Day 67 – Linwood to North Sydney, NS – 152km

Something happens when a goal is in sight. The weather
doesn’t seem as relevant. Rain will dry. Winds; I don’t have to let them slow
me down. Time seems to pass by. Hills aren’t feared or resented. They are
merely another thing between where I am and where I want to be.

I pedaled on the narrow bumpy Highway 4 towards the Canso
Causeway—the entrance to Cape Breton. It was cloudy. I would enter a patch of
rain, get wet. Then it would clear up. The wind would dry me. When I wanted to
dry my gloves, I would take them off and strap the Velcro around my handlebar.
Hanging from the handlebar, they would dangle in the wind and dry quickly. The
wind was coming from the North, meaning that I had either a headwind or
crosswind depending on which way the road curved.

I knew Cape Breton was a special place from my first
glimpse of it. I came over a hill, and in the fog, I saw the behemoth mass of
rock and trees rise out of the sea. Big freight boats waited patiently near the
cliffs of Cape Breton. There are a number of mines on these shores. These large
boats wait nearby to take the mined rock to faraway places.

At the campground we stayed at last night, we met 2
cyclists travelling from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Halifax where they
live—Ron and Joe. Joe recommended a route for me to take. I was originally
going to take the Trans Canada (Highway 105) all the way to North Sydney. Joe
and Ron had taken Highway 223 which they recommended that I take. The only
tricky part is finding which side roads to take in order to get to 223. I took
Exit 4 off of 105, and then took a left onto Portage Road, which goes over to
223. It was actually quite simple.

Jen Kang from the L’Arche community near Whycocomagh,
Nova Scotia, had contacted us several months ago after her coworker, David,
spotted an article about Kilometres for Communication in the Toronto Star. We
had planned to meet several days ago, but our correspondence was loose.

Just by chance, I told Gail that I wanted to meet her
about 60-70km down the road (I leap-frog with the support vehicle).
Sixty-and-a-bit kilometres down the road was just off of exit 4 on the route
that Joe and Ron had recommended that I take. Gail pulled over in a closed gift
shop’s gravel parking lot. Serendipity: it just so happened that the gift shop
was part of the Whycocomagh L’Arche community!

I took an hour break from cycling and walked around the
L’Arche community. I met several people who live in the community. I met a
fellow named Trevor who was extremely interested in shoes. He was curious about
my bike shoes. He wanted to know if I had flip flops and a pair of rubber rain
boots. I wonder if Trevor has ever been to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. All
of us had a quick talk, but they were busy preparing for a birthday party later
in the day, and I had to get back on the road.

Not long after I got back on the road the clouds cleared.
Highway 223 was quite hilly, but it was beautiful. It followed the shores of
Bras d’Or Lake. Steep wooded hills fell into the deep blue of the lake. Along
some parts of the road, there were some extensive properties with impressive
lawns. As I passed these properties, I was pondering the amount of time that
someone spends cutting these lawns. I think some people’s pride grows
vicariously through their lawns. The ride was quite scenic and the time was
flying by. There are so many people who I wish could have seen the sights that
I saw today. Halifax was a special place, but it didn’t feel like a milestone
to me. I was expecting to feel a huge relief and sense of accomplishment when I
arrived in Halifax, but I didn’t; only mildly. Last night, 10km south of Cape
Breton, I knew that the ferry terminal at North Sydney was my goal; the place
where I would’ve cycled the mainland of Canada, the place where I would have
finished cycling my ninth of ten provinces. As I cycled today, I felt a strong drive
the whole day. I usually only get this drive for the final 20km of a day, when
I know I’m close.

I eventually arrived at North Sydney. A massive ferry sat
in the harbour. I had made it. I suddenly felt really tired. I knew that if I
had to cycle tomorrow, and the day after that, I wouldn’t feel as tired as I
did. However, I arrived a day ahead of schedule, our ferry to Newfoundland is
booked for the 26th, so I have two days before I have to pedal. My
body sunk into a relieved tiredness. I know that the adrenaline will kick in no
matter what the weather is the moment I set foot—set tire—in the final
province.

-Skye

Advertisements

Day 66 – Truro to Linwood, NS – 161km

I woke up early to get on the road at a good time, but
there was some really thick fog, so I ended up waiting around until it cleared.
I pedaled on Highway 4, the old Trans Canada, for about 60km. It was hilly and
twisty. I was enjoying the scenery and making decent time. I was thinking: perhaps I can get to my destination early
and catch up on blogs
.

I met up with the support vehicle about 70km into the
day, near New Glasgow, NS. Here, we called all the campgrounds in the
Antigonish area. It was a Saturday, and they all seemed to be booked. We found
a campground on the ocean, about 40km further along my route that had an
available spot. I agreed to pedal the additional distance in order to have a
nice place to camp. We had spent the night before in a little gravel lot in
between a road and a gravel multi-use trail.

I ended up pedaling the final 100km of the day on the
Trans Canada. It varied between wide paved shoulder, narrow paved shoulder, and
almost no paved shoulder. The highway was not a freeway for the stretch I was
cycling it. At one point there was a hill ahead. It looked like there was no
shoulder on my side. It’s one thing to have no shoulder going downhill, or on
flat ground with a tailwind. Cars take a while to catch up on an object going
40km/hr. Going uphill without a shoulder; that can be dangerous. There was a
wide paved shoulder on the other side. I crossed the highway and pedaled
against the traffic on the opposite shoulder. It felt strange, but I kept
telling myself that I was safer.

Twice on this portion of the Trans Canada, I saw cars that
had sped by me pulled over by police a kilometre or two later. I felt some
satisfaction as I cycled by them. There were lots of cops out on this stretch
of highway.

When we arrived at the campground, two other cyclists
coming from the opposite direction were just arriving. Ron and Joe were cycling
from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Halifax, where they lived. They had actually
cycled across Canada last year. They too weren’t so lucky and had headwinds in
the prairies on their trip. I was glad to meet them—they recommended a great
route for my day tomorrow, which they had travelled today. When I was planning
my route over two years ago, I had considered taking the route they recommended
(Highway 223), however I wasn’t sure how to get to Highway 223. I didn’t want
to take a ferry, and I didn’t know if the side roads linking the Trans Canada
to 223 were paved or gravel. As well, my paper map, Google Maps, and Blackberry
Maps didn’t agree with each other. They all gave different road names and
showed different side roads in that area. It was good to have that all sorted
out and confirmed. Ron’s and Joe’s route also shed about 15-20km off my initial
Trans Canada all-the-way route. Thanks fellas!

Tomorrow I’m hoping to make it to North Sydney, the end
of my mainland cycle, weather providing. That’s another thing I’ve learned:
weather forecasts often don’t mean anything in certain parts of the Maritimes. In
some places they don’t have a clue what the weather will be like in an hour. Anyway,
I’m hoping I’ll reach my milestone tomorrow. My goal is in sight. As long as
the weather isn’t atrocious, I’ll have the motivation to get myself there.

-Skye

Day 64 – Truro to Halifax, NS – 100km

I had set my alarm for 7:30am. I was dozing half-awake in
bed, trying not to let myself fall back asleep. I was stretched out in the
comfortable queen bed. I felt the perfect temperature. My body felt stiff, yet
momentarily relaxed when I flexed, stretched out. My pillow was one with my
head.  I didn’t feel restless. I felt a
plethora of relaxation and laziness that a pampered cat might feel.

I had a strange mental deliberation. I really wanted to
get myself down to the dining room for the breakfast which D’Arcy and Anne (of Belgravia
B & B, where I was staying for the night) were preparing. I knew it would
be good. I was hungry. I had read an entry in their guest book about fresh strawberries.
At this point, only hunger could get me out of bed. I lay in bed, trying to maximize
my time drowsing, trying to figure out the latest time I could possibly roll out
of bed.

After procrastination, I forced myself to get up. I
changed into my bike gear and made my way downstairs to the dining room. There
was a large bowl of fresh strawberries, a basket of muffins, and there was more
to come. D’Arcy and Anne brought out a plate with Canadian bacon, eggs Florentine,
and an extra helping of scrambled eggs to accommodate my large calorie intake.
I don’t normally eat this well on the road.

Janice, Gail, and I well rested, about to leave Belgravia

Leaving Truro

After further procrastination and relaxed conversation,
Janice and I were outside with our bikes and ready to pedal. We took Highway 2
to Dartmouth, cut through Dartmouth on an arterial, and took the bike lane
across the MacDonald Bridge to the Halifax harbourfront where we finished our
pedal. Other than a 6km stretch of construction on Highway 2, it was an
enjoyable ride. Actually, not quite, we hopped onto the sidewalk in Dartmouth
to avoid more construction. The last 30km before Halifax, Highway 2 winds its
way along the shores of lakes and basins. It was quite pretty.

Janice and I arrive at the Halifax Harbour

Take II

Janice and I finished our pedal on the boardwalk near the
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Last night, Janice, my mom and I were joking
about the funny pictures on the RV. We talked about doing certain poses with
them. Janice hadn’t forgotten this conversation. She insisted on taking the
photos of us posing next to the tacky picture of kids peering out the fake
window on our RV. I thought it was funny, but after a 100km ride I just wanted
to sit and sip my recovery drink. I did eventually pose for those silly photos.

We've made it this far!

Tacky RV photo #1

Goofy RV photo #2

My brother and mother had met a woman at a conference
several years ago. Her name is Penny Kitchen. She raises her eyes to say ‘yes’.
She lowers her eyes to say ‘no’. She raises and lowers her eyes to say ‘maybe’
or ‘I don’t know’. She can also spell quite quickly using her eyes. Her
communication assistant will ask her: “first, second [half of the alphabet],
vowel?” Then, using a chunking system and saying the most frequently used letters
first; Penny will indicate the letter she wants. It sounds slow, but Penny is
able to communicate at a remarkable speed considering the method she is using to
communicate. It’s quite fascinating to witness. Penny also communicates using a
communication device. She is currently trying to obtain a communication device
which uses eye-gazing technology.

My mom and I were staying with Penny’s parents, Dorothy
and Laurie.  Penny and her assistant,
Monique, joined us for a spaghetti dinner at Dorothy and Laurie’s house. This
was the first time I got to meet Penny. I had only heard about how she spells
with her eyes. I was told she was quick. I didn’t realize how fast she is.

I heard many stories from the Kitchen family. I think there’s
a valuable lesson that can be learned from each and every one. Penny received
her university degree in business from St. Mary’s University in Halifax. She
lives independently; however, in order to do so, she needs to have an attendant
24-7, and  receives funding for her
attendants. Once she received her degree, a social worker told her: “Don’t
bother looking for a job because you’ll lose your attendant care funding”.
There’s clearly a huge flaw when policy prevents someone from working who is
able and wants to work. The money Penny would earn from a starting-position job
would not come near to matching the funding she requires to pay her attendants.
Perhaps if provincial policy allowed Penny to work and collect a good portion
of her funding, she could work her way up to a higher-paying job and eventually
not have to rely as much on funding. Simply put: the “if you work, you don’t
get funding for attendants” policy is completely absurd. Penny is brilliant,
and because of this policy, she literally can’t afford to work.

That was just one story. Many experiences were shared
between our families. It’s sad that these stories exist. It’s frustrating.
Hopefully policymakers can learn from these stories. Hopefully people’s
attitudes will change to assuming ability. This is why we’re doing what we’re
doing. We get media, I write my blogs, we tell the stories, and hope that lots
of people will listen or read.

We never tell all the stories. There are too many. Some
of the stories are dark and cannot be told for personal privacy or political
reasons. I’ve learned more in the last 2 months than I’ve learned in an entire
year at school. A lot of what I’ve heard is tough to swallow. It makes me sad. It
makes me angry. I hate that these things have happened. I hate that they are
happening. But I see hope. It’s easy to get caught up in all the dark, sad
negatives. There are lots of positives. The perseverance of many people, such
as Penny and her family, has been inspiring. Barbara Collier’s  (from ACCPC) Proposed Communication Bill of
Rights (http://www.accpc.ca/BillofRights.htm)
could make a significant difference in
the lives of many if put into practice. If Canada signs the Optional Protocol,
the U.N.  Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/documents/tccoptprote.pdf
) could finally have some teeth in Canadian policy, ultimately improving lives
of Canadians who are differently abled.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow we’re on CTV Breakfast Television
bright and early.

-Skye

Day 63 – Augustine Cove, PE to Truro, NS – 180km

I woke up curious today. I knew that bikes weren’t
allowed on the Confederation Bridge between Prince Edward Island and New
Brunswick. However, when I was sitting in the RV, driving across the bridge to
the island, I didn’t see anything preventing cyclists. I didn’t see any “no
biking” signs either. It’s a one-way toll bridge. The toll is on the Prince
Edward Island side. The bridge had a wide paved shoulder and looked quite
pleasant to cycle on. So, were cyclists truly forbidden from pedaling across
the bridge?

I decided to test these waters.

Yes, it is absolutely forbidden to cycle on the PEI
Confederation Bridge.

I avoided the tolls that would have instantly stopped me.
I went through the village of Borden-Carleton and took a one-way street to the
highway, pedaling against the traffic on the shoulder. There are things a
cyclist can do, but shouldn’t do, that a car cannot do. Then I crossed the
road. Now I was past the tolls and the bridge was ahead of me. Perhaps it would
be an uneventful cycle. I pedaled up the first part of the bridge. I went by a
few construction workers. They didn’t seem to care…actually they did once they
noticed me 25 metres past them. They started shouting at me. Oh well, already
this far. I pedaled a couple kilometres into the bridge. Then I ran into more
construction. One lane was closed off. I was stopped, and very shortly the
bridge patrol came and picked me up, took me back to PEI to pay the shuttle
fee, and then I got shuttled over to New Brunswick. By this point, I just wanted
to get back on my bike.

On my bike again in New Brunswick looking back on the PEI Confederation Bridge

I had gotten on the road at about 8:15am only 15km away
from the bridge. It was now 10am. I pedaled. It was sunny. I took the Trans
Canada for about 20km, and then ended up on a quiet 2-lane country highway that
wound its way next to the sea. There was very little traffic, so it didn’t
matter that the road was narrow and had no shoulder. I was still feeling
foolish for wasting my own time, trying to cross a forbidden bridge. Oh well,
that was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I wouldn’t call it a bucket
list experience, but it’s something I’ll never forget. My mind was quite
occupied, so the kilometres stealthily rolled by.

Before I knew it, I ended up in this small seaside town
called Northport. A construction crew was putting in a new bridge. Often, when
there’s construction, a cyclist can go through a parking lot, go on a sidewalk,
or walk around if it’s really bad, and ultimately avoid a long detour. Since
they were putting in a bridge, I didn’t have a chance of avoiding the detour.
It was a 9.4 km detour of gravel road. There were some super coarse sections. I
even unclipped from my pedals on a couple occasions; just in case. I managed to
make it through on my slick tires without getting off my bike. The last part of
the detour was paved. However, this last paved section did a big-U. Wait a second…Aren’t I going back in the
direction I just came from?
I ended up on the other side of the bridge,
literally 300m from where I turned off onto the detour before the bridge. Dear construction detour: you’ve got to be
kidding me.

That darn detour

How to navigate coarse gravel with slick tires

It is what it is. The sun was still shining. After all
the rain and headwinds I had earlier in the trip, I’ll appreciate the moment
anytime I have good weather. I kept pedaling down and over small rolling hills
and quaint seaside villages.

A perfect day on a quiet seaside road. Jealous?

Tribulation number 3: I got a flat tire. Flat tires are
always annoying, but they aren’t a huge setback as long as you know how to fix
them and you have the spare tube and the pump to fill the spare tube. I possess
both.

I arrived at Belgravia Bed and Breakfast in Truro a
little after 5pm. I was feeling quite tired after the unexpected challenges of
the ride. It was quite a rewarding ride to finish. I sat out front for a while
unsure of what to do. Gail hadn’t arrived in the support vehicle (with the
food). I was supposed to meet one and maybe two people at the B&B sometime
between 5 and 6. I was also hungry.

Janice Archer from the Holland Bloorview Centre in
Toronto had flown out to ride with me from Truro to Halifax. She had flown into
Halifax earlier in the day and then took the bus to Truro. She was staying at
the Belgravia B&B in Truro, and kindly offered my mom and I to come stay
too.

Janice came out front and found me. We went to grab subs
for dinner.  By the time Janice and I got
back from dinner, my mom had arrived at the Belgravia. Janice, Gail and I sat
in our RV talking and joking about the goofy pictures on the side of our rental
vehicle.

Janice’s bike was still disassembled on D’Arcy and Anne’s
back porch (the kind owners of Belgravia). We took care of that bike. I have to
give D’Arcy and Anne credit. They are two of the very few people on this trip
who haven’t hesitated to shake my hands covered in grease and bike grime.

After a long hot shower (and a spacious shower, not a
typical crouched power shower in the RV), it was amazing to fall back on a
comfy bed. Thank you D’Arcy and Anne for the wonderful room and your excellent
hospitality! Thank you Janice for providing the room for me! It was wonderful
to have some creature comforts which I have missed.

-Skye

Day 61 and 62 – Rest days/Catch-up Days on the Island

Day 61

We stayed in a quaint campground at Campbell Cove, which is about 15km away from where I finished cycling at East Point, P.E.I., yesterday.  I would have loved to have spent a couple days at this spot, looking out onto the Atlantic from the north shore of the island. Our camp spot was about 25m from the water.

Normally I don’t like waking up early after cycling close to 8 hours the night before, but on this morning I didn’t mind. We were driving into Charlottetown to meet a family, or at least three quarters of a family; 13-year-old Brett, his older sister Jade, and their mom, Lynn. Brett speaks with a communication device operated by a head switch. If he’s asked a closed question that can be answered with a yes or a no, Brett can communicate quickly by either looking up to his side to say ‘yes’, or by shaking his head to say ‘no’.

My mom and I met Brett, Jade, and Lynn at the Merchant Pub in downtown Charlottetown at 9:30am, where Lynn works. We met before opening, so it was quiet. One of the first things Brett did when I met was he showed me his ‘yes’ and his ‘no’. Jade asked Brett, “can you show your ‘yes’”…Brett lifted his head so he was looking up to the ceiling on his side… “and show your ‘no’”… Brett shook his head. I appreciated this. My brother blinks for yes, so I’m familiar with phrasing questions to be answered by a yes or a no. However, without this introduction, it would have taken me a while to realize that Brett says yes by looking up to his side. If you ever meet someone who doesn’t have speech, and you feel unsure of how to communicate with them, ask them: “if you have a ‘yes’, could you please show me”.  Ask the same for no. Look to see what body parts they are consistently moving.

There were several things that I respected about this family. I would say some of these things astounded me.

For starters, Brett has an amazing ability to tell you what day of the week any day of the year is. He told me my birthday, which was on the 3rd of July, fell on a Sunday. He didn’t hesitate. He just knew. Ok, that was pretty fast Brett, but that was still quite recent. Lynn then asked my mom what her birthday was. “January 27,” she replied. Lynn turned to Brett: “Sunday? Monday? Tuesday?…” Brett kept his head fairly still, giving the slightest shake. “Wednesday? Thursday?” Brett smiled and looked up to his side. Thursday. He was right.

Two: Jade and Brett have a sweet relationship. Although Jade has moved out and there’s an age gap between them, they seem to gain energy from each other like best friends do. There’s an instinctive smoothness to their communication.

Three: I have a lot of respect for any parent of a child who has special needs, who strives for inclusion and their child’s independence. I admire Lynn’s thoroughness of thinking through decisions that Brett and the family have had to make. At one point, professionals had proposed the idea of Brett using eye gazing technology to spell. I’ve met a couple people who use this technology. It is remarkable. However what I did not consider when these people were spelling with their eyes in front of me, was the lack of human connection. The screen which tracks the pupil’s movement is inches away from the face. The person using the device can’t look away in the midst of a sentence; otherwise the machine will have to recalibrate to track the pupil again. Imagine having a screen inches from your face. You wouldn’t be able to see your teacher, or look up when you’re talking to someone. I understand why Brett and his family decided not to go with eye gazing. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard anyone talk about this before. Eye gazing is brilliant technology (which I’m sure is great for some people), and someone who becomes proficient and practised can use it efficiently; however the lack of human connection is a huge trade-off.

Four: Jade raised over a thousand dollars to go towards Kilometres for Communication. There was a fundraising breakfast, a coat check at a college dance (the one Brett went to), and a free concert at the where the performers spoke about alternative communication in between songs. From what I gather, at the fundraising breakfast, all the seats had tips about communicating with people who speak in other ways. An educational breakfast is a better way of putting it. Jade, I am so thankful for the initiative you took and the effort you would have had to put into making those events happen. It takes a heap of charisma and creativity to get people on board to make such events a success.

Five: I was totally shocked to learn that Brett receives his communication services from the Holland Bloorview Centre in Toronto, where Kerr (my brother), used to receive his services from. Once a week Brett and Lynn Skype with staff at Bloorview (including Laurel Robinson, who initiated the Kilometres for Communication Holland Bloorview event) who give support and programming assistance. Brett ended up receiving his services from Holland Bloorview because what Brett needed wasn’t offered by any program or centre in PEI. The island only has a population of 141,000 people, so it’s not a huge surprise that its AAC services are dismal. Using his yes and no, Brett wrote a letter with his family to the folks in Toronto at Holland Bloorview, explaining his situation and requesting their help. They were touched by his letter, and approved his request. Brett was very lucky to receive this out-of-province assistance. There are many people who live in areas with little or no services, who aren’t as fortunate.

Jade had to leave our breakfast to go to work. Brett, Lynn, my mom and I had a little walk around downtown Charlottetown. A lot of people seemed to know Lynn and Brett. I couldn’t tell if it was the friendliness of the area, or if I was strolling with popular people. Perhaps it was a bit of both. We ended up back at the RV, which my mom and I left parked at the Charlottetown Yacht Club. Brett thought it was really cool.

I’ve mentioned this many times before. Our RV is a rental. It is covered in goofy photos. I despise these photos, especially the children peering curiously out of a fake window. Brett thought it was a riot. I think he found it amusing that we were driving around in that thing.

Brett and I in front of the monster

We got a photo together in front of the gas-guzzling beast.

The rest of the day was driving to the campground near the Confederation Bridge and working to catch up on about 9 days of blogs.

Day 62

It was a hot muggy day. I wouldn’t have minded cycling today, but there was still tons to catch up on. I slept in; sort of. My tent got too hot to stay in at about 10am. That’s an ok sleep considering I got to bed at 3am.

I spent the rest of the day uploading photos, editing, doing emails, and reorganizing and tidying the RV after 2 weeks of a hectic schedule.

In the evening, I went for a walk when the tide was low. I saw lots snails and crabs. I had 10 minutes of amusement watching them. I didn’t go too far out. Every time I took a step, the clay suctioned my flip flop, so the walking was slow.

This was the second of two rest days in a row after getting ahead of schedule. I’ll be in Truro tomorrow and Halifax the day after. I don’t have any flexibility in my schedule about when I have to be where, so I cashed in my rest days. The extra rest was much needed. Most importantly, I’m finally on top of my blogs.

More to come! The next three days will be quite eventful.

-Skye

Day 60 – West Point to East Point, PEI – 235km

We spent the night in a beautiful harbour. We watched the sunset. We woke up to a calm ocean. We didn’t pay a cent either. No one bothered us in the night to tell us that we couldn’t park there. Seems perfect, right? Wrong. We discovered at 7:30am that we weren’t at West Point. We were one cape east of West Point; 60km east.

I can be quite stubborn. I insisted that we eat and drive to West Point. My mom would have preferred that I cycle from where we were, which was still on one of the western edges of the island. However, there’s this little obsessive part of me that wants to do the trip proper—covering every morsel of road west to east on my route. My mom agreed to drive further west, to the west point. Thanks mom.

I was at the end of the pier at West Point by 9:30am. It was a hazy day with wind from the south at the beginning of the day. I had no wind for the first 30km, then a headwind, then a crosswind, and the last 100km of the day I had a tailwind after the winds shifted partway through the day. It was interesting how much my speed varied through the day. I average high twenties, then low twenties for a while, up to mid-twenties, and then low forties for the last 2 hours.

Leaving the pier of the real West Point

It's difficult to see, but there's a waterfall at the bottom of this hill, where the road T's. The cam was set to take a photo once a minute, so I didn't get a great shot of it 😦

Prince Edward Island is beautiful. If you haven’t been, it’s worth spending a couple of days on the island. I don’t think I’ve seen an area of the country with fields as lush or green as Prince Edward Island’s. I find myself thrilled by the pink soil. I know; it’s just soil. Most people out on their property wave and smile as I pedal by. The place has a charm. Both the western and eastern sections of the island are fairly flat, with the exception of the gorgeous red rocky coastline. The middle of the island is actually quite hilly. There’s an abundance of rolling hills. These slowed me down a bit. I was surprised to learn that downhill skiing exists on PEI in the winter.  Then again, I also learned on this trip that Saskatchewan has a ski hill.

After 7.5 hours of biking, I arrived at East Point. The last 40km, I kept thinking I was closer than I was. I was hammering away, only to be disappointed when another hamlet appeared that wasn’t near my destination. Finally, I arrived. The last section of road was a 1km straightaway where I could see the break in the trees at the end of the road, where the ocean was restlessly waiting.

East Point, PEI

The mount for the handlebar-mounted camera broke today…again. I’m not impressed GoPro. I’ll try to figure something out to get footage for the rest of the trip. I still don’t really understand why they make the mounts for an extreme sports camera out of plastic rather than metal.

The ocean was restlessly stirring. East Point is literally a point.  I could see two currents meeting right at the spear tip of the island. On the north side of the tip, the waves were smooth, and calm. The waves to the south of the island were small, choppy. I could see the choppy surface water was lapsing towards the gentle waves from the north. My mom and I unfolded our beach chairs and appreciated the cloudy sea scene. I felt a rush of relaxation lapse over me. This was the last long day of my trip. No more 200+ days. I’m 2 days ahead of schedule. I’ll finally be able to post my blogs. It was nice to think those thoughts. Tomorrow will be the first day without pedaling since I was in Toronto for a full rest day.

One day, one province. That was a personal goal of mine for the trip. I really wanted my brother to join me on this day. I was feeling sad at parts of the ride when I passed by scenic lookouts and lush farms that I wished he could’ve seen. The two of us will return to PEI together someday.

I’m going to sleep well tonight.

-Skye

Day 58 – Oromocto to Shediac, NB – 188km

I wasn’t looking forward to this day. There was a long distance. There were lots of hills. Headwinds were in the forecast. All of these turned out to be realities. I was on the Trans Canada so I had a nice wide paved shoulder the whole day, which really does help. When I ride on a road with a narrow bumpy shoulder or no shoulder, I have to be intensely concentrated. When I have 2 metres of smooth pavement, it’s a much more relaxed ride, and my mind can wander to help pass time.

My goal for today was to reach the Atlantic Ocean. That excitement was my drive for the day. I only stopped to meet the support vehicle once today, at the half-way point. Earlier in the trip, I liked meeting the support vehicle every hour or two. I accepted that I had a long way to go, and there was no point in rushing. At this point in my trip, I’m tired. I’m not tired as in, “my legs are sore,” or “my mind isn’t functioning.” I’m tired as in “I don’t feel like getting up. I just want to sit here.” I’m feeling worn out. If I stop to refill my water bottles at the support vehicle, and I sit down, it turns into a half-hour rest. I’m filling up 4 water bottles at a time (2 on the bike, 2 in my jersey’s pouches) and packing lots of nuts and jerky so I can drink and eat without stopping. It’s not hard to stay on the bike. It’s hard to get myself on the bike.

Today was pretty much all bikes—not much else happened. To be precise, other than sleeping, eating, washroom, talking to my mom, and killing a few mosquitoes, nothing happened. I feel like I should be celebrating (making it to the Atlantic), but I don’t feel in the mood at all. I know that I have about 1,500km left to go. I also feel like something is missing—the rest of my family. I was really hoping that my brother and my dad would make it to the Atlantic with me. We tried. I suppose it’s a good thing they turned around. On their way back to Toronto, the van had some mechanical issues which would be very difficult to deal with had they occurred out here in the Maritimes…far away from our trusted garage.

-Skye