Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 79: Kentville to Halifax 123km WE HAVE MADE IT, 19th August 2007!!

We woke to a beautiful bright day for our final stretch of this amazing journey. We were so pumped about getting to the end for so many reasons that we hit 90km before stopping for lunch. It felt great eating our lunch just knowing that we were only 30km from the end. It was hard cycling as everything is just hurting now but we will have plenty of time to relax in Halifax while waiting for our flights homeward. We made it to Halifax in the early evening and found out that all the hostels downtown were full so we had to settle for a university residence a little way out of the city centre. We have decided that tomorrow we will go to the ocean and take photos etc. We have showers, food and beer on our minds for now and not in any particular order.

Cycling across Canada has been the most amazing experience of my life and one that I will remember and treasure forever. It hasn't really sunk in yet just how great of an achievement it is but I'm sure it will. I would like to thank all the great people we have met along the way for their kind hospitality and for making our trip so special. I would also like to thank people for reading my blog as it has been a lot of fun to do and a great reminder to keep for years after the trip.
Well anyway I will stop waffling on and just go and relax for 10 days before I fly back home.

Day 78: Upper Granville to Kentville 76km

Rain, rain, rain, rain is about all I can say for today. I think that we needed another hard day in the cold and wet just to make sure we weren't going soft and turning into fair weather cyclists. We started off slowly and ducked into a coffee shop and a library to wait the lightening out. We eventually got going and we didn't stop for 60km apart from for a flat tire for Agnes (number 9). I feel that will be the last of the trip so it had to be in the pouring rain not tomorrow when it is forecast to be bright sunshine. It is all a test of our determination now that we are so close from reaching our end destination but we shall not be defeated.
We stopped in a classic Chinese and Canadian cuisine restaurant for the evening and ate some crappy food and drank a lot of tea. We then set off up the road for our last night of camping and we found a great spot in a clearing in a forest at the side of the road. The grass was so long that it made the most perfect mattress.
Just one more day to go, dun, dun, dun.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 77: St John to Upper Granville 57km (not including ferry crossing)

After my first bad nights sleep of the trip I was very pleased that all we had to do was walk onto a ferry and sit down for 3 hours. The crossing was smooth and time flew by. when we arrived in Digby Nova Scotia, province number 8 we chilled out in the town centre and made lunch. By the time we were ready to cycle it was around 4pm so we did well to hit the 50km mark for the day. When cycle touring the morning is definitely the key time in which to do the bulk of the days ride. It is so hard to get the same energy levels the later you start.
The sun was shining all evening so we cut the day short when we came across a rest area with access to the river at the side of the road. We jumped straight in and had a much needed wash. a few boats passed by and gave us a wave while we were scrubbing the muck off us at the edge of the water.
We were planning to get to Halifax tomorrow, August 18th but Naomi wants to take an extra day getting there so we have agreed that Sunday August 19th will be our end date.

Day 76: Fredericton to St John 107km

Today we headed to St John to be ready to catch the ferry the next morning. I really enjoyed the ride as we were flying and made around 80km before lunch. We had to take the main highway so there was a lot of traffic but the road surface was so smooth I think sometimes it is worth it just to make up some ground. When we were around 30km from St John we were able to take a more scenic route. After a hard days cycling we relaxed at a lookout point over the city of St John and then finally made our way down to the ferry terminal in the hope of finding somewhere to camp. The staff at the terminal were very relaxed and let us camp at the front of the terminal for the night. The terminal was open til midnight so we relaxed and did a spot of reading and watching TV as the weather was turning. We have officially hit the Atlantic now but we will wait to get to Halifax our final destination before the celebrations begin.

Day 75: Kings Landing to Fredericton 36km

Today was a very grey miserable day and we just didn't have the motivation for much cycling. We made it to Fredericton the capital city of New Brunswick and the day ended there. We had an amazing breakfast part 2 in a restaurant called the Diplomat. The breakfast was huge and so very tasty. I think it tasted all the better because we hadn't eaten breakfast part 2 for a while.
Agnes and myself decided we fancied staying inside tonight and getting showers etc. so we managed to persuade Naomi. We stayed at the University residence for 40 dollars for all three of us, bargain. It felt so good to get a shower as I hadn't washed for a while, haha.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 74: Perth-Andover to Kings Landing 153km

After yesterday we thought we should hit the road a Little harder today. We managed to achieve 80 km before lunch, which was excellent going. We stopped in the town of Woodstock and hit Tim Hortons for a sandwich and a donut. Agnes went off to find a phone to change her flight and ended up having a nightmare and being on hold for over an hour. Luckily the weather held up and we were able to hit the magical 150km for the day. We camped in the picnic area of a visitor information centre at Kings Landing and had Macaroni cheese for dinner, ummmm.
We now have around 400km to go to reach Halifax so the trip is almost over. We are going to cycle to Fredericton and go south to St John then take the ferry across to Nova Scotia and head on to Halifax from there.

Day 73: Limestone Siding to Perth-Andover/Day off 25km

Brenda cooked us a great breakfast this morning and we were all in great spirits and on the road by 9ish. The terrain was very hard as there were very steep climbs but we still made it 25km in an hour so it wasn't hard enough to stop the cycling beasts. All of us wanted to use the internet and do various other things in the town of Perth-Andover so we ended up just taking the rest of the day off.
We found a great camping spot in the waterfront park in the middle of town. We cooked up some food and drank some wine and waited til dark to put up the tents. I sat and watched Agnes and Naomi destroy about 4litres of ice cream, which amused me a lot.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Day 72: Baker Brook to Limestone Siding 108km

As usual we have decided to try and do important things on a Sunday. Luckily the laundromat was open so we now have clean cycling gear, yippee. We spent a while lingering around the town and then finally got the energy up to cycle on. We cycled 60km in less than 3 hours and we could have kept going but we stumbled across a great place. The village of Limestone Siding is just a couple of houses but they do have a bar/convenience store. Brenda who was working at the place was a star. She let us camp at the back and get washed up in the washrooms. While we were setting up our tents she came out and told us dinner would be ready inside in 30 minutes. We had a great burger and fries and also a beer on the house. We sat and relaxed in the bar for the rest of the evening til she closed and then hit the sack. She told us to be up for 8am as she is going to cook us breakfast before we head out for our days cycle.
The famous Maritimes Hospitality has started and we are just inside the border.

Day 71: Junction 132 and 289 to Baker Brook 117km

Once again it feels like we are flying through province after province. Ontario was so huge that the rest of the provinces are a breeze, haha. We are now in new Brunswick the first of the Maritime provinces. It will be French speaking in the North and the rest will be back to English speaking. I wish I could remember more French but it has been a long time since I have been to France or studied the language.
The ride today went by very fast and to be honest I can't remember much about it. We ended up camping in a public park in the town of Baker Brook. We are near to the city of Edmundston so we hope to get there early and hit the Internet and do some laundry.

Day 70: Montmagny to a rest area at the Junction of highways 132 and 289 112km

We casually got up at around 8am and headed over to Tim Hortons bakery/coffee shop for breakfast. We met a couple there who were cycling to their own wedding. They started in Ottawa and were getting married in Truro, which is in Nova Scotia west of Halifax. Its so cool to see how pumped people are about bike touring and that everyone you meet is doing it in their own way. It makes you feel like you are part of a mini revolution.
The ride today was again amazing and most definitely up there in the top 10 of scenic rides on the trip. We cycled as far as the turn off for highway 289 as we are taking that route tomorrow when we enter province number 7, New Brunswick.
We were camping at the side of the road and it was an open spot so there were different noises throughout the night. I wouldn't have noticed any of them but Agnes kept on waking me up when she heard something. I don't think she got much sleep and luckily the noises weren't angry bears or anything that could eat us.

Day 69: Quebec City to Montmagny 62km

Guylaine and Robert supplied us with a wonderfully French breakfast, which was a great way to start the day. The sun is shining once again and the ride today along the river was very scenic with lots of small towns and rest areas with lookout points. Once again there was a huge number of cyclists on the road. It is great seeing so many cyclists but it does take away the celebrity status so I'm not to sure if I like it or not, haha.
We arrived in the town of Montmagny and felt like calling it a day so we did, oh yes. This I think is the beauty of a trip like this because you can decide when you want to get up, what time you want to go and what time you want to stop, I love it.
We went to an Internet cafe to do some e-mailing and blogging and generally took it easy. The owners of the cafe were very nice and showed us where we should camp for the night. The camping spot was great as it had a picnic table, shelter and toilet, which are all a great bonus. At around 10 we were eating our dinner when lots of cars started arriving. We had ended up camping in the local town hangout for 18 to 25 year olds. Luckily they were very nice and Jean-Sebastian came over and invited us to join them and supplied us with a beer so all was well. Only a couple of them could speak English but they seemed very keen to practice with us so we got along well. We left the party round the camp fire at 11.30 and hit the sack.

Day 68: Trois Rivieres to Quebec City 135km

Today was the first day of rain since Thunder Bay as far as I can remember. It was a miserable ride but we cycled fast and it eventually stopped raining when we were approaching Quebec City. It was a great feeling to know that we had a house to stay in and not behind a grocery store. We stayed with Guylaine and Robert who treated us very well. They fed us good food and wine and we enjoyed their company very much.
Naomi has decided to join us and cycle to Halifax, which is great news. Due to the bad weather I didn't get around to taking any pictures of Quebec City, which is disappointing.

Day 67: Montreal to Trois Rivieres 144km

After a great rest and some excellent hospitality it was time to hit the road again. Matt led us out of the city on his bike and we said our goodbyes and carried on towards Trois Rivieres. I haven't mentioned it yet but in Quebec there are hundreds of cyclists and all of the roads have shoulders and signs all geared for cyclists. So if anyone is thinking of cycling in Canada Quebec is the most cyclist friendly province in terms of facilities.
We pulled over for a rest and water stop at a fry stand and we met Naomi who was cycling to Quebec City to stay with her Aunt. Naomi had started the cross Canada cycle from Vancouver with a group and due to the group being very hardcore and not wanting rest days she had decided to drop out in Saskatchewan. She took the bus to Ottawa and started cycling again on her own. We teamed up with her for the rest of the day and all camped at the side of a grocery store in a retail park. We thought it would be quiet at night but how wrong we were. It seemed that we were very near some kind of truck spot and one nice guy kindly honked his horned at 5am.

Day 66: Day off in Montreal

A well earned day off after a good few days of cycling in very hot weather. My legs hurt more today than they have the whole trip and my knees are in serious pain. There is no time for moaning as we still have plenty of cycling ahead of us.
We spent the morning/afternoon relaxing in the house with Matt and his family and eating lots of fresh fruit, ummm. Later in the day Matt took us for a tour of downtown Montreal and we finished the evening off with a film at the cinema. My legs will be raring to go tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Day 65: Hawkesbury to Montreal 113km

Destination Montreal Canada`s party city. We are meeting Matt who we met in Wawa and he is going to meet up with us on the edge of the city and escort us to his family home.
We had an excellent ride along the Ottawa River and in the town of Oka we took a ferry across the river. The ferry was amazing it was just a floating platform and a guy in a small motor boat pulled the platform on a rope. When it reaches either side a guy in a tractor pushes a wonky wooden ramp to the platform for the cars and bikes to get on and off. The beauty of it was that it costs only 2 dollars.
We met Matt just outside the city limits and crammed a subway sandwich in before the long ride into the heart of the city where Matt lives. The ride into Montreal was awesome and there was a bike path all the way almost. For the part where there wasn`t a path these two very intense women on racing bikes led us through. They were both out training for the iron man competitions so as you can imagine they were beasts. They had loads of crazy hand signals which was funny as we didn`t have a clue what they were trying to indicate. They were cool ladies and after that section Matt new the rest of the way.
We arrived at Matt`s parents`house and had the ultimate meal of the trip. Matt's mum whipped up a great feast. We had salads with olives, feta, mango, avocado, tomato, courgettes (zucchini) and many more wonderful things. The rest of the meal consisted of breads, chicken and wine. It was unbelievable.
After this Agnes and myself went for a walk downtown and stumbled across a free festival with various stages dotted around the downtown playing all kinds of weird and wonderful music.

Day 64: Ottawa to Hawkesbury 123km

I was very happy when I woke this morning because the humidity had gone and there was an cool breeze, heaven. The day temperature didn`t get above 25 degrees so it was perfect cycling conditions. We hammered through the first 70km and decide to stop for the classic breakfast part deux. We are very close to the Ontario and Quebec border now so there are a lot more french speakers around. We haven`t had to make any bad attempts at speaking french yet as everyone is bi-lingual, the fun will commence once we get past Montreal.
After breakfast we found a map which had cycling routes in the area. The one path was apparently paved so we decided we would use it. It must have taken about an hour to find the stupid path and when we finally did it wasn`t even paved. We followed it for around 20km and it took us far too long as we were going very slowly. We came off the path onto some back roads and went on another magical mystery tour for a while until we came to the town of Hawkesbury, which is only 95km from Ottawa. Never mind it is only the second time we have been lost on the trip so its pretty good.
We were tired and it was getting late so we went to a restaurant for dinner. You can tell that you are near Quebec as the food is getting seriously good. The owner of the restaurant let us camp round the back on a small bit of grass next to the car park. It worked well as it was behind a bush and out of site from the main road.

Day 63: Perth to Ottawa 101km

I had a great sleep last night but Agnes was woken by a huge thunder storm so she didn`t get quite as much sleep. How good it is not to hear anything when your asleep. We left Joy and Brian`s at around 8.30, we don`t bother with getting up at 4.30 anymore, which is excellent.
The ride to Ottawa was very fast and we covered about 60km in under 3 hours. Today was 38 degrees with the humidity so it was sick. Luckily for us we didn`t have to camp again as we stayed with Agnes` friend Lillian. We stayed at Lillian's uncles house, which was amazing as they had a swimming pool and air conditioning. Lillian cooked us some burgers on the barbecue and took us to the cinema so it was a very relaxing evening.
Unfortunately we didn`t get to see much of the nations capital but we did see the Parliament buildings briefly. When you are constantly cycling it is hard to see places properly as all that is important at the end of a day is food and relaxation. I have been told that there isn`t much more to see in Ottawa so we haven`t missed out on much.

Day 62: Kingston to Perth 94km

Originally we thought we would head straight to Ottawa today as we had done the tried and tested finger distance on the map. In reality though it is almost 200km and that would be a bad move when it is so hot. So we just headed towards Ottawa to get as far as we could or wanted to. We stopped in the small town of Portland for breakfast part 2, which turned out to be an excellent move.
First we went to fast freddies for a fine breakfast part 2. The waitress Sharon was so pumped about what we were doing she gave us a huge ice cream each on the house and introduced us to every local that came in. Everyone was so nice we stayed for about 2 hours just listening to jokes and having awesome banter.
After this we went to the village beach and went swimming in the lake. Her we met Joy and her two children Felix and Leigh. Joy was a cyclist herself and has done touring in Europe and japan so she invited us to stay the night at her house 2okm up the road.
We arrived and met Brian who is Joys husband at their amazing little log home. Brian was awesome and cracked open the beers and supplied us with towels to get washed and changed. When Joy and the children came back they fed us a fantastic meal and more beer. a very satisfying evening and a great feeling to be invited by a stranger again as it hasn`t happened since British Columbia.

Day 61: Grafton to Kingston 132km

Wow the heat is unbelievable today, its around 30 degrees but with the humidity it is scorching. Kingston is the destination today, a big university town located as most places in Ontario are on a lake. The ride was a good one with few climbs and mostly flat. We arrived in Kingston at around 3 which was excellent going considering the heat.
Agnes`friend luckily for us has an apartment in Kingston and has given us the code to get in and stay the night. The apartment was great and had a TV so we decided to veg out with pizza and wine and watch some TV. An excellent lazy evening but it was so humid and there wasn`t air conditioning so it wasn`t that relaxing.
We have decided that staying with people is the way forward so hopefully we can hook up a few more along the way.

Day 60: Darlington Provincial Park to Grafton 76km

After a disappointing evening last night the morning didn`t get any better. We hide our food bag and toiletries usually up a tree or if in a campsite in the washrooms to avoid attracting wildlife. When Agnes went to retrieve our stuff it was all missing but we just presumed that it had been handed into the park warden at the entrance to the park. We cycled to the entrance to find that the gear hadn`t been handed in and the cleaning staff didn`t see it when they were cleaning. So the scoop is someone has stolen our stinking cool bag and our toiletry bags, how very sad. On the bright side they could have stolen our bikes so we can`t complain too much.
After this we had to go and buy a new cool bag and a toiletry bag and all the toiletries. Luckily in the drug store the woman gave me a toiletry bag for free, which was a bonus.
Once this was all done it was the afternoon and we were not up for a huge ride. The ride to Grafton was excellent as all the towns were very nice with many friendly people talking to us along the way. The temperature in Southern Ontario is ridiculous at the moment so it is better to keep the days short. When we were in the library someone stole one of Agnes` water bottles. Bare in mind that this water bottle has been us while doing very hard exercise and has only been washed twice in 2 months.
All in all today was a reminder that people will steal anything.