A Travellerspoint blog

All packed up...

... and scared to weigh it all!

sunny 13 °C

So... this last week has been kind of a gong show as the Otesha Project would have put it...

First I went on a 97 km ride, fully loaded, with no bike shoes to clip into my bike with. Not because I’m insane, but because I left my shoes back in Bridgewater when I went home to visit this weekend. I did meet some interesting people, including a man who began to tell me the whole sordid story of his pushy and religious in-laws (a narrow escape) and a woman in her early forties who’s husband had known my aunts growing up - I ended up riding with her until we parted ways at the bottom of North Mountain. She had some good advice about living and learning I was happy to hear at this point in my life! I also finally got a picture of that sign that makes me laugh so hard I have to stop biking on the number 1 highway on the way into Coldbrook from Berwick.

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The infamous sign

So I chugged up North mountain with all of this crap on my bike, because I needed to know that I could do it. Seeing my bike with all of its gear on it now, I think I should have added a few rocks into the mix, but as it was I was fine - all except for the backs of my knees, where an old frisbee (sorry - disc) injury decided to flare up and hasn’t actually gone away yet. I got some beautiful, beautiful pictures of clouds up on North mountain, so it was kind of worth it. I also got to go to the look off, which is definitely worth it - I love that view.

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Clouds near Halls Harbour

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Just me and my bike

The rest of this week I spent trying to heal my leg, going on very short rides and trying to help Jenny find a new road bike. Now I’m throwing everything I need for the trip into my paniers and I’m finally done organizing our route and contacts and map binder. We have a good half inch’s worth of planning in that binder. I keep going through everything in my paniers, trying to find something to leave behind - my bike is so heavy! But I can’t seem to make any decisions today. It’ll have to be done on the way.

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My new biking shoes!

Tomorrow I pack up Alice the Velociraptor (my bike!), go into Halifax to visit my friend Try Hard and aunt Joni, and then my plane leaves the next morning at 6:30! Eek!

I’ve included the mileage I’ve done so far this year - almost 2000 km inside and outside since January!

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Posted by Ericabikes 20:09 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

The Valley

Wolfville, Wolfville, I will miss Wolfville!

sunny 11 °C

I’ve done a few short trips (25 - 50 km) in the valley this week, I’ve been trying to load up my bike to get used to riding with weight again. Everything I can find gets thrown into my paniers at the last minute... chickpeas, cartons of soy milk, beans, a tripod, pots and pans, books... if it’s easy to grab and heavy, in it goes! I’ve got to be careful to leave at least one panier empty when I plan how much stuff I’m going to take so that I have somewhere to store food when we go shopping. I keep looking at the growing pile of “things I will take across Canada” with trepidation... it’s like it has a mind of its own and has begun reproducing without any help from me. Ahhh! Hopefully soon I’ll get it all organized and write a list here of what I’m bringing.

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The first ride I did this week was a loaded (very short!) ride to Evangeline Beach and back - you can see in this picture the view of Blomidon again... I’ll never get tired of looking at that cliff.

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Josh M. and I ended out happily sunning ourself on the grass in front of the beach... ahh, the joys of being spontaneous. Unfortunately, the joy of peeing didn’t cross my mind until it was way too late and I could barely get onto my bike... and then it was the joy of peeing in a stranger’s house when I couldn’t make it past civilization to a nice fat tree in the woods!!

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My bike all loaded up.

Next trip Josh E. and I decided to do HILLS. This is an exceptionally easy thing to plan in Wolfville because the town basically sits between two ridges, the South and North Mountain. We zig-zagged back and forth over the South Mountain and managed to climb about 6 or 7 fairly decent sized hills in . I enjoyed this ride way more than I thought I would - I didn’t put any extra weight onto my bike and booting it down those hills is more than enough reward for the climb up!

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Josh and I stopped to see two muskrats playing in the Gaspereau River - swimming up against the current and then tumbling around in the shallows. MAN they are cute!! We could hear peepers, and red-winged blackbirds, and the smell of manure tells me that summer is coming.... :) :) :)

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The next day, my friend Shaina came down to visit from Toronto, and her and our friend Jenny went back down into the Gaspereau Valley to do an afternoon of biking... turned into a kind of scary adventure when the back tire on the road bike my aunt lent me last year Jenny was riding just.... stopped turning. Jenny had to jump off the bike at the last second to avoid falling! When I tried to fix the gears, the back tire seized up even more, and then as I was carrying the bike to a better spot to get a closer look, the back tire just... fell... off. !!! The quick release just gave out. I felt pretty good about being able to fix it, but by the time I was done, I was worried about why it had broken, and my hands were completely coated in a thick layer of black grease that would not come off, no matter how hard I scrubbed them in a little roadside stream with sand.

Again, the kindness of strangers saved me... we stopped at Reid’s Meats and I washed my hands amongst all sorts of half-butchered meat :) and then we asked a few fisher-people who were fishing smelt in the Gaspereau River for a wrench to adjust a screeching rubbing fender.

We stopped to watch them fishing - the number of fish was INSANE! It was like those accounts of the Grand Banks in Newfoundland - the river was just choked with little silvery bodies.

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My three bikes - Alice the Velociraptor (my trek 520 touring), Joy (Miyata 110 touring) and Tiger (trek 700 hybrid).

Then Jenny and Shaina and I discovered the joy of jumping off the bridge (hahaha, onto the pavement.... not the river below!).

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Jenny
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Shaina
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Me!

I went to one of my last spinning classes yesterday and realized how much I’m going to miss them - joking around in the gym and having Kerri yell, “you’re doing awesome!! PUSH PUSH PUSH!” at us.

12 days until I get on that plane!!

Posted by Ericabikes 20:49 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Blue Rocks

Birthday bike ride with dad!

sunny 7 °C

I came home to Bridgewater for a couple days for my birthday, and spent the first afternoon in the Bike Barn with Al and Megan in Lunenburg. We went through how to do some small adjustments on my bike, and put in new brake and gear cables, replaced the tires, and checked to make sure everything was well in order before I go! Al’s wife Merrill is the original owner of the bike I will be riding across Canada, and I cannot say enough about how supportive they have been of my trip!!

The next day dad and I headed out for a ride to Blue Rocks in Lunenburg. It was a beautiful and sunny (if somewhat windy) day, and we biked to my uncle John’s cabin to have lunch by the sea.

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Dad looks back from the top of the hill.

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We found some amazing green lichens - so bright!!.

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I can’t help but take lots of pictures of beautiful things!

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Nova Scotia has such character.

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I took this quick shot and was really pleased with how it turned out - usually I rely on the beauty of the object in the picture to carry it along, but the elements in this picture came together so well!

Posted by Ericabikes 20:46 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Spring and Sun

I finally get outside for more training!

sunny 8 °C

The start of our trip is edging closer and closer... it’s less than a month now til Mary Anne and I fly west, and only a little more than a month until we actually head out from Vancouver. This is great motivation for more training rides, and though I continue to go to spinning classes 3 or 4 times a week, I’ll always prefer riding outside!

On April 4 I set out to Grafton, a tiny little town beyond Kentville. I wanted to get 80 km under my belt but ended up only making it to 74 by the time I got back home. When I’m alone on my bike and just riding in a big loop, sometimes it’s hard to find the push to keep going - so I always bring my camera, because I keep thinking, “maybe there’s a neat picture around the next corner... at the top of that hill... if I turn up this road here!” A few times I had to hop off my bike to snap a shot or two - these are some of my favourites:

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A lonely swing and beautiful yellow strands of a willow tree

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My bike...

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Tree bent and cut to show the headwind I was fighting against - this is why we will travel west to east - with the prevailing wind across Canada!!

The next ride I did (April 9) I managed to convince myself that I should probably add some weight to my bike, but I just couldn’t bring myself to add too much - seems crazy to just throw random things in my paniers to weigh them down when I don’t have to. It’s the first time I’ve ridden with all 4 paniers, my front basket, and my fold-up chair. Don’t laugh, I love my chair! Max had one during Otesha, and I was inspired and got one to save my back - all day on a bike and then trying to support yourself all night around a campfire or eating dinner is rough. The extra weight is so, so worth it.

This trip was amazing. Not only was it the warmest day of the year so far, I had forgotten just how beautiful the view of Blomidon is from the secondary road on the way to Hantsport.

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As I was cycling past a particularly gorgeous view, I saw two men enjoying it from their porch and I called out, “Can you BELIEVE we live here!??” They called back, “Pretty amazing in’nit!?” I love that we instantly understood each other. Everyone here is so friendly; everyone waves and says hello. It’s such a completely different feeling from the privacy-sphere most people seem to exude when they’re in a city.

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The view and a farm down the hill from where I called out to the men on the porch

Anyways, I settled down to eat my lunch in a sunny park in Hantsport, laughing to myself when I realized that I was actually happy that I had packed my paniers more than I usually do - because I had remembered to bring a book! (My sister and I are both addicted to reading while we eat). I ended up only cycling for 50 km, but what a treat to be out on such a sunny, warm day.

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The view I had while I ate my lunch

My latest ride was today, and was the second longest ride I’ve ever done - 96.5 km round trip (however, Mary Anne and I’s ride to Doaktown, 95 km in a constant headwind, fully loaded bikes, and sharing the trailer, was no doubt more challenging)! Josh and I headed out to Ayelsford, about 45 km from Wolfville, depending on how you get there. It was colder than we expected, but sunny, and we were in good spirits - the highway is flat, and we were battling a headwind that promised smooth sailing on the way back. This is the only picture I took the entire trip - cows on top of their own manure pile... soaking up the heat maybe?

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We had to laugh when we biked past the rest of the house - just around the corner there was a german shepherd on top of his doghouse - maybe the animals were comparing notes!?
We had a great ride - I’m pooped now, but during the trip I felt like someone was constantly injecting me with liquid energy. It makes such a difference biking with a friend. My stomach is sore from laughing, from the cows on the manure pile, to the sign we saw on the side of the road (“Babies are a gift!! From: God.”) to Josh insisting that we were in Berwick when there was a post office proclaiming “Ayelsford” right across the road.

Posted by Ericabikes 16:47 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

First real bike trip of the year...

gulls and starlings take my breath away

sunny 6 °C

I finally got out for my first “real” bike ride of the spring! I decided to do my favourite route, which takes me across the river to Port Williams, down to Starr’s Point, and then follows the shoreline almost to Canning. It was actually sunny and beautiful and warm. I noticed that someone had cut down the big, beautiful orchard of apple trees that I love to watch in the summer when the apple blossoms come out, and I wondered how anyone could have the heart to do that. Money I guess.

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When I was nearing Canning a little border collie bounded up the road at me, and I stopped my bike to say hello and check out “her” sheep in the field - babies everywhere! You always discover new life on bike adventures. That’s one reason why I love it.

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The real treat of the trip was when I saw a flock of birds near upper Cunard and veered off the path I planned to take onto a side road. When I turned the corner and got up over the crest of the hill, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were literally thousands of gulls (NOT sea gulls, thanks for the clarification from my animal behaviour prof Dave Shutler at Acadia) chowing down on a single pile of some sort of refuse or manure. I dropped my bike at the side of the field, and started up the path towards the pile. Suddenly I stopped and thought to myself, is this a crazy idea!?? There are thousands of birds in a reallllly concentrated area... that’s a lot of falling, liquid poo...

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But then I reconsidered - “I’m a biologist dammit, I don’t care about poo!” and kept heading towards the birds. They let me get very close, and I snapped pictures like crazy as I walked toward them. Every so often they would spook, stop vocalizing, and the air would fill with the sound of thousands of wings flapping - birds flying over top of me in all directions. It was absolutely amazing, I have never experienced anything remotely like it in my life. It reminded me of why I got into biology in the first place.

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Eventually the gulls took off and a group of several thousand starlings replaced them on the compost heap. What a sight. Where gulls seem to have no rhyme or reason to where they fly, starlings are more like schools of fish in how they move through the air. It was breathtaking to see all these tiny little birds zooming around in perfect synchrony - landing, chattering, lifting off, the sound of their wings like distant muted thunder.

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I was smiling all the way to my spinning class, where I forgot to bring running shoes for our usual post-bike arena stairs run, and socks as well. I was half way up the hill towards home to grab them when I realized I didn’t have a key to the house, so back down I went (I ended up borrowing a pair from a friend). After the spinning class, Josh and I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and run outside for the first time this year - we didn’t go far, but I couldn’t believe how tired my legs were (maybe something to do with the 70 km of biking I had done so far??? who knows)!

Altogether a wonderful day.

Posted by Ericabikes 11:42 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

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