Francois Cross Canada Adventure 2005 : Trip Diary

July 27, 2005 at 08:29PM
From: francois
July 27, 2005

Rest day in Quebec City
Today's Photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050727/

I slept solid from about 11:30pm last night until 10:00am this morning. I believe that is the longest sleep I've had on this journey and I woke up feeling very good.

I spent the day visiting old Quebec city with my dad and his partner Nicole. Its an amazing place full of beauty and history.

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July 28, 2005 at 07:24PM
From: francois
July 28, 2005

Quebec City, QC to St-Jean-Port-Joli, QC
KM Travelled Today: 108 KM, Total So far: 5508 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050728/

I woke up around 0800 this morning but I didn't leave until around noon as I did some laundry and spent some time with my grandmother.

I found a bike path near my uncle's house and that path took me all the way to the ferry terminal located in old Quebec. The ferry ride is short and takes you from the north side of the St. Lawrence river to the south side of the St. Lawrence river.

Once on the south shore of the river, I followed another bike path which eventually led me to route 132 which I followed for the rest of the day. Route 132 has a nice wide paved shoulder and the traffic isn't heavy. More importantly, the views from route 132 are glorious. Today's stretch of road is definitely in the top 5 with respect to beautiful views.

Near Saint-Vallier I stopped at a fromagerie (a place that makes cheese) and purchased some cheddar. While consuming the delicious cheddar I engaged in conversation with two ladies who are local to the area and they suggested that I check out the marina in Berthier-Sur-Mer. I obeyed the suggestion and went off route 132 when I arrived in Berthier-Sur-Mer and I'm pleased that I did as the views there were absolutely fantastic.

I continued on until I reached St-Jean-Port-Joli which is a nice town containing many artists. Many of the artists seem to have shops next to, or as part of their home. One could do a nice artists tour here, much the same way one would do a wine tasting tour.

I'm staying at the Auberge Du Faubourg which is nice but slightly overpriced for the quality of room. But the views from here are quite lovely. I had dinner at the restaurant here at the auberge and although the food was very good, I found the whole dinner took way too long. I was there for 2 hours. I spent about 15 minutes of that eating, the rest was waiting for food. I had 4 courses and the wait between courses seemed like an eternity. Such waits are fine if you have company to chat with, but since I was eating alone, it wasn't fun to wait.

I purposely took it easy today, covering only 108 KM, in order to ensure that everything is ok with my body. I will do the same tomorrow as well and will stop in Riviere-du-Loup. And on Saturday I will enter New Brunswick. I should also mention that temperatures here are great, not too humid, nor too hot.

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July 29, 2005 at 01:13PM
From: francois
July 29, 2005

St-Jean-Port-Joli, QC to Riviere-du-Loup, QC
KM Travelled Today: 99 KM, Total So far: 5607 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050729/

I was up at 0800 today and ate a quick breakfast buffet before hitting the road at 0930. The temperature was a comfortable 20 celcius and the wind was nicely at my back.

I travelled route 132 again today. It was mostly flat with occasional rolling hills and most of the time it is within site of the lovely St. Lawrence river.

My favourite stop today was my lunch stop in Kamouraska where I enjoyed the stunning views as I ate my lunch.

About an hour after my lunch, near St. Andre, I ran into Richard, the cyclist from Montreal that I had biked with a few days earlier. He was camping nearby but was on his way to visit Riviere-du-Loup, which as it happened, was exactly where I was going. Richard and I continued on together, cycling side-by-side where we could so we could chat.

As we approached Notre-Dame-du-Portage, Richard recommended that we take a local road which would take us closer to the river as well as avoid a hill. Better views and avoiding a hill? It was an easy choice, we took the local road. I stopped brieftly to take a photo there and then we continued on to Riviere-du-Loup.

My first task in Riviere-du-Loup was to find the Days Inn motel and get checked-in. After that Richard took me to a pub that he had previously visited and we fired back some beer and some delicious burgers. As I headed back to my hotel room to get online, Richard did a few errands. About an hour later Richard stopped by my hotel to chat for a few minutes before heading off to return to his camp site.

New Brunswick awaits me tomorrow.

ps. I finally updated My Route So Far.

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July 30, 2005 at 01:39PM
From: francois
July 30, 2005

Riviere-du-Loup, QC to Edmundston, NB
KM Travelled Today: 125 KM, Total So far: 5732 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050730/

After a nice continental breakfast at the hotel I managed to get on the road by 0815. It was cool this morning, mostly cloudy and the wind was once again at my back.

I rode through Riviere-du-Loup until I reached highway 185 which was my chosen road to New Brunswick. My plan was to use the cycling path that loosely follows highway 185 but I didn't end up doing that as highway 185 had a decent shoulder. The cycling path apparently follows an old rail bed and so the hills aren't as bad as highway 185 but as a result, one ends up travelling more distance.

I spent most of the morning climbing hills. None of the hills were too serious, but it was definitely much more climbing than descending. Shortly before 11am, as I was climbing a hill, I heard a crunch and my bike came to a sudden stop. I got off and investigated. My chain had broken and in the process my derailler had also broken. The bottom part of my rear derailleur had actually broken off and the top part was completely bent out of shape. In order to get the back wheel moving I had to remove what was left of the derailleur. I did have a spare chain with me but it would be of no use to me without a new derailleur so I did the only thing I could, I started walking my bike up the hill. I walked for approx. 2 KM then I coasted down a hill and into the small of town Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. This was the first time I had ever encountered a town name that actually had exclamation marks in it. I stopped at a restaurant and decided I would eat while pondering my options.

Once inside I ordered some food and asked the waitress if she knew where the closest bike mechanic could be found. She came back a few minutes later and informed me that a bike mechanic could be found about 5 KM down the road in a town called Cabano. She also informed me that her brother, Kevin, would drive me there. Cool!! I grabbed my food to go, gave the waitress a big tip, and I put my bike into Kevin's pickup truck and he drove me to a hardware store/bike shop in Cabano. I offered $20 to Kevin but he wouldn't accept it. I took his photo instead and I thanked him for his kindness. He said he was just happy to help out.

The bike mechanic looked at my bike and luckily he had the necessary parts in stock to do the repairs. Within 30 minutes he had replaced the rear derailleur and put on a new chain. There is a small bracket that the derailleur attaches to that had also been bent out of shape and unfortunately the mechanic did not have a replacement, but he was able to sufficiently straighten out the one I had to make things work. It was very lucky how things turned out.

The rest of the afternoon was primarily downhill. Highway 185 turned into highway 2 as I entered New Brunswick and the shoulder got much wider. The paved shoulder on highway 2 is actually as wide as a car lane. So its like I have an entire lane to myself, which is very nice.

When I got into Edmunston I stopped at the Comfort Inn but it was full so I travelled an additional 8 KM to get to the Days Inn where I got the last room available which is unfortunately a smoking room. I did receive $20 off as a result of having to take the smoking room. (note: at around 9:30pm I overheard the fellow working the front desk tell a lady that every motel/hotel within 3 hours drive of here is now full.)

I ordered pizza and lasagna for dinner and had it delivered to my room where I stuffed myself silly before passing out for a short nap. Life is good.

Incidentally, I'm now in the Atlantic time zone, which means that I'm 1 hour ahead of Toronto and 4 hours ahead of Vancouver.

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July 31, 2005 at 02:25PM
From: francois
July 31, 2005

Edmundston, NB to Perth-Andover, NB
KM Travelled Today: 99 KM, Total So far: 5831 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050731/

I woke up tired today and considered taking a day off but in the I decided instead to do a short ride.

I rode highway 2 again today which, in case you didn't know, is the Transcanada highway here in New Brunswick. Traffic was much lighter today. There were lots of long rolling hills and after almost 100KM of this I was quite tired and I pulled into a motel a few KM past Perth-Andover. There is a gas station with restaurant next to this motel but nothing else around. Thats fine as I plan to go to sleep early tonight so I can get up early tomorrow to try to make it to Fredricton.

The scenery today was nice but nothing really worth photographing. Lots of farm land, and forested areas.

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August 01, 2005 at 10:16AM
From: francois
August 1, 2005

Perth-Andover, NB to Wicklow, NB
KM Travelled Today: 20 KM, Total So far: 5851 KM
Todays photos: none taken

I didn't wake up early as I had hoped. Instead, I awoke at 0800, ate breakfast at the restaurant next door to the motel and off I went by about 0945. The sky was covered with clouds that looked like a grey velvet blanket but at least it wasn't raining.

Two KMs into my ride I got a flat tire on my back wheel. I pulled off onto a side road and sat on a pile of logs while I patched the tire. I'm getting quick at patching up tires and this one took me only 15 minutes.

About six KMs later my bike tire started leaking air. Perhaps I hadn't properly repaired the flat, or perhaps whatever punctured the tube in the first place was still lodged in the tire. I pulled off onto a side road and I sat down and began working on the problem. I was a little dissapointed but things could be much worse. At least it wasn't raining. Two minutes later the rain started coming down hard. I put on my rain jacket and continued working on the tire. Rather than looking for the hole to patch I replaced the tube this time. I checked the tire to see if anything, like glass, might be lodged somewhere but I didn't find anything. I packed everything back up and continued on. Did I mention that I also faced a strong headwind?

Two more KMs later I found a restaurant and I pulled in to dry out and warm up. Everyone in the restaurant looked as I walked in soaked and dripping. They had looks on their faces that made it clear that they thought I was crazy cycling in this weather. I ordered some food and some coffee and I decided to wait for the rain to slow down.

About an hour later the rain finally slowed to a trickle and I went back on the road with the intention of stopping at the next motel I could find. If I was pressured for time I might continue riding in this weather, but since I'm not, I can think of no reason to do it as it isn't enjoyable at all when its cold and wet. Ten KMs later I found the Beechwood Motel and I quickly obtained a room.

As a side note, it was good that I stopped relatively early yesterday as all the motels in the area filled up again by about 5:30pm.

There's more bad weather scheduled for tomorrow so I might not get far tomorrow either. I made a reservation for August 12th on the ferry that will take me from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, Newfoundland. Its a 14 hour ferry ride and the ferry leaves at 3:30pm. I have a bed reserved on-board so I'll be able to get some shut-eye after dark.

I'm going to work now on booking my flight home for August 16th.

August 02, 2005 at 03:24PM
From: francois
August 2, 2005

Wicklow, NB to Fredericton, NB
KM Travelled Today: 149 KM, Total So far: 6000 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050802/

I was up nice and early at 0600 today and on the road by 0700. The forecast was for mostly cloudy during the morning with thundershowers in the afternoon so I wanted to get as much distance in before the thundershowers.

I started off on highway #2 again, with its wonderful extra wide and perfectly paved shoulder. I passed next to the town of Hartland, whose claim to fame is the world's longest covered bridge.

By noon I had travelled almost 100 KM and my rear tire went flat again. Argg!!! This time the culprit was not a puncture from something I had run over, but instead the hole was on the inside part of the tube where it makes contact with the rim. A careful inspection revealed that my rim tape had a hole in it. I put some electrical tape over the rim tape hole and I patched the tube and put everything back together.

Near the town of Nakawick I got off of highway #2 and decided to try route 105. Most cyclists choose route 105 instead of highway #2 due to the fact that there is much less traffic on route 105. Nakawick, incidentally, is home to the world's largest axe.

Shortly after starting on route 105 I stopped for a sandwich at a gas station and I met two other cross canada cyclists from BC. They are Maureen and Phil and they are from Kelowna and have been on their adventure since May 5th. We exchanged stories for a few minutes and then I continued on.

I should have stayed on highway #2 as route 105 had almost no services and was very bumpy compared to highway #2. After travelling almost 50 KM on route 105 the thunderstorms started. At first the rain just drizzled, but then it came down in buckets. After a good soaking I finally came upon a gas station and I decided to go inside to hide from the rain. I waited close to an hour and the rain didn't subside. Then an older gentlemen struck up a conversation with me and offered me a ride to Frederticton. I pondered for a few seconds then quickly decided that I didn't want to ride the remaining 15 KM in the rain and so I accepted his offer. I loaded my bike and paniers into the back of the nice fellow's pickup truck and he took me to the outskirst of Fredericton. I then cycled an additional 8 KM to the university of New Brunswick where I'll be staying for tonight and tomorrow night. Yes, I am a wimp when it comes to riding in the rain.

Its now 7pm and the rains have passed and the sun has returned. So I could have waited out the rain and still had enough time to get here.

The University of New Brunswick looks like a nice campus. I rode my bike around campus a little bit and then I went off campus to buy some food and various supplies.

Incidentally, the actual distance travelled today was about 165 KM but since I only rode 149 KM of it thats what I put down above as the KM travelled today. Also, I've now cycled a total of exactly 6000 KM on this trip.

I didn't take many photos today, mostly because I was in a rush to beat the rain so I didn't really do anything during the day except ride and eat quickly. No time to smell the roses today but tomorrow will be different.

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August 03, 2005 at 02:26PM
From: francois
August 3, 2005

Tourist Day in Fredericton, NB
Today's Photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050803/

I started the day by looking for a car to rent so that I could visit around Fredericton. It turned out to be difficult to find one as most rental places were completely out of vehicles. Only AVIS had cars left so I reserved one. The folks from AVIS were kind enough to come and pick me up which is cool as it saved me some time.

With vehicle in hand my first stop was a bike shop. I needed to get the rim tape on my back wheel replaced so I dropped off the back wheel at Savages Bicycle Center which is apparently the oldest established bike shop in Canada.

While my back wheel was getting fixed I walked down to Regent St to get a haircut at Clippermen's Barber Shop which happens to be licensed for alcohol. So I had a beer while getting my hair cut. How cool is that? The owner of Clippermens believes he's the first such place in the world and I have no idea if that is true, but it was fun nevertheless. The price? $12 for a cut and a beer. Can't beat that.

After picking up my fixed back wheel I drove to King's Landing which is a historical tourist attraction that depicts life in New Brunswick in the 19th century. There are over 70 buildings, almost all of them original homes dating from the early to the late 1800s. Most of the homes were houses that were once located along the banks of the St. John river but were moved to their current location when the Mactaquac Dam Project began in the 1960s. Many of the homes originally belonged to Loyalists, which are the folks that fought on the British side during the American revolution. After the revolution the Loyalists were obviously not welcome in the US so many of them moved to the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Bermuda. Thousands of Loyalists landed at the mouth of St. John River in 1783.

The inside of the homes at Kings Landing are full of furniture dating back to the appropriate period and there also actors in costume to tell of the history and way of life. It was very cool. The most interesting things for me were the working water-wheel powered sawmill as well as the water-powered wheat milling machine.

After Kings Landing I spent the next couple of hours having beer and some dinner at a downtown Fredericton pub before coming back to my dorm to do laundry and prepare for tomorrow's ride to Moncton. All-in-all, a very pleasant day.

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August 04, 2005 at 05:01PM
From: francois
August 4, 2005

Fredericton, NB to Moncton, NB
KM Travelled Today: 174 KM, Total So far: 6174 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050804/

I woke up at 5:30am today with the intention of getting a very early start but after poking my head outside I changed my mind as it was still too chilly out for me. So I went back to bed and slept pleasantly until 7:15am. My breakfast consisted of a banana and a bagel which I already had in my room.

By 8:15am I was on the road, back on highway #2, on my way to Moncton. There's nothing much to say after that except that today was one of the most physically demanding rides that I've done so far. I had a headwind and did a lot of climbing. There was also a 70 KM stretch that didn't have any services at all. I rationed my water during this stretch and by the time I was through it I was thirsty as hell and I fired back two Gatorades at a gas station.

I arrived in Moncton at 5:30pm and I checked in at the Comfort Inn just off of highway #2. I quickly showered then called a cab to take me downtown so that I could get a couple hours of site seeing in. My hotel is close to something called Magnetic Hill so I had the cab driver take me there before going downtown. The cab driver drove to the bottom of Magnetic Hill, then he put the cab in neutral and he took his foot off the brake and then we magically coasted back up the hill. Its an optical illusion and is due to the way the hill and surrounding structures are formed. Very neat.

Once downtown I stopped in at seafood restaurant called Creek where I enjoyed a delicious seafood feast consisting of lobster tail, salmon, prawns, mussels and scallops.

After dinner I walked down Main street for a while before taking a taxi back to my hotel. The taxi driver had an interesting story to tell me. He visited Vancouver earlier this year and during his visit he climbed the Grouse Grind which is impressive given the fact that he is 70 years old. Unfortunately he decided to also hike down the Grind instead of taking the gondolla and along the way he slipped and injured his achilles tendon and he's been in pain ever since.

Tomorrow should be an exciting day. My plan is to go Charlottetown, PEI. I'm really looking forward to seeing the Confederation Bridge.

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August 05, 2005 at 07:55PM
From: francois
August 5, 2005

Moncton, NB to Charlottetown, PEI
KM Travelled Today: 156 KM, Total So far: 6330 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050805/

I left Moncton at 8:45am and started off on highway #2. At roughly the 15 KM mark I got onto highway #15 towards Shediac. The winds were fairly strong this morning and for the first 30 KM they were at my back so I got to Shediac in less than an hour.

From Shediac I took route 133, then route 950 which follows the shore. Route 950 eventually joins back up to highway #15 and I followed that until route 955 which is a very quiet road that took me all the way to the Confederation Bridge. During this part of the day I had some crazy crosswinds and I had to stay very alert to ensure I wasn't blown over.

The Confederation Bridge was the highlight of my day. I've always been fascinated with huge man-made structures and especially with this bridge. I've seen many documentaries regarding its construction on Discovery Channel. Pedestrians and cyclists are not permitted to use the bridge, but a shuttle service is provided. The drive across took less than 15 minutes. Upon reaching the other side I was very pleased when I noticed that the winds in PEI at this moment were almost non-existant. However, the sky was now filled with ominous grey clouds and I was worried that the rains would begin at any moment.

I plowed through the next 54 KM to Charlottetown as quickly as I could in the hopes of getting there before it started to rain. There were a few challenging hills on the way but with patience and low gears I conquered them. I reached Charlottetown at around 5:30pm and found U of PEI where I am renting a dorm room for two nights. Unlike other dorms I've stayed in, this one has its own private bathroom because its a room normally used by one of the residence monitors. But unfortunately they don't allow guests to use the high speed internet connections in the rooms, which I think is really lame! So I'm stuck with dial up.

After showering I went out to dinner at Eastside Marios and then I saw the movie Wedding Crashers which I thought was hilarious.

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