I am so done with the Maritimes

It seems that I have some great ideas on the road and then when it comes to sitting down to write they all just disappear. When I last left off I was in Fredericton, now I am not, here is the story:

The Saturday morning Fredericton Market is an incredible place to run into people and get delicious snacks, but it is a little overwhelming if you are trying to find food for a pot-lach. So I turned to Kayla to help me prepare something for the Saturday night party Sam and Mike were hosting. In the process I accidentally watched the first episode of Game of Thrones, and now understand why those books I started reading when I was 12 are now such a big deal.

Sam saved me from what could have been a Sunday of watching nothing but GoT by taking me out to her parents’ farm where things got Lambitious, it was birthing season and I got to see some cute little guys. Her parents have a great place out in Cambridge Narrows and they made an awesome Sunday supper.

Now getting all my stuff together is still a process regardless of where I wake up be it a couch, tent, or floor. It seems as though things spew out of my two panier bags and it becomes a real game of tetris to make everything fit again. Monday morning was no different as I wanted to leave Fredericton at 7 which turned into a little after 8, delayed especially when I was offered porridge if I waited an extra couple of minutes.

A pretty average break point somewhere in NB

A pretty average break point somewhere in NB

I rode for Edmunston not really having a specific timeline figuring it would take me 2 or 3 days to make it there. Generally as I ride I try to give the part of my body that touches the seat a break every hour or so, by getting off my bike and walking around. I try and gauge this by a town that is 15-25Km away or a crossroads or something that is more interesting than just the road itself. However, when you have a bike that is loaded it becomes a bit of a balancing act trying to find a good place to lean everything, my personal preference is a guard rail beside a body of water. If I just throw my bike on the ground I stand a good chance of bending or breaking something like the rear-view mirror I bought in Truro whose lifespan was about a week and a half, despite Mike’s best glue and tape resuscitation efforts.

This is the first time in my life that I have owned a cell phone, save for a brief stint when I was 16, but they have become pretty impressive little beasts. I generally plan my route on it using the map and GPS and I continue to update my route as I go. I generally go for secondary highways and roads that run beside rivers tend to be more flat so I stick to them when I can. My phone also has a 13 megapixel camera on it, which I used to take pictures of the longest covered bridge in the World, located in Hartland, NB. I then put the pictures into a bunch of differently shaped rectangles to make them seem even more interesting.

Opened the flood gates here

Opened the flood gates here

I stopped for the night North of Bath, NB beside a hydroelectric dam. Which was really letting loose with some of the spring run off. My budget for this trip isn’t too extravagant so I plan on relying on accommodations I do not have to pay for as often as I can. When I happen to be out of range of family, friends, and random connections I turn to my tent.

Beechwood Dam Campsite

Beechwood Dam Campsite

Usually when I look for a place to set up for the night I try to be slightly removed from the eye of the general public and next to water. Which puts me in competition with just about every homeowner ever. At this time of year provincial parks are usually unmanned so they make for good free camping as did the green space around the dam. Which also had a nice sunset.

The falls were quite grand

The falls were quite grand

Waking up the next morning to all of my water bottles being iced over probably contributed to yet another slow start to my day. But I had made good time the day before, despite the hills, and I would be following the St John River basically all day so I was confident I would get to Edmunston that night. In this case there turned out to be a few hills while river following at Grand Falls, NB. But the road from Grand Falls into Edmunston was real fast. Unfortunately the only thing I ended up tossing in Edmunston was a few messages as none of the ultimate people would come out to play. Which is too bad because there is an ultimate story in Edmunston and I know some good people who started playing ultimate there, they also host a good tournament in the Spring that I have attended, called June Bug.

Botanical garden campsite

Botanical garden campsite

I used the time that I would have been tossing in Edmunston to get out to the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, which for the amount of signs you see on the highway didn’t seem all that spectacular. But I only camped there illegally, so what do I know. I often fall asleep in my tent thinking about some of my trip regrets: like how I wish I had gotten in on Ultimate Canada’s newsletter or wondering whether or not my gross helmet will actually save me.

I also struggled on that particular night with the debate of whether to take the 130Km of bike trail from Edmunston to Rivière-du-Loup or the highway. Now I am all for bike paths I think they are great for a city to have particularly a long one that not only is inter-city but also inter-provincial. However just after the Spring thaw with a loaded bike a gravel bike trail feels like someone is softly kicking you in the behind, while another person works on your privates, and yet a third jumps up and down on your baggage all the while your max speed seems to be about 75% of what it could be. You only get breaks in the areas where the snow hasn’t yet melted and you have to get off your bike and walk it over the icy patches. The reason this was even a debate in my mind, was because taking the highway would involve tangoing with some of our country’s most notorious drivers.

When I left the next morning, in my best time yet, at 7:30, which turned into 6:30 when I crossed the border, I decided to take on the bike path. But after 10Km and a 200m stretch where the aforementioned softly kicking felt more like a bludgeoning I decided the road was where my tires should roll.

And then I hit the sign.

Out of the Maritimes and into Québec

Out of the Maritimes and into Québec

My next couple of updates are going to be in French at least till I get to Montreal, then I will go half and moitié. Go to the contact page if you want to see facebook updates or to follow me on twitter. I am trying to find a way to get twitter popular which doesn’t involve me telling Brodie Smith I can’t sleep because I am so excited about his new trick shot video, sorry Brodie.

I will sign out on the Maritimes:

From the snowy turf in Halifax, to the ocean-view in Charlottetown, to the domes of Moncton, to the social scene in Fredericton, and the what could have been in Edmunston I have sampled Maritime ultimate stories in several forms but not all. The beaches of Parlee call and the hucks of St John zing and so many others that listing them would take too long, I will get to them one day, just not on this journey.

Truly though it has been a pleasure to kick things off in this part of Canada. The couches, floors, air mattresses and indeed beds I have graced have been through some of the most genuine people I have ever met. I would liken the Atlantic Ultimate community to a web. A web where the strands intertwine and weave through one another. A web that courses with beer of the local variety. A web where people connect amicably, professionally, romantically, and otherwise. A web where trips around the World can be planned or reminisced over, whether they are ultimate related or not. But at the centre of this web the thing that interconnects it all and sends its tendrils hither and tither is a field, a pair of cleats, and a disc.

To quote Darren Clark: Ultimate is alive and well here, and the Maritimes has the best local club scene in the world.

If a team from here is going to Nationals, I want the honour of being on that roster.

Québec you are on deck.

The Two Weeker

Figured it was time to bust out some stats:

  • Time on the go: 2 weeks, or 14 days if you are more of a d person
  • Distance biked: 700 Km
  • Tournaments played in: 2
  • Ultimate league/practice/scrimmages attended: 5
  • Nights spent in a tent: 3
  • Money spent: $600
  • Weigh in: 184 lbs
  • Number of times I have spoken with my parents: 0
My route 2 weeks in

My route 2 weeks in

I feel like I am already up to my eyeballs in social debt. I mentioned the amazing hospitality of my host Jordan in Moncton, not only was he great for driving me out to the ultimate league nights breaking with his Lebron-esque tradition of biking out. He also biked into Moncton with me from Shediac taking the afternoon away from work where he kicked my ass on the grind in, we were going into the most hellacious headwind of the trip thus far. Then at his place he helped me get rid of an annoying squeak that had developed in my chain all the while cooking delicious meals for the both of us and offering me the beer from his fridge. I can only hope one day I get to return the favour. His girlfriend, Laura, who I had met in Charlottetown is moving to Guelph in the near future and as a disc playing cyclist, I have no doubts she will find a solid crew there. I hope to see her and maybe Jordan, if he is up for a visit, at Gender Blender when I pass through.

Hilarious campsite

Hilarious campsite

Moncton was an interesting city that I have never really got to know in my travels. I still feel that the day and a half I spent there leaves much to the imagination. The people there are incredible and I love the mix of both French and English. I played league twice there both times comig out on the losing side of some good games. I set out from Moncton and made Fredericton in two days. On the first day out my IT band was bugging me a little and I decided to pull up a little early to give it a breather. Stopping in a campground, on Grand Lake, that seemed all too surprised to have someone looking to tent as they didn’t plan on opening for another month. The owners gave me free reign to select a campsite after my assurances that not having running water or a toliet wouldn’t be a problem so I plopped my tent down under a gazebo as it seemed to be the surest dry ground I could find.

As if all my hosts to date hadn’t been amazing enough Sam and Mike continued the trend in Fredericton. Giving me a place to sleep and cooking me a great curry on the night of my arrival and delievering me cereal in the morning. Friday night I got to spectate on some tournament planning for the Fredericton crew as they discussed their coveted beach tournament, Parlee, and a new one they are trying to organize called Summer Slam in August. And we headed out to one of the last indoor Spawn practices of the year which is always a good mix of experienced vets and young fresh talent. Afterwards some of us went and grabbed beers and some eats, a huge thank you to the magnificient ladies Sonya and Becky for picking up my tab, completely unnecessary but very much appreciated.

I am taking the weekend off in Fredericton, so no ultimate and definitely no biking. Just alot of foam rolling and eating. My thoughts are starting to turn towards the francophone portion of my journey.

Moncton was as sweet as the people who live there.

Edmunston, in due time you are on deck.

The dash: NS to NB to PEI

I had mentioned last time, I was concerned that if all the cool cats I met along the way gave me a gift I would never make it to Vancouver. I would like to clarify: baked goods are welcomed, particularly if they are as delicious as the ones I recieved leaving Truro. Now that I am starting to cover some ground I am interested in finding a sexy map that will upadte as I go. If you know of one contact me.

Sometimes I wish my bike could take pictures of me

Sometimes I wish my bike could take pictures of me

Cutting across the spine of Nova Scotia from the Bay of Fundy to the Northumberland Strait has its beauty. But peaking in the Appalachians was a double edged sword: so beautiful you want to take a picture and so cold you don’t want to stop and dig out your picture taking device. Finally on the way down it warmed up enough for me to snap a pic, seen on the right, but it was nowhere near the beauty of the frozen lakes beside railroad tracks with deep valleys in the distance, don’t worry I took a few good mental shots.

Lunching in Pugwash, NS then making my way across the provincial border into New Brunswick made up my afternoon and I finally got to see some sun while on the bike. I settled down in Port Elgin, NB pitching my tent in a public park right next to the water.

Campsite for the evening

Campsite for the evening

The following day I was twice called the true sign of spring. The second of the two times was while crossing the Confederation bridge into PEI. Apparently I was the first cyclist of the year. The first time was as I awoke from my tent having braved the night that dropped to -3 C an older gentleman pulled into the park to do some bird watching. I packed up my tent as we chatted. He told me he had already seen a red-breasted robin and a blue herron but the first true sign of Spring was seeing someone take on the cold in a tent. As I still had some organization to do our conversation drifted to the graveyard that was not all that far away from where we were standing, he told me it might be the oldest cemetery in Canada. Things got philosophical after he asked me what it was that I was doing and where I was going. After I told him about my trip. He said:

You know by the time either of us end up in the ground, with a headstone such as the ones next to us, all people will ever see is the date we were born and the date we died, the only thing that defines what we did in between is the dash separating those two dates.

Talk about your waker upper. He went on to encourage me to make the most of life because in the end it is just a dash. Well I thought it was a pretty neat conversation to have with someone at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. And we both went on our way.

PEI is a deceptively hilly litte province, and I may have taken Sam and Mike’s attempts to warn me a little too lightly. My foray at avoiding the hills by taking the lovely confederation trail was thwarted by snow patches and soft ground so after 1 Km or so I gave up and went back to the TransCanada. By the time I got to the place I would be staying just outside of Charlottetown I was wiped.

The Islanders wouldn’t let me down easy though as they had already organized their first outdoor ultimate game of the season, I hesitate to say in my honour, but there was something more than a coincidence to the planning. We had a blast playing, not to mention a great view of the harbour. The Island ultimate scene seems to really be taking off. I should have a write up in the next couple of days by a resident expert on the PEI ultimate story.

ulTIMate in Victoria Park

ulTIMate in Victoria Park

My PEI host, Patrick, is someone I met only last weekend at the Tournament of Fools in Halifax, and after a bit of interweb communicating he graciously opened his house, shower, and laundry to me, unbelievably generous, I think they call it Island hospitality. After practicing we stopped at Tim Hortons and returned to his house where he invited me to play Magic with him and his friends. Now I never envisioned myself playing Magic, especially after a day of ultimate and biking on PEI, but it was different and a neat experience. To be honest I would probably rather try to figure out if someone is bidding a weak 2 sitting around a table of 50 plus year olds playing bridge than try to figure out whether my knight is going to out-duel my opponent’s goblin, but hey glad to have tried it out.

I think this also brings me to a point about people who do decide to offer me their couch for night or two, I generally try to find their level. So if my host wants to sip water and go to bed at 8 I will probably appreciate the rest. Conversely if dropping acid and going to a rave is whats on the menu I will do what I can to keep pace. Whatever it takes, you have opened your home to me and I am not expecting just accepting.

On that note I have been getting words of support or offers of a place to stay on twitter, facebook, and email. From Cranbrook, BC to Hamilton, ON to Moncton, NB and places in between and not so in between from people who might know someone who knows me or who have no connection with me whatsoever. All I can say is wow and thank you. I feel that my dash grows bigger and deeper thanks to you and I hope I can be a positive experience on your dash too.

I have updated the picture page to call it pics ‘n ‘flics  there are some new pics and I linked the post with the video.

As much as it makes me queasy and uneasy I am sharing my financial details in my budget section.

Today I explore Charlottetown, maybe even so some burger loving. And tonight I head to Fredericton for a weekend of Playa Hating and a sibling reunion. I will come back to PEI to fetch my bike on Sunday and then the journey continues to Moncton.

So long NS you were a great place to get started.

Fredericton (round 1) you are on deck.

Truro my Ruro: the tale of a near miss

Rainy ride just outside of Truro

Rainy ride just outside of Truro

I promised myself I wouldn’t bike in the rain too much. That promise was broken all too quickly. But nevertheless I was off and it felt great, well for the most part it did.

My weekend was complete: the University of New Brunswick team, Red Ono, had beat seed and finished 5th at the tournament. We had a good run playing a universe point in the snow in the first game to nearly all of us getting sunburnt on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. DKUT did a good job organizing the tournament and I dug the Salty bake table. A big thank you to my team as well for letting me take it easy on Sunday so that I would actually be able to bike my first 100 odd Km on Monday, who doesn’t love downwind handling. My knee was bugging me a little bit.

I know, a little too early for my liking to complain about injuries still have alot of road ahead of me. I would suggest that a pool be started to see how far I actually make it, but you would need to put me down for Vancouver and that carries quite a bit of bias. Also Tanner I made it past Truro so you are already wrong. Haha.

My path was set for Truro where I would be staying with a friend from ultimate. I am thinking I should just change the name to ulTIMate couch surfing, as I think I will be saying this often.

My ride started out with the company of a friend, David Archibald (author of yesterdays post), who I had only met on Friday. But my Halifax billet had put us in the position of knowing so much about one another, we couldn’t help but be connected. And in between beers on Friday, on field battles in our first game  Saturday, wine behind dumpsters before the party, and a somewhat similar approach to life in general Dave offered to accompany me out for the first 25 Km of my ride.

We had a solid rip, Dave introducing me to a whole series of winding bike paths beside a beautiful Nova Scotia landscape with lovely lakes and just great riding in general, despite the cooler temperatures and light drizzle.

My parting gift from Dave

My parting gift from Dave

We parted ways at the Inn On The Lake in  Waverly, which very well could be someone’s favourite place in the entire World. It wasn’t for myself nor Dave, but it was nice and was a great spot for him to turn back and me to keep on keeping on. Just before we parted ways Dave gifted me with a bandanna, pictured on right. I was touched by his gesture and put it in my pocket. I also hoped that every cool cat I ran into wouldn’t be giving me gifts because I am packed tight enough as it is.

I continued on from the Inn settling into a nice rhythm stopping for a Trucker’s breakfast at around 9:30. Pushing on from there I admired the rolling hills of Nova Scotia and the incredible-ness  of the journey I was undertaking. It might have been this admiring, that not long after that shameless selfie pic at the beginning of this post, around Brookfield, NS, that I hit the railroad tracks the wrong way and went down for the count.

Now I had considered not sharing the story of my derailment, to save my mother, other mothers, and mother-like individuals from concern. However, not only does it make for some suspenseful reading, but also this trip is about honesty and openness. I feel we learn the most from our falls and maybe others will too.

So if you ever find yourself biking from Halifax to Truro taking old highway number 2, a route I would highly recommend, be careful of  the angled train tracks near Brookfield. Otherwise you might find yourself face first in the side of road with your bike on top of you.

Now while my ride was a little derailed I seem to have come through unscathed. Thanks in part to the bandanna I put in the left pocket of my jacket, softening the blow to my ribs significantly, which are only a dull roar of pain at the moment. To get thrown like that there is no real training you can do to prepare yourself for it. But when you get off track, even though you got railroaded you just have to keep chugging. Really I just got lucky. I also hope the literary genius in this paragraph didn’t go unnoticed.

I made it to Blake Archibald’s (no relation to Dave, well they claim to be distant cousins) Truro residence without further incident. And set myself up for a beautiful day of rest with some first class hospitality from Blake and his family. I cannot express how incredible his family has been, and I would recommend that everyone passing through Truro should try and stop over at his place,  even if you don’t know them.

Tomorrow I set my sights on camping somewhere near the bridge across to PEI probably still on the mainland. And the following day I make for Charlottetown, where it seems like they have an event organized coinciding with my arrival. I will leave my bike on the island and try to hitchhike or ride share  into Fredericton for a weekend of ultimate and come back to my bike to continue the journey.

I am still looking for a team for nationals in Vancouver in August. I would sum up my weekend of playing as average. So if that interests you get at me.

I am doing my darnedest to tweet at least once a day, so if you are at that point in your life where you think you need to hear from me that often give me a follow https://twitter.com/canulTIMateride

Truro I liked your wooden sculptures. The road is calling and I am excited to answer it.

Campsite somewhere in the Maritimes you are on deck.

Charlottetown you are in the hole.

The ulTIMate part of Halifax

This entry is all about the Halifax ultimate story. As I am no expert on this region I asked David Archibald to chime in. I met him for the first time last Friday night and it seemed like our paths were on a collision course and were bound to cross in one wanderlust situation or another, I am glad it was this one.

As a teaser for tomorrow’s blog post I will say that Dave is the reason that I don’t have a broken rib. But that story is for tomorrow.

For anyone else who knows the Halifax ultimate scene and you desire to add your two cents you can get in touch with me and I will update this post. 

If you like what you read here Dave does some of his own writing and his stories are highly entertaining. You can check out his blog here http://dparchibald.wordpress.com/

Take it away Dave on the ultimate scene in Halifax:

Have you ever seen the video of cows let out of the barn for the first day of spring (check out the video below) That’s what ulty players look like stepping out onto the turf for the first outdoor tourny of the season. The first outdoor tourny of the season in the Maritimes, is called Tournament of Fools. It goes down in Halifax and is hosted by DKUT (Dalhousie King’s Ultimate Team). It was also the first tourny of Tim’s epic Canadian ultimate odyssey.

It’s called Tournament of Fools, for a number of reasons. It’s around April Fools each year, and it’s generally so cold, and often rainy and snowy, it’s just downright foolish to be playing outdoors. But ulty junkies got it bad, and every year they get out there, and try to scrape the rust off their outdoor throws. Everybody usually has some sort of moment – maybe Sunday morning, maybe in the middle of a snow squall – where they ask themselves: why am I doing this? But the moments where you say: ah yeah, this is why I’m doing this, outnumber those other ones by a wide margin.

ToF, draws a healthy mix of league teams, university teams, and teams mashed together from the city’s top touring players (touring in Halifax is predominantly open or women’s (its also the only NS town where the sport is really big enough to have dedicated touring players right now); NB and PEI touring is predominantly mixed; most of the regional tournaments are mixed). But more exciting than those regular guys, was the high school team that came out, won a few games, and just generally turned a lot of heads. That high school team is the perennial high school champs in the province, and this was the first time in the Maritimes that a high school team has played in one of the bigger (ie. not exclusively high school) regional tournaments.

And that sort of describes where the game is in Halifax right now, as well as the broader Maritime community. Blowing up. In Halifax, the summer rec. league gets bigger every year. Touring ultimate is seeing growth too. Two new touring teams – an open team based out of Halifax, and a woman’s team that will draw players from all of the Atlantic provinces (the Maritimes plus Newfoundland and Labrador) – have sprung up in the last year and will be playing alongside and against, long established touring teams in the region. All these teams are highly efficient, well organized frisbee eating machines. Just imagine what’ll happen when they start pushing each other.

Rural communities outside the major center’s are really starting to catch the bug too. Teams and organizations are being built from the ground up – grassroots style. Two people tossing, grows to a pick up a game, grows to a team, grows to a league, and the rest is history. It’s exciting to watch. That’s how it started in the big cities (Halifax, St. John, Moncton and Freddy) long before I knew what this sport was about, and look how far they’ve come? In the last month an East Coast mash-up team (Steve French) with players from those four major Maritime ‘markets’, placed 2nd at the World Beach Ultimate Championships in Paganello, Italy. As I watched the stream online and listened to the announcers talk about these ‘relative unknowns’ and ask where had they come from, I felt like I was sitting in that hazy Jamaican bar in the movie ‘Cool Runnings’. When the bobsled announcers ask “Where did these guys come from?”, the whole bar exuberantly screams “JAMAICA!” at the TV. Except me and my friends were screaming “THE MARITIMES!” at my laptop.

It’s exciting to be part of. Living out here, clinging to these desolate rocks jutting out into the middle of the cold, hard, Atlantic Ocean, seemingly stuck on the end of the continent as an afterthought, people have gotten hungry. Hungry for ultimate. And that hunger is driving players to get scary good, scary fast. Watch out over the next couple years Canada. But the best part of the whole scene is, no matter how far from here Maritime players go to play – Northeastern United States, Upper Canada, the long haul out West, or even some small beach-town as far away as Italy – no one has forgotten where they came from – the Maritimes, and starting off playing grassroots ultimate. The community is still number one. In the great Maritime regional tournies, top regional players don’t mind playing against, and helping new players get their start, and get the bug. Some of them even wear dresses while playing. But that trend hasn’t took off as well as some players would’ve hoped.

It has begun

Well I am not even sure where or how to start but I guess I will just write and see where I end up.

Sunrise on Day 1 in Halifax

Sunrise on Day 1 in Halifax

Officially, as far as I am concerned, my trip started at 6:30 AM on Saturday April 6, 2013 when I biked down to the Atlantic ocean in Halifax and watched the sunrise. Symbolically I felt this metaphorically got me underway seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic and hopefully 129 days later I will see it set over the Pacific and thus close out my journey. Maybe the idea is a little too romantic but I was awake and willing to ride at the time.

I guess before I get too deep into the Halifax event I should back up and say that I arrived safely on the East coast. The train, as always, was a great ride, but only for those who don’t need to be anywhere fast and want to enjoy the view along the way, which is about as good a description as I would give my trip. I should note that the train was not the same wine slinging, friend making odyssey that I had a few years back when I took it out West. Safe to say it was a much more subdued affair. I did get chatting with a gentleman who was advocating to restore the Ocean to daily service and insure the rail line between Campbellton and Moncton stays open. If that sounds at all interesting to you, they have a FB page here https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurTrainsInNorthernNb/info

Arriving in Halifax I put my bike together at the train station and cruised up to my first couch of the journey. And what a couch it has been. The lovely Elyse and her housemates have been extremely accommodating throughout my stay and the couch was a comfortable affair. We also sat down and watched the movie One Week to add little more something to the cross Canada tour on 2 wheels. Visiting with some other friends and taking a light spin to make sure the wheels were working, pretty well sums up the non-ultimate side to my Halifax adventure.

The ultimate side will probably get its own post in a day or two but for now that will have to wait.

I have also added a new page that links to a select few pictures that I am taking along the way, check it out.

Tomorrow I set my compass for the West, and it looks like I might have a little company on the way out.

Halifax you were a dream.

Truro you are on deck.