Day 86 – Today was the last journey I’ll make on the Canadian mainland. Tomorrow evening I board the ferry for a sixteen-hour crossing of the Bay of St Lawrence, out to my final Province, Newfoundland.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): /50
- Time in saddle: 2h
- Max/min temp (°c): 35°/28°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 812 / 732
- Calories used:
- Cafe time: 3h !
After a coffee at the tent this morning I cycled back out onto the island (tents aren’t allowed on the treasured island, only trailers), to my swimming spot yesterday to send emails and so on before leaving. The lake was stunning in the morning light:
A very large and apparently ownerless dog came jogging along as I sat at the picnic table. He was a bloodhound, that most saggy-jowled of dogs. I have always had an aversion to being close to very slobbery dogs. You just know what’s going to happen, and it usually does. This merry soul wobbled happily over to me, I went to stroke him but withdrew on seeing the great dangling goo hanging off his jaw (sorry, squeamish-types, this blog is slobber-and-all), but too late. He shook his head violently, flapping his huge ears as well his ears, and got me, full on. He then looked very pleased with himself, and I got this picture of my new friend as he trotted on his way, job done:
After a quick clean-up I got going, and was very glad to find that the advice from a local cyclist last night was quite right – after a couple more hills it’s a flat ride into Sydney, and today with a nice tailwind. It was very hot, but the only bad bit (there’s always a bad bit) was where I had to leave the lovely lakeside road and was suddenly thrown onto the big highway, which really was a shock after many days of quieter riding. The hard shoulder disappeared and I couldn’t wait for a lunch stop. When you feel like this and spot the big Tim Horton’s sign, you are so ridiculously glad that chains like this exist. I’ve never felt like that about any chain before.
I’ve been exploring the furthest reaches of the Tim Horton’s menu lately – I even had a bowl of chilli in St Peter’s. For lunch today it was a chicken wrap with a garden salad and a green tea, not a donut or bagel in sight. A few years ago I saw an interview with the world-wide boss of McDonald’s. He had a downbeat and unbothered air to him, actually quite likeable, and he struck me as not necessarily the ideal type to be the spokesperson for everything their company represents. He was being interviewed because McDonald’s had just reverted to their “normal” burger menu, after hugely promoting a health-conscious menu change. The healthy options introduced were in response to negative PR about the fast-food diet, but now they were ditching the whole thing, and the world wanted to know – why?
“Sales” was the downbeat and unbothered answer. “We conducted extensive market research worldwide with our customers, and they told us that they wanted more salads. Apparently they lied”.
I’ve made a very big effort, as some of you who know me well must have noted, to avoid any use of expletives in this blog. I’m very aware that my audience is very wide-ranging in age (a polite way of saying hello, wrinklies and whippersnappers!) and I don’t ever use them with my pupils of course so why not do the same for the blog? It’s proved to be a very useful discipline, always pushing you to find a better way to express what may well have been strong feelings. In that spirit, I want to tell you one more fast-food story, mild expletives-deleted.
During the McLibel case, when two journalists took on the might of McDonalds and their vast team of lawyers, in a case really about free-speech (they were handing out leaflets criticising McD’s and McD’s didn’t like it), one of the two was asked how he had the courage to face up to this behemoth in court every day without so much as a lawyer on his side.
“I just get out of bed in the morning and tell myself, ‘They’re just a ****ty little company making ****ty little burgers’ “.
A nice demonstration of the awesome power of a little perspective.
Sometimes when I’m climbing hills on this trip I find myself thinking of Zoltan Kodaly (pronounced Ko-die-ee), the Hungarian composer, and here’s why: I try not to talk too much here about the technical side of cycling, partly because there really isn’t too much of it when touring (!) and partly because I’m sure not everyone is honestly that bothered. Today I’m making an exception. When you climb a hill, there are many ways to approach the pedalling. One is obviously to stand out of the saddle in a bigger gear and bounce up and down on the pedals. It produces more power, you climb quicker, but it’s more tiring. It’s the main way I climb hills on this trip. You can mitigate the extra effort by using your backside and upper body weight to sort of press down on the pedals, left buttock, right buttock, rather than thinking of leaving your legs to do all the work! It’s very similar to using a Nordic Track Eliptical Trainer-type machine in a gym. Anyway, here’s the Kodaly connection:
A man goes into Tower Records Classical Dept and asks if they have a recording of a piece by Kodaly.
“What’s it called?” asks the assistant.
“The Buttocks Pressing Song” is the reply. “I heard it on the radio just now and I love it”
Confused, the assistant does his job and goes through the catalogue, but there is no sign of this piece.
“Are you sure about the title?” he asks politely.
“Yes, I’m certain” says the customer, “The announcer clearly said after they played it ‘That was Kodaly Buttocks Pressing Song”
I promised a Fringe gag-fest yesterday, so here they are, courtesy of Susie. Gags one and three in particular are classics, don’t you think?:
The top 15 funniest jokes from the Fringe
1. “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change” – Ken Cheng
2. “Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book” – Frankie Boyle
3. “I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point?” – Alexei Sayle
4. “I’m looking for the girl next door type. I’m just gonna keep moving house till I find her” – Lew Fitz
5. “I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it the ‘brella’. But he hesitated” – Andy Field
6. “Combine Harvesters. And you’ll have a really big restaurant” – Mark Simmons
7. “I’m rubbish with names. It’s not my fault, it’s a condition. There’s a name for it…” – Jimeoin
8. “I have two boys, 5 and 6. We’re no good at naming things in our house” – Ed Byrne
9. “I wasn’t particularly close to my dad before he died… which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine” – Olaf Falafel
10. “Whenever someone says, ‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’ I say, ‘Oh my God, me neither!”‘ – Alasdair Beckett-King
11. “A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event” – Angela Barnes
12. “As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting; but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer” – Adele Cliff
13. “For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it” – Phil Wang
14. “I wonder how many chameleons snuck onto the Ark” – Adam Hess
15. “I went to a Pretenders gig. It was a tribute act” – Tim Vine
(That’s enough laughing – Ed)
Arm of Gold campground is the nearest one to the ferry, so most people here are using it for the same reason as me. Today there has been a mass-arrival of trailer-homes and RVs, all travelling to Newfoundland, on a trip that started in Maine, USA. They even have their own tour guide sort of coordinating the whole thing, whom I spoke with earlier. She was great, and funny too. I said she must be the most amazingly patient person to handle all the crises of the vehicles, but she said “Well, I was a midwife before” and pulled a ‘so big deal at Dodge City’ kind of expression.. I’ve talked about the atmosphere created by these vehicles many times in the blog, but here are a couple of stats and a few photos – there are twenty-four trailers/RVs in this convoy, and by far the majority are over forty-four feet long. Each one’s arrival is like the team turning up for a football match, but there are only two people in each one. Once parked they spend more time levelling, plugging in electricity and water, extending bed sections, emptying sewage etc than you would have thought possible. At this camp there is even a dedicated pressure-wash just for them:
This line up makes me think of those battle scenes from films like Lord of the Rings (can’t remember which one) when the soldiers mass on a ridge before plunging down to slaughter and pillage, dazzling the enemy with the sun behind them.
Hopefully this will be big enough for their morning meeting to discuss tactics for attacking Newfoundland on Thursday morning (sorry to give away the element of surprise, guys). Encircle St Johns and open your sewage pipes, is my advice. With the sun behind you.
I left my new home sweet home to get a beer and a bite to eat:
The only bar for some way was just down the road, The Blue Mist, where I spent a great couple of hours talking to Paul (barman) and Cliff and Greg (both regulars, just “three rolls away” at the end of the evening!). I spoke longest with Cliff, about family and travel, but the subject of cribbage came up, so I challenged all-comers to a game. Greg was keen, so I moved over to his side of the bar and we played a great round together. (Picture suitably blurry):
I was a bad guest and won, but as we say in our house, the inside lane is definately quicker. Greg also made a generous donation to my charity, for which I’m very grateful. Thanks for great evening guys!
Then I ate at Jane’s restaurant, recommended by Paul who was the model bar host, keeping everything ticking along nicely. Then it was home to the tent, for the last time on mainland Canada, sniff!
One of my favourite signs for while, for its simplicity and bizarreness:
The Place Naming Dept. are having one of those days again. Someone needs a coffee break…