I’d like to introduce you to my new project!
In fact, I should say our new project!
I’m leaving with Oceanna for a 2300km hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Start : Fort Montgommery, New York State, USA
End : Parc Forillon, Quebec.
Oceanna is a very intelligent and sensitive 16 year old girl. She has a good heart and loves to help others. Sadly, like many disillusioned young people, she has lost herself in a behavioral whirlwind. She accumulates failures on a personal level as well as in her relationships with friends, lovers and parents. She has not been in school for a few years. Oceanna has a difficult inner life and does not seem to find motivation for a future and/or an independent life that will fulfill her in her adult life. She has a few suicide attempts under her belt and several behavioral problems that lead her to depression and delinquent behaviors that are dangerous for her and her loved ones.
After receiving news from Oceanna that overwhelmed me, I decided to leave everything behind and officially organize this therapeutic adventure. I am doing a project that brings together my academic learning, adventure life experience, and personal life experience and use them to create a program to help people in need through adventure. I have been working for several years on both a personal and physical level to finally be able to do exactly what I love in life while helping people in need.
As I am doing this project completely voluntarily, I will be raising funds to pay for the minimum of my mandatory payments.
We will feed the site with our photos, videos, thoughts and experiences throughout this adventure!
Thank you for supporting us both morally and with your comments.
I wanted a steel bike.
Choosing this type of bike rather than a lighter aluminium or carbon one is the price to pay to avoid too much vibration for my body and head.
A steel bike is better at absorbing vibrations, so I was able to make the long trip and pedal for several hours straight. Otherwise I would have had major headaches (probably more intense than the ones I had).
For a steel bike, it is still light.
Bare, it weighs 12 kilos (25 lbs.); with the pannier racks and all the other accessories I equipped it with (air pump, Clic Stand, speaker, GPS, bottle holders and empty bottles) it weighs close to 18 kilos (40 lbs.) without the contents of the panniers of course.
The total weight, including all my gear (water, food, clothes, cookware, camping gear, etc…) is almost 60 kilos (130 lbs.)! That’s a lot of weight excluding the cyclist!
It is equipped with disc brakes; essential to ride safely with weight and on the many downhills of my journey.
What kind of tyres did you choose?
At the beginning, in British Columbia, knowing that I would have to cross the Rockies possibly with snow, the people at Vélo-Gare de Granby suggested the tyre: ‘Schwalbe Marathon Mondial’.
I wasn’t sure whether to get winter, road or off-road tyres… This choice was a good mix to adapt to the different types of roads and the various weather conditions. I found myself off-road with snow on several occasions. They were even perfect in the heat of the day when crossing the Prairies! The tyres are still very good, very durable. But I did change them to ride more easily, to gain more ride comfort.
In the second half of my trip, knowing that I would be more on the road or small gravel, avoiding the off-road which had become more difficult for my head and my symptoms, I changed my tyres for a puncture-proof type, the ‘Schwalbe Marathon Plus’.
What is your bike rack?
It’s a ‘Clik-Stand’.
I chose this stand because it’s very effective.
Conventional bike stands rarely hold the weight of luggage for long and break quickly in my experience.
I almost always used a branch or a place to put my bike, but this discovery charmed me too.
I chose these panniers that Vélo Gare de Granby suggested and offered me nicely at a good price! I didn’t want a separate waterproof bag on top of the rear rack, as I didn’t want to deal with the straps and elastics of three separate bags. So this model charmed me. The bags are connected to each other by the top part, the ‘Top Case’. Well designed, spacious and strong, they do have a flaw in the rain cover, which does not cover the bags well; it is too small and does not wrap them well. Luckily, it didn’t rain too much during my six months of travel.
These bags are very waterproof and perfect to put all my food and stuff in so I can cook a good meal.
What is the weight of your luggage? What is your total weight?
My bike with all its accessories weighs 18 kilos (40 lbs.).
My luggage and its contents were weighed at 36 kilos (80 lbs.).
Then I add the weight of the water which varies from 0 to 7 kilos (for 7 litres of water). I try to drink a lot on the way up (afterwards too, but that’s another story… Haha!!).
And my weight (normally you don’t ask this question to a lady!… but for the sake of the cause, I sacrifice myself!) is around 59 kilos (130 pounds).
So, my little paws have grown and pulled about 120 kilos (260 lbs.)!
Phew! Poor little paws… Hahaha!!!
September 7 – Campbelton to Sainte-Florence : 75 km
Back in Quebec… After a salutary stop with my family. A family that was kind enough to take me to Campbelton to spare my tired legs despite a nice break with them.
It’s clear that the end of my trip is approaching as Quebec is getting closer and my body is feeling it! It seems that it is more and more difficult to ride, to move forward, to get closer to the end of an adventure that I don’t want to leave even if my body and my head ask for it…
Luckily the Matapedia valley charms me. I stop in a wonderful place to cook on a wood fire and feel the pride of having become the woman I always wanted to be! I am happy and proud of how far I have come!
September 8 – Sainte-Florence to Amqui : 32 km
Despite the beauty of the place, I feel exhausted… I’m sick, I have a sore throat that forces me to stop for two nights in a nice inn in Amqui, in order to get well and continue my journey towards the grand finale of this wonderful trip.
September 10 – Amqui to Sainte-Flavie : 84 km
Strange departure from Amqui in the wrong direction!
I definitely feel a resistance towards this return to Montreal.
I have to get used to my return to civilization and to the Quebec I know so well.
September 11 to 14 : 233 km
From Sainte-Flavie to Rimouski > Trois-Pistoles > Kamouraska / Saint-Pascal > Saint-Jean-Port-Joli
The road continues… with a good headwind that exasperates me!
Despite everything, I’m on the edge of the river and I get drunk on the beauty of the landscapes and on these beers from microbreweries and generous in alcohol… To this are added beautiful meetings and a beautiful evening in a field to finally fall asleep under the stars!
More or less well recovered from a fresh night, I fall asleep near a grocery shop…
But Providence provides for my great fatigue and I am offered a ride to Grondines past Quebec City.
That’s it! I am on the north shore of the river. My home is getting closer and closer…
September 15 – Grondines to Louiseville : 97 km
Second to last night before returning to Montreal… I’m panicking… it’s the end!
I am proud and happy with myself. But the fear of returning to this life that is not my ideal scares me.
September 16 – Louiseville to Repentigny : 77 km
I’m riding on the Chemin du Roy, I’m tired… my thighs are burning… there are only a few kilometres left before I get to Montreal… but they seem endless. I find myself in the suburbs, I have to sleep in a motel… Phew! The place is very mediocre… I sleep with difficulty, because the smell and the dilapidation bother me. I feel very far from my nights under the tent swept by the sea winds…
17 September – from Repentigny to my home, Montreal
It’s over, I’m crying. But I am also excited.
My friends and my mother are waiting for me impatiently and I can’t wait to see them… They will be there…
You still have a few days to make a donation via my GoFundMe page.
And I’ll soon be giving all these beautiful pennies to the Répit-Jeunesse organization.
Thank you to all those who did it and to those who will do it again.
August 27 – to Cape Pele, New Brunswick : 53 kilometres
As I hit the new coast of this province, I ride with a headwind and my thighs burn… I continue and try to adapt to this new environment, much more populated than the roads of Cape Breton or Prince Edward Island. The beaches in this part of NB attract a lot of people. When I arrived in society, I was marked by this tourist crowd. I had been alone and quiet in my own little world for so long that it was difficult for me. Moreover, for my first night, I can’t find any place to put my tent! I have to resign myself to pay for a small place in an RV campground.
OUF! It’s a bit of a shock… I feel far from the seaside in solitude. I am happily told that tonight is Bingo and that I must not miss it… they even insist that I stay another night, because the next day, beware… it will be Halloween!
After a joyful night of insomnia, I will take the road again towards Shediac, the lobster capital!
August 28: Cap Pelé to Bouctouche Bay – Shediac
That’s it, I have to rest even if friends are waiting for me in the Acadian Peninsula, 150 km from here, but now I have to rest these aching thighs. I decide to rent a small cottage by the sea and spend two nights there.
Shediac is definitely too big for me! It’s the weekend, everything is full, so no rest here for me … and no picture with the lobster … because the queue is too long ! Ha! Ha!!
I sit quietly next to this giant lobster trying to return to civilization… I prefer to put my energy into preparing a good salad, tasting olives and a good bottle of white wine! This is what makes me feel back in this life of ease and lust!
I still breathe in the smell of freedom and happiness! The sea by my side, the music in my ears, my choice of lifestyle and this desire to connect with people urge me to come back to you my friends!
Before the big return, I have a stop to make in the Acadian peninsula to see a couple of friends I met a few years ago!
August 30: some 150 kilometres later… Neguac
What a welcome… for my arrival in Acadia in the family of my friends!
The connection with this family is unbelievable, we are so different, but we share the same values… I feel like I’ve arrived at home… I don’t like to sleep in people’s houses, even in the houses of my long-time friends. I feel at home with these friends who welcome me with incredible generosity!
My lack of self-confidence and my fear of disturbing people, which is so obsessive, is softening and I feel very well among them!
Several events, including one that takes place the weekend after my arrival, make me stay several days… eight days to be precise.
I became even more friendly with this incredible family. This created a balm on my lack of confidence in myself… And I discovered new tastes thanks to the ‘Nashville de Lagacéville’ !
I thank them for this beautiful moment and I leave filled with gratitude!
I even celebrated my birthday there, as I don’t let myself celebrate easily.
After such a beautiful week ‘with the family’, my stay ends on a beautiful Monday in September, under the rain, by taking the road back to Quebec.
The Matapedia Valley awaits me with its infinite beauty!
And a little further on, the St-Lawrence river that will take me back to my home…
The return is close, very close…
But so far…
for my tired legs, my body, my head…
despite all the Love in the World.
I started my tour of the other Maritime provinces.
Starting with the ‘Cabot Trail’.
Having arrived in Nova Scotia and having left my friends, on August 17th, I decided to go first to Sydney. I am very happy to be heading towards the Cabot Trail. But first I have to fix my gears as soon as I find a bike store. My gears don’t change anymore, so I did 30 kilometers in low gear! Phew!… lucky I was able to get this problem fixed for some time actually. I still managed to get from Port Morien to New Harris.
August 18: New Harris to Black Brook Beach.
I leave at sunrise and stop at sunset this time …
What a landscape! It was very hot! Fantastic sunrise and sunset!
August 19: 24 kilometers from Black Brook Beach to Cape North.
Few kilometers… but I am burned…
I stop at the first campsite to rest… There are some funny domes, a bit pseudo-futuristic. I spend a hard night there !… far from the stars… I was stung by a wasp !…
The next day, August 20th, only 10 kilometers to the hospital of Neils Harbour and back to Cape North.
As I have to take Benadryl (not that I want to, but my reaction is extreme), I stop in a wonderful hostel, the Cabot Trail Hostel, where I can cure myself in all tranquillity.
August 21 & 22: 135 kilometers.
I got back on the road quickly, but since Benadryl makes me sleepy and tired, I’ll be honest, the rest of my trip on the Cabot Trail was a bit foggy!… Haha!!!
Luckily, I have pictures that depict well this mythical road often seen and used in many car commercials.
My little engine starts to be out of breath but I continue thanks to these breathtaking landscapes!
August 23-25: On the way to another island.
Leaving the Cabot Trail, from Inverness to Antigonish, I rode 260 kilometers, a good part of which was on a beautiful bike path in the Glengarry and Port Hood area.
My goal: to reach Caribou, New Brunswick, where a ferry will take me to Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island.
August 26 & 27: 116 kilometers.
I arrived on this beautiful red island.
It is late, I took the last boat of the evening.
My body is tired. I did not expect such a long wait before being able to cross these covidian customs. In the queue, I fall asleep, I can’t take it anymore. It’s been 8 days since I left the sailboat and I’m pedaling. I really need a break.
Finally I passed the sanitary control and I pedal in the deep dark to find a place to sleep. It’s so dark even my two lights are hardly illuminating me.
Too bad, I camp and fall asleep quickly.
When I wake up, I feel the fatigue of the trip, I remember the last vacations spent with a person I love very much (a faithful friend now). Then I change my plans and decide to drive to the Confederation Bridge.
I won’t be riding all the way around PEI and that’s a wise decision, there are so many miles to go.
I am happy with my decision.
The thick fog, the smell of the island intoxicates me, I drive.
Suddenly, the sun… and so many happy images unfold in my head…
You will understand that my ‘tour’ of Nova Scotia was limited to Cape Breton Island and a bit more!… And that I only made a detour to Prince Edward Island… That’s how life goes sometimes…
My challenge is also to learn to respect my physical limits and to make the right choices.
You will not be left out, New Brunswick was waiting for me…
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
By dint of contemplating the sea, one day you end up taking it.
As you know, I had to cross from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia and I managed to do it by sailboat…
Wow, the dream! A dream that I had been dreaming about for at least fifteen years. And now the opportunity to live this mini experience (at least that’s what I thought) of sailing presents itself.
While waiting to join the sailboat of my dreams, I am well settled in McCallum on the high ground and I have a spectacular view.
McCallum is a small village accessible only by boat, to get around here well it’s on foot or 4 wheels for some.
It used to be a village of 300 people and now there are only 25 permanent residents.
There’s not much to do, but I take the opportunity to relax, cook, read and do some hiking, watching the sea…
The cellular network is intermittent. We have arranged to meet here or in Francois (spelled without an ‘ç’ and pronounced ‘Fransway’) which is a village about 25 nautical miles away and the ferry to get me there will be in a few days.
On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, I receive a text message!… “Julie we are almost at McCallum!… The winds were very good, we’ll be there by 5:30!
After uncorking a good bottle of wine while cooking, I jump for joy! So I prepare a dinner for three! I am sitting in front of the ocean, looking at the distance, because I know very well that I will see the sails very soon !
THERE THEY ARE…!!! I see this magnificent sailboat with two fantastic humans on board and Minette, this faithful cat, they are there very close…
But an intense sound comes to disturb this moment of pure happiness!
A helicopter!? My attention turns to this machine which is usually used in case of emergency !?? But finally they are only rich tourists who came to see this village which according to them will not exist any more soon… Bah… I talk a bit with these people, don’t care about them and run instead to the harbour at the bottom of the hill…
The reunion is very pleasant! I am greatly welcomed on this sailboat by a captain in whom I trust.
After a good supper, I stay in my tent at the top of the hill and fall asleep dreaming of what awaits me on the boat…
Day 1: McCallum to Richard’s Harbour.
The next day, the moment of truth has arrived, the bike is dismantled and well stored in the boat. Before crossing over to Nova Scotia, we will ride along the south coast of Newfoundland. There are still so many beautiful places to visit. We motor out to Richard’s Bay, which is not far away. The sea is calm, we move without wind to the bottom of the bay. The landscapes are breathtaking… The silence is soft. No waves, the sea is like a mirror… Ah! How good it will be to sleep in the dark and the silence! The sailboat hardly moves… I am looking forward to the next day, wishing for a lot of wind to satisfy my desire for sailing… Obviously I know nothing about it, but I am excited and open to learn everything.
Day 2: Departure to Francois.
The sea becomes a bit rougher… I have a happy feeling… The sails are up and suddenly I fall asleep terribly… I try to stay awake, but I fight… I close my eyes and let myself be carried… Luckily I am not the captain! The waves, the wind, I sleep… I learn, when we arrive at the small village of Francois, and with my feet firmly on the ground, that falling asleep is a form of seasickness… Well… A little disappointed with my great performance, we go for a walk and a swim in a small lake… Nature is generous with these small fruits and the sea provides us with a memorable dinner that our dear captain cooks for us while we, the mermaids, are having a good time ! What a great evening we had with plenty of water! I was very happy and wished for good wind to hoist the sails towards these so magic horizons!
Days 3 & 4: from Francois to Grey River and Ramea.
This morning I woke up enthusiastic and happy! I feel great! The winds are good and favourable! We leave the bay of Francois. The sea is rough, the waves are going in all directions… I am still happy and so excited about the sea. I watch every movement of the captain and his co-captain… I soak up all the information, I try to retain it all and then… impossible to continue listening and observing!? I can’t concentrate anymore… My head is spinning, but not like usual, not like with my head trauma… It happens so suddenly! I ask for a boiler! I, who have never been ill in this way, am very surprised. Of course I’ll spare you the details! Five hours at sea trying to find a certain well-being… Well… it’s confirmed: I’m seasick… It’s a pity, I like this mode of transport so much… We’ll stop over in a quiet little bay.
The next day, phew… the sea is calm, very calm. It will be a day of sailing with the motor to leave Grey River and head for Ramea Island. I feel better, even better and we take advantage of this moment to fish and look at the foggy horizon… How quiet it is!
We arrive at the port of Ramea Island without having left the mist.
Days 5 & 6: Crossing to Nova Scotia.
We have 130 nautical miles to go.
Ramea. In the middle of the afternoon, the fog is still with us.
The wind is forecast to be favourable for this 24 to 30 hour crossing.
We set off, propelled by the motor of the yacht.
I’m a bit nervous… I really don’t want to be sick for all those hours… I prepared myself physically and morally. There is this thick fog that envelops us. It’s a good thing GPS and charts exist. We are sailing at 5 or 6 knots. So far my body is adapting to the sea and I’m fine.
As our captain had calculated, off the coast the fog is fading and we are starting to see some sunshine. It looks good. We have a peaceful dinner and before sunset the sails are hoisted, as the wind finally starts to pick up. The wind usually eases off at sunset. And then we are off… The boat heels a lot on its side and moving around requires a lot of balance. The wind carries us so strongly… It’s exhilarating! I feel a very strong emotion taking hold of me and tears are running down my cheeks… I feel an indescribable happiness. It is out of the ordinary for the brain. Night falls and I go to lie down. HaHaHa!… I still managed to keep my food and move around without getting too dizzy. All night long I want to get up to see the sea and the stars, but I can’t.
In the morning, I get out of bed! I eat a little, enjoy the horizon, the sea, the wind before saying goodbye to this dream.
Because already at the end of the day we arrive in Port Morien in Nova Scotia!
I believe that before turning this dream into reality, it is important to get used to the sea, to tame it, to breathe it and especially to learn to sail. I don’t despair, because I know a very good sailor who is seasick. He always has to take a week at sea to get used to it and then it’s over.
When we arrived on land at Port Morien near Sydney, it was time to leave and my friends accompanied me and rode a good 20 km with me on their folding bikes! This makes me very happy.
Thank you very much to you, two beautiful people, for this beautiful experience… We will meet again! I must add that the captain took very good care of me when I was ill. THANK YOU!
Thank you too for having been patient during my crossing! You will understand that the crossing was much quicker than expected… Instead of the few weeks I had planned, it only took a few days, but intense days!
Arrived near Sidney in Nova Scotia, I plan to do Cape Breton Island and the famous Cabot Trail.
“The boat that is held in port does not learn to sail.”
My last few days on Newfoundland and its coasts were quite an epic! Rejected on the mainland by the big commercial ferries, I had to find another way to leave the wonderful island to reach another one. And that opportunity came from Friendship! A couple of friends offered me to cross to Nova Scotia on their sailboat! But I still had to get to their anchorage… which must be ‘Francois’, a small coastal village somewhere in the south.
My ‘peregrinations’ continued through roads, boats, other roads and other boats… This allowed me to discover an even more beautiful Newfoundland! A bit like when I did the North coast from Kegaska to Blanc-Sablon by boat, I discovered old small villages that are only accessible by sea, enclosed in bays, overlooked by magnificent mountains! At times it was as beautiful as New Zealand! Newfoundland is an island. And discovering it by sailing is quite different from pedaling!
I leave you this photo story to better judge this very beautiful stage of my last days in Newfoundland…
My challenge was to cross Canada from coast to coast on my trusty bike… Well, it’s done ! But it’s not over yet !…
Here is the story (mostly in pictures) of the last weeks of peregrinations in Newfoundland.
Friday 30th July.
From Eastport to Dildo, 212 kilometres.
After a few days in Eastport Organics, I am teleported at lightning speed to the beautiful little village of Dildo thanks to the good care of my market gardener James and his pick-up truck !
Dildo. This name comes up a lot in this region! I discovered that it was the name of a piece of a boat…
The good thing about travelling is that it teaches us a lot about the world and opens up our horizons !
When I arrive in a new place, I always find a café-resto or the local microbrewery. There’s no better way to reconnect with people.
A nice gang invited me to spend the evening with them and to play cards in their ‘bed & breakfast’ Georges House B&B where the owner, Todd Warren, welcomed me kindly on his property for the night ! In the morning, he had prepared a good breakfast for me, thank you ! All thanks to these two beautiful couples… Once again, well fed and well rested, I was able to continue my journey to St. John’s.
Saturday 31st July.
From Dildo to Brigus, 52 kilometres.
Sunday August 1st.
From Brigus to Paradise, 60 kilometres.
I am welcomed in the home of truly extraordinary and soul-nourishing people.
Monday 2nd August.
From Paradise to Quidi Vidi, 27 kilometres.
I arrive in St. John’s for a few days.
And once again, I am welcomed with great generosity by Bernadette and Maurice who show me around, offer me hikes, stories and good food ! Once again, thank you for this welcome filled with generosity and the pleasure of sharing good times !
From Newfoundland, I will remember, of course, the beauty of the landscape and the sea. But much more: the warm humanity of the Newfoundlanders !
I had the chance and the privilege to meet joyful, generous and mature people and believe me it did me a lot of good!
While waiting for a place on the ferry that would take me to Nova Scotia, I lingered and spent a few days in St-John’s.
But bad news: no room for me on those big boats until late September !?!… As they say: ‘I missed the boat!
In the last few months, my plans have often changed… Once again I have to adapt and find a nice solution… That’s good for the brain !
And you know what !? I’ve figured out how to get there.
I just have to get there. To get back on the road, to discover other coasts, to better leave and continue…
It is really to be followed…