Suggested Listening: The Middle by Rich Aucoin
Total Distance Cycled: 1744km
Fredericton to Moncton: 180km
After a better than expected sleep in our dorm room we made our way down to enjoy the continental breakfast. Here we had the usual toast, fruit and bagels. We also ended up chatting with a lovely couple that was volunteering with habitat for humanity. After telling them a bit about our ride it turned out one of their close frie da is suffering from Alzheimer. It saddens me to see this disease impact so many people. When we went to go pack our bags we ran into the husband of the couple and he said we brought his wife to tears to think about what we’re doing it. It was great confirmation that we are actually are making a difference.
Leaving the campus we made our way on a cycling path before being directed to take the NB Trail. Seeing how it wasn’t so bad for the little bit we took it entering into Fredericton we figured it wouldn’t be so bad. One quick look though and we were positive we didn’t want to take it for the next 51km as it was directing us to do so. Instead we found our way to the 105 which was a pretty pleasant rode to ride on without much traffic. We stopped along the side of the road just before we needed to brave a small section of the Trans Canada highway to apply sunscreen and mentally prepare. As we stood there a car stopped just before getting on it and called over to make sure we were doing okay and ask where we were headed. We rode up to the convertible and then found ourselves having a lovely long chat with a retired military officer named Ken. Living in Barrie now he said he as originally from St. Catharines so he knew Hamilton. Ken shared a bit about his service abroad and reminded us of how lucky we have things here. It was clear from the way he spoke about his time spent in some tough places that the memories still haunt him. He spoke about how we needed to sort out or mess and find peace and love. It a message I think we could all hear more often. We then offered us two ice cold Perriers. They totally hit the spot and we didn’t know it at the time, but our bodies would be grateful for the extra liquid later. We laughed about how we were all sharing a drink at the side of the Trans Canada highway as of it was a totally normal thing to do. With a lot of distance to cover still and Ken on his way to a 30 year reunion where he’d be seeing some folks he hadn’t seen in decades we said our goodbyes after exchanging information.
The next few kilometers on the Trans Canada were pretty unpleasant with lots of traffic. At one point we even ended up having to go over a bridge which had a sign saying no bicycles since turning back would have been even more dangerous. Fortunately for us this section was small and we weren’t on it long.
Once of the highway we passed through a small area called Jemseg. As we passed Jemseg and made our way up a hill Shantel shifted down quickly to help make her way up it. While doing so something (we’re still not sure what) caused her chain to separate. When she called ahead to me and told me what happened I told myself I had to keep calm otherwise this disaster would only get worse and there would be no way to problem solve. We pulled over to the side of the road and attempted to fix the chain by watching a YouTube video and using my multi-tool, but it was useless. We didn’t know what we were doing or definitely didn’t have the right tools on hand to fix it. Before the ride we did make note that CAA covers roadside assistance so we gave them a call to se what our options were. They explained we were too far out of the Fredericton district for them to send anyone, but that they could put us in touch with a tow company and then submit them to he bill afterwards. Without much other choice we agreed for them to do so. We explained to the tow company what had happened and they said they could bring us another town to get the parts needed for the repair if necessary. Shantel and I talked it over and we agreed we’d go together to the other town if necessary. She recognized though that doing so would be heartbreaking for me since she knew how badly I wanted to cycle the whole day without taking a drive. At this point I realized we had just made it to the halfway point in our ride which was at least for me quite an exciting moment.
When the mechanic Cody arrived he quickly became my favorite person (next to Shantel of course) when he said the chain hadn’t been broken, but only separated at the master link. With some time and work he was able to provide a temporary fix for us. He also noticed that Shantel’s rear derailleur had been bent in the mishap and did his best to fix it with the tool he had on hand. I was so relieved we didn’t need to take the tow to another town. It went we’d save a lot of money and more importantly to me we could keep riding. Shantel than signed some paper work for CAA and we said out thanks to Cody a million times over for helping us get the issue figured out. The whole experience took around 2 hours and it meant we drank more water as we waited in the hot sun.
Finally back on the road after the repair we took things slow to avoid causing any more problems. We also moved most of the heavy things from Shantel’s bags into to mine so she had less weight to pull behind her. Shantel also not wanting to risk breaking the chain again would proceed to spend the next 130km roughly pedaling in the same gear. It was probably 20km when Cody oulledpulled up in front of us in a car rather than his truck and explained he’d made a mistake and that we needed to pay up front and get reimbursed. Thankfully the charge was only $61.
As we continued to ride the heat out water supply quickly reached dangerous levels – with me being completely empty and Shantel having very little left we realized we’d need to knock on the door of one of the few country homes and ask for water as there was absolutely nothing around. We went to one house and knocked, but despite a car being in the driveway it seemed no one was home. We went to the next house and here we’d find our savior Jim. When we asked him for eater he was happy to let us fill up all our bottles and he even gave us each an ice cold bottle of water to drink while we waited for the bottles to feel up. I asked him suggestions of places to get food and he said there was basically nothing. Feeling a bit worried about the prospect of running out of food I tired to play cool that we’d manage, but I was secretly panicking a bit. Jim clearly read my body language and offered to have his wife make us chicken sandwiches. I couldn’t believe the kindness of this total stranger. It was incredibly uplifting to have someone offer us so much. Not wanting to offend him we weren’t sure what to say so we played it off like we didn’t want to be a hassle. He insisted it wasn’t though at which point Shantel then explained we don’t eat meat. He laughed a bit and then offered us tomatoe sandwiches to which we eagerly agreed. Simple, yet delicious the sandwich and cold water were exactly the energy and moral boost we needed to help us get through the rat of the ride. Reflecting on things afterwards it seems clear that had Jim not been so helpful we really would have struggled to get through the ride today.
Kilometers seemed to pass by more quickly once we had more energy, but after a while we needed to rest and get more food in us. About 50km left to Moncton we pulled over to eat our last bit of remaining food – our now two old couscous salad and some leftover Pad Thai from the Abbey restaurant the night before. While eating, a motorcyclist we would learn is named Mike pulled over to talk for a bit. He confirmed we were on the right track and warned us of an upcoming hill. He also made some motel suggestions and most importantly a recommendation for a bike shop for us to visit in Moncton.
The last 50km of the ride it felt like we were chasing the sunset. We really wanted to avoid riding at night time as much as possible so we kicked it into overdrive (as much as that is possible when Shantel was riding in one gear) and rode hard towards Moncton. The sun won the race setting before we found a place to stay, but we did avoid riding in the dark for the majority of the time. Along the way Shantel called her favorite place to eat in Moncton called Calactus. I kept trying to asking Google for directions to it while riding but instead Google kept wanting to take me to some place called Coin Collectors. I eventually asked for directions to Cactus Moncton and it worked. Technology can be so weird sometimes.
After picking up our weight in food from Calactus we found the closest hotel with rooms still available – the Crowne Plaza. Only a 5 minute bike ride away we were thrilled we didn’t have far to go. Once arriving we were checked in by the lovely staff here (I think her name was Kayla) and told we could store our bicycles in a secure locked area. It was now about 10:20pm. While waiting to check in we drew the attention of a few other travelers and chatted a bit about our trip with them. Once checked in we each had a quick shower before making a run for thr hot tub, pool and steam room that was closing in about 40 minutes.
It was a strange to do before going down to the hot tub, but I opted to grab some of our cards in case we found ourselves in a conversation with someone. It proved to be a wise decision. While soaking in the hot tub and trying to give our sore muscles some love we ended up chatting with an extremely interesting man named Johnathan. Johnathan shared with me that he was taking back his life after having made some mistakes earlier in it. We didn’t go into too many details, but he shared he had spent 28 years in prison. He is now sudying visual arts in his second year he has embraced his indigenous culture. He also told how he has begun selling some of his work. It was incredible listening to the way he has turned his life around and his commitment to keep it that way. He also told me about how has since shared his story now in some schools to younger teens so they avoid making the same mistakes he did. Listening to it all reminded me of one of the main lessons in life my mom stressed – people deserve a second chance. I loved how Johnathan was taking ful advaneof his second chance at making things right and the way he spoke about his appreciation for his wife. Before going our separate ways he asked for a card which I was pleased to have with me.
From there Shantel and I made our way back to our room to feast and pass out. The plan for tomorrow is to get to a bike shop early if we can and see what needs to be done for Shantel’s bike to be road ready. Our fingers are crossed that it won’t be too expensive to fix things.