January 11 to January 20, 2019
Camped at the Irving Big Stop Truck Stop. Worked on my laptop until 3 am last night. I am taking the day to catch up on blogging due to rain in the forecast. Sandy Carr the truck driver that got me out here for my bike ride came through at 1 pm for a short visit on his way to Bathurst NB.
I had an experience this afternoon that I won’t soon forget. I have a gentleman who lives in Halifax named Dale who has been following my ride very closely since the beginning. This afternoon while working away in the drivers lounge a man and a woman came walking around the corner. They introduced themselves as Hanson and Doris Spence parents of Dale and they had spent much of the morning looking for me between Aulac and Amherst.
Doris & Hanson Spence
It is hard to articulate the feelings one feels when complete strangers take time out of their day to go looking for you just so they can meet you and get to know you. It really touched me and is a memory that I shall carry for a very long time.
Went out to check my tent in the storm
They are calling for rain all day and bad weather tomorrow.
I woke up to sleet, snow and ice covering my tent and bike. I was in no rush to get out of my sleeping bag. I really like waking up in my sleeping bag as long as it is not too cold out. The problem is I never want to leave my sleeping bag.
The next day
I was pretty sure that there was a warm bed waiting for me in Amherst for tonight. I had lunch while waiting to see if this would be confirmed. The weather was getting worse and worse by the hour. My motivation to get any work down was pretty low. And I didn’t want to pull everything out if I was going to pack everything up anyways. Sure enough the confirmation came that there was a warm bed waiting for me. Unfortunately it was now 2 pm and the weather was pretty bad. By the time I broke camp and pedaled the 10 km’s in this weather it would surely by dark. Not to mention the roads could be extremely dangerous.
But I didn’t have to worry about the roads because they were coming to pick me up. I said give me an hour to break camp. So this is the first time I had to break camp in this kind of ice/snow storm. It would be an understatement to say that it was a bit of a learning experience. I had to kick the harden snow from around my tent to free the tent fly from the ground. The inside of my tent and all my gear was covered in a light flaking of ice crystals that were frozen to the roof of my tent (until I shook everything free un-connecting my tent fly from the rest of my tent). I also had to bring my tent poles inside the truck stop to thaw out. Some of the pole connections were frozen together. Wrapping up my tent with about 5 pounds of ice caked to it was another experience. I brought the tent inside the truck stop also to help melt that ice. The tent was so wet it looked like I just retrieved it out of a lake. My bike and bikes chain/drive train were also coated in ice.
Rob Trembley and James Campbell picked me up a short while later. I meet Rob in St Lawrence PEI (west side) when Craig Costain waved me down his driveway. Rob’s sister Amanda and James lived in Amherst. When we arrived in Amherst the party was already in full swing. Rob and Tara Trembley, James and Amanda Campbell and their two kids Chandler and Caleb and their neighbors Andy and Sandy Watkins.
These fine folks gave me a warm place to sleep in the middle of a snow storm
Having a place to stay for the night was absolutely amazing!! I had an opportunity to set my tent up and lay my sleeping bag out in the basement and let everything completely dry out. It wasn’t until the next morning did I learn James was an RCMP officer who spent many years as part of the mounted horse unit or RCMP Musical Ride where he trained and traveled all over doing mounted horse ceremonies. He actually preformed and met the queen a few years back.
Pedal: 55.5 km’s
Destination: Somewhere between Joggins and Advocate
Weather: Cold day today, dropping to at least -6 C but fortunately no wind. When I left this morning my gear shifter was not working. I was hoping that it would start working shortly but they never did. Moisture must have gotten into and froze inside my shifter. The whole day I could not use my 6 lowest gears. A very frustrating day to say the least.
At the restaurant that I grabbed lunch at in Joggins the lady told me that the road to Advocate would be impassable. Reflecting after the fact I would almost say that had I not come that far I would have had to agree. Leaving Joggins the roads were horrible. The roads were completely covered with 2-3 inches of soft sticky snow. My wheels and fenders were caked in snow all day. The only part of the road I could pedal was straight down the center. And even that was barely possible. And without my lowest 6 gears any kind of hill or deep snow required me to push my 185 lb bike and gear.
I took my first 2 spills today but they were only soft spills. With no traffic on the road I decided to pedal into the dark. By know I knew this section was going to very slow and difficult. I had to get as many miles down the road as I could. And hopefully tomorrow would be easier.
Also, I did visit Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Based on my interpretation the tide was about mid tide so it didn’t really seem like there was much to see.
Somewhere between Joggins and Advocate
Pedal: 37 km’s
Weather: Slept good but it felt pretty cold when I woke up. Today was overcast with no wind. Overall a good day to be biking if only my 6 lowest gears on my bike were working. I was awake but I was not motivated to get out of my sleeping bag when an older guy that had stopped to talk to me the afternoon before (on this same road) stopped when he saw my tent to give me a bottle of water. I was only camped less than 200 feet off the road.
Yesterday the snow plow went by both ways not making a bit of difference to clearing the road. Now getting a look at the occasional exposed area suggests that many many sections of this road are in real bad shape. My guess is that dropping the plow blade would end up tearing the pavement up. The roads were marginally better today only because a few more cars had been on the road through the night helping to melt the center line.
I have to be honest. Yesterday and today have been some of the most challenging biking so far. I had to push my bike up virtually every hill between Joggins and Advocate. And that’s another thing with Nova Scotia, the hills are back. The road between Joggins and Apple River where completely snow covered. I took 2 more soft spills today. After Apple River the roads were in better shape but the hills got even a little bigger.
Pushing up too many hills for one day
Pulling into Advocate I stopped to ask a local pumping gas about what was around as far as a restaurant selection. He responded asking if the biking was better than truck driving? He threw me for a good loop but it turns out that he knew of me and was already following me online. Anyways I told him about my problem with my gears and he pulled out some lock de-icer and doesn’t that fix my gears immediately. A huge thank you to Laurie Currie. These last 60 km’s were hard work.
I spent the rest of the evening in the Rite Stop (restaurant/grocery/gas station). I was pretty beat after the last 2 days.
Stephanie Morris gave me a warm place to sleep
FYI – for other cyclist, the road between Joggins and Advocate were pretty much covered in snow but I did notice in sections this road is in pretty rough shape. No shoulders of course and pretty isolated. For the first time in a while I finally felt like I was in some wilderness. Very little traffic and nice and quiet. As tough as it has been I am glad I went this way. But in the winter beware because you could find yourself in a bit of trouble in the middle of a snow storm. There are no services until you get to Advocate.
Pedal: 48 km’s
Weather: Started snowing this morning. It snowed all morning and into the afternoon. Fortunately not too cold but with the snow hitting my face I spent a good part of the day looking down at the road. I say a good part of the day but I also spent a good part of the day pushing my bike up mountains.
The first 25 km’s past Advocate got pretty hilly. The locals say they refer to the area as Small or Mini Cape Breton (I think that is what they called it). The roads going up the hills were pretty slick and the snow super sticky. The snow caused so much drag on my bike up most hills that I ended up needing to push my bike over them. To make things more challenging I usually had to push the bike straight up the center of the lane so my feet could get traction. Challenging in the sense of pushing 185 lbs of bike around blind corners. A few times I had to make a last second dash to the shoulder of the road.
It is safe to say these last 3 days have been the most physically challenging since the early days in Newfoundland.
Last night I had an amazing experience. At 8pm as I was packing my bike to find a campsite Stephanie Morris was buying some groceries. As soon as she realized that I would be camping for the night she right away offered her home to me. The crazy part was that because she was recently out of the hospital so she was staying with her mom and the house would be completely mine. Also 20 minutes earlier a gentleman handed me a $10 bill.
This morning was pretty awesome. The Rite Stop restaurant (in Advocate) gave me a complimentary breakfast and there was a message waiting for me on my phone from Tammy Bennett that there was a bed waiting for me in Parrsboro. Nova Scotia was bracing for a snow storm tomorrow.
Complimentary breakfast at the Rite Stop
I never bothered to check out Cape Chignecto Provincial Park beach. Yesterday my gears were not working and I was hungry and today with the snow falling I figured best thing was to get pedalling down the road.
It seems every time I run into someone now they have heard of me or seen my photo on Facebook. Kind of crazy
Last night I stayed with Nick and Tammy Bennett of Parrsboro. They downgraded the winter storm but I still took a day in Parrsboro to work on photos and blogs. While in Parrsboro I received a message from Kim Hillier of Great Village that there was a warm bed waiting for me there.
Nick & Trinity Bennett (Tammy took photo)
Pedal: 65 km’s
Destination: Great Village
Weather: Today was blistering cold with blowing snow. Visibility was pretty bad at a distance. There was enough visibility to suggest that this area is a very beautiful area. Many times I could make out the Bay of Fundy but due to the overcast nature of the sky and all around it was a bad day for photos.
I had two opportunities to warm up during the day and I took them. The first opportunity was at Masstown Market in Five Islands and the second place was at Dominion Chair General Store in Bass River. Dominion Chair General Store was a very interesting place and I think I overheard that the store had been open 160 years now.
Moving on from Bass River it didn’t take long before things started to get dark. There were a few sections of road where the snow drifting had turned the road into a single lane and it was all I could to do push my bike through. The wind was forever blowing me off the road. I did get a Facebook message telling me that the wind chill was at least -28C or possibly colder.
A cold one today
I arrived at Kim Hillier’s place around 6pm. I enjoyed my evening with her as I enjoy me evening with all my hosts. Tonight would have been a rough night in the tent for sure.
Thank you Kim Hillier
Pedal: 34 km’s
Weather: At first it felt real cold but getting on the road the day looked real good.
Kim took me out for a great breakfast. This helped contribute to a bit of a late start. I ended up taking the TransCanada/Hwy 104 to get to Truro. It had been a while since I was on such a busy highway. I needed to reach Truro as soon as possible. My bike needed a tune up and the bike shop was closed on Sunday.
I ended up needing a new chain and a new chain cassette and I purchased a usb charging head light.
The weather was sunny and awesome and I wish I could have pedaled more kilometers that day. But sometimes the final daily destination is just not that far.
Today my Crisis to Crushing it podcast came out.
Spending a wonderful night at Tabitha Hardy’s home.
Thank you Tabitha Hardy
I ended up staying an extra evening. There was a potential host invitation that fell through and by lunch the snow started to fall. So it was a good idea to stick around. I had the opportunity to meet Tabitha’s uncle and aunt. Her aunts name was Christine and her uncle’s name has escaped me. They brought Chinese over for lunch.
Pedal: 84.5 km’s
Weather: Today was cold, overcast with little to no headwind. It was a good day to be on the bike. From Truro to Walton was pretty hilly but nothing I could not handle.
Today there were many many visual access points along the Bay of Fundy to see the bay. Today was low tide.
I had a school bus driver named Steve Lapierre pull up right beside me as I was pedaling up a hill in Kempt Shore and opened his door asking me if I was Arie and then handed me a Tim Horton gift card. A few hours later just as dusk was arriving a car pulled up to me (from the other oncoming lane) and already had a $10 bill in their hand for me.
Thanks Steve Lapierre
I pushed through the dark a bit because I discovered a pub in Walton. I initially had no intentions of pedaling that far today. I enjoyed an amazing meal at Walton Pub & Eatery.
I arrived at all most 7pm just in time before they closed at 8pm. Just in time to eat and warm up and set my tent between the pub and river. The pub owner thought I was completely out of my mind when I asked her if I could set up my tent beside the pub.
Both Fundy Tidal Interpretive Centre and Burncoat Head Park were closed for the season. I didn’t bother pedaling to Burncoat Head Park to see if there was any access. This side trip didn’t make sense given the time of year and snow.
-14C last night