Follow the adventures of Bryan Thorp as he lives his dream of riding across Canada from coast to coast.
Day 73 - Aug 24 - Mon
Jacquet River, NB - Black River, NB - 144km
Mike and I woke up around 07:30 and made breakfast. There was quite a bit of dew so it took a while to dry our tents off and we got a late start at 10:00. The road, highway 134, was OK all the way to Bathurst but the scenery was nothing to write home about! I have few comments about today's ride - that's how uneventful it was.
My right knee was a bit achey in the am, but then I was OK in the afternoon. Bathurst was our stop for lunch and that was 50km into the day's ride. We did Timmy's. It was a little tight getting into and out of Bathurst plus the town didn't really do much for me, just like Campbellton and Dalhousie before it. Continuing on the 134, the scenery was even more boring: essentially road, trees and uninspiring houses. The road did follow the shoreline up to Bathurst, even if you couldn't see the shore, but at Bathurst we were now inland.
Eventually our 134 joins hwy 8 which is a bigger road that has large rolling hills. We do just over 700m of climbing today. We apparently arrive at Miramichi, NB but the highway takes us past it, or it's just a blip. I don't see any homes. We cross the river to Chatham, NB and the highway also bypasses the homes in the city and before we know it we're 14km from the 2 cities and at our campground.
The campground has plenty of mosquitoes and dinner is a quick affair tonight and we soon hit the tents. Communities that we rode through today were: Jacquet River, Belledune, Pointe-Verte, Petit-Rocher, Nigadoo, Beresford, Bathurst, Allardville, Miramichi, Chatham and Black River.
Day 74 - Aug 25 - Tue
Black River, NB - Cocagne, NB - 102km
No rain last night on our tents but the dew was heavy again, just as it was the previous morning. Even though we were up at 07:30, we didn't depart the campsite until 10:00 so the tents could dry off a bit. The mosquitoes weren't too bad in the morning but they were definitely there. They were bad enough that I walked around and ate breakfast rather than sit and eat.
We hit the road and we're on the larger highway 11 for the first part of the day. Eventually, highway 134 'reappears' and that's had a lot less volume although the shoulder wasn't very big. At St-Louis-de-Kent, I stop to top up on groceries as I have almost nothing left.
Today, I'm not feeling well; I have yet to figure out what has triggered this. The symptoms are headache, chills and very low energy level. My heart rate is fine, though. Since my immune system is borderline after all that chemo- and radiotherapy 17 years ago, perhaps all the mosquito bites has some sort of negative effect? Certainly, I get way larger bumps than other people do when bitten by a mosquito. For the first bites at the beginning of the mosquito season, these bumps swell to a couple inches in diameter. On the other hand, maybe it's just the lack of a good night's sleep. As I've commented before, I do not sleep well in a tent, typically waking hourly.
Anyhow, I popped an Ibuprofen but probably should have taken a Tylenol w/codeine. The Ibuprofen was more accessible at the time. By the time Mike and I had reached out lunch spot at Bouctouche, I was 10 minutes behind Mike. I felt bad holding him up, and he was very graciously about it, especially for a 20-year old! We ate lunch at Subway and then parted ways: he to Moncton and me along the NB coast towards the Confederation Bridge to PEI. Mike's parents obviously did a great job raising him as he was polite and courteous to a fault - I had to tell him to quit calling me "sir"! Sheesh! He was good company and always had a smile. A very good partner. Thanks Mike!
Right outside Bouctouche, I came upon a tourist info, so I asked about accommodation in the area, and was informed of a B&B about 7-8km away and a motel in Cocagne, about 20km down the road. I dismissed the B&B as it wasn't in the city and I'd be 'stuck' with nothing to do especially if I needed 2 days off. So I headed for Cocagne. The road was prettier along this stretch as there were farms to look at and some nicely taken care of homes. There sure is a huge Acadian community along the NB coast: a large number of homes fly the Acadian flag - the French flag with a single yellow star in the upper corner - and other banners. Even some towns have their utility poles painted in the flag's colours.
Eventually I reached Cocagne and find my motel. The rate given at the front desk doesn't match the rate tourist info got when they called on my behalf, so I wheel and deal and get about $5 off the original lower rate. Still it's expensive at $85 after taxes and I can't figure out why, other than the fact that this is the only motel in town. However, I'm not feeling well, so I have no choice and check in.
I walk the 1km to the local depanneur - the Acadians are French - and buy some groceries for dinner and breakfast; I may as well mitigate the expense of the motel by using the kitchenette and cooking dinner and breakfast. The headache lingers and I take my 1st Tylenol 3 that I had brought along for 'emergencies' like this. Communities that we rode through today were: Black River, St. Margarets, Kouchibouguac, St-Louis-de-Kent, Richibucto, Rexton, Ste-Anne-de-Kent, Bojctouche and Cocagne.
Day 75 - Aug 26 - Wed
Cocagne, NB - Summerside, PEI - 137km
It was nice not to have to wake up to a schedule - one of the benefits of touring without a partner. I made myself a spaghetti breakfast using the ingredients left over from last night's dinner, did the dishes and packed up.
I hit the road and the first order of the day was a detour around a bridge being worked on in Cocagne. That was about a 6km detour. There was another detour not much further down the road in Shediac, again a bridge out. The weather was very blustery all day long, I'm guessing up to 30-40km hour winds. I had the wind coming at me in all directions as my route followed the coastline, plus I has those detours.
I arrive in Shediac and the tourist info had a huge lobster as its town mascot. There's tourists all over it - I think a tour bus had pulled in just before me. I've seen people wearing 'Shediac' t-shirts over the years and now I know what the hoopla's about: Shediac bills itself as the "Lobster capital of the world". Hmm, why? Do they 'process' more lobster than anyone else? Is the seabed around Shediac 'just right' as far as lobsters are concerned? Who knows? Anyhow, it's pretty touristy here and I just have to take a picture of that large crustacean!
As it turns out, Shediac has a number of other claims-to-fame... It was the point of ferry departures for PEI from 1858 until 1917; the first transatlantic airmail sent to England was stamped in Shediac; Shediac was once the most important railway centre in the country, and so on. I wouldn't mind coming back someday and doing some more exploring of this old community.
A bit further down, on the main street, I stopped for a second breakfast, and I was actually able to order my staple pancakes! This is the first time since Ontario that I've been able to get pancakes vs. crepes. It's nice to have them again! Refueled, I hit the road again. My knees are feeling good today but I still have a lack of energy, although it's not as bad as yesterday.
Passing through the outskirts of Cap-Pele, I see an unusual statue in the middle of an intersection. I later find out that this is the 'Angel of Cap-Pele'. It is claimed to be one of the only places in North America where a monument is placed at the intersection of 2 roads. Unfortunately, it would've been a little tricky getting a photo of it. :-(
Eventually, I get onto my last stretch of road before Confederation Bridge - highway 955. This turned out to be a very nice 30km winding, scenic route, some of it right along the coast. The road was also quite small and with brush and trees on either side, it gave some shelter from the blustery winds. At the mid-point of this route, I came across Murray Beach Provincial Park. I went in to 'use the facilities' and saw that one could camp on a cliff over seeing the ocean and on a good day, have a view of PEI! Very, very nice. I wouldn't mind coming back someday to do that! Too bad today's schedule doesn't permit that, although I'd have concerns about my tent being blown into the ocean today! All things considered this was probably the nicest all-round bike touring road in all of NB, in my opinion.
To summarize, I'm sorry to say I did not enjoy the roads I travelled on in NB. I'm glad I'm almost done with NB. The actual roads were fine, and usually had adequate shoulders, but the scenery was lacking.
I ride the rest of the 15km to the Confederation Bridge. This is an amazing structure! It's about 13km long and is the world's longest bridge over ice-covered water. The people of PEI voted on whether or not to build a bridge - it was 59% for - and it was built and is operated by the private sector. I would think that this structure must rank right up there with the St. Lawrence Seaway as n engineering feat. Bicycles and pedestrians are not permitted on the bridge, so I follow the signs to get the shuttle bus across the bridge. There's no charge to get across the bridge to PEI but one pays to get back.
I arrive on the shuttle bus at the PEI end of the bridge, and visit the Tourist info centre for maps and lodging info. I'm going to get a motel again. Indeed, I may just 'motel it' right to the end of my tour; we'll see. My goal for tonight is Summerside, PEI, where my 'parents were stationed after WW II, before I was born. So I'm kinda curious about the town they lived in!
Summerside is officially 28km from the bridge to downtown Summerside but turned out to be 40km, as I rode the old winding train bed - now bike path - through Summerside. BTW, when I was in my mid-20s, I had visited 9 Canadian provinces, out of the 10 (duh!). It took me another 30 years to FINALLY get to PEI! Whoo-hoo! The first real large commercial building/plant I see is McCain! How appropriate! I also immediately notice PEI's renowned red soil.
I finally arrive at my motel 21:00, with my lights on as it's already 1/2 hour past sunset. The motel is kind of outside if the city, and a bit dated but will suffice for the night. Communities that I rode through today were: Cocagne, NB, Shediac, Barachois, Cap-Pele outskirts, Shemoque, Murray Beach Provincial Park, Bayfield, Summerside, PEI.