Saturday, July 17, 2010


First and foremost, I would like to thank my companions on the road: Jocelyne, Dad, Aunt Trish, and Cathy. You MADE this trip - you made it fun and positive and possible - and it wouldn't have been the same without you! A big thank you to all of my friends and family (and in particular, a special thanks to my Mom) for all of the love and support - knowing you were rooting for me at home was a great source of encouragement. Thank you to our generous "Rest Day" hosts (Whitney, Jocelyne's grandparents - Mr. and Mrs. Sulavella, Laura and Aunt Wendy) for all of the pampering, hospitality, and cozy accommodations! Thank you to all of the kind strangers we met along the way - whether it was a smile, taking a moment to chat, offering to help by the side of the road, or even offering a place to pitch a tent, you always made us feel very safe, welcomed wherever we went, and proud to call ourselves fellow Canadians. Thanks to my supervisors, Drs Michael Tschakovsky and Kyra Pyke, for granting me time off from my PhD, with your blessing, to pursue this dream. Thank you to Dairy Farmers of Canada, Gay Lea Foods, and Frontenac County Dairy Producer Committee, for sponsoring this trip in part. And last but not least, thank YOU for following this blog - it's been wonderful being able to share this experience! So Thank You, Thank You, Thank You again to all, and just remember: when you dream it might come true... when you dream, Dream Big.

Peace, love and biking,
Veronica :)

V's Trip Statistics

Total mileage on bike: 6,565 km
Total time riding: 278 hours, 54 minutes
Total trip days: 44
Number of riding days: 40
Number of rest days: 4
Average mileage per day: 164 km
Average time riding per day: 7 hours


Day 45
"The Rest is Still Unwritten"

As I awaken, I can sense immediately that something is different, has shifted, although it takes me a moment before I remember that I'm in Halifax, at the end of the road, and that there will be no riding further east from here. My legs feel rested and eager to go, and it is strange, not needing to spring into action, getting a hustle on to get on the road. Today, we plan to go sea kayaking and see some of the local sights before embarking on the 17-some hour drive home, but for now, I enjoy the peaceful solitude and take some time to reflect on the journey that has reached its end.

I think about the simplicity of this time, with no appointments and meetings, no assignments and deadlines, an automated "I am away from my mail" response to e-mails, and my only real task being to pedal east for as long as I choose. I think about the simultaneous complexity, of staying focused on each day's goal, navigating through traffic, through cities, through exhaustion, dealing with whatever Mother Nature dished out, and staying healthy through it all. I think about the vastness of this great country, and about its varied and beautiful terrain: the mountains and valleys, prairies and rolling hills, lakes and rivers, wilderness and farmland, villages and cities, and about the people, who are the heart and soul of it all. As I stare at the ceiling of the tent, listening to the gentle rustle of the wind in the trees, I feel something that is hard to define. I feel Grateful and Blessed and Privileged to have had this opportunity. I feel disbelief, and a sense of unreality, that this has all really happened. I feel humble, and a private sense of accomplishment, exhilaration, empowerment, and joy. And yet I also feel a bit achy, and empty, and sad, to be leaving behind the adventure that has become my reality. Mostly, I feel happy and content. At peace. Satisfied with the knowledge that I will have these memories for all of my life.

I indulge in the warm softness of my down-filled sleeping bag a few moments more, before unzipping the tent and stepping out into the fresh, crisp air, salty from being so near to the ocean. I stand, and I stretch, from toes to fingertips, every muscle of the body with which I have become so attuned over the past 44 days. And I say, out loud, to no one in particular, "Hello, World. What's next?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 44 - Wednesday July 14 - Hilden to Halifax (101 km)

"The end's not near, it's here"
We woke up this morning to a thick fog, giving the day a dreamlike quality. Dad had the cereal set out for breakfast, along with a birthday card for me (today is my 25th birthday, and I wanted to do something significant to make it a memorable one... reaching the Atlantic Ocean should suffice!). The ride to Halifax was magical. In a way, it was like every other day: just me, my bike, and the open road. And yet it was different - knowing it was the last leg of this journey, I savoured every kilometer, trying to memorize the feeling of soaring freedom that comes from living in the outdoors, rising with the sun, and propelling myself forward each day by sheer force of will (and a little muscle). The ride went smoothly all the way to Halifax - wooo-hoooo! Arriving at Point Pleasant, the Atlantic Ocean destination, felt very surreal. I walked across the sand and into the ocean, biking cleats, bike and all. I crouched down, and let the cool, salty water wash over my hands and feet, seeing, and not quite believing. In impeccable Mother-Nature-timing, the sky opened up and it started to pour, and we stood in the rain, grinning and laughing. Dad suggested that we pack up and go CE-LE-BRATE. I reluctantly loaded up my bike, and looked back as we drove away. Pacific to Atlantic. 44 days. I'm here. It hasn't sunk in yet!
P.S. We went back to the beach the next morning to get some of these pictures, sans rain! ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 43 – Tuesday July 13 – Wood Islands PEI to Hilden NS (144 km)

"Seizing the Day"
Looking over the map last night, we realized 2 things: 1) the day planned for today (to Truro NS) was really too short (70 km), and 2) there are mountains in Nova Scotia!! Just northwest of Truro! This solved #1 as, obviously, I had to ride the mountains! This morning the ferry fog horn woke us up at 4:30am, so we just got up and packed up camp. The view sure was different in the fog! We took the earliest ferry from PEI (6:30am) and I was riding by 8:30, the early-morning fog having lifted on the NS side. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful sunny day. We went along the coast for a ways (Dad rode too for a bit) before heading south through the Cobequid Mountains (including Higgins Mountain and Folly Mountain). The views!! Oh, the views! Nova Scotia does not disappoint! And the small towns have such a friendly, homey feeling. We stopped for a snack in a small place called Tatamagouche, and people were out and about greeting one another on the street (seemed like everyone knew one another). Chatted with a few of the locals – so friendly! We stopped for lunch by the side of the road, and I couldn’t get over how many ants there were (100s). Then Dad discovered the source – a giant ant hill, about 1.5 feet tall, only about 20 feet away.. eeps! Tonight we’re camping in Hilden, just a short jaunt from Halifax – the final destination of this trip!

Day 42 – Monday July 12 – Borden-Carleton to Wood Islands (127 km)

“Island in the Sun”
The forecast for today was 80% chance of rain, and when we got up sure enough it was raining. BUT, by the time we got to the bridge to start riding it’d let up, and didn’t rain again all day! The ride across the island was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Huge rolling fields of hay, canola, and potatoes, with PEI’s famous red dirt peeking through between the rows, Acadian forest, red sand cliffs, and along the water sailboats, fishing boats, and soaring birds. I gave my puncture-resistant tires a test, riding across 5 km of construction (mud, gravel, and potholes... all red!), and made it through unscathed! This is truly some of the most incredible scenery of the trip so far, and I found myself stopping every few kilometres at times to try to capture it in pictures. Having slept in until 6:30 and getting on the road close to 8, we didn’t arrive at our campsite (Northumberland Provincial Park) until around 1:30. We set up camp directly atop a cliff overlooking the Northumberland Straight – unbelievable view!! There are steps to get down to the beach, and we could see the ferry making its crossing from Nova Scotia. After cleaning up, we drove north across the island to Cavendish to see the Anne of Green Gables National Historic Site! I Loved those books when I was younger, and read the entire boxed set many times over; it was so cool to see the real-life places that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery in her writing. We even got to go for a walk in the “Haunted Wood”! We went for a drive along the Gulf Shore Parkway for some awesome views of the cliffs and beaches on our way to yet another delicious lobster feast. So much to do and see, so little time!

Day 41 - Sunday July 11 - Hopewell Cape NB to Borden-Carleton PEI (133 km)

The nice part about these shorter days, besides having a chance to enjoy the sights along the way, is having fresh, ready-to-go legs every morning! As forecasted, it was pouring rain, but it was warmer than yesterday and the ride was awesome! Riding north to Moncton I could see across the Petitcodiac River, and the houses on the river bank in the fog looked like a model village in a snowglobe. We crossed the river at Moncton, and the tide was out, exposing impressive glistening red muddy banks. There was a bit of construction along the way today, and ~8km of graded pavement (ow!), but other than that it was smooth sailing to Confederation Bridge - the bridge to PEI and the longest bridge in the world (12.9km). There are "no biking" signs everywhere at the bridge, and I'd learned in advance that there's a shuttle that can take cyclists and pedestrians across. I decided to ask, anyway, juuuust in case exceptions were ever made (say, if I came across at 2am when there's probably no traffic on the bridge!). I ended up getting to go into the Bridge Control office, and chatted with Robbie, who was monitoring the bridge on several screens (so cool!). He'd seen me bike up earlier to take pictures... I almost wonder how far you'd get if you decided to make a run for it! So in the end, still not allowed to bike across for reasons of safety (nervous drivers on the bridge, narrow shoulders, strong winds etc), but at least I tried! It was really neat to see the Bridge Control area, and Robbie was a great guy. There was a lookout at the centre, and we climbed up to get a better view of the bridge - even in the fog, very impressive. Dad said, "Here, you drive across... Then at least you can say you drove it!" (So thoughtful; thanks pops!). In PEI (!!!) we went to the Visitor Centre and then checked into a motel for the night (so nice being able to get dry out of the rain!). Did some laundry, caught some of the Tour de France on TV, and then headed out for a famous New Glasgow lobster supper (delicious!). Hope to see lots more of PEI tomorrow!
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