Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day Nine: B: Wind, rain and now hail! How is that possible? Just want to get out of Eastern Canada asap. Cold, wet, miserable again (still). It was clear for an hour at 7 am, then the waves started, sheets of rain and a ferocious wind. At one point barely going 5 km when the wind stopped me cold, had to put my foot down to stay up. All this water and grit are like sandpaper rubbing the brake pads, already had to cinch up the cable to shorten it to keep them working. The pads are half as thick in only 9 days.

Am fighting to do 12 km/hr, wind is grotesque. Scenic route 132 is the only option for bikes (not allowed on hwy) but the down side is there are no reststops, gas stations or cafes. Soaked and cold. Its lonely, grinding hours, wanted to pack it in several times. Really looking forward to sunshine, warm weather (is that too much to ask?), and stopping at dads (Cambellford).

Okay the steriotype of French drivers? (C: my apologies to my Franco-friends-ignore this rant) B:They are the worse drivers! On narrow little roads in NS or NB drivers slow down, go around, pause, wave, indicate, all the usual things. (More polite than TO). But in Quebec drivers speed up, don't indicate, refuse to move and won't give an inch, several trucks nearly forced me into the ditch. Its close call after close call.

Find nice enough motel, not that it really matters. Spend the same 2 hrs cleaning the bikes, then shower and find dinner. Have pizza carbonera (onion, bacon, cheese), in a cute cafe, chuckle at Leonard Cohen (C loves it- I hate it) in b/g ; French singers doing Lennie. Makes me homesick. Turn TV on (timer 30 minutes) and am asleep before it turns off.

152 kms-8 hrs 30 minues-1,427 kms total

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day Eight: B: Rains almost all day. Stops one hour before I finish. Je suis au Quebec.
Had to leave the TC, came up to a sign saying NO BIKES but there's no alternate route offered. How does that help cyclists? You're already there, do what? go back? Had to guess and navigate Chemin du Lac instinctively along Green Route #1, the scenic drive.

Stop in Kamrarouska. where " pesonne parle pas Anglais" (no one speaks English), managed to get a room ok, but couldn't connect with cute desk clerk while asking for a rag to clean the bike. "Lavage la bicyclette?" Aha, she brought me a hose (not bad). Should have learned the word for rag when I was prepping. Finally painful French and awkward charades works, and she brings one from the kitchen.

Now suffering back spasms. Didn't sleep well last night. The bed was too soft and crooked, it inclined so much the blood kept rushing to my head. Am hoping its the bed not the bike. So stop early when come to this motel, La Mariner, don't want to risk a longer ride if its miles to the next one. At $75. its the nicest so far.

Seen 4 sets of couples cycling (casually) mostly older (retired?). Haven't seen any on the hwy. Sorry am alone, it would be more fun with a partner (C: What? 1,200 kms in 8 days? I don't think so! Sorry. I'd go for Leslie's bike tour in Spain: its hot, a support van and wine at lunch stops). Que vaya con dios mi amour.

154 kms-8hrs-1,274 in 8 days
Day Seven: B: In a funk in Edmunston N.B. Another day of rain. Beyond depressing. Stiff starting out, sore legs & butt, stretch a few minutes first. Started out avoiding traffic on a secondary road, but after kms of crappy pavement opted for TC again. At least it has a shoulder. The rain is worse than the riding. Drenched & dripping, even feet are swimming under rain booties. Stop under overpass to wipe off but no help, can't even eat. Thrilled to see a Tims (txs Brenda & Derek for the card), felt like a smuck leaving a huge puddle on the floor. An insane smuck (they probably thought).
Might need new brakes already, the downhill is shredding them. Because the rear is so heavy it is stable, but the front wheel is skiddish on wet pavement so have to ride the breaks every downhill. Can't relax-enjoy-or catch a break. Plus its freezing: wearing every article of clothing-jersey-arm warmers-jacket-rain jacket and full gloves. At least going uphill I can stay warm. As it is - going 20 km a day and loosing time on the downhill. Its depressing.
Cool to see a moose close up, even he looked drenched and pissed off. Every sign now in French. Finally a funky motel. Can barely fit bike in. Takes 2 hrs to clean & tighten every nut & bolt.
Psychologically good to have done a full week and be over a thousand kms, one-seventh of the total distance (7 thousand kms coast to coast).

173 kms-8 hrs 34 minutes-1,120 kms in 7 days

Its been the worse day so far, sick of the rain, (6 of 7 days). Like being in a wet diaper all day, shorts are soaked. Forecast rain again tommorrow. Am truly depressed.
I sort of regret starting this, it would bo so cool if I was riding from St. John's to Toronto instead.
...sometimes I hate the pure stupidity of me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Departing Gift: C: You left without it! Neighbors (and avid cyclists) John and Deanna left you this lovely Journal to record your (once in a lifetime-right? trip). Its waiting on your return. You can fill it with stories of eating fish n chips for 4 days straight, washing your bike with paper(while a scowling motel manager keeps a close eye on you and the towels), getting off your bike after 10 hours, then having to walk 2 km through town to get a place to eat, jamming wood chips into delapitated windows to keep them shut, and living through the worse case of chapped lips ever. And those are only the problems I know about!

Monday June 28
Benji may grow up to beat you in any race! But for now he's
still getting used to his bike and racing up and down the driveway. He perfers making his mom and dad (Deanna and John) race after him! He might have something there. He says good luck (at whatever it is you are doing).
Day Six: B: (as told to C) Gorgeous. Started off in the rain (of course), but after 5 minutes it stopped and the sun shines. Drop the arm warmers, put on sunblockers(white arm protection wear), and super sunsreen on lips ( they are chapped, sunburned, raw, even though I wear sunscreen every day).

Its a beautiful day, less hilly, riding through a valley still in New Brunswick. Usually I take side roads to avoid the TC, but today stay on it (sometimes better riding because it has wide shoulders); but it isn't built for cyclists as I find when I come to bridge with a sign "No Bikes". (What do I do go back ten km?) I wind up in Woodstock.
A little l0nger than usual because its a beautifuly day and expected to rain tomorrow.

193 kms-9 hrs 9 minues-947kms in 6 days (one seventh of the approximate distance-7 thousand across C).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

B: Monster day. Ferocious winds. Unending. Put my head down, focus on the edge of the road and buckle in. Dodging rain all day again. Started at 6:30 am to the shuttle bus to cross Confederation Bridge leaving P.E.I. No one else shows up so have to cross the bridge in a pickup truck. (No bikes or walkers allowed on bridge). Resigned to stop early but there is no where to stop. Just miles of empty road, a few houses is a town on the map but there is nothing there. Finally stop at Coles Island, (between Moncton and Fredericton). Find a motel (so old the TV has rabbit ears! And the only station is CBC.) It's $50 a night (no wonder). Dinner? Everything closes early, manage a take out fish n chips with 5 minutes to spare. Takes 30 minuts to wash the bike and clothes. Fall sleep instantly.
9 hrs 56 minutes of slogging-190 kms-19km/hr average -754km total for 5 days

Saturday, June 26, 2010

C: This is what you're missing! Sleeping-in then sausages, bacon, eggs and hash browns for brunch at Chez Pauline. After a week of east coast hospitality, I'm begining to think this trip of yours was a great idea. I've been wined and dined in St.John's, ran around Quidi Vidi lake with the Nautilus boys (running pals from a previous life), hiked across Signal Hill, and sipped beverages in Patti's fabulous rock garden. As the local townies say, it's 20 degrees here: (10 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon)! Or what do you call the day after two days of driving rain? Monday. I digress. We are thinking of you B. Everyday we wake up and thank God we are here, and not in the driving wind and rain with you. (regardless of whether you are hunting for food or eating hummingbird seeds).

Day Four: B: Brutal. Brutal. Brutal. Long and brutal. Lunchstop in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Legs and back sore, headwinds again, but sunny (at least). Now waiting at Confederation Bridge for crossing to N.B. The day -132 km -the total-564 km in 4 days.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day Three:

C: For the first time in 3 days B sounds normal when he calls. (Not hoarse from exhaustion). Today (Thursday) he cycles 137 km from Port Hastings to Pictou (small town of 4 thousand), about 5 km to the ferry(Caribou) to PEI so an ideal spot to overnight. The weather was slightly better but still overcast and cool. He's already learned what East Coasters know: any day without rain is a good day! Nova Scotia, it turns out is hillier (than Nfld?) at least where he is, and breezy (as opposed to blowing a gale). And empty-miles of highway with no towns or pitstops so no stopping for lunch. He manages on hikers highcarb treats: power bars, gels, and gummies (high calorie jelly beans). When he finally gets to Pictou (Pic-toe) he finds a motel (tx God no tent), checks in to clean up: wash his bike, gear, clothes and finally himself. Then tightens the bolts (or the equivalent on a bike-its joints shaken loose from the rocks and cracks in the pavement). The perfect end to a day? The Press Room Pub and a Keiths to wash down his Fish n Chips.

Days Total: 7 hours-137 km-19km/hr average-for a total of 432 km in 3 days

Thursday, June 24, 2010

C: Day One: Brian made it to Argentia in 8 hrs, frozen solid, but at least he was early for the 8pm ferry so there was no line up at the shower! He probably used all the hot water to thaw out. Ferry food? Delicious when you're starving. Dormitory sleeping? Pissy unless you're used to a neighbor snoring all night. B wasn't a happy camper (Now he'll appreciate me! At least I don't snore-well not loudly).

Day two: He sets off from the ferry at noon, and has to go 150 km, and up Kelly's Mountain (900 ft.) before he finds a motel in Port Hastings. (Restaurant closes at 8 though, so he's plumb outta luck). Thats means another 5km to a nearby Subway to find a sandwich, and 5km back to eat it. At least there's a microwave in the room. So still hungry, cold, wet and tired after 295 km in two days. Is he out of the East Coast drizzle? That remains to be seen. Rain is still in the forecast for Thursday. On the positive side, he's wearing his winter gear so he doesn't have to pack it. On the negative side he's wondering if the whole X-Canada thing was a little optimistic.

Meanwhile I am chilling in St. John's with my BFF (one of two). Pauline and I are heading to Canadian Tire to buy plants so she can finally plant her flower box. (Its only June 23!) Then we're up for a home cooked Jiggs dinner. Mmmm or should I say Yes boy!
Good luck Brian!
Freda and Pauline wish you a speedy trip and warmer weather! We are lunching at Nellys just off George Street in St'John's (it's blowing a gale) and thinking warm thoughts for you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

C: Who doesn't love St.John's? Only someone who has never been here! You don't come for the weather though, I guess that goes without saying. I hope B survives to Argentia and the ferry, but after 8 hours of freezing on the road, the ferry will look heavenly. I'll bet he loves it, for once he'll go to bed early.

Carmel: Cold but at least in a hotel! OMG it poured all day yesterday and rain again in the forecast. I thought B should wait till tomorrow, but he didn't want to loose a day. When the taxi driver let us off he said to me, "Have a good day missus" and to Brian "I'll call a doctor for you."
It rained all night but fizzled to a drizzle by morning. I was almost too nervous to eat, all B managed was half a bagel for breakfast. Tx God for Tims (Brenda your Tim's card will come in handy! So sweet). I have to admit I'm a little anxious. But he'd never listen if I told him not to go so what can you do. (I went to the Avalon Mall to cheer up after).C

Monday, June 21, 2010

Only hours to go now...

Well... I'm here in St John's, Nfld. The bike is safely put back together and I went for a 25km shakedown ride yesterday just to make sure everything is working before I set out tomorrow. After a loop into town and around Quidi Vidi, I headed up Signal Hill above St John's harbour. For those of you who have been here, you can appreciate that I did NOT load up the bike with all the bags for the test ride because Signal Hill is one very steep climb. I could barely ride it unloaded, but the view is more than worth the effort.

Of course, the climb might not have seemed as tough, if I hadn't spent the night before on George street drinking and listening to first, Fergus O'Byrne (of Ryan's Fancy), and then an excellent band called The Punters. In a cool coincidence, it turned out that the guy subbing in on bass was the boyfriend of one of Carmel's friends here, so we ended up staying out even later.

Last night, I felt a bit like the condemned man, enjoying his last meal. Some friends had us over for dinner, and what a dinner it was... steak and lobster... 2 giant lobsters per person... and it was the freshest, sweetest lobster I've ever eaten. A good several beers later and I was already a happy camper when the evening just got better. Out came the guitar and soon there was a cheery sing-along going on... what a great evening and send off!

Today was a last sleep in and then some final organizing and packing. Tonight will be a quiet night in preparation for an early start tomorrow. Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to be put to the test right away. It's pouring rain now and the temperature is dropping. Tomorrow's forecast is more rain, and a sickening, single-digit high of just 7C, with 40km per hour winds thrown in for good measure... what a way to start this adventure! If it wasn't for ferry schedules, I would seriously consider delaying a couple days. On the plus side though, the bags are lighter since I'll be wearing all the cycling gear I have... and it can only get better from here!

To everyone who has left comments on the blog... thankyou. I have fun reading them. For those that may have tried to leave comments in the past and found it restricted... my apologies. I have now changed the settings to public, so take your best shot.  Cheers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

1 Week to go...

Finally! After all the planning and training, it's just one week until the start and like a kid waiting for Christmas, it won't pass quick enough. It's worse than the week before a marathon in my old racing days. Even Carmel can't wait for me to be out of here. I'm antsy and irritable, and every little thing bugs me. I'm fussing and fretting over stupid details that I've been over a hundred times already. I just want to get on with it now... to finally be on the road and making some progress towards my goal. From past adventures I know that once I'm underway, all the stress and anxiety will disappear... replaced by the physical grind and the excitement of each day's new challenges... But for one more week, I'm still going to be a big grump!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gear Check

What does it take to cycle across Canada solo and unsupported?  Besides being a little crazy, you need a whole lot of gear.  The pic on the right is my gear selection... multi-tool, chain whip, cluster wrench, chain-break, chain wax, spoke wrench and spokes, spare tires and tubes, frame pump and mini backup pump, water bottles, etc... cycle computer... a one-man mini tent and a sleeping bag liner (less bulky than an actual sleeping bag)... 2 locks (can't take any chances)... 2 cycling shorts and jerseys, arm and leg warmers, full and short gloves, jacket/vest, shoes, socks, shoe covers, cap and helmet... off-bike clothes... regular shorts, long and short tech shirts, tracksters, and running shoes/sandals... mini shave/shower kit... cell phone, pocket camera, ipod, flashlight, sunscreen, bug repellent, trip notes and maps... high energy day snacks... and a few other odds and ends.
And finally 6 different bags... double panniers, saddle bag, frame bag, snack bag, and handle bar bag... to pack it all away, plus a stretchy cargo net for the tent.  At right, is what the bike looks like when it is fully loaded up (minus me)... Give or take, it weighs in around 70 pounds.  It's been tough enough training with this in southern Ontario... should be plenty of "fun" when I get to the mountains!