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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Travel Day - the journey home...................


Ever had one of those days when NOTHING goes WRONG!!!!   I know - make sure you read that right - I should have bought a lottery ticket at some point!


Woke up and WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!    There is something VERY wrong with this whole picture.  Yes - the SUN - yes - THE SUN was shining.   I felt like I had been transformed into another country.  The sky was blue, there was a gentle breeze, the pavement was dry and not a hint of the blustery, miserable conditions that we had encountered over the previous two days!!!!

Had breakfast with a couple of riders that were still at the hotel and then I was off on an adventure. I had a couple of hours to kill before catching my plane.

I walked downtown and if you have never been to St. John's when I say DOWN town - I mean DOWN.
Had to walk DOWN this hill to get to the main part of town. 

Too bad my Fitbit battery was dead and I put the charger in with my luggage that I sent home. Drat!!!!  I am sure I would have done a LOT of flights in those couple of hours.

Anyway - my first stop was the bike shop. I had dropped the bike off the previous day for them to pack up.  When I had called them on the phone two weeks ago - they were very accommodating. However when some of us contacted them once we arrived, they seemed to back track on their helpfulness.  I stopped in to make sure that the bike was in fact packed and ready to go so when I stopped later in the day - I wouldn't be waiting around.

Yep - the bike was packed and ready to go!  Phew!   I was a bit worried about that.


Townie bike for sale at the bike shop!!!!!   come on - these bikes are fun and do NOT involve hills!!!!!



 Had an amazing view of Signal Hill from the Harbour - yes - can you believe that they rode up that hill in the crazy wind and rain?????   So glad I didn't feel obligated to do it this year!!!   It is quite a climb in a very short distance. But the view from there is spectacular.


Cabot Tower on top of Signal Hill

Signal Hill in the distance - one of the streets with those crazy houses!!!!
More crazy streets - very hard for you to appreciate the steepness but trust me - I was huffing the first time I walked. I attribute that to the fact that I carrying stuff!!!!  


Or if you want to walk between Water and Duckworth - you can take the stairs!!!!!    That is a LOT of stairs!!!!!


Anyway - I spent a couple of hours wandering around - I was looking for a specific piece of art that I had seen last year and wouldn't you know it - I finally found it in the last shop I checked.  But I did find a few other goodies along the way.

Someone told me that The Duke of Duckworth had the BEST fish n chips and when I mentioned that to the girls in the last shop - they said OH NO - you have to go to The Ship Pub (same owners - but supposedly better).   OK so I had nothing left to look at so I wandered over to the pub. It was just opening for the day.

I ordered the fish n chips. And an Iceberg beer which is one of the beers we had tasted the day before at the Quidi Vidi Brewery.  When the girl took my order - she asked me if I wanted dressing and gravy?  Hmmm - and that would be?????   Well I thought - when in Newfoundland - order what they would order - so I got the works.   Turns out the dressing is in fact - a dressing with bread crumbs and other goodies that goes onto the fries and gravy on top of the whole thing, but not on the fish.  Normally I would NOT eat that, but hey - why not. The fish was lightly battered and fried and I am NOT a huge fish eater, but this fish would melt in your mouth.  I have NEVER eaten fish that was that fresh or that tasty.  Who cared about the fries - the fish was to die for. Apparently - it practically comes out of the ocean and into their kitchen!

Lunch



Well - lucky me as I was the ONLY person to be served in the restaurant that day - at least from the kitchen.  Apparently after the chef cooked my meal  - something happened to the stove and they had to shut the kitchen down for the day!   Since I had time to kill - I consumed a couple of those yummy Iceberg beers!


Then back to one store to pick up something that I wasn't sure I wanted, but after the beer - oh yes - I wanted it!  Just a book - nothing too exciting!

Back to the hotel and caught the shuttle to the airport.  The driver (who I remember from last year) made a detour down town so I could collect my bike and then a quick drive to the airport.

Now Air Canada does need to come up with a FIRM policy on the payment of luggage.  Last year - when I did the check-in - I said I had TWO bags to check - one was a duffel bag and one was a bike.  I paid $50 for handling for the bike and an extra $20 for the second piece of luggage.  The agent said - I should have only paid the $50, not the extra $20.  Oh well - I wasn't going to make a fuss and try to claim the money back.  So this year when I did the check-in - I only paid $50.  This time the agent said - that was wrong and I had to pay an extra $20 for the second item.  No big deal.  But make up your minds people!!!!

Anyway - off to the over sized luggage area to drop off the bike.   The people there were EXTREMELY friendly.  Last year - they were NOT.   They even helped me tape up the box (and provided the tape and scissors - which they did NOT last year).   And we had a great chat all the while we were doing that.  Last year - they wouldn't even touch the box. I had to empty it, lift it - whatever. This year - well - no comparison!!!!!   Now all the luggage is checked and I am off to the gate to wait.

Oh dear - the flight looks like it is going to be late leaving.  Well - no big deal - I've got a book, but there was a family there and one of the kids was stuck in a stroller and he did not want to be in the stroller.  There were two or three other kids in the same family.  The mom did NOTHING to console this kid in the stroller.   I was tempted to go and ask her what her problem was. It was very annoying and when we finally got on the plane - her kids dumped their toys on the first seat and took off down the plane.  I would have killed those kids if they were mine.

Anyway - as we are sitting in the lounge waiting - they are calling individuals up.  No idea why. Then my name got called.  OK - so what is this about?   Giving me a new seat. A MUCH nicer seat - yep - a seat in BUSINESS class.   Apparently the next plane out of St. John's was also going to be late and they were trying to fill this plane - which they did. But it meant that some people got bumped up.   Hey - that is just fine by me!!!!!!    However I had bought a set of head phones so I could watch the movie and had already sent my head phones home. Also bought snacks as I was prepared to sit in economy.  Didn't need to buy the  head phones or the snacks after all!!!!

Had a very comfy flight home and I plugged those headphones in and watched a VERY FUNNY movie - The Other Woman and I never once heard those kids!!!!!!     Although at one point - we are near Toronto and all of a sudden my ears are killing me.  Oh crap - forgot about the pressure thing.   I never wear head phones (ear buds on a plane - I usually read, but this time - I knit!!!!!!)   With my bamboo needles of course.


Luggage came off relatively quick and then I was home.   I must say that it is good to be home. It has been a crazy summer.  While I was away - I kept telling people how on previous trips - I got the urge to purge when I got home because I was so used to having so little with me.  Well - you guessed it - I was up half the night figuring out what to dump and on that note - I am off with a HUGE URGE TO PURGE!!!!!

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ciao!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 72 - Pictures

Here is the group at Mile Zero - gosh - I keep picking the one with Gavin's arm in the way



Leslie dipping her wheels - awesome job Leslie!!!!!

Day 72 - St. John's

Let's just say that it was awesome to have a warm dry bed to sleep in.  I got a room by myself otherwise we would have had to share with two or three to a room and with all the wet gear and bikes - well it is just ugly so I coughed up extra cash to get a room just for me!!!!   For those who know me - I don't like to share!!!!!

Had breakfast with the others and the weather outside was FRIGHTFUL.  They had plans to dip their wheels in the ocean, go to Mile Zero and ride up Signal Hill.  Me - I had plans for NONE of it.  I did it last year and it really wasn't my trip across Canada so no need for the ceremony.  However Barb (Dave's wife) convinced me to come and so I did.  I am very glad that I did as I was the official photographer!!!   They started out at Mile Zero which is symbolic of Terry Fox's run - it was to be his end point. There is a beautiful statue of Terry near the water front and a nice little park. Let me tell you - that there were a LOT of cameras that made an appearance and Gavin and I spent a bit of time taking pictures. 

Trust me - NO ONE lingered.  The wind was blowing like mad, the rain was pelting down - it was just ugly!!!!!

Then off to the dock to dip the wheels.  I remember those docks from last year.  Let's just say that a floating dock is already a very unstable platform, but with the high winds - it was even more so.  The cyclists went down one of the docks and I went on the other so I could get a good picture of them. My camera has been acting up lately - too much dampness no doubt.   Anyway - I managed to get pictures of them all although a few times - they were a bit shaky because of the waves.

Back on their bikes and they were off to Signal Hill.   Now I really felt for them on this climb because it was into the head wind. It was an UGLY climb.  I got pictures of them coming up and that was so cool to watch them all arrive at their final destination. It was almost as exciting as if I had done the entire trip with them.  As I was taking pictures in the blowing wind - a woman came up to me and asked if I was with the cyclists. Yes I said.  She asked if a John Edwards was with us.  Hmmmmmm - John???   Oh yes - John!!!!   Turns out his cousin came up to meet him on the Hill!!!!!   How cool is that!!!!!!

Then another round of pictures and by this time everyone was frozen - except Stuart who had on his merino wool base layer and long pants!!!!!  After all the pictures were done - everyone headed back to the hotel.  They had been out for about two hours by this time and yes - everyone was wet again!!!!!!  

Our final brunch was just a short walk down the road. On the way there - we had to pass a Shopper's Drug Mart and I wanted to pick up a couple of things. AHA - there is a photo printing station here and they printed off two pictures immediately for me so I took a copy of the group photos to the brunch.  Everyone has excited to see them.

We had a great brunch - and a couple of traditional Newfoundland dishes which I have to say I did not care for.  Too much fat for me!!!!!!!   Then all the thank yous, comments and such and it was over!!!!!!   Oh dear - that is always the sad part! 

Back to the hotel and then I grabbed my bike and walked it down to the bike shop so they could box it up for transport.  I know - just being lazy!!  But I didn't have a box so I had to get one from them - another few dollars and they would pack it up - that was a no brainer!!!!   But it was raining and so it was ugly walking down the hill to the shop.  I did a little bit of shopping - I had to buy a new duffle bag to bring all my odds and ends home - I wanted to check it on the plane and my other luggage is already back in Ontario!

Then by the quirks of Facebook - I was off to meet Cheryl and her family.  Cheryl is a quilter (and her husband Larry helps out with the quilting - I want Larry to come visit me!!!!!). Their son Stephen had just crossed Canada - also on a bike.  He did it by himself and so it was great to meet all of them including Stephen's finance whose name I have forgotten!!!  Anyway - we met at Quidi Vidi Brewery where we did the tasting and had a tour of the production process.   Very interesting, but the tasting went so fast - we got to taste five beers and they were coming around to fill up my glass before I had finished the first sample.  Oh well - bottoms up!!!!!   Some very nice beer and I think some of it is available in Ontario - I must look for it.

After that we were off to Linda's.  A small eccentric little restaurant not far from the Brewery.  When I mean eccentric - I mean eccentric. And John - if you are reading this - they had license plates on the wall.  I was tempted to pinch one or two for you!!!!!   The story there is that John started collecting license plates in Alberta and we gave him three more at the final brunch.  I think he ended up with quite a collection at the end of the trip!!!!!   Anyway - back to Linda's - we had great clam chowder - so thick you almost needed a fork to eat it.  And a group who were also at the Brewery came in to be screeched into Newfoundland.  Oh boy - what fun as we listened to them go through the ceremony.   I did not participate!!!!!   But I watched and observed!

Chery and Larry drove me back to St. John's where we visited the chocolate shop.  Yum yum!!!!   And then I said good-bye as I still had a couple of things to do.  I walked back to the hotel - UP that huge hill and yes - I was huffing when I got to the top.   Then a nice quiet evening in the hotel.  And a nice - dry bed!!!!!

Thanks Cheryl and Larry - it was so awesome to meet you - I'll see you on Facebook!!!!!   (And thanks to Pauline H - who made the connection for us)

On that note - I still have a couple of hours before I have to catch my plane and I want to pick up one more thing from St. John's since it may be a LONG time before I come back!!!!

Have an awesome day!!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 71 - Last set of pictures for today

Hans (from Berlin) and John (from Scotland but originally from Canada)


Gerald (from Austria) and look how much weight he lost on the trip!!!!!!

Day 71 - More pictures of the last day

Gerald arrives AT LAST!!!!!



Jacques - very focused on pouring that scotch. Can't waste a drop!


Day 71 - more pictures

More pictures from the last day - needless to say - I did NOT take any pictures along the way!!!!

Pizza and beer!!!!



Last hands of rummy!

Day 71 - pictures!!!!

Oh yes - a note - it will be a LONG time before I decide to cycle in NewFoundland and if EVER I even hint at it - strike me down!!!!!

Welcome to Newfoundland



The Tim's at the junction of Highway 100 and 1

Day 71 - Argentia to St. John's

Had a great sleep on the ferry and NO - I did not hear Alec or Craig snore - not even once!  Heard the fog horn a couple of times, but the sea was calm or so I thought.

Up and had breakfast at the buffet on the ferry.  All you can eat - they sure did not make money with our group!  Then a final meeting as the weather was not going to cooperate so trying to shave a few KM off the route. Next thing we know - it is time to get off the ferry.   I loaded my bags onto the van and the five of us who walked our bikes on - were able to get to our bikes and walked them off. There was no need for me to go to the van once it was parked for the others to get their bikes so I was off.   Got a picture of the Newfoundland sign and then off to see what the weather was like.

Well - there was a hurricane in the vicinity - OK - so it was 500 KM off the shore of Newfoundland, but still that is in the vicinity.  The weather was cool - about 18 degrees and windy.  Oh yippeeee!!!!    I had taken my big rain jacket with me and I had that on with my bolero underneath. No leggings as I didn't think I would need them. Mistake!!!!

I am making decent time up highway 100 on my way to the TransCanada when I ran over a nail and got a puncture in the rear tire.  Are you kidding me?????   I never had a flat last year at all and now here on the last day - a bloody flat tire.  I got my tools out and was just taking the tire off when John stopped by to help. Well  it appeared that I didn't have the proper tube (I had a tube for my road bike with me - DUH!!!!)  and so we ended up taking that damn tire off three times and by this time everyone had passed - so much for the getting off the ferry early strategy!!!!!   Stuart and Cy had stopped as well and Stuart gave me the proper tube. Oh boy - I'm a dolt!!!!!   Then I was back on the road.  Thanks to John, Cy and Stuart for making that flat tire become a non issue as I was about ready to hitch a ride.  Let's just say that the wind was not a pleasant wind.

Finally made it to the Tim Horton's at the junction of 100 and 1.  I met up with the rest of the group there (except Alec and Craig who just never stopped any where on any day - they just rode on through).  Got something warm to eat and then back on the road.  I was sincerely hoping that by changing directions we would get a better wind.  Oh NO - the wind was even more fierce and oh look - it is starting to rain.

I tell you it doesn't get any better than that for cycling: head winds, rain, cool temperatures AND let's not forget the fact that we are on a busy highway!!!!   I had to laugh though because everyone is challenging each other with this Ice Bucket challenge for ALS.  Let's just say that there were TWO occasions that qualified for that challenge and it was NO ICE BUCKET of water that washed over my entire body. Nope - that would be a a HUGE amount of water as a transport went by.  Yep - I pretty much felt like I had been inserted into a car wash going at full speed.  Couldn't see a darn thing!!!!!   And the water just splashed through everything!!!!   Ice bucket challenge - doesn't even come close!!    Thankfully I only got the "full meal deal"' twice but that is not to say that we were not sprayed by every car that went by.   At one point my feet felt like they were in two big buckets of water.   My big rain jacket was doing a pretty decent job of keeping my upper body dry and thus warm.

As the day wore on (remember - we did not leave the ferry dock until 10:30 AM - and my flat tire delayed me by at least 40 minutes).  It is now getting on in the afternoon.  I remembered all the issues I had last year and how demoralizing these NFLD conditions can be.  I tried to keep a happy face all the time.

I have mentioned before that riding in those kind of conditions you need some kind of mental game or challenge to keep you going. Once I passed the junction of 1 and 100 - there was about 75 KM to go.  So I broke it down into 15 KM sections. I figured that I could do 15 KM in 1 hour.  Although I tried to ride faster - that was my goal. I didn't think about anything else but those immediate 15 KM. I think I was able to do the sections in about 50 minutes. But it helped to pass the time and gave me something to focus on.

I did catch up to Stuart, Cy and Bud and rode behind them for about 10 K.  They almost threw my timing off, but not quite. Then they stopped for coffee.  Oh boy - I am NOT stopping.  As I mentioned - time was marching on and I was starting (OK - so I was COLD) and there was no way that I was going to be able to get warm if I stopped (and still at least 30 K to go).  So I kept going. I grabbed a chocolate bar from a gas station (OK - so I bought the darn thing) and then I was off again.  Another 15 K and then another 15 K.  I remembered the roads but it was pretty easy - as we had recited the highway numbers a LOT in the morning on the ferry.

Some of the secondary highways we were on were crappy!  No shoulder and broken road which made it difficult to ride, especially when there was so much rain. And let's not forget that I wasn't wearing my glasses so it wasn't the easiest to keep an eye on the pot holes. There were one or two times when I said a BAD word out loud when I hit a pot hole because I was worried about my back tire which didn't have as much air in it as it should have.

Then we got onto a decent highway which is actually a major highway into St. John's and the traffic was crazy busy. The water was spraying everywhere and that damn road just went on and on and on and on. Well you get the picture.  You would climb up a long hill and then down the other side. Then up again and down again. The downs were way worse than the ups since the rain was pelting me in the face and I had no glasses on so the rain just bit into my face. 

Can you tell - we had a good day?????  I must admit that I almost lost it on this section of the road and I think this is where I lost my sense of humour last year. Even though I think the conditions were way worse this year!  The good news was that when the rain started, the wind did die down a bit. Yippee!!!!

AT LAST - the damn exit.  I was so glad to get off that highway. The constant slog in the rain, the spray from the vehicles, the dump trucks who did not give a damn (and there were a lot of them) was getting to me.  But I had another issue to content with at this point.  Riding in the city and my feet were like ice at this point and when I unclipped at a stop light, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to clip back into my pedals.  My hands were like icicles, my legs were numb and I was wet through and through.  The constant spray from the road finally invaded my big rain jacket (plus I think the side vents were partially open). 

Anyway - I made it down one section of the town and then onto the final road which changed names three times.  My GOD - how long does this road go on for??????   AHA - finally the first name change.  And then the second and OH MY GOD - there is the Shopper's Drug Mart which I knew was just by the hotel.  I MADE IT!!!!!!!!   I zipped into the parking lot - took a quick picture with my bike and into the hotel where the ones ahead of me had arrived just minutes before me - well may 15 minutes before me. Except for Alec and Craig who had been here for longer.   Our van had not arrived yet so they were still hanging around in their wet clothes.  Are you kidding me????????

I grabbed my room key, ran to the room, stripped off my wet clothes and had a hot shower and crawled into bed to get warm!!!!!!     Well now that I was warmed up (and had something to eat) - I still had nothing to put on that was dry.   And my window over looks the parking lot so that was handy. I saw when the van arrived.  I grabbed my dampish cycling jersey and a towel - no room for pride in this world of survival.   I wasn't the only one wearing a towel in the lobby - Hans had spent the ENTIRE day in just a cycling jersey.  He was in bad shape when he arrived.  My hands were so cold when I arrived - I couldn't even hold the pen to sign at the front desk.   But dry clothes and I was a happy camper.

The lobby of the hotel was a mess - there were wet bikes, tons of luggage and 20 people in there, but we managed to get everything straightened out.  Gavin had bought a bunch of snack food for us so I helped set that up as the others had showers and got changed.  Then we sat around and chatted and ate and drank beer and well - just tried to unwind from a "lovely" cycling day.  At the same time - it was the LAST day so there was a LOT of unwinding to do.

I don't know why I was in such a foul mood last year when I arrived, but I was NOT going to let that happen this year.  I was so happy to arrive - perhaps because I was so cold?   But it was more than that.  I really let that last part of the road get to me last year and I had this big vision of riding up to Signal Hill - well I shared that story with everyone and so no one had those expectations which considering the weather conditions was good.   Only Guillaume who is a young speedy cyclist went up Signal Hill last night even after he took a side trip - seriously Guillaume??????   Yes - he whizzed past me at one point.  Crazy Frenchman!!!!!

We all pretty much arrived within one hour of each other which was good, but Gerrald got lost and ended up doing an extra 34 K which was NOT a good thing to happen on a day like yesterday.  He finally arrived after 8 PM - it was dark - and everyone was worried but he made it in safely.

I hit the sack about 11 PM but I heard that a few others went out on the town and didn't arrive back at the hotel until 3 AM.  I guess those days for me are over.  I'm too old for that late of a night!!!!!

Sorry this is so long, but for those of you who plan to do a Tour du Canada in the future - I think it is important to note that the last day is probably one of the toughest.  So many emotions, the weather conditions, the distance and the start time - all of them together become a HUGE challenge. It can be done - but watch out!!!!!   And I have to say that we came directly to the hotel and did NOT go down town so there was NO climbs to get to the hotel.  What a relief. I remember coming around the corner last year and saying a few bad words out loud when I saw the hill that we had to climb to get to the hotel. 

Even though this wasn't a Tour du Canada for me - I still had a huge sense of accomplishment when I arrived.  My goal was to have a decent last day on the trip and I can honestly say that I did NOT let the conditions get to me. Having the right attitude, the right gear (well almost all the right gear) and the desire - can make all the difference in the world. I have no idea how many KM I actually rode by according to Bud's mileage - it was about 2,884 KM,  And our total for the last day - instead of 140 K - I thought it would be 120 K by eliminating some of the secondary roads, but it ended up being 130 K.  Still not having to ride that last 10 K was welcome!!!!!

On that note - I am out of here.

Have a fabulous day!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!!

Day 70 - last set of pictures

Here are a few more pictures from the ferry day.

Guy on the ferry (I will butcher his real name - so he is Guy for short)




At the buffet


Day 70 - Englishtown to North Sydney - more pictures

A couple more pictures.

Megan and Melissa on the ferry



A seagull

Day 70 - Englishtown to North Sydney

So many good pictures from this day - here are a few more.

The van loaded and ready to board the ferry


John walking his bike onto the ferry

Day 70 - Englishtown to North Sydney

Hey - it's my birthday!!!!!   We woke up to a glorious morning. And it was the last time taking down the tent!!!!!!   That is always such a wonderful feeling on a trip like this. It means the end is near.  Now not that we didn't enjoy the trip, but it is long and not always easy so the end is a good thing. Plus it is time to get moving back to reality.  I am getting excited to get back home and back to work!!!!

I surveyed my stuff to see what I didn't need.  Well - I ditched my pillow - I think with all the condensation from each night that it was a tad moldy and I also ditched my rubber boots. They did serve me well - I have always complained of wet feet with the camping thing as the grass is always wet especially in the morning whether from rain or from the dew. This year - NO wet feet. And dry feet are happy feet.   Plus the boots had a couple of big cracks in them so they went as well.

Now there was a LOT of luggage for everyone and we moved from the big truck to the van.  I offered to send my luggage home on the big truck and will pick it up when I get back.  Then I wouldn't have to worry about the two bags and a bike box on the plane.  So I had to sift through everything and get what I needed for the last couple of days.  Decisions had to be made - rain jacket - no rain jacket - big rain jacket?

And once all that was done - there really wasn't any reason to stick around camp.  Even though we only had 40K to ride that day.   I went back down that steep gravel hill - oh yeah! And then I was on the road.  We started off by climbing Kelly's Mountain.  This is not that huge of a hill, but big enough. The nice thing was - the grade was very decent and there was NO FOG this year so I was able to get some great pictures. We could see the Englishtown ferry on the way up and on the other side - we could see the bridge over the Great Bras d"or Channel. Oh shoot - I had forgotten that bridge!!!!

Anyway - we did have some fierce head winds. Oh yes - what would a day of riding be without the head winds.  At one point I am pedaling away on the way down Kelly's Mountain and thinking - I am making good time.  Yes - my speed was decent but I was having to pedal DOWN a 5 percent grade to get that speed. Then the bridge.  Not that high of a bridge, but with the fierce cross wind and NO shoulder or sidewalk - it wasn't a fun bridge to cross. 

Whew - that's over and now 20K to the ferry dock. The first 10 were pretty easy because we had a tail wind - the last 10 K weren't  as fast, but before I knew it - I was at the ferry dock.  I didn't go right to the dock as it was still hours before we had to be there.

I zipped into North Sydney and off to the far end of town to Gloria's bakery.  Got some fresh baked goods, stopped at the gas station (Irving) and got some chocolate milk and then down to the waterside to enjoy the view.  Two ferries were in and the view was awesome, had a great snack and well - what a cool way to spend your birthday.

I figured the others were going to be arriving soon so I best go and see where they were.  I passed the Tim's and there were a few of the group in there.  They told me that Craig and Alec were at Canadian Tire which was next door.  So off I went to find them - I needed Craig for a task that day - that's why I had to find him.  I saw their bikes outside Canadian Tire (it's a guy thing - Alec - LOVES Canadian Tire - so they went there to kill time).  Anyway - there were a couple of lounge chairs outside (for sale) and I sat down to wait for them.  Here they come and just so happened to be three chairs so the three of us killed some time outside Canadian Tire on their lounge chairs.   It was pretty funny!!!!!!

Then we decided to head to the ferry terminal to see if they could accommodate us. You see - since we only had the van (not the van and trailer), there was room for 15 bikes on the van roof rack - the other five people would have to walk their bike on the ferry.  I wanted to walk my bike on the ferry and I did not have such a ticket.  We talked to the ticket lady and she said - No problem - she would switch Craig and myself. So I became a bike on and Craig became a walk on.  It worked perfectly. 

Upstairs to our room - oh yes - there are FIVE women on the trip and four to a room so I offered to share with the men.  I got Alec and Craig!!!!   Which was pretty funny when it was announced since they have a reputation for snoring and I had said NO snorers. Alec had carried part of my stuff to the room and then I went outside to watch the ferry leave.  That Newfoundland ferry is so cool.  It is like a small cruise ship - just a massive thing - I can't imagine being on a HUGE cruise ship.  Anyway - pretty much as soon as the ferry sets sail - the BUFFET dining room opens and it wasn't hard to guess where the group was headed.  YEP - they were first in line.  I think we were all getting a bit hungry - so we did enjoy ourselves.  I do have to say that this group seems to be very FOOD oriented.  I don't remember that from last year - well maybe we were and I am just forgetting that detail.

Then the evening to relax - I grabbed my book and found a quiet spot to read. But after falling asleep several times - I figured it was time to go to bed.  I arrived at the cabin and Alec and Craig were already in bed.  I took the top bunk (don't worry - we already discussed that and well there was a good reason for the OLDER men to be on the bottom bunk!!!!)   It did take me a while to fall asleep - I know - get to bed and then wide awake!!!!!   However I have to say that I did not ONCE hear either of them snore.  They were good bunk mates!!   At one point in the night - we could hear the fog horn.  Just a nice soft blow of the horn!!!!   The crossing was smooth - we weren't sure what to expect given that Cyclone Cristobal was in the area.

Oh my gosh - I forgot the most important thing of the day. So we are waiting in the ferry terminal - the five bikes are outside. All the luggage is in the terminal which was sweltering in the heat. Then Bud tells us that we need a meeting upstairs. What for??????   We already went over all the details.  Some people weren't there - so how would we work that without leaving their luggage behind and then we had to lock up the bikes.  Oh dear - I was in a tizzy!!!!!  Especially since I had told people I would watch their luggage.  Anyway - I am pretty much the last person up the stairs - grudgingly I might add. And then - oh crap - they have a birthday cake for me!!!!   It was all a ruse!!!!!   They sang Happy Birthday and we had cake in the sweltering heat.  It was awesome.   Thanks to Tour du Canada for the fabulous birthday surprise. 

And I bet you are wondering WHY I wanted to bike onto the ferry instead of walking on?  Well - if you put your bike on the van - then the front wheel would have to come off, you had to go to the van and well - it was just going to slow me down in the morning. So by biking on - I could bike off and then just set out for St. John's.   Ah - the best laid plans. Wait for it!

On that note - I am out of here.

Have an awesome day.

Ciao!!!!!

Alec and Craig - relaxing outside Canadian Tire - see that orange Husqvarna riding lawn tractor?????





Waiting in the ferry terminal


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 69 - Last set of pictures

Dinner is almost ready - I have time for two more pictures. Enjoy!!!!

Gavin - who looks like he is enjoying cookking dinner.  I think he should have done it more often!!!!!



See how cozy the tents are??????    Good grief!!!   Oh well - LAST night in a tent!!!!





Day 69 - More photos


Cabot Trail!!!!
This is looking back on part of the descent from North Mountain.  See the cut near the top of the two mountains - Oh yes - that is part of the road - we were way up there.   This is only part way down.   A "thrilling" ride??????


Day 69 - Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures of me from today

One of the scenic stops along the way



Me at Wreck Cove General store.  Oh yes  - Look at that face!!!!!   Can you see Craig's reflection in the window???   And that is Alec with that bright orange shirt

Day 69 - Dingwall to Englishtown

Last day of major climbing?????   

Up and got the blog posted down by the washroom. No internet access in our tenting area. 

I was on cook duty this morning so I helped out with breakfast and then once everything was done - I was off. It was 8 AM.   I will be so happy to not hear those 5:30 AM alarms in the morning however tomorrow is going to be fun since our tents are packed tight together.  That is one thing that I have noticed about this group - there is no space concerns about the tents. If there is a empty foot beside a set up tent - then someone plunks down their tent.  Ian is the worst!!!!!   I love it!!!!!

Right off the bat there was a choice of taking the scenic hilly route or bypassing that. Since I had taken the scenic route twice before - I took the non hilly route.  AHA - everyone had always talked of a big hill and pretty much right off the bat - there was a hill.   It was about a 3KM climb but not that steep. When I finally got to the top - there was a fabulous 10K down hill run.   Just beautiful.   A perfect way to start the day.

The sun was out and it was pretty warm when we started and just got hotter. Not super hot, but hot enough.  We did a lot of climbing today - I think the number I heard was 1569 Meters or something like that.  Yeah - just what we need in the heat.

I stopped in Ingonish for a chocolate milk this morning.  Again with all the climbing - my stomach just can't seem to handle food which is not a good thing.   I met up with Jacques at one point - at a gorgeous scenic stop along the way.  Took some pictures and then we were off.  I was soon riding by myself again - and I can't say that I was upset.  I really enjoy the freedom to do what I want.

I had to laugh because at that scenic stop - Jacques was talking to some motorcyclists from Ontario.  They were going in the opposite direction from us.  They said - OH you have a huge hill to climb!!!   HA - Smokey was the smallest of the three and in fact - they had two massive climbs and descents - worse than we had. 

Next thing I knew I was  climbing Smokey.  This is not a bad ascent - a lot of 2 percent - climbs to about 6 or 7 near the end.  Oh let's not forget the pretty steep start to that mountain.  I think the total climb is about 5 K or perhaps a bit longer.  Then it was over and the descent starts pretty much right away. Yikes - this is a wicked descent with a lot of short quick switchbacks.  At one point a cube van passed me and he was going pretty fast and zipping out into the oncoming lane.  Idiot!!!!   My brakes squealed - not as bad as yesterday but still a lot.  And boy you need to have some strength in your fingers to go down those hills.  I did take a video of it a couple of years ago - I will try to find the video - it is on YouTube and post the link.

Then it was a lot of just climbing and descent - climbing and descent.  I was getting tired of it after a while.  I did stop at the General Store in Wreck Cove which is the same place I have stopped for each of the last three years.  I met up with Alec, Craig and Michel at the general store.  I had to wait a while to use the washroom and they headed out.  

It seemed like a long slog to the Englishtown ferry.  Of course - my Garmin reset itself at one point in the day which was a total pain so I didn't really have a reference.  And as soon as we were out of the major hills - then yes we had a lovely head wind.   Oh yes - bring it on.  I have to say by this point - I was getting tired. Oh yes - I was anxious to see the day end.

At last - there is the turn off for the ferry and and now a 6 K slog to the ferry landing.  Great - right into the wind.  I met up with Alec and Craig at the ferry and we took the ferry together.

Oh yes - let's not forget the construction.  There were these big machines with these massive saws on the front and they were just ripping up the trees on the road sides.  There was bits of wood flying everywhere as there were lots of machines.   It appears that they are working on a cycle path for next year.  Really?????    That would be awesome but NO - I am not going to go back to enjoy it, but it would be awesome since this road is pretty narrow.   I HATE cycling through the construction as you feel compelled to keep up with the traffic and that just isn't possible.

At last we arrived at the camp site.  A gravel road and UP a steep hill.   I geared down and took on the hill.   My rear wheel was slipping in the loose gravel but I made it up the hill.

Now we are just hanging around. Tent is up, shower is done and since we are getting packed up and switching trucks - that is done as well. Crew five is getting a break tonight as the Tour du Canada staff is cooking up dinner!!!!

I have managed to eat something so I am starting to get some energy back.  Boy - I sure wish I could eat better on these crazy days!!!!!!

Well I will go and see about posting the blog.

Tomorrow is ferry day - we are off to Newfoundland.

Have a good day!!!

Ciao!!!!!

Day 68 - Lake Ainslie to Dingwell

A BIG climbing day.   This is the day that everyone dreads on the entire trip.   Going around the end of Cape Breton on the Cabot Trail. 

Oh yes - we had an amazing pot luck last night.  Met a few people that I had met last year including Sheila.  A wonderful lady who came over and reintroduced herself to me after dinner.  The amount of food was insane and well - let's just say that we ate well.  Our crew made a fabulous salad and the best part of all - the most amazing apple pie that was cooked in a fry pan over the propane stove.  The crust got a bit burnt on one of them (Yes - they made two pies) so they didn't feel it was presentable to the pot luck.  However that was our good fortune because then we got to eat it and we also ate the leftovers at breakfast.  Pie for breakfast - YUM

So I got off to an early start this morning - I knew the day was going to be tough.  This is my third time going around this part of the Cabot Trail.  I know - don't ask why.  But I am certain that I will take a break  - NO Cabot Trail next year.

The first part was very cold. There was mist (not rain) and fog and the sun wasn't high enough to clear the trees so at one point - I had to add the sleeves to my rain vest and bolero.  Yes - it was that cold. But the sky was clear and the winds were favourable. I knew it was going to be a glorious day.

I made it all the way to Cheticamp before I really took a break. That was almost 70 K.  Stopped at Tim's to fuel up and then I was off.  I did take a lot of pictures today.  Even though I have seen this area a couple of times before - the beauty of it is so amazing that you can't help but have your breath taken away by the sheer beauty of it.  Well 20 K past Cheticamp is the first BIG climb.  Oh - let me rephrase that - 20K is the first MOUNTAIN.   There are a few wicked hills to climb even before you get to French Mountain.  And the worst part - every hill you climbed up - well then you had a beautiful descent which would take you right back to sea level.  However I did enjoy the down hills.

I didn't remember the climb on French Mountain to be as long as I found it this year.  There are a lot of switchbacks and every time I turned a corner expecting to see the top - NOPE - there was another switchback.  But at last - there I was nearing the top.  It really isn't that bad of a climb.  Once I got to the top - there is some nice relatively flat terrain that you can just sail along.  Seen lots of RVs and why someone would want to take their RV up on that trail is beyond me. Then it was time for the descent on McKenzie Mountain.  Yes - McKenzie is actually a bit lower than French Mountain so you actually descend to get to that summit - at least if you go around the trail clockwise like we did.

Well I don't know why but the descents seemed to freak me out.  Could have been because my brakes were squeaking very loudly all the way down. I asked Stuart about it at dinner and he said they just weren't seated properly when they were installed.  They work just fine - just very LOUD.   Everyone could hear me go down the mountain - no doubt about that.  But there are a lot of switchbacks and the speed limit is 30K - oh yes - I was hard pressed to keep the bike at 30K. 

At last - cleared the last switchback and threw caution to the wind and just raced down the hill. Right down the middle of the road - if there was traffic behind me - they were just going to have to wait.  Didn't even check the speed - didn't want to know!!!!   This is the sort of thing you don't tell your parents and certainly don't want to hear about it from your kids!

Stopped in Pleasant Bay for a quick bite - just a small salad.  I find on climbing days - I can barely eat. Not sure why - I should be eating lots, but just can't stomach food or much of it. While I was in the restaurant, I saw Alec, Craig and Kirk pass me.  Then I was out and had to wait over five minutes for the stupid bike computer to start up.  Oh boy - that thing is driving me crazy!!!!!!    Passed Kirk at the general store a few K down the road and then I was off to meet North Mountain.  This one is the toughest of all the climbs on the Cabot Trail and I was not looking forward to the climb.

The first year (two years ago) when I did the climb  - I know that we stopped at least once on the ascent.  Last year with Neil - we did not stop and this year - well I didn't know what I was going to do.  I started out and right away - it was hard. But only 8 percent or so, but that quickly became 12 percent which went up as high as 16 percent, but mostly 12 and 13 percent.  My goal was to watch the speedometer. From the sign at the bottom of the mountain - it is about 4 K to the top.  I was watching that thing like a hawk and inch by inch - I was crawling up the mountain.  Keep in mind it was very HOT outside and with the effort - I was sweating from every pore on my body. 

I reached the one K mark.  OK - can I go on???   Yes - then 1.5K  Crap - this is getting tough and I don't want to keep going.  But I did. Then the 2 K mark.  And I have to say that I almost whimped out at that point, but I found ONE MORE GEAR on the bike and kept going.  At last I can see the final turn - oh but it isn't the final turn yet.  But a jeep was coming down the hill and the driver said - YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!   And I did!!!!!   I passed Craig who was walking his bike - he was almost at the top and Alec was waiting for him at the top.   What a feeling - to reach the top!!!!!!!    YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!   I'm on top of the world!!!!!!!   It is a very tough climb and I would say that 90 percent of that climb is mental.  Yes it is physically tough, but the mental force needed to not stop when the going gets tough is much needed.

I did not remember the crazy descent off North Mountain.  I thought that was the descent off Smokey which is tomorrow's mountain. Well - it is a pretty scary descent on a bike and my brakes squealed loudly the entire way down.   I did pump them but every time I touched the back brake - SQUEAL.  And towards the end when the switchbacks were gone - I just let loose.  I know - let's not think about the consequences of going that fast on a bike.  I was in the middle of the road and had my hands on the brakes - as if that would have done much!

I arrived in camp before 4 PM - which was pretty much what I had planned. I did stop to take lots of pictures and of course  - the mountains did slow down the usual pace.   According to some of the other's bike computers - we did about 2,400 meters of climbing!!!!!!   That is a lot of climbing in one day.

Our team was on cook duty tonight and I had no idea when the others would arrive so after the tent was up and I had a shower - I got to work grating cheese and making the salad for dinner. The rest showed up not that far behind and we had tuna casserole for dinner.  A LOT of tuna casserole, but I don't think anyone is going to go to bed hungry tonight.

After dishes got cleaned up - it was getting dark and lots of mosquitos so I am hunkered down in my tent to get this blog written.  Now my routine is all off kilter - I hope I shall be able to function!!!!!

Oh yes - I forgot to mention the stupid dog early today.  I am riding past some farm and this dog comes running out - well what to do????   The stupid dog tried to jump up and actually scratched my leg!!!!!    I yelled at it and it went away, but still I was lucky it wasn't trying to bite me - that wouldn't have gone over too well.   Not like the other day when I whacked my leg with my pedal and now I have a massive bruise on that shin.  Ouch!!!!!!  

And let's just say that if I didn't have colour before today - I have lots of colour now.  Even though I put on lots of sun screen and more than once - I have very pronounced tan lines on my arms and my face is bright red!!!!

Tomorrow is a shorter day with only one climb. Yeah!!!!!!!   But I had to laugh - almost everyone who came in said today was the MOST CHALLENGING day of the trip.  Oh yes - those hills in BC are graded for transports - this road is NOT - although we did see a couple of big trucks on the road as they were hauling equipment up and at one point - we saw a boat!!!!!   On a truck of course!!!!

Forgot to mention about a piece of crappy road yesterday. I saw a sign - a motorcycle with the bumpy road so you think that the road has been stripped parallel to the edge of the road.  NOPE - this was WASH BOARD for about 30 feet.   I hit that without realizing what it was and my god - I almost lost control of the bike.  My eyes were bouncing around so much - I couldn't even see where I was going.   It was a very dangerous piece of road.  Guess I need to be prepared for bumps in both directions in future!!!!!

On that note - still having a great time.   The trip is almost done!!!!!!  

Have a great day!!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 67 Lower Barney's River - Lake Ainsley

I think I mentioned that I had a restless night the previous night.  I seem to have barely gotten any sleep - not sure why. Last night after a yummy shepherd's pie I was exhausted.  I decided to go to bed - it was 8:10 PM.  I read two pages, lay the book down - then decided I was good to go to sleep.  I was out until 5 AM.  Keep in mind - there was music, there was fireworks and much laughing and partying around the camp ground when I went to bed, but I was so exhausted I was almost sick!  Anyway - woke up feeling like  a million bucks.

Let's not forget that we watched the sunset last night.  Supposed to be the best place in Nova Scotia to watch the sunset.  It was beautiful.  A whole pile of us were down on the beach watching.

Today was going to be a LONG day - 167 KM. Yikes - better get going.  I left at 7:20 AM.  It was a bit cool so had rain vest (also a good wind break), my bolero and my knee warmers. The sky was blue? - well there was sun for most of the day and I had no sunscreen with me. So my face is a bit red tonight.

There was some question of taking short cuts in several spots today, but I thought - we have gorgeous weather, the roads are decent (and the longer routes were quieter for traffic) - why not do the whole thing?

One of the participant's on the tour lives in Antigonish so he went home last night - just for the night. Anyway - he invited us to his house for coffee this morning.  I arrived at 9:30 AM and had a nice visit with Dave and his wife. Just as I was leaving a number of the rest of the group was arriving.  I believe there was a photographer from the local paper, but I didn't wait for the picture.  I still had a lot of road to cover.

Oh yes - it all looked so familiar.  Amazing since I have only been on parts of these roads ONCE before, but I seem to remember each and every turn.  And I thought I was letting Neil just lead me around last year. I was actually paying attention!!!!   Who knew?

There were a couple of other detours to get us off the main highway.  I stopped at the intersection, thought about it for a few minutes and decided to take the detour.  It didn't really add too much to the day and like I said - the weather was glorious. Not too hot, some sun, not much for wind. Might as well make the best of an awesome day. 

I do have to say that there was a LOT of climbing today. Nothing too strenuous - but just lots.  I embraced the hills today - or I just dismissed them as minor inconveniences!!!   Seems to me that last year - I moaned and groaned about everyone of them, but I could be remembering that incorrectly.

And then right on cue - I arrived in Habre Boucher and sure enough - there at the community center was their fund raiser. So I stopped for a sausage on a bun. Very tasty!   Then back on the road - passed the fire station where there was no amazing spread of food this year. Missed it last year and nothing this year.  Oh well. 

Over the Canso Causeway and VOILA - welcome to Cape Breton.   The "dreaded"' last part of the trip. There is a traffic round about right after the causeway and the first time I passed through three years ago - I noticed a quilt/craft store.  It was early morning that year and was closed.  Last year - I didn't dare ask Neil to stop, but this year I did.   They were selling finished products and had some nice stuff on display.  Got a phone number for a local artist and then I was on my way.

This time we were on Highway 105.  It would be so easy to just continue on that road to get to the ferry to Newfoundland instead of taking the detour around the Cabot Trail. But then where would our sense of adventure be?????     There is a LOT of climbing on this highway, again nothing too steep and then of course there are the downhills.  For some reason - the big trucks freaked me out a bit on this road. Not sure why since it was no worse than any other road but maybe just having one of those days?????

I had to stop at one point to fuel up.  I was about empty and my legs were really feeling the hills.  After that and another pit stop at the gas station for chocolate milk before our turn and I was fine for the rest of the day.

I arrived in camp at 4:30 - right on my projected time.  Tent is set up, shower is done and I am sitting here with my clothes in the dryer getting my laundry done and my blog.   If things go well - this should be my last laundry day for the trip.  Let's keep our fingers crossed!!!!

We are going to have a pot luck tonight at the camp ground and our crew is making salad and apple pie!!!!!!    They are brave. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Have to say that after a day like today - well there is NO way to beat this kind of day.  Even with the longer distance - I feel like a million dollars.  - I could use some cream for my face since it is pretty dry after that beating in the sun and wind!   But other than that - what a feeling!!!!!!!    I say - BRING on the CABOT TRAIL!!!!!!!   It is going to be a tough day - but really - every day could be tough if you let it get to you.

On that note - I better get the laundry out of the dryer and get things organized before dinner.

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!!

Day 66 - Cornwall to Lower Barney's River

It is ferry day.  That means that we have a deadline although there are several sailings which would work for us.

I didn't have a great sleep last night.  I don't know why.  I was tired and yet - sleep eluded me even with ear plugs to block any noise.  Oh well.  I am fine, but a bit tired this afternoon.

Up early and got every thing organized. Had breakfast and then I was out of camp by 7 AM.  All I can say is that the bike computer is just getting worse.  Now it seems to take forever to connect to the satellites.  Took almost five minutes this morning when normally it takes mere seconds. I shall have a LONG list of complaints - I mean concerns to chat to Garmin about that device. Let's just say that I have had issues with it almost every single day.  

Oh well - on the road and while I can't say that we had a tail wind - it wasn't really a head wind either.  And when you are focused - it is amazing how well you can ride.  I made it to the ferry (75K) is less than 3  and a half hours. Forty five minutes before the sailing.  Yep - I was happy with that.   I stayed on the TransCanada Highway for the entire trip. There was one little scenic trip but I have done it the last two years - no need to repeat - plus we always made a mistake on that section which added 5K to the trip.  No need for extra K on ferry day.

There was a shortcut to the ferry which cut out 9 K, but I was doing just fine on the TransCanada so I decided to stay.  Others took the shorter route and said the hills were nothing.  So with Gavin (our driver), I think 9 or 10 of us made that first ferry. Had lunch on the ferry and just chatted to Jacques while we made the crossing which is 1 hour 15 minutes or there abouts. As we were leaving the ferry - a van pulling a tent trailer LOST the trailer.  Yep - somehow the hitch just disconnected - so some of our group helped her get back on the road.

Then we were off and took the required pictures at the Welcome to Nova Scotia sign. The first little section after leaving the ferry was nice - a nice tail wind.  Then we changed directions and now a fierce head wind. Then changed directions once more and well - it wasn't really a head wind, but it wasn't a tail wind either.  It did slow me down a bit but not enough to really complain about.  Legs are feeling strong - mind was up to the challenge of the day - now if only my Garmin would work properly - then I would be a very happy camper.

Well - the end of the trip is in sight.  Four more nights of camping and we are done with camping!   I am going to miss my little tent. Might have to set it up in the basement or the back yard????    I sure won't miss the mosquitoes.  It is going to take a long time for all the bites to heal.

We are in a nice campground.  I've been here three years in a row!   Right on the water.

I arrived at pretty much the same time as the truck today. Kirk was already here.  So we unloaded the truck and now the rest of the gang are slowly starting to trickle in.

I think we still have 600 Km to ride in 5 days.  Tomorrow is going to be a long day, then two days of Cabot Trail.  Then a short ride to the ferry and then the last day.  Yes - it is coming soon.

And I have figured out how to properly save the blog posts so they stay in SAVE Mode and I can't touch them.. Yeah - one thing figured out!!!!

On that note - I am out of here.

Have a great day!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 65 - Last set of pictures

With these last pictures - I do believe I am up to date!!!!!   Not sure what kind of connections we are going to have in the next few days -I imagine it will be sketchy since we are going to do the Cabot Trail and that is pretty remote.

My bike outside Indigo - can you see all those quilting magazines on the shelf?????



For dinner tonight - we had seafood chowder and a deliscious salad



Dave is from Nova Scotia, but his aunt lives on PEI.  He was on cook crew tonight and so Dave and Rita made dinner at her house and brought it to the campsite.  It was fabulous!!!!!!!      Thanks Dave and Rita.     



Day 65 - Even more pictures

Yes - I am way out in the middle of the campground and have amazing internet once I was able to get connected.

Outside the bike shop in Charlottetown


Gavin, Leslie, Megan and Craig on the Jumping Pillow

Day 65 - more pictures

The internet is pretty decent so here goes more pictures.

My lonely bike on the bridge shuttle


Welcome to PEI



Island Chocolates in Victoria by the Sea



Day 65 - Pictures

I am going to test the internet connection and attempt to upload a couple of pictures.

Craig, me and Alec with our friend at Shediac



The Confederation Bridge


Since I was the only one on the shuttle - I got to sit in the front seat and take pictures


Day 65 - Murray Beach to Cornwall

There is one advantage to sleeping on a cliff with a big wind.  The tents were absolutely dry this morning.   Yes - there wasn't a lick of condensation on my tent.

Note to self - NO MORE racing.   My knee wasn't too happy last night but that was pretty much all my fault.  My torn meniscus  (in my knee) doesn't like all that hard work. I took a couple of Advil and I was fine.  My knee was just fine today.

Today was the day we moved to PEI.  I was up early and got an early start.  I wanted to catch that first shuttle across the bridge.  I left by myself - I think that will just be my thing.  I so enjoy riding much more.  I know - I've said that a thousand times - I will try to not repeat myself.  Just a sign of old age!!!!

So I arrive at the bridge around 8 AM. The shuttle isn't there so I zip up the tower to take a couple of pictures of the bridge.  Wandered around the gift shop a bit and ooops - there is the shuttle.  I was the only one there and the driver wanted to head back to the other side so he loaded up my bike and I was the only one on that shuttle.  YES - it is true - the early bird catches the worm.   There is room for 7 bikes on that shuttle and what a shame that I was by myself.   Oh well - we were on the bridge when the call came in that the others were arriving.  They had been told the shuttle was for 8:30 AM, but since it takes some time to get organized - they should have been there ahead of time.  Oh well.

Got the required picture - Welcome to PEI and then I was off.  It sure helps to know where you are going as I remembered the road from the previous year. I stopped in Victoria by the Sea at Island Chocolates to have some dessert.  I know - who cares about the main meal when you can have dessert.  The dessert of the day was cheesecake with blueberries and a pot of tea.   I sat outside and it was glorious.

Oh yes - on my way there - I did take a little detour which required that I ride on a road that was covered with the lovely red soil of PEI.   Then I ended up in Victoria on a different road than how we went in on last year, but my nose soon found the chocolate shop.  They had tons of small bags of chocolate covered coffee beans which was not my thing but I managed to find some chocolate covered cranberries which I haven't had a chance to sample yet.

Then it was back on the road.  There was a lovely headwind for a good part of the day.  Well - head winds are not my thing and I had two choices - one was to be a whimp and complain and be miserable or embrace that wind and not let it defeat me.  I chose the latter option.  Yes - it was tough at times and there were a LOT of long, but not steep hills on the road but I did not let that stop me.  I kept thinking about that last day in Newfoundland last year when I nearly let the wind destroy the joy of completing that trip.  I will NEVER let that happen again.   I will take the wind for what it is - consider it a super training day and just move on.  Now there was a major difference here - today I only had 40K to ride into the wind - not 140 K like on the NFLD day.  I hope I can keep my resolve.

Had to make more choices - since it was a relatively short day and I made excellent time on the bridge crossing  (some people did not get to PEI until after 11 AM.   I know - I had been over here for hours by then.   Anyway - I really really needed to get new brakes for my bike.  They had worn prematurely and I was a bit concerned for what was going to happen on the Cabot Trail.  At my break in the morning - I checked out a bike shop in Charlottetown and yes - they had all kinds of brake pads so I decided to add an extra 10 K into the wind to go to Charlottetown to get new brake pads.   Again - the wind wasn't really that big of a deal.

As I was riding down University Ave., I saw an Indigo.  I know - I just needed a magazine fix.  I stopped - NOT a single place to lock my bike.  Hmmm - what to do? what to do?   I rode up to the window and the quilting magazines are right there by the window.  So I locked my bike up but not to anything and went in and spent a lovely half hour just soaking up the pictures.   I found a LOT of interesting things - OK - so I took a lot of pictures.   I did buy one magazine but you know my space issue so I tucked the magazine (wrapped in a bag) into the back of my jersey and it made the trip very nicely. 

A bit further down was the bike shop and they took the bike in right away and $30 later - I had new brake pads front and back and nicely adjusted.  I feel pretty safe about the Cabot Trail now.  Then I decided to stop at Tim's for lunch.  I know - all the other restaurants in the world and I stop at Tim's.  Well you know how it is - it is a safe choice.   But I couldn't eat everything so I now had to find room for a muffin.  And let's not forget the bike jersey that I bought at the bike shop.  A PEI bike jersey!!!!  I managed but there sure wasn't any room to spare.

Back up University Ave. which was against the wind all the way and then rolled into camp.  As I was heading toward camp - I saw a couple of the others headed into Charlottetown. And when I got to camp - a bit after 2 PM - some people were just rolling in from the bridge shuttle.  That makes TWO years in a row that something seems fishy about the operation of the shuttle.  It really shouldn't take that long to get people across but it seems to take forever. Like I said - some people didn't get to the island until after 11 AM.   That is crazy.

Tent is up, shower is done and some of us sat around and had a great chat discussing the route to the ferry tomorrow.  Can't remember which way we took, but I will check my blog tonight to see which way.  I am going for the shortest way even though it is hillier.  I did check and we took the longer way last year.  Time to do something different.

Anyway - I think that covers everything - but again - I cannot reiterate enough about this tour. Even though doing this tour is a physical thing - I think the mental toughness required is way more important.  I know a lot of people came into camp a bit down and I felt bad since I had had a great day.  But really - you need to embrace all those bad things - the wind, the rain, the camping, and everything else and make it what you want it to be.   A fun adventure.     Oh yes - I can have a crappy day (as witnessed by that last day last year) and I don't want that to happen again.  Fortunately I know for me  that riding by myself is the way to go.  I can only be mad at myself.  I am not worried about catching up to someone.  I don't care how long others take in certain locations or if I want to spend more time myself - I have only to account to myself and I like it that way. Yep - little old anti-social me!!!!

The big question is what to do for next year????   Well - I am getting some ideas and I have found a couple that I really like - hmmmmm - maybe enough ideas for the next couple of years.  Don't forget - we have a couple of Europeans on the trip and well - some neat ideas!!!!!

Oh yes - the sky was cloudy again and although we had no rain - it certainly looked like it might rain all day.  I just moved into the rec center because it was starting to rain a bit.  Guess who else was in the shelter - yep - they were playing BINGO.   But they are finished now and it is deadly quiet!!!!!

On that note - I see we have WI-FI - so I am going to try and upload two days worth of blogs.

Have a great day!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!

Day 64 - -Saint Louis de Kent to Murray Beach

It was one of those restless nights.  And for no reason.  There wasn't much noise out although I did put ear plugs in at one point to try and help me sleep. I did wake up hungry later - I only had a salad for dinner with cheese.  Thanks goodness for having some trail mix in the tent - a few bites and I was fine, but I still couldn't sleep. Next thing I knew - the truck was being opened and it was 6 AM. Time to get up and help with breakfast as our team was the cook crew.

Poor John - last evening he was sitting by his tent having a beer and at one point he felt a tanginess in  his mouth.  He spit and there was a bloody wasp. OK - not a wasp covered with blood - just a bloody wasp. It must have crawled into his beer and the darn thing stung him three times - twice on the tongue and once in the mouth.  John has a Scottish accent and now he had a lisp.  Well - we had a good chuckle over that. Fortunately he wasn't affected too severely by the sting - a bit of antihistamine and he was fine this morning.

Also as we were hanging around last night - we saw two women ride in on their bikes - fully loaded. After dinner they came over to chat.   A couple of nursing grad students from Vancouver. They had both wanted to ride across Canada - met in grad school and now just before they go to work - they took the summer off to cycle across the country.  They are more or less following a book called Canada by Bike (apparently it is on the internet???)   They make up their plans day by day.  They plan to take the Port aux Basque ferry to NFLD and cycle across the province. Yikes - that would add a few days - although I think it would be awesome to do - I am glad we are not.   I still have that one bad memory of NFLD and my goal is to get rid of that memory this year. Anyway - we had a good visit with them and boy - I feel like I am cycling in the lap of luxury compared to them.  They are very bare bones - not that I have any luxuries (OK - a couple), but they have nothing extra.

Anyway - we had breakfast and then there was just the four of us left to load the truck - part of the cook crew duty. The men allowed me to leave since it does not take four people to load the truck and well - I guess they felt I was the weakest link in that department. Fine by me!!!!!   Hey - I have arrived at camp and helped unload that truck - something that only a few people on this trip can say they have done.

There were a couple of side trips today and I decided to not do them.   They were scenic along the coast and well I saw them last year, and well I wasn't in the mood.  The sky was cloudy but apparently no rain in the forecast?????   It was also cool, but I wore my bolero and my rain vest and I was comfy.   Actually took off the bolero at one point and rode just with the rain vest.  So nice to be light!

I passed the Tim Horton's at about 17 KM - too early to stop but I did see a number of bikes there.  OK - so I have now passed some people. Then I caught up to Dave and later passed him when he took a quick pit stop.  I saw some of the others turn onto one of the side trips but I barreled right on through.

OH MY GOD - I have become ROB!!!!!   On my first cycle trip (Tour Arctic) - I met Rob.  A great guy but he was focused.  He would leave camp in the morning and cycle right through and was always the first one in camp.  I do believe he stopped to take a few pictures.  Well that is me now and I have to say that I like it!!!!! Perhaps because this route is still very fresh in my mind or I just want to cycle.  Anyway - I did stop in Shediac at the big lobster.  I caught up to Alec and Craig at that point and we all had our picture taken together. They headed into town and I stopped to eat my CHEESE sandwich.   Yes - I had bought cheese yesterday and I had the leftovers for my sandwich. 

I did shave 15 K off the route by not taking those two side trips. Fine by me!!!   After Shediac - I hopped on my bike and headed to camp which was still 60 K away. The road was pretty easy today - a few small climbs, a bit of head wind but mostly the winds were favourable.   On the last stretch of road - 15 KM - it started out with terrible road.  Very bumpy.  At this point, Alec and Craig caught up to me.  I guess they had stopped in Shediac.  Well this bumpy road was not going to get the best of me.  At this point - I was expecting head winds so I was already psyched up for a struggle.   I was not going to let the conditions get the best of me.   I put the pedal to the medal and just pushed.   I made extremely good time on that road even though the head winds were not friendly.

The bumpy road didn't last too long and then I was able to make even better time.  I am getting practice in for the trip to St. John's. I think that you need to push yourself from time to time and I always find that the end of the day is the best time for me.  I am anxious to get in to camp and so for me to make a final push is the best place.   I just love it!!!   And if you don't push yourself from time to time - you will never get stronger, faster or better.

Got to camp FIRST!!!   (I know - call me Rob!)  but Alec and Craig weren't too far behind. We got the truck unloaded - tent up - had a shower and now the blog is almost done and no Wi-Fi so I am now free to do what I want for the rest of the afternoon.   I did take a walk to the other end of the park so I could get a picture of the Confederation Bridge.  Yep - tomorrow we head to PEI.

On that last part - the last 15 K - the sky looked very threatening and we had a few rain drops but I was doing a lot of praying and I only got a couple of sprinkles. My shoes were DRY!!!!!!   That is the sign of a good day!!!!

On that note - I am out of here.

Have a good day!!!!

Ciao!!!!!!