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When is the slump going to come? Surely you're not always happy?? Day 28

Home for the night: gravel bar between 1st and 2nd Lake, Baxters Corner

Distance: 47.2 hilly kms

Weather: clear, sunny, an occasional breeze, warm

B: oatmeal, coffee, tomatoes

L #1: tortillas with sweaty cheese, dried fruit

L #2: the other three tortillas that were supposed to be for tomorrow with more sweaty cheese, trail mix, granola bar

D: bland, boring ramen noodles, chocolate, tea...still hungry so an Oh Henry bar too!

 

on the road again!

this feels harder than before...

my wheels must be soft?!

 

Up and at 'em this morning to post one more blog update before getting on the road. Something I have been deeply committed to is not starting any of phases while still trying to write about the previous section of my trip. It's meant for some late nights, but I didn't want to hike Chignecto or The Footpath and reemerge from the wilderness having to remember what happened on my bike four or five days ago! I finally felt caught up enough to roll out of St. Martins and into the final leg of this adventure.


I tided the hostel from my presence, loaded up Black Beauty while cranking my tunes and after checking that I had everything at least 300 times, I left. The next week or so marked the official start of me making my way home. I still had many kilometres to go, and much to explore but I was certainly feeling the shift in myself to put my effort into getting back to where I'd started from, rather than propel myself into the unknown.


HOOOORAYYYYY!!!!!!


Except, I didn't really feel hooray-ey. I was surprised by how heavy my legs felt and how the first 10 kms felt like they took forever. Despite a spontaneous roadside visit and enthusiastic bon voyage from Joe, who had seen me on his way into town I just felt kind of blah. Maybe even numb? Maybe my body was still tired from The Footpath, even though I'd had a bonus rest day? Maybe the pressure in my tires had dropped, even though I'd just filled them up? Maybe I was FINALLY hitting the wall of "oh my god, I've been out here for weeks and I HAVE to keep going in order to finish" even though I knew this moment would inevitably come. The incredible experience of hiking The Footpath with three of my favourite beings...and subsequently having to say goodbye to them would add up to feeling a bit bummed. I had anticipated this...but it's still hard to weather. I'll take a hurricane any day over the emotional roller coaster of being really, f'ing tired and only being able to rely on yourself to pluck yourself up. When energetic coffers are low, sometimes plucking up isn't even an option and my experience in these moments on trip (and life in general) has resulted in the wisdom that sometimes you just have to feel like crap. It's ok! It's totally appropriate, and no amount of chocolate or sleep is going to fix it.


I DID eventually realize that my load was the heaviest it had been all trip, and this did bring me a bit of consolation as I watched my mind think all sorts of negative things about feeling weak, feeling hungry and cycle touring in general. I was pedaling a full resupply of food, fuel AND I had grabbed a few extra items of clothes out of my resupply bag because of the recent plunge in temperatures. This was my ultimate conclusion:


(not having ridden a loaded bike in a while + a lot of days of trip) - the energetic loss of saying goodbye to good humans/dog = sloggy, negative mindset for even cheery ol' me.


The more I thought about it, I hadn't actually ridden since a fully, fully, fully loaded bike since leaving Cape Chignecto!! I had arrived at Rebekah and Johnathan's with little food and my bags were pretty light by then. Except for the sprint to Fundy from their place and my ridiculous hurricane ride from The Parkway back to St. Martins...it had been over a week since I had even been in the rhythm of the road. You're fine, Adrien....have another chocolate bar. And keep pedaling.

The Tynemouth Creek covered bridge

So, I did. Eventually I got off the main road and found my way back to the coast. Farm fields and no cars, covered bridges and steep hill...this was becoming my association of cycling in New Brunswick!! Endless peaks and valleys that afforded beautiful views and a constant need to eat more food than I even felt like eating. Up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. My mindset had stabilized into that of resolved endurance even if I wasn't as ecstatic as I had been in the previous days. I still could appreciate the scenery and my ability to be out doing this ridiculous thing I had set out to do....although I did find myself fantasizing about a tea kettle, slippers and an all you can eat buffet (any kind will do).

Gardner Creek

My route took me along the coast until it was time to turn inland and make my way to Loch Lomond, where I would see the first freshwater lakes I could even really think of from my whole journey. I found myself in a pleasantly flat area and cruised along grateful for a reprieve from my battle with gravity. Traffic increased and I was jolted out of my rural New Brunswick flow by the site of a Saint John city bus with its route sign flashing "Airport! Loch Lomond!". Whoa. Public transit! Airport!? I realized that I was indeed at the edge of the Saint John region which meant life on the road was probably going to get different. I hadn't really been in any major city centres except for Truro, briefly...which I have a hard time classifying as a city. I had ripped through Moncton on the boardwalk and missed all of the commotion there because of my choice to not stop. Saint John is a regional hub, full of infrastructure and industry and it kind of made me dread the coming days a little. Left, right, left, right breathe.


I crossed a main thoroughfare and found the road that would take me north to Baxters Corner, a place I would hopefully find simple and permissible access to the lakes. The road was flat, the pavement was in great shape...and the road was SO busy I spent most of my time hoping the passing motorists didn't hate me. I quickly surmised there was a paving project somewhere north of me as an endless conga line of yellow DOT trucks heaped with stinking asphalt roared by me headed for a work site. In both directions, coming and going, they very respectfully drove by, but one can only be so quiet and gentle in passing when operating a HUGE dump truck on a narrow road. My already wavering mood was dropping quickly and I dug deeply into my body to ride as fast as I could to get off the road as quickly as possible. It would have been a beautiful and scenic ride otherwise. Hills starting to show the colours of the seasons surrounded the shores of 1st Lake, its vast, blue expanse shining in the sun. Too bad I couldn't look at it more closely, I was too busy fending off fate as a pancake. I tried to comfort myself with the thought of the fact that maybe I would benefit from the new asphalt somewhere up the road and I wasn't allowed to curse at improvements to the very road system that I, as a cyclist relied on as well. The thought gained no traction and I felt the clouds darken over my hot pink helmet. Onwards Adrien...eat another chocolate bar.


Eventually, the road I had been searching for appeared and I gratefully turned onto the lumpy, rutted access to a spit of land I had spied on google earth that morning. Waves gently lapped along the shore and the breeze ruffled the orange and red leaves of the forest next to me. I rolled to the end of the road where an older couple were sitting in the sun, beverages in hand taking in the peace and quiet. I could still hear the roar of the occasional truck on the main road, but I felt safe here. The couple gave me a jaunty wave and said hello. I wheeled over and the usual small talk began about where I was coming from, where I was going, etc. etc. I was tired and could feel myself faking enthusiasm a bit, so I stopped and was straight up honest in my day of "slumppage". Their names were Bruce and Vi and they were super cool. Bruce had ridden a motorbike all across North America to go to Woodstock and they had lived in the area for as long as they could remember. They thought what I was doing was pretty cool and assured me I could camp anywhere I wanted along the shore and no one would bother me or be upset that I was there. It was pretty obvious that four-wheelers used the beach as well, so as long as I put myself where I wouldn't get spontaneously run over by a midnight freewheeler, I'd be A.O.K. I excused myself from their company, not having much energy for conversation and they weren't offended in the slightest. They wished me well, I did the same and we parted ways as compassionately understanding people of what life on the road is like.

Home for the night! Cozy tent on primo waterfront location, asking price: free!!

I found a beautiful spot for my tent. One that would prove to likely be the most gorgeous site of my entire cycling portion of this journey. Water everywhere (that I could drink!!!!!!!!!) a little flowing channel from the next lake up for bathing and directly west facing for sunset. It was stunning and I was so happy to be off the road early and to have the chance to settle into camp for the night. I rinsed off in the fresh water, soaking in the last of the sun's warmth before changing into my clean(er) evening clothes. I was grateful for the extra layers I'd snagged out of my belongings and as darkness fell a deep chill settled in for the night. A loon called, and called again. The sound of that bird always stirs something in me....and I felt a wave of longing to be travelling by canoe instead of by bike. I was tired of how particular I had to be in fitting all my gear into tiny panniers and being surrounded by humans, cars and houses. The loon harkens to misty mornings on still islands far away from the hustle of the modern world. It transcends time and I thought longingly after paddling trips past and future, plying the waters with my boat and sinking into the peace and tranquility that makes canoe trip one of my favourite ways to travel. Sigh. Stay here Adrien, this trip is a gift too....be present and because you're STILL hungry after a very unsatisfactory supper, have another chocolate bar.


The stars shone brilliantly, reflecting in the surface of the water. The wind had died and the world was calm around me. No more cars on the road, and I was tucked far enough around the corner of the beach that I actually hadn't seen another human since I said goodbye to Vi and Bruce. People had come and gone, blaring their music or wandering the beach for awhile, but they never came my way. My companions for the night were Black Beauty who was snoozing against a tree, the loons and the moon that was working towards becoming full once again. As I brushed my teeth I looked around at the dazzling world under the glow of moonlight. It truly was a beautiful and special place, kept largely intact for being the watershed that provided the municipality of Saint John with drinking water. As I looked at the moon I noticed that it had a peculiar green hue to it, something I had never seen before. Sometimes it's kind of golden or orange in the summer or a cold blue in the winter. This was different and I blinked/rubbed my eyes to see if I was crazy. I even took another look after removing my contact lenses for the night. Nope, the moon was definitely green and I wondered if it had anything to do with the forest fires out west. Chocking it up to yet another mystery that I didn't have to solve to appreciate I crawled into my sleeping bag ready to say goodbye to this day and start afresh in the morning.


Goodnight moon. Goodnight loon. Goodnight beautiful, life sustaining lakes providing refuge to all the creatures, including myself for the evening. I was asleep before my head was even on the pillow.


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