A blog intended for posting of whatever I get up to in bike touring, not necessarily in Nova Scotia (in fact, hopefully soon definitely outside of my home province!). Most likely will be retrospective rather than posted as I go along. The intent is to entertain, perhaps to inform, and even to satirize a bit (who, me? go on!) as the mood strikes. And if it happens to inspire a reader to do some bike touring of theri own, so much the better.
Some day I might even start taking along a camera and add a few pics.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

TNSTTTT and Then Some-- (2) Getting There

Day0 Packing and Getting Excited The moment of truth for packing the Yak. The main item of weight was a laptop computer for downloading the daily ride data from my cycling computer (I'm a sucker for gadgets). Some tools, spare parts including a tire as well as a couple of inner tubes, rain kit, cool weather kit, walking-around kit (aka civvies, if you want), recovery and hydration drink powders... One thing I had learned from my test trip was that the laptop went on the bottom of the load bag, along with the intrinsically more dense stuff. Everything was gathered into small plastic bags which I tried to arrange in the load bag in some sort of logical order, which I promptly forgot and could never repeat from one day to the next, so the few times I needed something while on the road it was always found at the opposite end from where I started looking. Perfect.

Total weight of Yak plus baggage 17kg, or about 37.5lb. (that's not multiple choice). Almost exactly 25% of my body weight that will be dragging behind me on the uphills.
Didn't sleep well that last night, partly from having almost no training load to tire me out and of course a great deal of Christmas Effect.

Solo Day1 Mt Uniacke-Bridgewater (120km) 23 July 09 dawned unnoticed here. Which is to say, after tossing and turning for some while after going to bed I eventually slept through the morning traffic noise and got up abruptly with my alarm. No extended wake-up today, I wanted to be on the road by about 10am at the latest (my last "sleep-in" for quite awhile). Weather a bit overcast with clear patches. After a good breakfast (my usual pre-long-ride oatmeal with raisins) got dressed, put the last minute stuff in the Yak bag, loaded Yak, hooked it up to Banani, and wobbled out of the driveway; I thought I was past that adaptation phase but not after over 2 weeks of riding an untrailered bike.

I had ridden today's route (except for the last few km's) during the 3-day Test Ride. The other thing the same now as then was-- Yep, in the rush to get on the road, the yoga routine completely slipped my mind until just past Windsor (I hadn't thought to wonder how come I was suddenly 15minutes ahead of schedule in leaving). Darn it. Once again it was detrimental to my ease of travel, but at least today I was recognizing landmarks most of the way, so the miles passed more quickly than the first time. At Mahone Bay I stopped in the waterfront park for a second lunch and a bit of a rest, then set out on the last leg of the day to Bridgewater and then to find the B&B I had reserved.

Scenery today was pastoral/ small farms for the first 30km and then mainly unexciting forest right up to the road with scattered houses and the odd lake for the next 50km with not too many places where a view could develop other than along the line of the road. The last 40km was alternating forest, small villages, and waterfront so there were some nice views at places during this segment.

As I turned right at the first lights in Bridgewater it started to rain lightly. Good timing, I thought, I'll be indoors in minutes. But I had misjudged the scale of the map I downloaded and minutes turned into soggy tens. As usual when one thinks one is about done for the day and then the finish just never seems to appear, every km started to feel like a mile and every mile like a league. The interminable last 2km were aggravated by the light rain doing its best to become heavy. And not a warm one either. I was sopping wet and cold by the time I pulled up to the B&B. Banani and Yak to the barn, baggage and me to the house. Nice accommodations, pleasant and helpful hosts... my original plan had been to bike back toward Bridgewater to find a place to eat supper, but with the rain I was more than a bit reluctant and I was starting to think in terms of delivery. My hosts offered to make me a meal for a reasonable cost, so that's what we did. After supper, read for a bit and then early to bed. Breakfast would be at 8:30 so it would be a nice early start. Slept like a log.

Solo Day2 Bridgewater-Shelburne (120km) Oh misery, still raining and no hint of a letup in the forecast of the day; cool if not downright cold too. So today became the first real test of my ShowersPass rain gear which I had bought the previous fall. Cycling shoes still wet. I put on dry socks, a bit of a joke since the wicking material did just that and the socks were as wet as the shoes in seconds. With the temperature as low as it was I put on my waterproof shoe covers (not that they kept my feet dry anymore (to wit, shoes)) to keep my feet warm, and also the little rain hat/hood to keep my head warm. Also lightly insulated gloves with fingers.

Out to the barn to collect my herd and discovered a bright orange chain on Banani. Wow, in one night, and not as if it wasn't well-oiled before I left home. Okay, lesson learned, after encountering rain on the road, first thing before settling in for the night must be to clean, dry, and oil the chain.

In order to keep my glasses from fogging up (they're Adidas with a double-lens setup, the inner lens ground to my vision prescription) I had to be very careful not to work very hard, which included any little rises. The first 7 or 8 km were secondary roads, picturesque and pleasant; then I turned onto the main highway. Not too long after that my bike computer faceplate started to fog a little; it had done that once before but dried up quickly afterwards. But this time within 5 minutes I saw water coming up under the faceplate!! and before I could stop to do anything else the LED display took on a foreign look of random pictographs and then went blank. A major disappointment. (After the trip it was replaced by the manufacturer but in the meantime I was missing a useful cycling tool and lost a couple of weeks of interesting, if not downright important, data.)

For the 2 days from Bridgewater to Yarmouth I stayed mainly on Hwy103 and only sometimes on Hwy3. The 103 had 2 or 3 feet of pavement on the right of the white line most of the time (except uphills where an extra lane was built for slow traffic which apparently meant bikes too), a novel concept for NS I think. So my route cut across the base of most of the peninsulas; the coastal deviations would have been very pleasant scenery but would have added at least a day if not two to that phase, and since I wasn't exactly sure about the whole 2-week thing I felt that wouldn't be a wise choice before TNSTTTT. In hindsight, it would have been alright-- but.

The scenery today was initially varied rural landscape, some houses and small farms, twisty road and foggy hollows; once onto the 103 it was an uninspiring view of wide pavement bounded by wide shoulders and then fairly unbroken forest, the whole amalgam attenuated by the spray from the tires of passing traffic. Then more populated forest on the run-in to Liverpool, while that town was in itself very picturesque.

Before Liverpool I got off the 103 for about 10 parallel km, coming in the back way. Stopped at the ubiquitous Tim Horton's for lunch especially warm coffee, waterbottle refills... When packing I had thought to put my Polar heart-rate monitor and chest strap into the Yak bag, so I fished them out and put them on so I would at least have a bit of instrumentation (especially the heart-rate data, to keep me from over-working as I tend to do when I don't have a machine to tell me about it). If I'd had half a brain I would have included the speed sensor but I didn't so I spent the next too many days not knowing how far I had gone and how far I had to go...
I think I gave up on my cycling glasses fogging for the day and just wore my everyday specs after lunch.

After Liverpool the coast pretty much paralleled the 103 (or vice versa, I suppose, the coast having been there first) for a nice distance so stayed on the coast road and enjoyed scenery and even a bit of salt spray which was quickly washed off by the downpour, no loss... Started seeing several cyclotourists going the other way while I continued solo and alone (but not lonely) with my route; none of us were inclined to backtrack for the privilege of riding with someone new. Eventually the pleasantness had to end, and I was spat out onto the 103 again, which for the next 20km was atypically pretty, with the odd sea view and encounters with a few villages; but eventually the 103 resumed its character of an uninspirational long ribbon of highway. Soon after the road climbed up onto the more open and windswept plateau which interposes between Sable River and Shelburne; it's not that high, about 100m, but what a difference in the wind that day!! Fortunately it was behind me, at every inch of 30kph and then some. Still a few laden cyclists going the other way (barely) and I didn't envy them. But they were in groups so at least they could do some slipstreaming if they were sufficiently flexible of mode to do that.

The last hour of this day my right knee started to bother me with an intermittent pain, somewhat worrying since it was day 2 of a 2 week ride! It turned out to be the result of a shoe being a bit too tight down there under the bootie, so recovered overnight. Anyways, into Shelburne at last, a bit tired but not exhausted. Definitely cleaned and oiled Banani's chain first thing! My next task was to try to avoid dripping all over the carpets of the B&B while signing in; less success with that. A long hot shower was more than welcome and by the time I was ready to hunt down a restaurant and refuel, the rain had quit and it was quite pleasant walking around through the town. Had a very good dinner at a small restaurant run by a German family, and then a bit of a walk along the waterfront. Then back to the Lighthouse, a bit of reading, some tv (the Tour de France was still going, and I wanted to check in with Contador's progress and make sure no interloper had snuck the yellow jersey off his back) and a look at the Weather Channel (clear tomorrow, and warmer, thank God). And at this point discovered that I had not brought the down link gadget for my Polar; so I reset the unit to a longer recording interval so there would be sufficient memory for the 2 weeks and sadly resigned myself to the fact that the laptop computer I was hauling around was just so many kilo's of dead weight... **sigh**

A bit of sporadic traffic noise and unfamiliar streetlights were unable to keep me from sleeping and so suddenly it became Friday.

Solo Day3 Shelburne-Yarmouth (100km) No orange chain today! But my bike shoes were still wet of course (it would take 3 days of sunshine for them to dry out, during which time they would acquire a distinct odor that I didn't enjoy a bit although still no competition for roadkill). The first half of today's ride was back out on the 103 again (okay, I'm getting tired of that strip of pavement and someday I'm going to do this trip with every little coastal sideloop and lighthouse dead end I can find), but I can (will) (shall!!) get off at the Pubnicos and use the back highway the rest of the way in without adding much distance to the journey.

Leaving Shelburne it was back up to the top of the plateau, not quite as high this side. Eventually back down to the coast, a rather barren section and still on the 103. This has to be the flattest bit of road I've cycled on since leaving Edmonton, Alberta when I went off to college. I can't say I minded too much. There was a bit of headwind but not enough to be bothersome.

About 3 hours into the ride I could turn off the main road, to the Pubnicos. Shortly thereafter in Argyle I followed a roadside sign down a gravel road to the waterfront and a resort/ restaurant. Nice place, pleasant staff and tasty food. Over the buffet table, a sign that lightened my day: "Children who are left unattended will be given a double espresso and a kitten", which it turned out was picked up at a garage sale in Florida. The sign, not the kitten. I'd like to make note of the name of the place but I've forgotten it, can't find anything that sounds familiar on the internet, and have misplaced the card I picked up there.

Yesterday I had been on roads that I had driven by car several times (albeit not since the early 90's) but today I was on roads that I had no memory of. The distance after lunch seemed interminable without an odometer although it was really pleasant riding and not all that far to Yarmouth which eventually showed up right where it was supposed to be. Curiously although the afternoon seemed to drag so until I got to Yarmouth, once I knew I was almost done for the day it seemed like a very short day which had just flown by-- the mind is a strange landscape.

There was a little crisis involving city streets and traffic lights (us country folk are easily discombobulated by relatively thick concentrations of cars (can cars concentrate? I always thought they were rather dim thinkers... oh, hence "thick") and buildings adjacent to buildings) but pretty soon the hotel came into sight. Or not; there are two Rodd edifices within blocks of each other and I first came across the wrong one. It didn't really match the map though, so I stopped a passerby and asked for directions (yes, it's true: I, a man, asked for directions!!! (several times during the next 2 weeks, actually. Got to be quite a habit)) and quickly got to the right Rodd hotel.

I had arrived.

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