The morning came fast with high winds and heavy rain. Martin and Zacharie were sound asleep through the first part of the rain but the parents were awake since we had a major leak issue with the tent fly. By 7:00 am it was no use to stay in the tent since it was slowly converting into a pool. We packed what was still kind of dry and went under the eaves of the info center. André checked the info centre and it was opened so he started talking with Theresa and Matthew, the two people working there. They were very nice and offered to help with what ever they could. Theresa recommended for us to wait out the rain since it would not be safe on the road. She said we could stay at the center for as long as we wanted. She offered her car for us to make a run to the local Tim for coffee and breakfast. Her generosity was very much appreciated. When we got back with the food, Theresa set us up in the employee lunch room so that we could eat at our ease. The rainstorm finaly passed around 10:00 am so we headed out from the center. Thanks again to Theresa and Matthew, you are the true spirit of Newfoundland. (Photos to come). We had a very strong headwind and progress was slow at the beginning. Dylan and Garrett are very strong cyclists so Zack and Martin had a challenge on their hands if the wanted to keep up with our new friends. As the day progressed, the weather was getting better and better. We had a nice lunch on big rocks at the entrance of a gravel pit along the highway. A local fellow from Corner Brook stopped by to see if everything was ok. He is a cyclist also and is looking out for other cyclists. We made our way to a private camping along the Crabbes River and had a good supper of spaghetti and sauce or pesto from our new team addition. Dylan went for a swim in the river. He is a tough dude. Today was a tough day but it was fun.
Friday August 7th Seal Cove to Port aux Basques 32 km (Total 7003km)
We took our time leaving this morning since the ferry crossing was at 3:30 and we only needed to be in line for 2:00. The first thing we did was put our laundry in the dryer since we only did the wash portion last night. The dryer at this campground is propane powered and puts out a lot of heat. It basically cooked most of the cycling clothes. The zippers were so hot that you literally couldn’t touch them. We now look the part of long distance cyclists, weathered clothing and all. Our first stop in North Sydney was a booster breakfast then on towards the ferry terminal. By experience, we prefer buying food at stores instead of on the boats so pit stops to the local Tim for muffins and subs from the Subway next door were in order. We were in line at the terminal by 1:30 with tickets in hand. At 1:50, two other cyclists showed up. They are Garrett and Dylan from Ontario. You may have seen their photo in the Telegraph Journal, they are preparing a documentary on water quality as they cross the country. We exchanged stories of touring and boarded the boat together. These guys are masters of free camping and will show us how it’s done as we plan to camp at the info center of Port aux Basques. The boat was late to leave so it was also late to arrive in Newfoundland. We got off the boat it was well past 10:30 and very dark. Dylan had a soft tire so we pumped it up first and headed towards Port aux Basques with lights blinking. We were quite the parade as we slowly moved on the shoulder of the road. As we reached the info center, we took a walk around and chose the best spot for grass, cover and light. The tents were up in no time and we were all sleeping just as fast. We also got our 7000th kilometre today. The hospitality of Newfoundland started even before we reached the rock. While we stood in line to get on the boat, Jim came and introduced himself. He is a resident of St John’s and gave us his number if we needed anything when we got there. He is a real nice fellow and we won’t hesitate to contact him.
Thursday August 6th Antigonish to Seal Cove 167 km (Total: 6971 km)
The day started at 4:15 am. We had breakfast, packed the bikes and were on the road by 5:40 am. The plan was working very well. It was nice to cycle in the cool morning air. The only traffic were tractor trailers and they are very respectful of bicycles. Before the traffic picked up, we were at the Canso causeway and entering Cape Breton. Our next stop was the info center for route selection and ferry schedules. We were recommended to get reservations as soon as possible for the Newfoundland ferry. André called and they were full for the next few days. André specified that it was for four bicycles. They then agreed that we could take the 3:30 ferry tomorrow, the 7th. After booking the ferry tickets, we now had to be ready to board tomorrow at 2 pm. Time to ride and get some distance under our bikes. We followed the 105 all through Cape Breton. It is a real nice road to ride with wide shoulders and much less traffic. The scenery is very beautiful. We stopped for lunch at a small diner in Whycocomagh before heading for Baddeck. We now had about 140 kilometres under our belts and still needed to go 55 before we reached North Sydney. Our final camping spot was Seal Cove, 20 kilometres from the Ferry Terminal. We had to get over Kelly Mountain first. It was a big hill but the climb was not too steep and went well. We leave the KOA campground tomorrow and head for our last province.
Wednesday August 5th Pictou to Antigonish 102 km (Total: 6804 km)
We left the Campground without being very quiet. For some reason we didn’t feel obliged to be respecful of our neighbours sleeping. We got on the highway to a bright sun and a strong headwind. We had to first cycle south-west for a while then turn and go northeast. The wind was therefore to become our friend after the first 10 kilometres or so. For safety reasons, we tried to stay off the 104 and on the old Highway 4 as much as possible. We crossed a bike shop in New Glasgow and got Martin’s back wheel trued and his pedals changed. It was a hot day and we were going through a lot of water. There are some sections of Highway 4 that have been used to build the new highway 104. We therefore didn’t have a choice but to ride it for some stretches. We got to Antigonish in late afternoon, the traffic was heavy and we were getting hungry. We stopped for supper at Alexandre’s Pizza and had ice cream at the local Dairy Queen. We reviewed our options and though it wiser and safer to stop now, get a cheap hotel, and hit the road extra early before the traffic got heavy. This would mean an imperial century ride tomorrow to get to North Sydney. We shall see.
Tuesday August 4th Augustine Cove PEI to Pictou NS 107 km (Total : 6702 km)
We left the Augustine Cove campground at about 7:30. Coming into Charlottetown, we stopped at Cows for an ice cream. About a km after our break, Martin’s tire started hissing softly. 20 meters later, it was completely flat. A bit of mechanic later, and we were on our way. We followed the route 1 throughout the island, until we got to a road that went straight through the topography to the Woods Island ferry. It seemed like a good idea… until we saw that the shortcut included many steep hills. We then took the boat to Pictou, N.S. We searched for a campground in the diminishing light. We found one a few kms later. It was a very nice campground, but the neighbours were less nice. They had an annoying little dog that barked at all hours of the night. We didn’t sleep much, but the little sleep we did get was peaceful, thanks to the heat and the hills of the day.
Monday August 3rd Moncton to Augustine Cove PEI 111 km (Total : 6595 km)
The rain from the night before had cooled things down nicely. We all rested well despite the light show and the thunder. It was a pleasure to leave the city early on a holiday Monday. There was no traffic to speak of so we made good time. Before we knew it we were on the old Shediac road. The driver of third vehicle that came towards us was honking the horn and waving. It was André’s sister Hélène on her way to work at the hospital. It would have been nice to stop at her house and chat but we wanted to make PEI today so we plan on stopping on our return from Newfoundland. Little did we know that she called André’s parents on her cell, and they headed up the road from Shediac, and met us at the Petro-Canada where we had stopped to use the washroom! We chatted a bit and were off again. Once we got to Shediac, we decided to stop at Tim’s for a quick bite. We had a bite but it wasn’t quick. Shediac is just full of tourists that have nothing to do but sit and chat on a wet holiday morning, not to mention the locals that are regulars to this place. When we left the coffee shop, we went down the road 3 km before we noticed the road was closed on account of a bridge being changed. This detour and the time lost at the coffee shop had set us back on our distance goal for the day. When we got on the 15 heading to PEI, the shoulder was extra wide and smooth so we started making real good time until Shemogue. The boys were about 500 metres ahead of Charline and André when a big black cloud moved in and dumped its water load in about 2 minutes. The parents got totally soaked but the boys were on dry pavement and never noticed a thing. We took the detour through Murray Corner to get away from the traffic. This section has nice scenery but the pavement condition is similar to the Coles Island bypass, rough and made up of patch over patch. We got to the Confederation Bridge information building just as the shuttle driver was coming out. We loaded our bikes in the truck and were off to PEI just that fast. Zack claims he was the first on the island since he was sitting by the door and was the first one out. I guess it counts. We went for some Cows ice cream, the information kiosk, and then to the campground 8 km down the road. The campground is down a dirt road to the shoreline. You can’t miss the fact that this is PEI because the dirt road is super red. We had a beautiful sunset lighting the cliffs and farmfields, PEI really is a nice place.
Sunday August 2 Waterborough to Moncton 112 km (Total: 6484 km)
We woke up late, probably a combined effect of being up late for fireworks and pedaling 164 km yesterday. By the time we got on the road, it was 9 am. We took the new Highway 2 until we got to the Cole’s Island turnoff. It was fairly quiet since it was Sunday morning. It has a great wide shoulder, so we could stay away from the traffic, but it flies by at such speed that it gets to you after a while. We call it getting buzzed. Not to mention that at that speed, any rock or debris on the road may turn into a projectile. Just before the turnoff, we had a booster breakfast at McCready’s Irving. The Cole’s Island road was quiet, but in bad shape. It is basically made up of patch upon patch of ashphalt, making it a very rough road to ride. We joked that they must have been tamping the ashphalt with a square shovel! Our lunch consisted of fine dining on the bridge at Canaan River. The menu was Peanut (or pea) butter and jam sandwiches, washed down with yesterday’s leftover pop, warmed by the day’s heat. Memorable. The middle of the bridge was the best seat in the house, the spot where the wind kept most of the uninvited guests (insects) at bay. Then it was to Moncton. The heat was a big factor today. The humidity added to the problem. Everyone drank all their water and we had to stop to refill them before we got to Moncton. When we got to Moncton, we went to my mom’s where she had prepared us supper. We got to visit with her for the evening, which was nice. We told her about some of our adventures. During the night, we awoke to a thunderstorm. We were glad we were inside, and not in a tent.
Saturday August 1 Woodstock to Waterborough 164 km (Total: 6372 km)
We were off by 8 am as we took the low road into Woodstock and followed the river on Route 103. It was scenic and quiet because it was a less travelled road. We saw 4 touring cyclists coming toward us, and exchanged hellos but kept going. Then the road ended and we had to take Hwy 2 for about 10 km before we were back onto the low road. We stopped to eat near Kingsclear and took the old highway again. Just after Woolastook park we saw a bear cross the road in front of us, our second for the trip. No time for pictures again. The wind started to blow, and it was a tailwind! We decided to carry on to Fredericton and see how we felt about going further. We got to Fredericton about 3pm. After a round at Tingley’s for ice cream, the vote was to go on. We took the bike trail through town. When we got to the Commons, André met a friend from Eel River Bar who was in Fredericton for his daughter’s hockey camp. Small world! We then took the trail across the river and headed down the old highway through Maugerville and beyond. We knew there was a campsite near Young’s Cove, so we headed for that area. We took the old bridge in Jemseg, and then went into Jemseg to try to find milk and groceries for breakfast and lunch the next day. We also had supper there, because it was getting late and we knew we’d run out of energy before we go to the campground. We ended up only getting into the campground around 8:45, just in time to get the tents up before dark. Then the boys went to the lakeside to watch the fireworks, and we all went to bed. By doing an imperial century ride today, we made it possible to get to Moncton in two days instead of three. This was our fourth century ride of the trip. When the wind blows, we want to ride it as long as possible!
Friday July 31 Grand Falls to Woodstock 121 km (Total: 6208 km)
We left at 8 this morning. it took a bit of coaxing to get everyone back in the saddle. It looked like it was going to be a nice day, finally. We cycled along the old Trans Canada until the Aroostook bridge. Then we followed the old road along the river into Perth Andover. There we met another cyclist named Hal. He gave us some information on the roads in the area, as well as a good tip on where to get a good, low priced lunch (hint: the lunch counter at the Lewis pharmacy). He chatted with André while we had lunch. Then it was off again on Route 130. The sky was clouding over again, Drat! By mid afternoon it was sprinkling rain. We continued, as we wanted to get at least to Woodstock today. When we got to the Carleton County hospital, the road just ended, leaving us with no choice but to take Hwy 2. By now, it was raining harder. Although there was lots of traffic, there was a nice wide shoulder, so it wasn’t an issue. We had to do 17 km on Hwy 2. When we got into Woodstock, we needed to find a place to stay. While riding along, we crossed a Pizza Hut, and wouldn’t you know it, it was almost supper time! Guess what we ate! Then in the pouring rain, we went to our hotel. CSI again tonight…
Thursday July 30 Rest day 0km (Total: 6087 km)
Today was devoted to organization: Bike mechanics, laundry, resting, and planning the last part of the trip. It feels good to sit on something other than a bike seat…