Upon closer inspection on a map, I noticed that there were actually a number of multi-use trails west of Halifax that fit my friend's description, and since I was new and had no idea of what to expect, I selected the longest, most difficult one I could find - the 33 km BLT/St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails route.
The BLT/St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails route is a groomed, dirt/gravel trail that is maintained by a volunteer organization. While I wanted to travel the entire length of the route - and someday will, I was starting out from my home only an hour before sunset, and considering that the start of the trail system was a good 10 km away from my home to begin with, I decided to find a closer target. I settled on an interesting cafe that was once an old train station, the Bike and Bean, figuring that a cup of hot chocolate (the drink of choice for EPs) would be a great way to refresh and warm up before heading back home.
Unfortunately, when I finally arrived in the dark at the cafe, I found out that a) it closes at 5 PM (a half-hour before I even left my home), and b) even if I had made it there earlier it wasn't open on the day of my ride anyway.
(The trip wasn't an entire waste - I captured this impressive sunset along one of the many lakes alongside which the trail passes.)
Cold, hungry, and tired, I set back off into the night on the pitch black trail, trying to pedal as fast as I could to make it home quicker than the 2 hours it took me to reach the cafe originally. I could barely see where the edges of the trail were, but it was well maintained, and so I trusted my dim bicycle light and pedalled on... hard. I estimated that I was travelling anywhere from 35 km/hr - 40 km/hr on average.
When I finally did make it home, I could barely carry my bicycle up the stairs to my fourth floor apartment, where I only got one shoe untied, before collapsing on the floor from exhaustion and pain (my frozen wrists had taken an especially hard hammering on the ride). I am a determined EP though, if nothing else, and so now that I know where the Bike and Bean Cafe is, I will take my road bike out and follow a more direct route there on an Autumn weekend afternoon (I completed this last journey on a city commuter bike - my EP Cruiser).
Total distance travelled: 55+ km
Total time taken: 3.5 hours.