Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Epic Bike Trip Around the Maritimes, Step 6: Free Camp!

Adventures on the New Brunswick "bike" trail
After a very respectable, if a bit boring, 60 km along the 144 in my first afternoon, I was planning to take it easy with only 46km the following day to the next campground just south of Perth-Andover; I didn't make it that far; instead, I encountered the New Brunswick "bike" trail.
It starts off deceptively paved and quickly turns to crushed gravel, which is fine, if a bit slow. But then, without warning, it dumps you into the middle of a quarry. Bulldozers, dump trucks, huge shoveling monsters, treadmill conveyor belt machines and lil ole me, pushing my bike over mounds of rock.  Luckily, it was Sunday. Apparently open pit mines in New Brunswick take Sunday off. On the other side, it continues its merry way, sometimes gravel, sometimes large rocks, potholes, sand, and logs, all without apology and all incredibly flat and incredibly straight.
It's an old railway line, and of course the trouble generally with rail trails is they are deadly dull. Normally, I would never take one, but this one has the saving feature of being directly beside the river. That, and there's no car traffic (no traffic of any sort at all really) are the two reasons why I kept to it, pulling my bike under fallen trees and unloading it to ford a stream when the bridge was out.
It's interesting that the powers that be have designated it as a bike path since it is only halfway suited to it, and over three days I'm the only cyclist I saw attempting the feat. The community has its own use of it - ATVs, dirt bikes, dune buggies, and golf carts (yes - golf carts. That was on a gravel section) all whizzing past the newly posted signs prohibiting their presence. But mostly, I was alone.
And when 4:30pm hit, and I found an almost flat, tent-sized clearing in the woods, hidden from the trail, but right beside the river, it was just too tempting. It's not like I trained for this trip or anything. The following night, when I'd reached Bath instead of Woodstock (a shortfall of about 30km), I considered asking someone in the village if I could camp on their lawn (I know a guy from France who cycled across most of Canada this way. They said yes everytime everywhere except Alberta), but I was just too shy, so I found a spot in the woods again. Who needs to shower anyways, really?

The back porch of my camp site the first night of free camping - huge river to myself except for a couple of kayakers who came by for a chat

My camp site, somewhere 10km north of Perth-Andover

My "bike" trail, looking a little rough

Sunset outside of Bath

Oh no! where's the bridge gone?

Perth-Andover 40km away - didn't make it!  :(


  1. Hey Yvonne, say hi to the folks in Perth Andover for me when you are there.

    If you run into anyone from the Fire Department out there, ask them how their new (used) Aerial Ladder Truck is holding out....I sold them one of our old surplus aerials last year.

    I also understnd they had a bad flood out there this spring, and a lot of the downtown, by the river, was under water. I hope they have recovered. Say Hi for me. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your trip.

    1. Hey! Passed through Perth-Andover a few days ago (there's a bit of a delay on the blog). I passed by the fire station - I remember thinking it was really big for such a small place, but they must be responsible for much of the region too. There's a campfire ban on in New Brunswick currently.
      As to the flood, I remember that pretty much everything along the river there was closed and undergoing extensive renovations - that must be why.

  2. ^^ nice trip....

    Yeah, asking to people for a place to sleep is pretty hard thing to do first...but after one, or two, really exceptional nights with locals this will be a pleasure to knock at doors, 'cause we never know what's inside.