Wednesday, August 18, 2010

EP Bike Trip #2: Peggy's Cove, Part 1

Some time back in July, after I had completed one of my long bicycle rides, I set a goal for myself of being able to ride to Peggy's Cove and back in one day. The distance from my home to Peggy's Cove is roughly 43 km, with a lot of rolling hills. Since that means I would being doing twice my regular distance if I wanted to get back home, I knew I would have to do a fair bit of training first.

My original plan for the "training ride" this day, was to go to the town of Prospect to photograph the quaint fishing village there and then ride back, so that I would get used to having to make a second long ride in the same day (I felt exhausted for the last fifteen kilometres of my Crystal Crescent Bike Trip). However, on this day the wind was a little bit strong, and I started to get upset about it. I was so fed up with battling the head wind, that I decided to try and make it all the way to Peggy's Cove so that I could enjoy the tail wind on the way back.

A couple of days earlier I had seen a petition in one of my local bike shops (Cyclesmith) seeking a paved bicycle lane on the popular Peggy's Cove route. I signed it because any infrastructure work that makes moving easier for riders of bicycles and harder for drivers of cars is a great plan in my mind. Today though, when I got on to Prospect Road, which leads to Peggy's Cove, I found out why everyone wanted to have the bicycle lane.

On the road to Herring Cove, via Purcell's Cove (Purcell's Cove Road) there is a short bicycle lanes for part of the journey, but for the most part the road is wide enough to accommodate both car and bicycle, although not comfortably or conveniently. The road to Peggy's Cove though is ridiculously narrow. I suppose the actually driving lane isn't too bad, but there is absolutely no shoulder whatsoever, which means riders are forced to ride in the lane with the cars when there's barely enough room for the cars. Often I found myself riding on the thin, rough wash-boarded strip of "road" just off to the side of the lane which made for a bumpy ride.

The problem with bumpy rides and road bicycles, is that if you do not have your tires fully inflated it can cause a pinched tube quite easily. I found this out the hard way, after I ran into a small pothole. "Pfffff...." went my front tire immediately (the fourth flat tire I have suffered in the last 8 or so days), and I was left standing there on the side of the road just before the community of Hatchet Lake, with an unusable bicycle.

I thought I saw a garage just up the highway, and I was right, so I decided to walk towards it. When I got there though, the mechanics said they couldn't help me because I didn't have my adapter with me (road bicycle tires have a different shaped valve than a normal mountain bike style tube). Luckily I had brought a sandwich with me though, and after having some lunch I resigned myself to my only remaining option: hitch-hiking back to Halifax.

This was my first time hitch-hiking, so I wasn't sure how long it would take to get picked up, but I have driven past a number of hitch hikers in my day without picking them up (now I feel remorse...), so I had an idea of how it was done. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and after twenty to twenty-five minutes someone turned around to pick me up. Unfortunately they couldn't get me all the way into town, because they were rushed for time, but they did drop me off at a Canadian Tire not too far away from my home.

I went inside the Canadian Tire and bought myself a new bicycle tube. One of the young kids working there helped me change my tube, and he was quite interested in hearing about my hitch-hiking story, as he had never done it before and thought it must have been quite a scary experience. Unfortunately I remembered after the fact that I didn't have my adapter with me and none of the bicycles Canadian Tire sells use a Presta valve, so I couldn't pump my tire up. So after all that wasted time and effort, I was still faced with a roughly hour long walk back home, with a bike that still didn't work properly.

When I did get home, I pumped up my tire and was pleased to see that it looked like a wheel. However, about two hours later I came back and found it flat again. I took off the tire to check for any sharp objects that were still poking through the inside, and found that I had actually torn a hole in the side of the tire, which had pinched the tube as it tried to force its way out. I ended up having to buy a new tube and a new tire. After some deliberation I thought it was best to spend a few extra dollars and buy a more expensive, but thicker, tire that looked and felt much more suitable for taking on potholes and glass from stupid rednecks who chuck their bottles out of their windows (note: this happens far far less in Nova Scotia than in Alberta).

While a lesser ea-pea may have taken the flat as a warning from the road gods to stay away, I was only more resolved to make it to Peggy's Cove, and so I set about preparing for my return attempt in two nights time. (Part 2, to come soon...)

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