbury/Stowe tomorrow, hopefully it isn't too chilly.
Brockville -> Long Sault (94 km)
The campground in Brockville had breakfast for sale! Can't beat under a two minute walk and a $5 hot meal to start the day. Still no luck on getting the lock removed from my bike rack. Guess it's just an eccentric ornament until I find a place to get rid of it.
On my way out of Brockville, I stopped for lunch at a charity BBQ. Got a burger and drink for a donation, and chatted with Drew, a radio host for a local station. Ended up recording a mini interview for his show on Monday! Never know who you'll run into.
Some lovely scenery along the water today! Saw a peculiar group of birds really close to the road, so I pulled over to take a picture of them. Ali has no clue what they are, but if you do, let me know in the comments on the instagram photo! I'd love to figure out what it is. Camping right on the Long Sault Parkway on the water, it's beautiful. The front desk even gave the option to deliver our firewood to the campground which was pretty nice of them. While I was setting up camp, two dudes in a car come up and tell us very loudly that we're invited to a wild party at one of the campsites nearby. We head there after our campfire is died down and its just a bunch of guys drinking beer, certainly not too loud and rowdy. They're all from Quebec amd we have a good time around their campfire drinking beer amd making fun of the Quebec french dialect.
Off to Cornwall tomorrow to meet up with my parents, and they're going to give us some car assistance so we can easily make it to Plattsburgh NY tomorrow evening.
Kingston -> Brockville (85 km)
May 31 - Jam packed!
Started the day with a slightly annoying note of not being able to find my keys. The worst part is that my U-lock is stuck on the pannier rack so its added weight. Going to go to a auto shop to try and get it cut off for me though tomorrow. On a positive note now - Wow, the thousand islands parkway was a beautiful ride. Fully separated bike lane from the highway, so it was stress free riding almost the whole way. Only thing that kinda sucked was being in full sun the whole time. No rain today though so I can't complain too much.
Got my camp set up in the St Lawrence campground that's right in Brockville. Really lovely place to set up camp, and its only $11/night if you're an unsupported cyclst! Super cheap. Grabbed food at the Metro nearby for dinner and a guy asked me how far I was going. Always fun to get a reaction when I tell them how far I'm going. "WHAT? You're CRAZY man" - Never gets old.
When I was setting up camp, I noticed two tents and two bikes - the area for cyclists is basicallly this big field that is reserved for unsupported cyclists only, so I was looking forward to meeting other touring cyclists here, and I did! Their names are Shelley and Brian, and they are a lovely married couple heading from Cornwall down towards Kingston area.. We enjoyed the evening with a lovely little campfire, some beer and tequila. They also told me about a $4 breakfast with decent coffee that runs here in the grounds, so I'm looking forward to a tasty hot breakfast in the morning.
Rest day (0 km)
What a fantastic rest day today! Kingston sure is a lovely town. Started the day off with pancakes and strawberries, and then headed out to explore the city. Went to Bellevue House, a recreation of a historic house that Sir John A Macdonald lived in. Toured the grounds, as the interior was under renovation. After that, I headed towards downtown and checked out what I originally thought was an art gallery, but was actually a building where various art clubs get together to do things like pottery, glass work, and textiles. The textile room was open and one of the ladies in there graciously gave me a personal tour of how wool is spun into yarn, and then how it is woven into a full tablecloth! Really cool stuff.
After the textile tour, I was heading down along the waterfront when I saw one of the circular fortifications that I had seen in the distance up close. I then noticed that the door was open for tours! Paulina had mentioned that they're only open one day a year to preserve the inside, as it is a protected site. My lucky day! Even got a student discount with my Watcard. For $4, I got close to an hour tour of the three storey building, it was really cool. Apparently it was obsolete by the time that it had been finished building, because (a) peace had been declared and (b) no one was using wooden ships anymore, which is what it was designed to attack. Cool stuff.
Once I finished having lunch, I visited Paulina's GIS lab in Queens. Got to meet a bunch of really interesting masters and PhD students doing lots of cool stuff semi-related to my field of study, which was awesome. Even got to chat with Dr. Dongmei Chen, and we discussed a potential masters opportunity regarding building 3D models from imagery and various data sources in the next few years. Definitely something to consider.
After the quick Queens tour, Paulina, Ali and I headed off to the beach in the early afternoon to enjoy the nice weather. Slightly overcast but still a nice temperature to lounge on the beach. Ali brought her uke along and I brought my flute so we had a mini jam session by the water. After the beach, we had a nice pizza dinner back home, and then Paulina and I went over to her friends' rooftop patio to enjoy some sangria. I brought the stout that I got in Picton and we had a nice time on the patio. Went to trivia after, and were in third place for a short spurt of time!
Tomorrow should be a decent day for biking to Brockville. It's a bit rainy, but only 3mm of rain total throughout the day is forecasted, with scattered storms predicted.
Picton -> Kingston (65 km)
Got to take the ferry from Glenora today! Lovely free 10 minute ferry ride, I'd recommend it to anyone considering taking a scenic route from PEC to Kingston area. Stopped at a neat historic site for snacks that had a cool pavillion. I tried to go in the pavillion but it was swarming with gnats so I couldn't enjoy my snacks in it, but rather just view it from afar.
Arrived at my friend Paulina's place in the afternoon, a friend I made in undergrad that is also into GIS stuff! She's doing her masters at Queens on LiDAR and carbon measurements. We grabbed ice cream downtown, had dinner together, and then met up with one of her friends to go to an arcade bar. We also checked out one of the forts in the area too. Not too interesting and definitely not worth $20 - luckily we didnt have to pay as we just peeked inside as they were closing up. Overall a very nice day in Kingston, and we're looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow in the area as well. Not too sure yet what we'll do, but there's certainly enough things to do in the area to fill the day and then some.
Also started having some phone troubles the past few days - the internal storage got changed to read only, and not even my rooted command prompt remounting all partitions as read-write would fix it.
This led to interesting side effects such as Instagram crashing when trying to load thumbnails of images when making a post, various apps crashing in the background, and Strava being unable to post rides. Luckily, Paulina was kind enough to let me use her laptop so I could re-flash the stock ROM on my phone, and now it's in working order again! I'll be borrowing my sister's old phone and keeping it tucked away safe in my bag in the event of my phone failing again later in the trip.
Rest day (0 km)
Today, Ali and I enjoyed a peaceful day of rest in Picton. I packed Douglas Coupland's jPod with me, as I had been meaning to read it for a while but never got around to it. Spent the morning reading the first portion of it, and then we headed to 555 brewery which was only a few minutes of walking away from where we were staying. Had a pint of Belgian ale with a wood fire stove cooked pizza there, and we also grabbed a few road food things from Sobeys too. Went to a second brewery, Prince Eddy's, a little bit later in the day and we each got a different flight of beer so we were able to try out all the beers they had on tap. Their milkshake stout was so good I just had to get a bottle to go to enjoy tomorrow in Kingston. Sipping on a cup of tea now and have most of my stuff squared away so I can just get my tent packed, throw on my cycling gear, and head out to Kingston first thing tomorrow morning.
Colbourne -> Picton (83 km)
Maria offered to drive me to Colbourne from Warkworth, since it was on the way to work for her. Starting the day with ~20km shaved off and a downhill coasting ride is the best way to start a day. Ran into an unexpected bridge closure on my original intended route, so had to backtrack a little bit, but the roads were all nice along the way. I considered taking the Millenal trail instead of the 33. Once I got into Bloomfield, I went to Bloomfield Cycles to get my front rack fixed. We found the root of the problems and replaced the mounting brackets! Its very secure now. Also had to replace my rear wheel since the spokes were corroded and weak - one spoke was broken and it was likely that more would snap on my tour. Met up with Ali at the shop and we headed to Picton together amd set up camp in Doug and Shirleys backyard (Warmshowers). Going to just hang around Picton area tomorrow with minimal cycling, so there may not be any Strava updates tomorrow.
Darlington Park -> Warkworth ON (116 km)
Bit of an interesting day today. About 20km out from Darlington, my bolt for my front right pannier snapped! "ruh roh" I said. A bit of bungee magic later and I was able to secure my stuff all to my rear rack. About fifteen minutes in, a lovely cyclist by the name of Catherine came by and offered to help carry some of the load to Port Hope in the hopes that a hardware store would be open. I happily obliged, and she helped carry my front two panniers on her rear rack. Once I got into Port Hope, I was searching for a fabled open hardware store.
One lady came up to me and said "Are you lost?" I told her of my troubles, and she said "Oh, my husband and I are headed to Home Hardware, want to come with?" So we drove to Home Hardware and got the necessary bolts to temporarily repair my pannier rack! Going to be on the hunt for a bike store to find a better mounting solution for my current rack, or get a new, more suitable rack.
Stayed the night at Maria's, a friend I made through Warm Showers last year. Since I had the setback with the rack earlier today, my initial estimate for arrival got pushed back to past sunset, and she kindly helped out by helping drive me the last ~20km. Fed, watered, and freshly showered and have a warm place to sleep tonight. Tomorrow I join up with Ali again and we head to Picton in Prince Edward County and have a long anticipated rest day in the county.
Toronto -> Darlington Park (96 km)
May 25 - Day one complete
Lovely weather today! Got a ride to downtown toronto from Ali's parents to make the distance a bit mkre manageable. Saw the Scarborough bluffs and a super cool park with a bunch of ruins! Staying in Darlington Provincial Park tonight, was getting too tired to continue to Ali's friends place.
London -> Waterloo (103km)
BOY was it hot today. Didn't expect to burn through three water bottles in 85km. Luckily there was a tire shop that let me refill my water bottles not too far from where I was at the time.
I also forgot just how much balance change you have to get used to when you add 50+lbs of weight to a bike. Felt like it had a mind of its own when I first got everything loaded on. After a little bit of riding though, it felt just like it wasnt loaded at all!
Met up with Ali, my touring buddy here in Kitchener. We're driving to 'Sauga tonight to start the next leg of the journey to Bowmanville tomorrow morning. Made sushi with her roommates for dinner! Quite delicious. Happy trails!
May 15 - Preparations well underway!
Daily distances are mostly set, a paper mapbook is printed, and multiple test-packs of my bike have been done! Only
have a few small things left to purchase and take care of, but things are well underway for a great summer. Departure
date is still a go for May 25th.