July 21: New Canaan to Amherst (~124km)

Bikely map

Between the late night the night before, attempting to avoid getting rained on too much by sleeping in a little extra, and trying not to have to deal with too many bugs, I wasn’t really up until around 10am, and on the road until 12:30.

I breakfasted on one of the macaroni and cheese rations (also pretty good) before setting off for the day. Within the first hour or so, I passed by a man out in his yard who, seeing me passing asked if I was from Toronto. I stopped and told him yes. He then asked if I worked at a school. Since my last full-time employment was as a post-doc, another yes. Next he asked if I knew a guy named John. Now it this point, I should clarify that a friend of mine, named John, had previously planned to join me for this trip, but had other things in his life to go and do instead. So I asked back “John who?”

As it turns out, the man’s brother-in-law is named John, and works as a caretaker at a school in Toronto. One of John’s coworkers was planning a bike tour out around the same parts I was riding through, and news of his ride had made the family rounds well enough for me to be asked if I was him. Needless to say, this was all pretty interesting, and led to a short period of friendly chatter before I got back on my way again.

This also was quite good for lifting my spirits, as there was a moderate headwind blowing over, gloomy skies, and a threat of rain (some storm had parked itself just off the coast, and was throwing a bunch of unpleasant weather inland). Basically, most of the day looked like this:

Riding on, I got to Moncton by about 4:30pm. I had some arrangements to make for arrival in Halifax that required use of the Internet, so I wandered around looking for access, finally finding the public library about 15min before closing time. While this was enough time to get some of the arrangements made, I still found myself computerless before my tasks were done (and phoned ahead to see if I could have some of them done for me). Also in Moncton, I topped up my snacks one last time. By this point, snack shopping was actually getting to be an exercise in “what sort of candy am I not completely sick of yet”, and I settled on beer nuts (branded for some undoubtedly obnoxious and litigious reason as “Wow! Nuts”) and some small “tropical” flavoured gumdrops.

I then rode along some local roads and, when just about to make a turn in Memramcook to remain on local roads, I encountered a pair of cyclists who let me know that from there to Nova Scotia, the Trans-Canada has a good wide paved shoulder, relatively few interchanges, is flatter than the route I was considering, and 20km shorter too. Since, with my late start, I was looking at a pretty late arrival in Amherst as it was, shaving 20km (and therefore a little over an hour) off my riding time looked really attractive, and I took the highway.

Along the highway, I passed the RCI antenna field, and made an effort at a picture, in spite of the dwindling light, as a sort of pornography-for-HAMs:

As the light dwindled even more (and my head and taillights were all fired up), I reached the border with Nova Scotia and took several pictures which completely failed to capture the wat the border was decorated, like the rows of provincial flags on each side of the boundary:

or the little garden and backdrop on the “Welcome to Nova Scotia” sign

and I just plain didn’t bother with New Brunswick’s welcome sign, since it was the same design of sign as I saw when I entered from Quebec.

Shortly after crossing the border, I pulled off on an exit to a smaller road into Amherst, passing by the welcome centre, and realized that this was the last provincial boundary that I’d be crossing on the ride, and that I was only two days away from finishing. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I rode. I’d been wondering if, upon arrival at the Atlantic, any of my behaviours might give away the magnitude of the endeavour I’d be finishing, and noting my emotional response to simply reaching the last province of the ride, I had little doubt that anyone seeing me reach the end of the ride would know that something big was happening.

Anyhow, I rolled into town in enough need of a shower that I decided to drop into the local Tim Horton’s and ask after a campground, but it was closed, so I checked at the police station instead. I got directions to one pretty nearby, and when I got there, found out that most (but not enough to keep me out) of the tent sites were being used by a touring group from Atlantic Canada Cycling. I thought this an excellent opportunity to solicit route improvement suggestions, though I’d have to wait until morning, as they were all pretty much down for the night by the time I set up camp. I ate the other mac and cheese ration, took a shower (in a pay stall with no temperature controls; not that any temperature held for more than about 5 seconds as it was) and bedded down for the night myself.

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