15 August report, Nancy O’Higgins Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Quebec City to St. Jean Port Jolie 120k

Our full day off in Quebec City left us enchanted with the city. Sandra says Quebec is her favourite province for cycling, and Quebec City her favourite city to visit. Al, Sandra and I left the residence mid-morning to walk the 5k to the old city on a beautiful morning. Most of the others had chores to do which included bike shops before touristing. We met Dave M., and Frank in front of the Chateau Frontenac watching one of the many buskers. Al became an assistant to one of the acts ‚ a unicycle rider who was funny in both official languages. We visited the Basilica as a group, lucking into a tour given by a man in 16th-century peasant costume. We wandered around the old city gawking at the sights and getting pictures taken with people in period costumes, a salute to the Festival of New France.

We met Wayne and Ken at the busker’s area after they had taken care of shipping Irene’s bike home, and the bunch of us went to a Thai restaurant for supper before going back to the residence. The only ones we didn’t run into in the middle of the city were George and Mary who were also there. Dave H. was recuperating from feeling lousy at the residence. Harold, Ken, Mary, Frank and I found various computer rooms at the university to check our emails and do other chores, and were allowed to walk in, use computers and leave without being questioned, whenever we wanted, a rare treat.

Leaving Quebec City, and the residence at Laval, we all turned right but Frank turned left. There was confusion among the ranks finding the Pont Quebec, the only bridge cyclists are allowed to cross, with the whole group to-ing and fro-ing. The weather was great with mixed sun and cloud and the temperature in the low 20s. Once over the bridge Brendan found a cycle path beside the river that sounded like a treat to ride. The rest of us were on the highway with a record number of stoplights that at least kept us together. We rode through an artsy area that was really busy with tourists to our campsite at a hidden road for Au Bonnet Rouge. That evening most of us went for a walk to a long breakwater and back via a sculpture garden. St. Jean Port Jolie has an international contest for sculptors every year and the sculptures make a permanent installation around a large garden. It felt like there were hundreds of structures in the area with artists representing countries all over the world. During the day many of us tried poutine because it is a Quebec treat ‚ French fries with gravy and cheese curd. Ken and Frank liked it. Al said he’d never bother to try it again. Me too. Sandy has tried it before and says she likes it, but she wasn’t eating it. Al drafted behind Harry for the first time and he says it was the easiest day he’s ever had.

To Riviere du Loup ‚ 97k

Today started out with a head wind and rain and ended up great in sunshine. One of the group called it Quebec weather. Always the mornings are bleak but by afternoon the sun comes out. Sandy had a fast day, drafting behind Al. Dave and Mary drafted behind Frank. Glorious scenery. Just another day beside the St. Lawrence!

There was lots of chain cleaning and oiling tonight, getting ready to go on the Trans-Canada Trail tomorrow. There was a bike route from the campsite to the ferry terminal and around a higher point of land that several cyclists made after getting tents up, ending with buying ice-cream cones. Riding an extra few kilometers to get an ice-cream doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore, after a 97k day.

Dave H. is starting to look a lot better after a dreadful bout of stomach flu-like symptoms.

Riviere du Loup to St. Jacques, N.B. ‚ 135k

A long, hard day on the Trans Canada Trail ‚ beautiful trail, no vehicles but with the gravel surface it made for much more arduous cycling than paved roads do. Harry went on the highway and avoided the trail. Brendan had the right bike for it and had a great day on the trail. Frank and I had a relaxed but long day with our muscles protesting the change in surface. I loved the long tunnels of trees but Frank found them tedious. Harold, too, changed from the trail to the road to make faster time. Mary and Dave, with their thin tires were unimpressed with trails.

Sandy had an experience getting her legs felt up by another cyclist; a tall, dark, handsome cyclist, who didn’t believe she had cycled all the way from Victoria and grabbed her leg to check her muscles! He was suitably impressed. And Sandyä

When we reached St Jacques, the hose worked overtime at the campsite to clean all the mud off the bikes. We all complained about how tired we were at supper, but got a second wind when we went for ice-cream and heard live music starting. A vocalist sang while music played for dancing with nobody on the dance floor. Our group sat in the front row of chairs with at least 100 campers at the very large Panoramic site ranged in smaller groups in the dark behind us. The cyclists, who had ridden 135k that day, were the only ones to get up and dance, and dance exuberantly, except for a few women we didn’t know who were line-dancing. Mary and Dave danced, with Sandy and I the only other two women for all our guys. Nice odds for us! Our enthusiastic and accomplished dancer George danced with some of the other women campers as well as all of us, but the rest of ours guys stuck to our group. The music sent Inge to bed without tempting her to dance.

Sandra was dancing with George at one point and said, “I guess Harry is saving his million dollar legs,” so George grabbed the mike, teasing Harry who was sitting in the front row with Brendan, not participating, by saying, “What are you doing, Harry, preserving your million dollar legs,” The first time Harry said he had million dollar legs, George said, ‘Yes, and a $50 body.’

St. Jacques to Four Falls 86k

An easy day that felt like a day off. Cloudy skies, threatening rain but it held off until we arrived and pitched our tents.

Four Falls to Woodstock 100k

Frank got a flat just as we were leaving. Later he went to Perth Andover and came down 103 through Florenceville and met 7k of gravel and Harold. Other than Harold, he didn’t see anyone all day, unusual for us. Mary and Dave cycled with George and he took them to meet a friend of his from home who is a cabinet-maker. They were impressed with the technology and machinery that is used to make kitchen cabinets. We all made separate visits to the longest covered bridge in the world, most cycling through it or taking pictures of us at it.

David M., Ken and I made another foray onto the Trans Canada Trail, but this time sections of it were in a pretty challenging state. I got lessons on dealing with loose sand and gravel.

We stayed at Yogi Bear’s Kosy Acres, a comfortable campsite with all the amenities we need and more (like the hayride with Yogi Bear). The only drawback was that the cooking area was a good hike away from the tents.

Harold put new thinner tires on for me in an effort to speed up just a little more. They all keep telling me that it is 90 per cent the cyclist and 10 per cent the bike, but I’m still looking for any help I can get. Now the pannier and the kickstand are gone there isn’t too much more I can remove.

Supper was chicken breast in a sensational sauce invented by David M. Sandy, on his team, supplied a box of wine that turned an ordinary evening into one of hilarity and needed relaxation.

Woodstock to Fredericton ‚ 92k

Hot day following roads that weren’t on the map to a dam that wasn’t on the map. It was scenic and enjoyable because not too busy. This is the day that my husband, Eric O’Higgins, joins us after cycling from Moncton. We figured he couldn’t make it by the time we would get into camp because he had a longer ride and he would likely start later in the day. Wrong. He rode 240k in one day, yesterday, and rode forward to meet us, but he followed the route map and we took assorted other roads. We ended up not connecting until an hour after Ken and I rode in after stopping at a roadside stand to buy berries.

There were lots of hills on our way, to gorgeous area on a lake formed by a dam on the St. John river. On the beach below the highway Frank, Ken, Mary, Dave and I sat on a precarious rotten log. Frank waded and Mary dangled her feet in the water. We met up with George, Inge and Sandra at the dam George had promised us we could ride over. Frank had promised mayhem if the road didn’t go through because it didn’t show on the map. George delivered. We tried to get ice-cream at a kiosk near a beach thick with swimmers, but a sign on the counter said “sorry, ice-cream is too hard to serve”. We bought water because Dave and I ran out due to the heat.

The campsite at Fredricton, Harrt Island Campsite, was noisy with cars, trucks and motorcycles roaring past until late at night.

Fredricton to Sussex ‚ 126k

Highway 105 along the river was gorgeous all the way; #10 over the hills south to Sussex was brutal. A headwind made going a little tough and drafting essential. Eric and I started off drafting behind Al and Ken and at 35k Eric had his first flat, on his first day with us. I still haven’t had one so the toll is down to Harry and I. Some people have had eight or more flats. We found a marvelous restaurant at 45k for a second breakfast, not knowing it was the last chance for a restaurant until about 80k.

Sussex to Shediac ‚ 107k

Fabulous, fabulous day along a secondary road. Amazing tailwind, little traffic and hills that let you coast up them and get a fast run down, sending you up the next one without needing to change gears. It was the kind of exhilarating day that restores your love of cycling if you lost it and would make you fall in love with it, if you hadn’t. Everyone was high from the wonder of the day. Campsite at Shediac was close to Micky D’s and hot fudge sundaes so some people ‚ Mary – made multiple trips.

Shediac to Borden-Carleton ‚ 64k

A short day starting out with sun and deteriorating by supper into an ominous sky. We waited for two hours for the shuttle to take us across the Confederation Bridge so three of us, Al, George and I cleaned our bikes as well as we could without equipment. There’s live music here tonight.