Cross Canada Tour 1995: Home in the Maritimes

( part of 1995 cross-Canada bike tour)

Wed 26-July New Denmark NB [130km 416m]

At 0600 (Atlantic Time) I got up and rode a short distance to a picnic area with a beach, had a swim and cooked breakfast. The trail is very nice along here, with a picnic area every few K's. I looked around Degelis, but nothing was open, I guess they are still on Eastern Time. I need some camera film, this is some of the nicest scenery of my trip.

The bike trail is still quite good but is in sight of the TCH which here is flat, and has a very wide smooth shoulder- it would be tolerable riding on it. Why couldn't I have a bike trail along some of the crummy roads I was on! However the bike trail soon became useful as there was a construction zone on the highway, with sticky new tar. Traffic was stopped and I just rode by.

There are few signs on the trail and I was afraid I might miss the New Brunswick border. I wanted to visit the tourist bureau. However the border is impossible to miss as a big sign proclaims the alternate spelling of this province, I-R-V-I-N-G.

In the tourist bureau I get a provincial map, accomodation lists and a schedule for the St. John to Digby ferry. The bike trail continues with a good smooth surface to St Jacques where I still couldn't find any film.

This is still a French area. However, it was evident I wasn't in Quebec anymore when I went into a store loooking for real bread!

Here there is a rough, unfinished section of the trail. I was about to get back on the highway when a local cyclist told me that the trail got better again in a few hundred meters. In the 60 km I was on there were only 2 short rough sections of a total of a km.

Coming into Edmundston the trail left the old railroad and wandered through some woods, past a golf course then across a bridge on the Madawaska River, missing all of the business district. I decided not to backtrack into town so headed out on Rt 144 . Then it started to rain. There was a shopping mall which normally I avoid but I needed some film and some more groceries. I also got out the rain and had lunch. The sun was coming out 30 minutes later as I left, it was warm and humid.

It was rather uneventful afternoon ride on the Rt 2,TCH, with a headwind. Traffic was heavy but there is a good wide shoulder.

At 1800 I reached Grand Falls and had supper by the tourist bureau. Then I went in to see the exhibits and look at the falls.

I made a detour off on Rt 108 through Drummond with bigger hills and the largest potato fields I've ever seen. Then the names on the mailboxes changed from French to Scandinavian. New Denmark is one of the largest Danish settled areas in Canada. It looks more like Norway than Denmark, though. There are large hills ahead and a very long railroad trestle suspended over the valley.

I found a place for my tent near New Denmark. There seemed to a lot of big trucks all night on Rt 108. It goes to Plaster Rock and then across the province to Miramichi. It rained over night and I heard thunder.

Thur 27-July Nackawik [163km 880m]

In the early morning the rain had ended and it was quite misty as I headed up one of the steepest hills I've ever seen. I was going 4km/hr! The top of the hill was above the fog in the sun. It was a nice view looking down on the ocean of clouds in the valleys below. Then it is a steep downhill to Rt 105 near Lake Edward. This is a quiet road winding along the east bank of the St John River.

I had breakfast near Tilley. At Tobique there was a park by the river where I had a refreshing swim. This morning I was rather slow as I continued along Rt 105 past Perth-Andover. I had lunch at Kilburn.

Then I seemed to pick up energy and the afternoon passed pleasantly. There are some nice sections along the river, especially south of Florencetown. I could here the distant roar of traffic from the TCH on the other side of the river. Rt 105 has light traffic. The road quality was better than I expected. New Brunswick has a reputation for rough roads.

It was late afternoon as I passed Woodstock. The next 40 km along the river were very nice, I stopped for a quick swim. The winds had died down. I decided to head for the campground listed at Nackawic. There is little traffic on Rt 105 and no signs either, they don't expect tourists to be travelling on it. I passed the bridge and was almost into Nackawic when I spotted the campground on the other side of the river. So I had to go back to the bridge, onto Rt 2 (TCH) for a short section, to the campground at Hawkshaw.

I wanted to get some bread but all that the camp store had was this white tastless stuff. This is definitely not Quebec! It was a fairly nice campground but it was right on the TCH and the traffic noise kept going all night.

Fri 28-July Gagetown [128km 764m]

Although the TCH has a good shoulder and is slightly shorter I didn't like the noise so I went back across the bridge to Nackawic where I saw the Big Axe - another picture to go with the Giant Turkey, the Big Goose (too bad i misssed the Big Nickle)

The map shows Rt 105 following right along the river, but it doesn't. There are lots of steep little hills. I think the old road was flooded by the Mactaquac Dam and a new road had to build over the hills. There is also a headwind and it is starting to get hot. I met a couple from Sussex out for a morning ride. They knew some people I knew from the Moncton Bicycle Club.

I had a refreshing swim and a first lunch at the Mactaquac Dam Then I crossed the river on to the TCH. It was very hot and there was heavy traffic. There is a wide shoulder so the only problem with the traffic is the noise. My mind just went blank for the next 20 km.

Fredericton is another goal for me. I had biked here from Halifax and back in 1981 so my route across Canada was now complete. I could head towards Moncton and maybe Prince Edward Island but I already had that route "done".

Besides I wanted to follow the St John River all the way to the sea. So I headed out on Rt 102 which I thought would be along the river. It isn't. Rt 2 (TCH) on the other side is very flat right along the river. But on this side I only got occasion glimpses of the water. The river is only a few meters above sea level, so I also expected a flat ride along the lower St John River Valley.

From back in 1981 I remember Rt 2 being very flat and quite scenic along the river to Jemseg. From there I had ridden on Rt 695 and 710 to Coles Island where I took the shortcut to Moncton on RT 112. I think a lot of trucks take the latter road.

From Jemseg south along the east bank of the river it seems that there is no direct route, since there are no ferries across the many inlets. It would probably be scenic. A few years ago I rode on the Kingston Peninsula, between Long Reach and Kennebecasis Bays. That was scenic but hilly.

The direct route to St John is Rt 7 which I've heard is very boring, so I went on Rt 102 which wasn't as scenic as I thought.

I had a very late second lunch in a shady park in Oromocto. In early evening it was a little cooler as I headed through rather non-descript country past Upper Gagetown. I camped in some scrubby woods. The flies weren't too bad.

Sat 29-July Smith Cove NS [115km 968m]

I was away by 0645 and had breakfast in a park in Gagetown. It was headwinds and hills. This was one of the hilliest days of the ride. I thought this was the St John Valley!

There weren't many views of the river until near Oak Point. Then it started to rain but I stopped for a snack under a conveniently located picnic shelter.

I went into Oak Bay Provincial Park for lunch and a swim. There was no one else at the beach except for several lifeguards. The water was nice.

It rained lightly most of the afternoon. I passed Browns Flats which isn't flat! At Westfield I joined Rt 7 for a while but decided to stay on Rt 177 along the Grand Bay, thinking it would be flatter. It isn't. There were lots of hills as I entered the St. John city limits.

There is a ferry at 1645 and I should be able to get there in time. I hoped I might have a few minutes to detour to Seaside Park for a ceremonial touching of the sea. I didn't have a good map of the city so I just headed to the southeast. It was very foggy, a sure sign that I was near the Bay of Fundy. Then I saw Lancaster Ave and I knew the way to the ferry from there.

I got on the ferry with about 15 minutes to spare. I didn't get a chance to make the side trip to Seaside Park. Walking on to the ferry ramp, I looked down at the salt water. The trip across the continent was really finished. I would be home in less than 3 hours.

Quite often one sees large whales on this ferry crossing but it was too foggy today. I had supper and rested for an evening ride. Around 1900 the fog started lifting, revealing a coast of high cliffs ahead. But the ship sails into a gap in the cliffs.

"Is this the light-house top? is this the kirk? 
Is this the hill? is this my own country?" 
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

At about 1930 I walked off the ferry. How strange it is after all this time to see the Nova Scotia flags flying again!

I headed past the town of Digby. The rain had stopped and it was a mild evening. It would have been nice to ride up to Bear River and on to the Youth Hostel near South Milford but I only had about a hour before dark, so I headed for Smith Cove where there are several motels and campgrounds. I was lazy (and a little dirty), so I decided to stay indoors tonight.

Sun 30-July Wolfville [164km 848m]

It was a nice clear morning, I cooked up breakfast outside, then oiled my chain and headed off at about 0830. I decided not take one of my favorite rides up to Bear River and Clementsvale so I just went along Rt 1. A few weeks later I came back to ride to Bear River.

I didn't have much energy this morning and it seemed much hillier than I expected. Traffic is much lighter than several years ago now that Rt 101 bypasses this section. My pedal was squeeking again so it got some grease.

At Annapolis Royal I decided to take the easy but less scenic Rt 1 instead of Rt 201. With no hills and a tailwind it was an easy ride to Bridgetown where I had my first lunch. Feeling stronger, I crossed the river and followed Rt 201. It was great, sunny with a tailwind and I was home on one of my favorite roads. I had ridden here only 2 months ago, it was now just like a pleasant weekend tour.

It was quite hot so I went for a refreshing swim at the pond at the dam in Nictaux Falls. Then I took the hilly but very scenic road over to Torbrook Mines, then back to 201. It's strange that these bigger hills are a pleasure now but the smaller hills early this morning were such a pain.

I stopped at the farm market in Kingston and had a second lunch. They were selling the first corn but strawberry season was over. Then I went onto Brooklyn Street, a very quiet road which runs parallel to Rt 1 from the county line all the way to Kentville. I turned off onto Rt 221 so I could have a swim at Silver Lake in Lakeville.

It was 1830 when I left Lakeville but it was an easy ride on nice roads to Port Williams and then to Wolfville. After getting some more groceries at the big Farm Market store west of town, I went to the town park by the tourist bureau and cooked supper around 2000. As I have thought many times, "If I lived here, I would be home now".

I tried calling a friend in town but she wasn't home. I didn't expect to find her at home on such a beautiful evening. So I decided to head for a commercial campground past Grand Pre, about 8 km from town. It was getting dark by 2100 so I put on my lights. I turned off Rt 1 at Grand Pre. By a stroke of luck my friend was just driving by, so I ended up riding back into Wolfville.

Mon 31-July Dartmouth [107km 712m]

The weather forcast predicted one of the hottest days of the year, but it felt cool compared to Ontario and Quebec. I headed up Maple Street, down to Melanson then along the Gaspereau Valley to Avonport, Rt 1 to Hantsport and then the flat, quiet Bogg road to Falmouth and Windsor.

Past St Croix I decided to take Rt 101, one the most boring sections in the province with some of the heaviest traffic. But compared to the TCH in Northern Ontario it was easy and had almost no traffic. With a tailwind I covered the 22 km in an hour. I thought there were lakes along it but they were all just swamps except for those which are part of the Halifax water supply so I didn't get a swim.

After a lunch near Mt Uniacke I headed to Middle Sackville on Rt 1 but then took a diversion to Windsor Junction where I finally got a good swim.

Then I rode along the very pleasant Rt 318 to Dartmouth. I stopped off at the mall to leave my film for developing, then rode the last few 3 km to my house, arriving around 1800.

Since I left here 6 weeks ago I have ridden 5635 km and climbed 20 km. The distance from my sister's farm was only 5400 km. In 1991 I rode 1921 km from Vancouver to my sister's so my total distance across Canada was 7321 km. This was much more than I thought it was across Canada, of course I didn't take the shortest route

BUT this is not the end of the trip yet, it is just another stopover. There's still Prince Edward Island and maybe Newfoundland ahead.

That evening I managed to get the lawn mowed, bills paid and other menial tasks done so I could contine cycling.

I had to do some bike maintainance in the next few days. The chain was worn out, as I expected after 6000 km with no cleaning. The bearings in the bottom bracket were broken so I replaced the bottom bracket. I dismanted the rear hub and regreased it, it had been making funny sounds for over a year.