Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trip - 4B (750kms/8hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (August 18th, 346kms)

Another business trip, so good excuse to use the bike - especially with the forecast of full sun for 2 days that I'll be gone.

As usual for these trips, I'm out of work after lunch, but this day I'm held up an extra 30 mins. going home first, but soon am suited up and out on Hwy.11 east. It's a beautiful day with perfect riding conditions at 20°C/68°F. This will be my first real trip since last season, so that mixed with post-accident recovery will be interesting to see how my body holds up.

After taking the ramp onto Hwy.11 east, I cross the bridge at Eel River, and things have changed here. Dismantling of the dam downriver began last year, so instead of a wide section at this bridge, the levels have gone down, and now it's only a split creek. The center section where water once flowed, first turned into a mud flat, and surprisingly now sprouts many grasses. What started out as an eyesore is now starting to look good.

The first 50 mins. flies by as I take the St. Anne exit into Bathurst, and head in to the Blue Cross office for returns on medical expenses. The wait inside is longer than expected, but finally exit and look for a gas station. After heading over to the east side across the harbour, I see a gas station, but I'm in the outside lane, and no room or time to get over. So, I continue on through construction and detours and hope there's another station before hitting the highway overpass...... there's none. I have no choice but to go down the highway and take the last Bathurst exit. Finally, I find a gas station. After filling up, a car pulls up, and a couple jump out asking me if I know how to fill up, and do they have to pay first. I can tell by the last question, and accent that they are from southern U.S. When 5 people search for their gas cap release, a button is found on the driver's door. I begin talking to the woman who explains that she is here visiting Caraquet, has Acadian roots, and lives in Louisianna. Later in the conversation, I let her know that I grew up in Nova Scotia, and she asks if I was "expulled" - referring to the Acadian expulsion of 1755. "No" is my obvious answer.

Finally, much later than expected, I'm out of Bathurst, over and around and under the quirky east end roads and now heading south on the smooth newer pavement of Hwy.8 where the sun continues to shine. Traffic is low - except for the turnoff at La Bonne Route where I could've done an easy fillup if I had another pint in the tank.

Miramichi is next, and the temperature has warmed to 23°C/73°F. Normally I gas up here as a mid-point break, but since the tank is near full, I carry on across the bridge at Derby Junction and continue south on Hwy.8 where the concrete road joints have me popping in the seat.

Another hour breezes by, and I'm feeling the effects of the ride. I do my typical "lay down on the seat, chin on the tank bag" routine, and even resort to occasional "standing on the pegs" to stretch out even more. I'm obviously not used to road trips of any length yet.

Traffic is slow around Taymouth, so I take the alternate route on the east side of Nashwaak River down to Durham Bridge, where I beat the previous traffic and get back onto Hwy.8

It's suppertime as I head down Kilarney Rd. into Fredericton, and the traffic is heavy with everyone leaving. I decide to take Brookside Dr. to bypass the traffic, but since this is new to me, I end up going out of my way, take a detour, and finally recognize the area and get straightened around to get across the St. John River to the south side where the traffic is crazy! Finally after climbing Hanwell Rd., I roll into Tam's driveway and wow, I need to walk and stretch the bugs out of me!

Leg-2 : Fredericton/Oromocto/Fredericton (60kms)

After a quick visit with Tam, we decide to go to the Ramada restaurant for supper - Tam is liking the salmon special big time - tasty enough for a takeout box. It's a great evening, the sun is getting low, so we decide to cruise down the old Hwy.2 (now Hwy.105). This is a beautiful ride along the St. John River with slow curves, and certainly more tolerable than the old high traffic days of years ago. We pass by the vegetable stands through Maugerville, and as the sun is setting, we cross the Burton Bridge - slowly, to soak up the dazzling sky over the river.

It's quite the ride through Oromocto with 2 roundabouts within 500m, but eventually we're back out onto Hwy.2 heading back to Fredericton. The air is naturally cooler with the sundown - especially at highway speed....Tam is probably wishing she had a visor at this point. We leave the highway, and exit onto Hanwell Rd, drop her off, gas up before the price rise tomorrow, then back to the motel for the night. My body feels the miles, so I crash pretty easy.

Leg-3 : Fredericton to Home (Aug. 19th, 341kms) The meeting is over, it's another beautiful sunny day and 23°C/73°F, so I load up the bike, and head up the Marysville Bypass which ends abruptly since the road has yet to be completed after many years of government promises. So traffic is forced back to slow residential roads. Many miles ahead, signs of the bypass construction can be seen, so it will be interesting to see when it's completed.

I eventually arrive in Miramichi, and make the usual stop for gas and rest after 2 hours. "No hoodies allowed" greets my entry to the station, and I grab some juice for a refreshment. I use the squeegee to wash the bugs off the visor, windshield and lights, then get back onto Hwy.8 north through the great "portage" route.

Bathurst is where Hwy.11 returns for the final leg home. It's been a good trip with great weather.