“My whole career has been from scratch, so I never took it for granted that people care and support what I do.” – G-Eazy
If you read this blog you will see that I often make reference to Alpkit, who for the last 18 months have kindly supported me on my adventures. When I mention that I am an Alpkiteer to people you get a look of respect (or is that confusion?) in return. Only the pro’s and truly awesome adventurers get supported, right? I don’t put myself in either of those brackets, and I am not a social media “trend setter” either. Who has time or energy to maintain such a public image? But I do get out and about and often end up chatting to random people (or ‘my wafes and strays’ as I tend to call them!) about how great there gear is. I often get asked how I got supported and why did I go with Alpkit?
The answers to both of these questions is simple.
I got supported because I was doing something slightly different and I had the nerve to ask the question, even though I am not a big name. I told them my plan, I told them what I was after, and I told them how I would aid the brand, after all it is a business not a charity! I wasn’t greedy, I didn’t want huge amounts off them. I wasn’t boastful, I had no history of big, epic trips. But I was confident, the challenge was big but it was achievable even with my lack of experience. Brands understand that things happen that cause trips to be abandoned but they want to know that at the start there is a good chance that you will succeed.
And why did I ask Alpkit. Well this was down to a number of things:
They did the gear I was after… well you wouldn’t want to be supported by a surf brand if you are a high altitude mountaineer would you!
I like the way they do thing. The brand isn’t one of the old school established brands, they are trying to do something different and be more approachable.
The ethics. This will be slightly different for everyone, I think ethics are quite a personal thing. Alpkit have a foundation that tries to help people from less privileged backgrounds access the outdoors and generally get people out and about. Would I really like to attach my name to a company that hasn’t got any qualms about using sweatshops and live plucked down? No thank you!
If you are looking at getting supported as an adventurer I would suggest that you talk to the brands that you use, you trust and want your name to be associated with. If you are looking at being supported you have to remember you aren’t just representing that brand, but that brand is becoming representing your beliefs. But my biggest bit of advice for anyone who has read this is: just ask them the question.
This week marks 5 years since the tragic death of 1,134 people and a further 2500 injured in the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.
The building contained clothing factories, a bank, apartments, and several shops. The shops and the bank on the lower floors were immediately closed after cracks were discovered in the building. The building’s owners ignored warnings to avoid using the building after cracks had appeared the day before. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day, and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
Thanks to one of the amazing people I follow on Instagram (@sophiehellyer) I discovered that it is also Fashion Revolution week. This year as part of Fashion Revolution (check the Instagram #fashionrevolution) week we, at Adventure Crew, and many others round the world have been asking fashion manufactuers to tell us who makes our clothing (#whomakesmyclothes) and equipment.
Now, the outdoors industry tends to be quite good for taking an ethical stance as many of the customers tend towards the more hippy side of things, don’t try denying it! For example, over the last few years there has been a huge push for humane down rather than some of the brutal methods that had previously been use. So we thought that we would ask the question of a number of companies and see how they responded. I will not give you a list of them all as I don’t want to publicise for those that have not responded to our request, instead I want to tell you my favourite! Paramo really stepped up and told their story and their ethics:
I mean how good is that, they are not just building an amazingly well-respected brand but also a whole community for their workers. Keep up the good work guys!
The reason why we are sharing this is that although many of the companies that we use pay some attention to an ethical supply chain, there is always room for improvements.
We want to encourage change, and we think that you do too, so why not ask your favourite brands #whomakesmyclothes and see what they say. The more of us that ask, the more of a difference we can make. We can’t allow our want for better, lighter and cheaper equipment be at the cost of other people’s misery or even their lives. Incidents like that at Rana Plaza should never happen, and will never happen because of my want of adventure.
The alarm on my phone goes off rudely. We all know what time it is as we groan and roll from our sleeping bags onto Rory’s living room floor. Its 2:30am. It’s an obnoxious time to get up, but we all still had a vibe of excitement coursing through us- we were heading for to the airport and a micro expedition.
There were four of us: Rory , Mairi, a new friend Jen, and me. We had all booked onto the Exped trip to Hardangervidda to undertake a weekend of polar training and adventure. If you have never heard of the place then I should explain. It’s a place of legend in the polar world, having been the training arena for many of the greats including Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton. It’s also the location of the epic World War ll story of The Hero’s of Telemark, and later the filing location of Hoth in Star Wars.
We arrived at the airport at about 04:30hrs, meeting two more of the team: Mark (our guide), and Alex (a fellow adventurer and pilot). We had breakfast and, at about 07:00 boarded the plane to Oslo, where we would meet the last person of our team, Rob, and get a train to Finse. Finse is only reachable by train, and even then, there are only three a day so by the time we got there it was approximately 20:30hrs.
On the station we unloaded and organised the masses of gear onto the pulk sleds, strapped on our skis, and headed out into the gathering night by the light of our head torches. We skied up to, and past one of the legendary Norwegian huts and out into what felt like the beginning of the wilderness. Skiing out onto a large flat plain we found somewhere to make camp, and Mark instructed us on the basic principles of polar base camps.This included burying the edge of the tent to stop wind from getting in, digging out the vestibule to allow us to stand or sit while sorting things out and supply snow for melting. As the vestibule was being dug we hit ice at about a meter and a half. We were camping on a frozen lake! Pretty cool I think (pardon the pun!) at about 23:00hrs Rory, Mairi, Jen and I crawled into our sleeping bag in our cosy four birth tent for our first night as polar explorers.
In the morning we groggily crawled from our beds and Mark, again, showed us how the multifuel stove worked before we boiled up snow for the day. We then broke camp, loading the gear back into the pulks. Strapping on the skis, Rory, Alex and Rob took the pulks for the first shift as they had the most skiing experience, and we set off into the highland plato of Hardangervidda. We all started getting the hang of moving on the flat and not long after the first hill appeared at which point we donned “skins”, strips of fabric that allow you to ski uphill. Alex didn’t have skins for his own skis so I took the sled and we began to move uphill. I had issues with a creaky pivot and the binding on my boot kept getting loose so I quickly fell behind but not too far. You would think that pulling 30-40kg up hill on skis would be hard and not very enjoyable but personally I found it quite fun!
After a while we stopped and had a chat about avalanche risk. I had done this before but its always good to have a recap and potentially learn a new trick or two to keep us safe in the hills. We dug test pits and examined the snow pack. It looked like we should be safe, phew!
We climbed more hills before decending… this turned out to be far more difficult than we had anticipated.The better skiers took the pulks. Rory went first, and kartwheeled down the hill before finally making it down. Alex snapped not one, but two poles before releasing the pulk to run by itself down the slope. He now was having trouble balancing without poles. Rob had a huge crash, we all worried that he may have been injured. Then we heard his laughter, he was fine. We decided that it was easiest to straight line down the hill, which Rob did. I retrieved the loose sled and tried to cut across the slope, but it was top heavy and kept tipping over so. With no little apprehension, I straight lined down the remainder of the hill working to make my slower, wider skies go to the same speed as the pulk which was nearly side-by-side with me. I think we all learned a valuable lesson… avoid steep hills!
We skied on for a while chatting away and came across two skiers who informed us about a veritable palace of an ice hole, we couldn’t resist but go explore! The place was huge! It must have been able to sleep 30 people in nine rooms. We had a look around marvelling at the acoustics and the light within the place. It was breath taking.
After the ice palace we made our way back to the lake and set up camp, quicker and more efficiently than the night before. After our rehydrated dinner we were back on small, local hills to get more comfortable on cross country skis going downhill. The sun setting in the background was beautiful. To be honest this place was possibly one of my favourite places that I have been. After a few hours of sunset and night skiing, we all curled up in our sleeping bags for a slightly chilly night sleep.
Morning came and it was time to break camp and make our way back to the train and to repack our bags and pulks for the long journey back.
At Oslo train station we took the opportunity to have a look round the Opera house before Jen and I explored the docks and had a beer. After that it was back to hauling skis and pulks through the city to the airport. We arrived back in Manchester at midnight, the end of possibly one of the best weekend adventures I have ever had!
I have just recently been in the Austrian Alps for a ski trip with some friends. I haven’t skied much. The last (and first) proper ski trip I went on I ended up nursing a concussion and three broken ribs within the first hour. Not the ideal introduction to the sport! As you can imagine, this has left me with an unhealthy dose of ski related fear. I don’t like slopes that are steep, even though I would happily run down them even without two planks of wood strapped to my feet; I am not keen on going fast, it seems I have a natural block at 30mph; I don’t like hard surfaces, which makes the early runs of the day on the groomed slopes interesting; and I don’t like soft surfaces because they make it harder to control your skis… To put it simply, I’m scared of skiing, even though I enjoy it.
On my return I have had a few chats with people about fear and adventure. In fact it seems a fairly common topic, especially for people who have done bigger trips. One of the questions everyone asks is “aren’t you scared” sometimes with a qualifier of “being attacked” or some other imagined danger. Personally, I have two stock answers to this “why would I let that stop me?” or “scared, of what?” it depends on my mood, what I am doing, and where I am.
If you were to talk to my family and ask if I fear anything they would laugh at you. As a child I feared any animal smaller than a rabbit, or bigger. And I was scared of rabbits. I was frightened of the sight of blood; of the dark, and pretty much anything else. As you can see I was pretty much scared of everything. I outgrew most of my fears, some of them I have just mitigated. Others I just try to meet head on, such as a fear of exposures.
I have sat and considered what fear is, sometimes while on a climb, dangling in mid-air by some tiny bits of metal and fabric, and at others peering down a red run thinking what the hell am I doing. I have come to the conclusion that there are many different types but if you boil it down there are only two: Evolutionary and Social.
Evolutionary fear is such things as our fear of heights, fire, big animals and the such. It’s a response to a potentially dangerous situation that could result in injury or death. On adventures we experience these regularly, be it a field of cows (on average 2 people a year are killed by cows and many more are injured, so it’s healthy to be cautious around them) or clinging on by your fingertips from an overhanging, run out six pitch climb one hundred metres of the ground. With sports such as climbing, controlling your fear of falling is half of the game. To me, evolutionary fears are deeply logical, they keep us safe and can be managed either by avoiding them completely or by knowing that the precautions that you have put in place will be good enough for what you are doing. Skiing, to an extent, falls into this category. After all I ended up injured. But with more experience and some more training, I am learning how to reduce the risks and reduce the level of fear. I ended up on red runs for the first time, and by the end of the trip I regained my confidence at this level.
Social fears are those things we have been taught to fear. For example, when cycling across Canada I was asked continually if I was scared of being attacked by people, or of my bike being stolen (I would have liked to see someone try the latter!) I know of other people, normally female, getting told they should be carrying protection even in relatively safe countries. To me these fears are completely illogical, I can only think of a few adventurers who have ever had problems while out there doing some truly amazing things (the late Emma Kelty being a prime example). If we consider that the huge increase in adventurers over the last 30 years, this is quite staggering. For me, the fear of being attacked is non-existent, the places we go on adventures are normally remote, the people that we meet would rather help us than hinder us and at most are indifferent. Yes, we have to consider the places we go, some social fear is healthy. After all there is a reason we have been taught that active war zones are probably best avoided.
Fear isn’t something that adventurous folk don’t have, we just attempt to understand certain aspects of it, and try our darnedest to control it. There is nothing worse than freaking out in a potentially dangerous situation. To me it’s more dangerous not to feel the fear, it normally indicates that someone may not completely understand a dangerous situation, and this can put not only themselves but others into harm’s way.
I recently applied for a job for an outdoors magazine, which I didn’t get, and one of the things that they requested is a brief description of what your perfect day in the mountains would be. Oddly this isn’t something that I have ever really considered, I enjoy so many aspects of the outdoors that I have never contemplated what I would class as perfect. Having sat down and had a think about it I decided that I would share my perfect day with you.
The day would probably start early, and I would probably be moaning being tired, cold and the dark. Me and a group of friends would be starting out in the dark up a hill, maybe in Scotland, with full mountaineering gear… I would probably be complaining at the weight of the bag! There would be the excitement of a full day in the crisp white snow and the challenges that lay ahead.
On the way up the snowy flank of the hill there would be that beautiful sunrise you only get in the brutal cold of winter, where the ice crystals in the air refract the sun into breath taking colours. As a blue bird clear day breaks we would be ascending a broad, snowy, gully. I find a perverse delight in kicking in steps as you slowly work up a 30⁰ or more slope.
From here there would be a rocky ridge line, heady exposure and immense views across a valley before summitting onto a windless summit where a spot of lunch and a lovely warm cup of tea would be quickly consumed before heading on.
The decent from here would be easy and on a slope that I could play about and practice some of the skills I have picked up over the last few years.
After the decent I would want to be able to walk straight into a pub with a hot fire, tasty food and a pint of beer while savouring the satisfying afterglow of a fun and exciting day in the snow. Who could ask for more!
What is your idea of the perfect day in the hills?
Like the rest of the world I have a presence on social media, and draw a lot of inspiration from the people I follow and their stories and pictures. Here are a few of my favourites at the moment from Instagram.
I have been following Alastair for a while now and I love seeing his photo’s and tales of his, sometimes quirky, adventures and his passion for getting more people outdoors by doing Micro Adventures. Alastair was also named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year back in 2012 and has undertaking some truly amazing and unusual challenges.
Always out and about and disobeying the doctors to rest her injuries Kate’s stories are hilarious and frank. She gives a great insight into how most adventurers struggle to balance working, social life, maintaining fitness and adventuring. She is also a bit of a Nelson geek having even taken to the seat on Mastermind specialising in “the Life and Career of Lord Nelson”!
I was lucky enough to do the winter mountaineering course with the guys a few years ago and followed them ever since. As one of the top outdoors training centres in the UK they consistently put up photo’s that make me think “ooo I would love to do that!” and at some point I will go back!
Who can beat the truly awe-inspiring landscapes of Iceland? These guys share some of the best that I have seen. This page has encouraged me to plan my next adventure and even given me some of my ideas of places to go on-route.
I have had a hell of a lot of ups and downs both physically and emotionally over the last year! As the year draws to a close I think it’s a great time to look back and take stock and see what I can learn.
The year started with me being injured and this has been a recurrent theme, I broke 3 ribs on the first day of a ski trip in addition to my on going ankle saga. I am really not very good at being injured…
Once this was healed I was back in to the mountains swinging the ice axes in Scotland… Except the ices axes weren’t really needed! On this trip I met some new folk who have helped keep me inspired with their stories and plans.
Next up was the big on… Canada… The cycling was tough but well worth the tears and pain. A particularly highlight being the ice fields in the rockies and the amazing people I met along the way, who I will be forever thankful for after all they made it so special!
My return was bitter sweet, it was great to see everyone but I was an emotional mess. You can read about the post adventure blues but you really can’t understand it till you have been there. The people around you are the main thing that helps.
I got a few short trips out but again injuries were present, first my ankle playing up, but then for some unknown reason to finish of my ribs played up…
As you can see it’s been a year of ups and downs but there has been one main thing that I have learned… And it often seems that I forget this one… It’s people that make it worth while, meeting new and interesting people, and having fun with those you already know. They all inspire you, even those that you enviably loose contact with.
Thank you for joining me on my adventures over the last year and for inspiring me, I hope that you will all be there to join me in 2018, and hopefully it will be even better!
I have been back from Canada for a while now and I am slowly recovering, my physio has said I no longer need to go but to keep up the exercises and to increase my running slower than I normally would; the bug I picked up on my return has gone (although I fear another one is on its way). But I am struggling with one main thing: the post adventure blues.
We all know what it’s like, you go on holiday and when you come back everything is a bit “meh”. Now think of a six-month trip where you have been experiencing so much and your body has been producing huge quantities of Serotonin and Endorphins… It’s hard…My plan was to come back and keep active unfortunately I was struggling to walk on my return so I couldn’t really do much.
I admit that I am struggling, I just generally don’t have much motivation and it feels like everything is stuck in a loop. I feel like I have been put in a cage and the door has been locked behind me. A brief respite comes when I can get away for a weekend but with paying off the adventure and only having had one pay-day this isn’t easy.
I thought I would share a couple of tips for how I have managed to get past some of the blues:
1 – Keep Active
Although I have been injured I have still managed to keep some form of activity going; short runs (I’m not allowed to do more than 4 miles at the sec), cycling etc. Be careful what you do though and be kind to yourself, I haven’t been able to climb particularly well and my head-game is weak but I try to concentrate on the social aspect while trying to build strength and confidence again.
Photo credit: Dan Milton
2 – Get Planning
I have found this amazingly helpful, be it a short weekend adventure on the coast or a big trip to a 8000m summit just start thinking of all the exciting thing that you want to go and plan one of them. I hope to be able to announce my plans soon!
Photo credit: Claire Turton
3 – Don’t forget: Excitement of the trip
Don’t forget what was great about the trip, print your favourite photo’s or write about your experiences in a blog or a book. Just remember not to dwell on it too long otherwise you may become one of those people with only a handful of anecdotes that you keep telling for the rest of your life, you know the ones…
4 – Don’t Forget: Excitement of your return
Don’t forget the people you were so excited about seeing on your return, they will help a lot! Tell them your stories over a cup of coffee or just go watch a film. Just being round people will help you, for me it was meeting up with the Adventure Crew at Kendal Mountain Festival and just being around friends and family.
5 – Change something
This was my biggest mistake. I have just slipped back into the life I left when I went on my adventure but I am not quite the same person, I should have changed something; my job, my habits… something… anything. It would have helped.
Well that’s my thoughts, I am sure there are many other ideas on getting through the blues, why not let me know in the comments below.
I have now got a bit of time to catch up with updating you lovely folk! How time has flown since my last post!
St Andrew to St John (16th September 2017)
The day started well if a touch foggy, my day of in St Andrews had left me feeling refreshed for the first time in ages! The plan is simple for today, leave St Andrews and get to St John. I had hoped that there would be a costal rout that would follow the Bay of Fundy but unfortunately there wasn’t, all the roads just loops off of the highway and would have added huge amounts of distance that I unfortunately don’t have the time to do.
The day has been relatively hilly, none of them that big but the road was continuously rising and falling. The fifty metres here and there all add up on a touring bike and by the end of my 105km day I had covered approximately 1200m of accent. I find this quite entertaining as a lot of the cyclists that I have chatted to have said they rarely do above 1000m… that seems almost a daily occurrence for me!
All day I followed the highway, stopping for lunch at a service station (Subways again!) but mostly my concentration was just on staying safe on the road. St John is a small city so staying true to form it took me about 10 seconds to get lost, why can I not navigate cities!
St John to Sussex (17th September 2017)
Today starts with a cycle along the river, I can’t get lost following a river right?? Anyway as I was going through I happened to stop for a sec and some other tourists started to chat to me and informed me that the tidal bore would happen in the next 20mins or so, I thought I might as well stay and watch! Just so happens that 10 mins later some more cycle tourers came up and we had a good old natter and watched the bore.
The bore at St John happens every day and is caused by the tides in the Bay of Fundy, which are the biggest in the world. Todays tide was only supposed to be average at a “mere” 17m!!!! Today there was even someone surfing the muddy waters.
As I headed on I found a route that would avoid the main highway but it also meant that there was no shoulder to keep me separated from the traffic and the surface isn’t so well maintained, but worse than that my legs feel tired, what is going on?? I haven’t changed my fuelling, I haven’t added any weight to the bike, everything on the bike is working smoothly but for some reason my body feels like it has no juice, I don’t get it!
The first 40km of the day was through suburban sprawl or small towns with very little to note. After that I broke into a gently rolling countryside which was quite pretty. I happened across to cyclists who advised me that I “MUST” stay at the Amsterdam hotel in Sussex, my destination for the day, so I did. It was nice enough but not that dissimilar to an other hotel.
Sussex to Moncton (18th September 2017)
Ok… the hot breakfast was much appreciated but I am really starting to look forward to a proper British pork sausage!
Body is feeling just as tired, have I got a bug or something? It would have been a first on this trip… Its another shortish day today at 80km to Moncton, I think I may have a rest there.
About 20km into the ride my gear cable tension went, just like that… while going up hill… this nearly spilled me of the bike as I suddenly went from the second lowest gear to a mid-ranged gear which was far too hard for the hill, thankfully I was travelling slow and don’t wear clips! The next 10mins were spent adjusting gears to get me through the day. This is the first roadside repairs I have had to do, pretty good really considering the conditions and the distance I have travelled.
After this was done I continued the plod through the rolling landscape until I hit the suburban sprawl again, this time I didn’t get lost as I went into a city, its a frustrating game to be honest!
Moncton (19th September 2017)
I decided to rest up and put the bike in a shop, apparently all is good apart from the alignment of the gears being slightly out, also I have a minor bend in the rear axil but its not binding or causing any issues so he advised I leave it as is… I am dubious but he is the expert… lets see how that goes!
Moncton to Borden (20th September 2017)
Still tired, I have no idea whats happened to me. I was planning on following a back route today but as I turned down the road (well I was actually a few km down the road) a local drove to catch up with me and let me know that the road was unpassable ahead and my only option was to continue north for another 15km and join the highway. Great….
As I turned onto the highway I was a tad concerned as it was a big junction and quite busy but after a few kilometres the road quietened and actually the riding was quite good and vaguely flat but I was starting to get hungry. A quick Google search revealed that I wasn’t too far from a Timmies so I took the opportunity and took the detour. Timmies is definitely worth a few km!
After lunch it was back to the highway heading towards The Confederation Bridge, I decided to try and figure a way to follow the coast to the bridge but unfortunately as ever the road keeps away from coast, BOOOOOOO!
Unfortunately you cant cycle across the bridge but there is a shuttle service that takes bikes, as I pulled up at the stop the shuttle turned up. Apparently they had seen me turning up as they were leaving and were kind enough to come back for me, how nice is that!
The trip across the bridge took about 20 mins, this was mainly spent chatting to a fellow cycle tourist, Chris. He was going further north on Prince Edward Island but we would cycle the couple of Km to my spot together.
Borden to Charlottetown (21st September 2017)
It was back on the trails today and heading towards Charlottetown, the capital of PEI. The trail, as with most that I have travelled on, is an old railway line. This means that there is never a hill of more than 3%… but the 3% can drag on forever, or that’s how it felt today. The surface was also loose so made going harder.
At about 12 I took a break and made my wraps (great food on the bike!) and Chris caught up with me again and the rest of the ride into Charlottetown was with him.
Both Chris and I were both staying at the hostel in town as was another cyclist that Chris had met a few days earlier so we all went to one of the breweries for a beer.
Charlottetown to New Glasgow (22nd September 2017)
I started a bit late today but had to get to the ferry for 12:00 hours to get back from the mainland. This meant pushing relatively hard on the main roads, it was tough going but I made it and after about 20mins I was on the ferry and crossing back to the main land and stuffing my face with some food.
As I start up again my right knee started to hurt, I thought it would wear off but after a few km it had started to get worse. I found a hotel on the outskirts of New Glasgow and spent most the rest of the night icing my knee.
New Glasgow to Halifax Airport (23rd September 2017)
From New Glasgow to Halifax is 145km. The question is do I push and see if I can make that in a single day or do I split it in to two…. The knee feels slightly better but still not good so I decided just to see how it goes.
I had a choice of routes today, either get on the main highway and blast it down to Halifax amongst the traffic or take the rural route… ok there was no choice, who wants to be in the traffic!
I headed out from New Glasgow and through the West Ville to get back into the countryside, round here it is pretty wooded and undulating, not necessarily the most thrilling area to cycle but I am slightly worried about time to get things sorted at Halifax so needs must.
For what seemed like hours I cycled through what seems to be endless woodland, I seem to have been cycling in similar terrain for months now but I am sure it can’t have been that long… can it? At about 13:00hrs I got to the turning onto the 336 and was surprised to find what appeared to be a running race martial, apparently there was a local 10km run going on, so I stopped and supported the last few before turning off and beginning to climb what the locals refer to as a mountain, its not but its about 3% so not flat by any extent. I followed this till a tiny place called Dean where I stopped at a shop and got some food for lunch.
As I started off again my knee began to hurt, it seems that any time I rest it flairs up and I have only covered 60km of the 140km to Halifax, I guessed that would mean it would be two days after all. I continued on and re-joined the 357. My knee was quite sore and needed to be iced so I continued passed the provincial parks and made my way towards the nearest hotel which was at Halifax airport, this was still about 50km of when I decided this was the best option so I ploughed on, the pain in my knee never receding but not seeming to get worse.
As I got closer to the airport I began to suffer more as I had been paying so much attention to my knee that I hadn’t been taking on enough food and water. By the time I got to the hotel I was a tired sweaty mess. I checked in and after telling my story got upgraded to a room with a hot-tub for no extra cost so I ended up having a night of near luxury while applying ice to my knee regularly… it had still been a long day as I had covered 125km. Only about 15-20km to go tomorrow to finish my journey.
Halifax Airport to Halifax (24th September 2017)
I didn’t want to get up. The bed was warm and I was tired, knowing I only 15km to go wasn’t helping… Well I thought it was 15km to go….
I set off from the hotel at about 10am after a large breakfast. The route I chose again keeps me away from the main road… well it was supposed to…. turns out the road is a barricaded private road, and even if I could get past the barricades the road was so broken that I didn’t much fancy riding it! So I had to go onto the main roads.
The main road was busy… busier than nearly every road I have been on! I didn’t feel safe, there was no shoulder so I was on the gravel. To be honest I am not sure I was even allowed on this stretch of road so I got off at the next junction with a HUGE sigh of relief.
Once off the main road I worked my way past some beautiful little lakes and entred the city by the back roads…. and promptly got lost. To be quite honest I had no idea exactly where I was going to finish the ride so I had a look at the map and settled on Point Pleasant Park at the very east of the town. Slowly, with the use of google, I got to a fort mounted on top on a hill thinking that it may give a good view over the town, and I am sure it did before the woods had grown around it! So I worked my way to the coast and decided that this was as good as any other place as any to finish… I had done it… 8500km of cycling across Canada, the second largest country in the word.
I have to say a big thanks to everyone friends and family for your encouragement and to Alpkit for supplying some of my equipment and a massive thanks to all the wonderful people that I met on the trip, its you guys that made it so awesome!
I am feeling worn and tired. Sorry for the delayed update, pics will follow ASAP
Quebec to Buie St Paul (3rd Sept 2017)
I decided to follow the Trans Canadian trail out of town (via the nearest Timmies). The trail follows the north shore of the St Lawrence which at this point is tidal and beginning to widen in to the delta.
Following the trail led onto country roads leading through small villages that had an Alpine kind of feel, I followed the low route for the tail only to find that not only did the trail stop but the path through Reserve Nationale Faune du cap-Torment is a non-bike path! So I had to back track and rejoin the main road… this proved interesting…. the quickest route took me straight up a huge hill gaining approximately 500m in 5km, and to make it even more fun my gears decided this moment to decide that I hadn’t tinkered with them enough lately so I lost not only granny gear but my second lowest too, I couldn’t actually make any headway so ended up walking the bike up. Not a happy bunny and I may have said one or two words about the Trans Canada Trail (I think I may write a review of the trail and pass it on to them too).
For the next 30km I gradually worked my up more hills, not a steep but without the climbing gears I was really struggling! Thankfully the last 20km was down hill but my legs were done, I had done 110km with 1200m of accent averaging 18kph. I would class this as a tough day.
That evening I stayed in a motel again. Buie St Paul comes across as a nice town and for some reason feels a bit like a small skiing town, not sure if it is though!
Buie St Paul to Saint-Irenee (4th Sept 2017)
God my legs are tired! And its going to be another tough day. I planned a short day and hope that my legs would feel better after the first few km… that was before I realised the first 7km had 300+m of accent. This was going to be a grind fest but luckily I had sorted the gears on my bike and the views were quite impressive.
Even with the views and the working gears I only managed 33km, and in that there was 700m of assent. I was destroyed. I need a rest day.
Saint-Irenee (5th Sept 2017)
My legs are burned out from the hills over the last few days, I had a wander down the beach and a look round the village but otherwise rested up. Can’t believe that after the amount of time I have been on the bike I can still burn out like this!
Saint-Irenee to Saint Simeon (6th Sept 2017)
A day off had helped the legs a bit, the first climb out of town (600m from where I stayed) was 17%… this didn’t help my legs. and this was the way the day went, up and down for the 49km to Saint Simeon. I didn’t see much of the scenery as I was struggling so much on the hills, each one being above 10%. The weather has also turned colder so on the downhills I am starting to get chilly, my motivation is defiantly getting low as and I must say as I go into the last 1000km of the trip this doesn’t seem to help, after all its just round the corner now.
Just a small one.
Saint Simeon to Rivier-du-Loup (7th Sept)
Very short day today, I crossed the St Lawrence by ferry but I didn’t fancy playing in the mist and drizzle so help up at a motel.
Rivier-du-Loup to Simeon to near Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! (8th Sept 2017)
I’m still struggling, I just don’t fancy riding any more but I have distance that I must make, the day is chilly and some fog still left over. I am back to wearing sleeves.
I re-joined the trail and followed it south east, the trail tended to have a great surface of fine gravel over some kind of hard-pack meaning that the going was quite easy but the general gradient was up all day with a total accent of 550m, not too tough but noticeable. Although these trails are good and keep you away from the traffic, I must admit that the scenery doesn’t seem to alter much, its trees and some swampy areas and that’s about it, also they tend to follow the roads in the area and when my legs start to get tired I really do begin to wonder if I should have been on the roads, the riding would be easier and I would probably make better time…
Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! to Edmundston (9th Sept 2017)
First place I passed today was the entertainingly named town of Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha!, apparently named for the fact that people make that noise when they come to a boundary or obstacle…
At about midday the weather started to look like it was turning and not long after the heavens opened, luckily these trails are really well maintained and have rest stops where the old stations on the rail line used to be, this is a distance of about 10km between them, and I managed to get to one just before the torrent started. I ended up sat in the shelter watching the rain blow across the lakes for nearly an hour before it cleared up and blue skies came out. As would be expected the trail was a tad damp and made for some interesting riding for a while.
At about 60km I crossed over from Quebec to New Brunswick and, for once at a Canadian provincial border, nothing seemed any different.
About 20km later I arrived grimy and covered in grit from the trail, I checked into a motel, had a shower and collapsed onto the bed. I just feel tired all the time at the second yet don’t seem to get a good nights sleep! After a nap I headed out scavenging for food and ended up at the old faithful Boston Pizza.
Edmundston (10th Sept 2017)
I only managed to get a few hours sleep last night as the neighbours were coming and going at all hours so I decided to have another rest day and ended up sleeping most of it, what a waste but I obviously needed I just hope I can sleep later!
Edmunston to Perth-Andover (11th Sept 2017)
I started the morning with a smile at Timmies this morning before heading back onto the trails, they had started to get rougher as I followed the St John River, its also funny to think that just over this stretch of river lies the US, there is nothing separating them apart from a 20m wide stretch of slow moving water.
It was another uneventful day on the trails, a brief stop at Grand Fall which is not so grand due to the damn they have built at the top of the falls, to talk to the tourist information about potential routes and a spot of lunch before heading back onto the trail. For a tiring but uneventful conclusion to the day in Perth-Andover
I needed to do some bike maintenance tonight as the gears aren’t working properly again, I have a feeling the rear cassette and the derailleur may both be wearing out but I will nurse them through as far as I can, its not long till the finish line now.
Perth-Andover to Hartland (12th Sept 2017)
I have to say the trails have started to get tougher, they seem to be less maintained and more broken, in fact I am beginning to worry about what it might be doing to bits of the bike and to me. My hands lost feeling in them after about an hour and a half riding and I am starting to just feel battered.
The trail was pretty much the same as before and I was getting bored so had a short 60km day, I know tomorrow will be a long one so time to rest up and get as much energy in me as possible.
Hartland to McAdam (13th Sept 2017)
I am moving slightly away from the river now too which means that there are more hills, none too bid but with the gravel under tire its not easy getting Eve to move up them. I have been using the lower gear ranges more and more, just as well I fixed them!
As today wore on I just got more and more tired so found the quickest way of the trails and onto the road…. it turns out that the main road round this are is gravel and in about as bad condition as the trial, I am really feeling battered and I am getting chafe for the first time in months due to the broken surface!
I got to the town of McAdam at about 6pm and headed for a motel, I needed a shower and a bed… the motel had closed…. There was a b&b…. I couldn’t get hold of them by phone or by knocking…. so I headed for the campsite and they were kind enough to give me a free night as I looked in such a sorry state and they were amazed by what I am doing. If I have learned anything on this trip it is the more sorry for yourself you appear and the more crazy you sound, the more people will look after you. It’s enough to restore your faith in humanity. Now time to put some cream on my sore bum, eat a freeze dried meal and get some sleep.
McAdam to St Andrews (14th Sept 2017)
My bum is feeling a bit better but am tired as I only got about 3hrs sleep as my imagination was working overtime, every little noise last night I was sure was a bear… the campsite was in a wood so there was a frigging lot of noises.
The day started ok, my legs were tired but I could deal with that, the road was good apart from a couple of stretches of roadworks but nothing to worry about, but as the day went on the thing that hurts me most happened, the temperature increased and reached 28 degrees centigrade, I don’t deal well in the heat, it saps all my energy. I drank over 3ltrs of water in the 4hrs ride (a lot for me) and was wanting more. It was taking everything out of me and was starting to make me feel unwell. If it wasn’t for this the ride would have been beautiful, especially the last 20km going onto the peninsular of land St Andrews is situated on, the hills overlooking the bay and out to the Bay of Fundy. I was quite looking forward to getting to town… mainly to recover and rest.
St Andrews (15th Sept 2017)
I have spent the day exploring the town and went on a whale watching tour on a tall ship! I had the pleasure of watching grey seals basking on rocks in the Bay of Fund. Also saw harbour porpoise, minkie whales and even a few finback whales, which are the second biggest creature in the world and it was probably only 30m from the boat!
I like this town, its pretty, the people are nice and the food is good. I am feeling contented, just a shame I cant stay longer!