Kelly’s write up of cycling in New Brunswick during our coast to coast Canada cycle trip in Autumn 2016. Click here to read Michael’s write up of discovering New Brunswick by bicycle.
Winter is coming!
We ended up cycling into New Brunswick in the evening of a very cold night. The Trans Canada bike trail that we were on had been fantastic. There were plenty of camping opportunities along the way, hardly any people and plenty of scenic views. We decided we would definitely attempt cycling in New Brunswick on some more of the Trans Canada trail.
As it was already freezing, we decided to set up camp just after the Quebec-New Brunswick border. Next to a small airfield and an old aircraft display. We quickly set up camp, cooked and jumped in the tent, for a chilly night. The following morning we woke to an icy frozen tent, frost on the grass and a definitely chill in the air. Winter was definitely coming (and yes, I’m a Game of Thrones fan). Cycling in New Brunswick was definitely going to be a cold stretch.
We packed up and headed to the closest coffee shop to warm up – this just so happened to be a Tim Hortons. Feeling a bit unmotivated to continue cycling, we ended up chilling out in Timmys, indulging on donuts, muffin and coffee for about 3-4 hours (yeah, we’re fatties). We still had at least another 80km to go, but absolutely no motivation. I think this is called the 3-month travel slum. After 3 months of travelling, no matter how you travel, it no longer seems as exciting. You start to feel warn down by the constant packing up and moving on.
Cycling in New Brunswick: The 100km challenge
To motivate ourselves we decided to book into a “motel/ apartment/ guesthouse” in the little Maritime town of Perth. The only catch was the apartment was another 106km and it was already 1pm. On top off this it was now getting dark at around 6pm, so we only have a few hours of light to smash our 100km+.
The first 60km to Grand Falls was awesome! We totally smashed it – even with a lunch stop! The cycle was on a smooth, relatively flat road, with moderate traffic. We managed to arrive into Grand Falls before 4pm, so made a “quick” stop in at the superstore, checked out the Grand Falls, and were back on our way.
Having such a good experience on the Trans Canada trail in Quebec, we decided to hop back on the Trans Canada trail to Perth. Big mistake! Soft, rocky gravel is what greeted us on the trail! It was barely cyclable, but we persisted for about 10km to see if the path improved. Suddenly the cycle path ended due to path and road closures! We were forced to detour up a steep hill to get back on the main road.
We decided to stick on the main roads the rest of the way to Perth. These roads were quite hilly and it was taking us a lot longer to pass the kilometres. Eventually we rolled into Perth around 7.30pm.
Cycling in New Brunswick definitely had new challenges that we haven’t had to dealt with so far on the trip. Frost, cold weather, less hours of light and sections of continuously steep, hills.
Perth, New Brunswick (not so different to Perth, Australia)
It was definitely strange seeing road signs for Perth everywhere. What made it even stranger was that our apartment/ guesthouse was next-door to “Bogan’s Bar and campground.” It felt like home! We spent a couple of nights in Perth, just resting up, drying all our gear out and making plans for the rest of the cycle across Canada.
The next couple of days were hilly! In fact, we completely underestimated the hills. We cycled through the cute towns of Bath, Bristol, Woodstock (not so cute) and south and north Hampton. Still managing to average about 105km a day (how? I have no idea), our legs were definitely feeling it.
Occasionally we would hop onto the Trans Canada trail for a few kilometres, however the path was generally terrible and very bumpy, so we never lasted long on there. At one point we did decide to take the Trans Canada trail, as we were looking for a good camping spot for the night. The path took us down an old road and across a suspension bridge, where there was also a great camping spot. The following morning it was very misty and eerie feeling. It reminded me of something from the headless horseman!
Back on one of the main roads for another very hilly day! We had planned to cycle through Fredericton and onto Oromocto, to stay with our warmshowers’ hosts. They had a beautiful property, with chickens and an organic vegetable garden – the kind of place I would like to own one day.
Jacque and Lusia, the German couple we had cycled with previously, had contacted us to let us know they were only a day ahead of us. They were cycling with some German friends, so had been taking it a bit slower. We decided to smash out a few kilometres to try and catch up with them at Fundy National Park.
The cycle to Sussex was easy going compared to the previous days. We managed to arrive into Sussex around 4pm, which was lucky, as Michael’s gears had started to play up.
Luckily there was a bike store in town (Outdoor Elements), with super helpful and friendly staff. They played around with Michael’s chain and gear for a bit. One of the guys in the store also helped sort us out with some accommodation at the Timberland motel, about 8km outside of town. After about an hour we headed off to the motel. On the cycle there we discovered that Michael’s bike still wasn’t fixed, so the following morning he headed back into town to get it sorted. Luckily we only had about 50km to the park, so we had plenty of time to get it all sorted. Before midday we were on our way!
Fundy National Park
The 10% gradients into Fundy National Park were killer! Luckily it was the shoulder season, so there wasn’t too much tourist traffic around. It took us a few hours to ride 50km and by the time we made it to the campsite we were buggered. We hadn’t cycled gradients like this since Europe!
We caught up with the Germans in Alma town. It was kind of strange seeing them again, but also really good to catch up on stories. Michael ate a stupid amount of sticky buns and baked goods from the town bakery, and then we headed off on a hike to work it off.
After Fundy, we had decided to take it easy for the next week and let our legs recover a bit before we hit the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail has 16% gradients, so my legs needed all the rest they could get. So, we decided the rest of the time we’d be cycling in New Brunswick would be our “rest time” – still cycling, but just shorter days.
Leaving the park we had only a short, but hilly cycle along the coast road to Hopewell Cape, home to the famous Hopewell Rocks.
We checked into our motel, chilled out for a few hours, and then headed to the rocks to see them at low tide. We got to the park about 5.30pm, after it had already closed for the day. It turns out you’re allowed in the park after hours, but you just do so at your own risk.
It was amazing! We had the park practically to ourselves, and got some stunning shots of the rocks at sunset. The Bay of Fundy experiences the highest tides in the world. The tidal movement is every 6 hours. If you’re not paying attention to the tidal charts, it’s possible to get cut off on the beach, as the tides move so quickly and so much. But, we’re too smart for that; we just headed down after hours in the freezing cold at sunset instead.
Hopewell Rocks was definitely my highlight of cycling in New Brunswick!
Moncton and onwards to PEI
The next destination was Moncton, which meant another short and relaxing day cycle! Moncton seemed like a nice town. It has a good local brewery, called the pump house, which has tasty beers. Highly recommend if you happen to be passing through. We spent the night at the hostel and the following day had a short 60km to our warmshowers’ host in Shemogue. This would be our last full day cycling in New Brunswick! In the morning, we’re head to Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I).