Do You Believe in Magic?

73 Cycle Days

7000 kilometers

Province #7

“Hot day for boiking” the eldery gentleman waved to us as we passed by, just kilometers beyond the New Brunswick sign. Jay yelled back, “Never too hot a day for boiking. Or biking!”.

We detoured from Campbellton onto the Acadian Peninsula and the beautiful Chaleur Bay. The road was a little busier than we expected, but the shoulder was accommodating. Ended our day at the historic Hotel Paulin in Caraquet. Gerard and Karen are the third generation of the Paulin family to run the hotel. And what a marvellous hotel it is. Well worth the detour on its own. Gerard offered up a 2006 Beaujolais while sharing some history of the area, including the Acadian need to “fight for language and culture”, against movies, video games and TV. He also mentioned that the winter season was their busiest tourist season with snowmobilers coming from all over to explore their trails. This has also created a great quad business in the summer.

On GAIA there is a pathway all along the south east shore of the peninsula and we were keen to try it out the next morning. But just outside of Caraquet it quickly deteriorated into a quad only trail, with rocks and bumps and sand. So we resigned ourselves to go back out to the road towards Miramichi.

And then all this biking, fun, scenery and indeed our JoyRide came to a unceremonious, crashing end….

We were close to the end of a rather normal riding day, about 100 kms into the ride with less than 20 kms to go.  We had just entered some harsh road conditions in a construction zone.   I remember taking an angle to get up onto the shoulder, but apparently not enough of an angle and the tire skidded out and I went down. Nothing crazy, but hard, and I did feel groin pain immediately. As I write this we are back in Fernie, I have stopped the morphine and managing quite well. Now I would leave it here, but Gear Guy, now Medic Man, after considerable introspection he says, has more to say:

This was not typical road construction. There were large psychedelic cuts out of the pavement, leaving a sporadic steep and uneven 2 to 3 inch cut onto the remaining paved shoulder. There were also moats cut into the pavement every once in awhile, presumably to allow drainage from the construction area.  But the moats were deep.  You could hide a small child in them. This construction zone was nasty. The light was a little flat at times on account of partly cloudy skies. This combination of circumstances, in hindsight, all added up to a perilous cycling condition that neither of us tuned into in time.  In an honest reflection, this could have happened to either one of us.  I didn’t see Deb go down but I certainly heard her hit the deck.  Hard. Behind us about 50 feet was Jason, who was out on a training ride. Jason it turns out, is an Iron Man and Triathlete.

I’m going to digress for a moment. So, we have now cycled almost 7,000 kms and not once have we come across another cyclist that was cycling with us or near us in the way that Jason was that day. He was right behind us at that exact moment.

And Jason bore witness to the fall. Besides being an Iron Man and Triathlete, Jason is also a health professional and a founder of a large Health Clinic in Miramichi staffed with Doctors, PTs, OTs, and MTs.  His analysis at the time was that Deb took the brunt of the fall on her shoulder.  That would explain the mostly destroyed long sleeve ice breaker shirt not to mention the rather impressive shoulder road rash. But he also mentioned that the right leg looked like it came out a bit, possible putting strain on limbs and joints.  Deb’s sense at the time was that she didn’t feel bad, either in her head or her shoulder but her groin hurt “a bit”. Possibly a strained or torn groin muscle, Deb offered. In hindsight it is clear that Deb was in shock.  A number of motorists stopped to offer assistance as the scene clearly looked like a casualty site.

Some relief from all this writing…


Jason directed traffic around us while we sat for a bit and decided on next steps.  In the meantime, Jason took things into his own hands advising, “I am going to ride into town and get my truck and come back for you.” Strangely, the bike suffered only minor damage – another bent derailer hanger (our 4th). Deb decided to try to ride on.  One of us wanted to ride on, one of us didn’t think that was such a good idea.  So we rode on. Road conditions changed. They got worse. We continued for about 5 kms over a body jarring trenches and through scattered rocks and construction shrapnel. Deb was riding with what we now know was a broken pelvis. Think about that.

In the meantime, our amazing Jason returned as promised with his truck just as we finished the jarring construction area. Deb, still in shock, was insisting to ride on.  But Jason with the wisdom of a seasoned athlete and health professional and the diplomacy of Ghandi, convinced Deb to get in the truck, and he transported us both safely to a hotel.  At this point Deb was convinced that the injury was a groin tear only.  However, after the excruciating “long” distance walk down the hall to the restaurant, it became clear, even to her, it was more than that.  

True to form, Jason contacted us early the next morning with an appointment for Deb at his clinic, Peak Performance, for an exam. We promptly attended after renting a vehicle and getting ready for, well, anything.  Deb could not weight bear at all at this point. At Peak Performance Doctor David conducted a thorough exam and ushered us off to the hospital for X-rays.  As we attempted to pay for their services, not only would they not accept any payment, they promptly stuffed cheques and cash into our pockets in support of our JoyRide. Words cannot express how amazing Jason and the folks at the Peak Performance Health Center were. We are eternally grateful. 

At the hospital, we were accompanied by a letter from Doctor David that seemingly got us quicker than usual access to X-rays in Emerg. That and Deb’s pain level now was a “9” and the triage nurse was looking concerned. I guess a broken pelvis can be a very bad thing.  So, the initial x-rays were confirmed by the Emerg Doc that Deb’s pelvis was broken. CT scans thereafter and a visit with an Orthopedic Doc concurred – broken pelvis. That was the bad news. The good news was no surgery. The Doctors were great, all totally understanding about Deb’s commitment to our ride, and were gentle in advising, “It is not days, it is not weeks, it is likely months before you should take on a ride like this again”.  We took the drug prescriptions, shed a few tears, and went to buy crutches.

But I can’t stop without some commentary on the Emerg that day.  People were coming and going.  Some sicker than others.  But there was this one man in his 30’s who, the way he was holding his arm and clenching his shoulder in raging pain, must have had a dislocated shoulder.  There were several patients in the waiting room.  Deb was in a wheel chair and I was standing.  An elderly lady got out of her chair and offered the man a seat, which he took!  And I mean this poor old lady looked like she could kick the bucket like any second.  And then he skipped the line to get attended to first, which was on a first come first serve basis but also according to the emergency.  And as this guy is entering the exam room he turns to the nurse who asked if he hurt his shoulder, the guy says, “No, sunburn”.  Huh?  Sunburn??  Are you kidding me?  You go to Emerg with sunburn and take a dying old lady’s seat??  Thankfully, the don’t mess with me triage nurse punted his sorry ass out of the exam room and Emerg faster than a Darwinian finch.  There was applause in everyone’s head. Hug a nurse today.

The Doctor’s advice was to get crutches and keep moving – slowly and with caution, but keep moving. No bike riding. Stay medicated.

So we continued with our scheduled JoyRide bike event stops in Fredricton and Halifax. But by rental car, not bike.

In Fredricton, we met James. James is an amazing guy. Articulate and engaging, we originally thought we could meet for an hour or so because we wanted to be in Halifax that evening to prepare for our next bike event and for the trip back home. But instead, we chatted with James for over 3 hours over a few cold draft at a local craft brewery. James’ bike is not manufactured yet, being quite complicated to engineer, but James has big plans for his bike, and his future. We look forward to keeping in touch with him and learning about all his future successes. James made our day.

Next stop – Halifax where we had a delightful and enormous sushi dinner with Fernie friend Julia. The next day, we started our day with a fun radio interview at Halifax’s Q104 who established The Children’s Trust Fund, the charity we are working with for our next recipient’s bike.

Then we met our 8th bike recipient, another James. This James is 5, and has cerebral palsy and autism, and he is the cutest little guy. His close relationship with his mom, Stephanie, was heartwarming. He has used a similar Freedom bike in his recreational therapy at school. Now he has his own bike to use at home and at school. Go get ‘em James!

Our flight back was mercifully uneventful and I was well medicated.

As we accept our forced postponement of JoyRide, we think about what an amazing journey this has been. Almost 7,000 kms of cycling joy across Canada, coast to coast on back roads and isolated trails and pathways. We think about the friends and family that have helped us along the way. We think about the characters we’ve met. We have had JoyRide bike events in Surrey, BC; Calgary, AB; Radville, SK; Winnipeg, MB; Thunder Bay and Ottawa, Ont.; Fredricton, NB; and Halifax, NS. We have another planned in St John’s NL and in Fernie, BC. And we have three or four more bikes in the planning stages thanks to generous donations. We will continue to accept donations towards special needs bikes.

This has been a humbling and magical experience. So yes, we believe in magic. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

To be continued……..

Quebec, Loved it.

  • Cycle Day #66 Quebec to St Jean Port Joli – 99 kms
  • Cycle Day #67 St Jean Port Joli to Riviere du Loup – 98 kms
  • Cycle Day #68 Riviere du Loup to Rimouski – 111 kms
  • Cycle Day #69 Rimouski to Val Brillant – 111 kms
  • Cycle Day #70 Val Brillant to Campbellton New Brunswick. -118 kms

From Quebec City up the south shore of the St Lawrence. Marvellous.

In Ottawa we had lunch with Mike and Cheryl. But we forgot to take a photo. They stalked us all the way to Rimouski so we wanted to get their picture in.

Through Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Satin Aubert, Saint Louise, Saint-Philippe-de-Neri, Saint Pascal, Saint-Germain, Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska, Saint Antonin all within 100kms. Seems to be a lot of saints here. Saint Luce was one of our favourite towns in the area. Touristy perhaps, but lovely homes, restaurants, and a beautiful beach.

The last stretch leaving Quebec continued to knock us out with it’s beauty!

Following la Fleuve St Laurent became seductive, watching it widen, enjoying the breeze and the beauty, so after considerable analysis we continued past two turn off points, Riviere-du-Loup and Mont Jolie to venture into the unknown of The Gaspe Peninsula. But we aborted after 20kms because of the increasing long weekend traffic. Once again our impeccable non-planning has us heading into a tourist area on a long weekend AND during Quebec’s Construction Vacances, apparently the busiest two weeks in Quebec for vacationing. So we will return to Gaspe, but perhaps in June or September.

I surmised that getting breakfast in delightful Amqui was going to be difficult when they didn’t understand my request for orange juice. REALLY? With my impeccable Frespanglish accent? In a panic they searched for anyone who could speak English – no one. We worked it out with a bit of pantomime, and everyone enjoyed correcting my mispronounciations.

Meet Ted from Colorado. Ted oozed that easy going manner required for his around the world adventure – Ireland, Europe, China, Turkey… I suspect his wife is understandingly stoic. He is carrying a lot of gear, including a drone for photos. The only drone that we would carry is one that carries us.

Jay got a look in his eyes…and stealing the foreshadowing words of Gord O, “I had a sense that while I boarded a plane home he might continue on past St John’s. By Christmas, after checking off “cycling across Canada” from my bucket list, I might muse, “I wonder what ever happened to what’s his name?”

Au Revoir Quebec. My Heart will Go On.

Montreal to Quebec City with Wine and Leonard

  • Cycle Day #62 Montreal to Repentigny. 74 kms
  • Cycle Day #63. Repentigny to Trois Riviere. 117 kms
  • Cycle Day #64. Trois Rivière to Donnacona. 94 kms
  • Cycle Day #65. Donnacona to Quebec City. 50 kms

Cycle Day 62

The Route Verte is fantastic. Quebec loves cyclists. We thought the bike paths through Vancouver were great, but in Montreal we sauntered west to east for 70 kms along the St Lawrence, through parks, on streets of Old Montreal, beside Atwater Market, and watched people surfing, rowing and sailing on the river. It was perfectly grand until Gear Guy started singing April Wine songs like Oowatanite and I’m On Fire for you Baby. For me, how about Lady Run Lady Hide?

Paved paths beside paved paths beside paved shoulders. That’s the Quebec way. Manitoba and Ontario, pay attention.

Seemed like the entire city of Montreal is on vacation during “Construction Vacation” when all construction is supposed to stop the last two weeks of every July. This seems a bit arcane given the short construction window in our country, but hey, everyone looked happy!

Quebec drivers have been astonishingly polite to us – waiting behind us on roads, waving us on at intersections, even backing up when they were blocking the path!

But the cyclists are crazy aggressive. It’s like Rambo meets the Tour de France.  We laughed out loud at some ridiculous antics by cyclists.  But maybe it’s us that aren’t on the program.  So we started running red lights and stop signs.  Just to fit in.

Cycle Day 63

Weather continues to be hot and sunny. Route Verte continues to deliver. Rolling through Quebec farmland is, well, wonderful.

Trois Rivieres is a city with only deux rivieres, but explorers mistook an island separation as an extra river, and the name defiantly stands.

Cycle Day #64 and #65

What’s with all those elevation bumps?

The mileage signs in Quebec are a bit of a moving target. So is GPS. Don’t know what the deal is there but our days seem to grow from an initial estimate of one number and end up that number +X. Strange. Aiming for Quebec City for example, our distance estimate somehow grew from an expected 117 kms to an actual of 154 kms. Gear Guy blames the GPS, I blame GPS user. Despite being another amazing ride, with the 31 degree heat, we stopped short of Quebec at 100 kms and stayed in Donnacona, of course – sister city to Transcona, where we were lucky to find the only rental place had only one room.

If you are ever looking for a place to stay near Quebec City, call up Lise and Jean at Gite aux Deux Pignons. Beautiful home, great pool, delicious breakfast and cold beer. Doesn’t get better.

Short 50 km cycle into Quebec City.

Traffic on the Route Verte today was busy – cyclist traffic – young and old, fast and slow, everyone was out. Though, with Gear Guy still singing, this time Leonard Cohen songs, most tried to avoid us.

There is a tremendous number of the strangely shaped 3 wheel Can Am motorcycles on the road. Built by Quebecois Bombardier, there must be some kind of rebate if you have a Quebec address. Interesting how the driving audience has expanded with these more stable machines. I’m sure we saw an elderly Beagle driving one.

Quebec so far has been day after day of superb riding, fun and friendly people, and tremendous food. And you can buy cold beer, like, anywhere. Then it got better! We rolled up to friends Cendrine and Jim’s amazing condo in downtown Quebec City. Endless people watching opportunities, restaurants everywhere and the best ice cream store ever. All this while being entertained by world class buskers. Think we’ll stay and hang out till the fall maybe?

We walked around the Plains of Abraham and the museum, trying to make chronological sense of the victors of the multiple wars and skirmishes. Next day tour guide extraordinaire Francois gave a group of us a lesson on “being confused in Quebec history”. Indeed, by the time we left we had lessons in history, architecture, sociology, art, medical system, religion, food and a bunch of other stuff.

Passionate and informative Francois

Did you know that the statues of Cartier and Champlain bare no actual likeness to them? They are just conceived as products of imagination, along with much of their attire, which in some cases wasn’t even the fashion of the age. Disappointing, as Champlain the statue is quite dashing in his Musketeer outfit.

Our francais is improving and folks are very polite and patient when we try. Google translate has been helpful but not perfect, especially with menus. I couldn’t order “moules a la savour” which translated to “mold with flavour” even after I was assured it was mussels. Gear Guy’s initial vocabulary seems to be limited to “Oui”, “Biere”, “Merci”, “Je suis desole”, but it’s building. He took French all through through High School but he readily admits that he and his buddies only did that because the French teacher was hot.

Making like Quebecois and having a cold one after our morning tour.
And, Just Like That, Au revoir Quebec City.