Day 73 – Fredericton to Coles Island, and another reunion!

Day 73 – In which I somehow managed to meet up, again, with the Calgary Two, aka Kaitlin and Naheer!

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 
  • Time in saddle: 
  • Max/min temp (°c): °/°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 
  • Calories used: 
  • Cafe time: 

Sorry Stats fans – I’ve walked all the way up to the camp office but left my stats-maker behind. Let’s call it 100km, a few hours, pretty warm, pretty flat, average calories, quite a long coffee stop, ok?

    • I sat in the hotel lobby this morning doing some route-checking, and the guy sitting opposite me was on the phone and having no luck at all in finding a rental car for his week working in Fredericton. He was getting more and more annoyed about it (I’ve had to tone this conversation down by about 95%). He was looking straight at me as he spoke, which was a bit disturbing:

      “I just need to rent a car, one car, all I want is one miserable car. What’s wrong with this place?”

      (I was about to sympathise but I then realised that he was talking to someone, not sharing his problem with me)

      “No, I need it today. Yes, I-need-the-car-to-day, of course I do, …….wait, is your name Phillip? ….Man, I already spoke to you, about two hours ago!”

      Then, as I got on my bike outside the main entrance, a couple got out of a taxi. The guy proceeded to give me a running commentary on everything he saw (I should mention that I was wearing my ‘Republic Dutch’ cycle shirt , from a shop in Utrecht owned by a guy I know, Amyn, not FotB Amyn):

      “Oh, endurance eh? Cycling, right….wait, what’s Republican Dutch? He’s a Republican, but he’s Dutch!” (snigger snigger)

      At this point I decided to be a non-English-speaking Dutch cyclist, and pretended I had no idea what he was talking about.

      My plan today was pretty simple – a lazy breakfast at my motel, which I had booked online for a bargain (and included free breakfast) :

      (I know what you’re thinking, where’s the coffee? Don’t worry, I was holding it in my other hand, panic over. Interesting Melatonin article in today’s Fredericton Gleaner, who’s offices are next door to the hotel, although one thing I don’t need at the moment is help sleeping)

      …followed by some shopping for essentials in what Susie always calls Shruggers Drop Mart, and then cycling 100km or so to the only campground spot between Fredericton and the next campground along in Moncton, which would be a mega-ride. I’m no longer in the market for mega-rides, and prioritise a nice early finish that gives me plenty of time to enjoy the great weather and to relax at the campground before an earlyish night and an episode or two of the series I’ve downloaded on Amazon, Patriot. Previously, it was Goliath (which I highly recommend. Patriot is a bit more so-so, or “Meh”, as my kids say).

      Anyway, that’s pretty much how the day turned out, with one very notable and welcome surprise. As I pulled in to my 50km first stop of the day, I heard a familiar voice shout out “Ben!”, and there at the picnic table were Naheer and Kaitlin, enjoying their coffee and cookies in the sun. It was so good to see them again in such an unexpected spot. We sat drinking a few more coffees together and talking at length about how we’ve been doing on our different trips, physically and, more interestingly, psychologically. We found that we had reacted to these later sages of the mammoth journey in a similar way; despite being fitter and stronger from all the riding, and able to cover big distances if needed, we prefer not to push ourselves over into any kind of red zone, and to get as much pleasure as possible out of each day. We thought that perhaps we felt we’ve proved something to ourselves by just getting this far, and that the pay-off is to try to make life as easy as possible, given the circumstances.

      The next 50km (sorry Kaitlin, 47km. Kaitlin is incredibly good at research before each day on the road, and remembers distances and campground locations like a proper tour guide) were spent cycling in the sun with a beautiful (no other word for it) tail wind and sharing stories and plans from our journeys.

      Whilst we were talking a thought suddenly occurred to me.

      “Do you ever bump into any other cyclists you’ve met like this?” They said they never did. “And do you find that you only hear about other riders having been where you have, but never see them?” They said that they found exactly the same thing. “Have you seen the Sixth Sense?”. I’d said before that I thought possibly the phantom cyclists we never met were just that, phantom spectres, but what if……what if we were the phantoms, and only saw each other? What if we were destined to travel the continent in perpetuity, only going from West to East (like the cyclist in Jacob’s day in the Prairies running my Blog – “Hopesack to Manatee Island”) and only ever meeting each other? We’d be the last to know. Can someone please confirm that I do exist? It’s been a while out here, you know.

      We celebrated our mutual haunting by having a beer together at the lovely campground, the alarmingly named T.N.T Campground (Tents and Trailers). But not just any beer. As usual the office didn’t sell beer. I asked the woman on the desk, who turned out to be the owner’s daughter, if she knew anyone who could sell us a beer. “Hmmm – I can speak to my Dad” And low and behold, shortly afterwards we were greeted from a large white pickup truck by Dave, brandishing four ice cold beers which were the kindest gift that you could ever give a hot cyclist. Kaitlin has proposed a project where we buy lots of beers, put them in a cooler in a van, and drive around nice campgrounds in Canada handing them out to cyclists. I think that there are worse things you could do with your time.

      Talking of which….I’ve promised FotB David Candlin, currently in the depths of Africa, in Cameroon, at least a lifetime’s supply of Minstrels for his fabulous response to my “How many trees are there in Canada?” question yesterday. With no more ado, here’s David’s whole comment in full:

      “OK, I can’t resist your question yesterday about the number of trees in Canada – it’s the kind of question you get thrown at you in management consulting interviews to test logic!

      Canada’s total area is about 10million sq km. Based on your blog, I’m going to assume that 50% is prairie, 25% is high mountain, 20% is forest, 8% is water and 2% is urban/roads etc.

      Some more heroic assumptions – there are no trees on the prairie (approximately true), in the high mountains there are few trees (say 100m apart – so 100 per sq km), ditto urban areas. Most of the trees are in the forested areas; say they are equally spaced 10m apart throughout the forest (10,000 per sq km). There are no trees in the water.

      With these assumptions, we get 20m trees in urban areas, 200m trees in the mountains, and a whopping 20bn trees in the forested areas.

      The rest of the interview is spent ripping the answer to shreds!”

      I regret now that I mentioned the lack of bees, and particularly wasps, in yesterday’s blog. The wasp guys obviously heard about it, checked on my blog where I was likely to be tonight, and made a bee-line (ha!) for it. There’s one on my wrist right now. Hang on. Missed it.

      Little story for you – I recently sat next to Duncan Riddel, who was guest leading his old orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Hi BSO, if anyone’s still out there. I heard your prom was great!) We were playing the Wasps Overture, by Vaughan-Williams, which starts with a loud unison octave note on the violins. He turned to me, as the rehearsal briefly stopped almost immediately, and said, typically deadpan, “It’s called the Wasps Overture, but it starts with a B”. If anyone hears me make that gag, you’ve rumbled me. When someone said to Oscar Wilde “I wish I’d said that!”, he replied “You will”

      I also realised as I cycled the first stretch this morning that I was due a day off tomorrow, and I gladly accept the offer. This campground is right by a river, spacious and peaceful, and I’m going to be doing a lot of absolutely nothing here for the next 36 hours or so. The Calgary Two push on to Moncton, but my psychic sense tells me we shall meet again.

      Today’s sign is:

      I always get my hopes up when I see this, but they’re always dashed. I can see that there’ll be fuel, there will be the chance to hold a small jar in your hand, some Minstrels, a campground, a bed and breakfast, but always a mystery service, “?”. What will it be? But it’s always the same, tourist info. Life can be so disappointing.

      23 thoughts on “Day 73 – Fredericton to Coles Island, and another reunion!

      1. Hi Ben, Gill and I are just back from a week on Lasqueti, a very small island off the BC coast, where we stayed with friends in their cabin by the sea, far from civilisation. Too bad you couldn’t have been with us – it was essential West Coast; barbecues, untouched forest, swimming with seals!
        Now that we are home, I have been binge-reading your blog entries with great pleasure. Can’t believe you are already at Fredericton – bravo! Getting the maximum pleasure from each day is a very good philosophy – and your mileage speaks for itself.

        Good luck for the last leg of your journey.

        Cheers, Stewart.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks stewart. I’m currently enjoying a day off at my beautiful Campground, first one not in a city for ages. Shame I don’t play golf – I just walked across the 3rd to the office. Any pics of you two swimming w seals? Sounds wonderful. Greetings from a very chilled-out camper. Bx


      2. Just woken in the early hours , hardly light yet, to find your blog.It must have woken me up, and might help to prove your existence. Your description of the later stages of your mammoth journey sounds a bit like a metaphor for old age! Here’s to it!xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I thought your stats today were a bit ‘meh’ 😉

        Re your existential crisis, a quote from The Incredibles (possibly the greatest film ever) springs to mind:

        Syndrome to Mr. Incredible: “Oh, I’m real all right. Real enough to defeat YOU!”

        I hope that’s helpful.

        Sambambalam x

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Correction: Clearly the water should be 3% to make the percentages add to 100. Doesn’t change the answer! Back in the UK now – 10 degrees cooler than Cameroon but almost as wet.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Just watched FOTBOB John Mills leading the JW Orchestra in Oklahoma, well done John! Dad, some of the numbers clearly relate to your life on the road:
        Time for a third breakfast? “I Cain’t Say No”
        Getting really lost: “Kansas City”
        You and mum: “People Will Say We’re In Love”
        Maybe you could just forget about Newfoundland? “All Er Nuthin”
        Getting even more lost: “Oklahoma OK!”
        Get back on your bike! “Surrey With A Fringe On Top”
        Waking up at 5am for another 100 miles of badlands: “Oh What A Beautiful Morning”
        Imagining your enemies hanging themselves (not sure if you do this but anyway): “Poor Jud Is Dead”

        Glad you met your mates again, must be a nice feeling!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! Wish I’d seen the prom. Inspirational Jake, thanks! I forgot to ask you what the ‘OB’ stands for?
          I did actually leave some boxer shorts behind in Quebec – “How I lost my bloomers – rumours!” And when I stop cycling I’ve usually “gone about as far as they can go”. And every day, over and over and over again, I think that “all the sounds of the earth are like music”. Dx


        2. Cheers Jacob, shame I didn’t make it to the gig!

          Ben, I can help. Next campsite you cycle into, if nobody says ‘I smell dead people’ then you can safely assume you’re a ghost. Simples.

          Liked by 1 person

      6. Ben,
        Glad to see the adventure continues. I hope all future honks are from Geese. Question ?How do we donate in Canadian dollars.? Miss the stats.

        Liked by 1 person

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