26 May 2009

cycling in canada




There are a few more pictures taken during my rides here.

Spring has at last sprung so I relished the opportunity to unpack my bike. Luckily it survived the sea crossing in good shape (which is more than can be said for some of my other possessions - my printer was broken, dozens of CD cases - but I digress...) There is not likely to be another bicycle quite like this on Prince Edward Island - a Raleigh Quadra from the 1980s with a Reynolds 531 frame equipped with fourteen speed Shimano 105.

Cycling in Canada is somewhat different from England. For starters there are few cyclists, at least here on PEI. Car drivers are not used to the sight of a lycra clad pedaller which is sometimes a good thing because they give me a suspiciously wide berth but sometimes a bad thing because they pass way too close and probably don't see me. In addition to wondering if I am invisible, I am riding on the right and trying to decide how boldly to hold my position.

Then there is the road surface. You haven't seen potholes until you have tried Canadian roads after a hard winter! So... remember to cast quick looks over your LEFT shoulder before swinging out three feet to miss an alarming crater. Around town the roads are swept in spring but on the highways the shoulder, where there is one, is strewn with gravel and in the country the red dirt gets washed off the fields in sandy waves.

All this makes it sound as though there is little fun to be had on two wheels here. But that is not the case at all. If you can persevere carefully across town, through the outskirts and onto the country roads the rewards are definitely there. There is no pollution, hardly any traffic, huge blue skies, rolling hills and plenty of peace and quiet.

A long thin island means the coast is never far away, so there are spectacular sea views through sleepy dunes. With the sea comes the perpetual wind. My forty mile circular loops inevitably involve spells in a low gear grinding against a flattening headwind. The benefit of a circular route becomes clear when I am bowling along effortlessly on the big chain ring at 25mph.

Snow and ice will make cycling impossible in a few short months so I'll pedal while I can!

3 comments:

Little M said...

That's one good looking bike! Your 40 mile bike rides make me feel like such a couch potato. No half-measures for you!

C.J.Duffy said...

40 miles on a bike!? Good God man whatever next. Take a cab or crab the tube or failing that a Red Bus.
You do get Red Buses over there don't you?

;)

Perfect Virgo said...

Little M -Nope indeed, I like a full measure!

CJ - rather quaintly I have been doing it for fun! There seem to be no flat roads on the island and we are beaten by ferocious south westerlies every day so "fun" might be stretching it a bit. :)