Not a Short, Leisurely Ride

Oxford, NS to Halifax, NS

My morning began with me feeling a bit better than last night but by no means was I at 100%. With another potentially long day of cycling ahead of me, I popped an Advil and got moving. That’s the first one I’ve taken on the trip. It should also be noted that I started the day very early. I woke up at 5:00 and I was ready to roll by 6:50 – my earliest start so far.

My optimistic goal for the day was to reach Halifax. It was optimistic because Halifax was 165 km away and I was skeptical the wind would cooperate.

My first toll booth.Cyclists are free!

My first toll booth.
Cyclists are free!

The first 20 km of the ride went very well before the hills took over and slowed things down considerably for the next 20. But the 50 km after that went surprising well. Knowing I was in for a long day I broke the day down into segments. I thought if I could do 70 km by 11:00 and then 90 by noon it would get me to Truro in reasonably good shape to make the push to Halifax. The downside was that I knew once I made the turn south at Truro that the wind would be against me again. That’s exactly what happened.

The wind wasn’t as bad as yesterday but it was certainly a menacing foe that had no interest in going away. If I was going to make it to Halifax today it was going to require 75 km of riding into the wind. Lucky me.

Adding to today’s fun was the traffic. I’ve noticed that the drivers in Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick aren’t as generous with the amount of space they leave for cyclists. Just to be clear, MOST of them are still really good; however, there have definitely been more close passes since I left Newfoundland. Today was the closest.

When biking into heavy winds for extended periods I don’t always pay as much attention to the surrounding environment as perhaps I should. It’s pretty much a case of putting my head down and trying to pedal through. Today also had several instances where half of the shoulder was taken up with rumble strips which forced me to ride in the lane with traffic. And that’s when the truck passed me. BARELY. I estimate there was about ten centimetres between the two of us as he went zooming by. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. Almost immediately after passing me (ie. 250m or so) the truck had pulled over onto the gravel of the shoulder and eventually came to a stop. When I reached the truck I was met by a very sincere and very apologetic driver. He asked if I was okay, and apologized again. He actually seemed more visibly shaken up by the whole experience than I was. I wanted to get a picture of him and the truck but I didn’t want him to think I would use it to report him or something like that. So, we carried on our ways with him flashing his lights as he passed (leaving me a full lane as he did so).

DSC05567_SignageFortunately, the biggest opponent for the rest of the day would be wind and hills. Oh, and fatigue. And fatigue would be the toughest – although the wind didn’t help. The only other time I’d gone 165 km in a day was back in early August and that was a windless day. Today was not windless and I was coming off a very tough day. I really started to feel it at the 130 km point, but by then I was pretty much committed to making it to Halifax today. I even took a rest underneath an overpass for about 30 minutes to try to regain some energy. You know you’re tired when you can fall asleep underneath a highway overpass. Those places are LOUD.

I eventually rolled into Halifax around 6:00. I was a little disappointed at the lack of a “Welcome to Halifax” sign but given the route I took into the city I wasn’t entirely surprised. Although, part of me probably just wanted the sign so I could take a rest while taking a photo. Instead, I settled for a photo of the Macdonald Bridge.

Macdonald Bridge

Macdonald Bridge

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 168.33 km (a new high)
Time on bike: 8:49:26
Average speed: 19.05

Just to illustrate the wind’s impact on my ride, my last 165 km ride took about 7.5 hours on the bike – about an hour and 20 minutes shorter than today’s ride. Yes, it’s time for another nap.

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