Saturday, 13 January 2018

Publications

While I was back in Cape Town recently I started converting all my Canadian photos into photo books.
Three have been printed and are with me in London, but for those a little further away and unable to see them physically, you can view them in the comfort of your own home via the links below.



Thursday, 28 September 2017

It is done


Vancouver to Halifax, 3 June - 23 September 2017
Total Distance: 7565.84 km
Total Time: 364:15:43

Total Height gained/lost: 49760m /-51253m

Total Calories: 234494
Average speed: 20.66 km/h

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Day 116: Shubenacadie to Halifax

This is it.
Bittersweet feelings today as I make my way into Halifax, and to the end of this amazing journey.

The day dawned misty again, but much warmer than yesterday. I was out of camp by 9 and was sorry not to say a proper goodbye to Willy. His campground is amazing.

I rode on the 102 for a bit, but it was far too busy, so I went back to highway 2, the old highway.
The scenery was beautiful. Lakes, woods, cottages and little towns all the way. The humidity was also on the rise today, and I was sweating profusely.

When I saw the main bridge that crosses from Dartmouth to Halifax, I realised that I had made it, I had actually cycled my bicycle across Canada! I shed a tear or two as I continued towards downtown Halifax and Point Pleasant Park.

I rode into the park and found a suitable place to park Shirley. I emptied a water bottle, went down to the water and scooped some sea water up, then poured it over my front and rear wheels.

I had no words. My mind was blank. I sat for a long time just looking out to sea, hearing the waves, the seagulls. Tears wet my beard.

I tried to capture the moment as best I could, but I don't think I did very well.
I took some more photos and video then packed up the bike and headed to the HI hostel, where I would be staying for the next few days.

A shower, some food and then out to meet Aaron for a few beers and a proper celebration.
We met at the Split Crow pub, sank a few, danced, listened to local music and had a great time.

It is done.

Distance: 75.7 km
Time: 3:37:15
Height gained/lost: 530m /-601m

Calories: 2409

Friday, 22 September 2017

Day 115: Oxford to Shubenacadie

Those kids were right, it does get cold here at night. In fact, it gets freezing cold!
I woke to a cold mist hanging over the town, so I quickly donned 3 tops, the top one being a down jacket, and scooped some breakfast into me.
I packed up as quickly as I could, and went down the main road to Tim Horton's, I needed a warm breakfast in me, so I had a second breakfast, with a thick and creamy hot chocolate to get my body warmed up.

The air was cool, and the mist lifting, but there was still cloud at a higher level, so I kept a jacket on for most of the morning. I took the 204 to the junction with the 4, then went through Wentworth (it has a ski slope).
Once again, there were plenty of hills, nothing massive, just plenty of them.

I stopped at the Big C truckstop for lunch and had the works. It was another hot day, so I drank heaps. The waitress asked about my journey, so I told her what I had been up to. This blew her mind, so she started laying into the locals, saying they needed to get out and do more exploring. This got a few laughs from the customers, and soon I was feeling quite good too. It had been a tough morning.

It was a quick ride into Truro from the diner, but the road was getting worse, as were the drivers. I had a couple of close calls as I got closer to town, but luckily nothing more than that. Once through Truro I took the 2, heading south.
As my energy levels started to head south as well, I spied a barn on the top of a hill advertising camping. It was not a moment too soon.

I rode into camp and met Willy, owner and manager of Wild Nature Camping. What a great guy, he instantly made me feel at home by sorting me out with a top camp site, then promised beers later in the evening, once I had settled in.
I rode into town to get dinner and got some Gatorade and chips, and a donair. The donair possibly saved my life.
It was delicious!!!

Back at camp, Willy cruised in on his golf cart, unloaded some fire wood and cracked some beers. We talked about all sorts, then heard the wolves howling as the moon rose.
The wolves were in the wildlife reserve next door.

What a perfect ending to a tough day on the bike.
Wolves, stars, beers and a fire.

Distance: 129 km
Time: 6:29:59
Height gained/lost: 972m /-979m

Calories: 4045

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Day 114: Summerside to Oxford

Confederation Bridge
I said my final farewell to Dennis, Jane and Ursula and set off towards the Confederation Bridge, 25km away. This would be my only biking on PEI.
I had a massive tailwind pushing me, and hoped it would continue once I was over the bridge.

Yum.
While waiting for the shuttle to ferry me back to the mainland, I had a Cow's ice cream. It is a big thing on the island, and I can see why. It's delicious!

Once I was back on the mainland, I met Daryl going the other way. We had last seen each other in Montreal. It was good to see him again, and we had a quick catchup before he was whisked over the bridge and onto the island.

The tailwind pushed me to Port Elgin in no time, but as I was leaving town I got my first genuine puncture. A tiny sliver of wire had worked its way into my rear tyre and flattened it fast. While repairing this, I realised that my spare tube had the wrong valve, so didn't fit. It's a good thing I carry so many patches.

Once I was back up and running, I took the 970 and then the 366 towards Amherst. The roads were quiet and rolling, with a good surface. Forest and fall colours kept me company for most of the way.
The rolling hills kept coming, I was getting tired and I didn't know what facilities Oxford had. When I arrived in town, I was nicely surprised. It had everything, including many places to stealth camp.
I ate dinner (wings and a burger and fries and a chocolate milk) and asked the manager of the cafe if I could camp here. She replied, saying that there weren't any signs saying that you couldn't! Fair enough.

I pitched my tent next to the Information Centre, well hidden from all eyes, except a couple of kids who walked past once I was in bed. They hoped I would be warm enough as it gets cold in the mornings now.

I am now in Nova Scotia, whoop.

My legs were tired, so I hoped for a good night's sleep.

Distance: 124 km
Time: 5:41:59
Height gained/lost: 739m /-783m

Calories: 3949


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Day 112/113: PEI (rest days)

September 19

After a great sleep and a tasty breakfast of eggs, toast and local bacon Dennis took me for a drive to Malpeque to visit the cousin of Karen, who I stayed with in Johnstown. We drove some of the back roads around the island and did a spot of shopping before heading back home.
We went to a ceilidh in Brackley Beach and listened to the amazing Jonny Ross and his band. Most of the tunes were local, with a scattering of more popular Irish tunes. It was great to hear this local music.

September 20

I took Dennis' kayak out for a paddle today and paddle across the harbour to the breakwater.
Lovely red sand beaches to park the kayak on while I went for a swim.
You have to watch the tides in this place, they are strong and fast. After I had finished my swim, I jumped back into the kayak, but it wouldn't budge. The tide was draining the bay so fast I had to walk about 400m to find deeper water.
By the time I had returned to the house, the sandbanks were just being uncovered.

Dinner was mussels and sausages, and fresh salad.
I am feeling very relaxed being here. Dennis works with wood and makes spoons of all shapes and sizes, and of different wood. The tour of the workshop is quite extensive.
Jane works with leather and makes amazing bags, money clips and purses, as well as any custom items she chooses.
It is great hanging out with creative people again, it certainly got my mind turning over, thinking about what is possible.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Day 111: Riverview to PEI

We thanked Brad for the hospitality and cruised down into Moncton, stopping at Tim Horton's for the usual. Aaron and I parted ways today, he was heading down the 6 towards Halifax, I was heading towards PEI via Shediac.

I stopped at Mike's bike shop and purchased a cheap tyre in case my worn front tyre decided to quit on me.

I arrived in Shediac, saw the world's biggest lobster and then took the 955 all the way to the Confederation Bridge. Headwind all the way made it a tough ride, but the scenery was lovely. Smelling the sea again after months inland was amazing.

I eventually made it to the bridge and got the free shuttle across. No bikes are allowed on the bridge.
Jane and Dennis, from earlier in BC, met me and drove me to their lovely house in Summerside.

Beer, steak and salad for dinner, what a treat!

Distance: 112 km
Time: 5:19:15
Height gained/lost: 544m /-547m

Calories: 3363


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Day 110: Coles Island to Riverview

It all comes to a grinding halt.

We had a slow start from the golf course/campsite this morning and headed towards Moncton, taking the 112 all the way. It was a quiet road this morning with a gentle tailwind, so we were making good progress through the rolling countryside.

PING
Brrrrrrrrrtttttttttttt,
and then the sound of a derailleur being sucked into a wheel.

Stopping, I spun round to see what Aaron was up to, and saw him grinding to a halt.

As soon as I had heard the PING I knew he had broken anther spoke, and this in turn had hooked onto the derailleur and sucked it into the wheel.
This was a game changer.

We dragged the wounded bike off the road and set about assessing the damage. It didn't look good for Aaron. He stripped the rear wheel and then removed the derailleur and tried to straighten it as best he could. This was where the rail pins we collected previously came into play; they were the perfect hammer.

While Aaron was beating metal, I spoke to a lady at the house near us, and she said her brother may be able to help as she was just leaving. His name was Brad and immediately offered Aaron a lift, bike and all, into the nearest town to get to a bike shop. The offer was extended to me but I wanted to ride the whole way.

Once Aaron's bike was packed into the car, I cycled off, trying to regain the momentum we had earlier in the day.

The road stayed quiet all day, as did the rolling hills. It felt as though I was constantly riding up a hill but there was never any downhill. I was eventually rewarded with a downhill, and the view from the top of the hill was amazing. Forests and farms as far as the eye could see, with a river running through it all.

I stopped at the petrol station outside Salisbury and messaged Aaron. He replied, telling me to come to Brad's house, as lobster and shrimp had been purchased, and that we were staying there tonight.

Amazing.

I arrived at Brad's house a few moments after them. They had been to Shediac to buy seafood, and to the bike shop to get Aaron's wheel sorted.

I was knackered, it had been a taxing day on the bike.

Distance: 83.7 km
Time: 3:47:20
Height gained/lost: 500m /-481m

Calories: 2586

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Day 109: Fredericton to Coles Island

Hot and rolling.

Up early on a very quiet and misty morning, rolled out of the park to some very strange looks. Breakfast at Timmies then out along the 105 towards Moncton. We stayed on this road for a while, then would have options once we arrived at Jemseg.

Once again, the road we were on ran to a dead-end, with Google saying the path certainly existed. Nevertheless, Aaron and I explored the possibility of another path over the river. None existed, so we backtracked a few kilometres until we could cut across onto the Trans-Canada Highway.

Aah, bittersweet memories came flooding back as we spun along the shoulder, massive trucks hurtling past us at warp speed. The bridge over the river had a sign stating that bicycles were forbidden, but as we had no other option, we carried on pedalling. Jemseg, and lunch, awaited us on the other side.
Aaron had to fix a (yet another) broken spoke on his rear wheel too.

We had Donair's for lunch (Google them) and they hit the spot. Much water was consumed as it was now a rather toasty day.

A guy in the parking lot gave us directions along the river to a nice campsite, and the road would be quiet as well. Thanking him, we set off along this new route, and were soon climbing up little rolling hills. Around every corner, a new summit appeared, but no respite was offered. If we're doing all this climbing, surely there is a descent on offer?
What descents there were were paltry, hardly any whoops were hollered. Sad.

We soon saw the sign to the TNT Campground ahead, and we rolled in, hot and sweaty and ready for a swim in the river.
The river water was very warm, and felt great on tired legs. We even got a free "Garra Rufa" pedicure. While we were sitting in the river, little fish swam up and nibbled us, getting between our toes. It was hard not to twitch violently as it was quite ticklish!

A rather intense game of washer, or ring, toss was happening up near the office, so we popped in for a quick look. I think some of the players may have been at provincial level as they missed nothing.

Bed time was calling, so we headed back to the tents and crashed out.

Yet another interesting day on the bike.

Distance: 104 km
Time: 4:49:20
Height gained/lost: 625m /-600
m
Calories: 3245


Friday, 15 September 2017

Day 108: Millville to Fredericton

Jazz baby!

Fact: Millville is home to the world's largest maple leaf.

The bike abuse continued today, except there was treasure on the trail to keep our minds and bodies focused. Riding on the rail trail meant that there were rail spikes, the pins used to keep the rail in place, scattered on the path. The railway was covered in the late 50's and the constant traffic on it is exposing the underlying treasures. Aaron and I each collected a few pins as mementos. (Little did we know that these would come in handy later.)

About 25km down the path I realised I had left one of my water bottles on the sink at Andrew's house. "Bother" said Kevin. Oh well, another bottle will need to be purchased.

Thankfully the trail was mostly downhill today, but my tired legs and the sandy and rocky trail surface made it as tiresome as a 100km road ride.
We cycled the last 15km into Fredericton on the cycle path, then stopped at Picaroons brewery for a well earned local pint.
While enjoying this pint, my phone buzzed. It was Andrew.

Andrew: "Where are you?"
Kevin: "In Picaroon's."
Andrew: "Stay there, Tiffany is on her way to you with your water bottle."
Kevin: "....."

Tiffany, Andrew's wife, was coming in Fredericton, and had brought my water bottle with her, and hand delivered it to me in the pub. What service!
I thanked her, and just like that, she was gone. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face, what good fortune to have my bottle back...

We left Picaroons, cycled over the river and had lunch at the Snooty Fox, the bar staff insisting we park our loaded bikes inside the bar! We had a cruisy afternoon listening to the music from the Harvester Jazz Festival, while we supped local beers from a few establishments.

Once the sun had set and darkness had set in, we headed out to Odell Park and pitched our tents just off the main path. Hopefully nobody minds.

Distance: 64.7 km
Time: 3:42:31
Height gained/lost: 608m /-752m

Calories: 1998

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Day 107: Perth-Andover to Millville

Trust Google?

We did, and paid for it. Not that the detour we took was sketchy or anything, but we did an extra 15km's up a forestry road that went nowhere! And it was hot.

Today started like any other. A phone alarm would go off, get snoozed, ring again. We would get up, have breakfast, pack the tents and wheel out in a very lazy manner.
We had slept well last night, the campsite was quiet and the sun didn't come up until a bit later as we were behind a hill.
While eating breakfast I watched a fledgling Bald Eagle get fed by its mother, a majestic bird.

We were on the rail trail again this morning, and it was somewhat better than yesterday's stage. Smooth gravel all the way into Bristol, where we stopped for mid-morning tea/coffee. In these small towns, the elderly seem to gather in the Tim Horton's and discuss everything. There are no secrets in these small towns.

After Bristol, we rolled into Hartford, home to the world's longest covered bridge. Aaron and I rode it twice, once over the river and again to come back.
By now the sun was beating down, so we stopped in the shade of a tree and grabbed a bite to eat. From here onward, the road would kick up a little, so we wanted to be fuelled for the afternoon.

Trusting the map Google had supplied us, we spun down the road, and then headed up a forestry trail. We climbed higher and higher and then, suddenly, reached a dead end.
The trail just stopped.

We back-tracked and headed out on the 104, good old Pole Hill Road.
What an experience.
The road surface was a patchwork of fifty shades of grey, each shade covering, hopefully, a pothole. Some potholes were fresh and hadn't been covered, so our eyes had to be watching for the danger.

Our destination didn't seem to be getting any closer, so we reassessed the situation and decided we would try our luck in Millville.
Speaking to a farmer just outside of town, he said Millville wasn't worth the effort, and that we should push on.
Non-cyclists have a warped sense of what a cyclist needs from a town. We need simple supplies and fresh water, a place to sleep, and that is pretty much it.
When we arrived in Millville, it had all of the above, so we decided to try and pitch tents in the church yard.
While we were deciding this, a guy walking his dog approached and so we asked if it would be OK to camp in the church. He said yes and then said, "Why don't you come and stay with me, I have two spare bedrooms?"

Aaron and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement. This was perfect. We could shower and have a good sleep. We wheeled our bikes to the house, dumped our bags in our respective rooms and went down to the kitchen to talk to Andrew. He was busy replacing the windows in the house, so it was a bit a mess, a light layer of sawdust covering most of the lounge area.

Chicken soup and bread for dinner. Winner. Andrew's wife (she was at work) said he should make us granola bars for the morning, so he did that while we ate dinner.
Andrew then started telling us all the places we need to go in Halifax, as he had spent loads of time there. The list of places grew and grew, and soon we had days mapped out.

Our eyes were starting to droop, so we said our goodnight's and headed upstairs.

Once again, hospitality is found where none is to be expected.

Distance: 111 km
Time: 5:48:46
Height gained/lost: 999m /-956m

Calories: 3513