2018 The O’Leary Fail Ride

There was no plan. So this isn’t really about a failure at all, as I had promised myself that I would do grownup things on Sunday, like dishes, laundry and cleaning, but when my riding partner of the Fundy FunDay ride offered free tea in O’Leary Prince Edward Island, all I could think about was Medium or Large and how quickly I could tighten my loose chain that morning before meeting up with Caroline?

Near Abrams Village PE on Route 11
She lured me under false pretences to meet up with her in Charlottetown, with a cuppa tea and a ride on the Island as the bait. I can’t place all the blame on her though, as I enjoyed the thought of riding with her again and was quick to take her up on the offer. I'd just finished tightening the chain as she rolled up into the parking lot of the Grafton Street Tim Horton's in Charlottetown, and listened to her lies about our destination, and how we would get there. Oh, she made it sound soooo good, and when I innocently asked her if she wouldn't mind stopping in at my sisters place so I could spoil my four footed friend Zippy, she quickly agreed, and we were off winding our way through Charlottetown traffic with me in the lead, just as she had planned.

Day Tripping - Charlottetown PE to Nowhere near O'Leary PE - 235 km

Nope, not even close to O'Leary
Hindsight leads me to believe that she wanted to lull me into a false sense of security by letting me have my way as long as it had no bearing on her scheme. And I admit to falling for the bait, hook line and sinker, thinking that there could be nothing better than introducing my friend Zippy, the Jerk Russell Terrorist to my new friend Caroline, and getting to meet the newest addition to my sister's family, Mosby, a four month old mutt that was mostly Jack Russell with a bit of Blue Healer, and tons of sass in him.

The Zipper, the Zipperooni, El Zipporo!
The Old Man
As we were rolling through Summerside, that 30 percent chance of showers in the forecast seemed to mean that if we turned back and rode the way we came post haste, we might have a 70 percent chance of staying dry, but it was not to be, for even the immanent threat of rain would not deter this girl, and I found myself riding through Miscouche until she turned south on Lady Slipper Drive, then north onto Route 11, all while we got 100 percent wet.

The good news is that underneath that gray sky there was a line of blue, and after only a few minutes the rain tapered off, and the road started to dry out as did my visor.

Prince Edward Island is the home to a rather large Acadian population, fiercely proud of their heritage, with the yellow start bedecked blue, white, and red flags seen everywhere as we rode further north along the coast. Caroline pulled over in front of Église catholique de Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel, a landmark that is impossible to miss on this side of the island.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parish Church/ Église catholique de Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel
 For the first time I examined one of the crosses that stand atop each fence post to find that they are all individual, and placed there in memoriam of an individual or family.

Parents freres a soeurs defunts D' Albeni Gallant.
 "Deceased parents, brothers and sisters of Albeni Gallant"

the graveyard is well cared for and immaculate

Photo credit: C-Line
 We headed further north along 11, until I I simply had to take a couple of shots, and Caroline pulled a U-turn to come back and get a couple of her own while I captured the "Truck on the front lawn" version of rural Atlantic Canada.

It's a fixer upper! We can have it in the water for you next week!

The view of the Haldmand River where it meets the atlantic Photo credit: C-Line
 I thought Caroline was going to turn north onto 11 at Abrams Village, but we continued our merry way on 124 through Urbainville, and I'm glad she did, as when she realized her mistake and pulled into a vacant parking lot to explain, I said I'd be just up the road taking a couple of shots of the hay bales and dark rain clouds in the distance.

The hay fields near Urbainville PE

100 percent chance people are getting wet under those rain streamers
 We managed to make the corner onto 11 north, and had just passed a pond off to the right when Caroline pulls over in a church parking lot and asked me if I wanted to go back and check it out. "Sure! Let's go!", when clearly I should have responded "Bien sûr, allons-y!".  And so we were introduced to Arsenault Pond in Egmont Bay PE, a cozy little place that was simply bright with sunlight, bees collecting pollen, and the odd duck or three.

I was duped. Completely oblivious to the fact that she had lured me to this remote oasis of beauty in the middle of nowhere where her the final phase of her plan could be put into action...

Photo Credit: C-Line

Arsenault Pond, Egmont Bay PE

The bees are hard at work.

Photo credit: C-Line

Photo credit: C-Line

Did I mention that it was a brisk 16 degrees celsius? But not at the pond. The sun was overhead and it was warming up quite a bit, and after walking around for a while we stripped off to take advantage of the warm sun... Or rather I tried to, for the of my jacket's zipper refused to release, and Caroline wandered over to help me with it , but in the end I had to pull the jacket over my head and wrestle with it for a few minutes before it finally let go, and this is the replacement zipper I had put in a few years ago. *sigh* I can just imagine the next text message... 

"Hi Caroline, how is your ride with Ron going?"
"Sorry, can't talk now, I'm helping him with his zipper."

I need help with this... Vise Grips might work.
Why did I entitle this the O'Leary ride fail? We found ourselves talking, then holding hands.
"Brace yourself, I'm going to kiss you." 

Swellegant, ain't I? Suave, sophisticated and debonair are characteristics that I can never be accused of, but I can pop a decent wheelie and get my knee down in the corner. I can tell you where this is going, one parking spot for the bikes at work. Extra input in the planning stages for the rides, and someone to share the pain of PMS - Parked Motorcycle Syndrome this winter. :D

"I think there is an ant crawling into my ear!" Shhhh! you'll spoil the moment!
The plan? To find out if I wanted to keep adventuring with her until the cold drove us in doors and the bikes had to be put on battery tenders for the end of the season, and it turns out I'm totally down with that. I envision two batteries hooked up in parallel waiting for the spring, isn't that romantic? :D

It was getting on in the day, and time to admit that we were never destined to reach O'Leary today, so Caroline took the lead and we headed into Tyne Valley for supper.

Back into Miscouche, watching the setting sun illuminate the beautiful yellow canola growing in the area and through Summerside and on into Charlottetown, but not the direct way, oh no! We were doing fine until she let me take the lead and I took us onto Blueshank and a few back roads that led us right back into the loose gravel construction site I'd managed to avoid earlier during the daylight! Then to add insult to injury, I took her down my favourite road in the area only to find that I'd forgotten the last kilometer of it was a dirt road, so I slowed down, keeping my pace to what I thought would work for a Shadow, but she passed me! Game on, girl!

For revenge she turned south off of Kinkora road onto Route 13, or "Snake road" and waved me ahead of her. I wicked up, turned on my high beam and really enjoyed the first couple of corners, but soon realized that as much as I loved this road in the daytime, I simply couldn't see the exit and was in danger of looking for firewood the hard way, that is with a mitt full of front brake hurtling off into the woods snapping branches and saplings until I hit something that snapped me. Nope, not going to happen so I slowed down and admitted to myself that I'd much rather get home in one piece. That was the warmest part of the ride for me, after that the cool air seemed to get colder and colder. The heated grips got turned up and up until I could feel the heat on my palms and had to turn it down again. This the first decent test of the new aftermarket stator, and it passed with flying colours.
Women take forever to get ready!
We stopped in Cornwall as the Shadow goes to reserve around the 200km mark whereas the Versys hits it near 300km. (Shhh! Don't tell her that I plugged in my heated jacket! She'll think I'm a wuss!), and later on at a convenient Tim Horton's to warm up and chat some more.

Kinda neat to be holding hands with your riding buddy, don'tcha think? Try it out sometime, but not with my girl, she's taken. ;)

Look for the two of us off island next weekend, perhaps St. Martins or Advocate Harbour again. Cheers!

P.S. I felt so guilty about plugging in, that I'm loaning her my heated vest for the next ride so I can ride in comfort and not pretend to shiver with cold at the next stop. I'm not that good an actor.


2018 The Fundy FunDay

There was this shadow at work. No, not the "Me and my shadow" type, a red and black Honda Shadow that I saw in the parking lot every day I came in to work, and gone by the time I left.

Cape Enrage New Brunswick

I was late for the Red Isle Riders Bike Night, but managed to stir my lazy butt up and out in time to meet up with the gang, and shortly a woman walked up to me, introduced herself as Caroline, and told me she recognized my bike from work, etc etc. We finally got a chance to put faces to names, and over the next day or two we decided that a ride off island was in order, and I invited her to join me for fish & chips at The Boathouse in Alma New Brunswick on the shore of Fundy Bay. "Absolutely!"

Friday night rolled around and I found myself laying out my gear for the ride the following morning, excited because I had convinced someone to partake of my madness... I needed to make a good initial impression so I could lull them into complacency and trust in my navigation skills and riding ability. Muahahahaha!

The Grand Plan
Don't be deceived, I talk way to much at each stop, and managed to eat up all our extra time...

Of course you meet for a coffee
 I believe I mentioned kickstands up at 0830 but I wouldn't take the hint when Caroline started looking at her watch, and continued telling riding stories ad nauseum so we were fifteen minutes late getting underway. So much for good first impressions.

It was cool! I'd dressed for fall weather, but wasn't expecting it to be so brisk, so the first order of business was to pull in to a parking lot and get out a couple of extra layers. Brrrr!

Leg 1 - Charlottetown to Lower Sackville NB - 109 km

Leg 1 - Charlottetown to Lower Sackville NB - 109 km

Okay, time to get off the island and get onto my favourite little side cut, NB Route 955 through Murray Corner and out onto 15 towards Moncton... But then we shot across NB 940 bound for Lower Sackville NB, where we refuelled and grabbed a cuppa (And chatted again) while an enthusiastic group of University Students hit us up for a donation for Shine O Rama or something. Lol. I'm an easy touch, but have a poor memory.

Leg 2 - Sackville NB to Alma NB - 158 km

Leg 2 - Sackville NB to Alma NB - 158 km
Time to get moving if we want lunch as opposed to supper, and we headed through the town and onto NB Route 106, where the fun began. I completely missed 925 in the heat of the moment, and then I managed to impress Caroline with my navigation skills by arriving in Memramcook NB and promptly ignoring Garmin's sage advice, and leading us miles out of the way down the opposite bank of the Memramcook River before I caught the mistake, and sheepishly admitted to Caroline that we had to go back thataway. Oops! (I may have mentioned that Garmin steered me wrong at the time)

We navigated Moncton well enough, but by the time we hit Riverside, I had to go recycle my coffee and tea from the morning, and we got a good wee visit with a very well mannered Rottweiler named Sassy, who kindly permitted us to pet her for a few minutes.

Once out on the road again with Caroline leading, we promptly got stuck behind some motorists who were confused by signs that said things like "80 km/h" and insisted on driving at their own pace, that of a retirement home resident dashing to make the first sitting for lunch with their walker... Slow and impossible to get round, but Caroline managed and we enjoyed the sight of the tributaries emptying into the Petitcodiac River as it winds its way out into the Bay of Fundy, then seeing the Bay itself appear in the distance, just down from the rise we were travelling on. Sorry, my main camera is out of action as I lost the battery charger for it somewhere in New Hampshire's White Mountains, so no pictures this time. *sigh*

I was trying to shepherd her to Shepody Marsh at Harvey Bank NB, and managed to get us off the highway onto a wee asphalt lane that turned a corner and became a gravel access path for farmers out onto the pastures that border the marsh. I asked if Caroline wanted some help mounting knobby tires on her shadow, but she gave me a look. "That" look, and I knew that I had better get us back out onto 114 and get us moving on the macadam. Hey! A covered bridge! I freely admit to assessing her bike, her demonstrated riding skill, and the depth and quality of the gravel, before deciding that she had the "Right Stuff" and led her up to the wooden structure. "Hold on here for a minute of two, I want to take a video of you riding across the bridge!" Another bald faced lie as I prefer sequenced shots so I could pick the best of the best. :)

Sawmill Creek covered bridge, Hopewell Hill
 Ain't technology grand? And now for your viewing pleasure, MOVING PICTURES!

You can't take a car across this anymore, but a horse might just fit. 
I got us back out onto the pavement, and remembered the road that we needed to get out to Harvey Bank was the 914! Once on it Caroline took the lead again, until the turn for Harvey Bank, for as much as I love to talk, I'd forgotten to tell her what we (I) was up to that we needed to make a wee detour out to the marsh via the tourist trap the town has got. A fake lighthouse near what I believe used to be the boat pond of the shipyard that once graced this small farming community.

Lifted from the New Brunswick Provincial Archives:
Located on the Shepody River, 3.18 km SE of Riverside-Albert and 2.26 km NE of HarveyHarvey ParishAlbert County: PO 1882-1950: in 1866 Harvey Bank was a farming settlement with approximately 23 resident families: in 1871 the community had a population of 150: in 1898 Harvey Bank had 1 post office, 1 store, 1 sawmill, a shipyard and a population of 190.

Shepody Marsh near Harvey Bank NB

This is only navigable at high tide, so the boat pond is protected by a lock system.

Look like you own the bike and not the bank... 
 A couple of older ladies drove up and we chatted with them about the weather, the area and sights. One was up from 'Murica so we avoided politics and chatted merrily about wither we were bound, Cape Enrage, the lunch that awaited up in Alma, and other minutia. It was all smiles and laughs until I told them that we wouldn't be taking the loop through the conservation area or dropping into the art studio, lol. One of them said I am going to have to visit again with a bike that will handle a rough road. :'(

We got back out onto 914 and I warned Caroline to be on the lookout for a lighthouse sign on the left for Cape Enrage Lighthouse, and off we went down that bumpy road for about fifteen kilometers of spine cracking "How's your Mama?" krazy quilt New Brunswick rural roads. What do I mean by Krazy Quilt? Road patches on patches, on top of patches. Yep, marked as 80 kph, but only if you are part of the Hare Scramble... Caroline set a good pace, and I was happy to butterfly watch as we hit the high ground and could see out over Fundy's majestic shoreline.

Remember that lighthouses are placed to warn sailors of navigational hazards? In this case a towering cliff of rock located on the remote end of the cape. The access road out to that lighthouse is not straight and level, and while I gave Caroline a brief warning about the curves, I didn't want to scare myself, so for once I kept mum and simply told her that taking it easy was the plan, and watch out for the hairpin corner.

The view from the top

Back just a bit further, Ron. A bit more... 
 I need to fire my current barber, but at least I'll have a great scrapbook for the personal care workers to peruse later in life while I sit in my chair and drool on myself. 

Where is Waldo? Hahaha, yes, timing is everything. 

Wow, is she ever short! 
 Once Caroline kicked my butt off the top of the beach and down a bit lower, the photo improves. :D
Selfie Photo Bomb! I forgot the rabbit ears. Next time! 
Man, this place is beautiful, but you have to use caution on the roads and ensure your skills are up to hairpin corners, and sharing those curves and hills with other motorists. Caroline admitted to a wee bit of white knuckling during the ride, but I think she deserves a pat on the back for staying the course. Gold star time! I am not going to ask you to do a search of the this blog for "Alma" and read my story of six years ago and this same road...

That road leads to a steep ascent and a could of hairpin corners

That road can be fun too. 

It's hard to believe that the ocean will flood past the breakwater right up this plain. 
Oh my! It's after 1400 and I promised this girl "lunch", not supper! It's taken us six hours to get this far today. Perhaps I'd better do less talking and more riding... 

Itotallyforgetthenameofthisbeautiful River, Cape Enrage NB 

 915 led us back down the ridge and into Alma, and I scooted ahead of Caroline again to show her where to park for the Boathouse Restaurant. No pictures of the fantastic fish & chips, but rest assured we got our monies worth. Caroline alleges that for an East Coaster, the best fish & chips she ever had was served to her in Las Vegas Nevada. Game on, prove it! Let's go rent a bike and check this place out, as well as the Grand Canyon and that damn Dam thingy that was named after a vacuum cleaner!

Leg 3 - Alma NB to Charlottetown PE - 265 km

Leg 3 - Alma NB to Charlottetown PE - 265 km
Both Caroline and I wanted to be off the mainland before dark, as neither of us relished a night ride out on 16 where the risk of collision with the wildlife is pretty high, and as it was now three o'clock and we had three hours of riding ahead of us, it was time to dispense with the The Grand Plan, and get moving via the Trans Canada if we wanted to be back on our island retreat before sunset.

So off through Fundy park we went with Caroline in the lead, the sound of her scraping pegs warning hikers and tourists that we were not stopping for anything less than four legs, a rack, and a metre tall. Seriously, the very first turn near the top of the hill by the parking lot? She one ups me and gets some decent lean angle! My grin was hidden by my helmet so I flashed her a thumbs up, and off we went up the hill and out of the park, homeward bound.

Thankfully she stopped just before the highway on the 114, and we put back on the layer of clothing that we'd removed at the restaurant. Not only did I don my heated vest again, I actually plugged it in as I was fairly certain that I'd be suffering from the early autumn chill well before reaching the Northhumberland Strait and the Borden-Carleton Esso where Caroline promised to let me stop and buy me a tea if I would only do my best to keep up to her on the turnpike.

She's quick. I manged to keep up and enjoy the ride, but it was getting windy, and brisk, very brisk. (Don't tell Caroline, but I flipped the switch on the vest at Salisbury, then turned it off when I pulled into the underground at my place, she'll think I'm a wuss. )

We got hung up behind some tourist RV out on 15 long before coming in Port Elgin, and with a conga line of cars behind them, and all quite content to do 10kph LESS than the posted limit, so when Caroline pulled off onto the south end of the 955, I was sooooo happy! She pulled over and asked if I was going to be okay for gas, and I gave her a grin and a thumbs up, and we made decent time retracing our route back up the bridge.
The estuary at Murray Corner NB

It was windy! As I told Caroline, I can't remember another crossing where my bike got tossed around so much. I managed to make it across the bridge, with visions of free hot tea as my reward.

 We pulled into the Esso station on this side of the bridge, gassed up for the final time of the day, and sat down with our drinks to chat with a few other bikers there, before heading off on one more wee adventure, down 10 through Cape Traverse and out into Tryon where we headed into Crapaud and North up Route 13's many twists and turns before heading into Charlottetown via the Kinkora road.

Sunset over the potatoes fields of Cape Traverse PE

Our last sight of the sun, viewed from Tryon PE

 And thus ends the tale of how it took two modern bikes and skilled riders six hours to get there, and three hours to get back.

What an awesome day!

Expect more from me if the weather is good next weekend as I promised a bit of a Dawn to Dusk ride to a few of the Red Isle Riders. St. Martins AND Advocate Harbour rolled into one. :)