Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 71: Argentia to St. John's Newfoundland

Congratulations Team We Made it!

We cycled a grand total of 136 km's today to the most easterly point of our journey St. John's Newfoundland. We cycled through some spectacular scenery. It's so hard to describe what I saw without comparing it to something I have already seen sooo here it is. We cycled up and down hills all day. Not the most strenuous of hills (well until we got to St. John's). The lakes here are called Ponds...This bewilders me since they seem big enough to be called lakes. On the plains entering into the city rock reminds me of hiking in the mountain prairies back on Hudson Bay Mountain (Smithers) as a child. The trees are notably stunted from the severe winds, and short growing season. Rocks are evident, jutting up in various, random, locations and mosses and low lying shrubbery fill in the remaining area. I imagine it to be something similar to the tundra in the northwest territories but a lot more trees.

We rounded the highway and cycled into the city of St. John's still together as a team after so many long days of riding. We headed for our final destination, a park in the center of town on Water St. with a memorial commemorating the beginning of Terry Fox's journey across Canada. Where his journey began our journey across Canada came to an end. We pulled into the park where we met Paul from the Newfoundland Lung Association who greeted us with celebratory bottles of Champagne. Hip Hip hurray! We made it all the way! Congratulations team we made it. Hugs all around.

After we accomplished our goal the gang was off to find accommodations for the next few nights. Cam and Christine stayed in a B&B while Alisha, Jennica and I stayed in a hostel. We thought we were done cycling for the day but then we had to climb the hill to the hostel. This hill was probably one of the steepest we climbed all trip. All three of us had to take a break half way up, either to change into a lower gear or catch our breath. I don't know how you would drive these hills when there is slushy snow on the ground?????

We moved our stuff into our rooms for the evening then the gang went out for dinner to celebrate our accomplishment and replenish our souls together.


Day 70: North Sidney Ferry Terminal...

Today was a much easier day than the last two. With only 30 km the team took it easy in the morning and set of for the ferry terminal at 11 am.

10 minutes later a loud hissing sound was heard as Alisha experienced yet another flat (but this time it was a fast leak....we didn't have many of those on this trip). By now Alisha is a pro at changing flats. In not time, a new tube was on and we were ready to roll.

With our metabolism running a mile a minute and ferries being notoriously bad for healthy food choices the team set off to stock up for the ferry ride and our following day's ride at the grocery store. Then we were off to check in at the ferry terminal: $100 for the ferry ride including our bikes then an additional $30 for a bunk in the dormitory (not the greatest bed in the world but we did get some much needed shut eye...It just wasn't a quality sleep).

On board the ferry, we bumped into a group of men from Moncton forewheeling across the rock one who knew Alisha's grampy. The gang was so friendly in the east coast way. Bill Searle even offered to make a few phone calls to helps us arrange transport to the airport in St. John's. Thank's sooo much.

Grand total: 32 km

Interesting facts:
The ferry operates on Newfoundland time (30 min ahead of Atlantic Time)
The ferry ride to Argentia takes 15 hours through open waters....apparently it can get quite rocky some day's.
We were luck to have good weather.


Day 69: Cycling A Nova Scotian Mountain at Dusk

Port Hastings to the KOA on the other side of Kelly's Mountain

After an exciting 200 km day the B4B Team totally needed a rest so rest we did but maybe a little too long.
We had a relaxing morning to recover from our previous days long haul, did some much needed laundry then departed for at 1 pm for a campground approximately 100 km down the road.

The afternoon ride traveling along the shoreline of Nova Soctia was definitely enjoyable but when we reached Baddeck, approximately 85 km down the road, at about 6pm and still had not conqured this Nova Scotian "Mountain" we had heard so much about I was getting a little ancy. I didn't really want to have two late nights in a row.

So half of us headed off to get supplies for dinner and the other half (Jennica and Cam) went to the visitors info to find the closest campsite. Well when you are on a bike 5 km in either direction is a big deal and the team definitely didn't want to back track 5 km to the nearest campsite so the other option was the KOA at the easterly foot of Kelly's Mountain about 30 km down the road.

Aware that another 30 km would set us up for riding in the dark we naively set out in two groups to attack Kelly's mountain. Alisha and I went ahead and started to climb the mountain at about 8:30pm. We joked as we past a sign anouncing the commencement of Kelly's assent " over the next 7km you will climb 240 km"..... and they call that a mountain. What happened to the 6 hour mountain climbs that we had back in BC. As the climb continued the shore line to the left shimmered with red and orange that quickly faded into darkness. By the time we reached the top of the hill it was pitch black. Out came the head lamps, tail lights and MEC turtles.... and on went another layer of clothes. Then we began to decend what was atleast a 7% grade (although in the dark we really had no idea). Takeing off with my normal confidence I decended a little faster than the rest of the team but I have to admit I was breaking! I am not one to scare easily but this decent was not something I would do again. Alisha and I were relieved when we finally pulled into the KOA at 9:30 pm in total darkness. We purchased camping for the evening then prayed for the safe arrival of the rest of the crew. An hour later everybody was safely in the campsite a little nerve racked but safe and sound.

The grand total for today: 122 km
Interesting advice: I don't recommend decending hills in the dark fully loaded.
Positive spin to the day: We were only 30 km away from the ferry terminal in North Sydney so we can sleep in (that is if our biological clocks don't wake us up at 7 am).


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A record Setting Day: Charlottown PEI to Port Hastings NS

Day 68: Record Setting Day!

We Biked 207.8km today! Isn't that amazing. We left the Barretts (Bob and Elsie)this morning at 6am and arrived at the Frenchs (Florence and Gerard) at about 9 pm. This morning we all woke up at 5:30 and set a record for how fas we could leave (we do appologize for not staying for breakfast). About 30 minutes into the trip as the sun was rising and the mist over PEI was lifting Jennica got a flat. Alisha sprinted ahead to tell Cam and Christine of the unfortunate insident (4 flat in about 3 days of riding). Cam and Christine kept heading for the ferry so we could ensure catching the 9:30 ferry while I helped Jen(actuallly jen did most of the work which she does diserve a round of applause for!) and Alisha waited for us to catch up. Then Jen, Alisha and I sprinted for 2.5 hours to get to the 9:30 ferry. Fortunately, we made it just in time to load onto the front of the lower deck for a 75 min ferry ride to Nova Soctia.

We arrive in Nova Soctia at 11:15 am pealed off our layers and sunscreened up for one of the hotest days in a while (especially after the rainstorm that delayed our plans and forced the 200km journey today.)

Over all we biked 145 km fully loaded and arrived in Atigonish at 5pm, ate some dinner and made a phone call. We asked for some help the remaining 60km. Florence agreed to pick up our bags and help us speed up the remaining portion of the trip to Port Hasting on the lovely Cape Breton Coast. Horray!

Hopefully our bodies will forgive us tomorrow. The plan is to bike 100 km tomorrow and then the following morning ride ~45km before an epic 15 hr ferry ride. The end of our journey is quickly approaching and I am so excited!!!!!!

A special thank-you to the French's for their warm hospitality.

Day 67: Exploring PEI

Today we took the opportunity to explore the heritage and beauty PEI has to offer. After and amazing breakfast made by Caleb's Outlook's fabulous chef's (Jim and Betty) Betty drove us out to Cavindish to explore Green Gables and marvel in the captivating environment that enspired Lucy Montgomery's story Anne of Green Gables. My favorite was the strole down the path that started with Lovers Lane. I recommend walking the short 1.6 km walk alone breathin in the fresh PEI air and listening to the sounds of the forest that captivated Lucy. There are brief exerps from her diaries all around the walk and breathing in her vibrant quotes as you walk along is just invigorating.

After Green Gables we drove over to see the red cliffs and Cavindish beach then back to Caleb's out look for lunch before we headed off towards Charlottown and Northumberland Provincal Park. We stopped off for dinner in downtown Charlottown as the rain was just poouring down. As we sat a at our dinner the harsh reality of the PEI storm came over us and with only 36 km under our belt we decided that we had to seek shelter for the night. So we called Betty and Jim with a last minute request for help. We were so lucky! Betty contacted the Barretts close friends of theirs in Charlottown and they welcomed us into their home with open arms. Thank-you soo much for inviting us into you home at such a late hour and sheltering us from the storm.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Quick Recap

Sorry about the lack of posts in the past few days. Throughout Quebec and New Brunswick, Internet access has been difficult to come by. Here's a quick recap of the past few days!

Day 53: A day off in Montreal! Cam and Christine rented a car to visit Cam's grandparents while Jennica and Alisha toured around downtown Montreal with Jennica's friend from Canada World Youth, Lysanne. It was a really hot day (44 degrees once the humidex was added)! A huge storm that night made us really happy to be inside!

Day 54: Montreal to Louiseville

Distance: 120 km

This morning we rode out of Montreal, which took much longer then expected. As we were riding, we got another downpour which made camping seem not so appeasing. We therefore decided to hit up a motel room for a night. You never knew 5 people + gear could fit in a single room!

Day 55: Louiseville to Neuville

Distance: 132km

Today we were able to see the beautiful Quebec landscape!! There are so many cute towns along the way and they are all so historic. Some of the churches were built in the late 1800's!

Day 56: Neuville to Quebec City

Distance: 136km

This morning we slept in a little then rode into Quebec City to the University of Laval where we spent a couple of nights in the residence. After a little laundry and dropping off bikes at a bike store for a tune-up, we took in downtown Quebec City! We walked around the old part of Quebec City, looking in stores and getting authentic french food.

Day 57: Quebec City OFF

Today we took the day off to enjoy the "Fete de la Nouvelle France", a festival looking at Quebec's history before it became an English colony. Many people were dressed up in costumes of the period and there were performers, food, wine tasting and shows (too bad the shows were in French.....). As well, Cam, Christine and Alisha took a walking tour around the citadel, learning about some of the military history of Quebec.

Day 58: Quebec City to St. Jean Port Joli

Distance: 108km

After a challenging time getting out of the city, including a flat tire and a ferry ride, we got to tour more of the Quebec landscape. This time, we were on the south shore of the St. Laurent. An excellent ride, the landscape was flat and the houses were so cute! This evening we even camped along the St. Laurent.

Day 59: St. Jean Port Joli to St. Antonin

Distance: 110.4km

Today we headed East until Riviere-du-Loup then headed South towards New Brunswick. We met another cyclist today, Evelyn, who is a Masters student at the University of Laval and who is touring the maritimes. We even took in some of the TransCanada Trail tonight on the way to our campsite.

Day 60: St. Antonin to Edmunston

Distance: 115 km

Last night we had tons of rain but today was beautiful and sunny! Today we rode into New Brunswick and were re-introduced to some hills, as well as introduced to a new time zone. We are now on Atlantic Standard Time. This has been the easiest time zone to adjust to as we are all so tired....feeling asleep at 9pm is no problem at all....

A Special thank you to Bob and Tammy at Iroquis River Campground. This is their first year of running the campground, and they gave us a special deal as fundraising cyclists! If you are ever in Edmunston, check it out! The facilities are great (with recycling!)

Day 61: Edmunston to Bath
Distance: 135km

We took the scenic route on the old highway from Grandfalls and met some short, steep hills. Beautiful farmland.

Thank you SO MUCH to Pearl and Lloyd McNair (Jennica's friend, Nicole's grandparents) for putting us up at their house and feeding us a lovely meal in Bath.

Day 62: Bath to Hawkshaw

Distance: 101km

Visited Hartland where we went through the world's longest covered bridge!
After this, we were back on the #2 were we again experienced the hills of New Brunswick. Did anyone mention how cold it has gotten since we have been here? It has reminded me of our first couple of weeks in BC with showers, sunny periods and some cold breezes.

Day 63: Hawkshaw to Cole's Island

Distance: 156km

Our longest distance yet! A quick visit in Fredricton and then off to Cole's Island on the old highway. It was longer than we expected so we arrived really late, but the route was beautiful! Really flat for the first stretch along the St. John river and than into some little hills through the country.

Thank you to Nicole's aunt and uncle, Allan and Marg McNair, for looking out for us on our late ride, and making us feel really at home during our 14 hour rest! (And to John, their son, for his bike mechanic skills and his effort to give us free help !)

Day 64: Cole's Island to Moncton

Distance: 105km

Alisha's grandparents, George and Margaret came all the way to Cole's Island to pick up our gear - what a relaxing break! We leisurely left the McNairs about 1130, and headed out on the old highway which was pretty flat.

Jennica says she isn't superstitious but after saying at breakfast about her touring tires and having had no flats.... she ended up with a front flat in the morning and a rear flat just rolling into the house that evening! What luck!

We also visited magnetic hill, as all tourists must do - and yes it does work on the bike!

Day 65: Moncton

Distance: 0km

Alisha, Klara and Jennica went to Shediac with Margaret for "Summer Church". We were lucky to be there on the one day in the summer when a men's quartet comes to sing! They were fantastic!

Went out to Hopewell Rocks to see the flowerpots - these are in the Bay of Fundy where the largest tides are in the world (?) Of course the weather was unpredictable with a fair amount of rain throughout the day, but luckily it cleared up enough to take the little trail down to walk on the ocean floor at low tide!

Day 66: Moncton, NB to New Glasgow, PEI

Distance: 132km

George again drove all our gear out to meet us at Confederation Bridge (which i must says makes our day a lot easier!) A nice easy 85 km to the bridge where we hopped on the free shuttle (with a bike trailer of course) across the 12km bridge.

What a neat environment that met us on the other side! An open-air musician was "playing in the park" and the little village of stores was bustling with people. We looked around for a bit before we got on our bikes to head North the 45 km to friends of Alisha's family, Jim and Betty's bed and breakfast.

A beautiful dinner awaited us (they operate a certified organic farm ) with fresh, organic veggies! Delicious! Thank you so much!

If we don't have internet access for a bit....I'll let you in on the secret schedule....we plan to leave PEI on wednesday morning and head into Nova Scotia. If all goes well, we will be on the boat heading to the wonderful province of New Foundland on Friday (14 hours at sea!).

Before you know it, we will be at home, sitting drinking tea together and sharing photos and summer stories! Thanks for being so patient and checking in on how we are doing!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day 52: Grenville to Montreal

July 31st
Distance: 104 km

Another gorgeous ride! More flatlands and farms but also we passed a few little cities. Stopping in Lachute for lunch (not at a little cafe but at Tim Horten's........we are Iced Cappucino fans), we kept heading toward Montreal.

We are staying in Montreal at Cam's Uncle Anthony's house. We arrived here to a friendly welcome and a fabulous dinner, as well as showers.

After dinner, we headed downtown to do some exploring. More exploring tomorrow!!!

Day 51: Ottawa to Grenville

July 30th
Ottawa to Grenville
Distance: 97km

Today we couldn't leave without seeing a little more of Ottawa/Hull area. Therefore we stopped at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau. This is an amazing museum with tons of exhibits including exhibits on First Nations, African beading, Nursing, Skating and the History of Canada, to name a few that we saw. After lunch at the museum, we headed out of Gatineau on our way to Montreal.

The road here is so nice!! It is really flat and passes by several farms and towns. So many of the towns have old Catholic churches and lots of history. We were also cycling along the Ottawa river so we could see Ontario on the other side of the water!

Cycling almost to Grenville, we decided to stop at a campground along the water called "La Place Rouge". Throughout today, Jennica and Alisha have had many opportunities to practice their french, despite the fact that it is very rusty.

Day 49: North Bay to Ottawa

July 28th
North Bay to Ottawa
Distance: 380km

This morning we finished our drive into Ottawa. Stopping in Arnprior for tea and a quick visit with Alisha's aunt, we drove into Ottawa to see Jennica's Great Aunt Lyndell and Uncle Stan. Unloading the van took much less time then loading the van - what was an intricate puzzle of bikes came apart quite quickly!

After a shower and some rest, the team decided to go out for a night on the town. We met up with Cam's 2nd cousin Kylie who took us to Hooley's for some dancing. Too bad we were too tired to stay up until the place got busy!

By midnight we were ready for some much needed sleep (oh we're big partiers here!) and ready to have some touristy fun!

Day 50: Ottawa!!!

July 29th
Distance: 0km

Ottawa - our national capital. Home to way too much stuff to see - countless museums and galleries, an intricate series of locks, the Rideau Canal, shopping and of course the Parliament Buildings. It is impossible to see everything in one day but boy did we try!

We didn't even allow ourselves to sleep in this morning. Getting up at 8:30 (ok still a little sleeping in), we had a quick breakfast and headed downtown to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill. After a quick coffee break, we took a tour of Parliament Hill, learning all about the history of politics in Canada and taking in the marvelous architecture of the Parliament Buildings. It was so interesting to learn all about these buildings! We were also lucky to see the library, which has been newly restored! The team headed up the elevator to the peace tower, getting a birds eye view of the city.

After lunch at the Byward Market downtown, we decided to do a tour of othe Rideau Canal by boat!

Don't even think our day was done yet. After dinner with Lyndell and Stan, we headed back to "The Hill" for a sound and light show about Canada. It was an amazing show with music and commentary about Canada's proudest moments. Truely amazing!

After a hard day of walking and touring, we were all really ready for bed. Back on the bikes tomorrow!

Day 48: Sault Ste Marie to North Bay

July 27th
Distance: 455km

How did we manage to do this distance in one day? Quick answers - we attached turbo boosters to our bikes! Wow no idea a bike could go so fast hey!

Ok a sad reality hit this morning while we were examining a map, distances and a calendar. At the rate we were going, we would not finish the trip before we had to leave to go to school. We had too little time....if only we had another week.......

With this realization, we decided to rent a van and drive the rest of Ontario, dropping the van off in Ottawa. This would allow us to finish the trip and see the maritime provinces, something that everyone wanted to be able to do. Although not ideal by far, it was what needed to be done in order to accomplish our goals.

If you think this was an easy feat, however, you would be mistaken. Lets see you try loading a minivan with 5 bikes, 10 wheels, 2 trailers, 10 panniers, and several dry bags, as well as 5 cyclists! There was not a spare inch left! Don't worry, we all had seat belts!

This evening, we were able to spend time with Devon, Jennica's friend from Canada World Youth. Although not a long visit at all, it was nice to reunite with old friends!